Archive for the ‘Buddhadasa’ Category

Wolfie had a list of who he was going to put up against the wall. Who are they now? The Koch brothers? Robert Mercer? Donald Trump? Maybe Wolfie would have blown up the computers that ran the City but with blockchain even that potentially-viable target has gone. With the advanced weapons technology fewer soldiers are needed, now we only need the occasional brain-washed to play video games. And with the military going private, the 1% pay for private security and their money controls – not even a pretense of moral integrity any more, simply power controlled by the accumulated money of the few. Now we don’t even know who Wolfie should put up against the wall, worse than that a few people up against the wall is not going to make a change as the problem is systemic and not just the few bad apples mentioned above.

What is the analysis for Wolfie’s wall? Unity. Through awareness the comrades will rise up in unison, and the oppressors, the 1%-system, will just disappear because of the masses. Where can this happen? Now there is intended confusion. Yanis talks of the real opposition, the Deep State or 1%-system, and the false opposition – the nationalist xenophobic internationale – funded by the Deep State (Dark Money Network – Koch Brothers, Mercer etc) yet delusorily considering they are actually fighting the Deep State. Where is Wolfie’s wall in all this confusion?

To unite the mass movement was always a pipedream. Even though this pipedream was never a possibility it was the right strategy, the right thing to do, to work together for unity, and that work needs to continue even though there can be no ultimate success – unity. Time has turned any approach based on Marx’s analysis into a pipedream, and this is beacuse the mass movement have lost power. In the 19th and for most of the 20th century the mass movement had the power of withdrawal of labour, but with increased globalisation global labour competes for work that is intentionally limited and the strike is not effective. Consumer power is now the only weapon but in a consumer society that power rests more with the wealthy – senior puppets. So now Marxism is only able to win a battle of awareness, and there seems little chance of that happening.

Marx’s analysis is sound, and the ultimate result of that conditioned analysis is the mass movement creating Wolfie’s wall. But Marx’s conditioned response can never happen because of the very conditioning it is a part of – sankhara. Ideals have no power, people have power. Making people aware is not sufficient despite Yanis‘ human spirit. Increasing awareness helps but with advanced technology the rich can buy the military – as opposed to the military belonging to the nation state.

Intended funded confusion could be seen as the current response to Occupy, look how effective the Dark Money Network is. If there were ever the possibility of Wolfie’s wall there would be so many counter-measures not a brick would be built.

Wolfie’s wall is a conditioned response, and that is why it was not likely to succeed. Marxism is an analysis, an intellectual system, and whilst it is fundamentally correct it is never an understanding that will be accepted by the mass movement as a whole because of the power of conditioning

The target is wrong. The target needs to change from a sankhara, an ideal, an intellectual system to that of going beyond conditionality. Conditionality is what enslaves us, we are not enslaved when we go beyond conditionality. This is the freedom that humanity needs to strive for.

What is beyond conditionality? The path, the path of compassion, insight and creativity. This path has strength and conviction. Even though people on the path are forced to work for money to survive, where and how they work undermines who and what they work for – simply because they bring compassion, insight and creativity to every workplace. Wherever they are the path shines through and people know that there is something better – the path.

The path induces guilt in the conditioned. The path makes the conditioned doubt their own conditioning. The path is the future of change. It is not a future of confrontation, it is Gaia’s future – a future of evolution, slow, sure and effective. Meanwhile there seems little hope.

Where is the path now? There are a few spiritual teachers. There are revolutionaries such as Yanis who see the path, human spirit, as the raison d’etre of struggle. There is Eckhart whose approach has galvanised Oprah America into some form of spirituality. There are still the modern-day Sharon Salzberg’s going East in search of the path. But this is so amorphous.

For the Path to be a movement that can change humanity, move humanity beyond conditionality, there has to be an understanding of where path comes from. In his intro to Power of Now [pp21-26 of 383], Eckhart discusses his breakthrough after depression and potential suicide. This is not enough.

Ajaan Buddhadasa found his path. There appears to have been no upheaval, enlightenment, his revolutionary understanding appears to have just happened.

In the life of the Buddha there was an awakening after seeing all the suffering. Is that the education we need? Making people aware of the suffering they cause through their fear, delusion and lack of responsibility.

Eckhart claims there is a new consciousness, I hope there is. Is the only way to bring this about talking?? Or can more be done to bring about path awareness? There needs to be path education, an investigation of path – path science, a methodology to create the conditions for the path to evolve. Why? HHDL, rather than playing science’s token game of accepting meditation (mind-life institute) invest in path science. Zen, isn’t there more to path awareness in the west than trying to knock hell out of the western ego?

The path is Gaia’s way of evolving change, without the path conditionality that produces accumulation and its consequences will continue to drive the planet, Gaia, into oblivion. Path needs to be studied not simply accepted through happenstance. Path science.

Make the path real through path science, organise the path.

Then we must ask how will path make a change, where is the power of the path, is it not simply awareness?

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Don’t believe

Posted: 13/03/2018 by zandtao in Buddhadasa, Insight

I am a Buddhist but I don’t believe in Buddhism. When I first started studying Buddhism seriously, I focussed on Theravada Buddhism. I tended to believe then, studied it, and then over time have rejected belief and don’t accept all that I have read. If I haven’t experienced it, if I don’t know it for sure, then for me it is not true. I learn through experience, insight and conviction, this is the truth or not. For me this is the understanding of the Kalama Sutta in which the Buddha says that we shouldn’t believe him but learn for ourselves. If I were to believe then I would believe Buddhadasa because whatever he has written has been helpful, but I feel he would not have asked you to believe him.

Beliefs are ideas, mental constructs, attachments, sankhara. As such they take a form which creates division. I believe in this, if you don’t believe in this then there is disagreement; wars have supposedly been fought over disagreement about ideas. Without such proliferations there is unity, don’t believe.

I believe in the path, for the simple reason that I have experienced the path. There is a path, sunnata, a path I have lived – or tried to create the conditions so I can follow the path. Whilst I say I believe in the path, that is just a misuse of language because it is not a belief it is an experience. If there is no experience there is not truth – leave it.

I don’t believe in God, and I ask that you don’t believe in God either. When people pray there is a religious experience in which people can become filled with the Grace of God. Do you have to believe in that Grace of God? No, it is an experience. Grace enters or doesn’t. Those people have experienced the Grace of God, and that is their strength. There is no belief in God, white man with a beard in outer space, there is an experience that gives strength and conviction. Do you have to then fight a war to defend that experience? No, it is an experience. There is a truth that no-one can take away from you, you prayed you were filled with the Grace of God, and it is that Grace which will guide you – the path. Trust in that Grace, live the moral life that will open you to the Grace of God – sunnata.

Don’t believe in Marxism. Study Marx, test whether what you study works in daily life, and then “believe” that because it works. When asked about Marxism you can then say this bit works for me. This is not belief but what exists in experience. If asked in political debate whether this is true, the answer is that it is true because I have experienced it. Explain the experience. Don’t hold up the ideal to create a division.

Don’t believe in any idealism because such ideals create division. And division hurts and creates conflict. Don’t divide, don’t believe.

ET group, don’t believe in presence. You feel presence or you don’t, but don’t believe in it.

