Recently on Facebook – macrobiotic questions, a question was raised concerning figures that peoples’ health was improving. I commented to the effect that the figures were doctored, and someone wrote that the figures were true and that it is the interpretation that presents lies. To me this is far from the truth. When I read in the media about all the social security scroungers from their own country and from abroad, I see a partial truth. There are people receiving money from the state. It then angers me when acquaintances post on facebook some kind of stereotype connected to this indoctrination. How much money do all of these so-called scroungers get paid? 50 bankers’ bonuses? Whether we like it on a personal level the fact is these people (scroungers as they are called) do not damage the economy but our financial elite have millions stashed away in tax havens whilst their puppet governments are forcing ordinary people into austerity programmes. Where are the figures that justify such a programme? The real problem that the statisticians create is not in the figures they get from experiments that are then intentionally misinterpreted, the problem is that we don’t have the figures we need in the first place. How does that happen?
To understand the science of figures we need to understand that science has to be financed – research grants. Despite the meaning of science as knowledge, it is not the search for knowledge that now directs but those that finance the experiments. Research money is offered for those who will prove the conclusions that are wanted by the sponsors. This means that we don’t get the raw data to be interpreted because that data is not found. Once money is on offer scientists design their experiments to provide the conclusions that are wanted by the research sponsors. And if perchance such experiments provide data the sponsors don’t want the data is interpreted in light of the sponsor’s desires or the experiment is shelved as a “failure” leaving the scientists out of a job. Yes, out of a job. It is necessary to see how universities function. I was a part-time member of staff at a Polytechnic, and a job came up. I was advised that the criteria for interview was how much research money I could bring in. None. At the same time I was teaching some Electrical engineers – not well as I made too many mistakes in lectures, but there was a positive result from this. These students paid attention in the lectures looking for the mistakes. In their exams at the end of the year their results were significantly higher than in previous years, so much so that there was an investigation as to whether I had collaborated with the students. Students’ folders were collected to check my notes, as well my exam-marking was checked. There was nothing, despite my mistakes the students and I had worked successfully together. Was a job forthcoming? No way – probably didn’t deserve it – level too high for me, there was no research money in teaching the students successfully to pass their exams. If a researcher loses sponsorship for the institute then their job is on the line; it is simple. It is essential to be clear that science is not neutral, it is not interpretation that is the problem with data, it is the systemic paradigm of research funding that creates a bank of data appropriate only for the wishes of the funders.
Given the power of BigFood I do not expect to see scientific evidence that promotes a plant-based diet. Whilst at TED and elsewhere there are plenty of people offering opinions concerning the positive effects of diet, energy work and meditation there is little actual evidence because who funds the truth? And what little there is is far outweighed by the funded evidence in favour of BigFood. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to see this TED talk by Dr Christina Warinner:-
To begin with the data is presented in dry academic fashion, and clearly belies any truth in the paleolithic diet myth that “man” was fashioned by nature to eat meat. But the situation is nowhere near as simple as that, as any good science will always indicate. The conclusion I would want to draw is that our foods should be back to nature, eat what comes out of the ground as Nature intended. But what is very clear is that even the organic veg I would like to eat has been cross-bred by science. Whilst the organic carrots that we eat might not have any pesticides they are still not as Nature originally intended. I accept that the use of man’s mind has improved the carrot for consumption, so the problem is not man’s intervention alone.
Christina drew 3 lessons:-
1) No one “correct” diet, diversity is the key, and then she said “”depending on where you live”. My conclusion, eat local. Species diversity.
2) Evolved to eat fresh foods, in season when they are ripe.
3) Evolved to eat whole foods, “food is not just the sum of calories and vitamins”.
One bottle of soda contains the same amount of sugar as 8.5 feet of sugar cane, could paleo man ever have eaten that?
