Archive for the ‘Buddhadasa’ Category

A Good Experience

Posted: 18/08/2017 in Buddhadasa, Freedom, Meditation
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I was drowsy last night – in and out of dozing so went to bed early. As to be expected there wasn’t sleep, and I began thinking about detachment from the 5 khandas. This has followed from this Santikaro talk on Ajaan Buddhadasa that, simplified, talks of 4 systems:-

Body
Psyche
Self
Emptiness

At the crux of the first 3 systems are the 5 khandas – discussed in part here. I want to look more at the Psyche and Self systems, and I want to bear in mind the visualisation talked of in the same blogpost. It is most interesting to me why Buddhadasa wanted to choose the word psyche as opposed to mind, and again for me it has an implication that mind is more than psyche.

Before I go on I consider myself Buddhist but much of this is personal. OK I am bouncing off a talk about Ajaan Buddhadasa, a key Buddhist in Thailand – if not mainstream, but I have no suttas or related dogma to back this up. If I thought I was wrong I would not be writing this but it is not mainstream Buddhism – I think.

Let me return to the term “psyche”. I believe Buddhadasa chose the term psyche because it is concerned with the 3 khandas, vedana – feeling, sanna – perception, and sankhara – formations and proliferations. But it is also concerned with that part of consciousness – vinnana (the 5th khanda) which enables us to experience the 4 other khandas of rupa – body, vedana – feeling, sanna – perception, and sankhara – formations and proliferations. But there is a part of vinnana that is more than just consciousness of the other khandas, a part of mind that is more than psyche.

Now how does this relate to self? Anatta, no-self, is a Buddhist tenet, but how can there be no ego, no self? This is where the khandas come in. When you examine the function of ego or self and compare it to the 5 khandas there is no difference, there is no functioning of I that is not a function of the khandas. A human functions as the 5 khandas. So where does I come in? As part of vinnana. There is that part of vinnana which enables the 4 other khandas to experience but through our conditioning we say that I experienced – I felt, I perceived, I thought. But it goes further than this – I become attached to the feeling, I become attached to the perception, and I become attached to the thoughts. These attachments start to build up the I, then through desire we indulge the feelings, through desire we remember and focus on the perceptions, and through desire we concoct proliferations and theories and reasons and theories and reasons and theories and reasons and theories and reasons and theories and reasons and theories and reasons and theories and reasons ….. And this becomes the I that is our ego – our self.

But if we detach from the desire, detach from the excesses, let the feelings, perceptions and thoughts happen without attachment we have the normal functioning of the khandas – and no self.

Let me recap simply the visualisation. In this I was trying to detach from conditioning – detach from the khandas, and once detached there was a part of mind that enabled me to relate to sunnata.

So this brings me to last night. I eventually slept trying to detach from the 5 khandas. I woke up early, and began thinking of vinnana. It was vinnana that transcends, it is a part of vinnana that transcends – that is meant to transcend. By transcending I mean beyond conditioning, that it is part of vinnana that detaches from the conditioning, detaches from the khandas, detaches from the self, and moves to relate to sunnata.

At this point consciousness started to lift from the base of my stomach and move up the body and towards the top of my head – crown chakra. It was a great feeling as this heaviness in my stomach became lighter and lighter as it moved towards the crown. With it came a great sense of freedom. I enjoyed it for a while, consolidated thoughts on vinnana and slept again- too much!

Fascinating – a good experience!!

I need the 5 Gateways people to do some effusion for me! And to counter my framework crit of 5 Gateways Ascension theory, I could be just fitting the experience to the theory – a Buddhadasa 4-system moment. Of course there is no answer to such except .

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

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.

Framework?

Posted: 05/08/2017 in Buddhadasa, ONE planet
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It was difficult for me to write about 5 Gateways, I don’t want to discourage people who are interested in 5 Gateways from going to them. But I don’t like frameworks.

For many of you (many on my blog?), looking at Buddhism you have got to see a huge proliferation of frameworks – it’s not worth listing them there are so many. And there are as many Buddhist traditions as there are Gateways. But it is my view that the Kalama sutta says that we should not hold to theoretical systems unless we have experienced them. Yesterday I mentioned Ajaan Buddhadasa. In a talk given by Santikaro (recognised as being a westerner close to Tan Ajaan), he described 4 samatthas (right systems) that Ajaan Buddhadasa focused on on his last mindful birthday:-

Body system
Psychic system
Self system
Emptiness system

I actually like this, if I think about these I feel it helps my understanding. But if you don’t that’s fine, that is the Kalama point to me.

And that’s my point about the 5 Gateways. If the 5 Gateways or initiations :-

Awakening
Realignment
Transfiguration
Crucifixion
Resurrection

if these Gateways work for you then use them. But trying to squeeze into them is the danger I am concerned about. What is valid is your experience, whatever happened to you that is what is valid, that is your strength.

But having said that, even that is not true. There are people who are stuck because they had such an experience and have never moved on. They try to recreate the experience because it was so meaningful, so powerful. I tend to think of these experiences as nature’s rewards for your progress on the Path, if you are following the Path then these rewards, wonderful experiences, happen. But if you become hooked on the experience and become an experience-junkie there is no satisfaction or peace – and no progress on the Path.

However it is worth considering the following:-

  • Ascension is western
  • I relate to the movie because the repressive conditioning I grew up with blew up into an awakening after hitting bottom. When I examine Buddhism I do not find discussion of oppressive conditioning, and a resulting awakening. Yes Buddhism talks of all the things including awakening but it seems as a gradual transition, awakening is maybe more “integrated” into eastern upbringing. It is hard to work out because of the institutional nature of much of Buddhism in the east and it is hard to judge an upbringing that is not your own. But there is a western thing when awakening happens or even before – “Go east”. And it is there in the east in Buddhism (and elsewhere) if not in the institutions – by the vary nature of institutions. Even though I ask questions about frameworks, Ascension has elements of western experience not found in Buddhism. Interesting.

    Below is how the Buddha described these experiences as jhanas, complicated? I have seen within forums people forlornly asking “did I experience a jhana?” I see people trying to squeeze into this jhana framework. I also see the experience of rapture being played down in Buddhism – non-attachment. Whilst I understand this I also understand the desire to celebrate the experience. This is a dilemma, attach to the experience or play it down as if detached. These are the negatives of the dilemma, there is a need for genuine equanimity – upekkha.

    I don’t know whether the people in the movie are attached or not, that is for them to decide. My strategy in recommending the movie is to encourage people to celebrate their experiences (and to cover myself I should say in a detached way). I have no doubts at all that I have overly-detached, and allowed time to forget the rapture. When I was younger (30s and 40s) such rapture was sporadic. Then I meditated daily and the highs of such rapture disappeared. But overall I felt better, no rollercoaster just peace – mostly.

