This is for reference, it is what the Buddha said about the 8-fold path taken from sutta central, and in my book contentiously entitled this page “Analysis”:
-At Savatthī. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you the Noble Eightfold Path and I will analyse it for you. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak.”
“Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
“And what, bhikkhus, is the Noble Eightfold Path? Right view … right concentration.
“And what, bhikkhus, is right view? Knowledge of suffering, knowledge of the origin of suffering, knowledge of the cessation of suffering, knowledge of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: this is called right view.
“And what, bhikkhus, is right intention? Intention of renunciation, intention of non-ill will, intention of harmlessness: this is called right intention.
“And what, bhikkhus, is right speech? Abstinence from false speech, abstinence from divisive speech, abstinence from harsh speech, abstinence from idle chatter: this is called right speech.
“And what, bhikkhus, is right action? Abstinence from the destruction of life, abstinence from taking what is not given, abstinence from sexual misconduct: this is called right action.
“And what, bhikkhus, is right livelihood? Here a noble disciple, having abandoned a wrong mode of livelihood, earns his living by a right livelihood: this is called right livelihood.
“And what, bhikkhus, is right effort? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu generates desire for the nonarising of unarisen evil unwholesome states; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. He generates desire for the abandoning of arisen evil unwholesome states…. He generates desire for the arising of unarisen wholesome states…. He generates desire for the maintenance of arisen wholesome states, for their nondecay, increase, expansion, and fulfilment by development; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. This is called right effort.
“And what, bhikkhus is right mindfulness? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating mind in mind, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. This is called right mindfulness.
“And what, bhikkhus, is right concentration? Here, bhikkhus, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhana, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. With the subsiding of thought and examination, he enters and dwells in the second jhana, which has internal confidence and unification of mind, is without thought and examination, and has rapture and happiness born of concentration. With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences happiness with the body; he enters and dwells in the third jhana of which the noble ones declare: ‘He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’ With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and displeasure, he enters and dwells in the fourth jhana, which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by equanimity. This is called right concentration.”
Posts Tagged ‘4 Noble Truths’
Tags: 4 Noble Truths
Clearly I have to consider my own role in this “mindful ignorance”. To briefly recap I became angry because instead of listening I thought someone was using mindfulness techniques to remain calm when what was being discussed referred to Thailand. And in the mind of the Thai person I was equated with one of the expat perma-complainers.
Based on the above assessment I was disturbing this Thai person, how do I now assess this Thai disturbance? I was trying to develop a process of enquiry into what I had observed as Thai racism. Why? Because it was the truth, and people should know the truth. What should this person do with the truth? I have a vague notion of “pass-it-on” when appropriate. But this person appeared not to want to see the truth otherwise why invoke the mindful ignorance technique. I had thought this person wanted to learn as this was often said, but maybe they do not want to learn about Thailand and its racism. That clearly seems to be threatening. Based on this awareness that has to be the end of enquiry into Thailand racism with the person concerned, I have no desire to disturb them.
But that leads to a clear observation about education here. The dream that is Thailand’s racism is very strong, there are clear examples of it in schools and the above example of “someone who has a certain element of enquiry but becomes disturbed when the example of Thailand’s racism is threatened” adds to the recognition of the power of this dream. Let me also be clear about this racism. It exists, it is a problem for non-Thais, but overall it need not affect being here unless you let it. And in truth when I see the behaviour of many of the western expats I could understand if that racism exhibited itself far more forcefully.
But there are things more important than social racism here. For the person concerned there is the question of their own mindfulness. For mindfulness to have any meaning with regards to the Buddha’s teaching then it is not a therapy technique to be used to support chauvinism and to enforce a personal dream that includes chauvinism. L P Munindo used the description “100% judgement-free awareness” (to me in person). Let us examine that. TOTAL awareness. That means awareness of the inner and our relationship to the outer. And no judgement – no self just awareness. In this case that leads to letting go of enquiry because I now observe disturbance.
For the person concerned there is a genuine need to come to terms with the meaning of mindfulness. But that is their journey. Their process of enquiry used to include listening to me, now that has changed and I must change with it; it is necessary for me to assess that change. To begin with I need to step back from discussing enquiry unless I see enquiry on their part again.