She discussed methods of food preservation including artificial preservatives, as methods that limit bacteria. But this limits some bacteria we need – good bacteria. She suggested this was something we are only just beginning to investigate. Who is that we? Good fermentation has been practised a long time, and has been recognised by nutrition as probiotics being needed. Every tradition has these foods, sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha tea, kvas, kefir and so many more. What science does not know is the effect of artificial preservatives on the good bacteria, for me there is no doubt – if it is artificial it is not healthy … but proof? Mind you my argument about BigFood deflecting science does not apply here. Naturally fermented foods do not need preservatives, why isn’t there more research being done into those foods? Our diets could improve just by eating more pickles – images of Liz Smith’s concoctions in Vicar of Dibley.
The plant-based diet I follow is supported by the science of this presentation. Plant-based food as whole foods not processed, bought at the local market preferably organic. I avoid veg from the big supermarkets because I don’t know how they have been treated to transport the veg. I can do this more easily – in the country with a community who are used to village markets, but western urban changes have included farmers’ markets. Paleo man was not eating Brontosaurus burgers a la Fred Flintstone, but he might well have caught a rabbit. B12. Vegetarians have problems in their diets because of the lack of B12 which can only be guaranteed from animal or fish sources. Rabbit would not be daily diet but maybe a delicacy caught on Sundays? Mb says eat fish once a week – that fits.
I think there is more to consider on cross-fertilisation, but science can contribute positively to our health. The question is what has changed with science that it now usually supports the corporations. Ah yes, the corporate paradigm.
Following the review of hitting bottom is teaching to be seen differently ….more on Buddhadasa page
Tan Ajaan has helped further understand battles between Insight and intellect ….more on Buddhadasa page
It is time for some Thailand analysis, sparked by this report from Al Jazeera’s Rageh Omar. It was made in 2010, just after the violence:-
Here in rural Eastern Thailand red shirt protest meant little as this area is relatively wealthy. When the yellow shirt protests started this area was pro-yellow shirt, and there was much support for the yellow shirt occupation of the airport. The yellow shirt protest was based around one concern, Thaksin Shinawatra had previously been found guilty of crimes and the then-elected government were trying to change the laws so that he would not have to pay for his crimes – he still hasn’t returned to serve a prison sentence.
The red shirt protest started because of Thaksin but in a different way. From overseas he began to mobilise support (through his finance) from the disaffected rural regions of North-East Thailand. Now these people have a legitimate claim of oppression, these are peasants who are disadvantaged by numerous schemes which keep prices low and keep them effectively indentured. During his time of power Thaksin introduced one or two measures which alleviated their struggle, but primarily during his term of office he amassed a fortune basically illegally.
Now, 3 years later, I am not sure what has happened to this struggle between the red shirts and yellow shirts. Since the violent clampdown in Bangkok so vividly depicted in the documentary, there has been little show of red or yellow. In May 2011 Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck, was elected – a year after the violence, yet there has been no sign of yellow shirt protest as far as I know. But equally there has been no sign of Thaksin returning to Thailand. Maybe he has kept some of his fortune and he has therefore accepted exile as a compromise.
The yellow shirt protest was very peaceful, marked by its onset in which a coup (to remove a government that were moving to pardon Thaksin) had people laying garlands on the gun turrets of the tanks. If I were to describe the yellow shirts I would describe them as people who were middle-class influenced and angry at Thaksin’s exploitation of the law and of their country. Now the red shirts I describe differently. I describe the majority of the red shirts as having a legitimate grievance – exploitation by the rich, however they were mobilised by Thaksin whose agenda was completely personally self-serving. But be clear reds and yellows are not a class divide.
Abhisit paid the price for the violence in Bangkok. As far as I could gauge at the time Thai people would have allowed the protests to continue, but the shopping centre was suffering – my friend’s Bangkok centre school was closed. It was the commercial sector who pushed for Abhisit’s violence, and recognising their enemy the red shirts struck back and damaged the shopping district of Bangkok especially Central World as shown in the doc. Now it has been completely rebuilt, and is a thriving shopping and commercial centre again.