    Am I being clear about fitting the framework? Let me try by example.

    Clip 20.36 – 23.32. Here Chris and Lesley describe experiences that have happened to them, these experiences don’t just happen to them they happen to many. But at the end Chris says it is his “Gateway 1 experience”, he fitted it into his Ascension framework. For me the descriptions of the experiences could equally have been described as rapture or jhanas. Or they could have just been described – that is why I recommend the film – for the description.

    When I hit bottom there was a mega-awakening from all the conditioning that had turned me into an arrogant academic focused on the system. I went back to London, took a job for money, realigned myself into a focus towards the Path, this realignment pushed me to child care and teaching, I had lost my ego and become this new compassionate person. This was the drastic one, the one that was obviously fitting into these Ascension categories. But as life went on there were further changes that could be described in this 5-stage process, and will be continued to be described in this way; this repetition was alluded to in the movie. The Buddha describes this as letting go of the ego leading to anatta, that is the emptiness that Ajaan Buddhadasa encourages. It is the experience not the framework, we don’t have to fit into a theory UNLESS that theory is where you are at. If theory and practice are together – great.

    It could just be that I have not reached the stages as described in the movie, I can’t be definitive about that – nor would I want to be. For me it matters not, but if you feel pressured to adhere to the framework it matters, that concerns me. For me measuring up to the framework doesn’t matter. If you relate to the experiences in the movie but don’t measure up to the framework, does that matter? That is for you to answer.

    Because they believe in the Ascension framework they will measure themselves against it, that is their choice. Because you have these experiences you don’t have to measure yourself by the same framework. BUT if it helps you do it.

    There is other stuff out there but not so many good movies. Enjoy, learn and feel reinforced.

    *************************

    jhána: ‘absorption’ (meditation) refers chiefly to the four meditative absorptions of the fine-material sphere (rúpa-jjhána or rúpávacara-jjhána; s. avacara). They are achieved through the attainment of full (or attainment -, or ecstatic) concentration (appaná, s. samádhi), during which there is a complete, though temporary, suspension of fivefold sense-activity and of the 5 hindrances (s. nívarana). The state of consciousness, however, is one of full alertness and lucidity. This high degree of concentration is generally developed by the practice of one of the 40 subjects of tranquillity meditation (samatha-kammatthána; s. bhávaná). Often also the 4 immaterial spheres (arúpáyatana) are called absorptions of the immaterial sphere (arúpa-jjhána or arúpávacara-jjhána). The stereotype text, often met with in the Suttas, runs as follows:
    (1) “Detached from sensual objects, o monks, detached from unwholesome consciousness, attached with thought-conception (vitakka) and discursive thinking (vicára), born of detachment (vivekaja) and filled with rapture (píti) and joy (sukha) he enters the first absorption.
    (2) “After the subsiding of thought-conception and discursive thinking, and by gaining inner tranquillity and oneness of mind, he enters into a state free from thought-conception and discursive thinking, the second absorption, which is born of concentration (samádhi), and filled with rapture (píti) and joy (sukha).
    (3) “After the fading away of rapture he dwells in equanimity, mindful, clearly conscious; and he experiences in his person that feeling of which the Noble Ones say, ‘Happy lives the man of equanimity and attentive mind’; thus he enters the 3rd absorption.
    (4) “After having given up pleasure and pain, and through the disappearance of previous joy and grief, he enters into a state beyond pleasure and pain, into the 4th absorption, which is purified by equanimity (upekkhá) and mindfulness.
    (5) “Through the total overcoming of the perceptions of matter, however, and through the vanishing of sense-reactions and the non-attention to the perceptions of variety, with the idea, ‘Boundless is space’, he reaches the sphere of boundless space (ákásánañcáyatana) and abides therein.
    [“By ‘perceptions of matter’ (rúpa-saññá) are meant the absorptions of the fine-material sphere, as well as those objects themselves . . . ” (Vis.M. X, 1).
    “By ‘perceptions of sense-reactions’ (patigha-saññá) are meant those perceptions that have arisen due to the impact of sense-organs (eye, etc.) and the sense-objects (visible objects, etc.). They are a name for the perception of visible objects, as it is said (Jhána-Vibh . ): ‘What are here the perceptions of sense-reactions? They are the perceptions of visible objects, sounds, etc.’ – Surely, they do no longer exist even for one who has entered the 1st absorption, etc., for at such a time the five-sense consciousness is no longer functioning. Nevertheless, this is to be understood as having been said in praise of this immaterial absorption, in order to incite the striving for it” (Vis.M. X, 16).
    “Perceptions of variety (ñánatta-saññá) are the perceptions that arise in various fields, or the various perceptions” (ib.). Hereby, according to Vis.M. X, 20, are meant the multiform perceptions outside the absorptions.]
    (6) “Through the total overcoming of the sphere of boundless space, and with the idea ‘Boundless is consciousness’, he reaches the sphere of boundless consciousness (viññánañcáyatana) and abides therein.
    (7) “Through the total overcoming of the sphere of boundless consciousness, and with the idea ‘Nothing is there’, he reaches the sphere of nothingness (ákiñcaññáyatana) and abides therein.
    (8) “Through the total overcoming of the sphere of nothingness he reaches the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception (nevasaññá-n’asaññáyatana) and abides therein.”

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

    Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

    5 Gateways is a wonderful movie from these people. If you want a movie that talks about finding the Path this is it. Most importantly when you first find the Path you need to find people who have shared experience. For me after hitting bottom it was the people at the Arts Centre – to whom I will always be grateful and to whom I am so sad we have lost touch only 42 years ago!!

    Why is this movie so important? If you start on the Path, hitting bottom or otherwise, you need shared experience. This world will negate everything you are going through. Finding the greatest thing you could possibly find will be negated by family, friends and establishment authority because they have not experienced it. If you watch this movie then you can feel what these people feel, and your experience is reinforced. That is wonderful.

    Now to the downside. These people have explained their shared experience through Ascension. Do you know if Ascension is true? For the makers of this movie Ascension is true. If you watch this movie after hitting bottom – in that or any other vulnerable position – you might well be attracted to their Ascension framework. I don’t know whether Ascension is true, and if I don’t know something is true I don’t go there. This movie has tremendous shared experience that helps in the alone situation people on the Path can find themselves, this movie can alleviate at such times but it is a danger at a time of vulnerability.

    I am not saying Ascension is not true, I am saying I don’t know whether it is true. I have chosen a different Path – Buddhism. In Buddhism there is a lot of dogma, and over the years I have whittled down the dogma so that I have a Buddhism I am comfortable with – but many might not see it as Buddhism. BZBuddhism requires very little dogma – little more than the 4NT with a bit of help from Ajaan Buddhadasa. But even then to understand Ajaan Buddhadasa requires going beyond a great deal of dogma because he was such a dedicated scholar; dogma that in my view he eschewed. And studying Ajaan Buddhadasa would not ratify the tremendousness of experience that is shared in 5 Gateways, however the framework that Ajaan Buddhadasa gives you does not require any faith. It does require you to be discerning, questioning and intelligent but it does not require any leaps of faith. 5 Gateways requires a leap of faith to begin with (unless you know for yourself you have already gone through the 5 Gateways). I am not in favour of anyone taking a leap of faith.

