Archive for the ‘Meditation’ Category

I downloaded an eBook written by Edward Muzika entitled “Awakening and the Descent of Grace as part of my enquiry into awakening experiences, it turned out this guy has an internet presence operating as Edji.

When I started to read his eBook this jumped out at me “The awakening and deepening experiences are closely related to the experiences of the teacher; that is, you will experience awakenings similar to that of the teacher” [p5 of 82]. It is connected with my concerns over 5 Gateways which I reiterate is good stuff. 5 Gateways has a framework that I discussed here, I was worried that the framework creates the type of awakening experiences. This is exactly what is contained in Edji’s quote.

This made me consider teaching methodologies in the spiritual world. In the spiritual world I remember this interaction. At one stage I was close to a monk who was running a useful “Buddhist church”. He regularly delivered Dhamma talks that I used to attend – standard format, meditation, the Dhamma talk where the audience listened in silence, questions at the end – not usually any and if there were they appeared not enquiry but for the sake of having questions – fill the time.

We were close enough that he invited me to interview for a job teaching monks maths, they were attending a monks’ university and would probably end up teaching. Whilst up there he invited me to attend one of his “lessons” on the dhamma to the young monks. I thanked him and suggested that I do a teacher observation and evaluation, something that I had done regularly with good feedback from teacher colleagues in my department; I wanted some value from observing his lesson – watching only had little value. The lecture/lesson was good, the rapport with the students was good, but his reaction to my evaluation was poor. I began with the two positive comments just stated, and then pointed out minor issues (presented as such) in a 6-page report. There were no thanks. Professional teachers are expected to work with such evaluations and accept professional advice in a good interactional environment. With me they always seemed to, with this monk there was no response then.

There was however later. The monk ran a blog for his “church”. As a blog it was excellent, usually informative and well worth doing. However he made a mistake. On his blog he discussed a book by Tony Blair in which Tony had discussed Iraq. His blog bought what Tony had been peddling, and I sent a polite post questioning his stance. There was a polite response in which he made it clear that he did not wish to pursue discussion of Tony and his book – he did not retract the blog or make any personal retraction to me. Within the blog there were slightly bitter references to me as an educationalist. His church was worthwhile, pursuing the matter any further in public would only have been divisive and detrimental to the church, it was clear he was not interested in pursuing the matter privately; I did not attend the church again and he did not contact me to ask why.

To me the reaction contained ego, and also contained a failure to recognise professional teaching experience in the education system as relevant to his work at the monks’ college.

I had a similar interaction with a macrobiotic counsellor but the details are much hazier so I won’t go into them. What I got from the counsellor was that my professional experience as a teacher had no relevance to his counselling.

When I read Edji’s quote I began to think about teaching methodologies in the spiritual world. Professionally, do they stand up?

Here is the person I most consider my teacher, Ajaan Buddhadasa, giving a talk to western students:-

His teaching style is very formal, he gives a dhamma talk in silence following on from meditation (or meditation at the end).

This style would be typical of Theravadin monks in Thailand – he was Thai. Ajaan Buddhadasa is not connected with the Forest Sangha but many western Theravadin monks are connected with the Forest Sangha – as is Harnham Buddhist monastery. I have stayed at Harnham and the style of dhamma talks is typified in this picture. The abbott there introduced Dhammasakkacha in which people connected to the monastery (such as me) wrote a page on a topic such as renunciation – nekhamma that he briefly responded to. These stopped.

Here is Brad Warner, a zen monk that I used to follow, giving a talk:-

There is no doubt that Brad tries respectfully to break through many traditions. My interpretation of his dhamma talks is that they are not traditional but that they are dhamma – I liked that. I have never attended a talk of his nor have I been on a retreat with him but it is my understanding of his methodology that he talks to the group, and he has individual consultations.

Eckhart Tolle sits on stage and gives talks. He did an education thing with Oprah in which he discussed each chapter of his book “The New Earth” answering viewers’ questions and more.

