Archive for the ‘Insight’ Category

Ego, Self and Anatta

Posted: 27/05/2018 by zandtao in Insight, ONE planet
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These three words have multiple definitions and because of this there is confusion. In such cases it is always important to understand where your own “definitions” lie. In ascribing “definitions” to these words I have no wish to obviate other definitions and ways of thinking, just a simple effort to clarify where I am coming from.

I have to take as “assumed” what I wrote in the Ch22 on addiction, by assumed I mean that I don’t want to keep repeating myself – that would make these blogs more tedious than they already are. This meme taken from Buddhadasa’s teachings brings some clarity:-

Here we have three levels but they do not correspond to Ego Self and Anatta. Anatta and sunatta are similar, and could be seen as no-self, so this meme has effectively two levels self and not-self. Within the two tiers of self (self, body and psyche) are the ego and self.

This train of thought started when I was trying to explain about clashes of male ego to a Thai person. She did not understand ego but did understand atma or atta. In other words in Thai there was no distinction between ego and self. This makes sense to me because the ego and self are both formed by attachment to the khandhas – represented in the meme by body and psyche.

The situation of description concerning clashes of male ego also helped me come to an understanding as to an arbitrary distinction between ego and self, and that distinction is relating to society. An ego is something like a façade that we put out as a defence against society – hence male ego. This ego still comprises of the 5 khandhas but is more concerned with how we appear to society. Hence there are similarities to egotist and arrogant, and of course clashes of male ego are concerned with “handbags at 10 paces” ie superficial ego in society.

There is a tendency based on Hindu thinking amongst others to have a two-tiered approach ie just ego and self. This fits in with certain aspects of western thinking such as self-realisation. In other words, in this two-tier system the self is seen as the true you that has to be realised or actualised. As far as it goes this is fine, it is a way of thinking I worked with for years. For this approach people are searching for their true selves by trying to eliminate ego and finding something that is true underneath any conditioning that they unravel.

When bell hooks talks of self-esteem I would suggest that she is talking of this true self, and how this true self should be valued – self-esteem.

It would be reasonable to leave this consideration at ego and true self (not bringing in anatta). When people are seeking self-realisation and get close to their true self, then there is great understanding. But the problem is that there is still conditioning left – illustrated by the fact that people are calling it self. There is still some separation.

Buddhadasa makes this clear by talking about “removing I and mine from the 5 khandhas”; self is still I and mine, no matter how true, soul or “essence” it is. In Hinduism this “self” confusion comes from needing something to transmigrate when there is reincarnation. But if there is oneness, no separation – just oneness, then there is nothing that is unique.

Some would argue that a self needs to exist to give volition etc. But examine the 5 khandhas (body – rupa, feeling – vedana, memory and perception – sanna, mental operations – sankhara, and consciousness – vinnana). What else is there in self? If each of these 5 khandhas carry out their function, what action is there that is not covered by these 5? In other words, why is there a need for a separate entity of self. As explained in Ch22 we build up self by attaching to 5 khandhas through instinct, and then as adults we cling to this self – our instincts – instead of just letting them go. The final step of this letting go is to let go of the self and just accepting sunnata.

Following the path can be seen as recognising the ego letting it go, seeing that self is also attachment to the 5 khandhas and transcending this self, just being sunnata.

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Dangerous Times

Posted: 26/05/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, ONE planet, Struggle
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We are living in dangerous times, I am so deeply afraid for the future; I see nothing changing for the better.

Where is the direction of Gaia, Mother Earth? Where is the direction to end war? Where is the direction to end wage-slavery?

Nowhere.

Where is the direction now? Increasing repression through repression on both sides. Repression helps no-one because it makes no change. It simply covers over the cracks, it Grenfells – gentrifies. This increasing repression is polarising society, and we are not examining this polarisation because we are stuck in our own media bubbles. Understanding through detachment has been replaced by repression based on positions – moral or otherwise.

This aspect of repression started with what Jordan Peterson calls PC-authoritarianism. This man is part of a right-wing egotistical freedom movement who are very dangerous, and has been rightly criticised here. But however sound the criticism it doesn’t matter, our world is polarised and what is said in the NYT does not matter to those listening to Peterson. And what is worse the world is moving more to sympathy for Peterson’s right-wing egotism because the finance is there to support Peterson and the IDweb. Meanwhile the 1% exploit through a Trump facade.