    I have an anecdote which gives me cause for concern. I met a drunk in Africa who had been involved with Ascension – not with these people. He spent a few years with them and did not ascend. He felt a failure and turned to drink. Accepting himself for who he was at whatever stage on the Path that he was might have kept him interested in the Path and kept him off the booze.

    In the movie the shared experience is ratifying and well worth hearing. But all the people measure themselves in terms of the 5 Gateways, I have reached such and such a stage. This is understandable as the movie is made by people following this approach, but is it advisable for all people starting on the Path to measure themselves in this way?

    For years after hitting bottom I studied spirituality in one form or another, sadly I wasted some time in the bottle. There is a variety of spiritual experience out there, but some of it is charlatan, some of it deluded and some of it exaggerated. Path experiences or jhanas are so powerful they can become all-embracing and all-consuming; they can also be a fixation. When you are vulnerable and starting out which of these attributes do you want? What do you want to know?

    Firstly you need to know that your experience is real. You do not want to listen to people who dismiss your experience as trendy hippy or doped up or whatever, your experience is valid do not let people dismiss it. But such experience (or jhana) is not an end in itself, it is part of the Path. And what is the Path? And we are back to doubt again. The Path is real, or it can be real depending on who is talking about it. Out there there are charlatans who will tell you they have found the Path to enlightenment, but have they? You can only take their word for it – or not! Ascension is a Path to Enlightenment – or not, you can only take their word for it.

    When I listen to what they say in the movie, they are people who have experienced, their experience is valid, they have done a great thing in sharing that experience in the movie, and that sharing of experience has to be validating for the vulnerable who have just started on the Path. But is their framework correct? Is there a leap of faith involved?

    Does Buddhism require leaps of faith? To begin with, most definitely. Have most Buddhists made a leap of faith? Most definitely. Does the Buddha ask you to make a leap of faith? In my view the Kalama sutta suggests that you do not take a leap of faith. If you walk into a wat or Buddhist monastery will the monks have taken a leap of faith, and the answer most definitely is yes. Should you take a leap of faith? My answer is no.

    The essence of all of this is understanding. To gain understanding you have to study dogma until that dogma falls away and you have understanding or wisdom. So as part of the learning process I have believed in Buddhism. By believing in it I was able to come to an understanding of those parts of Buddhism that I initially believed in. I now eschew the dogma and hopefully have wisdom. Can new people on the Path do this? I couldn’t when younger. Can young people believe in Ascension, let the dogma fall away and be left only with wisdom? That does not appear to be the teaching methodology but maybe so? Can young people go to Buddhism, let the dogma fall away and be left with wisdom? Definitely not within most of the Buddhist institutions I know of.

    Buddhism has an advantage over the 5 Gateways Ascension. Buddhism is big and does not necessarily require commitment. I have been on retreats but I have not committed myself to cloisters. Maybe remaining on the periphery of 5 Gateways would allow their dogma to drop away? Immersing in their programme I would suggest might create problems of faith.

    But I go back to my original point in this post, their movie is validating. For people new to the Path watching their movie without embracing their dogma would be extremely worthwhile. Maybe even getting involved with them would be worthwhile – I do not know, but the getting of wisdom anywhere means eventually eschewing dogma. There are Buddhists with dogma, eschew that dogma and get wisdom, there are followers of Ascension with dogma, eschew that dogma and get wisdom, there are followers of Eckhart Tolle (whom I at one time considered wise – he has done so much with Oprah I don’t know where he is at now), eschew his dogma and get wise. Wisdom is gained by eschewing dogma.

    Why did I choose Buddhism? Ego. Buddhism has centuries of tradition in which there have been Buddhists who have questioned. Whilst Buddhism has its dogma, whilst Buddhism has a proliferation of intellectuals and concocters, it has its tradition. Wise people over the years have gained wisdom and contributed to Buddhism. What about the people ascending? Where is their tradition? They have to rely on themselves. And what happens? They come under threat from the society they are rejecting, and this can build up an ego that defends. How would this ego respond? Possibly by becoming more dogmatic, defending the dogma of their beliefs; is this wise? Immersion with Ascension risks such dogma, and possibly risks eschewing wisdom. At the beginning of the Path when people are vulnerable this is a danger.

    To avoid this I have never recommended 5 Gateways until now, but the shared experience is so valuable so reinforcing, so invigorating, so IMPORTANT I want to recommend it with the above proviso.

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

    Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

    When you look around there is all kinds of suffering, it’s just awful. It’s so sad to see things the way they are.

    And our newborn they have to grow up in this suffering, to do this they are helped by their upbringing – parents community and education. But what are they helped to do? Grow up, get a job and fit in. This is the 1%-system we are in – get a job and fit in to their profit-making. Fit in with the wars and wage-slavery. It is understandable if people growing up don’t want to fit into this system, look at it.

    Basically the way we grow up does not look at it. We are conditioned to get a job and fit in, this is normal. We are conditioned not to see the suffering – the wars, wage-slavery and 1%-system. Breaking free of this conditioning produces two things. We see the suffering for what it is, we find there is a way of peace through this suffering.

    Now the Buddha talked of this suffering with the 4 Noble Truths (4NT). He saw the suffering as caused by clinging to desire, and if we can be free of this clinging there is peace. And he offered the 8-fold path (Magga) as a way through this suffering – as a way of being free from clinging.

    Whilst the Buddha was innovative when he spoke of the 4NT, this notion of path is quite common-place amongst spiritual people. The path has been spoken of before and since the Buddha, but the path spoken of has many versions not specifically Magga.

    I knew none of this when I hit bottom and started to follow the Path. Within me there was a sense of what the Path was, it was a reality that I was able to follow. And it worked. From the times of total confusion around hitting bottom, with various bits of help along the way I held onto this path and developed. It wasn’t until I was 50 that I saw a formal definition of path such as Magga, prior to that the path was verbally vague although a deep real conviction.

    I think the following is true, whatever method you use meditation is concerned with calming the mind and being silent. I have meditated off and on since hitting bottom but it is only from being a Buddhist at 49 that meditation has been a regular practice – my form is vipassana meditation. Vipassana just means insight, the purpose of the meditation is insight and it comes from the silence. From the insight comes something else – an inner guide. The calm and silence that comes from meditation leads also to a clarity of action – a guide to action. At hitting bottom, in meditation or otherwise the guide instilled the idea of the Path as a way of living; it was a methodology of living and as such it was a mechanism the guide could give for me to hold onto in those times of confusion. At hitting bottom the conditioning had been removed and I had found my inner guide telling me to follow the Path until the need for a path fell away as I found the guide in meditation. The 7th and 8th steps of Magga are variously translated as concentration, meditation, insight etc.