I have attended gatherings with Krishnamurti. His talks appeared interrogatory in that he took a theme and explored it by asking questions and hoped that the gathering would explore themselves by asking the same questions. But he was on stage with an audience of hundreds – the questioning was rhetorical although I genuinely felt he wanted people to come up with answers for themselves.

Now here is Edji reclined in a comfortable chair giving a dhamma talk to a group of “students” connected to him by “video-conferencing” (I assume) – hence the computer on his lap.

Ed also uses the occasional expletive, and in this talk encourages people to be their own gurus.

I have attended talks given by Thich Nhat Hanh. In one his microphone wasn’t working properly and his English could not be heard, the Thai translation was clear. His dhamma is excellent but how could that have happened? How could he not have mechanisms in place to ensure that people could hear him? Something happened on stage, and I interpret it as this – I don’t know how true. Part way through a nun came on stage and tried to do stuff with the mike, I could see her trying to talk to him but she was summarily dismissed. She left with extreme embarrassment.

So a typical dhamma talk is didactic – a lecture in silence.

What am I getting at?

I begin by asking questions. My interaction with the monk makes me question that monk and points to questioning monks in general to accept advice from appropriate professionals, in this case professional advice on teaching methodology.

Where does learning occur? At the dhamma talk only minimally. It occurs when you sit and meditate. Learning is understanding when there is insight, when an idea is internalised. This might happen at a dhamma talk or it might happen in meditation. I described the monk’s group as a church. I attended that church for a while, and as with the catholic church I attended as a child there appeared little enquiry. It was worthwhile that this group met, that was sufficient.

I used to have what might be called dhamma conversations. In a non-silent retreat you might be chatting with a monk or others, and in that conversation you gain insight. Or on the road I have met other aware travellers, and there have been meaningful conversations, insight, learning and moving-on – the wonders of travel broadening the mind. I would describe these conversations as dialogue with the intent to learn or intent leading to a mutual conclusion (most conversations have no such intent).

Here is a non-learning situation that might arise. Sankhara diarrhoea or sankhara block – I think this particularly applies to western students (I have read similar from eastern teachers). Western minds especially fresh from education are so full of this and that, there is no way in for new stuff. I have often discussed this as intellect excluding insight.

You need empty silent minds to learn, not minds full of mental proliferations.

Many of the above giving talks claim to be Buddhist yet my interpretation of the Kalama sutta is that the Buddha said not to believe anything he says learn for yourself. When a talk is given what is expected of the listener, what is it that the listener is expected to learn?

What are the motivations of the listener? Ideally I would say that the motivations are connected with learning and experiencing what the Buddha taught. However as a Christian church wats are not places this happens. It is a social expectation to attend, and some, but few, move beyond. I chose the word church for the Bangkok monk, I did not feel spiritual drive.

The motivations of a learner are different but above I see motivations of a “teacher”. This requires analysis. One of the big problems with teaching is that teachers want to teach and they don’t always have sufficient emphasis on the student’s need to learn – I have met this often. It is not they don’t want the students to learn but the emphasis is on what they do and not what the student learns. Within education teaching methodology on this is changing, but in spiritual circles the main methodology is shut up and listen.

I had a discussion at Harnham. Learning to be a monk took 5 years. Potential learners went to the monastery and worked with the abbot for a while until they could accept that they would be “apprenticed” for 5 years. If they dropped out during the 5 years they were never allowed near the monastery again. There is good learning in this. But the emphasis is on learning to be a monk. This brings in the institutional question, are all monks seeking genuine truth? Are there institutional limitations? Retreats were offered, learning retreats as well as “being there” retreats.

But what is the objective of all these methodologies? And I offer a very dangerous answer – getting the learner to reach the inner guide. As I said this objective is seriously dangerous because it demands an integrity of the inner guide, and whilst a genuine inner guide has that there are so many selves and egos that could get in the way that this is a very dangerous objective.

What usually happens with the above methodologies is that the teachers present a right view (4NT one of the 8-fold path). But how is it received? Does the teacher demand insight, do they demand the necessity of the subjective? No, they can’t so what they are presenting is dogma, the right view of dogma, the safe view of dogma. And when it is dogma, how can there be inner guide?

