Archive for the ‘Insight’ Category

Osho and Bhagwan

Posted: 10/04/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, Struggle

I am not a fan of Osho. I examined his work several years ago (1 and 2), and I have no reason to change. There are great teachers around for whom there isn’t doubt such as the Buddha, Eckhart Tolle, why take the risk of teachers who present questions about ego.

When I criticised Osho I was not using his history as Bhagwan because I was unable to be certain enough of what I was reading. There was a recent Netflix documentary series, “Wild Wild Country” (6 hours plus of fascination), that gave me sufficient certainty, and there is much that documentary brings into question.

I am not a fan of “following gurus”. In the Kalama sutta the Buddha spoke of not believing him, learn for yourself. I believe the Guru tradition asks followers to trust the Guru completely, I don’t have objections to many Guru’s teachings but I try to learn for myself. I also understand that a Guru has a responsibility for all those s/he teaches. When I look at this documentary series I am always asking when did the Bhagwan take responsibility?

I have the feeling that the series is well researched and accurate, but it is the media so I can never be sure. My first question is why did the community go to Oregon, why did they leave Poona, India, in the first place? The documentary suggests there were doubts about the Bhagwan when he left Poona the first time. But why the inimical community of Oregon?

Was it respectful to establish such a spiritual community in a US backwoods traditional Christian community as Antelope, Oregon? As the US worships the power of the buck, by their terms it was legitimate but I don’t think so. Where should they establish a commune? Don’t know, a very different question.

My interpretation of the series was that there were no doubts that the Oregonians escalated the issues, and then the US legal apparatus continued the escalation. Firstly the Oregonians attacked the community on the land use issue, the response of taking over Antelope was based on this. And then there was the bombing of the hotel that led to arming the Rajneesh community. I have no doubts who were the aggressors. But then the responses – no excuses, especially from a Guru.

The whole documentary was absolutely fascinating. I was alive during all of that and yet I knew none of it.

What struck me so strongly is the love these Sannyasins had, but wisdom – I don’t know, wisdom seemed not to be valued. I rarely meet spiritual people where I live, but those I do are ex-Bhagwans. They have some sense of being lost, perhaps because they never broke the chord of Guru following, I don’t see them as “complete” – one was clearly disturbed. If I had gone East to the Bhagwan just after my upheaval – just starting on the path (never crossed my mind then), I could imagine I would have been completely enraptured as well. A frightening thought, and a warning about such a powerful Guru. I will not pick up an Osho book, I would not know where he would be sucking me the wrong way.

During the documentary there was a movie shown the Christian Oregonians, the sexual practices frightened them. This movie, Ashram in Poona, can be found here 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

I found this movie frightening, throughout I was thinking they were playing with stuff that should come out naturally over time. It is the same feeling I have about LSD and, I think, ayahuasca; it jumps the gun. But this approach was definitely directed spiritually – so risky. Sure there is energy, sure there are emotional blocks, this is part of life and we must find ways of releasing them. But we …. If it is a technique, if it is laying-on of hands (transmission?) then maybe we aren’t ready, aren’t equipped. How many of those Sannyasins were sorted, were able to cope with life? Was the rest of their life just dependent on the Bhagwan experience and that they were always harking back to it rather than moving forward?

In the documentary there was an old white Oregonian saying that the Rajneeshis were just looking for God. Well it’s the same thing. But is the way the restrictive Christian right have found God in America any better? At least the Bhagwan wasn’t funding global war or attacking women.

I have to point at something which is so important in teaching – sila – moral integrity, the backbone of any teaching must be sila. Especially when people are coming from western societies this sila is so important, as the West doesn’t necessarily provide any. Immediately the Oregonians would say the Rajneeshis have no sila because of sexual misconduct (one of the 5 precepts) – their view of the promiscuity. I am unwilling to comment on this because although it appears there was sexual misconduct it does not appear that their sexual conduct was hurting them. But I don’t know. The ex-Bhagwans I know are open to question concerning sexual desire – many expats are in Thailand in the game of mutual exploitation of younger women. The Rajneeshis in Oregon seemed genuinely happy amongst themselves, this does not indicate misconduct. But I wasn’t there, I don’t know.

