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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz View Post
    I don't know- most monastic traditions- Eastern or Western- would have a strong "lawful" aspect to them...even Zen.

    It would seem that there is a "method to their madness"- a core of order hidden within layers of chaos. To them, chaos is a tool, not an ethos. It is something that may be engendered in others, but is not intended to be internalized.
    You are certainly entitled to your reading, but I think what you just posted clearly showed the contrast between Law (conventionality, close-mindedness, obediance) and the ethos of Zen (unconventionality, wide-mindedness, lack of attachment). Many Zen parables tell of a teacher doing something shocking that is nonetheless aimed at generating enlightenment. Some koans are basically jokes aimed to breaking down the ego.

    Here is a fun Zen story. An old monk and a young monk are travelling to a village. They meet a young woman on the bank of a river. The river has flooded and she asks the monks to help her across. Without hesitation, the older monk raises her up onto his shoulders and carries her across. The young monk, somewhat aghast, follows behind. The young woman thanks the old monk and goes on her way. The two monks continue walking. After some time, the young monk finally asks, "Master, as we are monks, how is it that you would allow yourself to touch the flesh of a woman, knowing it might waken temptation in you?" The old monk replies, "Young master, I left that woman by the bank of the river. Why is it that you are still carrying her?"

    It's a beautiful story, and it has many characteristic elements. We have the old monk acting in an unexpected fasion. We have a young monk with vanity in his belief that he is wise. What appears to be a very clear cut rule is broken, but then a more important principle is elucidated. In his striving for detachment, the young monk has become attached to detachment. We see that the old monk's actions were motivated by an intuitive, natural logic based on compassion and awareness, whereas the young monk is motivated by his concern for spiritual achievement. So, that aside, lest we get too far afield into religion...

    The younger monk would be acting in a fashion exemplifying LN (keeping his discipline, and not behaving with any particularl altruism or selfishness, simply in accord with his personal precepts), whereas the older monk would be acting in a fashion consistent with CG (breaking all the rules, but to a productive and helpful end), although we can assume such an enlightened soul is probably Neutral (but generally rather pleasant, if you are not a thick-headed Zen student).

  2. #12
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    While it is a nice story, it is a story. A parable. It is not necessarily the way an actual Zen monk would act.

    A student might be told to contemplate such a story during his chores. Or, perhaps more likely, told part of the story before meditation- say, right up to "...The young monk, somewhat aghast, follows behind. The young woman thanks the old monk and goes on her way. The two monks continue walking..."

    The hope being, of course, that he will find the story's inner meaning without actually contemplating it (IOW, reaching the state of zazen); something that requires extreme discipline.

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    While it is a nice story, it is a story. A parable. It is not necessarily the way an actual Zen monk would act.
    True, but it could be argued that fantasy is about stories.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz View Post
    While it is a nice story, it is a story. A parable. It is not necessarily the way an actual Zen monk would act.
    Is that not true of any story? Even if I were talking about an actual event, isn't it the case that the actuality is more than the essential elements preserved in one telling of it? I've met enough Zen monks to know better than to overgeneralize. I'm kind of curious what the purpose of this comment is. Is this a rebuttal to my claim that some spiritual paths have a Chaotic aspect when viewed through the D&D lens? If so, in what way?

  5. #15
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    I'm not saying that a religion or belief may not have a chaotic element- even a strong one. I'm just not agreeing with you that Zen is one of them.

    What I'm saying is that while the story that teaches a particular lesson, it may not be indicative of the actual RW practice of zen buddhism, which, by the accounts of their daily lives has a very strong Lawful aspect through that D&D lens. They may use Chaos to teach or to gain an advantage over an opponent, but it isn't necessarily embraced as the basis for their ethical viewpoint. Chaos is just a tool for them, not a path.

    SRD
    A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.

    <snip>

    A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he’s kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society.
    A person of either of those ethoi could act as the elder monk did...or as the younger one (who could, as you pointed out, also be LN) did.

    Consider the multiple stories from Christianity in which Jesus bucks the rules of Judaism. He associates with the unclean...then eats without ritual purification. He accepts water from foreign women. He heals people on the Sabbath.

    Yet most people would say he and the religion founded in his name would be a good representation of a LG belief system.

    Just because someone bucks a single rule- in your story, the admonition against letting the flesh of women touch the flesh of a monk- doesn't make a person Chaotic, especially if obeying the rule lets Evil or injustice flourish.

  6. #16
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    What if I want to posit that all the Lawful behavior, the disciplines and joining sects and rules and so forth, are aimed at a Chaotic end? I want to turn your argument backwards; Zen is basically neutral, and many aspects have a strong Chaotic streak. Zen monks would not be practicing their disciplines if they did not believe it was leading to liberation, unboundedness, and detachment from the order of the world.

    Simply performing meditations or whatever is not per se indicative of alignment; many real-world monks do it because they have always done it. It's just their job. While Lawful alignments might encourage discipline, that does not make discipline itself indicative of a lawful alignment. Just because Good values life and discourages killing does not mean that someone who is not Good does not kill.

    Going back to the question you pose, "To what end?," what I understand of Zen suggests an iconoclastic, intuitive, paradoxical path aimed at individual liberation that leads its practitioners to avoid thinking they can control others. Rituals and practices are understood as tools for enlightenment, and in themselves are valueless. The adage, "If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha," summarizes simply the view that even the path of Buddhism can be an obstacle.