But the real issue is what is a meaningful understanding of mindfulness? In meditation I decided it was mindfulness from the inside out, and then it improved to mindfulness from the insight out. 100% judgement-free awareness comes from an inner journey that brings with it insight, and therefore free from judgement, and awareness follows naturally. In this mindfulness there is a gatekeeper function, and this function helps us deal with emotion.
Yesterday I got angry. There is a scrounger on the beach, and it is time he moved on. Because he is affable some people give him time, and I was speaking with one such yesterday. “He has not done me any harm,” was his approach. And then he mistakenly compared my position concerning the scrounger with a dogfight – the dogs had just been fighting. I got angry quickly, and said I can see his position but that of compassion is the highest. To explain the scrounger is quite affable but takes advantage of many people including the local Thais who feed him. I feel he is taking advantage of other people’s compassion, and compassion is in such short supply I don’t like it. Reflecting I was amazed at what I said when I angered – compassion is the highest. Well it is, but I said it in anger – amazing. My friend tried to ameliorate calling it a playground squabble between me and the scrounger, that didn’t help. We eventually agreed he should be more careful with his words. My gatekeeper worked well as I didn’t retain the anger nor internalise it. I see that as mindfulness and as it is not an argument – compassion is the highest – that I have reflected on it came from insight. All this now makes me feel good – I should let that go – possible arrogance.
But it illustrates – at least for me – mindfulness from the insight out, and how that mindfulness can function well as a gatekeeper. But this is not mindful ignorance, this accepts emotions, expresses and deals with them, and does not ignore any form of awareness. So what happens if we try to build mindfulness without insight? That is the issue of the mindful ignorance, and it is quite scary. What if mindfulness is sought without meditation? I believe but I am not sure that that is something that some monks teach – maybe even this guy – Phra Pramote.
What about populist mindfulness? I remember Brad having a pop at mindfulness, at the time I wasn’t enamoured by that – some people translate one of the 8-fold Path as Right Mindfulness. No, I’m not going to investigate the populism, there is too much of it. Mindfulness and meditation are words that are often interchanged – messy.
Tags: 4 Noble Truths, Buddhism, mindfulness
Upbringing is a belief system, it is the dream that is imparted by your society. It includes all that education offers, it include the customs and mores of a society, and it can also include its religion. Enquiry wants to break the totality of this belief system so that we can see the truth that lies underneath, so that we can experience insight; this is an enquiry that usually comes with a process of meditation.
However fear and ego are clever in the way they misuse upbringing. Once the process of enquiry begins then upbringing is questioned, as it should be. Then there is fear of the truth, and unless that process of enquiry is backed up with insight there is no strength to counter that fear of truth, and the ego will seek ways of returning to the upbringing – returning to the original dream.
It is interesting how this package of ego fear and upbringing can fit together, and how belief systems can work with it. Remember a belief system is a set of ideas, and they can be ideas that appear to be the truth. But when those ideas are not found through insight – they are ideas of intellect, these ideas can easily be approriated as part of the dream.
I met someone whose mind resisted enquiry; her upbringing included chauvinism – a pride in their country, something that is instilled through education. I was able to demonstrate that there were weaknesses in the chauvinism through enquiry backed up by rationale. This was because at the time the person trusted my little insight into Buddhism. However they did not develop the insight necessary to give real strength to that development through enquiry – they were unable to develop a meditation routine. Then they discovered a Buddhist belief system that fit in with the chauvinism and that allowed them not to pursue enquiry. The belief system with its lack of emphasis on enquiry and insight has rekindled the upbringing. The dream that was the upbringing was developing leaks, but the belief system which was created by a member of the society has blocked those leaks and has brought the person firmly back into the dream of the society.
This remembering of the upbringing process has been happening for a while, but it came home to me yesterday. She had met someone whom she had helped but who continually attacked Thailand – conflicting her chauvinism, this sort of attack is not uncommon amongst the expats. She was extremely surprised when I said “why doesn’t he go home?”; this is also what the chauvinism of her upbringing says. But she said I said the same thing as this expat, and her changing belief system was filling the leaks of the enquiry that I had tried to build in her and she had equated me with this complainer. She had not remembered the enquiry and the rationale, she only wanted to return to the chauvinism because it was comfortable – she could remain in the dream. And the tool she was using to do this was an intellectual version of mindfulness. Instead of the mindfulness being 100% awareness that started deep within as insight, this was a mindfulness that was brought in to reinforce the chauvinism. When enquiry threatens the belief system opening people up to the possibilities of the truth, there is an emotional reaction, maybe anger or frustration, leading to personal discomfort. In this case I surmise that this is anger directed to me because I am the source of the enquiry. Positively mindfulness calms the anger, but if misused it can ignore the enquiry. So this intellectual version of mindfulness ended up protecting the dream, protecting the upbringing, and protecting all that is wrong with that upbringing espcecially the chauvinism. This is disappointing, and could possibly lead to a break in contact something practically I don’t want. I have to stop introducing enquiry into the chauvinism.
