Wednesday, 25 April 2012

What Is "Zen Marxism"?

This article appeared as continuous prose on I now think that the meaning and sequence are clearer when the text is re-presented as Indian philosophical "sutras", short telegramic statements of a kind that were originally memorised and transmitted in an oral tradition. No doubt, some readers will dislike this approach.

Karma is action.
Actions have consequences.
Karmic theory guides yogic-meditative practice.
is meditation or meditative postures.

Meditation is practice of awareness or mindfulness.
Mindful actions avoid harmful consequences.
Attentive performance of tasks without hopes or fears for outcomes is karma yoga, nonattached action.
The Bhagavad Gita applies karma yoga to work and war.

Ancient Indian religions and philosophies presuppose many reincarnating souls.
Reincarnating souls would experience karmic consequences in later lives.
However, the number of souls can be reduced to one, then none:
some Upanishadic rishis identified each apparently distinct soul with the one transcendent power invoked in Vedic rituals;

the Buddha replaced reincarnating souls with reborn attachments and aversions (materialist input);
Zen emphasises present meditation, not future rebirth (Taoist input);
action and consequence are discernible within a single life (experiential input);
therefore, karma and meditation need not presuppose reincarnating souls.

Yogis and Marxists agree that matter is eternal and uncreated.
The Yoga Sutras systematise yogic practice
but presuppose atheist soul-pluralist philosophy.
However, they refer to "God" as a permanently discarnate soul, not a creator,

thus incorporating theist devotion as bhakti yoga.
Yogis and Marxists also agree that matter is unitary.
Rishis intuiting oneness conceptualised reality as immaterial.
However, materially, one appears as many.

Yogis and Marxists disagree about whether matter can be conscious.
Yogis are body-soul dualists,
reifying consciousness
and regarding matter as permanently unconscious.

However, philosophically, “matter” is being, not mere mass.
Scientifically, mass is also energy.
However conceived, being is dynamic, not inert.
Its qualitative transformations explain consciousness.

Mechanical materialists reduce apparent qualitative differences to mere quantitative differences.
Marxist “dialectical materialists” recognise that quantitative changes become qualitative transformations.
Energised complex molecules became self-replicating, then combined through natural selection.
Organismic sensitivity to environmental alterations quantitatively increased until it was qualitatively transformed into conscious sensation.

Cerebral processing of immediate sensations quantitatively increased until it was qualitatively transformed into perception of discrete objects.
Cooperative manipulation of objects transformed cerebral processes into understanding of environments.
Understanding and manipulation of environments became mental and manual labour.
Productivity of labour increased until it transformed relations of production.

Production of a small surplus of wealth generated leisure for a social minority.
Mental labour became administration of the surplus.
Thus, it became exploitation of manual labourers by a leisured class.
Leisure also facilitated art, science, philosophy and meditation.

Ideologies legitimise and support exploitation:
God, karma or genes predetermine social status;
kings rule by divine right;
inferior races are rightly enslaved;

workers should compete against each other, not unite against employers.
Industrial production challenges received ideas and empowers collective action to end exploitation.
Therefore, Marxist theory opposes ruling ideologies and guides revolutionary practice.
“Zen Marxists” accept karmic responsibility and dialectical materialism,

meditate and build the revolutionary party,
apply karma yoga to class conflict
and interpret “rebirth” as consequences for later organisms.
However, “Zen Marxism” has other meanings (see here).

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