Monday, 13 March 2017

Zen II

(i) How is Zen a religious practice? Religion is not just poly- or mono-theism but, more generally, is response to transcendence. The transcendent need not be personified as gods or God. It is also conceived as the impersonal Tao, Brahman, Dharmakaya etc. Also, the eternal is present and zazen is attention to the present.

(ii) Poul Anderson imagined extraterrestrial religions. Could he have imagined an alien equivalent of Zen or, better than that, aliens with sufficient mental control that a practice like zazen was unnecessary for them? I think so -

The Ishtarian forebrain does not shut down while sleeping so Ishtarians can direct their dreams, for example can dream the Triad, and some can communicate dream visions through words, music and dance, whereas for a human being the Triad remains only "'...a philosophical concept.' " (p. 149)  
-copied from here.

An alien brain might function in such a way that memories were accessed only when needed for practical or academic purposes in the present and did not generate incessant, involuntary and unnecessary thought processes distracting attention from the present.

5 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I thought this quote from FIRE TIME one of the very few plausible descriptions of what a non human alien religion might be like that I've seen. Another example might be the Ivanhoan religion we see in "The Three Cornered Wheel."

Sean

Jon D. said...

I loved the whole concept of their dreaming and religious appreciation of other beings on the planet as well.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Jon!

I've only read FIRE TIME twice, but you and Paul are raising points about the book which makes it plain I should reread it.

And Poul Anderson's descriptions of that ancient race called the Aleriona were some of the things which made THE STAR FOX stand out for me.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

When Sean says, "I must reread," I have done my job.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Ha! Good! The goal of any commentator or critic is to get his readers so interested in the works he discusses that the readers will turn to the books analyzed by the critic. More than once I have reread stories because of your commentaries.

Sean