And then horror of horrors I realised what this intellectual process of mindfulness had done, it was a false practice of mindfulness used as mindful ignorance to protect the upbringing, the dream. This is the Land of Smiles, and what is happening behind the smiles? The chauvinism wants to reject any criticism of itself so when there is criticism there is a process “mindfulness, focus on mindfulness, don’t get angry, stay calm”. This sounds good, eh? Keep calm. But what isn’t happening? Listening and learning. As soon as the chauvinism is under threat, in comes the mindfulness and out goes the listening. This is not mindfulness but mindful ignorance – horrific. Thailand has much to talk about that is positive, but there is much chauvinism that is negative. I stay here because the positive balance suits me as compared with what happens in the UK – and elsewhere. In the UK there is their own version of mindful ignorance – indoctrination. This indoctrination is much more dominated by the corporatocracy, but the justifications that British people use to describe what is better with their own lifestyle under austerity are getting more and more tenuous. I make the comparison only to clarify that Thailand has its advantages, but there is chauvinism and there is racism, and there is mindful ignorance where deaf ears are turned onto the truth. There is never an excuse for not listening. And mindfulness cannot occur if there is not enquiry and there is not truth. I am absolutely certain that the monk who described this mindfulness did not have the intention that his focus on mindfulness would be turned to mindful ignorance but from what I have read of his work there is not enough emphasis on insight and enquiry, so mindful ignorance is a likely consequence. Judge for yourself – Phra Pramote.
This issue of mindful ignorance masquerading as mindfulness has been troubling me. I could not leave it alone. It was only when I meditated that it became clear. I had focussed this understanding of mindful ignorance on the chauvinism I had met, on the way in which her practice of mindful ignorance had returned her to the dream, her upbringing that incuded chauvinism. But this is not where the problem ends in Buddhism. Removing Avijja, ignorance, is one of the key elements of Buddhism, so why is there so much debate about being Engaged? In our daily life Buddhists should be at the forefront (not necessarily leaders) for any movement for change because that awareness of global suffering comes with mindfulness. But I do not mean this in a “ranting and raving” intellectual sense. Struggle is calm, it is natural, it stems from recognition of suffering, it stems from the calm acceptance that there is suffering, it comes from a recognition of the origins of suffering in the mind, and that cessation of suffering comes through the good practice of magga – 4 Noble Truths. But in that practice there is compassion, and compassion means the end of suffering, and to do that action is needed. This is mindfulness, and leads to Engaged Buddhism.
But what if we become selfish and see this mindfulness only in terms of our own suffering. We feel our lack of calm daily, our minds suffer through interactions with others who are also suffering so we want to calm down. And along comes a monk who teaches us mindfulness. So whenever something disturbs us we use mindfulness. Sounds great until you ask the question “Does truth disturb us?” And that is the crunch, how can we be mindful if the truth disturbs us? Mindfulness as mindful ignorance has come to be used as a tool mindful repression, we choose to repress dissent because it causes personal suffering. For some it becomes easier to accept the norm, the dream, and when truth comes along we use mindfulness to repress it – “mindfulness, focus on mindfulness, don’t get angry, stay calm”.
This is even more horrific than I had originally thought because this is a problem endemic in the religion. Buddhism teaches mindfulness. But sometimes this mindfulness doesn’t have to be mindful of the truth. Mindfulness as removing avijja can be rephrased as learning about the suttas, learning about abhidhamma, learning about all kinds of mental proliferations. Mindfulness can fill the minds with endless ideas and theories and Gods and stuff, depending on which version of Buddhism you accept with mindful ignorance, and this mindfulness never gets to see the truth.
