Posts Tagged ‘bottom’

The Two Paths

Posted: 12/12/2015 in Insight
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point1WARNING 27/2/16

At the time of discussion of “The Two Paths” I was attempting to accommodate an intellectual Path; even whilst doing so I was uncomfortable with it. I tried to focus on the “shift” as described by HHDL but the intellect I was discussing with did not engage with the word – presumably because it was a non-intellectual process. Now that I have accepted mu it is clear that what I am aiming for is beyond intellect, and this whole rationalising of “Two Paths” was just an engagement with intellect. I am keeping this series of discussions on Two Paths on my blog as a warning as to how much the intellect can drag you in the wrong direction.

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Earlier in my blog I considered two Paths:-

zbullet The Path of Awakening
zbullet Deep Study leading to understanding

Where do I stand on these now that it is done and dusted? Perhaps the most important thing I have determined is to get rid of this theosophical capitalisation. The capitalisation related to the Unconditioned, some sort of noumenon. The path is what we do, and as such has no direct contact with the Unconditioned. The Unconditioned is, and that is it; we are in the world of conditions, the path is conditioned.

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Awakening:-

Let’s examine the two paths separately, first the path of awakening. Because I was fanciful concerning the Unconditioned, there was some vague and improper notion of awakening being concerned with the Unconditioned. I described it as a “sort of awakening” because it was that, but mainly it was an awakening from systemic conditioning or miseducation. In Buddhist terms it was breaking through an entrenched atta, the atta of my intellectual ego created by culture and miseducation. I began to describe this as a transcendence from lower to higher manas, it could be from the mundane to the supramundane; I am now going to call this a shift in consciousness, transcendence has too much showbiz attached to it. Somehow the turmoil in my mind at the time of hitting bottom created a jhana that allowed consciousness to emerge. I called this the starting of my path, it was a sort of awakening, but it had nothing to do with the awakening or enlightenment that people associate with the Buddha – I don’t go near that. Other experiences reminded me and reinforced my initial shift, and these experiences I associated with keeping to the path – these experiences were jhanas. So this path of awakening is inaccurately described as a “path of awakening”, it is better described as an insight path. Why insight? Insight comes through jhanas, right concentration, allowing consciousness to emerge. Initially the consciousness was blocked by the atta of miseducation and drink, and the resulting turmoil created a focus of concentration that allowed a shift in consciousness, a development of insight initially followed by gaining insights. This recent process spurred by group discussion online appears to have radically altered the description of this path but from where I look at it I don’t feel so; rationally it looks very different, I think.

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Deep Study:-

Following the discussions I have much more time for this approach of deep study but I am completely unhappy with it. Primarily it allows the intellectual to consider they are on the path simply by studying. I contend that this cannot be. Understanding requires concentration and insight, an insight that is not just reasoning, not even unconscious reasoning. It requires “contact with consciousness”, concentration creating the channel for that contact. This might happen through deep study because the concentration might cause it, but if it is then attributed to reason I see the intellectual atta clinging. I think this might be an unconscious path, and therefore similar to an insight path. The intellectual perceives this path as intellect, analysis and reason (because of atta), yet through the study develops the concentration that produces the insight and then attributes that insight to analysis. Does this matter? Yes, because they don’t see a shift in consciousness, they don’t see how much their focus on reason traps them in their mundane realm of analysis. How much they miss out on because of this I cannot know? Maybe nothing, maybe the whole world?

However the two paths are very little different. There is the shift in consciousness, this is very important. Because it is not life-changing like hitting bottom does not mean that it does not happen on the deep study path, but it does not happen in an earth-shattering way. The paths are different by emphasis, ie the words that are used. The insight path focusses on the concentration that leads to the understanding whilst recognising a role for reason, deep study focusses on reasoning.

How important is the turmoil? In Zen they have koans, they want to create the turmoil that produces the jhana. In my hitting bottom the turmoil happened because of my culture and miseducation, for the deep study path this turmoil is not emphasised – maybe it occurs but reason does not want to admit to it because it is not rational. In last night’s realisation LINK the intellectual turmoil was a prerequisite for the jhana, the jhana would not have happened without it, and the understanding would not have occurred.

At one stage in the online group I questioned whether the intellectual asked about their own path, I still feel that. Because they are attached to reason they don’t examine processes like turmoil and concentration, and insight becomes analysis.