There is a saying “Give a person a fish, s/he is not hungry that day, teach that person to fish and s/he is not hungry for life”. Dogma is words, words that might rest the “soul” for a day but the inner guide is a path for life. How many of the above teaching methodologies give an inner guide for life?

I have attended a number of dhamma talks and I cannot recall an emphasis on the inner guide – maybe I didn’t hear the emphasis. Some of Buddhism demands a guru. This makes a lot of sense, an inner guide without a guru has the potential to setup all kinds of egos and go in all kinds of wrong directions, but ultimately the guide has to surpass the guru. But for how many gurus is that the objective?

My awareness of inner guide as the teaching methodology came about as part of my recent home retreats – bhavana. But I first experienced my inner guide early in life. Following the path became a “mantra”. However whilst following the path I became a drunk, had dubious sexual encounters and various other selves that were clearly not “spiritual”. Yet I had an inner guide. Reaching the inner guide is not enough, there needs to be processes in place to make sure the inner guide is adhered – mindful processes. One obvious process is a guru promoting the inner guide, for others it is becoming a monk, but for most the inner guide emerges and the individual flounders around – much like I did. Yet reaching the inner guide has to be the objective. I have met recently a number of people whose life has been dominated by seeking. They have found gurus but not the inner guides nor any process that maintains the integrity of the inner guide. Without the guide it is difficult to see where they are going.

When you examine the teaching practices in the world of spirituality there are questions to ask. I contend the objective is to help the seeker find the inner guide but with that help ensure that the seeker has mechanisms that support the inner guide. Is that what is on offer?

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.


An odd weekend and home retreat.

I stayed up all Friday night, I was getting tired at 6 am but as the cleaner was due I just about stayed up. After she left the day was taken up with sleeping through Ally McBeal and then in the evening watching and dozing. 12.30 went to bed and got a melatonin hour but that was it.

At 04.00am I decided to meditate mainly about reformism and conditioning – too much sankhara, and then slept for two or three hours. Meditated again, and this was devastating. Since Edji I have an unfinished blog about spiritual teachers and methodologies. Thinking on this I came up with “reaching the inner guide” such a dangerous approach. I discovered huge personal arrogance connected to this, and I fell on the bed and slept nearly 4 hours. I meditated again but stopped after 34mins because the rain was loud on the car leanto. Dozed again till 4.00 pm but at least Benny was there for food.

Inner guide is so dangerous.

I have always talked about the Path but only recently recognised the Path is a mechanism (at the end of this long blog). For the time I lived by the path it was substantive in my life, in a sense it was guiding me. Beyond saying that I felt close to the path or not I cannot explain more but it was a real guide. Following the path fizzled out after Peyton Place because I turned to politics – even though I would always say I was a political activist to enable developing spirituality. I turned to Buddhism after my mid-life review, I don’t know whether that was path or an inner guide. Once I meditated I have always felt a guide telling me what to study next espeically after retirment.

What is the path/guide? Kamma? Dogma – if you remove the I and mine from the 5 khandas then there is just sunnata. And sunnata guides. Somewhere within the morass of BillZ’s egos and selves sunnata managed to designate a path, something that the morass managed to discern as path. But basically calling sunnata a path is a human mechanism but somehow we need to try to find this path, this inner guide.

That is the conclusion of this blog on spiritual teaching methodologies but there are huge dangers to an inner guide. BE WARNED.

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

My recent Bhavana continues to have drastic repercussions. The blog “living as no self” set the roadmap but it left much that was vague. A recent effort to return to a normal routine day left me with a surface normal day yet sleep occurring throughout the day without sufficient sleep at night – 11-6. Throughout the efforts at sleep there was clear evidence of self attached without any understanding of why – living as no self was not enough for understanding and change.