I felt I needed to set my views on the nature of red and yellow shirts. Rageh described yellow shirts as pro-government and red shirts as anti-government. My above analysis makes it clear that the primary difference between the red and yellow shirts is their position on Thaksin. Perhaps now it is different, I don’t know where they stand because the Yingluck government would be ostensibly red but as far as I know has done little for the peasant regions of the North East. However her token presence might well have appeased the reds, and as there don’t appear to have been moves to bring Thaksin back the yellows are not angry either. A tactical peace 3 years on?
In reflecting on the documentary it is also important to understand the context of the term “Bangkok Elite”. Thailand’s economy is fundamentally peasant with a small percentage for tourists, outside of Bangkok the people basically work as peasants, traders, service industry or in certain areas the tourist industry. But in Bangkok is the finance and commercial sector of Thailand, electorally this area is yellow shirt, politically the democrats. Basically when the term Bangkok Elite is used we could understand it as Thailand’s bourgeoisie. When the reds targeted the buildings they did, they were fundamentally targeting Thailand’s ruling class.
Rageh finished the programme suggesting that the matter is not finished. Abhisit suggested that his programme of reconciliation would help the Northern poor, he did nothing except keep the peace until the 2011 elections. The elections in 2011 got in Yingluck as I said, and I repeat she has done nothing for the Northern poor – as far as I know. But the assessment that Rageh missed concerns the nature of Thai people, they absolutely detested the violence. Abhisit never recovered from issuing the order, but the Reds lost what natural support they might have because of their contribution to the violence. It might be summarised like this. The rural poor are disadvantaged by the Bangkok Elite, and this is completely exploitative, but the people would rather be poor and peaceful than face such violence again. Tokenly they won the election, but they have always won elections. Abhisit’s government was a coalition against Thaksin, there was no way such a coalition could be reformed the following year because of what his government has done. In Abhisit’s government (at the time of the violence) his party had approx 35%, but Thaksin’s puppet party had 42%, the coalition that formed had more than 50%. It is this coalition that the red shirts were demanding an end to. In May 2011 Yingluck had 48%, and Abhisit had 35%; she formed a government – I don’t know whether it is coalition. But I stress again that the violence has changed the Thai psyche. The yellow and red shirt protests were always pleasant until 2010. People even said the red shirts were pleasant in 2010. But somehow violence entered into it. I believe there were people promoting violence amongst the reds, and quite evidently the government violence was unacceptable. But Abhisit paid the price for being the finance sector puppet. I think the disadvantaged Thais have told themselves it’s not worth the violence.
I have not mentioned the King, and analysis of Thailand is complete without consideration of the King. I do believe there were agitators for a republic amongst the red shirts (no justification for this), and this will have alienated most of the people – red and yellow. People love the King, all kinds of people. I don’t mean respect the King, I mean love the King. Understanding this feeling is difficult when you compare it with the British attitude to their monarchy, but Thai people love their King. It is against the law to disrespect the King but this law is only for a small minority, the vast majority would not even consider any disrespect. Maybe there will be a flashpoint when the King dies but until then nthing? Thailand wants peace, it has dabbled with violence, and will go back to where it was – a peaceful country with corrupt politicians.
One final thought on Thailand’s class struggle, there needs to be one. The middle-class support for the yellows would be akin to the middle-class support for the Tories in the UK, it is not in the class interest of the yellows to support yellow, but in no way is Thailand ready for a class war. The peoples’ anger is directed to those who caused the violence, I hope sufficient of them know Thaksin’s part.
I am interested in UG’s life, and am continuing reading his book “The Mystique of Enlightenment” downloaded from Holybooks. In truth I am still reading about how he came to his “enlightenment?”, and I have not read what he says about the process. I am interpreting what I read. This is not a good practice because it is distanced from the truth in two ways, what is written about a person is not the person and how I interpret what is written is not the person either. It would be clearer if I use UG-Z to make this distance clear. I am much happier using UG-Z. I don’t know the guy. He claims spiritual leadership, who am I to describe his spirituality? This UG-Z is just my version, effectively a set of characteristics drawn from what little I know of his book and his life – the characteristics UG-Z.