Buddhism does somewhere I am sure but I don’t know the Pali/suttas.

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

point1WARNING 27/2/16

At the time of discussion of “The Two Paths” I was attempting to accommodate an intellectual Path; even whilst doing so I was uncomfortable with it. I tried to focus on the “shift” as described by HHDL but the intellect I was discussing with did not engage with the word – presumably because it was a non-intellectual process. Now that I have accepted mu it is clear that what I am aiming for is beyond intellect, and this whole rationalising of “Two Paths” was just an engagement with intellect. I am keeping this series of discussions on Two Paths on my blog as a warning as to how much the intellect can drag you in the wrong direction.

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Maybe 7 years ago I attended a talk in Bangkok given by Phakchok Rinpoche. He was a very powerful and funny man, and wound all the Theravadans up something rotten. The monks were squirming in the seats and monks and nuns were muttering away. To be honest I was just impressed with the man. I am going to refer to this with the Ludlum phrase “The Hinayana Incident”.

Accompanying his talk he gave out a paper describing 3 Buddhist Paths:-

Hinayana
Mahayana
Vajrayana

And there was some blurb that went vaguely like this. “In Buddhism you begin with some initial study that could be called the Lesser Vehicle or Hinayana. Then people begin to increase their study to the Greater Vehicle or Mahayana, and then finally they arrive at the highest form of learning Vajrayana.” Now to be perfectly honest it was extremely rude of this monk to go to a home of Thai Buddhism and present Theravada in this demeaning way.

I was personally not that invested in “being Theravada” so it didn’t wind me up, and after all it was someone from outside coming and talking about something he had never done – being Theravada. I think I am a bit angry about it now. I think all aspects of Buddhism talk about Unity, and yet the teachings are presented in such a divisive way. I have just got involved in a discussion online in which a similar division is occurring, and it reminded me of this. In fact all discussions online remind me of divisions, and whenever I think of division I think of uncontrolled intellect that delights in separation and cannot accept Unity. It reminds me so much of all the Trots who all claim they are Marxist, and believe in the power of the mass movement. Yet they all want the mass movement to follow their version of Marxism, and completely divide the Left by the way they say the mass movement should follow their particular individual bookwriter as opposed to a different bookwriter who has a Marxist group. In politics there is one leader the mass movement, and if organisers cannot get the mass movement to recognise the importance of seeing themselves as one Unity and the ensuing working together that could maybe dethrone the 1% then that means more wars for profits etc.

The parallel with Unity in Buddhism is so clear to me. You begin with Unity, because we are ONE and separation is caused by mind. From this Unity we can recognise that all Paths lead to Unity. This is a Truth for all Paths in Buddhism as well as for other Paths. So when there is a discussion in Buddhism shouldn’t it revolve around finding what is the commonality or the Unity rather than perpetuating mind-created differences.

This firstly made me think about my own Path – hitting bottom, coming out on the Path – awakening?, throughout my spiritual life somehow being close to the Path or not, being creativity helping closeness, erratic meditation experiences, veering to Buddhism, regular meditation, focussing on Theravada in retirement, wider reading, focussing on Buddhadasa. Basically the underlying Unity is what forced me onto the Path in the first place, and the rest of my life has been about holding to the Path or not, and how do I do this? For me in Theravada this meant Insight meditation, through Insight connecting to the Path.

When I read Eckhart Tolle, or others on the their creativity, I regularly see this hitting bottom and unconsciously I made an assumption that I now see as incorrect that peoples’ Paths will have this sort of awakening. Because of this awakening component my view of Phakchok Rinpoche’s hierarchy of study was an intellectual aberration.

With the current online discussion I was sent this quote from HHDL:-
“If you are serious about Dharma practice, it is important to cultivate a good understanding of the teachings. First of all, it is important to read the texts. The more texts you read – the more you expand the scope of your learning and reading – the greater the resource you will find for your own understanding and practice. When, as a result of deep study and contemplation on what you have learned as related to your personal understanding, you reach a point on each topic when you have developed a deep conviction that this is how it is, that‘s an indication you have attained what is called understanding, derived through contemplation or reflection. Before that, all your understanding will have been intellectual understanding, but at that point it shifts. Then you have to cultivate familiarity, make it into part of your daily habit. The more you cultivate familiarity, the more it will become experiential.”
Dalai Lama, The Middle Way: Faith Grounded in Reason

Now intellectual understanding is not something I am overly keen on as it has been my experience that the intellect is divisive. In fact I have seen that for those coming to the Path a focus on the intellect can lead to internal conflict that can produce awakening.

