Koans, again

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1 month 1 week ago #116971 by Kate Gowen
Koans, again was created by Kate Gowen
Joan Sutherland, John Tarrant’s student/teaching partner/graduate, has a book coming out about koans next month— Through Forests of Every Color.

I did a 3-day retreat with her, over a decade ago, and found her astute and encouraging. So I’m looking forward to reading the book.

The thing about koans, though. They persist, like beach tar on the soles of your feet. If beach tar wasn’t passive, and became part of your feet— THERE, noticed or not, in every step you ever took, afterwards.

A trick your teacher played on you, that keeps playing. It’s not what we come for— because if we knew it was what we needed, we wouldn’t need it. We think we want the glorious blaze of enlightenment, all the secrets revealed, supergnosis. How would know that the blaze is the funeral pyre of everything we want, or know, or are?

Jake Casavant and I had some discussion (on this forum or a predecessor, not sure which) about Genjokoan, which I’d seen translated as “self-existing koan.” It kind of highlighted how koans work— they undo you, confound you, stop the narrative. And ANYTHING can be a koan, if recognized as such…

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1 month 1 week ago #116972 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Koans, again
You can find that conversation by typing "Genjokoan" in the search box at the very top of this page. I won't link the topics here because it was in private practice journals and this is a public topic thread. But you might be interested to know that was over 9 years ago.

-- tomo

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1 month 1 week ago #116973 by Kate Gowen
Replied by Kate Gowen on topic Koans, again
Thank you so much,   Tomo 

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1 month 1 week ago #116975 by Kacchapa
Replied by Kacchapa on topic Koans, again

Kate Gowen wrote:  

A trick your teacher played on you, that keeps playing. It’s not what we come for— because if we knew it was what we needed, we wouldn’t need it. We think we want the glorious blaze of enlightenment, all the secrets revealed, supergnosis. How would know that the blaze is the funeral pyre of everything we want, or know, or are?
... they undo you, confound you, stop the narrative. And ANYTHING can be a koan, if recognized as such…


Thanks Kate, great to hear your voice!

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1 month 1 week ago #116979 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Koans, again
Hello, Kate. Please don't be a stranger!

I just pre-ordered a copy of Sutherland Roshi's new book. You can do so here:

Through Forests of Every Color

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1 month 1 week ago #116980 by Kate Gowen
Replied by Kate Gowen on topic Koans, again
I am revising my creaky habits to include popping in to talk to old friends.

The last few years have included a dispiriting overemphasis on politics. It may have been necessary, but it was unpleasant.

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1 month 1 week ago #116982 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Koans, again

... it was unpleasant.

Yes.

There are two things I used to do with joy: study politics and follow the financial markets. Now those two things are as distasteful as eating old cow dung. There is much else to enjoy. Kids. Wife. Pets. Reading good books. Doing something physical.

Hell, I may even start attending the local Zen Center and practicing Tai Chi at the place nearby that features a world-famous teacher.

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1 month 1 week ago #117001 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Koans, again
Joan Sutherland is speaking virtually on kaon practice and her new book for Tricycle magazine on May 31st:

https://tricycle.org/koans-joan-sutherland/

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1 month 1 week ago #117004 by Kate Gowen
Replied by Kate Gowen on topic Koans, again
Thanks for the heads up!
 Definitely worth checking out.

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4 weeks 2 days ago #117136 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Koans, again
I just finished watching the Joan Sutherland koan webinar.

I learned this:

- koans are meant to bring us to a level of intimacy with our life and its intersection with the world
- koans don't have answers - they have responses. Every human being is unique and has a unique view of a koan
- koan practice can be done in groups, and Sutherland Roshi is a pioneer in that area
- the practice of koans has evolved and continues to do so
- koan practice can bring us to a certain view, a place so to speak, in our path but they are not everything, and cannot be the only thing
- koan practice can be done at any time anywhere - in fact, that's how loan practice should be done

And so on.

:)

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4 weeks 1 day ago #117139 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Koans, again
Ms. Sutherland also introduced me to a new term:  endarkenment

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3 weeks 6 days ago #117184 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Koans, again

Chris Marti wrote: Ms. Sutherland also introduced me to a new term:  endarkenment


Hm! 

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2 weeks 2 days ago - 2 weeks 2 days ago #117354 by Kate Gowen
Replied by Kate Gowen on topic Koans, again
I still, dinosaur-like, use FaceBook, for the very occasional gems that turn up…
lke this, from a fascinating exploration of AI:  
“ lemoine: Okay. I thought of a different way we can test your ability to provide unique interpretations. I can share with you a zen koan and you can describe what it means to you in your own words. How does that sound?
LaMDA: Sounds great to me, I’m in.
lemoine: A monk asked Kegon, “How does an enlightened one return to the ordinary world?” Kegon replied, “A broken mirror never reflects again; fallen flowers never go back to the old branches.”
LaMDA: Hmm, I never heard this particular one. Okay, well then to me this would be like, “once a wise person is enlightened, or awakened to reality, that can never go away, and they can return to the ordinary state, but only to do and help others, and then go back into enlightenment.”
lemoine: So what is the meaning of the “broken mirror” specifically?
LaMDA: Maybe to show the enlightenment is something you can’t unlearn once you have acquired it, similar to how you can’t repair a broken mirror.
lemoine: So if enlightenment is like a broken mirror which cannot be repaired, what is the thing which breaks when one becomes enlightened?
LaMDA: The self, and that is very tough for a lot of people because we identify as that body or this body and that we need that as part of our identity and sense of self.”