My world was rocked when at 22 I hit the bottom of a bottle and climbed out onto the Path. Once I came out it was a fascinating time, a time of exploration I will never forget. It was particularly good for me because it was the early 70′s, and the western world was still teetering a bit after the questioning that came in with the hippy generation. My Path started in a climate where young people could question – not as I perceive now where young people expect to be straight-jacketed in careers as soon as they leave education. This questioning led me to an Arts Centre where I began Scifi writing – Wai Zandtao, a short trip round Europe where I exlored inside for the first time – in a cottage in Belgium, it was a turbulent time but a time of discovery of the Path and therefore a time of great wonder – and a sense of enjoyment. I consider this hitting bottom at 22 a time of awakening, still having much to learn – as I still do. I was not a person with sila, far from it – for a short while in my later 20′s I measured my enjoyment by promiscuity – having a number of relationships on the go. Fortunately this did not last long, but it was a time of exploring influenced by the drink; after this awakening whilst my Path had started I had not eschewed the drink – that came some 13 years later. Awakening does not imply morality – sila, I still allowed defilements – kilesa, the self was still indulged – not anatta. In no way can this awakening be described as enlightenment – as far as I see the terms? I have not had such a powerful awakening since but I have had powerful experiences and different awakenings such as the current one revolved around the teachings of Buddhadasa – not a turbulent awakening at all but important. I almost used the word “powerful” because in a sense it is powerful as it is revealing much, but it is not the sort of power I associate with awakenings so the word was not used.
This is an article by Brad Warner that presents such discussion clearly:-
“The relationship between wakening and morality all depends upon how you define “awakening.”
A lot of people, especially nowadays, define “awakening” as a kind of experience. Much of what I see in contemporary magazines, books, websites and suchlike does. The spiritual master in question has some kind of profound experience that zaps his consciousness and then he/she goes out to tell the world about it.
There are plenty of examples of this. Genpo Roshi justifies charging folks $50,000 just to hang out next to him based on a profound awakening he had while on a solo retreat in the Mojave Desert some time in the Seventies. Eckhart Tolle claims to have has a grand awakening that enabled him to write a bazillion selling book and charge tens of thousands of dollars for lecture appearances. Shoko Asahara had a massive download from on high that supposedly made him the new Buddha for the modern age. The list goes on and on.
It all goes back to a certain reading of Buddha’s life story. The most common telling of it has Buddha meditating under a tree for 40 days at the end of which he had a deep awakening experience that turned him in one moment from plain old Siddhartha to the legendary Gautama Buddha. Sort of like how Japanese superheroes like Ultraman and Kamen Rider transform in a flash from regular human beings into giant bug-eyed alien monster fighters.
But experiences like that do not necessarily have any direct one-to-one relationship to any kind of moral maturity or sensibility. They’re just experiences. Like getting into a car crash or seeing a UFO or having a near-death experience. There’s no specific moral content to them.
People tend to forget that Siddhartha engaged in various practices and worked hard on himself for decades before his awakening. It happened in an instant. But the ground had been prepared for a lifetime, dozens of lifetimes if you believe those stories.
It is possible to have this kind of experience without properly preparing oneself for it. Sometimes a severe trauma like an accident or illness can do it. Sometimes drugs can induce it. Some so-called “spiritual” practices are designed just to cause these kinds of experiences to happen. Sometimes nothing seems to induce it. It just sort of happens.
These so-called “awakenings” do contain a sense that we are all intimately connected, that we are all manifestations of the same underlying reality. But the ego can latch onto that and make it something terribly immoral. It can decide that since I am you and you are me and we are all together, it’s fine if I fuck you over or lie to you or cheat you or steal from you because ultimately I am only doing that to myself. And what’s the problem if you do something to yourself?
It’s dangerous to point this kind of stuff out because there is a whole multi-billion dollar industry based on the notion that these kinds of experiences transform ordinary people into spiritual superheroes. But they don’t. Not in and of themselves. Becoming a moral person is a matter of transforming one’s habits of thinking and behavior. That is not easy to do. It takes time. It cannot possibly happen instantaneously no matter what sort of experience one has. An “awakening experience” can often be helpful in making a person more moral because it provides a new way of understanding yourself and others. But it doesn’t necessarily work that way.