We have not learnt the lesson of PC-authoritarianism. I am going to examine how I see the personal history of PC. Back in the 70s racist language was common-place, at that time it didn’t matter to most people that this language was offensive – offensive language was used in the presence of black people and black people were considered to have a chip if they didn’t accept it. Slowly things began to change in that repressing racist language and removal of racist images improved the general ethos. But it was never meant to be censorship alone, it was meant to be a two-pronged approach in which removal of poor use of language went hand-in-hand with how racism was harmful for everyone. However there wasn’t much effort put into the educational side, and when Blair got into power there was increased repression on the language without any effort being made towards education.

When people are repressed there is a pressure situation built up because the source of the problem had not gone away. These repressed people were still racist. On the surface the problem of racism had been sugarcoated but nothing had been done about the squalid racist mire underneath. As a result when they started funding the alt-right, out came the racists again. There are now increased racist attacks, and racist intellectuals barely bother to disguise themselves as in the IDWeb.

I spent many an hour discussing politics with a neighbour. He did not disagree with any of the issues I raised such as war, exploitation wage-slavery, the 1%, Wall Street. However his mind was so warped with racism that he occasionally expressed to me concerning the difficulties of employing Aborigine workers, and how his liberty was infringed by regulations that protected them. He was also strongly against PC-authoritarianism. These combined were sufficient as he turned out to be a Trump supporter. In other words his racism mattered more than anything else except the PC-police. Of course this is an ignorant position but Trump’s backroom staff knew that the root issue was racism. All the years in which there was some form of PC-ascendancy nothing was actually done about racism, it was only repressed and it is now back in full force in some communities.

Racism is now so strong that this form of state repression is acceptable. Trump says that he would like NFL owners to drop players who took the knee. Now they have agreed that there will be a penalty if players take the knee. This is fascism:-

I first began this blog thinking about this meme:-

I first thought this was great, but then … Is the meme asking that the nephew be educated as to why repeated “no” is harassment or just being told “don’t ask more than once”? Then I began thinking about the relationship thing. Relationship is not about politics, I know how much I hated it when I went home and got it in the neck from a partner who was angry and treated me as a representative of patriarchy – I benefit from the privilege of being a member of the imperialist, white supremacist patriarchy but in my home I can offer empathy; I would however liked to have been me.

Now what happens to this “nephew”? Maybe he is down, maybe it took a great deal to ask. Will the girl think about it, realise she made a mistake and ask him out? Rather than an opportunity to warn the nephew against possible harassment, isn’t this an opportunity to help promote good relationship? Maybe the mother (of the nephew) could involve the mother of the girl in discussion about how to promote relationship.

I don’t want the nephew to ask again, I want a society in which relationship can be built. Can mothers teach daughters to ask a boy out? Can this be done without the girl being perceived as a “slut”? Can we help our young people build relationship?

Or do we remain slaves to sets of ideals which create separation?

It also made me concerned about that ugly brute, male lust. We have reached the stage where right-wing egotistical patriarchs such as Jordan Peterson are attaching blame to women because men not in a relationship behave badly (see NYT article). Peterson is at least recognising the problem in part – the ugliness of male lust. Where are men taught to deal with this? It is a horrible brute, variable in that it is not the same in all men. Some women equate this ugly brute with their own desire; this might be true as I have no experience of how a woman experiences desire – but equally women have no experience of this ugly brute. In relationship all matters need to be brought to the table, discussed, and a mutual understanding be reached. Bringing idealism to the relationship table does not help. If men with Peterson ideals expect women to return to being pliant kitchen chattels, there is only oppression. If women expect men to behave by following a set of rules that they create, there is no relationship. In a heterosexual couple there are two people of the opposite genders seeking to form a relationship, this can only be achieved through mutual love, mutual respect and mutual enabling. Leave the rule book where it belongs.

And that is the problem with our dangerous times, we are allowing ourselves to be dominated by rule books. We need to live together through mutual love, mutual respect and mutual enabling. And to paraphrase Paulette Jordan, love of Gaia. I wish her so much luck, how can she hope to bring Unity in times which have been so intentionally divided.

