Saturday, April 30, 2016

Facts and Feelings

     I feel slightly apologetic, sort of, for the direction this blog has taken here towards the end. Part of the situation is that all I really want to post before ending this, in addition to a concluding farewell and benediction, is an essay on the spiritual symbolism of Melville’s Moby-Dick, a book which I am presently re-reading. But the going is slow, and I’m reading only about twenty pages per day, partly because I read Moby-Dick just a few years ago, so it’s more like review than fresh discovery, and the thing is 500 pages long. So in the meantime I continue to write about what is of greatest interest to me lately, which is what the new leftist and feminist political orientation is doing to 21st-century Western Civilization. I consider it to be an extraordinarily important issue from a secular and worldly point of view; and most people cannot speak as freely as I can on the subject due to the hazard of social persecution. This is one of the advantages of renouncing the world: I am allowed greater freedom of thought and expression than the average inhabitant of the Matrix.
     In the previous post I discussed the idea that men and women are naturally, biologically different from each other, both physically and psychologically; and that one of many ways in which we differ psychologically is that men, generally speaking, tend to be more objective than women, and women tend to be more subjective than men. This is neither good nor bad. It is not a sign of superiority or inferiority on either side. It is just the way it is. Both objectivity and subjectivity have their own peculiar strengths and weaknesses, so it is good for both to be fairly represented in a society, for the sake of healthy balance.
     One particular way in which this psychological difference (not the only psychological difference, mind you) manifests itself is that men are rather more likely to consider facts to be more important than feelings, whereas women appear more likely to consider feelings more important than facts. Any man who has been utterly confounded by a heated bombardment of non sequiturs and conveniently adjusted memories in a disagreement with a woman may vouch for this. But women in particular may take issue with such an observation, so I will offer a pretty obvious recent example of what I’m talking about.
     In the objective world of the so-called patriarchy, the gender of a human being has been a simple and clearcut issue: if one’s nucleated cells contain paired X chromosomes, then technically one is a female, period. And if each has an X and a Y, then one is male, again period. This is very objective, based upon empirical observation. If one considers physical morphology to be more important than genetics, then still the presence of testicles and a penis have historically been pretty conclusive proof that a person is male, with different diagnostic traits, like a vagina, indicating femaleness. However, with the new social movement of progressive liberalism, which is suffused with feminist ideology and feminine thinking, a person’s gender depends upon feelings. If you feel like a woman, then you’re really a woman, and if you feel like a man, you’re really a man, regardless of such physical, objective trivia as DNA and sexual organs. Feelings (plus a feelings-driven ideology) are more important than mere objective facts.
     Incidentally, another way of making the objective/subjective distinction between men and women was told to me by a very strong-spirited woman a few years ago: She said, or at least implied very strongly, that men are more likely to want to be right, while women are more likely to want to be connected. Like many Western women, she thought, or rather felt, that being connected with others was totally superior to being merely right. But I suppose that the best scenario would involve being right and connected—which might require men and women being on the same side in a kind of symbiosis, which is after all the way we were meant to be, but which has been breaking down quite a lot over the past few decades due largely to a lack of appreciation for a diversity of attitudes.
     Yet another way of stating the objectivity/subjectivity distinction, which I heard on a video just recently (about why men make better chess players), is that “men are good at systematizing; women are good at empathizing.” This may all be anathema to political intersectional feminists, but I suppose more spiritually oriented people might be able to appreciate the idea that the male “spirit” and its feminine counterpart really are not the same. They evolved to be different because men’s roles and women’s roles for a million years have been quite different in many respects, so that our approach to life is naturally, correspondingly different; yet at the same time they are evolved to combine together in male/female relationships in a positive and potentially beautiful symbiosis.
     So anyway, what happens if a feminized society is dominated by an ideology that frequently disdains objective truth, or rejects it if it contradicts the established dogma? To some degree Christianity has been like this in the West, especially in the Middle Ages, so we can have some idea at least of what it entails. But the Middle Ages were before science took over and society became very finely tuned and dependent upon intricate objective discernment to keep everything going.  
     But one of the main factors that caused western civilization to become as powerful as it is, and essentially to dominate the world, is its objectivity. Like it or not, men built western civilization, along with democratic social systems, science, and most technology; and they have kept it running since the beginning. Men are naturally good at this, with men of the white race possibly being the best at it, since, after all, they’re the ones who invented it. Western civilization is built on the foundational realization that facts don’t give a damn about feelings, and facts generally win out in the long run. To acknowledge this has been key to the material success of Western culture.
     I could continue rambling onwards in this direction, and originally intended it, with possibly even some discussion of other psychological differences (like men tending to prefer freedom to security, and women tending the other way). I could point out that timeless male virtues—such as fearlessness, unflinching determination, self-reliance, willingness to take risks, love of a good challenge, audacity, austerity, strength, and a deep sense of honor, in addition to dispassionate objectivity—are just as important and valuable as the ones progressive feminists are insisting upon. I was even intending to discuss the old theorem in History that sexual “decadence,” including the rise of eunuchs into social prominence, is a telltale sign of the decline of a civilization. But my heart just isn’t in it. So I will just bring up one choice little issue that I thought of recently, with regard to the new feelings-oriented interpretation of gender, and its potential effect on Theravada Buddhism, especially in the West.
     As many of you know, one of the ways that liberal egalitarianism has made itself known in Western Buddhism is by its vehement, outspoken insistence that the Bhikkhuni Sangha, the order of fully ordained nuns, be revived, for the sake of gender equality, since it died out centuries ago. To those who are most knowledgeable on the subject, i.e. the monastics who have extensively studied Vinaya (the ancient Buddhist code of monastic discipline and ecclesiastical regulation), the revival of the Bhikkhuni order is a matter of technical validity, i.e. whether it can be done without invalidating the procedure by breaking the rules of the order; however most of the people insisting upon it see it as a matter of social justice, considering any technical obstacles to be dishonest quibbles, and with many seeing a kind of patriarchal conspiracy behind the reluctance of the overwhelming majority of the Sangha to defer to postmodern social justice principles in the management of an ancient and very conservative tradition. The debate very often takes the form of feelings despising facts. 
     But let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the Bhikkhuni Sangha is somehow revived and accepted with the consent of the entire order, including the traditional, conservative Asian Buddhist monastics. The next logical step, if we continue to defer to principles of politically correct social justice, is to allow the ordination of transgender monastics—that is, nuns who are biologically male, and monks who are biologically female. This is flatly rejected as invalid and unallowable in the texts of monastic discipline, but the ancient textual tradition itself is disdained by the postmodern Western social justice people anyway, so that will simply be another obstacle to be overcome by them, another set of facts to be trumped by feelings.
     Do you see what I am getting at here? What do you suppose will be the effect of insisting to traditional Asian Buddhists that a woman who feels that she is a man must be accepted as a male monk? A Burmese lady recently informed me that they would “flip.” Yet that really is the next logical step for Western liberal social justice in its ideological browbeating of traditional Theravada Buddhism.
     It has been said many times that the West really needs Dhamma. That appears to be obviously true, even if few in the West perceive this need. But with “progressive” liberalism running amuck in its self-righteous insistence that even ancient traditions must conform to its dictates, I think Dhamma, in the form of Theravada Buddhism at least, may be better off without the West. By the time the Western ideologues are done with it, it won’t really be Theravada anymore anyway.  