This is why it’s very good to have a teacher who can help you through these kinds of experiences. It’s good to interact with someone else, or if you’re really lucky a number of other people, who have gone through these things. When, on the other hand, people have these experiences and then end up surrounded by admirers who want to gobble up the power such an experience confers the results can be disastrous.
So, yeah, the people you meet at a Zen temple ought to be at least decent people. And most of them are. Cases like that of Joshu Sasaki, Genpo Roshi, Eido Shimano and so forth are exceptional. They’re not the rule. You don’t have to be a genius to spot people like that either. It’s always obvious. Just don’t allow yourself to be blinded by fantasies of magic miracle men.
The foregoing is why Soto style Zen training tends to emphasize moral grounding and balance much more than the gaining of “awakening experiences,” so much so that one is often told it’s not important even to have such experiences at all. Dogen says this many times in his writings. Most teachers who followed in his lineage also say this. Which isn’t to say that Soto is good and everything else is evil. It’s just one of the things that really attracts me to the style I have practiced much more than any of the others out there, even though those others often sound a whole lot sexier.”
Reading this raised an interesting question for me concerning the Buddha. Brad refers to the Buddha awakening under the Bodhi Tree, was he enlightened then if he ever was? For the sake of this discussion I assume he was an enligtened being. As Brad says he was grounded before his awakening, and after he was awakened he lived a moral life. I make a further assumption for the sake of argument, in his post-awakened life he lived a life of anatta, and it is this totality that made him enlightened – not just his awakening, but the assumed fact that he lived a life of anatta afterwards. Was the awakening actually part of his enlightenment? For me this places the words awakening and enlightenment in context, and I like Brad’s description that in Soto Zen awakening experiences are not valued. I am also pleased to see that in Soto Zen sila is emphasised as sila esp 4NT is not something I associate with Zen.
So back to UG-Z. His awakening was huge – a world-stopper, he describes it as a calamity. Let’s examine the build-up to UG-Z’s calamity. He was born into an Indian family who expected him to become enlightened for some reason. What those expectations did to UG who knows? He then followed this ego/self for years trying to be what his parents wanted him to be, what might be described as “seeking enlightenment”. This wasn’t a gentle seeking, this was a full-blown commitment to all kinds of spiritual practices, years with J Krishnamurti, and then a progress towards hitting bottom as he rejected all his striving. This led to a period of immorality – in describing his awakening he said “Let’s go to a strip-tease joint, the ‘Folies Bergere’ or the ‘Casino de Paris’. Come on, let us go there for twenty francs.” Not actions of sila. Is it then surprising that when UG-Z did awaken the experience was so deep, so profound, so earth-shattering? He had clung to this parental version, searched for enlightenment, hit bottom, and then had his awakening – calamity. So much bottled up to come out. The UG-Z I characterise went through an aggrandised process of awakening that was exacerbated by parentl pressure and social expectation to such an extent that his self had been blown up out of all proportions and he came down with a bang.
This is upadana – clinging to self. This brings up the question as to whether an awakening is necessary. Suppose someone is brought up living naturally, no self involvement, no expectations, just getting on with it. This ideal does not have any clinging to I – no upadana. This cannot happen in the western world of education where self is educated so vehemently. Conceivably a desert island, an isolated community or some such idyll, but of course primitive communities have their own ego and self-advancement. And the spiritual world with all its seeking – very little chance. Of course there are tremendous works to study, and there are people who have great knowledge but with all the seeking and ego there is only a build-up for a calamatous awakening if it does happen. Reminds me of a recent chat concerning meditation. This person had stopped meditating because there had been no bells and banjoes. I tried to tell her that meditation brought happiness in a gentle and pleasant way in daily life, meditation helped. Not sexy, eh Brad?
I was horrified to read this:-
I visited the Jokhang temple in 2003, and it was a part of a memorable visit to Tibet.
The Tibet Post is written by Tibetans in exile, that is their political position. Within the article there appears contradictions:-
“the Chinese authorities have begun demolishing the ancient capital of Lhasa, including one of the most important Buddhist sites of the city, Tibet’s holiest Jokhang Temple.”