But definitely spirituality requires a moral backbone – sila, and from what I have seen Osho offered none. That is sufficient for me not to go near Osho’s teachings given so many other alternatives. Energy without sila is dangerous.

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I have previously described the path as going beyond conditioning, I have also described it as the path of compassion, insight and creativity. It is not narratives we need to understand, follow the path.

So far I have looked at narratives and have seen that the manipulators of the 1% can condition based on any narrative. A narrative is a set of ideas describing a situation. Finding a new narrative is not a revolutionary act because it is simply a set of ideas – khandhas. What matters is the power. For conditioning of the narrative to happen there needs to be power, and that power provides an object of desire. People desire that object, maybe money from a job, they become addicted to that desire – because of what the money can buy, and we have the conditioning that can be recognised in any description of paticcasamuppada or the 4 Noble Truths. Addiction – desire and craving – is at the basis of this Buddhist dogma, I am simply describing how this conditioning is developed in daily life. But it is the same dogma, the same description, the same process; addiction .

In this addiction blog, I have gone into detail with addiction and how it can be understood in terms of the two Buddhist dogmas paticcasamuppada and 4 Noble Truths. Overcoming addiction is not easy but it can be done, but the first step is to recognise there is a problem. In this same blog I discussed addiction to self, few would see this as a problem, but that is the nature of addiction and the first step is recognising we are addicted to self.

To reiterate here is a short description of the process of being addicted to self. I start with what I call the Buddhadasa meme:-

Now body and psyche refer to the khandas. Body – rupa, and psyche – feelings (vedana), perceptions (sanna) and mental constructs (sankhara); with consciousness (vinnana – also a khandha) these are the basis of human ontology. Events can fit into these categories. Conditioning is a natural process. An event happens and consciousness attaches to it. Babies like (desire) suckling and enjoying mother’s milk. Adults like (desire) having money to buy a house. Conditioning is not a process that is inherently evil, it is natural.

But when we are considering narratives, there is a process that is human – how the powerful give their power to the narrative. This is a function of the desire of the powerful. This power is nature’s power but it has accumulated through wealth to a few, and they decide when to give power to the narrative.

It is relatively easy to understand addiction because we know of and have seen many examples of addiction to substances. But we do not understand addiction to self. In part this is because we do not understand the formation of self. And this comes back to the khandhas again. As we like different events, that like becomes part of who we are. As a baby we like suckling, we desire suckling, we cling to the mother’s breast. At that time suckling mother’s milk has become who we are – as a baby we selfishly want mother’s milk. Then the power, mother, says enough is enough, and no more self. We don’t question this analysis of self, but we don’t recognise that this process of desire-clinging-becoming self is the natural process that applies to all events. And more importantly we don’t realise that we can be weaned off this addiction to self. Babies don’t choose to dump the breast, power decides for her/him.

When we consider the human self of the adult, where is the power that decides? Consciousness. Consciousness can decide to form self or break away from self. But that consciousness is not “on its own”. Always sunnata is with us, always the path is with us, but if our consciousness is always stuck in the body and psyche then we just continue to create self – we are addicted to self. The word for consciousness not being stuck in body and psyche is awareness. Somehow consciousness recognises that it does not have to stay attached to the body and psyche, attached to self, and it starts to follow the path. We could visualise that awareness is when consciousness becomes attached to sunnata but that visualisation is confusing if we take it literally as that sort of attachment can never exist.

It is much better to talk of this as following the path, the path of compassion, insight and creativity, and as it is a path that is not addicted to self it is a path that is beyond conditioning.

Let us consider the new narrative again. Naomi describes the situation at the moment as having a potent vacuum, as an indigenous activist I accept her judgement – with my age and where I live I cannot judge. The essential word here is potent meaning power, and power governs ideas.