So we must start to look at the teachers of Buddhism – the monks. At one stage I had contact with a particular monk, and I began discussing that contact here. Eventually there became a dissociation because the monk believed Tony Blair. In some ways this monk was moving in the right direction, but his approach was wrong. Primarily the function of the monk is to meditate and then promote the teachings. This monk recognised there was a need for engagement, this is positive but monks cannot know about engagement unless they had been working in daily life before ordaining. Monks who have lived in cloisters cannot know the issues of daily life as their lifestyle is bought and paid for. This means there needs to be a symbiosis between the monk and lay Buddhists in which the monks learn the meaning of engagement. This monk’s mind had deluded him that he could be aware of life outside cloisters by applying his dhammic mental training. Equally lay Buddhists have to know that they cannot understand the dhamma without having the time to be in cloisters to devote themselves to the practice. This is a lovely dilemma, without the symbiosis between the teachers and daily life there can only be avijja.
Tags: 4 Noble Truths, Adyashanti, enquiry, sila
I was put onto Adyashanti by a friend a while back and spoke about him here. The context in which his name was raised was that of enlightenment. We were discussing whether someone could be enlightened, and my friend said Adyashanti claimed he was. I have started to read Adyashanti’s “Way of Liberation”, and now think he does claim he is enlightened; in describing his book he says “The Way of Liberation is a stripped-down, practical guide to spiritual liberation, sometimes called awakening, enlightenment, self-realization, or simply seeing what is absolutely True. It is impossible to know what words like liberation or enlightenment mean until you realize them for yourself.” This tends to suggest he considers himself enlightened. Maybe I will find a better quote, as I have no wish to misrepresent him.
This quote is in the introduction, and it is quite clear that the book is a methodology of the Way to live – a “guide to spiritual liberation, sometimes called awakening, enlightenment, self-realization, or simply seeing what is absolutely True”. Here we have much use of terminology, and it is worth considering these words. I assume here that Adyashanti is seeing these words as equivalent (I hope this is not misrepresenting him). I want to consider these words in terms of “gradations” . I have no idea what being enlightened is. Theoretically I accept that being enlightened is living anatta – 100% no self. I am nowhere near that although by Adyashanti 1 (see below) my aspiration is to be 100% non-self. Are his synonyms (inthe quote from his intro) 100% no-self?
In this blogentry I originally used awakening to describe my own experience and then changed my terminology to “Realising the Path” here. Now my hitting bottom was a sort of awakening, it was a sort of recognition of unity, it was nowhere near “100% non-self”. It was not seeing the Truth for what It is, but was seeing some Truth. It was some sort of awakening and should not be belittled but as Brad says in describing Soto Zen “Soto style Zen training tends to emphasize moral grounding and balance much more than the gaining of “awakening experiences,” so much so that one is often told it’s not important even to have such experiences at all” – here. It appears that Adyashanti does not ignore them but is encouraging people to get them – to me this is not a good approach.
I do however like his methodology, Five Foundations – his “Way of Liberation”:-
1) Clarify your aspiration.
“In a very real sense the Five Foundations are absolutely essential components of the teaching that apply after awakening as much as, if not more than, before it.” [p1 – pdf p15] I really like this before and after approach. “Misinterpretation of a spiritual teaching by the ego is always a significant danger, since the ego’s tendency is to justify whatever points of view it is attached to and invested in.”[p1 – pdf p15] Now I don’t like his use of the term ego here, again I have discussed this – here. In some approaches ego allows for the existence of self, and whilst these traditions allow for ego and Self – Self being non-egoic, I prefer anatta – non-self. The danger of such terminology comes in the phrase Adyashanti uses as synonymous with enlightenment – self-realisation. Self can only realise by disappearing as it doesn’t exist in the first place. How can self realise and disappear at the same time? For me it is better not to consider it as Self but non-self – no I or mine.
But it is good he ascribes his methodology for before and after; this is much like the 8-Fold Path, sila (moral integrity) and kilesa (defilements) – before and after. An enlightened being will have sila and not have kilesa, and this knocks on the head much of the bonking enlightened ones!! Although sila is a religious word (Buddhism) I don’t describe it as morality. Morality is not a set of rules – it tends to be described as such in both religions and culture, as Adyashanti says “It means that morality is no longer rooted in the cultural and religious values designed to rein in and control egoic impulses.” [p2 pdf p16].