However there has always been a flaw in my approach that I have only partly internalised, why is Buddhadasa my teacher and yet he never had an awakening? I have never really answered that question until now – when perhaps I am getting answers.

Does there have to be an awakening? In the above quote HHDL describes a model of 6 stages:-

1) Deep study 2) Contemplation or reflection 3) Deep conviction that this how it is – these 3 are intellectual

4) Shifting 5) Cultivating familiarity 6) Experiential understanding

What is the shifting? Is it at all connected to awakening? Maybe shifting is just a smaller degree of awakening?

It seems to me there are two distinct types of Path:-

The Path of Awakening
Deep Study that leads to Understanding

If one has had an awakening, especially in the West where such awakenings are often associated with miseducation, it is hard to understand how deep study can be a Path.

If one is studious it is hard to see how someone who claims awakening after hitting bottom either through drugs or otherwise can be experiencing something other than feeling good in a recovery programme after the hangovers have gone.

What primarily needs to be understood is that no matter how exclusive these Paths appear to be they lead to Unity, and Unity is what all Buddhist seek, what all Seekers seek.

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

Fear

Posted: 22/08/2013 in Struggle, War
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I am getting frightened for the world. I have just been watching “The Company you keep” (imdb) – no download sorry. Wonderful people who stood up against the tyranny that was the Vietnam genocide were being called terrorists. Where do you draw the line for the Weathermen and colleagues in struggle?

To my lifelong shame my youth was spent with alcohol so when good people were struggling against the genocide in Vietnam I was learning life at the bottom of a university glass. Mind you, it was probably lucky, being so immature I would have done something stupid. By the time I was on marches in my 30s I was sensible enough to listen to the ropes from friends.

The movie draws on a very important theme – idealism. No matter how important the idealism might appear to be, it is just that – a set of ideas. And if we hold to ideas then it is not compassion that is the source. Compassion is the only constant. In the 70s and 80s before Thatcher finally drowned the movement, politically I saw this so clearly. Passionate, not necessarily compassionate, idealists stood up with their demands. I can’t remember which march it was but I was walking through Kennington, South London. There were some black people conscious of the march but most ignored it. It was this that began to turn me from the Trotsky Left – even though there were some black people on this part of the Left. I was young enough to be asking why all black people weren’t marching with the comrades in a racist society, but the Trot ranters had turned them off. And of course black people might have the colour of their skin in common, but why does skin colour make mentality the same? Lucky for me when I was politically active it was not ideals but the mass movement that guided me, I believe politically that is the nearest way that compassion can show its face, compassion for all people.

What about the dialogue of the movie and Occupy – OWS? When I looked at Occupy (Click OCCUPY in the tag cloud – scroll down on the left) there was a maturity amongst these young, lessons learned that were far beyond the naivete of the 60s and 70s. Our older movement (it shaped me even if I didn’t do anything at the time) opened the door but they didn’t understand that the establishment would be so severe in closing it. Almost genetically the young of Occupy are more sophisticated and have the survival tools to deal with the increasingly repressive 1%. But the 1% have too much power now, and are willing to use anything to keep it. Defenders of liberty in the movie were called terrorists, that was Redford’s licence but it was not a rant.

This movie was wrinkly and nostalgic, tremendous for me. But it discussed things I was never aware of at the time – the weathermen. I’m going to look into them, should people demanding freedom not know about them? Or is just me in my beerglass that didn’t know?

As I mentioned above I am getting frightened by a seachange. The last half century the black civil rights movement were heroes. The Black Panthers were generally considered to have gone a bit too far, the black 200m runners, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, were considered to have had bad taste exploiting sport for political reasons, but I don’t recall their being slated for what they stood up for. [It is worth reading wikipedia on “1968_Olympics_Black_Power_salute”]. They were black people standing up for their rights in a racist society, this was generally considered acceptable, this is the barometer of social opinion as I saw it, and at the time I wasn’t politically active – being drunk in the bottom of the university glass.

