Posts Tagged ‘Path’

Indigenous Activist

Posted: 20/03/2018 by zandtao in ONE planet, Struggle
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Interesting conversation between Russell and Naomi Klein.

When I retired it was primarily concerned with the increasing gap between my (spiritual) path and work demands. When I found I could manage financially in Thailand, it was a no-brainer; however I am not so sure my father would be happy to see what half his house is financing. I retired to be Buddhist but after a number of years I knew that for me to be Buddhist I had to be aware of engagement (Engaged Buddhism). This coincided with Occupy, and whilst I have become increasingly conscious of the importance of path I have tried to be consciously politically aware. Of course such activism is limited because of the Thai direction my life has taken. My writing is of course activism of sorts, it is everyone else’s fault they don’t read it!!

Once I became politically aware I discovered that Naomi Klein was ubiquitous always saying the right thing in the right situation. So of course listening to her is worthwhile. I was particularly amused by the length of silence after a Russell rant.

I am going to end this blogpost with Naomi’s narrative because it relates to my consideration of narratives in the next 4 blogs.

I liked her description of zombie capitalism or zombie neoliberalism, it completely describes the way the 1%-system lurches from one crisis to another – however remember these crises are integral to the system and whilst not exactly planned are intended as a means of introducing distasteful policies. I have previously referred to this as an aspect of brinkmanship.

I have also called her an indigenous activist with affection. She is not “indigenous” but recognises that the love of the land that indigenous peoples bring to the struggle is much more positive than the “anti-movement” integral to the western perception of the struggle. To protect the land is an act of love that is integral to the lifestyles of the indigenous. The struggle, the path is also an act of love, but unfortunately most left-wing struggles are based on injustice, greed and intellectual anger based on ideals connected to Marxism etc – especially the more intolerant of the liberals. Of course it is hard to be loving when there is so much legitimate anger about.

Naomi’s narrative is of course connected to the ecology of ONE planet. Hundreds of years ago, enlightenment?, man decided that he could be in charge of the environment as opposed to integrated with the environment – Gaia. Her narrative was based on 3 factors:-


Scientific Revolution

Technology – steam engine

For her the sense of this narrative is that humanity feels it is beyond nature, beyond Gaia. This narrative is integral to her view of climate change which she sees as Gaia fighting back. Perfectly reasonable.

For her this narrative is outdated and is being replaced by an integral ecological outlook ( – ONE planet or Gaia); for her this is a return to an indigenous oneness. I don’t know whether a return to an indigenous love of the land is feasible given the increased accumulation, but loving Gaia does not require an indigenous passport. The path is love, it is compassion, insight and creativity, and whilst it is much easier to attain if one is close to nature I am not so sure it is exclusively so. Being sustainable, being in harmony with nature, are of course essential characteristics of the path, and some describe the path as going back to nature. In Russell Means’ terms you can love and be European, Europeans can follow the path.

The key of course is path, indigenous or otherwise.

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Wolfie had a list of who he was going to put up against the wall. Who are they now? The Koch brothers? Robert Mercer? Donald Trump? Maybe Wolfie would have blown up the computers that ran the City but with blockchain even that potentially-viable target has gone. With the advanced weapons technology fewer soldiers are needed, now we only need the occasional brain-washed to play video games. And with the military going private, the 1% pay for private security and their money controls – not even a pretense of moral integrity any more, simply power controlled by the accumulated money of the few. Now we don’t even know who Wolfie should put up against the wall, worse than that a few people up against the wall is not going to make a change as the problem is systemic and not just the few bad apples mentioned above.

What is the analysis for Wolfie’s wall? Unity. Through awareness the comrades will rise up in unison, and the oppressors, the 1%-system, will just disappear because of the masses. Where can this happen? Now there is intended confusion. Yanis talks of the real opposition, the Deep State or 1%-system, and the false opposition – the nationalist xenophobic internationale – funded by the Deep State (Dark Money Network – Koch Brothers, Mercer etc) yet delusorily considering they are actually fighting the Deep State. Where is Wolfie’s wall in all this confusion?

To unite the mass movement was always a pipedream. Even though this pipedream was never a possibility it was the right strategy, the right thing to do, to work together for unity, and that work needs to continue even though there can be no ultimate success – unity. Time has turned any approach based on Marx’s analysis into a pipedream, and this is beacuse the mass movement have lost power. In the 19th and for most of the 20th century the mass movement had the power of withdrawal of labour, but with increased globalisation global labour competes for work that is intentionally limited and the strike is not effective. Consumer power is now the only weapon but in a consumer society that power rests more with the wealthy – senior puppets. So now Marxism is only able to win a battle of awareness, and there seems little chance of that happening.

Marx’s analysis is sound, and the ultimate result of that conditioned analysis is the mass movement creating Wolfie’s wall. But Marx’s conditioned response can never happen because of the very conditioning it is a part of – sankhara. Ideals have no power, people have power. Making people aware is not sufficient despite Yanis‘ human spirit. Increasing awareness helps but with advanced technology the rich can buy the military – as opposed to the military belonging to the nation state.

Intended funded confusion could be seen as the current response to Occupy, look how effective the Dark Money Network is. If there were ever the possibility of Wolfie’s wall there would be so many counter-measures not a brick would be built.