    In Buddhism there is a dead monk I consider my teacher, Ajaan Buddhadasa. From what little I know of his personal history he was actively explaining the Buddhist dhamma in his late teens. I do not know enough of how he developed to know of where his awareness came from but hitting bottom did not seem to be part of it. In the East there is the suffering, there is the 1%-system, there are wars, but their conditioning enables a soft transition for some into various forms of Buddhism. In the West it doesn’t seem the same, neither Christianity nor Islam seem to offer that same soft transition, and it is fairly common for moving beyond the conditioning to be difficult; typically Eckhart Tolle struggled before becoming the teacher he is.

    Whilst my personal journey did not smoothly transcend conditioning, there is nothing in the 4NT that does not compare with stages of my own development. Only the 4NT can be much more peaceful.

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

    Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.


    One is a threat and the other is manipulated to destroy the threat.

    Anarchism in itself is not all bad. There is a strong history of anarchism that supports working people. There are anarchists who call for collective ownership of companies, this kind of syndicalism I support. Here the principle of anarchism is against government that prevents collective ownership. Socialism and communism are usually governmental structures, and whilst there have never been governments that are truly socialist or communist to aim for such is in my view risky. I cannot see how socialist governments will work, once you have representation power is taken away from the individual and because of that responsibility goes as well. With representation the individual follows instead of being active in a creative thinking process towards action; following benefits the 1% not the 99%. Anarchism is sometimes feared by the establishment because some anarchists choose violence as a form of action but apart from these violent attacks in general anarchism is beneficial to the 1% because it destroys a collective response.

    Anarchism is ego supposedly collectivised as a “movement”. This is the delusion that I feel has taken over the internet. Throughout the internet there are individuals who are writing about the struggle from a left or right perspective. These individuals quite often have an angle on the truth. Alex Jones is regularly attacked by the liberals for his bombastic approach, and they then ignore everything he says; they are ignoring some truth because he is a bombast. Yet there are many people who follow him. Why? Because he describes some truths concerning the actions of the 1%. For example, I have no doubts at all that Bilderberg has some impact on 1% strategy. But Alex Jones has plenty of sponsors because Alex Jones attacks the collective response. What has Alex Jones achieved other than discussion, and a certain level of awareness. I would imagine his followers are extremely frustrated because there is no constructive action, and perhaps that frustration became misguided in supporting Trump. Alex Jones has begun to criticise Trump, I hope in the end he will dissociate from this 1%-puppet.

    The metier of these anarchists is ideas, they believe in ideas first and ultimately it is this approach which brings failure. Ideas by their very nature are divisive. Academia nitpicks pointless distinctions between ideas, and this is why academia can never be the Church of Wisdom that one might hope it to be. Whilst there are some in academia who are searching for knowledge and wisdom the overall process is destructive because all ideas are given merit and the melee of ideas is simply confusion or worse, conflict. Academia has only one cohesion, providing jobs for intellectuals. As an institution the intellectuals all follow a certain set of rules that enables academia and funding to still exist.

    But this post is about the anarchy of ideas and idealism. Let us take the 4 Noble Truths. These are truths but can never be accepted by academia as truths because one “professor” putting forward a set of ideas that dismisses them is given equal merit. There is no benchmark of truth in academia, and at a wider level there is no benchmark of truth with ideas. Anarchism is effectively a collective confusion based on competitive ideas. This is no value judgement on the quality of ideas themselves; it is a comment on the collective confusion that is anarchism.

    There is one place these anarchists did not go – Occupy, watch Rise like Lions to be reminded of what collective movements can achieve. The 1% in Wall Street and elsewhere were frightened of the Occupy movement, and as can be seen from the movie eventually repressed the movement. I have no evidence for this but I believe that the sponsorship of internet anarchism was fuelled by fears of Occupy. Occupy did not put ideas first, they put action. In the clip you will hear the constant demand from the establishment for a set of ideas to knock down, and Occupy just said “fix the system”.

    Occupy activism frightened the 1% who for the first time recently had become “named” targets. People dismissed governments as the problem, and blamed the 1%. They told the 1% to fix the system. Since then the sponsored anarchism has blamed liberal government for the problems; 8 years of Obama liberalism is the problem …. and before Obama there were no problems? And this sponsorship has been so effective that people have voted for a 1%-demagogue like Trump. And what is worse, there is a high level of following of Trump without any concern for discerning wisdom and truth. They believe Trump will do what they want, and dismiss criticisms of Trump as liberalism – so dangerous.

    No idea worries the 1%, what worries them is collective action. Consumer boycotts frighten Israel, criticism through ideas they control by calling them antisemitic. A boycott hits their profits. And this is an indicator for wider political action, hit their profits. The organic health movement is restricted because organic foods attack the profits of BigFood – BigFood cannot make mass-produced organic food. Where did e-numbers and chemicals in food come from? The need for longevity in food so BigFood could make a profit. Consumer boycotts of GM foods frightens the industry so scientists such as Seralini are discredited. Collective bargaining is attacked because it reduces profits and so the anarchists highlight the occasional weaknesses in such collectivism. What then happens? The 1% favour a few and increase their profits to the detriment of the many; anarchist idealism identifies with the few.

    This is why it is so important to return to the strategy of collective action. Not only the collective action of demonstrations but the action of collective bargaining and consumer boycotts. Activist Post has some interesting analyses but it is limited to that, it should be called Ideas Post or Anarchist Post because without collective action it is not effectively active. Unfortunately the egos that write for it don’t appear to see this, I suspect their ego is ultimately more interested in followers and internet sponsorship than action against the 1% causing the problems.

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

    Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

    I have begun revising the Treatise (Treatise of Zandtao). Whilst these small revisions are not going to be online for a while I should note that HHSR has been removed together with references to reincarnation. I have been studying Nagarjuna a bit– as being a link between what is Theravada (supposedly the original Buddha’s teachings and Zen/Tibetan). Reincarnation is really a Hindu belief that has become part of Buddhism according to Buddhadasa – I like that for the reasons that it explains the origin (Hindu India) of the belief and that proving reincarnation seems not to be possible. It is usually assigned to one of the Buddha’s unanswered questions. I was unsure of a lot of the references to unanswered questions, here is a summary that is from one of the Theravada suttas SN 44 explaining why the questions are not answered.