I surmise that the need for a new narrative is being driven by the realisation that automation will drastically reduce employment thus ending the essential of consumerism – the consumer. The zombie idealism of the current consumerism will continue to lurch for as long as it can because the accumulators will not relinquish power. What will replace it will be some compromise that will enable their continued accumulation – they have more invested in there not being an apocalypse than most people.

Hopeful people, Naomi, want a new narrative but with narratives having no power in themselves such narratives will simply be the “same old same old” conditioning as they have been since tribal times. The powerful want a narrative that allows them to continue accumulation. They will then give power to this narrative, conditioning will follow, and “same old same old”. If a new narrative can give them the same accumulation their desire would be happy, and they would give power to the narrative. Is there such a narrative?

But remember narrative is a khandha – sankhara. We attach to a set of ideals, it becomes part of self and we become addicted to it. As an activist, of course you must engage with the process of changing the narrative in the hopes of participation enabling a better narrative. But narrative is part of the addiction, narratives create the conditions, the process is conditioned, and the conclusion will be conditioned. Because of addiction that is how we all, including the powerful fit, into the narrative.

For people the real hope lies in going beyond conditioning, following the path. Following the path does not mean the end of making better changes of the narrative, but it gives greater power, it gives resolve, it gives strength and conviction, and it avoids the attachment and disappointment of windmills.

It is pleasing to see Naomi as an indigenous activist talking of oneness, similarly with Russell, but the best thing for progression in all human movement is the path that includes recognition of oneness. Naomi you have grasped this because you describe indigenous movements as being driven by love – indigenous love of the land. This love of oneness is being sunnata, it is Gaia, and indigenous culture is much closer than the miseducated “European” culture. But love is not restricted to indigenous movements, love is the path.

Despite the potential “hippy” labelling the best way forward in terms of the narrative is not to promote a new narrative but to promote following the path. This is not some loose airy-fairy impractical naval introspection because it is the path that goes beyond conditioning. However the narrative is resolved, following the path will enable people to deal with the conditioning that results from any new narrative.

There is talk of revolution. In Marxist terms revolution means change of ruling class from bourgeoisie to proletariat, in non-Marxist terms revolution can just mean a change of government created by violence. Violence is not the answer. We live in a world that is controlled by violence. The powerful have not only accumulated money, their power also means control of violence through the military, even more so with the privatisation of security. To seek revolution through violence is now self-defeating and akin to suicide of ordinary people by the oppressive violence (cf suicide by cop). Do not seek suicide by the powerful, there is no future for anyone there. The revolutionary path is to go beyond conditioning. If you don’t accept the conditions they offer, what can they do. If they take away your house you go somewhere else you still have your path. When your path gives you strength in adversity people will see, and then they will see that the path s what they must follow. The path itself is revolution, and is not violent.

A political maxim:- detach from desire and follow the path.

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Conditioning the narrative

Posted: 20/03/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, Struggle

Look at this video.

I am not interested in shaming anyone. The people on this video appear perfectly happy with what they have done. I would love to hear that they have become ashamed of this, and will be happy to take it down.

The point of this blog is conditioning. 4 years ago these people would not have made this video. The video and actions have been enabled by a change of conditions – simplistically a move to the right. People who understand conditioning, the manipulating branch of the 1%, would know that such actions would happen with the changing conditions that are happening now in the US; they might not be able to predict who but such events are so eminently predictable. That is conditioning.

Are these people any less conditioned?

When manipulators want a narrative the conditioning happens. And the point about conditioning is that most people are unaware of it. Political activists call it indoctrination but they are unaware of the extent of conditioning especially of themselves. I have a friend who recognises there is brainwashing. He is satisfied with this recognition and is unaware of his own conditioning in accepting this; apathy is an integral part of political conditioning.