There are 3 identities – Wai Zandtao, Matriellez and Bill Zanetti; what are they? This question gives the answer to the selves. Wai Zandtao is the writer, this is almost all there is now – writing, and learning for writing. Then there is the Matriellez teaching – giving back. Where is Bill Zanetti? I now understand why monks have monk names, their birth and society selves have gone. Bill Zanetti is now sanna – memory – only. Bill Zanetti led his life, worked, learned, and has provided for Wai Zandtao to write and Matriellez to teach and write. Maybe Wai and Matriellez will need to draw on Bill’s memories but otherwise there is no need for Bill.

Bill has life patterns and life-styles. When Bill was teaching and drinking Bill watched too much TV, now this TV self is impacting on Wai and Matriellez from being – from writing and teaching. Bill’s selves need to disappear. These are what is keeping the body awake. Bill has learned a way for the body to be healthy, these ways are now not Bill’s, they are Gaia’s. And Gaia has what used to be Bill’s body to enable Wai (and Matriellez) to be.

Bill interfered with Wai (and Matriellez). Bill was angry that people did not listen when he explained various understandings – primarily included in Zandtao Treatise. Bill was frustrated that knowledge and understanding that Gaia Sunnata had granted Wai (and Matriellez) did not give him recognition. These were selves.

Wai (and Matriellez) are simply Gaia Sunnata. Write and teach is all there is – apart from learning for writing. Trust Gaia Sunnata, the writing and teaching comes from Gaia – that is enough. Gaia will decide.

Trust Gaia and no self – no Bill Zanetti (except sanna when necessary).

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

This clip introduced by Ram Dass comes from a movie “Abide in the self”about Sri Ramana Maharsi. It is simple, it is clear, and includes everything.

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

BUT ….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

I was drawn to Edward Muzika’s (Edji’s) “Awakening and Descent of Grace” because of the awakening aspect – I have not got far with it yet. But it is interesting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

All of these words describe me so I am a MAWP, but I have become complacent about my MAWPness. My studies have led me to bhavana meaning mental development through more meditation. And was focussed a lot on MAWP during my first increased sitting.

It started with an encounter where a climate denier gave a plausible scientific account. Now this MAWP has always been quietly arrogant, the sort of intellectual who enjoys superiority if you get angry. Well I did get angry, and will look into that later. This MAWP was too arrogant to see that this plausible denying account was targeted at people like him, people whose intellects were arrogant enough to believe that they could see through such pseudo-science. Such pseudo-science was designed just for MAWPs because a MAWP cannot say “I don’t know enough”. He was fooled by this denial strategy.

This MAWP has a reverence for science possibly because he was not an academic success. He could not accept that doctors were imprisoned by their wage-slavery and that mainstream doctors could not advise Gerson, Byrszinski, cannabis, macrobiotics or others as an alternative to cancer without losing their jobs. His being fooled led to typically intellectual contradictions where he could accept smoking and stopping if he got cancer, whereas he could not accept people choosing not to have chemo yet not seeking alternatives. He could accept the way his own intellectual ego was being fooled but could not accept others’ intellects being fooled because he was not fooled in that way.

I was a fool because I got angry. During the increased meditation I realised my anger was coming from my path. It was an egoic anger similar to the ego that has shown with the use of the word “awakening”. I am arrogant about my following the path, and was angry that this person let himself be fooled by the denier, be fooled into thinking doctors could not be imprisoned by the system, but could not listen to my wisdom. This is a bad anger, and I am ashamed. I have commented before about egos of people on the path including my own, but it is the first time I have been angry with others because of my own path. It is such an obvious self, why did I let it get a grip? If it has reached the level of anger, I have to be much more vigilant concerning my arrogance on the path – especially when dealing with people who are liberal intellectuals.

Bhavana also asked me to look at my own racism, and this was interesting. I have felt reactions to Trevor Noah, I liked him a lot before he started the Daily Show. And these reactions are of the form “Black Daily Show”. Now it definitely is the Liberal Daily Show – appealing to Liberals, but it is the fact that I had thoughts of it as the Black Daily Show and I did not completely dismiss those thoughts. Thoughts were of the form, where are all the white males who are fighting the system? So although that is somewhat better – in that it was about fighting the system, it was still concerning race. The issue of race has changed since I became aware of it, since I became anti-racist. Because I haven’t needed to address my racism in a white racist country for 25 years – except on the edge of South Africa, I have not updated. It is part of my privilege that makes me think more white men should be on. In truth I have no idea about the balance of activism, about the quality of understanding of activists, and I have a legitimate criticism of liberalism and PC. Put all of this together, and I have to be careful of being MAWP. At the same time because of the impact of liberalism, I have to be careful of who is a comrade, and whilst there are good people going on TN I cannot expect to see too many comrades there – it is still 1%-media no matter how much liberalism is put out.