    I am more concerned about Nagarjuna’s dependence on faith, I noticed this in the letter to the king in “The Good-hearted Letter” Section Two. Let me start by saying that faith is something I do not have. But before I get into that I want to surmise why Nagarjuna needed faith, and that is his belief in reincarnation. How can you accept reincarnation unless through faith because there is no way you can assert it through experience; having said that I cannot explain stories such as these without finding some disguised way of saying they are lies; the stories are not sufficient evidence to support reincarnation – just sufficient to create doubts. But for me the world is paradoxical enough to accept “exceptions to the rule”. But it matters not, I have not experienced it so I don’t accept it for myself.

    Faith is a requirement for reincarnation yet it my view that the Buddha never asked us to have faith in him – or anything. Based on the Kalama Sutta, AN3, it is my contention that the Buddha asked us not to believe him but to come to some kind of personal conviction through experience that what he said is true. I often think of this as internalising an idea by deeply knowing it as a truth – or even experiencing the idea as an insight. Faith says here is a dogma, believe it – in other words here is a mindset, believe it. Are holy books factual? Or are they allegorical to bring home certain spiritual truths? My own view is the second, you must decide for yourself what is important.

    This issue of “holding to a mindset” has been alluded to throughout the treatise, and is central to a perspective on conditioning. In an earlier chapter of the Treatise I looked at the book “The Four Agreements” demonstrating that we grow up with mindsets which we agree with because they are custom and practise for our societies, in effect this mindset of agreements could be seen more sinisterly as conditioning. The way we grow up could be seen as making agreements with our parents and society, or it could be seen in a more passive way as conforming to that conditioning that our upbringing requires of us.

    The dogmas of a faith are a mindset, the agency of accepting that mindset separates a faith from a set of ideas, and I question that agency. I don’t dismiss the agency, I have used the term “internalising” as an acceptable agency, and I would also see insight as legitimate – although I find it difficult to see how a whole faith could be determined through insight. Debating the agency of one’s faith is an individual journey for each person to undergo, but without a suitable agency one’s faith is simply a set of ideas – a dogma – a mindset. Accepting a mindset without appropriate deep enquiry is for me a mistake that many make. It happens as we start to unravel conditioning especially amongst the young who reject conditioning but then seek to replace it. There is a charismatic figure, David Icke, who has politically dissected much that is wrong with our society. There is a strong body of younger people who follow him. There are two issue that I contend with him. The first concerns the Illuminati. I have never investigated the Illuminati because I don’t know them so how can I ascertain the truth about them. Throughout this book I have discussed the 1%, and I have no doubt that these bourgeoisie control our corporatocracy through finance and influence. But I have no experience to suggest that these people are masons – they may well be. I do however believe that groups such as Bilderberg meet and exert influence on our society. However the control of the 1% is in my view through convergence of interest and influence based on their own conditioning rather than a concrete plan or planning meeting. Second are the lizards. The only lizards I have come across are the ones that scuttle across my living room leaving small shit everywhere. If there are aliens as lizards I can accept correction but it has to be verifiable by direct personal experience. Icke-ists accept and feel they have to accept the full mindset. This is based on our miseducation in which indoctrination through accepting mindsets, ideas and facts stuffed in our minds to pass exams, leads to one mindset being replaced by another once we start to see through our conditioning – discussed throughout in Matriellez.

    However this aspect of our conditioning, our mindset-replacing tendency, needs to be seen for what it is – another part of our conditioning (education methods), and it is only when this additional aspect is replaced by complete enquiry can we say that we have overcome conditioning.

    Isms are a good way to begin examining conditioning. Consider nationalism. Is this a good thing? Many education systems foster nationalism as this produces stability within a society. By saying your own society is better than others you are immediately creating a lesser society, a group of inferiors. Once you have people seen as less than you, it is very easy for manipulative groups to misuse media to create a war for profit – can we kill our own? If we are all seen as equal, all societies seen as equal, then such excuses for war disappear – we do not make war on ourselves. This of course is a fundamental democratic principle that all people have equal democratic rights.

    Racism is another ism well worth examining. I was brought up a white middle-class racist, and was fortunate enough to learn about my racism by good black people being willing to teach me and tolerate the racism I grew up with. When I reflect on things that I have thought and even said, I am somewhat ashamed despite knowing they are sourced in conditioning – conforming to the custom and practise of the white middle-class I grew up with. I would recommend all people of privilege such as white privilege to seriously examine themselves. In my professional biography as part of my M Ed I included a discussion of anti-racist training (ART), and would encourage people to examine themselves through such training approaches.

    As a male chauvinism is another ism that I was born with, and therefore grew up being sexist. As an adult I intellectually accepted equality but I am not sure I always practised it because of my desires. Society is undoubtedly chauvinist, and we are therefore continually bombarded with media that promotes sexism. As males, especially younger males in whom the desires are stronger, constant re-evaluation is required. For example, what is anorexia and bulimia? Are these psychological conditions that a few women suffer from? Or are they natural consequences of a sexist society that portrays women as sex objects based on a body image that it is almost impossible to maintain – a situation made far worse by the way Big Food manipulates our foods for profit so that maintaining our health is so difficult. Should women have equal rights in the workplace? Or just in workplaces that do not affect my promotion?

    Antisemitism is a particularly interesting ism for those on the left. When you consider history there is no doubt that Jews have been persecuted culminating in the atrocity of the Nazi Holocaust. Following the situation that has happened in Palestine where the homeland of Israel was created, on the left there has been much support for the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, oPt. Often that support has been vocal against Jews, is that antisemitic? At the same time there are wealthy Jews who could be called 1%, some such Jews have power in media. Is that then a Jewish conspiracy? I recommend a deep enquiry into one’s own antisemitism, and a suitable place to start are these 7 tenets of antisemitism.

    Considering the ongoing barrage of media conditioning, enquiry is so important, it is integral that we continually re-evaluate our own conditioning because it is so easy to accept negative mindsets. When we add to this the dangers of attaching to mindsets once developed as insights the need for constant enquiry is a matter of ever-vigilance.

    But we need to consider what is the purpose of this conditioning. It is conformity to what end. Certainly conformity is useful for providing a stable society but it does not begin to give a reason until we look at the 1%. They require a compliant and consuming workforce, they need consuming wage-slaves who can accept the various consequences of the current system such as climate change and wars for profits. Now the conditioning has a meaning because across the world we have people who accept working for money to pay the bills and consuming extras.

    And where is the danger to this system? If for some reason the workforce refuses to be wage-slaves and discerningly decides not to waste money on consumerism. This is why so much effort is made to attack unions because when workers band together they demand the profits for themselves.

    But more than unions they fear a unity of purpose, a unity of purpose that sees 99% working together for the interest of the Gaia – climate change, renewable energy, Dakota pipeline – and for the interests of all the people in the world – no wars for profits. Such division of peoples comes from nationalism – dividing nation against nation, racism diving white from black, sexism – dividing women from men, and antisemitism – dividing gentile from Jew.