And for Vietnam the feeling was much the same. Students were rioting because they didn’t want to be in Vietnam. This wasn’t just a moral question so many of the young people were being drafted to go fight an unacceptable war. Retrospectively it is generally accepted that these people were fighting a wrong that their society should not have been perpetrating. Young people do these things. They haven’t learnt the discipline needed to have a family, they haven’t grown up enough to understand the way society is. This is the way the older generation perceived them especially in the UK where the older generation had been decimated by “World War 2”.

In “The Company You Keep” there was an underlying feeling that the Weather Underground were seen as terrorists by a significant group of people. To me this is a rewriting of history, but I intend investigating this to clarify. But there seems to be a social engineering approach that I picked up from the Terrence Howard FBI guy, and in this I was mindful of the horrendous young Tekkies in the movie “Enemy of the State”. The 1% don’t invest any more in trying to indoctrinate all the people, just sufficient investment to provide their enforcers. The horrific US right wing can stand up on their bought TV platforms, and spout all kinds of incoherent rubbish. These crazy puppets can demand all kinds of inhumane stuff, and their extremism makes Obama and his ilk, the mainstream government puppets appear normal. This is the balance, the balance that appeals to intellect. There is a right and a left so let’s find a “harmony” in the middle. So the crazies are dragged out, spout their tea party filth, and Obama and his drones appear OK because his sweet mouth is so plausible.

Significant in this process is the US hero, the young people who sign up for the “Land of the Brave”, either as soldiers or tekkies. You only need a few for the CIA and the FBI. Once their enthusiasm has sucked them in they beome pawns of indoctrination, and we have the heroes of the Civil Rights movement and anti-war movement painted as terrorists.

This is why Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are getting hammered. These young people get sucked in, and then get indoctrinated. What they also have to know is that if they are ever tempted to blow the whistle on the indoctrination, on what is being done in their country, then they should know that life is not going to be worth living. A couple of days after writing this Bradley Manning was given 35 years for exposing the truth. Whilst part of me is outraged, another part of me just accepts that this sentence was inevitable, as is the persecution of Edward Snowden and any future whistleblower. There is genuine social outrage at these injustices but there is nothing that anyone can do.

Soldiers are being used less and less, because trained Blackwater thugs are much more malleable. Not only are those deluded people conned into believing they are fighting for their country but their country can disown them. So-called rules of war don’t apply to them because they are paid for by a private company. Mercenaries used to be a dirty word, now a mercenary is the soldier of choice for the US government. Mercenaries and arms dealers were shadowy people travelling the hellholes of the world making their dishonest living, now these people have been elevated by the right to heroic status.

Some TV I watch portrays life today as an improvement of 40-50 years ago. As an old man there are certain good old days stuff of my youth that I might like to harken upon. I would say we made more of our own enjoyment, and yet my parents’ generation were critical of our own lack of independence. Now Grumpy Old People moan about the proliferation of swiping pointless phone toys. Whilst such matters of social change might be peccadilloes, the power of the US state (and its allies) and the depths to which they have sunk “in defence of the realm” is to me staggering. And it is fear of this that racks me. On a selfish level I can only hope that the continuing extremism of their policies does not spread to my little retired haven. But that selfishness pales into insignificance for the fear I have for humanity if these people are not harnessed. And there is no sign of that harness. Family friends continue to live compromised lives ignoring the steps on this path of extremism their compromise is forcing them to take. Everyone else is doing it so it’s OK, I’ve got to make a living. Fear, I look at the little children in my school for whom a bump on the head whilst playing is a major setback and see that the slavery they are growing up into is far worse than the slavery I grew up for. When scifi presents visions of future enslaved societies we admire the imagination, we don’t see a future that follows from accepting today’s compromises. Were Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning our last chances for humanity?

Most people who know me would laugh at this. They know me as being extreme, my retired idyll has gone to my head. But it is only stepping back that gives discernment of what is truly happening. It is 20 years since I have properly lived in the UK, my probate year 10 years ago was very much on the periphery. At that time what people had come to accept from the financial corporatocracy was staggering. They had accepted Iraq with far less furore than the people of my generation accepted Vietnam – although there was no need for draft to do their evil deeds. Since the crash austerity
programmes have eaten into quality of life yet there seems but a squeak. Edward Snowden is seen as a hero and a fool, you’d never catch me doing that. People are beaten down, they don’t stand up for Snowden they call him foolhardy. I am frightened.

