writing in the raw: experience is unconditional

Photobucketexperience is unconditional.

i heard this guy, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, say that in a video in Edger’s essay Been a Long Time Coming.

it was like someone hit a bell and the clarity and simplicity of its sound keeps reverberating in my head.

experience is unconditional. how simple: that which happens to us happens.  

what, then, are the mechanisms that condition our experience?

i’ve been thinking about this in the context, of say poking fun at Sarah Palin (she doesn’t seem to realize Africa is a continent).

Is it dismissive or disdainful when I label 59 million people who voted (a second time) for bush as stupid?

i wonder how our reactions to those of others might condition experience and the ensuing interactions among us. what am i filtering out that makes it near impossible for me to understand teaching creationism as science? it isn’t so much that i mind another view point, but come on. it is religion. not science. or is it?

Civilization is an unnatural act. We have to make it happen, you and I, together with all the other strangers. And because we and strangers have to agree on the difference between a horse thief and a horse trader, the distinction is ethical. Without it, a society becomes a war against all, and a market for the wolves becomes a slaughter for the lambs. My generation hasn’t done the best job at honoring this ethical bargain, and our failure explains the mess we’re handing over to you. You may be our last chance to get it right. So good luck, Godspeed, enjoy these last few hours together, and don’t forget to pass the bread.

Bill Moyers

i hope President-elect Obama will enlist the service of Mr. Moyers in his administration. you know. like Chairman of the FCC. not a bad idea!

speaking of President-elect Obama and, by extension, the election, i find it both hilarious and hypocritical that RNC Chair Mike Duncan has the balls to say

… but those facts (that he’s too big to cry… what friggin facts, Mike?) do refute absolutely the preposterous idea that this election represents a mandate for another new deal or the death rattle of republican conservatism

h/t Edger

i’d say the election itself might not totally represent a mandate. BUT commanding gains by democrats in both the house and senate? winning Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio? not to mention Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina. nah, mike. i’d say that’s a mandate. more than double the electoral votes of McCain. with a margin of about, what is it? SEVEN MILLION in the popular vote.

as for republican conservatism? if not a death rattle, then a pretty shattering rebuke.

what was far more unbelievable was Duncan saying:

Barack Obama just ran the most successful moderate republican presidential campaign since…

he finished it by saying Eisenhower, but i thought for sure he was gonna say Clinton.

so back to this perception of experience. this raw material we use to create reality. i mean, does Mike Duncan believe what he’s saying? he looks and sounds like he believes it. then again, maybe he’s just a really good snake oil salesman.

yet, what put him there? he must believe in something. he’s chosen a side, a way to look at the world. a way to react to it. and i find it all mind blowing. like his mind is tuned to a different channel or something. how do we take the same raw material, facts, and mine such different realities?

for weeks before the election, i started to read The American Conservative. i was startled to find somewhat reasonable points-of-view there. it isn’t about agreement, but i could understand them…

I am plenty mad at the Republican Party and would enjoy watching the entire double-talking leadership and its unctuous apparatus throughout the states fried in oil. I still disagree with maverick McCain plenty on the issues, and every time he says “my friends,” I wince almost as wretchedly as when George W. Bush ends his sentences with that awful moue of his upper lip, producing a smirk which in turn suggests a revolting fullness of self-satisfaction.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, for all his muddy shifting with the political winds, has made his vision clear, and it is doctrinaire Democratic left-wing socialism and therefore too depressing for words. I hew to the belief that he is also a decent man and probably politically more savvy than John McCain. He may learn. He may be knocked off his horse on the way to Damascus. But I can’t vote for the prospect of Obama’s education. So I vote McCain.

Reid Buckley

A better writer said of a charmless woman that rousing any affection for her would be like “smoking an unlit cigar, walking a dead dog, swimming in an empty pool, or listening to the radio when it is off.” The same goes for the Republican nominee. When John McCain appears on screen, all vacant grin and Eeyore cadence, I reach for the mute button. I hate his wars. I don’t trust his maverick pose. When he says “my friends,” he doesn’t mean me. But I am voting for him.

Call it damage control.

Kara Hopkins  

Remember the neoconservatives?  Core neocon concepts-a blend of forceful rhetoric about expanding democracy, contempt for most existing democratic countries, and enthusiasm for starting wars-began to seem unhinged from reality.

John McCain wants to bring them back, in triumph, on horseback. Unlike Bush, McCain is a neocon true believer; Wilsonian bellicosity has visceral appeal for him. A McCain victory would mean, in short order, an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

That’s not all. Top McCain advisers like Robert Kagan seek to reignite a Cold War with Russia: Kagan recently told a Washington audience he wouldn’t want to live in a world in which Russia had a preponderance of influence over Georgia. Elliott Abrams, son-in-law of Norman “World War IV” Podhoretz, is reportedly in line to head McCain’s National Security Council.