    Political unity in the interest of all peoples and for the interest of our planet is the way we can overcome the 1% manipulation of ourselves as consuming wage-slaves.

    And unity or Oneness is what is sought through spiritual awareness. We are not separate people with individual interests, but we are One people with the interest of the One planet, our home. Even the very religions which are the systemic way of understanding this Oneness are used to separate. Wars have been fought with religion as an excuse yet religions when understood in depth seek only Oneness.

    But what happens to people who seek Oneness, they become aware that we are not separate but One people. They transcend the separation and understand there is Unity. They overcome the conditioning that creates separation, they see through the delusion where we are conditioned as separate and accept the Unity.

    This acceptance of Unity is usually associated with forms of bliss, and the transcendental process is often confused with the joy that people have during transcendence but the truth is that this transcendence happens when people end separation, when they end division, when they don’t accept the agreements their society and upbringing require of them, when they work to end their conditioning on all levels. Transcending conditioning is what brings Unity – anatta.

    And this transcendence brings understanding on all levels. Once we throw off the shackles of our conditioning, by rejecting separation, by going beyond dogma and intellect, by fighting the hatred that comes with all the isms – often bringing wars with profits, by accepting Unity as Gaia where destroying the environment by climate change and industrial exploitation is understood as destroying ourselves. This is all transcendence. From the moment any part of our conditioning is questioned we begin transcendence. For some it remains political where the bliss is never experienced because new mindsets are clung to. For the spiritual the transcendental experience can bring with it bliss but instead of a mindset they cling to bliss and don’t move forward. But the process is the same – enquiry, removing the shackles that ignorance of our conditioning places on us bringing with it open minds that question, that naturally reject injustice, that reject climate exploitation, that want genuine peace, a peace that comes with the Unity of all peoples in Gaia.

    This transcendence is what the three tenets of the Treatise of Zandtao are working towards. Healing the body so we do not become attached to the diseases that are a consequence of toxic intake whilst at the same time working with Gaia through whole foods that enable us to survive in harmony with nature. And the energy is the energy of Gaia of One planet. Once we open our minds and bodies to that energy that is Gaia then we begin to feel through that energy that this is not separation but Unity, the energy of the One planet that sustains us, making us feel vital when we accept the Path that is Gaia. We work together in Gaia, we transcend the conditioning that seeks division, and we accept Unity for what it is – the natural way.

    In the Treatise I have looked at many ways that work towards this transcendence, this removal of conditioning. One way just mentioned are the three tenets, but much more importantly there are the 4 Agreements, and there is magga – the 8-Fold Path. All seek one thing – the removal of conditioning – the removal of agreements, the removal of the attachment to I and mine, the removal of attachment to the 5 khandas, the Unity that comes with the understanding once the conditioning has been removed.

    There are many levels of this transcendence. When we see black people justifiably angry in “Black Lives Matter”, we might well see people who have transcended this political aspect but need more. When we see Momentum supporting Corbyn in his struggle against the 1% we see people who have transcended this aspect of conditioning but who seek more. When we see the monk who devotes their lives to meditation we see a transcendence that has overcome the conditioning of wage-slavery and consumerism, but needs more. On this diverse world there is much transcendence to varying degrees, it can only be hoped that these people do not rest on their laurels and that they work to seek a complete transcendence, a transcendence that comes from permanent enquiry, a transcendence that lacks conditioning on any level, a transcendence that brings with it a complete freedom from any shackles. Unity that is anatta.

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

    Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

    Ego death

    Posted: 02/09/2016 in Buddhadasa, Insight, Zen
    Tags:


    In “returning to love” Marianne Williamson talked of her “ego-death” in this you-tube clip (3.30 mins). In the recent blog on Miracles,I saw this ego death as temporary, and that ego has rebirth throughout life. Despite there being transcendence, which can be so powerful, it does not mean that conditions for the ego don’t arise again. We require constant awareness to see that after transcendence we do not attach to ego, through fear, new mindsets etc. Fortunately we have the tool of meditation to help keep our minds clear.

    In my life there has been an ongoing oscillation between inner and outer emphasis. Do I focus on the spiritual, how much am I involved with the political? 100% awareness on both is ideal, both of which I am far away from – such might well be Nirvana. The transcendence might well occur dramatically as it did with me but developing awareness is ongoing and requires work; the battle to control ego, desire and attachment is equally ongoing however powerful a transcendence has occurred. It is a sense of recognition of this battle that made me quit study of ACIM, it is not fear of the power but control of the ego.

    Making judgements about others is dangerous as one can never know what is in their heads; it is hard enough to try to know oneself with all the information that you have available to understand. So when it comes to considering someone else, making judgements really ought to be a no-no. I make an exception to this, an important exception, and that comes to my studies. Whilst I always try to learn from within, there has to be a tendency to adopt the mindset of the teacher in order to help understand. This is especially so when you are starting on something new. Understanding Soto Zen and Shobogenzo is such a new venture for me, and previously I was using Brad as a teacher but this is “written Brad”, the Brad that I read in his blogs and books. There is no personal contact, no feedback, only the written word. This is not a good situation, this is a statement of what is and not a criticism of Brad. When I see the lack of political transcendence and a degree of racism in the “written Brad”, the weak situation gets worse. Politically I cannot accept his mindset, and therefore spiritually I have doubts; perhaps that is better. To understand Shobogenzo I was intending to read Brad and maybe then look at Shobogenzo, now the emphasis has to be on Shobogenzo.

    Buddhadasa talks about ongoing rebirth, especially with paticcasamuppada; Marianne’s use of the term “ego death” has helped me understand that a little more. Many Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and cite references in the suttas to support this. Buddhadasa did not accept that the Buddha advocated reincarnation. In the Kalama sutta the Buddha asks that we do not accept anything unless we can internalise and understand it as truth. Reincarnation falls into this category, how can it be proved, and it is my understanding it is considered one of the Buddha’s unanswered questions. Buddhadasa suggests that the reincarnation the Buddha is referring to is ego. Through kamma (conditions) ego arises and is attached to, but if we let go then there is ego death. No ego is permanent no matter how strong that ego feels. Perhaps the strongest ego we feel is the one of our upbringing. Society conforms us through education and upbringing, and this conditioning is very hard to break through – breaking through is described as transcendence in this blog. But that is not the end of ego arising, and we have to be continually aware. Whilst it is much easier once we have transcended to recognise and release ego, in some ways it is more difficult because egos that then arise are so much more subtle.