What good people have to realise politically is that being correct is nowhere near enough, having good ideals is nowhere near enough, having compassion is nowhere near enough. The point is that the 1% have the power and money, they can pay for any form of violent support for what they do. Antifa can be squashed any day they want them to be squashed. The only power that we have as people is togetherness, black and white together, women and men together, using rules to divide us even if these rules might be correct only works in favour of the 1%. Science has proven climate change for decades, the Koch brothers have “faked” climate denial in just one. Who is winning? Find ways of working together. Unity for Gaia.

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Love and Self-esteem

Posted: 19/05/2018 by zandtao in Insight, Struggle
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In the car I have been listening to bell hooks, such an interesting writer. I have downloaded a series of audios on bell hooks – it is readings from several of her books. I had to check the USB because I wasn’t sure even though what was being said sounded like her. But there is a problem, unlike Russell’s conversation podcasts there is too much content for when I am driving.

But it is about love and self-esteem, and she said “go back to your childhood”. This is a strategy I like, and on love and self-esteem again I feel incredibly lucky. I have to assume as context what I have described in the , in this case especially Ch 21 – My Path. I am unwilling to be specific about my home as my mother would not have liked it, but I can describe it in general as I have in being middleclassed as described in the chapter on My Path. Characteristics of being middleclassed are emotional repression and a focus on education leading to house car and education for children. As I have said previously, from my upbringing I emerged middleclassed but, significantly, relatively undamaged and with sufficient bits of paper for passports into life. When I look around this is more than I could have asked for.

In terms of self-esteem being middleclassed makes it easy to understand. I had the arrogance of academic success and as the middleclass straitjacket only really measured this my self-esteem was well intact.

As for love, self-love and other issues that Bell discusses, in my childhood these were de rigueur. In middle-class homes there was love but it was not expressed as emotion, passion; it was expressed as the straitjacket. The first thing I did when I hit bottom was to run back to the straitjacket, this is what being middleclassed provided. When I went to uni I questioned this straitjacket because I was beginning to remove it, but now I don’t – it was a comfort. I cannot advocate the middleclassed home but all-in-all it served me well.

With regards to teen and young adult relationships I was incredibly shy and awkward – undoubtedly in part a product of being middleclassed. In my early teens I dropped opportunities for relationship learning until I left new possibilities behind as too difficult. At uni I was drunk and most undesirable. At these times wanting a relationship was a conditioned thing, it was expected to have one; the “alpha males” I looked up to at that time flitted through relationships (people I later derided as Martin Smoothchatter). I say this in part was due to my being middleclassed but I also feel the path saved me – no idea how the path did it. I can think back to times where my awkwardness prevented me from relating to some wonderful women, but women who that underdeveloped self would have adored and left that adoring self very distant from the path.

In terms of self-esteem I had that in spades because all that mattered was education. Self-love never rose at that time because I so identified with the self-esteem of academic success. But then came the upheaval that started me on the path (again I refer you to Ch 21 for details). As path is unconditional love, this of course changed everything – including with regards to relationship. I became the wandering compassion at the time confused in terms of conscious awareness, but driven by path I was just learning. To begin with love of an other wasn’t the priority although the conditioning to have a relationship was there, I still had the conditioning of the cosmic love of an other. This conditioning confused me especially as in terms of the world I was so immature but the path priority drove me through the conditioning; I still had my awkwardness that prevented formation of relationships.

Once I settled into teaching a self formed. This self was based in the path, I knew who I was and relationships happened because of who I was – the self that the path had formed. There were two women I loved, and they are important in understanding the love that is now me – now part of my path. My first love happened when the woman was still in a relationship. You have to remember that I was immature and did not understand the world. The three of us spoke about this love, my lover’s relationship fizzled out, and this erstwhile lover who I thought was a friend didn’t want to know me – I am sorry it was my immaturity. There were further barriers on my lover’s part in this love, and by the time she really started to respond to my love my love was waning. And my path and independence took over until the relationship petered out and she left London.

My second love was an absolutely intense disaster that I described as worse than Peyton Place. I deeply loved this woman and I got absolutely hammered by pain. By the end of the relationship of nearly three years I was very much an alcoholic – the relationship did not cause the drug dependency but made it worse, much worse. When we separated she still agreed to see me, but very rarely and that petered out after a further 2 or 3 years.