Don’t believe in politicians for sure. Politicians want power, and in general they will say or do whatever it takes to get power. Demand evidence, demand truth, demand compassion. If it is not clear that the politician is giving evidence, truth and compassion, don’t believe.

Don’t believe rhetoric, don’t believe persuasion, don’t believe advertising. None of these have to be true. Only believe the truth that can be experienced. Don’t believe news, don’t believe fake news, don’t believe.

Here is one thing I do believe but that belief is based in evidence and analysis. The 1% accumulate wealth. They use their power and influence to accumulate that wealth. That power and influence pervades throughout society making it difficult to go against the system created around the 1%-accumulation. I have experienced that influence and can analyse the effects of that power. Do I want you to believe this? No, I want you to know this. I want you to examine the evidence and draw your own conclusions. If you disagree and can provide evidence then we are united in experience because we have enquired and used evidence. We are not arguing over a set of ideas that we have not experienced as truth. There is no belief to divide us.

Do not allow beliefs and ideas to divide us. Experience for yourself.

Conditioning through education promotes ideas. When does a teacher say “only believe in this when you have experienced it”. Instead you learn it is “true” in order to pass an exam to get a job in a system that provides wealth for the 1%, and creates wars and wage-slaves. Don’t hold onto ideas, hold onto understanding that comes from experience. But there are facts, scientific facts, geographic facts, historic facts, but there are also opinions, historic opinions, societal opinions. What about the Big Bang? Fact or theory. Quantum theory – fact or opinion. How often are societally-accepted opinions presented as facts?

What about chemo? Chemo cures cancer, fact or theory? Gerson therapy cures cancer, fact or theory? Acupuncture cures, fact or theory? Pills cure disease, fact or theory? Antibiotics are helpful fact or theory? Antibiotics damage the liver, fact or theory? Students need to be taught to think for themselves. Teachers need to be more discerning in how they present fact or theory or opinion. In terms of the curriculum teachers need to end their blind acceptance of systemic opinion as fact, students need to be taught not to believe, and taught to trust their experience and insight.

You don’t have to experience everything in the world to know what is true. As you learn and gain experience you develop patterns and understanding. You begin to know truth, you develop conviction. If you hold to a mind of permanent enquiry these patterns can show truth. But truth starts from within. It comes from your own conviction and insight, it does not come from a set of beliefs or from a person who says “believe me, trust me”.

Here is Eckhart talking about thoughts? Where do they come from? It is sankhara that is mental operations – thinking. We can have our own thoughts through sankhara, how we analyse for example. But there is the collective mind, collective sankhara, where there are wider thoughts. So I can have thoughts that are not “mine”. In other words I have thoughts which are not “mine”. I have experienced Unity in some ways. It would therefore make sense that Unity would have the same attributes as humans in some way ie collective khandas – collective sankhara. In relation to this what have I experienced? Thoughts that don’t make sense to me. When I am angry I sometimes get violent thoughts but I would not be violent. Voices?? Thoughts, ideas, opinions, don’t believe unless they are your experience. You have to know them, don’t believe them.

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Posted: 02/03/2018 by zandtao in Buddhadasa, Freedom, Insight, Struggle

Addiction is a fascinating subject, and I have become interested again through reading Russell’s book on Recovery.

Reading the introduction kept me internally screaming “4 Noble Truths”, but Russell coped with his addiction through the 12 steps programme LINK blog. A simplified version of the 4 Noble Truths might read:-

1) Around there is suffering.
2) Suffering comes from desire, and clinging to this desire.
3) We can free ourselves from suffering by letting go of this clinging.
4) The Noble 8-fold Path is the Buddha’s method for freedom from suffering.

Another key Buddhist teaching is paticcasamuppada, dependent origination. Buddhadasa discusses it in detail here, and here are the stages he discusses:-

The religious 12 Steps are too “Goddy” for Russell, and in the same way despite great respect for his insight Buddhadasa’s description of both the 4 Noble Truths and paticcasamuppada are a tad dogmatic. So much so that looking at both it is perhaps difficult to relate them to addiction.

Buddhists whilst knowing these doctrines tend only to see them in terms of personal choice and conduct, and yet there are such wider implications for both. There is an issue in Buddhism as to “engagement”, how much what the Buddha taught can be applied to socio-political life. For example, paticcasamuppada is concerned with conditioning, and offers a solution as to how we can be free from conditioning. But in considering conditioning Buddhists tend not to view “their” conditioning as connected to the “political conditioning” that so many activists discuss. In the same way at one meeting I discussed the suffering caused by the political system (referring to capitalism) as part of the first Noble Truth, whilst not necessarily disagreeing with the premise that capitalism was the problem, it was said that the suffering talked of in Buddhism does not usually refer to “suffering caused by a political system”. Somehow Buddhist mainstream sees these conditionings as different. It is important to note here that the conditioning discussed in Buddhism has a much wider scope than the political system and conditioning of this time – Buddha’s teachings are timeless. However that does not mean that what the Buddha taught cannot be applied to all forms of conditioning at this time.

What I want to note here is that the teachings concerning the 4 Noble Truths and paticcasamuppada can be applied to addiction. I will look into this later.

Russell discusses how wide addiction is and I want to look at this further. Addiction is a weakness that is a mental process. It is normal to see addiction as a problem associated with substance abuse, and it clearly is. The primary addictions concern drugs and alcohol, and undoubtedly they both have a compulsion that is attached physically. There are far far more knowledgeable people on this, and this physical dependency as addiction is not what concerns me now. It concerned me a lot more when I was younger and an alcoholic (discussed throughout this blog “tag bottom”).

I am now more interested in examining the mental process of addiction, and this is much more connected to the 4 Noble Truths and paticcasamuppada. It is not my intention to get too involved here with Buddhist dogma …. it is however central to the discussion.

When we become addicted to alcohol (I don’t know about drugs), there is a pattern of behaviour associated with alcohol addiction. In my case it was enjoyment and escapism as well as overcoming shyness. Once attracted to the enjoyment and escapism I got pulled back by these attractions until I said “no more, finish” – 17 years. It is these patterns of behaviour that conditioned my alcoholism.

I want to investigate pain in this process as Russell focusses on pain. I think I was particularly lucky on this. In my childhood there was no pain only repression, I was completely middle-classed – repressed by my middle-class upbringing and education. This is a reality and not a complaint, by the time I was an adult I was well equipped with the usual middle-class privilege (qualifications) to have choices in life; it was a privilege I was able to use. In terms of how Raoul Martinez describes it, I was conditioned with middle-class privilege, and compared with what others have to put up with I am happy with that. There was no pain.

But there was no freedom in this repression, and when I left home this conditioning got questioned. At university I was a fool, but the privilege survived the alcohol, and after uni I had a passport that put me on the bottom rung of society’s success ladder. But I did not cope and was not interested, and this led to my hitting bottom, and the upheaval starting me on the path. Was I in pain prior to hitting bottom? No, but I was numb (I use that word because Russell uses it a lot). But the process of hitting bottom seemed more like a conditioned response, middle-class, academia, office job, and a complete lack of invested decision-making in the process. All the “stars” drank so I drank leading to hitting bottom. For a month prior to my hitting bottom, alcoholism badly affected my daily life as I was up all hours and drunk soon after work finished. And I did not cope at work making so many trivial mistakes because I did not care. The job was a bit humdrum as was where I was living – Sevenoaks, but it was nothing to do with either – I was the problem and deserved what happened to me – the sack. In fact because they were both humdrum it hastened the rush to bottom – but probably not by much.