Political conditioning always produces people who reject conditioning, but that rejection is part of the conditioning – a more aware part but still a part. To reject the narrative is part of the narrative. This is best understood through Marxism. Marx for his time produced an excellent analysis of the economic system but it was primarily concerned with what was economically wrong. It was a rejection within the narrative. This was pointed out by Russell Means (his talk and a blog), an indigenous activist. For all of his sound analysis Marx was part of the conditioning. Within the narrative it is always important to recognise that the way forward is through class unity, but it is also important to recognise that this is part of the conditioning.

And here is the point about conditioning, we somehow have to learn to go beyond it. Follow the path. And this is where the political response within the narrative is limiting. The narrative is primarily economic and many responses are equally economic. Economics is a religion (Yanis) whose human value is greed, somewhere within any economic adherence whether 1% or socialist (communist) the narrative is concerned with people getting more money. As 1% or socialist we are accepting a “greed” narrative, and we are conditioned to do this. Following the path goes beyond this.

The conditioning process happens with narratives. At the moment many people are looking for a new narrative. Naomi talks of a potent vacuum that now sadly is starting to be filled by the right. In my description of the old narrative it is not only progressives who are concerned with narrative, the 1% are concerned. With increasing automation there is less “reason” to pay someone and that is the end of consumerism, and that is the end of the existing 1%-system. Their accumulation demands automation yet automation means the end of consumerism – the basis of the normal narrative:-

Who is driving the narrative process? Progressives see an opportunity to respond to the normal narrative with a progressive narrative. But whatever narrative replaces the normal the 1% will not relinquish their power. Any new narrative that will be formed has to be for the benefit of the powerful, and once they can see a way of resolving their consumer dilemma they will start a new conditioning process that they can so easily manipulate. A narrative is a description, a set of ideas, it has no power – only intellectual appeal; a narrative becomes the narrative only when power is attached to it. Once that power has been attached then conditioning is applied because the power has attached the carrot giving the people something they desire.

Detach from that desire and follow the path.

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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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Philosophy – BigTalk

Posted: 16/03/2018 by zandtao in Insight
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Simon Critchley is talking with Russell about philosophy – it is not a talk I recommend. This talk to me typifies the worst aspect of Russell’s involvement with academia.

Simon began by saying that the questions they are asking are the same as the time of Socrates. This tells me philosophy is a waste of time yet genuinely there is nothing better than enquiry. We cannot accept what we are told, we cannot accept our conditioning, we must ask what is conditioning, how are we conditioned, we must have genuine enquiry.

This is enquiry with a purpose not discussion for the sake of it.

In Buddhist terms I classify discussion for the sake of it as sankhara – verbalising mental proliferations. It is normal human interaction to have conversation for conversation’s sake but that is not learning – not enquiry.

Why is it that understanding has not developed through centuries of asking questions? Has the answer for truth or justice changed over the years? There is a temporal component but primarily truth is permanent. It is known when people speak the truth through insight. Understanding could have developed but there are factors working against a greater understanding.

Primarily it is because philosophy is part of academia which is part of a system that is not looking for truth justice or any of the usual concepts of philosophical understanding. In a 1% system where are they looking for justice? Such justice would have to be critical of the 1%. Enquiring after the source of human problems, we have to answer in part the source of injustice is the 1%. In the same way as not all conditioning is the 1%-system, some human suffering stems from human conditioning that would exist in a non-1%-system. Is it just to have any suffering because of a 1%-system? If philosophy cannot answer yes to this, it is not seeking answers – it is not enquiring.

Is there a path, a way of going beyond conditioning? Anyone who has gone beyond conditioning – transcended, says yes. Intellectuals stuck in conditioning and sankhara says there isn’t a path. Because there are more of those intellectuals and they want the academic system (for jobs etc.), it becomes a consensus, and academia does not accept there is a path.

In the same way all those who go beyond conditioning say there is insight. Intellectuals stuck in the conditioning of sankhara do not have insight so it is not accepted.

