Focus on Experience?

Posted: 13/08/2017 in Buddhadasa, Freedom, Insight, Meditation
Tags: , ,

This is my 3rd blog on 5 Gateways movie.

It is strange how things happen. I got into discussion with an ex-student – communication friend, and amongst the first things I discussed was what I consider my awakening – nothing as arrogant as an awakening as a Buddha but an awakening. At one point I was sent a fascinating Anonymous clip much of which I agree with, and all I could see was a lack of joy. How could this Anonymous guy say all this without joy?

That took me to the 5 Gateways movie where there is joy, and this elicited tears from someone watching it. I have watched (and slept) with this film a number of times, and feel good about it (proviso (s)).

I have to react to the following. Here are the movie’s initiation stages:- Awakening, Realignment, Transfiguration, Enlightenment, Resurrection. Given all of this what does it mean to me?

Whenever I start questioning myself, it usually means I have been complacent, and complacency usually means less meditation. This is true. My first reaction is to offer my ageing body as an excuse, but whilst it requires more time it is not an excuse – except occasionally.

I am at peace. Whilst I continue to offer my limited dhamma online there is little feedback – perhaps I have been too willing to accept this. This last year writing has blossomed with there being 2 Wai Zandtao books completed and a third half way through. Same issue as my online Dhamma – it is not being read. I am willing to accept this too. I would like to see ever y thing distributed, but am unwilling to pay the publishers’ price for doing that – if I were ever to seek one interested. I have done enough work, and am at peace. But having said that, I have some interest in seeing if there are benefits in helping distribution.

In the movie I love all the effusion about nature, I don’t do effusion. Maybe I should. But nature and I are close now with the house and the sea and the walking – and the birds that want my bananas but run from me. And my tokey friends. Close without effusion.

It is only now that I thought of Ascension as western and I amended the framework blog accordingly. That east-west dilemma has been something I have never been comfortable with, maybe it is just east and west together that we should think about. Eastern religion regularly sends emissaries because they see what is missing. To me what is missing in the West is tradition, the strength that tradition gives you, countering the risks of ego that exist without tradition around you. But the eastern institution can bury the rapture especially if the institutional “experts” have not experienced the rapture.

There is a need to detach from rapture but being detached does not mean not evaluating the rapture for the importance of what it is. And when people ask the dogma which of the jhanas is happening, do the institutions have the answer? Maybe they do, that is for them to answer, but per se an institution does not as an institution does not have experience. Buddhism has the tradition and there are individuals within the tradition to help. It is up to you how you go and look. A question just struck me, can a person be a true Buddhist without having experienced the rapture?

The most important thing about the Buddhism is its focus, it has taught me to focus on what people can control and not to try to get into areas where humans can only speculate. This is the danger of rapture (piti) – trying to control it. Is rapture a goal? I do have to say that at times when I was writing I did try to experience both sides of the muse – the writing and the presence that accompanied it; but it was never presence alone. Never a goal.

Ajaan Buddhadasa’s 4 systems do not seek rapture (see this talk):-

Body
Psyche
Self
Emptiness

Link these systems with the teachings concerning khandas (aggregates). The body and psyche systems are primarily concerned with khandas. We have to have an appropriate relationship with the 5 khandas – not attaching to them. If we don’t attach to them then effectively we have removed the “I and mine from the 5 khandas” (another Buddhadasa phrase), and there is an appropriate lack of ego (or self system) that enables us to relate to sunnata. I am not able to define this but this relationship with sunnata is what connects us to piti but the objective is not piti but sunnata. But we cannot experience sunnata we can experience piti, and we can only experience piti if we have established the conditions of the first three systems. And ironically those conditions are lack of conditioning. In the West that conditioning is oppressive and leads to rapturous experiences as discussed in 5 Gateways. I believe Hindus discuss such rapture as well (see Jim Carrey), but I don’t know Hindu except what is in Buddhism but am not sure of the distinction.

