Posts Tagged ‘bottom’

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.

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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.

This is my 3rd blog on 5 Gateways movie.

It is strange how things happen. I got into discussion with an ex-student – communication friend, and amongst the first things I discussed was what I consider my awakening – nothing as arrogant as an awakening as a Buddha but an awakening. At one point I was sent a fascinating Anonymous clip much of which I agree with, and all I could see was a lack of joy. How could this Anonymous guy say all this without joy?

That took me to the 5 Gateways movie where there is joy, and this elicited tears from someone watching it. I have watched (and slept) with this film a number of times, and feel good about it (proviso (s)).

I have to react to the following. Here are the movie’s initiation stages:- Awakening, Realignment, Transfiguration, Enlightenment, Resurrection. Given all of this what does it mean to me?

Whenever I start questioning myself, it usually means I have been complacent, and complacency usually means less meditation. This is true. My first reaction is to offer my ageing body as an excuse, but whilst it requires more time it is not an excuse – except occasionally.

I am at peace. Whilst I continue to offer my limited dhamma online there is little feedback – perhaps I have been too willing to accept this. This last year writing has blossomed with there being 2 Wai Zandtao books completed and a third half way through. Same issue as my online Dhamma – it is not being read. I am willing to accept this too. I would like to see ever y thing distributed, but am unwilling to pay the publishers’ price for doing that – if I were ever to seek one interested. I have done enough work, and am at peace. But having said that, I have some interest in seeing if there are benefits in helping distribution.

In the movie I love all the effusion about nature, I don’t do effusion. Maybe I should. But nature and I are close now with the house and the sea and the walking – and the birds that want my bananas but run from me. And my tokey friends. Close without effusion.

It is only now that I thought of Ascension as western and I amended the framework blog accordingly. That east-west dilemma has been something I have never been comfortable with, maybe it is just east and west together that we should think about. Eastern religion regularly sends emissaries because they see what is missing. To me what is missing in the West is tradition, the strength that tradition gives you, countering the risks of ego that exist without tradition around you. But the eastern institution can bury the rapture especially if the institutional “experts” have not experienced the rapture.

There is a need to detach from rapture but being detached does not mean not evaluating the rapture for the importance of what it is. And when people ask the dogma which of the jhanas is happening, do the institutions have the answer? Maybe they do, that is for them to answer, but per se an institution does not as an institution does not have experience. Buddhism has the tradition and there are individuals within the tradition to help. It is up to you how you go and look. A question just struck me, can a person be a true Buddhist without having experienced the rapture?

The most important thing about the Buddhism is its focus, it has taught me to focus on what people can control and not to try to get into areas where humans can only speculate. This is the danger of rapture (piti) – trying to control it. Is rapture a goal? I do have to say that at times when I was writing I did try to experience both sides of the muse – the writing and the presence that accompanied it; but it was never presence alone. Never a goal.

Ajaan Buddhadasa’s 4 systems do not seek rapture (see this talk):-

Body
Psyche
Self
Emptiness

Link these systems with the teachings concerning khandas (aggregates). The body and psyche systems are primarily concerned with khandas. We have to have an appropriate relationship with the 5 khandas – not attaching to them. If we don’t attach to them then effectively we have removed the “I and mine from the 5 khandas” (another Buddhadasa phrase), and there is an appropriate lack of ego (or self system) that enables us to relate to sunnata. I am not able to define this but this relationship with sunnata is what connects us to piti but the objective is not piti but sunnata. But we cannot experience sunnata we can experience piti, and we can only experience piti if we have established the conditions of the first three systems. And ironically those conditions are lack of conditioning. In the West that conditioning is oppressive and leads to rapturous experiences as discussed in 5 Gateways. I believe Hindus discuss such rapture as well (see Jim Carrey), but I don’t know Hindu except what is in Buddhism but am not sure of the distinction.

But the conditioning discussed in Buddhism is the same but different – what an appalling sentence. In the West conditioning tends to be discussed as social conditioning – almost indoctrination. It is almost seen as the outer imposing on the inner, and these external factors are considered as education, parents, community, society etc. Whereas the conditioning discussed in Buddhism comes from how we experience the 5 khandas through dependent co-arising, much more of an inner focus.

I often talk of “moving beyond” conditioning but this is not something we control. What we control is removing conditioning, by removing conditioning we open ourselves up to being the emptiness system – open ourselves up to a relationship with sunnata. This phraseology is so dangerous. What is sunnata – emptiness? It is the emptiness that is full, what does that mean? We cannot explain it, yet there is an emptiness system and a meaningful relationship with that system but one that cannot be explained. I said once that during meditation I breathe in emptiness, what does that mean? But doing it helped. Relationship with emptiness or an emptiness system is so fraught with danger.

Is the approach to conditioning helpful in considering rapture? I expand on this without answering. Does western conditioning with its type of oppressive approach encourage rapture when breaking out of the conditioning?