All people who have experienced compassion by transcending see compassion as the essence of humanity, intellectuals stuck in sankhara have not experienced that compassion so are unable to draw appropriate conclusions.

Genuine creative people have transcended, their relationship with the muse has taken them beyond. Intellectuals stuck in sankhara cannot know what creativity is – they just talk about it. So academia talks about creativity, and is not creative.

When people sit still and look inside their heads their minds are swirling. When meditators look inside their heads their minds are not swirling. As philosophy is concerned with mind, does it accept this? No because intellectuals in academia do not meditate. This swirling is an observable representation of sankhara – mental proliferations. Sankhara can be observed by all, intellectuals and the state of mind of meditators before meditation. In view of this, should intellectuals stuck in sankhara be making judgements of states of mind they have not experienced?

These are all examples of philosophical questioning, questioning that benefits from not having answers for intellectuals who keep jobs by not having answers.

There are plenty of things that the path does not have answers for. There is much that needs to be learnt about humanity, transcending, going beyond conditioning, how to go beyond, etc. All of these are important philosophical questionings but such enquiry cannot exist because the 1% and the intellectuals have not gone beyond questioning. With what they do to humanity, the 1% cannot go beyond – cannot transcend.

All of the above is usually rejected by academic philosophy because it is vague – path muse is not defined. Words like insight creativity have a meaning beyond the rational yet there is an unwritten academic assumption that there is nothing beyond the rational. Perhaps they can discuss that of course. Genuine enquiry, Campbell’s quest?, gets buried in words and circular arguments. What if I had a stake up my arse would I or perhaps I wouldn’t maybe as if I suppose.

“Death is in the mouth” reminded me of Castaneda’s “death is always over the left shoulder”. If death as a constant presence provides motivation and determination it is useful. Death is, why discuss it? Death gives motivation and determination, why discuss it? What happens after death, do we know? Why discuss it?

During the interview they had a conversation about football – personal, and a conversation about humour – professional. Personal and professional conversations must happen, when a teacher I just rabbited on – only of interest to teachers – and then only some. Philosophy needs to be about learning and wisdom ie the path and not conversations. But as explained above it won’t happen. Philosophy is just professional discussion for philosophers.

Russell can have interviews about philosophy, but it has very little to do with learning at any level. This interview with Simon to me demonstrates all that is wrong with philosophy. A significant proportion was spent discussing football “in a philosophical way”, and at the end they only just touched love. Russell was into the diversion as much as Simon. Maybe Simon has more to him than this, but as a philosophy prof he could be just a conquistadore of sankhara.

Russell, intellectualism is an addiction – addiction to the self of sankhara. Intellectualism is not learning, it is circulating around mental proliferations. Learning is the path scything through these proliferations and coming up with internalised truth. There is a case for studying the intellectual ideals so that you have the tools with which to discourse, but remember that discourse without purpose – without internalising – is simply verbalising the proliferations.

Russell, you have a huge advantage over most intellectuals. Through the 12 steps you connected with the path – with the power that helped you fight through your addiction. Intellectualism per se does not know this power, in fact conditionality (which includes the intellectual) is afraid of that power, of the truth that scythes through meandering rationales. Remember the path, do not get sucked back into the world of intellectual addiction because you respect “profs”.

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Spirit of the Prison Break

Posted: 15/03/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, Struggle

This is Russell talking with Yanis Varoufakis. Yanis has a clear understanding and this talk was excellent. It was good to hear the hope in his voice, hope that there is still a chance. Syriza sounds like a demonstration for change that was exhilarating, it is worth listening to his hope.

But for me the most important part of Yanis’ view was his focus on the human spirit; his analysis was sound but was based on the power of the human spirit.

I didn’t follow what happened with Greece as deeply as I should, but for me it was a beacon of hope for a while. Greece should never have been allowed to join the EU because their currency wasn’t stable – there are apparently EU criteria that need to be met. It was the EU pushing for increased membership to add to the US-EU economic detente – the bigger the better. As usual in these situations power-brokers discuss with leaders, and leave the taxpayer to pay; any problems with the EU and the affects of an unstable currency, drachma, would be forfeited by the Greek people.