This brings me back to the movie “The Company you keep” and “The Weather Underground”. Here is The Weather Undergroundthe torrent for a documentary on “The Weather Underground”. It embarrasses me now to know that I was a young adult at the time, and I know nothing of these people of conscience. The 1% Vietnam War forced them into criminal action because legitimate democratic protest had been stifled and ignored. What is there to do now? There was no doubt a great deal of naivete amongst these people, and it highlights the level of maturity amongst Occupy. The documentary shows the strength of repression that existed then, so conversely it shows how strong the movement for change was; this is a major crit of Occupy they don’t appear to appreciate just how powerful the movement for change in the 60s and 70s was – maybe that is just their age?

But talking of discernment in some ways all of this is not important. I am just recovering from flu, and post-flu depression let this fear get to me. It’s all true but is it the priority? When I start meditating properly again after flu depression what will matter is no-self. In no-self there is peace. The present world of suffering can be attributed to the 1%, in all future worlds will the suffering be the same? What will be the same is that peace can be attained through detachment from the prevailing suffering? In our current world peace is not difficult to find. Walk off the beaten track, and you can find a heavenly niche where society’s desires don’t matter. It is important not to avoid responsibility, we are all ONE, but if people don’t listen it is not your fault. But still observing the way some people are so complicit in this world of exploitation cannot make anyone happy.

As a corollary here is a Democracy Now programme about Kathy Boudin, a member of the Weather Underground. As part of naivete maybe she went beyond their actions, becoming criminally involved with the Black Liberation Army ending up in prison for her part in the deaths that followed from a robbery. There is a wonderful interplay of humanity in this story brought out in the discussion that lasts from 10.42 until 51.30:-

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Mandtao, Matriellez.


Instinct creates self….more on Buddhadasa page

Blogs:- Zandtao, Mandtao, Matriellez.

Lift-off

Posted: 20/06/2013 in Insight
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Blogs:- Zandtao, Mandtao, Matriellez.

Teaching as daily life

Posted: 24/05/2013 in Education, ONE planet
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Following the review of hitting bottom is teaching to be seen differently ….more on Buddhadasa page


Tan Ajaan has helped further understand battles between Insight and intellect ….more on Buddhadasa page


In a recent blog I described my “hitting bottom” as awakening; this is not appropriate because …. more on Buddhadasa page.


I am interested in UG’s life, and am continuing reading his book “The Mystique of Enlightenment” downloaded from Holybooks. In truth I am still reading about how he came to his “enlightenment?”, and I have not read what he says about the process. I am interpreting what I read. This is not a good practice because it is distanced from the truth in two ways, what is written about a person is not the person and how I interpret what is written is not the person either. It would be clearer if I use UG-Z to make this distance clear. I am much happier using UG-Z. I don’t know the guy. He claims spiritual leadership, who am I to describe his spirituality? This UG-Z is just my version, effectively a set of characteristics drawn from what little I know of his book and his life – the characteristics UG-Z.

My world was rocked when at 22 I hit the bottom of a bottle and climbed out onto the Path. Once I came out it was a fascinating time, a time of exploration I will never forget. It was particularly good for me because it was the early 70’s, and the western world was still teetering a bit after the questioning that came in with the hippy generation. My Path started in a climate where young people could question – not as I perceive now where young people expect to be straight-jacketed in careers as soon as they leave education. This questioning led me to an Arts Centre where I began Scifi writing – Wai Zandtao, a short trip round Europe where I exlored inside for the first time – in a cottage in Belgium, it was a turbulent time but a time of discovery of the Path and therefore a time of great wonder – and a sense of enjoyment. I consider this hitting bottom at 22 a time of awakening, still having much to learn – as I still do. I was not a person with sila, far from it – for a short while in my later 20’s I measured my enjoyment by promiscuity – having a number of relationships on the go. Fortunately this did not last long, but it was a time of exploring influenced by the drink; after this awakening whilst my Path had started I had not eschewed the drink – that came some 13 years later. Awakening does not imply morality – sila, I still allowed defilements – kilesa, the self was still indulged – not anatta. In no way can this awakening be described as enlightenment – as far as I see the terms? I have not had such a powerful awakening since but I have had powerful experiences and different awakenings such as the current one revolved around the teachings of Buddhadasa – not a turbulent awakening at all but important. I almost used the word “powerful” because in a sense it is powerful as it is revealing much, but it is not the sort of power I associate with awakenings so the word was not used.