But at that time I was just numb and drifting through, hence my seeing the process as conditioned. I have no doubts at all that I had a physical need for alcohol, but more importantly there was some kind of mental process happening. I describe this process of hitting bottom as upheaval leading to the path, and that this path was natural and moving me beyond conditioning. It was initially creative, as I matured it became gaining insight then insight through meditation. Now I perceive the path as this:-

Unfortunately addiction to alcohol did not end with starting on the path. From the book Recovery, it came as a great surprise to me that Russell had stopped drugs and alcohol 14 years ago, I think I formed my opinion of him as a dickhead long after he stopped. But that changed with his book “Revolution”, and the quality of people on his podcasts “#UnderTheSkin” shows the respect people have for him. Sadly this still seems not to be reflected in his stage persona, but how could he make any money if he was investigating spirituality as he does on his podcasts?

So being on the path is not necessarily free of conditioning, it is what it is – a path. In fact surprising as it may seem to some there is much ego on the path but oft-disguised. I have described my life as having two childhoods leading to a maturity – with much still to learn and ego to overcome.

And understanding addiction has its place in this. Why would someone who is fortunate enough to have landed somewhere on the path still allow addiction? It is the mental process of addiction that is the cause – not an attachment to substance.

Russell recognised addiction to food when he was young – and other addictions later. This suggests that his mental processes can become addicted “easily”. In society the word addiction tends to be saved for those with substance abuse, but this disguises a wider social addiction.

Throughout our lives we have glimpses of the path – some more than others. Within us, for some deeper than others, there is a recognition of these glimpses called presence, muse, nibbana-dhatu and many more. Within us all is the knowledge of the path, the recognition of what could be a better life if we looked for it. However we usually remain inside the conditioning. When we know there is something better, and we hide from it, isn’t that addiction – addiction to conditioning?

To understand how this works we need a Buddhist concept – anatta, no-self. We are born without selves having the 5 human attributes or khandas. What then motivates us is instinct. With this instinct we seek succour from mother, warmth from family, procreation in adolescence, these instincts are all aspects of conditioning that help us survive. As behaviour patterns reinforce themselves throughout our lives we begin to recognise certain things about our lives, and we attach to them calling them self. With many such reinforcements we build up an identity or self, we condition a self.

Through the removal of ignorance and application of paticcasamuppada we can recognise the conditioning process and begin to detach from instinctive responses. As we begin to detach we also develop insight that frees us from the attachment to conditioning. In the meme inserted above we start with the 5 khandas (body and psyche). Through instinct and conditioning consciousness attaches to the khandas creating a self that we perceive as our identity. If we remain ignorant then the conditioning continues, but if we connect to (glimpse) sunnata then we can recognise that there is a path that is not subject to conditioning.

But that conditioning keeps pulling us back, we feel comfortable and want to follow the familiar patterns that we have followed before and gained instinctive gratification from. That is addiction, we are addicted to instinctive patterns of behaviour – not dependent on substance abuse.

We are addicted to the conditioning that has created our selves. Substance abuse is an example of this. But it is not addiction per se that is the problem, it is the results of the addiction that society finds unacceptable. For most of the time my drinking was not a problem for anyone else because I held down a job, and performed it comparatively well. My being an alcoholic was not an issue for others especially as I lived alone. It is not addiction but the results of addiction that are the social problems. Society functions with our addiction to conditioning so long as the results of addiction don’t cause issues. Hence we have the somewhat gross scenario where a significant number of lives are hurt by alcohol addiction, government profits from this by taxing alcohol highly, and Hollywood glamourises the relationship between sexual gratification and drinking. Drugs have such a glamourous connection as well but at least government does not tax drugs.

In the Buddhist dogmas of the 4 Noble Truths and paticcasamuppada, desire and clinging to conditioning is seen as the source of our suffering – this is the mental process of addiction.

What are we addicted to? The conditioning that produces self, we are addicted to self. Anatta simply means ending the addiction to conditioning and moving beyond that conditioning – the path.

Saying I am addicted to self means a lot to me but it might not mean a great deal to others – people who do not follow Buddhadasa Buddhism (Theravada as taught by Ajaan Buddhadasa).

I am suggesting that we have to recognise that we are addicted to self – addicted to the conditioning that produces self, and that we have to resolve to end that addiction.

So understanding what the self is that we are addicted to becomes the problem. This involves going back and seeing where self arises, self arises from attachment to the khandas (see meme above). This is dogma. So when does self not arise? When we do not attach to the 5 khandas, and that means that we must have the mental discipline of detachment and allow connection to sunnata.

Again this is not too helpful because it is dogma. How do we know we are not attached and Eckhart has an easy word for that – presence. One could also use muse, sunnata, more consistent nibbana-dhatu, unity, non-duality and so on. Many words – hard to understand.

Let’s make this everyday. Is there presence when you are watching TV, having sex or masturbating, cooking and eating, gossiping, routine? I suggest not. Is the path everyday stuff? No But we have to do everyday stuff to live so we do them as mindfully as possible, then maybe there is presence.

In presence there is path, there is no addiction, in creativity, insight there is no addiction.

Impossible all the time – maybe. But to avoid being addicted to self we must question our conditioning and always try to be present, the Power of Now, living in the present moment.

So what do the 12 steps mean for being addicted to self?

This is important and difficult, as I don’t know whether I can bear my “soul”, open myself to public scrutiny (even for the 0 people who read this blog). But for it to be meaningful I have to answer honestly.

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Conditioned Freedom

Posted: 23/02/2018 by zandtao in Buddhadasa, Democracy, Freedom, Struggle

An interesting podcast with the Martinez and Russell.

I want to begin with Francesca’s diatribe against the welfare system for the disabled which was clear concise but fundamentally flawed. All involved in the delivery of that welfare want to help the disabled become functioning workers – Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 23(1) right to work. But the 1%-system does not care. Their profits are best served with able-bodied wage-slaves so why bother with disabled wage-slaves? However an important aspect of the stability of 1%-exploitation is that it is caring capitalism, so some money trickles down to the disabled (and others) but with no intention of ever being effective.

Until we see the 1%-system for what it is, there is no possibility for change. Those who do well out of it – usually voters of the right of the two parties (see description of enemies in discussion on George Monbiot) will always be able to convince themselves and others that the system is caring. Until the trickle stops.

Raoul’s description of freedom is also apt. The system does want us to believe we have the right to choose so that we can be controlled and blamed accordingly, but he is also right that we don’t have a choice – mostly. From the Buddha this is best understood as conditioning, everything is cause and effect. The conditioning that made Theresa May is just that – conditioning. The conditioning that imprisons Joe Nicked and Leroy Banged-up is just that – conditioning. You grow up on the South London estates, crime is all around, helplessness is in the air, and the only way out is a blaze of glory in crime – and subsequent death.

Conditioning is about cause and effect, and if you live in the world of cause and effect the result is inevitable. But the Buddha’s point in describing this conditioning (known as paticcasamuppada) is that he describes a way out. This way out in Buddhism is known as detachment, and is a recognition that through meditation and detachment we do not have to accept the conditioning.