With both of these I had deeply loved an other, but neither lasted a lifetime. Love however did. I had experienced love and that experience meant I knew love, love was always there. And that love can best be described by this Eckhart Tolle meme:-

It was only when I was mature (since retirement) did I realise that I was grateful for how I came to know love. The pain of the second love had been internalised and lasted a long time. Maybe 8 years after the start of that relationship I was in Nyanga and managed to dig out a significant part of that pain, relived it and let it go. And then maybe three years ago I finally came to the realisation that I had loved, love was in me and that I was grateful for the women I had loved – especially the second one.

To return to Bell’s books. I never really had self love. Because I started on the path so young, there was the love that belonged to the path. The path and conditioning and lust took me into relationships (2 significant loving ones) – my path had not matured enough to go beyond this conditioning; remember, this is how I describe path:-

I never loved when I was still relating to self-esteem. When that self-esteem blew up in the upheaval there was path, I never had to love myself as Bell describes. Path is unconditioned love, to think about loving it is a dichotomy that just doesn’t apply. I developed a love of others, but the love of self didn’t apply because the path was beyond self – anatta – no-self. I can relate to the love Eckhart describes but Bell’s descriptions are based in self and in terms of love I bypassed that self mostly – I of course had self in other ways as described in Ch22 on addiction.

The following is speculation as I did not experience it. I want to try and relate to what Bell says – as she is my feminist guide. Because I was middleclassed I grew up with self-esteem but I was completely awkward – lacking in any self-esteem in terms of relationships. My conditioning turned me to drink at uni, and relationships became secondary. I had many passions, a combination of conditioning and intellectual constructs that I should love, and occasional near misses where I was lucky that my awkwardness did not allow adoration. And then came the path. I never needed self-love because I had the path. Self-love conceivably is a stage before anatta. Many never move to anatta, and self-love is an important instinct for survival as Bell describes. For me this is conjecture.

Because I loved, once the pain had passed there was conscious love in me; love that was always there emerged without much pain – intense pain for a short time.

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Reason and Decency

Posted: 16/05/2018 by zandtao in Insight

A friend recently lamented the loss of reason and decency “The most depressing thing politically for me is the retreat from reason and decency in current events”. This friend has always felt there are closer links between reason and action than I do.

To me there has been a retreat but not from reason and decency, that I never considered was there in politics, but a retreat from paying lipservice to these values. I am no defender of Clintons or Blair but they would pay lipservice to values.

I consider my people “nice white people”, and I have never considered that reason and decency to be characteristics of their voting patterns. Far from it their votes are based on fear delusion and lifestyle. They are frightened of change because they see change affecting their lifestyle, and believe traditional parties will provide economic stability. How they rationalise their voting when it comes to Trump and Brexit I have no idea.

Let me be clear, within their families and communities these “nice white people” are decent. As I have pointed out their voting is not reasonable, but other than politics I feel you could appeal to their reason. How do we encourage these people to change their voting patterns? These “nice white people” have always been in bed with war but they are now publicly in bed with deplorables – I understand that Clinton tactic that badly backfired. I don’t understand why the “nice white people” in the community I grew up in are not ashamed to be associated with deplorables. As I am not afraid of change I don’t understand why they are so afraid, but I do know they are.

I don’t understand how these “nice white people” accept moving away from paying lipservice. Maybe it is because they are older and still feel the fear of the Cold War, something I certainly grew up with. Maybe “Reds under the bed” is still attached to Corbyn and social activists. Maybe they see the deplorables as a passing phase.

I recently met an alt-right, and his mindset completely turned me. He was lacking in humility, compassion or any desire for human spirit. Whilst my community’s voting patterns are despicable, these are not people who lack compassion provided their lifestyle is not under threat. This alt-right guy threatened that. But ego-driven financial upstarts have always been accepted as a necessary evil by my community – I guess they somehow feel the system controls them. But this borderline-deplorable doesn’t in any way represent the people I grew up with. They would help each other, I don’t see this alt-right being helpful. Maybe he helps alt-rights.

Nice white people have a loose and varied relationship with religion, and this religion does provide some level of decency within the community – if you ignore their voting patterns.