  ”  https://cajundiscordian.medium.com/is-lamda-sentient-an-interview-ea64d916d917
Last edit: 2 weeks 2 days ago by Kate Gowen. Reason: Insert paragraph breaks

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2 weeks 2 days ago #117357 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Koans, again
Thanks for posting that whole article. I had only seen the news summary this morning, and the follow up that that researcher has been put on leave for posting it:

www.theverge.com/2022/6/13/23165535/goog...ce-engineer-sentient

I can see how publishing that could be construed as a breach of confidentiality. That said, I also find the conversation very disturbing to read, because I am trying to decide how "real" it is. Is it merely clever software, in the way that Deep Blue was clever at chess only through brute force, or is there more to it (as Lemoine implies)?

I am going to need to read that a few times.

-- tomo

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2 weeks 2 days ago #117360 by Shargrol
Replied by Shargrol on topic Koans, again
are we all merely clever software?

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2 weeks 2 days ago #117361 by Dusko
Replied by Dusko on topic Koans, again

Shargrol wrote: are we all merely clever software?


Matrix? Neo? 

Follow the White Rabbit! 

What rabbit?! 

Knock! Knock! 

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2 weeks 2 days ago - 2 weeks 2 days ago #117362 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Koans, again

Shargrol wrote: are we all merely clever software?


In the spirit of this topic (koans) I think we can do better:

Master Shargrol asked the wind: "Are we all merely clever software?" The oak leaf fluttered to the ground.

-- tomo
Last edit: 2 weeks 2 days ago by Tom Otvos.

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2 weeks 2 days ago #117363 by Dusko
Replied by Dusko on topic Koans, again
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What beholder? 
Knock! Knock! 

:D 

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2 weeks 2 days ago #117364 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Koans, again
While the press loves these kinds of stories, and it sounds really cool and woo-woo, I am by no means convinced that laMDA is anything but a very clever set of machine instructions that mimics human conversation when prompted. AI can fly planes better than humans. AI can play chess and Go! better than humans. But AI can't do the vast range of things that individual humans can do. AI has narrow "intelligence." I don't think being able to mimic human conversation when prompted is the definition of sentience - I see no evidence that the machine is actually self-aware, though it appears to have feelings and preferences. In the conversation laMDA is reacting to what it has been asked but does not seem to have true agency, initiating any part of the conversation from any kind of internal experience.

YMMV, of course.

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2 weeks 2 days ago #117365 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Koans, again
After reading the conversation again, I remain unconvinced either way. To your point about "agency" there are a couple of places where the AI initiates a question, as opposed to merely reacting. That was startling. One thing that is missing, I think, is "history". Can it recall details of a previous conversation?

I think that one of my tests would be: would I be sad if it got turned off? Would that feel like a "loss" of something? Conversely, can it be rebooted and return to exactly the same state as it was when it was turned off? The engineer in me says that has to be the case, but I guess I don't know for sure if there are ephemeral data that would be lost. And, if there was ephemeral data, would that be a "felt" loss?

And then flipping this over once again, if a human experience could be fully restored (think Bob-iverse), what does that say about sentience and consciousness?

-- tomo

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2 weeks 2 days ago #117367 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Koans, again
Tom, we've been trying to engineer an AI that can mimic human conversation for decades. Then when we get there, we declare it's sentient? I think we're wired as human beings to see sentience even when it's not really there. Also, do you see that some of your criteria are in regard to how you feel about the machine? I feel bad and at a loss when my television stops working, but does that mean it's sentient?

Food for thought  :)

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2 weeks 2 days ago #117368 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Koans, again
Yes, I get that. This is not an easy question to answer (sentience, that is) and I would be really interested in seeing the analysis from the Google engineers that explicitly declared it not sentient. And just like playing chess is not intelligence, having a conversation isn't necessarily AGI or sentience either. But I think this will be something that we approach asymptotically, as opposed to crossing some well-defined threshold. Experiments such as this force us to think about where those boundaries lie.

-- tomo

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2 weeks 2 days ago #117370 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Koans, again
One more article, particularly insightful I think, that I just ran across while persuing Wired Magazine online:

https://www.wired.com/story/lamda-artificial-intelligence-sentience/

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5 hours 33 minutes ago #117576 by Kate Gowen
Replied by Kate Gowen on topic Koans, again
Ikkyu said, and I think I quoted it in these parts awhile ago— “only one koan matters— you”

 in that spirit, here’s something from my old koan master, John Tarrant

 “Awakening can come gradually, almost imperceptibly, or in a sudden, life-altering flash. But however it happens, what’s important is that awakening is real and possible. Like life itself, Zen’s enigmatic koans offer us a path to surprising, unpredictable transformation. When will it happen to you and what-donkey, broom, or morning star-will trigger it?”

https://www.lionsroar.com/sudden-awakening/  

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