In meditation I worked on a visualisation that might help. To use this visualisation we must first know the 5 khandas:- rupa(body), vedana (feeling), sanna (perceptions/memory), sankhara (mental formations/concocting or proliferations), vinnana (consciousness). Basically Buddhadasa’s first three systems are concerned with understanding the khandas. He uses the word psyche as covering the 4 mental khandas of vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana, and it is my understanding that there is an aspect of mind that is more than these as can be seen by the visualisation.

The first 3 systems are basically covered by the Buddhadasa purpose of Buddhism:- “To remove the I and mine from the 5 Khandas”. The visualisation is based on the seeking of harmony of the first three systems enabling the freed mind to relate to the emptiness system.

The body has to function. It requires healthy food – ideally organic plant-based, any necessary medicine – hopefully natural/herbal, and it requires exercise both physical and energetic, and if done harmoniously rupa is a happy system ready for sunnata. Lack of harmony can be caused by indulging in unhealthy food for taste’s sake, partaking of drugs, and indulging in excessive exercise perhaps for reasons of “body beautiful” etc.

The 4 mental khandas are concerned with harmony of the mind, this perhaps is better understood as non-attachment. The easiest to explain in this way is sankhara. In this world the mind has certain functioning such as reasoning, the mind must apprehend theories in order to understand them (and reject them?). This is a sankhara function. But if we attach to theories, concoct theories, let the mind proliferate here there and everywhere, this is the ego attaching to sankhara and is evidenced in academia (Buddhist and otherwise). Why does academia not have a functioning approach to mind when all people have to do is look inside? Because of sankhara. There is a harmonious relationship with sankhara where the ego is not attached. Similarly there is a harmonious approach to the other three khandas whose functions are harmonious if the ego is not attached to them.

If there is harmony and non-attachment to the 5 khandas, then the body and psyche systems are ready. And of these systems are ready the self system is also likely to be in harmony. In Buddhism there is anatta – no self. There is no function of I and mine that is not covered by the 5 khandas. I grows out of the 5 khandas. If we attach to emotions, memories and theories saying this is who we are, we are attaching to the 5 khandas. Over time this attachment becomes our personalities – I. Letting go of attachment to I, to the 5 khandas, leaves the mind free. Letting go of conditioning leaves the mind free.

And here is where the visualisation comes in. With the 5 khandas in harmony, the body’s food and exercise having been dealt with, the psyche functioning also being in harmony with no attachment to the khandas, no attachment to I, the mind (the rest of the mind that is not psyche) is free. Visualise the mind being free from the khandas, free from I, and that min can expand and soar. That mind can be open to breathing in sunnata, that mind can soar into Unity, that mind can feel unconditional love. It is this freed mind that experiences rapture once mind as a whole is free from conditioning, free from khandas, free from I.

I contend that it is this mind freed from conditioning that experienced during the 5 Gateways, and it is the soul that “ascended”. Mind free from conditioning can experience.

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

5 Gateways is a wonderful movie from these people. If you want a movie that talks about finding the Path this is it. Most importantly when you first find the Path you need to find people who have shared experience. For me after hitting bottom it was the people at the Arts Centre – to whom I will always be grateful and to whom I am so sad we have lost touch only 42 years ago!!

Why is this movie so important? If you start on the Path, hitting bottom or otherwise, you need shared experience. This world will negate everything you are going through. Finding the greatest thing you could possibly find will be negated by family, friends and establishment authority because they have not experienced it. If you watch this movie then you can feel what these people feel, and your experience is reinforced. That is wonderful.

Now to the downside. These people have explained their shared experience through Ascension. Do you know if Ascension is true? For the makers of this movie Ascension is true. If you watch this movie after hitting bottom – in that or any other vulnerable position – you might well be attracted to their Ascension framework. I don’t know whether Ascension is true, and if I don’t know something is true I don’t go there. This movie has tremendous shared experience that helps in the alone situation people on the Path can find themselves, this movie can alleviate at such times but it is a danger at a time of vulnerability.

I am not saying Ascension is not true, I am saying I don’t know whether it is true. I have chosen a different Path – Buddhism. In Buddhism there is a lot of dogma, and over the years I have whittled down the dogma so that I have a Buddhism I am comfortable with – but many might not see it as Buddhism. BZBuddhism requires very little dogma – little more than the 4NT with a bit of help from Ajaan Buddhadasa. But even then to understand Ajaan Buddhadasa requires going beyond a great deal of dogma because he was such a dedicated scholar; dogma that in my view he eschewed. And studying Ajaan Buddhadasa would not ratify the tremendousness of experience that is shared in 5 Gateways, however the framework that Ajaan Buddhadasa gives you does not require any faith. It does require you to be discerning, questioning and intelligent but it does not require any leaps of faith. 5 Gateways requires a leap of faith to begin with (unless you know for yourself you have already gone through the 5 Gateways). I am not in favour of anyone taking a leap of faith.