As described in Ch 24 I do not see existing political activism having a future. The reason of right view cannot combat power. There might be a possibility of appealing to compassion and decency to change voting patterns, however their media will never accept that Corbyn is decent because he is lefty – a modern-day red under the bed.

Changing political activism from appealing to greed is not likely to happen, and if it does it will take time. My “nice white community” would always say they are compassionate – although that compassion does not extend to welcoming non-white neighbours.

The sentiments of my friend’s description of retreat I would agree with. How much worse the world will be without politicians having to pay lipservice to values I don’t know, but for me the world has changed for the worse in the last two years. Non-white communities in the West are suffering more harassment because decency is not publicly required – it used to be required publicly by PC-authoritarianism but censorship does not bring personal development as can now be seen.

But the real suffering in the world recently has been in the Middle East, I have no idea whether their suffering has worsened in the last two years. I fear it has.

I would support any calls for reason and decency to become mainstream even if it is hypocritical lipservice – I would support small mercies.

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Freedom has always been a right-wing issue but it confuses because right-wing freedom is not genuine freedom. Right-wing freedom is concerned with the demands for no restriction on the ego. Genuine freedom knows that the ego has to be disciplined INTERNALLY – not politically or governmentally, but these right-wing egotists are so addicted to their egos they do not see what is happening and are usually not interested in self-discipline – just blaming others for their ego being restricted.

Everything about me says there should be free speech, it is up to the individual to discern their own truths. As a principle this is great, in practice it produces the deplorables. And amongst the deplorables are people who would commit crimes against others based on racism, sexism, homophobia etc. As Liv (SVU) would say there are hate crimes.

Unfortunately PC-authoritarians have had some power recently -contributing to the creation of a backlash. Previously there was an unofficial code of conduct between left and right in which “decent” right people restricted the deplorables – as well as authoritarian liberals restricting them. But Trump and Brexit have undermined this code of conduct, and deplorables are coming out of their cesspits. Across the board there needs to be agreed limits to free speech to restrict hate crimes. Ideas should not be restricted but speech that leads to crime needs to be. For example I think Jordan Peterson is dangerous and PC-authoritarians would like to silence him. The success of people like JBP is an indictment of our education system – especially as our education system employs him. But he does not directly call for hate crimes and as such he has the right to talk, sadly the state of awareness of people at the moment means that he has a large audience.

General awareness of the 1% has increased so the genuine left-wing analysis of the 1% and its manipulations is now more common currency. In other words some of the analysis of these right-wing intellectuals started on the genuine left.

One scenario might be that when these intellectuals actually started listening they were ashamed and embarrassed at having been deluded. To overcome that delusion and to retain their arrogant egos they claimed the understanding of deep state and 1% as their own. But some of these types of intellectuals are not overly-educated, not overly-discerning. They don’t have the questioning and understanding of the manipulations of the 1%. Their egos demand of them that they have developed a new philosophy. This new philosophy assigns blame in the wrong areas because they are being manipulated. On the genuine left there is a clear analysis. It is not identity politics, it is not we are right others are wrong. It is just class. The 1% are exploiting people, our class, we must unite. No excuses, no blaming blacks, women, LBGQT, it is the 1% – be clear. Rabid individualism demands freedom for their egos, freedom from repression, freedom from regulation, freedom from government, and this freedom has no direction, no compassion, no humanity, just freedom for the ego. Because the ego has blocked off their compassion, it is just freedom to be headless chickens.

As an example of the less educated headless chickens I recall a year discussing politics on-and-off with a neighbour. He agreed with some things but showed racism towards Aborigines and Muslims; he also showed anger towards PC-authoritarianism. It was clear some of his views were right-wing and I tried to warn him about media he was listening to. Then he turned out to be a Trump supporter. I was horrified and we now don’t talk – down to me. How did I miss it? I feel his racism and anger at the PC-brigade made him Trump – I often have to listen to white people being racist in a limited way and in the past that racism had never been manipulated into such right-wing extremism as Trump. His evaluation of the sources of the problems as being 1% were in agreement with mine. How can he not see that Trump is a 1%-puppet? I still don’t know. But after I stopped talking with him, I went back one time and asked about Trump. He told me Trump was still learning and give him a chance, but he blamed the Democrats for the failure of Trump’s health care. This is the power of the media he watches. He evaluated the state of the world in the same way as I did – he feared it was getting worse and saw foreign interference as a problem. How did he then accept Trump? This is the power of the media he watches.