But the conditioning discussed in Buddhism is the same but different – what an appalling sentence. In the West conditioning tends to be discussed as social conditioning – almost indoctrination. It is almost seen as the outer imposing on the inner, and these external factors are considered as education, parents, community, society etc. Whereas the conditioning discussed in Buddhism comes from how we experience the 5 khandas through dependent co-arising, much more of an inner focus.

I often talk of “moving beyond” conditioning but this is not something we control. What we control is removing conditioning, by removing conditioning we open ourselves up to being the emptiness system – open ourselves up to a relationship with sunnata. This phraseology is so dangerous. What is sunnata – emptiness? It is the emptiness that is full, what does that mean? We cannot explain it, yet there is an emptiness system and a meaningful relationship with that system but one that cannot be explained. I said once that during meditation I breathe in emptiness, what does that mean? But doing it helped. Relationship with emptiness or an emptiness system is so fraught with danger.

Is the approach to conditioning helpful in considering rapture? I expand on this without answering. Does western conditioning with its type of oppressive approach encourage rapture when breaking out of the conditioning?

In meditation I worked on a visualisation that might help. To use this visualisation we must first know the 5 khandas:- rupa(body), vedana (feeling), sanna (perceptions/memory), sankhara (mental formations/concocting or proliferations), vinnana (consciousness). Basically Buddhadasa’s first three systems are concerned with understanding the khandas. He uses the word psyche as covering the 4 mental khandas of vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana, and it is my understanding that there is an aspect of mind that is more than these as can be seen by the visualisation.

The first 3 systems are basically covered by the Buddhadasa purpose of Buddhism:- “To remove the I and mine from the 5 Khandas”. The visualisation is based on the seeking of harmony of the first three systems enabling the freed mind to relate to the emptiness system.

The body has to function. It requires healthy food – ideally organic plant-based, any necessary medicine – hopefully natural/herbal, and it requires exercise both physical and energetic, and if done harmoniously rupa is a happy system ready for sunnata. Lack of harmony can be caused by indulging in unhealthy food for taste’s sake, partaking of drugs, and indulging in excessive exercise perhaps for reasons of “body beautiful” etc.

The 4 mental khandas are concerned with harmony of the mind, this perhaps is better understood as non-attachment. The easiest to explain in this way is sankhara. In this world the mind has certain functioning such as reasoning, the mind must apprehend theories in order to understand them (and reject them?). This is a sankhara function. But if we attach to theories, concoct theories, let the mind proliferate here there and everywhere, this is the ego attaching to sankhara and is evidenced in academia (Buddhist and otherwise). Why does academia not have a functioning approach to mind when all people have to do is look inside? Because of sankhara. There is a harmonious relationship with sankhara where the ego is not attached. Similarly there is a harmonious approach to the other three khandas whose functions are harmonious if the ego is not attached to them.

If there is harmony and non-attachment to the 5 khandas, then the body and psyche systems are ready. And of these systems are ready the self system is also likely to be in harmony. In Buddhism there is anatta – no self. There is no function of I and mine that is not covered by the 5 khandas. I grows out of the 5 khandas. If we attach to emotions, memories and theories saying this is who we are, we are attaching to the 5 khandas. Over time this attachment becomes our personalities – I. Letting go of attachment to I, to the 5 khandas, leaves the mind free. Letting go of conditioning leaves the mind free.

And here is where the visualisation comes in. With the 5 khandas in harmony, the body’s food and exercise having been dealt with, the psyche functioning also being in harmony with no attachment to the khandas, no attachment to I, the mind (the rest of the mind that is not psyche) is free. Visualise the mind being free from the khandas, free from I, and that min can expand and soar. That mind can be open to breathing in sunnata, that mind can soar into Unity, that mind can feel unconditional love. It is this freed mind that experiences rapture once mind as a whole is free from conditioning, free from khandas, free from I.

I contend that it is this mind freed from conditioning that experienced during the 5 Gateways, and it is the soul that “ascended”. Mind free from conditioning can experience.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

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