I have an anecdote which gives me cause for concern. I met a drunk in Africa who had been involved with Ascension – not with these people. He spent a few years with them and did not ascend. He felt a failure and turned to drink. Accepting himself for who he was at whatever stage on the Path that he was might have kept him interested in the Path and kept him off the booze.

In the movie the shared experience is ratifying and well worth hearing. But all the people measure themselves in terms of the 5 Gateways, I have reached such and such a stage. This is understandable as the movie is made by people following this approach, but is it advisable for all people starting on the Path to measure themselves in this way?

For years after hitting bottom I studied spirituality in one form or another, sadly I wasted some time in the bottle. There is a variety of spiritual experience out there, but some of it is charlatan, some of it deluded and some of it exaggerated. Path experiences or jhanas are so powerful they can become all-embracing and all-consuming; they can also be a fixation. When you are vulnerable and starting out which of these attributes do you want? What do you want to know?

Firstly you need to know that your experience is real. You do not want to listen to people who dismiss your experience as trendy hippy or doped up or whatever, your experience is valid do not let people dismiss it. But such experience (or jhana) is not an end in itself, it is part of the Path. And what is the Path? And we are back to doubt again. The Path is real, or it can be real depending on who is talking about it. Out there there are charlatans who will tell you they have found the Path to enlightenment, but have they? You can only take their word for it – or not! Ascension is a Path to Enlightenment – or not, you can only take their word for it.

When I listen to what they say in the movie, they are people who have experienced, their experience is valid, they have done a great thing in sharing that experience in the movie, and that sharing of experience has to be validating for the vulnerable who have just started on the Path. But is their framework correct? Is there a leap of faith involved?

Does Buddhism require leaps of faith? To begin with, most definitely. Have most Buddhists made a leap of faith? Most definitely. Does the Buddha ask you to make a leap of faith? In my view the Kalama sutta suggests that you do not take a leap of faith. If you walk into a wat or Buddhist monastery will the monks have taken a leap of faith, and the answer most definitely is yes. Should you take a leap of faith? My answer is no.

The essence of all of this is understanding. To gain understanding you have to study dogma until that dogma falls away and you have understanding or wisdom. So as part of the learning process I have believed in Buddhism. By believing in it I was able to come to an understanding of those parts of Buddhism that I initially believed in. I now eschew the dogma and hopefully have wisdom. Can new people on the Path do this? I couldn’t when younger. Can young people believe in Ascension, let the dogma fall away and be left only with wisdom? That does not appear to be the teaching methodology but maybe so? Can young people go to Buddhism, let the dogma fall away and be left with wisdom? Definitely not within most of the Buddhist institutions I know of.

Buddhism has an advantage over the 5 Gateways Ascension. Buddhism is big and does not necessarily require commitment. I have been on retreats but I have not committed myself to cloisters. Maybe remaining on the periphery of 5 Gateways would allow their dogma to drop away? Immersing in their programme I would suggest might create problems of faith.

But I go back to my original point in this post, their movie is validating. For people new to the Path watching their movie without embracing their dogma would be extremely worthwhile. Maybe even getting involved with them would be worthwhile – I do not know, but the getting of wisdom anywhere means eventually eschewing dogma. There are Buddhists with dogma, eschew that dogma and get wisdom, there are followers of Ascension with dogma, eschew that dogma and get wisdom, there are followers of Eckhart Tolle (whom I at one time considered wise – he has done so much with Oprah I don’t know where he is at now), eschew his dogma and get wise. Wisdom is gained by eschewing dogma.

Why did I choose Buddhism? Ego. Buddhism has centuries of tradition in which there have been Buddhists who have questioned. Whilst Buddhism has its dogma, whilst Buddhism has a proliferation of intellectuals and concocters, it has its tradition. Wise people over the years have gained wisdom and contributed to Buddhism. What about the people ascending? Where is their tradition? They have to rely on themselves. And what happens? They come under threat from the society they are rejecting, and this can build up an ego that defends. How would this ego respond? Possibly by becoming more dogmatic, defending the dogma of their beliefs; is this wise? Immersion with Ascension risks such dogma, and possibly risks eschewing wisdom. At the beginning of the Path when people are vulnerable this is a danger.

To avoid this I have never recommended 5 Gateways until now, but the shared experience is so valuable so reinforcing, so invigorating, so IMPORTANT I want to recommend it with the above proviso.

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

The Two Paths

Posted: 12/12/2015 in Insight
Tags: , ,


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.

********************

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.

animated_favicon1
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.

animated_favicon1
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.

********************

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
Tags: , , , , , ,


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
Tags: , , , , ,

Blogs:- Zandtao, Mandtao, Matriellez.

Teaching as daily life

Posted: 24/05/2013 in Education, ONE planet
Tags:


Following the review of hitting bottom is teaching to be seen differently ….more on Buddhadasa page