  1. " I was even intending to discuss the old theorem in History that sexual “decadence,” including the rise of eunuchs into social prominence, is a telltale sign of the decline of a civilization"

    I would give up eating for a few days to read a post like that Sir..

  2. U Pannobhasa,
    If a society becomes extremely egalitarian and disdains no-one, even hermaphrodites, those born with mixed gender genetics w/o psychological choice in current life, may be allowed to be ordained. Perhaps even it will go so far as to ordain transgender-by-choice. Even though I personally believe it is possible the Buddha forbade this, what if it did happen. What if we ordained LGBT? Could the Dhamma survive it? If the monks practice rightly, this world will not be empty of arahants.
    Arthur Damm

    1. Which is it going to be? Is gender just a social construct, or are there "those born with mixed gender genetics w/o psychological choice"? This kind of "reasoning" is indicative of the sloppy thinking of the new left's ideology.

      If transgender people are ordained, the very fact that they are transgender would invalidate the proceedings, rendering them not really ordained, regardless of what feelings-first social justice activists feel about that. All the well-meaning hysteria in the world isn't going to rewrite the words of an ancient tradition.

  3. Have you considered jung's theory of men are female in the unconscious and for women they are male in the unconscious?

    1. I've heard of it, but haven't considered it much. Let's just say I'm a bit skeptical. Probably at the deepest level we are neither male nor female.