I have noted the increased use of the words “white privilege” amongst black people on liberal media, maybe generally. I had seen such usage as an extreme black reaction but I now see privilege in me – mainly because I haven’t updated; can’t update because of my lifestyle?? With the increasing representation within liberal media, I have to address the competence issue. I supported positive discrimination or affirmative action but at the time noted that this led to people with less competence in positions. I accepted that. But this was 30 years ago. How much has this changed? If I am to see those same positions with the same glasses and question competence, then I am being racist or sexist or LBGTist. Back then there was a sense of MAWP being a patron of black people, but if seen in the same way now that is racism. I must be careful of this but I cannot know because of where I live etc.

It was a shock to see my arrogance about the path becoming so much of a self to create such anger, I need to be so much more aware of this. I like and will use the terminology MAWP especially when describing the supporters of Trump – now deplorables and MAWPs (and wives); there are now no good people supporting Trump or Brexit because of all the hurt the deplorables are causing.

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

Terminology Warning – awakening

I have just placed Chiswick in my life’s context and timeline, the experiences of that bedsit were the genuine awakening. The total awakening was hitting bottom, running home but not really progressing, returning to Chiswick where the process completed and gave me the real awakening.

I had no idea what was happening to me. I was completely immature as a person by society’s standards, and then this happened. To this day I might still be floundering (exaggeration) but I connected with the people of the Arts Centre. They were huge in my life. The connection was Wendy but how that synchronicity happened I have no idea. What I recollect is people ratifying my experience, and while I was wandering around questioning all around me seeking new experience in life they were ratifying this. They were saying this is what should be done in life. After years of academia, then a short time in the rat race, and even after hitting bottom hiding myself in the Hounslow cubicle, all of this was conditioning – what the 1%-system wants you to do, but it all had so little meaning – other than paying for what mattered. The meaning was the “guys in the Chiswick bedsit”, but to know this was the meaning I had to be told by the Arts people. The meaning was not the system but the creativity of the writing and the compassion of the Mongol kids on Chiswick Common (?).

I am so happy that my memory has placed the timeline in order because it highlights the importance of these people. From Eckhart’s account of his awakening, there was a limbo “I knew, of course, that something profoundly significant had happened to me, but I didn’t understand it at all.” I can’t say I understand it now, it just is, but without these people ratifying it I would have just been a fish out of water forcing myself to sit in my Hounslow cubicle and going home to “the guys”. They made me give meaning to my life. As I said in my last blogpost I became a teacher and the creativity went on a back burner – coming out at times but mostly now. My creativity was not active so eventually I lost touch with the people, and I now feel a sadness about that.

But people affirming the experiences – the presence – this is so important.

Buddhism doesn’t do it for the experiences. A few years later I got into searching spiritual stuff with theosophy. All very interesting. But these people were not celebrating the experiences – the presence – the muse. It was a church. They were nice people who could talk the theory but in no way were they there to celebrate experience. I touched Buddhism but that was also drab. There was an excitement about having been fortunate to experience this awakening, but apart from the Arts Centre the spiritual people were not exciting. Somehow that is wrong. There ought to be a club where people go to celebrate these experiences but that would be all too easy. Instead we wander around the globe looking to touch base with each other whenever possible.

Now I see the importance of the Buddha’s teachings, I see the need for detachment. But back then it would have made no sense. In the end my addiction to the booze gave me some sort of excitement – I am lucky I wasn’t attracted to worse drugs. And by 36 I had come sufficiently to terms with how I could live having had these experiences, I was able to stop the booze – although that wasn’t the rationale.

