along with all the good points everyone has made on the zen parable, it also confronts us with this problem: in a culture primarily interested in using you to propagate unsustainable and toxic mythology, we make no room for a person unfit for a role the system demands of him. We allow no room for error. Welcome to the nuclear family: you marry an abusive drunk, you have no way out except melt down and tragedy, or abandonment.

A culture which separates a ‘spiritual path’ from a familial path has some fundamental problems that no amount of zen will address, I suspect.

Though I feel like I’ve just sold the 15 year old samurai lovin’ Willem downriver when I said that. Some stuff about Zen really rocks, but some of it really smells funny.



Most Zen practitioners are householders.



[quote=“TonyZ, post:42, topic:284”]Willem,

Most Zen practitioners are householders.


Could you explain this more? What do you mean to say?


Well, I reread what you wrote. Apparently, I’m a dumbass :smiley:

A culture which separates a 'spiritual path' from a familial path has some fundamental problems that no amount of zen will address, I suspect.

Originally, I heard something totally different. But, now that we’re re-evaluating here, What does that mean? I thought most ‘Taker-type’ cultures made marriage the ONLY spiritual path for the regular Jo.

How does Zen fail to address suffering, even in the most extreme of conditions? I tlooks within, it makes culture irrelevant, marriage irrelevant (to the individual).

However, I have been discovering at length with friends recently about this perception that mediation ‘leaves you empty’.

Yes, the intial exercises are all about emptying. But the process of emptying is to discover all the things you have been taught that you have been acting upon without thought. It gives you the power to choose, from a place of emptiness, what you will fill your life with. All of us, having been raised in this culture, would benefit GREATLY if we were given tools that would help us reconstruct our reaction to reality, free of the bondage of the voice of the Parent, Judge, or whatever psychological tradition you adhere to. It’s still avoice that has entirely too much power over we individuals.

Zen is really the only discipline I can speak to, but the emptiness is only the beginning, then, one must chop wood and carry water.


In a post from a few months back:

Willem wrote:

Rewilding, to me, means something that you do, not something that you "are". Ergo, living in a new way from civilization means something that you do, that you work on, not something that you can achieve.

In Becoming Traditional, I wrote about the idea that even animists never finish “becoming animists”.

I mean whoah! Let me repeat that…

Even animists say that they never finish ‘becoming animists’.

Here is a quote from Barry Lopez that backs up what Willem is talking about. And I highly recommend checking out Willem’s writing on Becoming Traditional.

“One of the reasons native people still living in some sort of close, daily association with their ancestral lands are so fascinating to those who arrive from the rural, urban, and suburban districts of civilization is because they are so possessed of authority. They radiate the authority of firsthand encounters. They are storehouses of it. They have not read about it, they have not compiled notebooks and assembled documentary photographs. It is so important that they remember it. When you ask them for specifics, the depth of what they can offer is scary. It’s scary because it’s not tidy, it doesn’t lend itself to summation. By the very way that they say that they know, they suggest they are still learning something that cannot, in the end, be known.”

Take care,



That’s a really beautiful quote Curt, thanks!

Yes, if more cultural symbolism was cleared to make way for real substance–“firsthand encounters”–in everyday experience, we would all find greater self-sufficiency. It seems that increasingly, humanity’s doing a hyper-symbolic version of civilization: almost every interaction seems to be more symbol than substance. Internet memes are a good example. If you’re not in on the cultural references, you can’t participate.

If you can come to an understanding that substantial, direct experiences, as opposed to symbolic posturing, are a path to independence away from the herd, you are one step closer to freedom.

It seems that this is what a lot of us are going for when we choose to have experiences of finding substinance (foraging for berries, tracking animals). Every meal is its own victory. Life becomes a victory.


Interesting Zen parable. However, it also reflects another reality within civilization, which is why I found myself in so much pain–I would have to leave my own family to follow a Rewilder in order to Rewild. I think what the story is really sharing is that often times, since people in unsustainable cultures are often very dependent on people in those cultures, as friends or family members possibly, and have to abandon many people in their lives in an unsustainable culture to try to learn wisdom. Ironically, I would have to abandon my entire family to join a rewilding camp, yet Family is a central part to rewilding.


The thing about Buddhism that I have come across that made me the most pleased was a bare bones explanation of Zen Buddhism which stated that Zen was centered on the belief that truth can be arrived at through meditation. I know there are a lot of other facets that pop up around that one belief but I like it nevertheless. As someone who has spent hours and hours on my own not sitting in zazen posture and focusing on breathing and all that but rather mulling over and investigating the things that confronted me as a lost and conflicted individual I would love to see more meditation or meditation-like things going on. Of course solitary examination and belief that things are fail proof truths can get hokey and become like a set of shackles instead of a vehicle for freedom and does not always bring about good results or solve things with expediency. I do think Buddhism tries to put an end to habitual stuck in a groove thinking and unlock free flowing thinking that has the power to explore areas outside the norm for a mind that needs some expansion in order to become aware of things important to the growth of the individual. As much as I love conversation sometimes I want a space where I can make a journey all alone to find something new and valuable in whatever place it is that thoughts are generated. If that is a place where Zen takes people – great! I also want to say that I owe a lot to the people here for giving me things to put in my thought arsenal – mainly the importance of skepticism, the idea that no answer is going to be reliable always and forever, and the idea that sometimes the answers with the most potential for impact are not easy to come by. I plan on reading this thread and the Buddhism discussion thread. I haven’t yet. I wanted to say something on the topic though. If all a person is doing is sitting down, being quiet, and trying to discover internal aspects and increase awareness of how things operate I see little fault in that.