    In my own past such egos have been numerous, the most obvious was the addiction to alcohol. In retrospect I do not understand how I could have deluded myself into accepting the drink. At a similar time I did not demand sila of myself. In transcendence I felt I had developed a soul that guided me. In discussion with others I saw their morality as being based on a rational justification ie reasons for conduct, whereas I trusted that my soul guided my conduct 100% truthfully. This was ego. Such a soul had some substance, a substance that I would now ascribe to sunnata and insight, but that substance I considered had some form of permanence. It was akin to notions like Self. Now I know it was an ego, an ego that I have now released. Another ego I repeatedly get trapped in is mindsets, or better described as insights that I later cling to as mindsets. When one experiences an insight it is so powerful, it is almost as if each new insight recreates the world. Once such light bulbs take hold, we experience Eurekas like any good Archimedes. But they are only thoughts that we need to let rise and fall away (unless they qualify as scientific principles!!), but because they are so powerful to us we cling to them. I regularly have had to remove the clinging of such insights, remove their egos. When I look at all the things I know I should do on a daily basis but don’t, I know that there are still many egos in play. Am I doing the best I can? Ego gets in the way, attaching to wrong conduct etc.

    What I have said concerning Marianne Williamson is an observation that if it ever comes to her attention is up to her to discard etc., for me the decision has already been made when I was studying ACIM. Maybe if I returned to ACIM I could learn more, but I would rather work with teachings that I can trust – as explained I cannot trust ACIM.

    As for Brad (as opposed to Marianne) my evaluation is for a different purpose because I had intended using his books for study as I do his blogs. I read this tweet of his “You’ll never be completely happy with it, or completely comfortable with it or completely satisfied with it. So why waste time complaining?” An ego part of me would like that it referred to what I have written – I would always welcome communication, but I will take it as synchronous. I know I am not complaining because making a complaint implicitly carries with it a hope for change. I am making criticisms because they matter to me and it is some form of evaluation as his being a teacher for me as described above. Such criticisms might form the basis for change if he so wished, that is up to him. But for me they are evaluations, and also learning points – I learn from the interactions. In this last case I have specifically learned about transcendence, and have realised the connection between spiritual and political transcendence. It is not a complaint that I see a shortcoming with regards to this political transcendence, it is a judgement with regards to the teachings. If I am to use “written Brad” to learn from, I must be clear what I can and cannot accept.

    In the tweet there is the use of the word “completely”. The way that is written implies an over-reaction to minor differences (taken as on my part). In this blog I suggested that I would be too definitive if I demanded the Occupy view. But the failure to understand the power relations, in my view, contributed to the racism that has caused division.

    Whilst I fully support Brad’s efforts to move away from the sutta quoting into day-to-day practical interpretations of the teachings, there is a danger of alienation. Hence consideration of “complete agreement” is a fair warning. But a good person cannot make racist comments, whether institutional or not. Whether Brad likes it or not, his words as a monk are under some form of microscope, and whether he likes it or not he is judged accordingly. There has to be circumspection.

    7 years ago there was a disagreement with a monk who having read Tony Blair’s autobiography wrote that he understood Blair’s going into Iraq. At that time, and now, I could not accept Blair as anything other than a warmonger doing the work of the 1%. Despite Chilcott’s weak response, most now accept that Blair should not have taken Britain to war, that monk was out of step with most people. I commend that monk, now, for his attempts to be real, to apply the teachings to daily life, but he was deluded by a spin doctor, a man whose way of life was to lie and deceive. A monk cannot allow such deceptions or the monk will lose respect and people will not follow their interpretation of the teachings. Their lifestyle makes monks self-reliant but when it comes to understanding the ways of the 1%-system they need advice.

    I still don’t know where I stand with Brad, but I am not as keen to study his books. Yet Dogen was not easy, and I can relate to Brad more.

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

    Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

    Thought Addiction

    Posted: 08/07/2016 in Buddhadasa, Meditation, Zen
    Tags:


    When I first thought of this blog I thought it was momentous – not so sure now; it is the second blog that comes from this Bradblog. This blogentry became more than I conceived and I thought of changing the title to “the revolution of removing thought addiction” but …. Maybe this is momentous.

    The Buddha “started to see that the way his thoughts had been framing his experiences were not right. …. He saw that it was a mistake to habitually believe his own thoughts.” Where did the Buddha’s thoughts come from?

    “As anyone who has ever tried to give up cigarettes or alcohol or even coffee can tell you, habits are hard things to break. Our addiction to believing our own thoughts is more powerful and more difficult to overcome than being addicted to heroin or any other addictive substance you can name. So this process was not very easy for our man Buddha, nor has it been easy for anyone else who has ever attempted.” Thought addiction, what is it?

    Brad’s blog is timely , and it very much connects with my blogs on feminism concerning culture and conditioning. And it connects with what Buddhadasa said about “removing the I and mine from the 5 khandas”.

    Let’s start with the khandas – sankara. Sankara are thoughts and where do those thoughts come from? Culture and conditioning. Once our culture conditions us we think that those thoughts are “mine”. We think we are our thoughts as Kant proposed “I Think therefore I am” – extended to I am my thoughts. But Kant’s proposition was misguided because those conditioned thoughts create a framework in the mind, and we attach to this framework – attach to the khanda sankara. The longer we hold onto this framework the more addicted we get and the harder it is to think clearly and free ourselves from the traps of culture and conditioning.

    In his blog Brad described what the Buddha did when he solved problems. “Buddha sat with this problem for a long, long time. But, unlike most Western philosophers, he didn’t try to think his way through it. Instead he quietly observed life as it happened to him.

    “He realized that his thoughts were just a part of what was going on, and not even a very significant part. So he chose not to focus on them. He let his brain do whatever it needed to do, but he didn’t try to use his thinking mind to determine the answer to his questions about the nature of life.”

    We are educated into using the thinking mind, this is our culture and conditioning. Our mind is filled with ideas on different subjects, our exams require us to concentrate on these ideas to reproduce them in exams, and this concentration reinforces the framework. Our conduct is controlled by our parents who conform to society, and we become conditioned to do what society wants.

    There ought to be nothing wrong with this culture and conditioning. Whilst we should always apply an enquiring mind to what we do, having a conditioning culture ought to mean no more than living together in harmony. But underlying the culture that we live in is the 1%-system, a system that is designed to profit the few and puts their profits before people. As a result our culture creates issues concerning class, gender and race, and when we mature enough to develop the enquiring mind that starts to unravel conditioning we become a threat to the power bloc, its greed and its shameful exploitation.

    Our system’s thought addiction is powerful. Not only must we overcome the addiction that is attachment to the khandas but we also have to overcome the social pressure engendered by the 1%-system.

    Yet there is a plus to this 1%-exploitation. Because of the oppression of the 1%-system the exploitation starts to make us aware of the lack of truth and the level of injustice. This awareness provides an impetus for our awakening, an impetus for our recognition that there is an imposed framework of culture and conditioning, helps us detach from the 5 khandas, and propels us into a mature lifestyle that frees us from the impositions of the cultural framework of conditioning.

