View Full Version : ...and endeavour to establish a moderately more tolerable world...

10th October 2003, 01:45
Another topic that's come up for discussion at UCL recently (anyone who slept through the Go Ju Ittai saga may wish to click the 'back' button now) - not the first time it's been posted on here I'm sure, but I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts...

How realistic a goal is 'Creating an ideal world?'. How good a translation is it? Is it to be taken literally, or is the process of striving towards the image of it the point? Given the catastrophes that have resulted from Utopian thinking over the last hundred years or so, is it a good idea?

Food for thought from John Gray:

'In the early 19th century, Thomas De Quincey wrote that a quarter of human misery was toothache. He may well have been right. Anaesthetic dentistry is an unmixed blessing. So are clean water and flush toilets. Progress is a fact. Even so, faith in progress is a superstition.'

A related question: is it meaningful to talk about reducing the amount of suffering in the world? Adam Philips tells a story about John Cage going to a fellow-musician's concert. In the programme notes it said 'I hope my music will go some small way to reducing the amount of suffering in the world'. After the concert, Cage went to see his friend. 'How did you like my show?' his friend asked.
'I loved the music,' replied Cage, 'but I hated the programme.'
'Why?' asked the musician, 'Don't you think there's too much suffering in the world?'
'No,' said Cage, 'I think there's exactly the right amount.'

He wasn't just being callous, but making a serious point about the nature of suffering. Is it relative to the suffering/pleasure of others? Is it there for perfectly good biological reasons? Above all - and this is where it relates to my first quote - is it really escapable? For those of us who don't believe any god is going to come down and assuage our suffering - redeem it, recompense it, recognise it or make it all alright - isn't it pure fantasy to think we can go around trying to reduce the mean amount of it? Or could cultivating a Zen equanimity to suffering, in yourself and others, do the trick?

But Kongo Zen does say: Life is full of suffering.

And I haven't even had to do that randori with Sensei Steve yet...

Steve Williams
10th October 2003, 10:44
Personally, I don't think there could ever be an "ideal" world......

One persons ideal is invariably not someone elses :rolleyes:

I do think that everyone would be better off if there was less crime/anti-social behaviour etc.... as martial artists that is the most we could hope for.

Oh, and randori is coming.......

10th October 2003, 16:12

Seems to me that an ideal world would soon turn into hell.

Letís start with the "health, wealth and happiness for everyone" thing.

Everyone healthy, wealthy and happy would ensure the swift over-running of the world's natural resources and the even more swift, (led by the Americans naturally), poisoning of our world making it uninhabitable.

So now we add the rules to stop this:
1. Each couple are only allowed 2 children, one male, one female, all other progeny must be killed at birth and turned to fertilizer.

But this causes unrest at the restriction of freedom so we impose rule 2 to ensure control of the population's behaviour:

2. All crimes of disagreement are punishable by death.

But who makes the rules?

3. The appointed ruling classes will make the rules.

But absolute power corrupts:

4. There are no rules governing the ruling classes who are above the law.


The only way to be happy is to kill the masses/ruling classes! (Depending which side of the fence you're on.)

It would make a good film.

In the meanwhile, live a good and wholesome life, have children, love them and bring them up with a strong set of values, try to be nice to everyone you ever meet and consider the consequences of your actions before you take them.

It's about the nearest any of us is going to get.


PS That last paragraph's not mine, anybody recognise it?
I'm macho rather than deep.

David Dunn
12th October 2003, 23:36
I could write even more than Adam on this subject :laugh:

It's a very high aim, and easy to dismiss as 'not achievable'. The other English translation of Shinjo (in F'dokuhon) says "we strive to improve the world by practicing the principles of Kongo Zen". That sums it up for me. Kongo Zen asks us to become sensitive to other people, to become people worthy of being followed by others, to be reliable and trustworthy, as well as strong and confident. Understand 'innen', which is cause and effect.

13th October 2003, 02:15
While Hiking in the mountains today I realized something very interesting. The trees there were either very squatty and strong or extremely tall and straight. There were allot of trees that had fallen down and I got a good chance to take a look at where they broke off. The wood was very tight grained on almost all of it and on so many of the trees there were "defects" where they were too close to other trees causing the grain to weft and warp all over the place making some of the most interesting patterns I have ever seen in wood.
How is this related to the thread?
My observation was that the process of struggling against other trees made the trees allot stronger. They were not as big as trees grown in easier locales but they were allot stronger. I feel people are the same way. We have to have the trials and tribulations in life. overcoming the hardships and the tough times is what makes people strong. Part of the problem with children today is that they are protected from any hardship by their parents they have very little that is allowed to cause them stress in their lives. So how do they respond?? They create situations to cause stress in their own lives. Why? Because it may very well be part of the human condition we need that stress to make ourselves stronger and if we do not get it we create it.

Perfect world? Not as long as humans need to grow and evolve.

13th October 2003, 08:48
In the kyoten, the actual Japanese is "risokyo wo kensetsu", which does indeed mean "build and ideal world".
As we all know, the only ideal world would be one in which no one ever disagreed with me, everybody used dogi correctly, and Start Trek would be on the telly 24/7...
It does strike me, however, that when one says the goal of Shorinji Kempo is to build an ideal world, people look upon you with suspicion (it sounds too much like the objectives of a religious cult, or a totalitarian political system like Nazism), but if you say we want to build a better world, everybody thinks that is laudable.
So the difference is really one of semantics. A world that is better but not yet perfect still has some work to do, so the mission of Shorinji Kempo will always be a work in progress, rather than declaring that utopia has been achieved, and resting on our laurels.
In utopia, peace and love will fill the world, and we'll kill anyone who says otherwise...