However this conditioning is not usually seen by Buddhists as the same conditioning that Raoul is talking about, but it is. Cause and effect leads to the same results whoever you are. If we consider this meme based on the teachings of Buddhadasa:-

then conditioning means attachment to the khandas and self. By detaching from the khandas and self, we create the conditions for sunnata.

This model applies socially. By not attaching to the causes and effects or our upbringing and environments we don’t have to become Joe Nicked, Theresa May, or Magnus 1%-Ceo. It is all conditioning, it is just that for some this conditioning is so much easier. And there I completely agree with Raoul. At the end of the podcast Raoul talks about ways out of this conditioning as well, and he says that they are discussed in his book “Creating Freedom”. Need to look.

I see this process of “creating freedom” as two-staged . First and foremost we need to detach from our own conditioning and so follow our paths. If we are attached we cannot see through the conditioning, and remain mired in the suffering. But once that path has started we then work to provide others with the freedom of detachment, although that freedom is not likely to be attained. Or we work for alleviation of the worst aspects of the conditioning – to try to provide some freedom from suffering, to help those who are born into conditions that will lead to poverty and crime. Understanding and detaching from conditioning would lead us all on the same path of freeing people from suffering; Theresa May, Tony Blair, Magnus 1%-Ceo, these are people still attached – it is just they are attached by a silver spoon and others, not free, are envious.

At one point in the podcast they discussed how religion often joined in the blame game tending to support society’s leaders as better people without pointing out the silver spoon they benefit from. To highlight this I want to talk about reincarnation, and its relation to privilege and the caste system in Hinduism. Hindu society is very stratified (the caste system), and whilst some argue it is disappearing there is clear evidence it isn’t. Such an unfair system ought to be criticised by a compassionate religion but with reincarnation Hinduism gives it a justification. If we live a good life we are reborn in a better position, and this is often interpreted as being rich.

It is important here to draw a distinction here between Hinduism and Buddhism. The Buddha was a revisionist, he saw weaknesses in the prevailing Hinduism and attempted to create change. But he often used the language of the time, and to avoid conflict used the language of rebirth when describing ego rebirth – the birth of self. Because of this language many Buddhists have also accepted reincarnation, although Buddhadasa amongst others describes this as an historical confusion (a mixture of Buddhism and Hinduism travelling out of India).

I accept Buddhadasa’s interpretation of the Buddha gospels, and for this reason I don’t accept reincarnation, and the inherent understanding, although not often expressed, that the rich deserve to be treated better because they have previously lived good lives and hence come back rich. There are so many assumptions made in this understanding but it is a clear example of how Hindus and most Buddhists support the class structure. It is my understanding that we must deal with the conditions in this life, and that’s it – there is no self to reincarnate how can there be reincarnation?

Later in the podcast involving Hugo Rifkind they began discussing elections and change. It has taken a long time in my life to reach the political conclusions I have reached. And it is a conclusion that hurts when I think of my family and the people I grew up with, my family and these people would be described as middle-class (not my definition of class). It requires two things for these people to accept the situation we are in:-

Greed for what they have
An ability to accept all the deprivation around them and accept all the reasons the system gives for that deprivation, reasons that do not require systemic change.

I will call these two acceptances:- greed and delusion. 10/3/18 I have reviewed these two acceptances and classified them as 3 – Fear Delusion and Responsibility.

Deep-down most middle-class people know how bad things are in the world, and what they want is to live life with what they have. Most accept the conditions they live in, would hope for some improvement but are more scared of what could be worse. To me this is the nature of conservative Britain.

Hugo Rifkind symbolises this. He doesn’t like the hardline of austerity Tories, but is more scared of the change that Corbyn represents. The by-word is economy, the middle-class use the word “economy” to mask their fear – although it is a giveaway. I surmise that Hugo knows the economy is fragile, and because of this fragility doesn’t want to rock the boat; attempting to change the economy risks instability with the ways the 1% would use to protect it. For me this is the slender grip on politics that represents middle-class Britain.

In other words they are bought off. They know that rocking the boat risks their jobs, mortgages, and way of life. They are happy to blame the poor for being in the position they are in. They accept conditionality vaguely, and know that they would behave the same way if they were in the same place. So they accept the greed and delusion that are the requirements for maintaining their own stability.

Often you hear clear-minded people describing the failure that our system is, rationale and logic would automatically demand change if decisions are to be based on any form of compassion. But in the end it doesn’t matter what arguments are presented to these middle-classes they just want the stability for their greed. Highlight the inadequacies of their delusions, and there will be an angry backlash – because of guilt. No person likes to have it thrown in their face that their greed and delusion are contributing to the deaths from state intervention in the Middle East. So they espouse caring capitalism when it blatantly is not true. This is not a rational position, it is a position of fear yet political arguments counter these fears with rationality. And then frustration and anger arises, and this gives the middle classes an excuse to blame – emotional, young, immature etc.

It is not the politicians who run the economy so the middle-classes don’t follow the pathos which is the neoliberal bipartisan game. They have faith in the economic establishment, Bank of England, civil service, and non-elected government. They cling to this faith even as the establishment is falling apart. And part of this establishment is voting Tory – or voting for Blair once they intuitively knew he was working with the 1%.

Hugo is a purveyor of this middle-class faith because of his support for “establishment”, economy and stability, hence he writes for The Spectator.

And the priests of this faith are the egotists (opportunists) who want power but should never have it. These system go-getters have always kept the stability. Middle-classes don’t like them even if their family becomes one, but they are willing to accept that they will continue the stability.

Meanwhile middle-class lives tick over, celebrity is followed within their fantasies to make life palatable. At the same time the impoverished, trapped in their own conditionality, follow the same celebrity, and hope that maybe that celebrity will offer them a way out.

And the glue that keeps all this together is the 1% and what they allow to trickle down. This trickle is sufficient to provide stability so they let the 1% get on with it. Occupy got support, pinpointed the 1%, primarily because the crash had taken homes. This was the 1% mistake, too many peoples’ stability had been taken away.

The greed and egotism of the 1% don’t matter to the middle-classes because they provide stability, they know their lives are underpinned by greed. Wars don’t matter so long as the war is not brought home like Vietnam. Africans and Muslims dying don’t matter, but refugees do because immigrants affect their lifestyles.

Academia is made up of intellectuals who are often middle-class. This is who most radicals come from, and it is hard to say “my parents are like that”. Maybe it is easier for me to say because my parents are dead. We have a world controlled by the 1% just so that they can increase their accumulation. The middle-class are bought off to support stability – the status quo. Out of this, life wondrously produces conscious people seeking change, but our own emotions can’t say the greed of our family is the cause. So we look to blame others, seek idealisms, seek new narratives.

But there aren’t any. Our family, our countries are able to see others die so long as they can live their protected lives. People have to turn on these middle-classes, these family members, but how can you do that to the people who have given you your genes and upbringing?

But until activists accept such truths about families and middle-classes there is no change, plenty of discussion but no change.

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A very interesting talk with Yuval Noah Harari, well worth listening to. But then disaster struck, I listened to Homo Deus, and realised how dangerous Yuval’s ideas are, how much BigTech want him. So before anything there is a:-

First of all Yuval talks of “stories”. These stories are the same as the stories which are the agreements described in Toltec knowledge by Don Miguel Ruiz in “The Four Agreements”. The 4 agreements of the title of the book are as follows:-

But the process of agreeing is at the basis of this Toltec description of society. Through our upbringing and education society imparts a number of stories, these stories are accepted by all and become part of everyone’s life – some enforced by law, most just enforced by agreement.