    This is a marked contrast to the Platonic philosophers, who argued for logic, consistency, general principles that could be understood in a way that led to specific conclusions, laws and rules that themselves embody ideals of the Good, and so forth. In a class on pre-Socratic philosophers I took in college, we spent some time comparing and contrasting the "Eastern" and "Western" philosophies, especially where they mingled in Turkey. Although Plato struggled with the concept of apprehending universal truth, he did not conclude that if you meet Socrates, you should kill Socrates.

    One Lawful religion I can think of is Confucianism. It tells you what to do, when to do it, and why you are doing it. And it says, you do it. The reason you do it is because it is what you do. That's Lawful.

    I have met Buddhists whose outlook seems more Lawful... or at least, more Neutral. I would, however, characterize most of them as culturally (natively) Buddhist, with some exceptions. There is a reason Buddhism is called the Middle Way. In D&D terms, you could say it adds more Chaos to liberate the soul and more Law to ensure you are reaching enlightenment and not simply confusion. So, while drawing the usual conclusion that real-world ethics are rarely simple to define in D&D terms, I will still say that most Zen translations I've read tend to shade from True Neutral to Chaotic Good.

    In any case, there are plenty of other precedents for Chaotic monks, such as Jackie Chan's "young student" type character, the Monkey King, and various monastaries in open rebellion for much of Chinese history.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz View Post
    Consider the multiple stories from Christianity in which Jesus bucks the rules of Judaism. He associates with the unclean...then eats without ritual purification. He accepts water from foreign women. He heals people on the Sabbath.

    Yet most people would say he and the religion founded in his name would be a good representation of a LG belief system.
    Actually, I would not peg Jesus's alignment as Lawful. He is probably NG, exemplified by the Golden Rule. An argument can be made for CG, especially considering such actions as disrupting the tradesmen in the temple, excusing gentiles from Judaic ritual purity laws, and leading a group of followers so insurgent that the question is actually posed to him whether they should play taxes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pawsplay View Post
    What if I want to posit that all the Lawful behavior, the disciplines and joining sects and rules and so forth, are aimed at a Chaotic end? I want to turn your argument backwards; Zen is basically neutral, and many aspects have a strong Chaotic streak. Zen monks would not be practicing their disciplines if they did not believe it was leading to liberation, unboundedness, and detachment from the order of the world.
    Its possible, but I still don't agree that a philosophy preaching ultimate unboundedness would start by shackling itself with rules.

    Zen suggests an iconoclastic, intuitive, paradoxical path aimed at individual liberation that leads its practitioners to avoid thinking they can control others. Rituals and practices are understood as tools for enlightenment, and in themselves are valueless.
    My assertion places Chaos into that selfsame category.

    The adage, "If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha," summarizes simply the view that even the path of Buddhism can be an obstacle.
    But is also a hint at a deeper truth. As I understand it, the Buddha you meet in the path would be considered a "bodhisattva," an enlightened being who, while capable of ascension, has either remained behind to teach others or is otherwise on the cusp. By killing him, you release him from this world to progress to true "buddahood"...and exhibit a bit of enlightenment yourself.

    In any case, there are plenty of other precedents for Chaotic monks, such as Jackie Chan's "young student" type character, the Monkey King,
    I'll buy that...
    and various monastaries in open rebellion for much of Chinese history.
    ...but not that.

    The rebellious monasteries of China were not so much an example of the monk's devotion to a Chaos-aligned ethos so much as of two strong but opposed Lawful organizations with differing agendas.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz View Post
    Its possible, but I still don't agree that a philosophy preaching ultimate unboundedness would start by shackling itself with rules.
    It would make sense to object to a Lawful philosophy advocating a liberation from rules. But there is nothing wrong with a Chaotic philosophy shackling itself with rules; Chaos is not required to have congruent precepts. Thus I object to the classification of Zen as Lawful, whereas I do not buy your objection to Zen having a Chaotic streak.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aus_Snow View Post
    IMO, all the standing class alignment restrictions are rather daft.
    Oh, yes. Yes yes yes.

    I am at the point right now of having removed all alignment restrictions from base classes, and am bordering on the point of removing alignment entirely from the game. Clerics and Paladins have a code of conduct related to their faith. Healers heal whomever needs it and never harm their patients-- but that doesn't stop them from being as Evil as the day is long. Knights have a strict code of conduct... that does not in the least stop them from embracing individuality, freedom, or even anarchy and slaughter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aus_Snow View Post
    I vastly prefer Paladins to be 'any Good' and always have (Lawful only? puh-lease)...
    You know, if they're going to have the Blackguard class for evil Paladins, the Holy Liberator for chaotic good Paladins, the Temple Raider of Olidammara for chaotic neutral larcenous Paladins, the Gray Guard for "greater" good Paladins, and the Pious Templar for everyone else... I don't see why they can't just make Paladin a class like Cleric, with all of the same restrictions.

    If you want to make the Code of Conduct stricter, so be it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aus_Snow View Post
    ... Monks to be 'any' (mostly for all those different styles and philosophies, which yeah, really do exist[!])...
    The favored class of Githzerai is Monk. Shouldn't that be enough said?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aus_Snow View Post
    But the thing to remember is that you can house-rule that stuff with the greatest of ease, with no side effects to worry about whatsoever. That's the beauty of it. So hey, I'll forgive 3e / PFRPG (et al) this, among other things.
    Yeah, but when certain rules are admittedly kept for reasons of tradition alone, or for "flavor reasons" that do not particularly make sense, it shouldn't be necessary to make house rules to circumvent them.

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