The Greeks had got sick of the EU exploitation and how it was affecting their way of living, so they began to vote in Syriza who were demanding an EU exit – a Grexit. At one stage there was a Greek leader, George Papandreou who called for a referendum as to EU membership; it was stopped. This referendum was the last thing the EU wanted but they didn’t have the money until Obama turned up at a G# conference, and soon a deal was offered. Yanis didn’t want it but someone got bought off. A new loan was made that the Greeks will eventually have to pay back. Russell described it as Yanis being fucked over, and Yanis described that as a succinct way of putting it. “Worst aspect was the backstabbing of his own comrades.” Now he has a national treason charge against him, the charge is undermining Greece’s position in the European Union.

The Greeks had organised many strikes, and their economy was in such a state that people began again with a barter economy. This was making strides until the EU loan (backed by Obama) was made.

Now the Greek government have sold out, and are cap-in-hand with the EU. The people are rising up again but what can they do?

I didn’t know that it had begun with a demonstration in constitution square against the loans (with their austerity and conditionality) which were coming from the Conquistadores – IMF World Bank GATT etc; what Yanis calls Deep State. When that was squashed the people went back to their communities, reorganized and voted in Syriza.

The worst form of slavery is one volunteered into – creating alienation. The idealism of the authoritarian is reproduced in the oppressed, they agree to it for some reason, and there is alienation. This is comparable to the agreement of fear, delusion and responsibility amongst the British white middle-classes; afraid they will lose their house they accept the delusions of the economic right wing, and abdicate any responsibility for war and wage-slavery.

Then he talks of the human spirit, he has faith in the human capacity to be good. Is this faith? He is a Buddhist meditator. So in his meditation he finds compassion, the compassion that all meditators find. Therefore is it faith? He experiences compassion in meditation, he knows that others also experience it so it is logical to infer that all humans have this compassion of the conditions are right. It is not a faith or belief that he cannot substantiate. But that is not the way he expresses it, he uses the word “faith” – I am interested in this small point because I wrote “Don’t believe” today. I have the same “faith” as Yanis, if the conditions are not exploitative then humanity will be good – compassion.

He describes organised religion usually being at the side of the oppressor, the guy in the sky with a beard is directly connected to the oligarch. Further he points out that economics is not a science developing through deduction (eg physics) but is an organised religion with equations; superstition. We need to study the superstition, reading, engage and then overcome it. Economics is like a cat chasing its own tail. If Yanis is a stock market expert and predicts something, the market will follow. Economics without heart cannot work. There needs to be the human capacity for the transcendent in economics.

Throughout the problem is commodification, everything is commodified. We decommodify by recognising that the only thing that matters is the spiritual life we lead – the path, Yanis. Yanis wants a unity of spiritual and mass movement activists, and resents those of the mass movement who reject believers. He spoke of a religious teacher talking of the crucifixion. Yanis asked, in a time machine would we see the crucifixion? The teacher replied it doesn’t matter because my belief allows me to experience in a far better way. And Yanis thought there is nothing to divide us. The only thing that can unite us is the transcendence – my words, going beyond the conditionality. Alienation kills the human spirit.

Since being ousted Yanis has been working on Diem25, a peoples’ movement of Europe – a transnational approach. Yanis is a patriot but is not a nationalist. It is easy to convince people if you are clear, but it is not so easy if you are a politician trying to persuade when all they are doing is trying to propagate their salary.

How do we cope with the ego in power? You need mechanisms. When all around are against him he remembered the homeless guy who had lost everything yet wanted Yanis to fight for those who still had something. Anarchist in Land and Freedom, the black in the flag to remind us of the darkness in our souls. Yanis was never powerful, he was in office, and he saw the powerful are just puppets – the smart ones know they are puppets. He describes a Marxist critique in which all are condemned. The capitalist is so afraid of being the wage-slave he treats his own wage-slave badly, the capitalist is also a slave to his means of production. Spirit is the only way out.