“The Potala Palace was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. In 2000 and 2001, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka were added to the list as extensions to the sites.”
How can destruction have begun at Jokhang if it is a heritage site
There is no doubts in my mind that all three should be heritage sites, I visited Potala Palace and Noorblinka as well. China saw Tibet as a religious oligarchy, there is no doubt in my mind that the religion demeaned people. It was a common practice for people to crawl on their hands and knees across hundreds of kilometres to reach Potala Palace. From the outside it would appear that the religious oligarchy was exploiting the people, but for me the significant reality is that the people believed in the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism, whatever they did was by choice. One can always argue about choice and indoctrination but I have no doubts at all about saying that the Tibetan people chose their Buddhism and western people are indoctrinated into accepting capitalism. This choice was so painfully obvious I completely dispute this academic picture presented by Michael Parenti.
In this links page I discuss some of my feelings about Lhasa and Tibet. I mentioned the lovely Chinese waitress who was working in Chinese Lhasa – not having met a white person. Up in Ganden and Namtso this was not an issue. What was painfully clear in central Lhasa was an economic divide – Chinese Lhasa and Tibetan Lhasa, undoubtedly Tibetan Lhasa was much poorer. I am assuming this is the Barkhor district referred to in the Tibetan Post article – cant remember. It now is clear to me that it was a typical colonial strategy of investment. The Chinese took over municipal control of Lhasa and did not provide enough money for the upkeep of Tibetan Lhasa, and now they have their excuse for knocking it down. I also remember noting there was a difference in atmosphere in Central Lhasa between the two sides, the Tibetan side was “freer” – a much more pleasant place to be. Overall my year in China was very pleasant, the students were great to teach – despite the horrendous problems with the management, and the people were always friendly – even though being in Chengdu was extremely difficult due to cultural differences.
The article clearly mentions a Chinese tourist strategy and development of cities in China herself, but that does not excuse this. I hope the confusion in the article means that the temple is not being knocked down (as said) but that there are plans to make that area of Lhasa a tourist area plans which can hopefully be altered to keep the heritage of the Jokhang temple. People should also note that tourism is big business in Tibet, there are regular plane loads of Chinese people who visit there. I only have to look at Thailand to see the destruction the tourist industry brings – but Thailand preserves her temples. China appears to want to rid herself of Tibetan Buddhism, and this appears to fit in with that strategy.
I call myself a Buddhist but do I believe in Buddhism? …. more on Buddhadasa page
This is a name I have seen but not looked at, however I downloaded “The Mystique of Enlightenment” from Holybooks
“I discovered for myself and by myself that there is no self to realize — that’s the realization I am talking about. It comes as a shattering blow. It hits you like a thunderbolt. You have invested everything in one basket, self-realization, and, in the end, suddenly you discover that there is no self to discover, no self to realize — and you say to yourself “What the hell have I been doing all my life?!” That blasts you.” This is what UG calls the Natural State, is there a problem with this?
“I don’t give a hoot for a sixth-century-BC Buddha, let alone all the other claimants we have in our midst. They are a bunch of exploiters, thriving on the gullibility of the people. There is no power outside of man. Man has created God out of fear. So the problem is fear and not God.” Can anyone say this?
Exploiters thriving on gullibility, how can anyone say that? I cannot know whether Buddha was enlightened, I have not met him, I have not been inside his head, and I don’t know whether there is enlightenment. Can UG possibly qualify to meet these 3 criteria? Same goes for his condemnation of others.
I don’t know the man but it reads like a niche, an approach of difference. In some ways I can understand that. What are blogs like this about? Different people describing their understandings in the hope that sharing brings understanding for others. UG has done all kinds of stuff in the spiritual world. When I read what he has done I can understand some of his frustration (only some I am not him). He has spent his life searching for enlightenment based on a family of theosophy, student with J (Krishnamurti), and all kinds of stuff that did not give him an answer. Then he discovers for himself that there is no self to realise, that has to be hard.