Because the majority of “successful” people have no idea what this blogpost – experience – is about, so much human potential is lost. Such experiences are ridiculed if not worse. Maybe it is possible to go out East and find places where such are valued. I am out East, deeply value the experience, but have never had such validated here.

Instead it has all helped me learn to live alone, to love nature, and be thankful for what I’ve got. There is a deep frustration that people are not listening, but are they listening to Eckhart? Can they hear?

Eckhart said “It wasn’t until several years later, after I had read spiritual texts and spent time with spiritual teachers, that I realized that what everybody was looking for had already happened to me.” Can this happen to everyone? I don’t know. This is the problem with spirituality, people listening to Eckhart want it to happen, people following gurus want it to happen, but can it? This is the detachment of Buddhism, it can’t happen unless you are detached. I had no clue what was going on, it wasn’t something I wanted – it was something I couldn’t control. It happened. I could not teach someone to be in the situation I was in at the time.

I always push meditation as a way forward, meditation can clear the mind, meditation can free the consciousness. Does that lead to experience? Don’t know. Does it lead to a better life? Certainly – maybe the rest will happen. Looking for the experience is a dead end. They are worth it, I am not sure that all the despair and ignorance that goes with it is.

But the real point of this blogpost is to offer succour. Have you experienced such things? Talk about them, get them validated. Seek out people they have happened to. It is important to know they are real.

Beware of spirituality. There are many charlatans, and many followers who will say anything – usually because they want to believe, want to experience.

Non-dogmatic Buddhism is the best guide I have found, but finding what is not dogmatic in Buddhism is difficult.

Few read this blog. If you want to talk about your experiences contact me.

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

Terminology Warning – awakening

I have been re-engaging with Eckhart Tolle, someone who has greatly helped in the past. I like him because of his apparent lack of dogma, and his similarity of early experience as described in Power of Now (see below).

I re-engaged with him because I was examining pain, and in this talk he speaks of his dogma coming from Buddhism. That statement in itself now says little to me because there are many appeals to Buddhism, and as Eckhart also points out the mind has complicated what is Buddhism – sankhara or as Ajaan Buddhadasa says concocting or proliferations.

I am absolutely certain that Eckhart Tolle is talking beyond dogma, but in doing so he creates his own dogma. But the difference with his dogma is that for him it was insight – personal assessment. In other words Eckhart has moved beyond dogma, come up with his own insights, and then applied his own framework to where he has gone. So for him it is Buddhism that is beyond the dogma of Buddhism. Yet for others it is still dogma.

This paradox of the last sentence illustrates that there is a huge problem in all of this, communication – explaining. Once you move beyond dogma, language is a great limitation because language is the métier of dogma – it is the tool of sankhara. The only way that language has meaning beyond dogma is that if the experience is somehow shared.

Below I have copied Eckhart’s experience, and I want to compare. First I want to explain why. These experiences, awakenings connected to jhanas, are so important, and treated as non-existent by the intellectual establishment – by the intellect. I have only just begun to re-celebrate my own experience mainly through consideration of the 5 Gateways movie – if these experiences interest you listen to the people describe their experiences in the movie. Whilst Buddhism talks of these experiences through jhanas there is a sense of belittlement of them possibly because of institutionalism, the dogma of detachment or maybe simply some monks don’t have such experiences. I don’t know.

But these experiences are so important if placed in life’s context.

My experience was not one full-blown awakening as Eckhart describes his and that was primarily because of the booze. Because of the booze I describe my despair as “hitting bottom”. I think I was not suicidal because of the booze but as my “hitting bottom” was diffused over time by the booze, fortunately there was not the same intensity – the same level of despair.

Another difference, maybe, was that my life had not been intense. My early life been totally superficial, just concerned with academia. Everything had been easy. Get up, go to school, play some football. University was just as superficial with drink thrown in. Starting work was the only form of intensity. Studying for exams had been focussed – although not too successful. But there was a real focus for the job, I had to get up go to work and do the stuff they did; I had to have discipline for something that I found meaningless. And as it went on I had to be disciplined to do the work to get money to drink. I didn’t spend my 20s in despair, I drifted around on the surface getting drunk. When I hit bottom it was like I woke up and found an inner life.