He has an important warning for before and after “It can get complicated because it is possible to have some experience of the ultimate nature of Reality while at the same time not being completely free of egoic delusion. This makes for the possible volatile mixture of Reality and illusion simultaneously existing and expressing itself in an unconscious and distorted way. While some of this is to be expected as we are maturing in spirit, there are few things more distorted or dangerous than an ego that thinks it is God.” [p2 pdf p16]
“The Way of Liberation is a means of opening up to grace.” [p19 pdf 33of 70] Is grace insight? This struck me when Adyashanti was describing grace. If we are open to grace then we can see clearly, insight comes. “The realization of Truth and Reality can never be created by the mind; it always comes as a gift of grace” [p27 pdf 41 of 70]. To open ourselves up to grace we follow the 3 Core Practices :-
“The three Core Practices are meditation, inquiry, and contemplation” [p19 pdf 33of 70]. Insight comes to me in meditation when I am studying (non-intellectually) – maybe synonymous with contemplation? – in a process of deep questioning where there are no assumptions – enquiry?
(added to Buddhadasa page)
Tags: 4 Agreements, 4 Noble Truths, Anatta, Buddhism, probiotics
I woke up a bit depressed, …. and then the sleep was disturbed by the kilesa. Was I depressed? ….more
Tags: 4 Noble Truths, Anatta, Buddhadasa, Buddhism, intellect
My last post here was 24/2/13, but that has not been my last work. I have started work on a Buddhadasa blog but forgot to note it here.
The Buddhadasa blog did not last long, and all the entries are now part of my Buddhadasa page. there is a list on the page of the topics discussed, all relevant to Buddhism, anatta or both.
Here are my entries and you can follow when I have a new blog on Twitter:-
|Rather than a Buddhadasa blog, there is now a Zandtao page on Buddhadasa.|
I am recovering from the flu, a flu that was mild but clinging. I rested for a week. and then gradually tried to return to normal daily life. It is now into the third week, and I am still feeling stuff. Yesterday I got into a discussion in which my mind was holding onto an old version of happiness. When I first moved house it was wonderful. Although it was stressful during the moving, there were times when I felt I had absolutely completed my life. Then I started to come down to earth mainly with landlady (Walking Disaster Area – WDA) issues but also neighbour issues. The problem is that I have been trying to cling to that glimpse of total happiness that I had. It was this clinging that was the focus of the discussion yesterday, and combined with post-flu depression I did not come out well in the discussion. Then Buddhism is clear, I am clinging to the temporary, happiness based on external things such as the countryside and beach. The discussion revolved around whether I pay for the house and risk bad stuff happening around the house – part of the consequences of the WDA. It was more about money and security, but the truth is I was clinging. Maybe I can get good stuff out of this house, if I cling to a dream I will always be unhappy.
Apart from recognising the way desire copntrols you and makes you unhappy, the above description also highlights the way sickness – in this case post-flu depression – affects awareness. The issue of clinging to desire as the source of suffering is well documented in the 4NT, and I have some understanding of that. Yet through the flu and post-flu depression I let my mind focus on clinging, and it created unhappiness. For a long time I have placed too much emphasis on where I live, and have let my desire for a place cloud my judgement – cause me suffering. But where I live is temporary and has nothing to do with who I really am.
Another consequence of the flu was meditation as a casualty. I know monks are supposed to meditate through sickness – I don’t know whether they do or not. But I didn’t, and it has been hard to get back into it. This morning I gave up and went walking. I blame the toxins of the flu and my weak will for this. But how much do toxins affect the clarity of meditation? Some people say the mind has the power to overcome this. In my case I know the mind could temporarily overcome this, but without a reason and part of daily meditation – maybe not. But when this happened I asked myself about toxins in general. The daily intake of toxins as part of daily life is huge. Whilst the body has several systems – liver, lymph, blood, mucus – for removing toxins, for most people there is a huge imbalance. Many people associate the increase in school violence with increased toxicity in children’s systems. Is there a limit in the clarity of meditation because of toxins in our systems – in the same way post-flu depression affected my thinking?
In Sen Tung there is a doctor selling Thai herbs, his herb shop looks much more like a Chinese herbs shop. In September he cured me of a cold chest so Monday I went about the flu. It is helping to clear the residue, I will have to get to him quicker next time.