Yuval talks a great deal about what is real, and what is a story, and telling the difference; he importantly notes that society depends on our accepting these stories. He mentions money as a story that is accepted the world over. The concept of money is at the basis of our economic system, whilst the root meaning of economics might well be “laws of life” in truth it is “laws of money”; even in root meaning there is obfuscation. Because of the stories that have been told, whether agreed or not, how we see money is leading to great instability in our societies – war.

A society is based on trading, always has been – probably always will be. What do we trade? Products and skills. Conducting trade with these “raw” items is impracticable, so an intermediary measure (conduit) was introduced – money. Somehow society reaches an agreed valuation, termed market forces – although that is a loaded term, and products and skills are traded. This is reasonable, and might well be considered the real part of trading and money, using money to facilitate trade.

However money has taken on a life of its own, and the dangers of this life lead to day-to-day suffering. Instead of money simply being a mechanism of value for products and skills, most of trading is now imaginary, where the money does not represent products or skills but invented financial mechanisms. This story sounds ludicrous, and there has to be questions as to how agreement has been reached. The answer is simple, there has been no agreement, however there is a loose tacit agreement with the 1%-system that is termed economics. The world is held together with this story, suffering is caused, and this is tacitly accepted. This “story” is just an extension of the Marxist lack of confidence in the capitalism. It is very evident that if people were given the choice to agree with this economic system they would not, so we are not given the choice.

Yuval attributes his understanding of what is real and what is a story to Vipassana. What this meant to Yuval gave me a number of questions. Vipassana is generally accepted as the method of meditation – following the breath – as described by the Buddha, and it is also described as “Insight Meditation”. I did not hear Yuval use the word “insight”, and there was an appropriate time.

Jumping out of podcast order he spoke of the “robot takeover”. His fear of the “takeover” was at the basis of his second book “Homo Deus”. He discussed the useless class, again an intellectual misnomer of the use of the word class. Consider a dystopian class structure of the 1%, useful and useless. The separation of class into useful wage-slaves and useless would enable the continuation of post-robotic exploitation. There needs to be unity to fight this. Yuval discussed the US underclass, 20% in prison, perhaps suggesting a fear that this is the future of the useless.

However if this is the future of the post-robotic useless, it also spells the death of capitalism and the 1%-system. The 1%-system thrives on consumerism. If our 99% future is to become useless we will also not be consumers, and that will end the 1%-system that depends on consumerism. It is the circulation of money that creates the consumerism, and this requires the 99% to be consumers – to be wage-slaves. If we are not wage-slaves we cannot be consumers, and the 1%-system dies.

The 1%-system has a huge dilemma to face. Firstly it is undoubtedly the case that much labour can be more productively performed by robots – 24/7 with supervision. Robots will increase profits in the interim. But this will reduce the amount of money in circulation, and this will reduce 1%-profits.

Wage-slavery has to change from mindless labour, wage-slaves will have to be “creatively-ignorant”. This is the line that people like Ken Robinson were trying to walk – educating for creativity; I believe I recall Microsoft were also pushing this. For the 1% the creativity dilemma is “how do we promote creativity whilst keeping people as wage-slaves?”; this is what I mean by creatively-ignorant. If that dilemma is solved those people will become members of the dystopian “useful wage-slaves”.

But the dilemma is that creativity is primarily revolutionary. Creativity is the path, and the path ultimately is pro-nature – and therefore against the 1%-system. But it might work. Our educators in general at present accept the delusion that they are educating whilst they are primarily actually creating wage-slaves. Maybe education can change, produce the useful “creatively-ignorant”, and the 1%-system could survive.

But our wage-slaves are at present filled with factual content, and our education system has a tacit movement away from creativity. But if wage-slaves are expected to be filled with “creativity”, that makes everything so much more volatile. Such a dilemma.

There is another way that consumerism could continue but it requires a huge shift that would also threaten the 1%-system. Wage-slaves could work on socially useful jobs that would not produce profits for the 1%. There is so much work that could be done to improve life, but this work would fall under the category of caring as opposed to profit-making. We could care for the environment and infrastructure, we could care far better for people. But all of this would require money being taken from the 1% who only make profits based on finance and production. This they would resist.

Either way robots threaten the 1%-system, however the second way is a better way for humanity as a whole.

Yuval said the way forward for education is unknown. This is not the case. Promoting insight and creativity is a positive way forward for education in the time of AI, but this is not a way forward for the 1%-system.

But for me what is most interesting in the talk is the discussion of true essence. Yuval talks of discerning “what is” from stories, seeing through conditioning, seeing through delusion. “What is” is emptiness but there is emptiness that is the intellectual emptiness that is nothing or there is the Tao “the emptiness that is full” Tao te Ching (Ch11 and throughout). For me the understanding comes from Buddhadasa’s use of the word “voidness” and explanation.

This voidness is beyond understanding, it can be seen for what is, but it is not for understanding. But it is so important for people to see its function. For this I see voidness as sunnata, and created this meme based on my interpretation of Buddhadasa’s teaching:-

Using Yuval’s approach this meme can be understood as removing the stories around the attachment to the 5 khandas, removing the stories that “create” I and mine, and what is left is sunnata – true essence, the Tao, voidness, the emptiness that is full. Intellectually this emptiness gets reduced to nothing, but it is not nothing, it is voidness.

Through vipassana, insight meditation, we remove attachment to stories and then there can be insight. I could interpret Nibbana as the permanent removal of all stories, but I haven’t “attained Nibbana” to be certain of what I am saying. But I do feel that we can be fortunate to experience “Nibbana-glimpses” (nibbana-dhatu) along the way, Buddhadasa has said similar here. I consider this nibbana-dhatu can come to us through insight – to use Yuval vernacular – if we have removed all stories.

Whilst there is no doubt in my mind that Russell is not talking about this sunnata when he describes true essence, to me sunnata, voidness, is true essence. But this true essence has no characteristics of me (or the 5 khandas). From what I have heard Russell is searching for some Hindu Self, a kind of Wisdom-based essence or soul, that would transmigrate. To me there is no Russellness, no Self (anatta), only voidness. To begin with I searched for Self, a vague Russell-type notion. Once I came to Buddhism and then to Buddhadasa, that search for Self ended, and it became detachment – removal of attachment to I and mine, removal of attachment to the 5 khandas.

I dismissed Anne Phillips for her failure to consider true essence. Yuval dismisses true essence but it could just be he was rejecting Russell’s version. If not the Buddhist thought police need to work on him , after all he is practicing vipassana. [Later:- I initially wrote this with humour before I issued the Yuval warning.]

Russell discusses love, this is wonderful. Love is something to be discussed and revered. For me love is metta, one of the 4 Brahma-Viharas, highest vehicles, one of the purest forms humans can aspire to. To me these 4 Brahma-Vaharas are states to aspire to, being “near voidness”. When all the stories of love have been removed, often originating in Hollywood, then there is metta. This is worth seeking. When Russell discussed love, Yuval dismissed it because he looked historically at what had been done erroneously in the name of love. But Yuval was attaching to the stories and not helping Russell search for love. It sounds as if Russell at present is in a very good position with regards to love because of his partner and daughter. Whilst that love is still a story, even though it probably doesn’t feel so, that love is never forgotten, and will be with him all his life – with or without partner and daughter.