But there was another important aspect of intensity for me, after awakening I spent 13 years getting increasingly dependent on alcohol. This diffused the intensity, I even remember thinking at times that getting drunk burnt off excess energy. Coming to terms with the newfound awakening was tempered by increasingly dealing with alcoholism.

This also meant that I was in no way fit to be a spiritual teacher, I could not control my desires – addiction. But over time in this world you cannot live with the intensity, and over time I eschewed the addiction. By then I had accepted the world path of teacher, and in my personal time I occasionally wrote – although that was not frequent. But once I retired I found my own way. Getting rid of the job by writing – Matriellez, then coming to terms with how I should lead life – Treatise, blogging as a means of clearing the mind – Zandtao, Matriellez and Ginsukapaapdee, until I am now writing stories – Wai Zandtao.

His description of experience sounds so exciting:- “Then I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. It was a slow movement at first and then accelerated. I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body started to shake. I heard the words “resist nothing,” as if spoken inside my chest. I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It felt as if the void was inside myself rather than outside. Suddenly, there was no more fear, and I let myself fall into that void. I have no recollection of what happened after that.”

Experiences occurred for me differently. Hitting bottom was obviously brought on by the booze, and booze, as I suspect all drugs – maybe not marijuana?, prevents these jhanas. Immediately following hitting bottom I ran to my parents – I was 22. As usual at my parents’ house I spent much time walking, and I remember wandering around Manchester looking at suits in a Xmas pub thinking “what is this?” Still coming to terms with what was going on I returned to London, and in my Chiswick bedsit finding these experiences happening regularly. I think I was meditating but they just came in, nothing as shattering as Eckhart but there was presence. (Added next day) Exploring memory makes things clearer. That Chiswick bedsit was far more important than the hazy recollection I have of it. It was not special. I remember cooking on a landing in a loft space, having little room but loving it. Getting up there seems almost to have been a trigger for presence. I was stuck in the cubicle of a job, escaped and wandered up and down Chiswick High Road. Then there was the bedsit. Maybe meditation triggered it, maybe just being there triggered it. Can’t remember, doesn’t matter. It happened. That Chiswick time was Eckhart’s “I spent almost two years sitting on park benches in a state of the most intense joy.”

After that initial Chiswick “reward” they settled down but have been there for much of my life. Usually they occurred late at night in bed, and suddenly this experience would well up inside me and expand. There was no light for me but it was almost like the air itself was visibly vibrating. I remember the Summer I wrote Kirramura, and I spent the days waiting for the late night where I would go to bed, lie down and just wait for “the guys” to come …. and then I wrote. It was as if such experiences were a bottleneck, they would build up and then wait for a chance to come out – a time when I was quiet or meditating. Now they are less because I am old and meditate regularly. I discussed experiences and Buddhism generally here.

Recently I heard of someone watching 5 Gateways and crying because she had something similar. I was unable to follow up. It made me realise that there is a need to celebrate such experiences because in this world such spiritual matters are belittled by academics, and such people are marginalised not celebrated.

Such great joy!!

“I had become a spiritual teacher.” During Chiswick I started writing – Martin Smoothchatter. It was a time when Arts Centre people were so important as they ratified my experience. The cubicle was never for me, and after a couple of months I started taking Mongol kids out on a Saturday morning, I had found a meaning. This compassion turned to child care and then teaching.

And why are these experiences connected with dogma. They are not, because such experience does not happen if all there is is dogma. Dogma is the refuge of the academic mind. Of its nature dogma creates restrictions, belief in a dogma or not. And if there is restriction there is no experience. This is an experience of genuine freedom, and that only occurs if what we are doing is opening doors. By the way institutions cling to dogma, there are not doors opening.

So Eckhart explains his despair, his experience and his expanding consciousness offering his insights. And he says choose to do this without going through pain and despair. Can we choose to do this without despair? Ajaan Buddhadasa did – I think he just grew up being wise and grew older getting wiser, but others? Is there a choice without pain and despair? I hope so.