For these reasons, I’m voting for Obama. While he doesn’t inspire me, he does impress.

Scott McConnell

even voting for mccain, they are savvy and seemingly honest enough to see the deep problems in their own party. for me, there is reason to believe and hope that progressives and these kinds of conservatives could work together. they are out there. as they were when our founders met in Philadelphia and patched together our Constitution. a group of men with divergent interests which, to my way of thinking, forced the elasticity we find in this document.

sooooooooooo. . .

maybe the first step is to listen. sometimes you’ll hear how much those other guys sound like us. just flipped around like a mirror image.

maybe the second step is not categorizing what’s wrong with “them” but what we can all do to make things right. look for consensus where we can find it: perhaps in prioritizing the gigantic problems we face. perhaps in some philosophical way, we can agree that solutions are better when hammered out amongst a diverse group of thinkers. a fuller, more 360 degreeish kinda thing.

we progressives quote a lot of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. it seems to me these guys were about consensus, an understanding that there is, somewhere, a oneness in all life. and maybe, just maybe, that’s what that guy, Rinpoche, was talking about.

maybe it’s not my unconditional experience. as much as not placing conditions on the experience of others. stop expecting them to react like me or draw the same conclusions.

and now i’m babbling. it’s almost three o’clock in the morning. but this has been on my mind for a while. and this theme of being able to work in coalitions with people who think differently has been with me for longer than a while.

i don’t have any answers. just more questions. but hey. what can y’all do to me for asking?


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    • pfiore8 on November 7, 2008 at 3:16 am

    here i am… awake and across the atlantic


  1. Rawing? Roaring? When you should be snoring?

    • Edger on November 7, 2008 at 3:58 am

    The unconditional experience of clicking a rec button on your essay…..

    Ahem. 🙂

    • RiaD on November 7, 2008 at 4:05 am


    excellent essay.

    unfortunately i’m too tired to really comment.

    maybe tomorrow.

    & sorry everybody for no pony party tonite- i forgot!

  2. You know, I don’t read those poisonous rightwing zealots.  I don’t because imho they are full of s*It.

    But I do understand Rinpoche.  The talking heads condition our experience.  That’s a problem.  Because we’re not experiencing our experience, we’re thinking about what others think it is and worse, what it means.  If we could ignore them, or turn off the tv or computer, it would be much easier.  We’d be left to our own devices.

    I’m happy WITR is back.  Thanks.    

    • RUKind on November 7, 2008 at 7:35 am


    • Edger on November 7, 2008 at 11:48 am

    experience is unconditional.

  3. I can once again see the value of having this discussion. If they are not in power, and thus directly threatening OUR reality, by supporting and electing politicians who torture and murder….I can be more charitable.

    First of all, in your reply to David, you are NOT talking about repubs, you are talking about swing voters, about ‘independents.’ Those who switch back and forth…every election.

    The conflicts we have had in the past over this are now a bit clearer. you are NOT talking about Republicans, and you are not talking about repub leaders. Ok then, Got it. Let’s reach out to them, since they already believe what we believe anyway and only get suckered into voting for repubs by their fear based propaganda.

    But they are NOT repubs.

    The hard core Repubs DO have a different experience than we do, because they experience EVERYTHING through a religious filter. a NASTY, intolerant, purposeful ignorant religious filter. That allows the to hat and kill and torture. Their reality IS different than ours.

    As I just wrote in Helen’s essay:

    When we get to a society that makes moral decisions from a secular viewpoint, wake me up! I promise to be pragmatic then!

    Until then, one of the biggest fights we have on our hands is against the overarching framing of everything in a Christian….in fact an Old Testament, view. Gay rights, abortion, education….war, torture…the list goes on!

    What you suggest is a great starting point, but we cannot forget that the other side sees EVERYTHING through a Christian, not secular, lens. And they will continue to do so no matter what we do.

    They are convinced that they are right and have God on their side and will fight tooth and nail for that. It IS their reality.

    That view of life and the Rinpoche’s view are in deep conflict. So deep that it really does lead to two different experiences….and thus two different truths.

    We cannot ignore the Truth, that there are two different truths at work and in opposition.

    Sorta like ….



  4. TRUE Christianity and Buddhism are not inherently in conflict, but the brand of cruel fundamentalism that has held political sway in our country…are.

    Though good Buddhists might deny it, lol, because they are after all…followers of the teachings of Buddha!

    Unlike the folks I am talking who are patently NOT followers of the teachings of Christ.

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