This is an article by Brad Warner that presents such discussion clearly:-

“The relationship between wakening and morality all depends upon how you define “awakening.”

A lot of people, especially nowadays, define “awakening” as a kind of experience. Much of what I see in contemporary magazines, books, websites and suchlike does. The spiritual master in question has some kind of profound experience that zaps his consciousness and then he/she goes out to tell the world about it.

There are plenty of examples of this. Genpo Roshi justifies charging folks $50,000 just to hang out next to him based on a profound awakening he had while on a solo retreat in the Mojave Desert some time in the Seventies. Eckhart Tolle claims to have has a grand awakening that enabled him to write a bazillion selling book and charge tens of thousands of dollars for lecture appearances. Shoko Asahara had a massive download from on high that supposedly made him the new Buddha for the modern age. The list goes on and on.

It all goes back to a certain reading of Buddha’s life story. The most common telling of it has Buddha meditating under a tree for 40 days at the end of which he had a deep awakening experience that turned him in one moment from plain old Siddhartha to the legendary Gautama Buddha. Sort of like how Japanese superheroes like Ultraman and Kamen Rider transform in a flash from regular human beings into giant bug-eyed alien monster fighters.

But experiences like that do not necessarily have any direct one-to-one relationship to any kind of moral maturity or sensibility. They’re just experiences. Like getting into a car crash or seeing a UFO or having a near-death experience. There’s no specific moral content to them.

People tend to forget that Siddhartha engaged in various practices and worked hard on himself for decades before his awakening. It happened in an instant. But the ground had been prepared for a lifetime, dozens of lifetimes if you believe those stories.
On the other hand, “awakening” of the type that occurs as a sudden peak experience, is just the conscious realization of the underlying ground of all of our experiences. It’s not that something new happens. It’s just that we notice what’s really been going on all along.

It is possible to have this kind of experience without properly preparing oneself for it. Sometimes a severe trauma like an accident or illness can do it. Sometimes drugs can induce it. Some so-called “spiritual” practices are designed just to cause these kinds of experiences to happen. Sometimes nothing seems to induce it. It just sort of happens.
In cases like those, the experience is still genuine and can still have value. But there’s no real basis for it, no real ground for it to land on. As I said before, the ego can latch on to absolutely anything — including the realization of its own illusory nature — as a means to enlarge itself.

These so-called “awakenings” do contain a sense that we are all intimately connected, that we are all manifestations of the same underlying reality. But the ego can latch onto that and make it something terribly immoral. It can decide that since I am you and you are me and we are all together, it’s fine if I fuck you over or lie to you or cheat you or steal from you because ultimately I am only doing that to myself. And what’s the problem if you do something to yourself?

It’s dangerous to point this kind of stuff out because there is a whole multi-billion dollar industry based on the notion that these kinds of experiences transform ordinary people into spiritual superheroes. But they don’t. Not in and of themselves. Becoming a moral person is a matter of transforming one’s habits of thinking and behavior. That is not easy to do. It takes time. It cannot possibly happen instantaneously no matter what sort of experience one has. An “awakening experience” can often be helpful in making a person more moral because it provides a new way of understanding yourself and others. But it doesn’t necessarily work that way.

This is why it’s very good to have a teacher who can help you through these kinds of experiences. It’s good to interact with someone else, or if you’re really lucky a number of other people, who have gone through these things. When, on the other hand, people have these experiences and then end up surrounded by admirers who want to gobble up the power such an experience confers the results can be disastrous.

So, yeah, the people you meet at a Zen temple ought to be at least decent people. And most of them are. Cases like that of Joshu Sasaki, Genpo Roshi, Eido Shimano and so forth are exceptional. They’re not the rule. You don’t have to be a genius to spot people like that either. It’s always obvious. Just don’t allow yourself to be blinded by fantasies of magic miracle men.

The foregoing is why 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. Dogen says this many times in his writings. Most teachers who followed in his lineage also say this. Which isn’t to say that Soto is good and everything else is evil. It’s just one of the things that really attracts me to the style I have practiced much more than any of the others out there, even though those others often sound a whole lot sexier.”