    This is copied from the introduction of “The Power of Now”.

The Origin Of This Book
I have little use for the past and rarely think about it; however, I would briefly like to tell you how I came to be a spiritual teacher and how this book came into existence. Until my thirtieth year, I lived in a state of almost continuous anxiety interspersed with periods of suicidal depression. It feels now as if I am talking about some past lifetime or somebody else’s life.
One night not long after my twenty-ninth birthday, I woke up in the early hours with a feeling of absolute dread. I had woken up with such a feeling many times before, but this time it was more intense than it had ever been. The silence of the night, the vague outlines of the furniture in the dark room, the distant noise of a passing train – everything felt so alien, so hostile, and so utterly meaningless that it created in me a deep loathing of the world. The most loathsome thing of all, however, was my own existence. What was the point in continuing to live with this burden of misery? Why carry on with this continuous struggle? I could feel that a deep longing for annihilation, for nonexistence, was now becoming much stronger than the instinctive desire to continue to live.
“I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. `Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the `I’ and the `self’ that `I’ cannot live with.” “Maybe,” I thought, “only one of them is real.”
I was so stunned by this strange realization that my mind stopped. I was fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts. Then I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. It was a slow movement at first and then accelerated. I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body started to shake. I heard the words “resist nothing,” as if spoken inside my chest. I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It felt as if the void was inside myself rather than outside. Suddenly, there was no more fear, and I let myself fall into that void. I have no recollection of what happened after that.
I was awakened by the chirping of a bird outside the window. I had never heard such a sound before. My eyes were still closed, and I saw the image of a precious diamond. Yes, if a diamond could make a sound, this is what it would be like. I opened my eyes. The first light of dawn was filtering through the curtains. Without any thought, I felt, I knew, that there is infinitely more to light than we realize. That soft luminosity filtering through the curtains was love itself. Tears came into my eyes. I got up and walked around the room. I recognized the room, and yet I knew that I had never truly seen it before. Everything was fresh and pristine, as if it had just come into existence. I picked up things, a pencil, an empty bottle, marveling at the beauty and aliveness of it all.
That day I walked around the city in utter amazement at the miracle of life on earth, as if I had just been born into this world.
For the next five months, I lived in a state of uninterrupted deep peace and bliss. After that, it diminished somewhat in intensity, or perhaps it just seemed to because it became my natural state. I could still function in the world, although I realized that nothing I ever did could possibly add anything to what I already had.
I knew, of course, that something profoundly significant had happened to me, but I didn’t understand it at all. It wasn’t until several years later, after I had read spiritual texts and spent time with spiritual teachers, that I realized that what everybody was looking for had already happened to me. I understood that the intense pressure of suffering that night must have forced my consciousness to withdraw from its identification with the unhappy and deeply fearful self, which is ultimately a fiction of the mind. This withdrawal must have been so complete that this false, suffering self immediately collapsed, just as if a plug had been pulled out of an inflatable toy. What was left then was my true nature as the ever-present I am: consciousness in its pure state prior to identification with form. Later I also learned to go into that inner timeless and deathless realm that I had originally perceived as a void and remain fully conscious. I dwelt in states of such indescribable bliss and sacredness that even the original experience I just described pales in comparison. A time came when, for a while, I was left with nothing on the physical plane. I had no relationships, no job, no home, no socially defined identity. I spent almost two years sitting on park benches in a state of the most intense joy.
But even the most beautiful experiences come and go. More fundamental, perhaps, than any experience is the undercurrent of peace that has never left me since then. Sometimes it is very strong, almost palpable, and others can feel it too. At other times, it is somewhere in the background, like a distant melody.
Later, people would occasionally come up to me and say: “I want what you have. Can you give it to me, or show me how to get it?” And I would say: “You have it already. You just can’t feel it because your mind is malting too much noise.” That answer later grew into the book that you are holding in your hands.
Before I knew it, I had an external identity again. I had become a spiritual teacher.” Power of Now Intro.

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.