I am only discussing Yuval in terms of what I took from this Russell talk. I haven’t read either of his books, perhaps I should. This is how I originally ended this blog – before I issued the Yuval warning, but I downloaded “Homo Deus”. The title should have given it away “Man is God”. As can be seen above I gave Yuval the benefit of the doubt because he practised Vipassana – as I try to do, but that benefit was a mistake. Russell questioned about love, and was dismissed for historical reasons. That however need not have been a dismissal of essence, but listening to Homo Deus it was clear to me that Yuval was dismissing essence.

His “Homo Deus” talk began with examination of humanism in practice, and whilst each aspect of humanism he described had some truth his descriptions were incomplete – all seemed lacking. And then it completely knocked me aside when he put up a slide “Organisms are algorithms”, I switched off I couldn’t listen. It was all so clear then. For Yuval there is no essence, no sunnata. Without that we might as well be algorithms.

Another word for algorithms could be conditioning, cause and effect, this is fundamental Buddhism; conditionality – paticcasammupada. EXCEPT we can move beyond conditioning, and that is the essence of what the Buddha taught, of what Buddhadasa taught. We can move beyond conditioning, 4 Noble Truths – we can move beyond desire [desire – the cornerstone of conditioning – the driving force of conditionality, of cause and effect]. As far as Russell went Yuval had stuff to offer but Russell pointed to Yuval’s lack of understanding of essence. Yuval claims Vipassana but there is no genuine Vipassana without Right View and Yuval’s intellectual attachment to sankhara shows he has no right view.

Yuval has no insight. NO, there is no insight and he is dangerous. Hence the warning.

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In this model I have described a process of accumulating selves into the modular mind:-

sense experiences, behaviour, memories, perceptions, thoughts and ideas.
accumulating to the modular mind.

There is a similar model where we repeat a routine way of thinking:-

sense experiences, behaviour, memories, perceptions, thoughts and ideas.
remember a way of thinking
attach to a way of thinking
cling to a way of thinking
accumulating to the modular mind.

In this way we accumulate selves in our modular minds whether these selves are based on emotions such as racism or more diverse ways of thinking such as applying scientific method appropriately or not.

This process is natural or instinctive, it is the way we learn from birth.

Consider the sex instinct, then the first model clearly applies when we consider sexual attraction. The first attraction in a teenager, there is an emotion which leads to desire, and we learn there is sexual attraction. As a memory we recall the pleasantness of such attractions as in the second model, and this becomes the basis of future sexual interactions. What about mother’s milk, the first model could apply to that but no baby is going to tell us. It would be pedantic to describe such stages but the instinct to feed off the mother could easily fit the model. Then the second model could be considered as the next time the baby feeds – instinct then memory. A baby’s instinct does not contradict the model.

Through these models we internalise a self that becomes the basis of who we are and how we instinctively interact. This process is natural conditioning building up this self.

All our lives we can build up this self in which we accept this instinctive conditioning process. But what happens if we start to question this process? What if we choose to interrupt this instinctive conditioning? As described here the conditioning moment is before we become emotional or here where the moment is before we accept the routine. At some point we recognise that we can step outside the conditioning process, that is the beginning of maturity. At that point in which you recognise the choice of not being conditioned is the point at which a mature life is started to be led.

For this choice to be made, we first have to start to look internally. We have to be able to observe this conditioning process happening, and then with maturity choose when to intercede within the conditioning process.

As we become more mature we control the selves that are accumulated, and then we begin to question those selves that have already accumulated through previous conditioning. We begin to remove the conditioning.

During childhood we accumulate selves through conditioning and as the process develops we begin to develop pattern of selves that becomes who we are. I am the self that is the accumulation of all these selves.

During maturity we begin to unravel all the selves from the I, so we have to ask how do we live if I is just an accumulation of selves. And that is sunnata. When we are born we begin an instinctive conditioning process that is natural. As a result we accumulate these selves that we begin to recognise as I. But when we start to be mature we question the formation of selves, the selves that have already been formed until we remove old conditioning and do not create new conditioning. Then we are in the natural mature state without conditioning in which the guiding hand is sunnata, who we are meant to be. From natural instinct and conditioning to mature anatta:-

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Bhavana and Sunnata

Posted: 10/10/2017 by zandtao in Buddhadasa, Meditation
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Today I have just done another home retreat. I usually go for a massage late Saturday afternoon, so it was interesting to see that when I arrived home I wanted to meditate. I did so for half an hour but began to feel tired – I usually do after massage. I ate and dozed off and on for two or three hours, and then woke up. It was 11 and I was wide awake.

This is a pre-amble to the home retreat. My sleep is totally screwed at the moment, the home retreat concerned sleep. I went to bed at 5 am and couldn’t sleep. Maybe about 6/6.30 I gave up and meditated (no timing) – I wanted to sleep because I wanted to do a home retreat so I didn’t give up and start computing. I was focussing on harmony with Nature as I have lost my natural sleep rhythm. After maybe an hour I was beginning to think there was a chance of sleep, and tried. I didn’t think I could sleep, had a vivid surface dream – dreaming but not feeling like I was asleep, and woke just after 9. There were strange feelings in my gerd area, I was worried about them. It was connected with harmony, and mind and body dropping – Dogen.

I went back to sleep and woke at 12, so I had not had enough sleep and was tired. But I wanted to home retreat so I started. 45 mins, then break, 45 mins and then break, 25 mins and break – wrote about “history ego”, 25 mins and then ate and walked. It was now 6.15. Home retreat is improving. 3rd session, some pain from knee but mostly poor discipline made me stop early – mind was “resisting”.

The theme of the home retreat started with sleep but finished with bhavana. I think the bhavana was contributing to the sleep problem. I am working through this so please don’t take this as truth, if I am way off I will amend the blogpost though. I am amending now.


I have never been good with samadhi (concentration) and meditation has usually been self-guiding towards learning. This retreat started with sleep, went into harmony with nature, and then saw the issue as bhavana. Instead of developing mind I have been expanding mind, and selves are being created as vinnana attaches to the expanded mind that is bhavana. This is just creating selves, it is not bhavana. There needs to be concentration to focus the mind for it to develop. I began to look at developing mind centring/focussing in the heart, and I could feel the pointed mind getting clearer.


I was amazed at the power of self (ego) at the weekend with the historian justifying English nationalism as peace and compassion and colonialism being primarily Scottish. But in my arrogance I missed my own self concerning this bhavana. The clue is in what is happening (or not happening) – sleep. This is not natural so it is self. I have already recognised my self-indulgence tv entertainment, and now understand the vinaya; entertainment encourages self. Throughout my life there has been this self-indulgence – passing time. I have never cared for TV, very rarely have I made the effort to watch a particular thing, but it is there and on. I excused it as tired from teaching, firstly when I was hungover and then when stressed. By the time I retired it was a complete habit – yet in my mind it was with disinterest.