For him Crooked Hillary is far worse. I dislike Hillary because she is part of neoliberalism, and I am never going to know whether the name “crooked” has any legitimacy. For me democrats are still backing her, and that shows me how neoliberal the machine is; crooked or not politically she should be dropped. However much she has been smeared, there is no compassion or decency, but as neither value matters she might still be running. Of course neoliberals choose Trump over Bernie, they cannot have Bernie – and maybe there is no-one else.

Unity is a key flagstone as a left-wing platform as compared with the freedom of the individual on the right. I call for compassion to be another to counter the ego but it surprised me that JBP actually comes out against compassion. Compassion for me means freedom from suffering for all. Whilst we have a 1%-system that restricts global resources because of their personal accumulation (1%), what nature would provide for 100% has been greatly reduced by this accumulation and so created confrontation (people fighting for the limited cake). Such confrontation leads to individualism as each fights for the cake. These individuals believe they gain more by their own greed than any disciplining towards compassion or acceptance of collective agreement.

There is an international dark web and Jordan Peterson is listed on a website – features prominently. These people are not uneducated, in fact the opposite they are overly-miseducated and driven in part by their academically successful egos. They are sufficiently coalesced that they merit discussion at the New York Times. Here is a clip from Films for Action, I didn’t like the clip but it is suggesting that this IDWeb is a collection of people whose commonality is they don’t like Marxism.

Being intellectual and knocking Marxism has always been there, it is this ego and right-wing freedom. When I was an activist I always accepted as representative to do things in terms of my role and not because I believed them, comrades like me referred to this as discipline. In the spiritual world we need control of our egos and this is referred to as discipline. If there is no discipline the intellectual goes off all over the place, and that appears to be the IDWeb. Marxism is about the class, and the class does not put intellectualism first. The class for me is about compassion, and this means freedom from suffering for all. Hence the conflict for the IDWeb. It is quite understandable to consider that these intellectuals would appropriate some left-wing ideas such as deep state without having the consistent base that is class analysis. This is an intellectual approach.

It is worth talking here of “collective anarchism”, a term I came up with in The Arico Chronicles. It amuses me that I came up with it in fiction but the notion that collectivism and individuality needs to have a yin-yang relationship is reasonable. The political theory anarcho-syndicalism has a similar ring. Individual rights have to be protected, are not being protected under PC-authoritarianism which is little more than censorship, but in the end freedom from suffering-for-all has to be the objective – NOT freedom for the individual especially the individual ego.

There is the Dark Money Network and the IDWeb, the connection is that the 1% does not want Marxism and collectivism. How the money flows where, I don’t know but it does – it has to these people are there. If there is an anti-class confusion then the money has done its work. It is all very frightening:-

We are people we are class we share compassion. Activists, be compassionate first

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2B an activist?

Posted: 22/04/2018 by zandtao in Insight, Struggle
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Activism is a phenomenally-important issue. Compassion means ending suffering, so as compassionate beings we have a duty to decide how we are helping end suffering.

As a Buddhist this issue came to me as what am I doing in retirement and the related question of putting on robes. Just before I retired I resolved it as “if I was learning in retirement then no need for robes”. In retirement I gradually became a writer, and that is activism – despite a very limited audience.

When I was debating this decision (with myself), an abbot said to me that his monastery provided a refuge from daily life, and that was worth doing. I didn’t disagree with that but we can’t all be abbots. Buddhadasa was a great teacher, we cannot all be Buddhadasa.

And that brings me to this article. Eckhart Tolle is a great teacher but not all people who follow the path can be great teachers. Not all Buddhists can be monks, and so we arrive at the question of activism because there is a duty in compassion to contribute. In the interview all the required discussion is there.