    This shows us how important meditation is in terms of social change. By sitting and observing we see what is. We observe our own cultural conditioning, we see it for what it is, and we can free ourselves from it. But as Brad says it is thought addiction, and addiction is hard to break. Having faith in whatever Buddhism is is not enough. Becoming addicted to the dogma of Buddhism is still thought addiction – just a different framework. Without a methodology of removing addiction there still exists the framework that we are addicted to, the framework of thought that has now been replaced by the dogma of Buddhism, the dogma of Ickeism or any dogma. It is enquiry, seeing what is what, that frees us from addiction, and that enquiry has as method meditation.

    Meditation is freedom from thought addiction, meditation is liberation, it is the revolution that is not violence. Of course such a revolution only works as a mass movement when there is genuine meditation for all. It is disappointing that so many meditators do not see meditation for the revolutionary tool that it is. Meditation is a way of life but it is not an end in itself. Through meditation we see what is what, and can then begin in our daily life to create change around us. Of course if we choose not to see what is what, typically choose not to see the 1%-system, that meditation lacks true vision, and we accept slavery perhaps in a more profound way. If we accept slavery by not freeing our minds to genuinely see all of what is what, then we evade the responsibility that comes with awareness, that comes with awakening, that comes with maturity.

    This brings us to an institutional danger. Institutions such as Buddhism that require finance have an inbuilt need not to see all of what is what. They require finance, the finance of the rich, and choose not to see where that wealth comes from. The institution avoids that aspect of meditation that brings awareness of politics because that awareness taints the very institution itself. The people who provide the greater proportion of the finance of these institutions are the very people who need to change because they have the greater power and influence in the 1%-system. Yet the institution is compromised. Meditation becomes compromised not seeing what is what, but seeing what is expedient to see. Seeing peace has connected with it a violence, a violence that has upheaval because our level of exploitation is so unjust. This is the consequence of thought addiction.

    Meditation is the methodology of liberation but it can also be a tool of enslavement if we choose to avoid seeing all of what is what and allowing some thought addiction that is convenient – compromised. Meditation is a means of liberation but it can also be a means of enslavement if it still contains thought addiction. Focussing on the breath means we are not holding to anything, zazen focussing is just that and addictions just fall away. We are left with seeing what is what, and if sufficient people are doing this we have revolution.

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

    Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

    “The Buddha remained silent when asked these fourteen questions. He described them as a net and refused to be drawn into such a net of theories, speculations, and dogmas. He said that it was because he was free of bondage to all theories and dogmas that he had attained liberation. Such speculations, he said, are attended by fever, unease, bewilderment, and suffering, and it is by freeing oneself of them that one achieves liberation.” Taken from Wikipedia.

    If asked what type of Buddhist I am now, I will answer Zen, but if asked which Buddhist dogma I know about and the answer is Theravada – I am in transition. So when Brad Warner talks about the existence of life here, I immediately react by saying that the Buddha considered it an unanswered question. In the above wiki quote, which I find consistent with what I have studied, it basically says that the question doesn’t lead anywhere, is headbanging and doesn’t help. Perhaps zen takes a different view. Consider koans, they are headbanging. And they lead somewhere in the sense that they unhinge the intellectual mind allowing truth in. Would zen consider the unanswered questions in a similar vein – “koanic”? I would like help in resolving this issue of zen and the unanswered questions.

    One important point about unanswered questions is that they can never be proven, and to accept one or other theory or dogma concerning any unanswered questions means accepting something that cannot be proven. In the Kalama sutta, a Theravada sutta – is it accepted by zen/Mahayana?, the Buddha says you have to know for yourself – that is the proof. For me this sutta was important in considering all the discussion of reincarnation. How can I prove reincarnation? I don’t accept it, many Theravadans do – amongst others including some Mahayana and zen? Reincarnation is covered by unanswered questions.

    Buddhadasa, a now-dead Thai monk, discusses reincarnation when considering consciousness (vinnana) one of the 5 khandas. “In Thailand the Hindu teachings came here first, way before Buddhism came. When the Hindu or Brahmanistic teachings came, they brought this idea, this teaching, of vinnana in the sense of the soul or spirit that inhabited all kinds of things, not just people but trees and rocks – all over the place. All things had this spirit, and when the body died, that thing died, vinnana would go to be reincarnated. This is a Hindu teaching which existed in Thailand long before Buddhism came, and it was very firmly and deeply implanted in the Thai religious culture. So later when Buddhism came, everybody already had this Hindu understanding of vinnana, and so many people have been unable over the centuries to understand the Buddhist teaching of vinnana. It must be understood in light of the central teaching of Buddhism, anatta, that is that in life there is no self, no soul and no spirit in the Hindu sense; Buddhism denies that there is any such thing (self, soul or spirit),” [here and scroll]. He considers Thai belief in reincarnation as Hindu, and as many of the western Theravada monks have trained in Thailand – Forest Sangha, this “Thai-Hindu” thing has become a Theravada thing.

    So to life as an “unanswered question”. Buddhadasa uses a device to examine the suttas in which he talks of truth and relative truth (truth in daily life). With regards to life I try to understand it in a similar vein. There is Unity, One life that I often refer to as Gaia; I specify that Gaia is not just the ecology of earth but Gaia includes all lives (relative) including humans. We are all One. In description of life there is a theosophist phrase that Annie Besant uses that “there is consciousness in every atom”, similar to the Hindu view of vinnana. Every atom is part of Gaia. Because of the schism of knowledge into religion and science I feel science rarely has anything to offer on such matters. Whilst science demands proof as discussed above with the Kalama sutta, science does not accept subjective experience and the empirical proof of meditation. However in this case (quoted in Brad’s blog) the scientist has come up with an interesting comparison. “Consciousness resides … in the microtubules of the brain cells, which are the primary sites of quantum processing.” Without getting into the question of mind and brain, this is similar to what Annie Besant says. However it would have to be if we accept the universal description of life as Gaia.

    As to relative truth this is more the question that Brad is asking. The relative truth says that Brad and I are different lives – separate beings. Then there is life animals, bacteria, microbes and other small stuff. The smaller you go the harder it is to establish the meaning of life, but as the universal truth of Gaia there is no separation, no unity, only One life – and all is alive “universally” but not relatively.

    Science works on an unwritten axiom, and acceptance of this axiom leads to many of the problems to do with the separation of scientific knowledge from other knowledge – such as insight or zen. That axiom is that we are separate beings as opposed to the Unity – Gaia. Science does not see ant but separate ants and wonders how they communicate. But as part of Gaia there is no need for such an explanation. In Brad’s blog the quoted science has all subscribed to axiom of separation, and so can only determine definitions and conclusions within the realm of relative truth.

    With universal truth of Gaia Unity or ONE planet there is no need to be confused by that – there is existence of ONE life.

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

    Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.