Where did the flu come from? As I’m supposed to be healthy how did my immune system let me get the flu? October I was moving house, and November was unusual weather in that it was very wet. If I am stressed I get ill, happened a lot when I was teaching. Physically I have been doing too much as well. ATK means swimming 3 times a week. On top of that I have been walking 1- 1/2 hours every day, and the walking produced tendonitis in the Achilles tendon. With the enforced rest the tendonitis disappeared. From now on I alternate swimming and walking, and just starting this week I am energy-less because of the flu but no tendonitis.
Tags: 4 Noble Truths, Buddhism, Corporatocracy, sila
I have just had a major problem with the “walking disaster area (WDA)”, my landlady. I called a plumber, Tep, because I had no water in the kitchen. The plumber was a local guy, and when I phoned he came very quickly. This pleased me, I want to get on well with locals here – it is a problem. He came round within 5 minutes, and I showed him there was no water in the kitchen. I have two sources of water, one from a nearby small lake and one from the state supply – bprapaa. I thought the lake water went into the kitchen so I couldn’t understand why I had water in the bathroom but no water in the kitchen. Tep told me the kitchen water came from bprapaa and that there was no bprapaa water, I didn’t believe him and was trying to explain why. Just at that moment the landlady turned up, she agreed with me and started arguing with Tep. He walked off. Whilst he had been here he fixed my toilet but he still walked off. I phoned him and offered to pay him but he refused. Bprapaa water later came on and I had water in the kitchen. Disaster area strikes again, let another local person I have a problem with.
Some people might say I need positive thinking with regards to the disaster area and local people, maybe but I do know this – these two factors the disaster area and employing local people will cause me to leave here. The WDA wants me to buy the house. I can only afford to buy one house – even in Thailand, so if I buy I am stuck here. Now that could be very nice but I need local people as workmen. I cannot find any because WDA has queered my pitch. She sees herself as looking after me – she just invited me for Xmas dinner, so she doesn’t tell me what I need to know. She wants me to call her, and then she complains to others that I am always calling her. I am convinced she says things to others, she once told me that she told people not to bother me. I have just had flu so she has given me stuff. This of course is very kind, and it would be good positive thinking to think of that kindness but she is consistent liar and I have now found out that virtually every question I asked her when I was negotiating the rental agreement was a lie. She is a WDA because of her karma. Her house is a disaster area because of her karma. Her karma is a reality; trying to put a positive spin on karma is not possible, karma happens. The trouble with karma is that as people we cannot know what karma is, but no-one can convince me otherwise – what happens around WDA is karma.
So I now have aversion to WDA, and when trouble occurs in the house I immediately curse the WDA and each problem becomes a crisis because of my attitude as I expect WDA’s karma. In reality some of the problems I can deal with when I calm down. Other problems require local people, and she has pissed them off or they can’t be bothered to come. I don’t know. I have been here less than 3 months so maybe it will be better when I have been here longer and get to know them. Of course that is difficult because my Thai is weak. Patience might help. Her karma is not my karma. Maybe I was not meant to move here, who knows? When you start to think in terms of Path, karma etc you cannot ever truly understand, you can only be good and true.
Some people would say forgive her. Now forgiveness is a good but difficult thing. Whilst I tried to do my duty with him I could never forgive my father because he was not a good man, now he is dead he does not do bad things. Do you forgive someone who continues to do bad things? I never could. If someone wishes to change and is trying, I forgive and try to help them. But if someone continues to do bad things, how do I forgive them? It just doesn’t seem right to me to forgive someone who is still doing bad. WDA continues to lie, and because of her lieing she continues to attract the karma that creates the disaster area. The disasters she creates still affect me although there is no doubt I make them worse because of my expectations of her karma.
This brings me to this RSA Animate clip by Barbara Ehrenreich. There is much in this clip that I agree with but she does not discuss religion, and my Buddhism says of itself that it is all about attitude of mind. Because I don’t have clarity it is a good clip to investigate:-
I am watching again now, it is only about 10 minutes.