Who is the enemy?

The parties and nationalists are false opposition. Deep establishment, City, Wall Street, large corporations. We know who they are (1% ). Deep establishment is a conspiracy without conspirators, people working for their own greed creating a network. There is also a nationalist xenophobic internationale (false opposition) who are the right-wing fascists against finance sector, against establishment, but in the end they only serve the interests of those they claim to be against. Yanis says they unwittingly serve these interests but fails to note that the Dark Money Network finances this internationale.

He campaigned against Brexit and for his audiences this seemed ironic considering what the EU did to him. But he campaigned to be in to work against it. Activists must have self-confidence to get in there and fight but need not know the answers; democracy is the answer with its crowd-sourcing solutions – mass movement. He has abandoned optimism but embraces hope.

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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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Here you can listen to Sharon Salzberg’s insight in her discussion with Russell Brand. I hadn’t realised that the Buddha’s times were considered disputatious, for me that just means verbalising mental proliferations (verbal sankhara) – 5 khandas.

This podcast is well worth listening to for insight.

Beyond conditionality there is insight, and this is where Sharon Salzberg is at – or tries to be at (for her to decide). When you are beyond conditionality there is no gender; listening to Sharon has decided that for me. Whilst there might be aspects of reformist feminism I might argue with for its liberalism, revolutionary feminism is beyond conditioning in the realm of insight (compassion and creativity). It was no great surprise when I searched I found Sharon linked with bell hooks.

Because of my life I sadly have only met the reformism but at least I can listen to feminism that is beyond conditioning when I listen to Sharon and bell.

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Embracing the path

Posted: 13/03/2018 by zandtao in Insight, Meditation, Struggle
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Embracing is not what I did. And that was because I was immature when the compassion decision was made.

The path takes many shapes, and that is why I have written about it so much in the last year. It is the most important thing in life but it is often ridiculed by a system that is threatened by its very existence. This is a system that on a wider level is controlled by conditioning with an essential part that enables the accumulation of the 1%. When you see all the intended confusion around – Dark Money Network, how are we able to make moral decisions? Simple, the path must decide. This is the path of compassion insight and creativity, and because of its nature gives us the ability to be beyond conditionality and make decisions. By this nature it is a threat to the power of the 1%.

When we are on the path we need never worry about our decisions, they are always right. But we have to be sure we are on the path. Because I was immature when I first found the path, I lacked the discipline to keep to the path.

Is there regret? No. But there is a deep feeling that I want to shout from the rooftops “embrace the path”.

I started with all the bells and banjoes experiencing the tremendous (5 Gateways-level) euphoria that can come with the path. Amidst all that euphoria I mixed with some wonderful people who helped me consolidate the path, and I will always be grateful.

After that consolidation still in the midst of all that euphoria, compassion drove me to start work in kids’ homes, and then into teaching. But I did not have the maturity to hold to the path after making that decision. I failed to deal with all the conflict associated with the world of work in these caring professions. Whilst I still partially followed the path I also allowed myself to slip into alcohol addiction. Within that period of addiction I still experienced sober moments when I became grounded in the path again. After the path gave me the strength to end that addiction I still did not become totally grounded in the path as I was then also immersed in the world of teaching. Again there were times when I was totally grounded but I did not embrace the path.

You need discipline to fully embrace the path, discipline that can come with meditation. But without the discipline fighting off conditioning can be difficult.

I have described my path as two childhoods. My first childhood was middle-classed in which there were no signs of the path and I was just conditioned – numb to any compassion insight or creativity; there was perhaps one sign, people said I was always smiling.