I understand that that is what the Buddha taught, at least according to Tan Ajaan that is what the Buddha taught. When I listened to Adyashanti – “What is Enlightenment?” Torrent here , he describes perception without ego. Isn’t this OK? It does seem that the search for enlightenment is the problem, and not the teachings. Perception without ego is a short statement but it says an awful lot and I would suggest that it is even harder to do. Anatta (Pali for no self) says a lot but it is hard to do. Upadana (not clinging to I or mine) says a lot but it is hard to do. Where’s the search? Where is the miracle cure?
UG describes a “calamity”, and I think of the various “hitting bottoms” that I have come across – Eckhart Tolle, Neale Donald Walsch, Paul Garrigan, my own …. How different are they? Intensity, mine was not as intense as the others although it felt powerful at the time – upheaval of life. What happened to me? I grew up with a middle-class background, and I was pushed into academia and a life of getting a job. I always remember at uni people asking what their ambition was, and I said I would be happy with a house, a wife and kids – to much ridicule. Of the people there I am probably the only person who has never been anywhere near that. My head was full of constructs and expectations, and they had nothing to do with Nature, the Natural State, anatta. In uni confrontation was never forced, it was easy. I go to work and there there was confrontation. I had to do stuff to earn money that I didn’t want to do. My first job was a bit interesting and the job had a good social life (appealing to my growing alcohol addiction) – even though I never did my job well. Then I went to Sevenoaks which was all about “a house, a wife and kids”, and I just sank lower and lower until in the end I just gave up and blew it out. Hit bottom.
Now that kind of chanelled expectation is nothing compared to the budding UG. He appears to have been forced into a life of expectations and search for enlightenment. He appears to have had his mind filled with so many things and not internalised them. Rejecting all of this he ran away from those expectations, and eventually it all hit him and he had his calamity reaching the Natural State. Yet he describes it all as non-causal, but is that so? I don’t know, I’m not him – not inside his head.
But his is not a life that does not fit the “hitting bottom” pattern – it is just that his is more extreme. Because the conflict in him was more extreme it would seem natural that the hitting bottom would also be more extreme, but the process is the same – isn’t it? The power of his calamity has got to appear far more intense than my limited experience but process-wise how different is it? More importantly how different is it for others?
If he had never picked up a book that discussed anatta, perceiving without ego, or whatever he read, if he had never had 7 years with J, would he have ever learned about no-self? Just because he resisted the internalisation of it for so long does not mean that it was not a consequence of his study in some way.
Doesn’t this all boil down to horses for courses? Tan Ajaan was famed when young and spent his life in Thailand in a monastery, he is lucid about no-self, claims he is a slave to the Buddha and gets his understanding from the suttas. He does not condemn anyone, but talks of truth in all religions. UG has his upbringing and background and condemns. What about others? I know little about what I do write about, I know much less about what I don’t write about, but it just seems to be different strokes. If it is anatta, isnt that enough? Tan Ajaan’s journey appears a lot more peaceful.
Process is important, what is the process? Insight. Somehow inside, all these ideas and belief systems are grappled with, and then eventually out of the other end comes perception without ego. I don’t know Zen koans but isn’t the koan process that concepts confuse the intellect leading to understanding – gateless gates, (pathless paths, truthless truths – I made these up I don’t know koans). Is the process the form of the koan or the process of disengaging the intellectual mind so that the Natural State of Insight comes out? How this happens can be easy or hard? We are all different, yet we are ONE with no-self. Process.
Here is a description of the aftermath of the process by Jack Kornfeld:-
“From Jack Kornfield’s ‘After the Ecstasy, the Laundry’:
It was early in my spiritual life. I had gone to a few meditation classes. Now I was lying quietly, in solitude, resting after so much time thinking, wondering. My mind was in the clearest, most open state. It also felt charged, alive, yet absolutely still as well. I had not known such a balance of alertness and ease was possible. I picked up an old Buddhist text and read a few lines:
I like his title, whatever he had opened up he still has to get back to the laundry. Doing things – good stuff.