Reading this raised an interesting question for me concerning the Buddha. Brad refers to the Buddha awakening under the Bodhi Tree, was he enlightened then if he ever was? For the sake of this discussion I assume he was an enligtened being. As Brad says he was grounded before his awakening, and after he was awakened he lived a moral life. I make a further assumption for the sake of argument, in his post-awakened life he lived a life of anatta, and it is this totality that made him enlightened – not just his awakening, but the assumed fact that he lived a life of anatta afterwards. Was the awakening actually part of his enlightenment? For me this places the words awakening and enlightenment in context, and I like Brad’s description that in Soto Zen awakening experiences are not valued. I am also pleased to see that in Soto Zen sila is emphasised as sila esp 4NT is not something I associate with Zen.

So back to UG-Z. His awakening was huge – a world-stopper, he describes it as a calamity. Let’s examine the build-up to UG-Z’s calamity. He was born into an Indian family who expected him to become enlightened for some reason. What those expectations did to UG who knows? He then followed this ego/self for years trying to be what his parents wanted him to be, what might be described as “seeking enlightenment”. This wasn’t a gentle seeking, this was a full-blown commitment to all kinds of spiritual practices, years with J Krishnamurti, and then a progress towards hitting bottom as he rejected all his striving. This led to a period of immorality – in describing his awakening he said “Let’s go to a strip-tease joint, the ‘Folies Bergere’ or the ‘Casino de Paris’. Come on, let us go there for twenty francs.” Not actions of sila. Is it then surprising that when UG-Z did awaken the experience was so deep, so profound, so earth-shattering? He had clung to this parental version, searched for enlightenment, hit bottom, and then had his awakening – calamity. So much bottled up to come out. The UG-Z I characterise went through an aggrandised process of awakening that was exacerbated by parentl pressure and social expectation to such an extent that his self had been blown up out of all proportions and he came down with a bang.

This is upadana – clinging to self. This brings up the question as to whether an awakening is necessary. Suppose someone is brought up living naturally, no self involvement, no expectations, just getting on with it. This ideal does not have any clinging to I – no upadana. This cannot happen in the western world of education where self is educated so vehemently. Conceivably a desert island, an isolated community or some such idyll, but of course primitive communities have their own ego and self-advancement. And the spiritual world with all its seeking – very little chance. Of course there are tremendous works to study, and there are people who have great knowledge but with all the seeking and ego there is only a build-up for a calamatous awakening if it does happen. Reminds me of a recent chat concerning meditation. This person had stopped meditating because there had been no bells and banjoes. I tried to tell her that meditation brought happiness in a gentle and pleasant way in daily life, meditation helped. Not sexy, eh Brad?


This is a name I have seen but not looked at, however I downloaded “The Mystique of Enlightenment” from Holybooks

“I discovered for myself and by myself that there is no self to realize — that’s the realization I am talking about. It comes as a shattering blow. It hits you like a thunderbolt. You have invested everything in one basket, self-realization, and, in the end, suddenly you discover that there is no self to discover, no self to realize — and you say to yourself “What the hell have I been doing all my life?!” That blasts you.” This is what UG calls the Natural State, is there a problem with this?

“I don’t give a hoot for a sixth-century-BC Buddha, let alone all the other claimants we have in our midst. They are a bunch of exploiters, thriving on the gullibility of the people. There is no power outside of man. Man has created God out of fear. So the problem is fear and not God.” Can anyone say this?

Exploiters thriving on gullibility, how can anyone say that? I cannot know whether Buddha was enlightened, I have not met him, I have not been inside his head, and I don’t know whether there is enlightenment. Can UG possibly qualify to meet these 3 criteria? Same goes for his condemnation of others.

I don’t know the man but it reads like a niche, an approach of difference. In some ways I can understand that. What are blogs like this about? Different people describing their understandings in the hope that sharing brings understanding for others. UG has done all kinds of stuff in the spiritual world. When I read what he has done I can understand some of his frustration (only some I am not him). He has spent his life searching for enlightenment based on a family of theosophy, student with J (Krishnamurti), and all kinds of stuff that did not give him an answer. Then he discovers for himself that there is no self to realise, that has to be hard.

I understand that that is what the Buddha taught, at least according to Tan Ajaan that is what the Buddha taught. When I listened to Adyashanti – “What is Enlightenment?” Torrent here , he describes perception without ego. Isn’t this OK? It does seem that the search for enlightenment is the problem, and not the teachings. Perception without ego is a short statement but it says an awful lot and I would suggest that it is even harder to do. Anatta (Pali for no self) says a lot but it is hard to do. Upadana (not clinging to I or mine) says a lot but it is hard to do. Where’s the search? Where is the miracle cure?