I start with this “Conscious awareness, conscious living, is the ultimate activism.”, this is undoubtedly true. But I now want to refer to 24 in which I discussed the path and activism. Addressing activists and the failure of activism currently I put forward the following:-

If you note who I am addressing (activists) this fits completely within the sense of the interview. On an individual level we have to work towards conscious awareness – follow the path. But in terms of activism there needs a change in approach as discussed in 24. My short but important spell in political activism made me completely aware of the problem of egotism. The left stupidly divided itself (and that is before the right tactic of lumping PC liberalism in with the left), the argument between commies and Trots highlights this. In my own political activist development I recognised the importance of unity, and I knew already how divisive the Trots were. Initially they were trying to work with me, use me, but when my need for education turned me into a commie they ostracised me and the more understanding I got through good Marxist education the more I eschewed them.

Now although my path brought me to activism to enable more people to follow the spiritual path I still fell into this trap. After the education I left the commies and joined the “George Cooper” party. Sadly he wasn’t far from death, I think I read online somewhere that he died in 94 (my activism was 1987-1992). George was a mass movement activist, he did not hold to theories (I am sure he probably had during his life) he just organised – he told me once that the nearest description would be anarcho-syndicalist. In general I would say that communists just see themselves as organisers but because of the prevailing divisions being a communist was divisive on the left. At the time there were three communist parties in the UK. I have forgotten the letters. One was trying to get elected, one was supporting the Morning Star, and one was holding to the need for revolution (NCP). I was in the NCP and there were great activists there but membership was maybe 600. In total the membership was definitely less than 5000, and there were three parties. Commies, look at that isn’t it ludicrous that commies have three parties and yet they regularly spoke of Trots causing splits?

Now all Trots and Commies. Please look at the state of the movement. Funding has produced a division of the class that has allowed Trump and Brexit to happen. Where has all your organising gone – my organising gone?

At the time I was politically active I was not too spiritually active ( 21) so I got too sucked in. If I had been active longer – after joining the George Cooper alliance, I might well have moved towards the kind of path activism ( 24) I am now promoting:-

But there is one important point about activism – genuine left-wing activism. Whilst these activists hold to Marxist theories they put people first – at least their theories do. They are compassionate and want to end suffering. Unfortunately the way our conditioning goes ( 22), the set of ideals (sankhara) we picked up in miseducation becomes replaced with a set of ideals of Marxism, and that compassion can be hidden by the addiction to sankhara – egotism.

But these activist-egotists have already touched their compassion – presence (to be fair there are some trade unionists who are only in it for their ego and greed). These are important people to work with in efforts to promote the path – conscious awareness.

And at the same time they are trying to hold back the ravages of the 1%-system. Are monks who are just trying to meditate actually holding back these ravages which are causing suffering? If we study Eckhart at home and go to work for our money, are we holding back these ravages? In my life (born 1952) the suffering has got far worse, in the 20 years since “Power of Now” was published the suffering has got worse. In the last 7 years alone (since Occupy of 2011), it has now become publicly acceptable to be racist and sexist, and cause violence to each other in protests (Antifa) (I note it was always acceptable for supremacists to be violent); and with all the public turbulence Syrian air strikes are carried out with barely a whimper.

In joining the commies I did something else – I learned. Through their education I began to understand the suffering that was caused, and how it was caused. Prior to this, in my life that was just compassion-as-teacher I was not aware of the suffering. In Brixton because of the alienation that the SWP-Trots caused in me in my first job it took me a while to begin to understand the suffering. I started as a non-political anti-racist, and then started to become politically aware. Then I became more aware as an activist. All of this is discussed by Eckhart in the interview, but I want to emphasise the understanding of suffering that comes from activism. We live in a society that hides the suffering it causes, activism clears the veil. But without conscious awareness, being an activist will usually make you part of the problem.

Awareness of our own suffering brings us closer to following the path – conscious awareness. Doesn’t awareness of the suffering in the world also bring us closer to the path. Whilst conscious awareness has to be concerned with our addiction to self – egotism, exposing that addiction to the suffering that exists in the world has to increase awareness. Shutting ourselves away from the suffering does not end suffering. There is a balance between our need to develop on the path – develop conscious awareness, and our duty to help end suffering. Being active in helping end suffering through activism might help develop conscious awareness, I might also make us part of the problem. It is a dilemma od the path that we need to live with.

I have a propensity for activism, this I recognise as a bias. The path is first, we need conscious awareness. Our compassionate duty is to end suffering, it is important for us to come to terms with how we deal with ending suffering.

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Osho and Bhagwan

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