At 1.08 minutes she said something like it is not skills or experience that the corporate world wants, it is a positive attitude. She then goes on to talk about what this positive attitude is, but basically in my words it comes down to ignorance or delusion. A corporate employee cannot see the truth of what a corporation does because if they come to terms with that truth they know they cannot work in that company, it matters not to the corporation whether the employee is ignorant of the truth or deceives themselves so long as they don’t act on the truth, and acting on the truth for a moral person usually means resignation. The corporate world cannot exist when people face the truth, what Barbara calls reality. Barbara saw a mandatory optimism in the US (the world – Z), I would call it mandatory ignorance or delusion. There is also a mass delusion of cheerfulness, mandatory cheerfulness within the deluded world of positive thinking.
She describes this approach as applying a force of will that will create what people think. She tends to dismiss this but there is much truth in it. The corporate world mandates delusion and cheerful ignorance, they get it and thus provide the environment that can produce dishonourable profits. Business people accept the bottom line is money, and excuse themselves from the social implications. They delude themselves that they don’t hurt others, but the fact is they do. In a recent Mandtao blog I discussed the delusion of separation and that if we saw unity there would be greater happiness. If business didn’t delude themselves about the bottom line then they would have to accept the social consequences of their actions, the humans in business need to accept unity. This mind control of mandatory ignorance and deluded cheerfulness is essential for business.
Basically Barbara dismisses synchronicity but it appears that she dismisses it because of the way business misuses it. However she came up with conclusions about the positive thinking approach which are excellent:-
1) Delusion is always a mistake.
In business terms she spoke of people who tried to destroy delusions and they were sacked.
2) Mandatory positive thinking is cruel
People who are sacked are told the problem is in their mind, this is cruel. She called it moral callousness.
Then she went onto quote the author of “The Secret” for saying people were sending tsunami-like vibrations. This is an extreme position and for Barbara to dismiss the power of the mind and thinking because of such an extreme quote is not sensible on her part. Mind has the power but how do we use that power?
To solve issues she says we are hardwired to be vigilant – awareness – excellent. She then said “What could be a better way of quelling dissent than to say it is all in the mind?” Mind control by mandatory ignorance and deluded cheerfulness.
And she concluded that we have collective power that could end a great deal of unnecessary suffering in the world – again tremendous.
So what am I actually critical of Barbara in what she says, and that is difficult. This could get “esoteric”.
I was accused of esotericism yesterday. Someone I know says that it is necessary to fulfil all desires, this is why spirituality takes human form. Because of this approach to his life he spends his time fulfilling desires and so is not sufficiently in touch with his spiritual self. I asked him about the 4 Noble Truths. I feel that the 4 Noble Truths says that we have desires but if we attach to them then there is suffering. I feel you should let desires go, and they will gradually disappear. For saying this I was accused of esotericism, in truth I believe that he is stuck in that he believes happiness comes from fulfilling desire, and he suggested that HHDL said this. But again he didn’t. For me HHDL says that by letting go of desire we gain spiritual happiness. It was easy to accuse me of esotericism, there was a 3rd person there who was not interested – just talking.
I think Barbara’s talk proves that there is a collected delusion of positive thinking, what I have called mandatory ignorance and deluded cheerfulness. This is needed for business to ignore the consequences of bottom-line mentality.
So then as a Buddhist I want to consider the power of the mind for the mind is powerful. Unity means there is synchronicity, but always with synchronicity it is concerned with recognition and when to apply it. But in considering this as an Engaged Buddhist I have to say that most Buddhists ignore what is essential in terms of the power of the 1%, and that is the power of collective organisation. With the 1% we do not live in a democracy, but democratic power is the power of Unity, and it is also the power that can come from the Unity of separate individuals as a collective body.
So my social understanding aligns me with Barbara, but spiritually I want to consider what she says slightly differently. First and foremost on the Path we must be truthful, the Path is Truth and hence Realism. Totally aligned with Barbara. The 1% are adept at using the power of inappropriate collective thinking, we must be vigilant of this, and try to make people aware of the power of this collective thinking in order to effect change through the collective power of the mass movement. When people employed in business accept the bottom line of profit, they do not attach to the implications of their decision. They accept the bottom line and ignore the social disasters. This is a lack of vigilance and awareness, and this is the purpose of rhetoric – to make people aware of these consequences. But awareness is not enough, the 1% do not fear awareness, they fear activity. Vigilant awareness on the part of humans has to lead to collective organisation and activity in the mass movement to fight the power of the 1%.
The internet is full of positive thinking, business encourages positive thinking, but real action is the only way forward for change. And understanding the necessity of this real change is currently part of the Path.