UG describes a “calamity”, and I think of the various “hitting bottoms” that I have come across – Eckhart Tolle, Neale Donald Walsch, Paul Garrigan, my own …. How different are they? Intensity, mine was not as intense as the others although it felt powerful at the time – upheaval of life. What happened to me? I grew up with a middle-class background, and I was pushed into academia and a life of getting a job. I always remember at uni people asking what their ambition was, and I said I would be happy with a house, a wife and kids – to much ridicule. Of the people there I am probably the only person who has never been anywhere near that. My head was full of constructs and expectations, and they had nothing to do with Nature, the Natural State, anatta. In uni confrontation was never forced, it was easy. I go to work and there there was confrontation. I had to do stuff to earn money that I didn’t want to do. My first job was a bit interesting and the job had a good social life (appealing to my growing alcohol addiction) – even though I never did my job well. Then I went to Sevenoaks which was all about “a house, a wife and kids”, and I just sank lower and lower until in the end I just gave up and blew it out. Hit bottom.

Now that kind of chanelled expectation is nothing compared to the budding UG. He appears to have been forced into a life of expectations and search for enlightenment. He appears to have had his mind filled with so many things and not internalised them. Rejecting all of this he ran away from those expectations, and eventually it all hit him and he had his calamity reaching the Natural State. Yet he describes it all as non-causal, but is that so? I don’t know, I’m not him – not inside his head.

But his is not a life that does not fit the “hitting bottom” pattern – it is just that his is more extreme. Because the conflict in him was more extreme it would seem natural that the hitting bottom would also be more extreme, but the process is the same – isn’t it? The power of his calamity has got to appear far more intense than my limited experience but process-wise how different is it? More importantly how different is it for others?

If he had never picked up a book that discussed anatta, perceiving without ego, or whatever he read, if he had never had 7 years with J, would he have ever learned about no-self? Just because he resisted the internalisation of it for so long does not mean that it was not a consequence of his study in some way.

Doesn’t this all boil down to horses for courses? Tan Ajaan was famed when young and spent his life in Thailand in a monastery, he is lucid about no-self, claims he is a slave to the Buddha and gets his understanding from the suttas. He does not condemn anyone, but talks of truth in all religions. UG has his upbringing and background and condemns. What about others? I know little about what I do write about, I know much less about what I don’t write about, but it just seems to be different strokes. If it is anatta, isnt that enough? Tan Ajaan’s journey appears a lot more peaceful.

Process is important, what is the process? Insight. Somehow inside, all these ideas and belief systems are grappled with, and then eventually out of the other end comes perception without ego. I don’t know Zen koans but isn’t the koan process that concepts confuse the intellect leading to understanding – gateless gates, (pathless paths, truthless truths – I made these up I don’t know koans). Is the process the form of the koan or the process of disengaging the intellectual mind so that the Natural State of Insight comes out? How this happens can be easy or hard? We are all different, yet we are ONE with no-self. Process.

Addendum:-

Here is a description of the aftermath of the process by Jack Kornfeld:-

“From Jack Kornfield’s ‘After the Ecstasy, the Laundry’:

It was early in my spiritual life. I had gone to a few meditation classes. Now I was lying quietly, in solitude, resting after so much time thinking, wondering. My mind was in the clearest, most open state. It also felt charged, alive, yet absolutely still as well. I had not known such a balance of alertness and ease was possible. I picked up an old Buddhist text and read a few lines:
“Although the One Mind is, it has no existence. In its true state, Mind is naked, immaculate, being of the Voidness, transparent, timeless, uncompounded; not realizable as a separate thing, but as the unity of all things, yet not composed of them. Arising of themselves and being naturally free like the clouds in the sky, all that appears fades away… The whole of the World and Nirvana as an inseparable unity are one’s own mind.”
Everything I knew of the world shattered open. I could not say what was left, for there was nothing of myself at all. There was that which is here before the sense of self ever existed. I knew once and for all that there is no self, that any sense of self is an illusion. We are empty like a dream, a play of mind. Gradually some of the world came back, though in many ways my sense of it had changed completely. I had no idea how I was supposed to live anymore. For weeks I walked around in a kind of lightness and shock.”

I like his title, whatever he had opened up he still has to get back to the laundry. Doing things – good stuff.