Once starting on the path after my upheaval I was too immature to hold to the path, I did not have the discipline required. I think of what happened in my second childhood. As I grew up through that second childhood whilst sometimes being grounded in the path it was definitely the case that I did not always hold to the path. Grounding was sporadic, the clearest example of which was the muse. When I was writing (during summer holidays) I got back to the path and experienced some of the joy again that comes with the initial euphoria of being on the path. The muse gave me that joy.

As I came towards the end of my second childhood I underwent a mid-life review. This led me to Buddhism and meditation. Once I started meditating life in teaching was on the way out. Life in teaching had always been polarised between term-time teaching and the path during the summer holidays. But that polarisation increased once I started meditating daily (or at least almost daily). Nigeria put an end to meditation and teaching. Every time I meditated I wanted to resign because of the appalling management situation at the school. But deeper was the aspiration to follow the path more closely.

When I had sufficient money I resigned and retired developing the path I am on now. At the time of resigning I wanted to study Buddhism and once I did that I became a writer. A writer is who I am now, I have matured into a writer. Meditation and study are part of the path, but writing is the whole of my path now.

I now embrace the path of writer, the writing path that is compassion, insight and creativity.

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Fear Delusion and Responsibility

Posted: 10/03/2018 by zandtao in Insight, Struggle, War

In this blog I attacked the white middle-classes that I grew up in, and whilst they need a jolt my criticism was not accurate. I accused them of contributing to the war devastation of the 1% because of their greed and delusion. I think the accusation of greed is unfair.

OK the white English middle-classes have more than their fair share when compared to the poor in Bangladesh, this is an unreasonable comparison. And to be honest the money that most middle-class people have accumulated is not the issue. Whilst they might well be greedy and seeking more, the money they have does pale in comparison to the 1%. Just one of the 1% has the wealth of 100000 or maybe a million of the middle classes I am critical of. No matter what the egos of these middle-class might tell them the interests of these people lie with the class that is not 1% – 99% or proletariat.

It is much fairer not to describe these people as being particularly greedy but more that they are afraid of losing their bit. It is this fear that dominates their approach. Their fear of losing their bit formulates their political approach. They accept the devastation the 1%-economy creates globally for their two up-and-down, sanctuary from the poor, sanctuary from starving and sanctuary from racial disharmony. Their racism is institutional or cultural. The system provides them with a set of myths that threaten their homes and way of life, big black guys raping daughters, hordes of Muslims riding camels through their backyards, swirling scimitars and stealing garden gnomes. For most of these people they have not been hurt by the results of racial tension, bullying at school, mugging etc, but the fear for their home translates to fear of blacks – racism etc.

This fear fires acceptance of the delusions that enables the stability of the current system, enables the continued accumulation by the 1%. Their fear connects change with loss of their way of life so whatever change is mooted on whatever moral grounds it is rejected, they accept delusional arguments for stability rather than change.

A major consequence of this fear and delusion is what is done in their name. It is governments of western democracies (NATO) that are spreading war and terror globally. Whilst I consider Blair an evil man – and guilty of war crimes, he only did the same as every other British leader; he got the British people sufficiently in line to support the Americans in the Gulf. The middle-classes didn’t particularly want to support the Americans but they went along with it because it was the system and stability that mattered the most to them. The deaths were not as important. Their fear and delusion allowed them to give responsibility for their actions in a democracy to a government that was not acting for them.

The whole basis of their way of life is tied in with this abdication of responsibility. They would never do such things but the Americans can, soldiers can, mercenaries can. Their fear is disenfranchising, their vote has no component of compassion, their view is limited to keeping their way of life at almost any cost. As a result they hand over their moral integrity, their human responsibility to governments whose actions enable 1%-accumulation primarily through war-for-profits.

Greed is a small factor in sourcing the problem. Whilst many middle-classes would choose greater wealth and would be prepared to work for greater wealth. It is more a question of losing what they have that drives them into accepting the delusions stability offers them. For the promise of stability they give away their moral integrity and human responsibility to leaders who enable 1%-accumulation. Middle-classes are not free from greed but that is not the primary mover like I said here.

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