But I never connected it as the cause of my sleep problem; it is but I never connected it. What is happening. I come in, eat and fall asleep. Wake up, refreshed but it is late so I slip into tv-watching. When awake I should be active, reading watching teachers, blogging etc. But it is late and I think tired although I have just woken up. Normal sleeping hours have gone by but it doesn’t matter because I am not working. And when I get up I meditate and write.

But my sleep pattern is crazy and not healthy – not natural. But what else happens? I go to bed tired but cannot sleep. I lie there for a while, and then give up. Where do I go? Self-indulgent tv watching. To be fair sometimes it is good stuff but not always. But now I know it will always be good stuff or not giving up.

But the power of this self is amazing. The years of tv watching has created a screwed-up metabolism. Both digestion and metabolism both work together to prevent sleep. Self has created a screwed-up metabolism that is preventing natural sleep patterns, that is then indulging this self by watching more tv longer and longer. Crazy. Amazing I didn’t see it. I did with bhavana, and yet to begin with the self (of the self-indulgence) deflected to blaming bhavana above. So devious. It is so amazing – fascinating.


I had hoped that was the end of it, I had hoped awareness would be enough!!! I am somewhat ashamed. I had thought my life was on track but sleep problems certainly shows it isn’t. Whatever the routine I was studying writing and so on. But I am ashamed because it is skewed over something as mundane as tv.

Last night was not good. I had slept mid-evening and drifted into tv watching. Past 12. I was getting irritated. Past 01.00 more irritated. Whatever I have recognised as self-indulgence I was not changing. 01.34 to bed. Some sleep. Awake 03.34. It was no good, problem was not going to correct itself. Phra solution, a phra day. Things were not going to get better, this is chronic tv watching. Drastic solution. Phra day. Not only was the tv getting into sleep it was into digestion and metabolism.

Only solution Phra day. Sleep 11-6 every day – like a job. Breakfast before 9 if possible. Main meal at lunch. Avoid food after that, not renounce avoid. At the most a sandwich for tea. Fruit OK. No big meal as digestion will not have dealt with it. A complete change of day. Shame, need to do this over tv self- indulgence.

At the beginning of this post self had questioned bhavana, but it was bhavana that solved the problem – found the self and came up with the solution.

To sunnata it becomes necessary to be clear about some functioning and terminology. Basically what happens with vinnana? What is consciousness? The 5 khandas are concerned with nama-rupa that which is conditioned and temporary. When there is mindfulness there is no attachment. The state of mindfulness occurs when nama-rupa is not attaching, when vinnana is not attaching. So what is happening with bhavana – mental development? The mind (nama) has been expanding, mind-vinnana has been attaching to the expanding mind. This expanding mind has been over-active (over-attached), and I have not been sleeping. I have been developing the mind incorrectly, whilst there have been positives there have also been this mind-expanding negative with attachment – selves. Bhavana – I must develop concentration whilst developing concentration so that I am not just creating mind-expansion.

So now the question concerns bhavana and sunnata, have I got the right view? Nama-rupa is temporary and is not connected with sunnata. So why is consciousness connected with sunnata? Mindfulness has the body, psyche and self systems in place (Buddhadasa approach) but what has mindfulness go to do with the emptiness system? What happens when we feel presence? When mindfulness has the 5 khandas in place, then there is a touch of awareness (vinnana) that feels sunnata – presence. Mindfulness is also needed to make sure that vinnana does not attach to sunnata. Mindfulness is judgement-free awareness, sufficient awareness (vinnana) that optimises the 4 other khandas with no attachment, sufficient awareness that can feel sunnata but not attach. Bhavana develops mindfulness through insight and concentration.

Mind is meant to be aware of sunnata as presence, that is a faculty of vinnana, but attachment is a hindrance; mindfulness prevents the hindrances. In Buddhism and other areas of spirituality there are all kinds of discussions about emptiness, pure consciousness, presence etc., none of which you have any direct control over. It all depends on the degree of mindfulness, and that we have control of – making our minds as perfect as they can be. How good our mindfulness is determines access to emptiness, determines our relationship with the emptiness system.

Working on mindfulness however is not easy but at least we can work on it, the rest is beyond our control. Bhavana helps develop mind which can then be controlled to develop mindfulness.

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Advaita and Sri Ramana Maharshi

Posted: 05/10/2017 by zandtao in Buddhadasa, Meditation
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This clip introduced by Ram Dass comes from a movie “Abide in the self”about Sri Ramana Maharsi. It is simple, it is clear, and includes everything.

It is interesting that Sri Ramana almost died, and then awoke. One could almost say a completely natural wiping of ego, of I. From then on, in the movie’s terms, he was pure consciousness – just self. A literal complete awakening. And then he taught – silently.

BUT ….

Is that for you and I? I had a spiritual upheaval from which I started on the path. But there was no way that could be seen as living as pure consciousness. Yet as I have now determined through consideration of two childhoods that it was an awakening – although I don’t call it that. Using the movie’s terms it was concerned with I dropping away and living as self. However in no way did I achieve that.

Maybe I achieved it in part – although I suspect advaita says that is not possible. All or nothing. Maybe all is possible but not for me so far. But achieving it in part is possible. If you follow Sri Ramana it has to be all or nothing, so for many who don’t get there it is nothing, and for others they have to say it is all when maybe it isn’t.

Maybe all happens and then egos from daily life creep back in, yet perhaps people hold to the all.

In the full movie “Abide in the self”, Ram Dass talks of this approach being suitable for modern life; here is a negative interpretation of such suitability. Suiting the untrained western mind this approach requires no commitment – enlightenment happens “just like that”, and it is easy to explain. This enables the flighty undisciplined western mind to enjoy a fad and then move on. A spiritual life requires persistence, and with the miseducated western mind perhaps persistence ought to be the first lesson.

I don’t like this approach because it is a form of perfection, can we be perfection in daily life? Are those people who espouse this perfect? Do they claim to be perfect, and have to act as being perfect? Adhering to this approach might well force these compromises.

With Buddhadasa Buddhism there is no conflict with this approach of Sri Ramana Maharsi. There are the four systems, body psyche, self and emptiness, perfection oif the emptiness system being what Sri Ramana is talking about. Through practice, anapanasati, you work on removal of attachment to the 5 khandas, you work on removing the I and mine from the 5 khandas, and attempt to live as no self – emptiness. Because Buddhadasa’s approach is for the fallible there is no self to be, no pure consciousness to be, because we are fallible. We can work towards it.

Maybe there is no conflict but I have a reservation. Advaita is about pure consciousness, and can suggest that you “neglect the body”. Buddhadasa talks of Idappaccayata as the Buddhist God [- Nature – Gaia (my words)]. Nature gave us bodies. A body needs healthy food and good exercise to function as Nature intended. Taking care of the body is also one of the tenets of the Treatise of Zandtao. The body system needs attention but not becoming attached to, a subtle distinction that we personally need to investigate but not ignore. With the focus of pure consciousness only, I am concerned what Advaita says about taking care of the body.

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Edji Advaita and self

Posted: 03/10/2017 by zandtao in Buddhadasa, Meditation
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I was drawn to Edward Muzika’s (Edji’s) “Awakening and Descent of Grace” because of the awakening aspect – I have not got far with it yet. But it is interesting.

I can’t as yet get beyond my criticisms so I am going to start with them. True Self. I came across this early on in my life (second childhood). For many years of following the path I wasn’t Buddhist, I saw the path as leading to the True Self – in search of the True Self. At that time I had a mistaken view, I always saw the True Self in some way as mine. It was a higher form of mine, an esoteric form of mine but it was mine. Mine at any level is not a right view. I have always been concerned about approaches which talk of Self even though as I understand it such views of Self are not “mine” – the terminology lends itself to a higher form of mine.

Akin to this criticism I have concerns about terms such as watcher, seer, knower. They are usually referred to as the watcher, the seer, the knower but these are terms which lend themselves to being entities – the knower and the known etc. “What is the knower?” is an obvious question, and the answer might well have an element of personification, and as it is an entity does that personification have an element of I? As such I have concerns about these terms.

As far as I understand advaita and Edji, these terms do not represent “I”. I have no dispute with that. When I used the term True Self and personified it as a higher I, it was because of ignorance. That was a mistake. But now when I hope I am not making such mistakes I become concerned by the terminology, I am not saying that Edji or advaita are saying there is an entity or I present.

This issue prevails throughout. Look at this meme which begins his satsang on consciousness:-

I am pure consciousness, universal consciousness. And later in the talk he says consciousness never dies. This reminds me of my ignorant mistake. I also had a belief at the time – reincarnation. So I developed some unsubstantiated proliferation (sankhara) that we were here to develop wisdom to improve our consciousness, and yet somehow within that proliferation there was a self with no ego.

Let’s examine the two terminologies. There is Buddhadasa’s Buddhism which talks of anatta. There are the 5 khandas with the three systems of body, psyche and self; please note this self is perceived differently to Edji and Advaita – it is the same word used very differently. The khandas are rupa – body, vedana – feelings, sanna – perceptions and memories, sankhara – mental operations and proliferations, and vinnana – consciousness. Here the word vinnana is used very differently to the words “pure consciousness” in Advaita. Here is how I understand how the khandas interact – I think my understanding is in accordance with Buddhadasa. There is consciousness that attaches to the body so that the body functions, this is not always a conscious interaction. When this attachment is more than required – such as through desire, then this attachment forms entities or egos, and if this attachment is held sufficiently these egos contribute to I which is self in Buddhadasa’s self system. Similarly consciousness attachments can form with the other 3 khandas and as that attachment develops becomes egos that contribute to I – self in Buddhadasa’s system. I is basically attachment to the 4 khandas that have occurred over time.

Buddhadasa has a fourth system – the emptiness system; note he uses the word system and I take that word as meaning process rather than being. We cannot be emptiness – sunnata. I use a visualisation to explain how the emptiness system works – this is my own I have no indication anywhere that this is what Buddhadasa would have accepted. The essential process is to remove attachment to the 5 khandas. Consciousness attaches to the 4 khandas through conditioning. Over time we learn to detach from this conditioning, and not to attach to any new conditioning – the visualisation is freeing oneself from the attachment using the mind internally in meditation. Being free from attachment there is freedom to experience emptiness – sunnata, sunnata that “wants to” experience but conditioning through the 5 khandas prevents this. In experiencing there is only experience, there is only emptiness, there is no I experiencing sunnata – emptiness.

The processes that I interpret from Advaita, Edji etc are similar. I am not the body – see meme. Once I go within I see that I am not the body, within there is emptiness that is pure consciousness. I am pure consciousness, pure consciousness is true self. For Buddhadasa there is no I experiencing emptiness, it is emptiness. There is no consciousness vinnana that is only associated with the body. The pure consciousness of Advaita is perhaps more akin to sunnata – the emptiness of Buddhadasa, but then Edji says I am pure consciousness. I as ego cannot be sunnata but the I that is pure consciousness is not ego so can be self. For Buddhadasa the self system is part of I, and is there to be detached from, for Advaita self is pure consciousness.

Is this clear? I don’t know whether it is clear to you. For me the use of a personalised word such as self creates a confusion. Emptiness is an experience that is not to be attached to. I presume Edji’s pure consciousness is not to be attached to yet the word self implies some attachment – maybe. But of course I am biassed as I have accepted Buddhadasa as my teacher/guide. In this I see no reason for using the word self in the way Advaita uses it so long as it is clear that it is pure consciousness only.

But I am going to take this further. Through my younger ignorance I accepted a notion of true self, and got attached to it. I fear such attachment now. Ego is such a risk. If you add further Edji’s approach that you are your own guide – an approach that I like – I often see meditation as my guide, then there is such a risk of ego because there is an I that is pure consciousness that could turn to ego.

I hope this dissection is not proliferation – sankhara, sankhara to be intellectual and different. Mostly I like what Edji says, and would encourage others to listen to him. Edji is much easier to get than Buddhadasa who in my view sees through dogma but is dogma-heavy. When you go through dogma you reach a point of simplicity but do you actually need to go through the confusions of the dogma proliferations in order to understand?

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

Renouncing self-indulgence?

Posted: 02/10/2017 by zandtao in Buddhadasa, Meditation
Tags: , ,

Have just finished another home retreat, excellent. Body getting better. Knee only a bit of trouble but ankles were trying hard towards the end. Managed 3 “hours” – 1 “hour” is 45 minutes with 15 minutes break. In total it lasted 5 hours, one break I fell asleep for an hour, and other “15 minutes” were longer.

The issue was indulgence. Towards the end of the first session “indulgence”, and then I realised I was avoiding the word “self-indulgence”. I am supposed to be “living no self” when a big portion of my day, after evening meal until sleep early/mid-early hours, is usually watching tv. “I AM” watching tv – self-indulgence.

This has been a pattern that has developed throughout my second childhood. For the first few months the path was no self – much learning. The two trips, first to Belgium and Paris 1975, second to St Valery-en-Caux 1976, were full on learning, but after returning from Belgium drinking started at Argyle Manor, and never stopped for 12 years. Except for holidays when mostly I was learning whether at home or on walking trips. In between the indulgence of drinking I indulged tv, when I stopped drinking pastime was indulging tv – excuse pressure of work, tv and marking etc. Once I retired there was writing, the beach and too much tv – excused because there was writing.

Too much TV is just indulgence – “living self”, “I am” watching TV, watching Man U. I remember a discussion with the “Tony and education” monk. At one time he realised that my lifestyle, meditation plus, was not aspiration-driven – it surprised him. I accepted this because I have doubts concerning “aspiration and desire” but I might well have been rationalising. It seemed to me that the path should just be – I do who I am, but maybe there needs more influence.

A monk is a renunciate – renouncing daily life. Ever since hitting bottom I have renounced “normal life”. Until I retired there had always been hopes I would find a partner, but they were mostly forlorn following Peyton Place; I tried in Botswana but I wasn’t discerning – like Farangs in Thailand. Since 1999 I have lived alone comfortably. After leaving uni I was forced to live alone – since Harrow I have mostly chosen to live alone with the failed Peyton Place and attempts in Botswana.

Renouncing “normal life” is not the same as renouncing daily life, I was more comfortable being alone. In that comfort I became used to self indulgence, used to living with self, despite varying efforts to live on the path including anatta. I don’t want a renunciate’s life because I want control, but that control is not so I can be self. Ascetic lack of self-indulgence is an avoidance rather than balance but what I am doing is definitely full of self. There needs to be a new balance, can I do it or am I too attached?

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.