Wolfie’s wall is a conditioned response, and that is why it was not likely to succeed. Marxism is an analysis, an intellectual system, and whilst it is fundamentally correct it is never an understanding that will be accepted by the mass movement as a whole because of the power of conditioning

The target is wrong. The target needs to change from a sankhara, an ideal, an intellectual system to that of going beyond conditionality. Conditionality is what enslaves us, we are not enslaved when we go beyond conditionality. This is the freedom that humanity needs to strive for.

What is beyond conditionality? The path, the path of compassion, insight and creativity. This path has strength and conviction. Even though people on the path are forced to work for money to survive, where and how they work undermines who and what they work for – simply because they bring compassion, insight and creativity to every workplace. Wherever they are the path shines through and people know that there is something better – the path.

The path induces guilt in the conditioned. The path makes the conditioned doubt their own conditioning. The path is the future of change. It is not a future of confrontation, it is Gaia’s future – a future of evolution, slow, sure and effective. Meanwhile there seems little hope.

Where is the path now? There are a few spiritual teachers. There are revolutionaries such as Yanis who see the path, human spirit, as the raison d’etre of struggle. There is Eckhart whose approach has galvanised Oprah America into some form of spirituality. There are still the modern-day Sharon Salzberg’s going East in search of the path. But this is so amorphous.

For the Path to be a movement that can change humanity, move humanity beyond conditionality, there has to be an understanding of where path comes from. In his intro to Power of Now [pp21-26 of 383], Eckhart discusses his breakthrough after depression and potential suicide. This is not enough.

Ajaan Buddhadasa found his path. There appears to have been no upheaval, enlightenment, his revolutionary understanding appears to have just happened.

In the life of the Buddha there was an awakening after seeing all the suffering. Is that the education we need? Making people aware of the suffering they cause through their fear, delusion and lack of responsibility.

Eckhart claims there is a new consciousness, I hope there is. Is the only way to bring this about talking?? Or can more be done to bring about path awareness? There needs to be path education, an investigation of path – path science, a methodology to create the conditions for the path to evolve. Why? HHDL, rather than playing science’s token game of accepting meditation (mind-life institute) invest in path science. Zen, isn’t there more to path awareness in the west than trying to knock hell out of the western ego?

The path is Gaia’s way of evolving change, without the path conditionality that produces accumulation and its consequences will continue to drive the planet, Gaia, into oblivion. Path needs to be studied not simply accepted through happenstance. Path science.

Make the path real through path science, organise the path.

Then we must ask how will path make a change, where is the power of the path, is it not simply awareness?

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Philosophy – BigTalk

Posted: 16/03/2018 by zandtao in Insight
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Simon Critchley is talking with Russell about philosophy – it is not a talk I recommend. This talk to me typifies the worst aspect of Russell’s involvement with academia.

Simon began by saying that the questions they are asking are the same as the time of Socrates. This tells me philosophy is a waste of time yet genuinely there is nothing better than enquiry. We cannot accept what we are told, we cannot accept our conditioning, we must ask what is conditioning, how are we conditioned, we must have genuine enquiry.

This is enquiry with a purpose not discussion for the sake of it.

In Buddhist terms I classify discussion for the sake of it as sankhara – verbalising mental proliferations. It is normal human interaction to have conversation for conversation’s sake but that is not learning – not enquiry.

Why is it that understanding has not developed through centuries of asking questions? Has the answer for truth or justice changed over the years? There is a temporal component but primarily truth is permanent. It is known when people speak the truth through insight. Understanding could have developed but there are factors working against a greater understanding.

Primarily it is because philosophy is part of academia which is part of a system that is not looking for truth justice or any of the usual concepts of philosophical understanding. In a 1% system where are they looking for justice? Such justice would have to be critical of the 1%. Enquiring after the source of human problems, we have to answer in part the source of injustice is the 1%. In the same way as not all conditioning is the 1%-system, some human suffering stems from human conditioning that would exist in a non-1%-system. Is it just to have any suffering because of a 1%-system? If philosophy cannot answer yes to this, it is not seeking answers – it is not enquiring.

Is there a path, a way of going beyond conditioning? Anyone who has gone beyond conditioning – transcended, says yes. Intellectuals stuck in conditioning and sankhara says there isn’t a path. Because there are more of those intellectuals and they want the academic system (for jobs etc.), it becomes a consensus, and academia does not accept there is a path.

In the same way all those who go beyond conditioning say there is insight. Intellectuals stuck in the conditioning of sankhara do not have insight so it is not accepted.

All people who have experienced compassion by transcending see compassion as the essence of humanity, intellectuals stuck in sankhara have not experienced that compassion so are unable to draw appropriate conclusions.

Genuine creative people have transcended, their relationship with the muse has taken them beyond. Intellectuals stuck in sankhara cannot know what creativity is – they just talk about it. So academia talks about creativity, and is not creative.

When people sit still and look inside their heads their minds are swirling. When meditators look inside their heads their minds are not swirling. As philosophy is concerned with mind, does it accept this? No because intellectuals in academia do not meditate. This swirling is an observable representation of sankhara – mental proliferations. Sankhara can be observed by all, intellectuals and the state of mind of meditators before meditation. In view of this, should intellectuals stuck in sankhara be making judgements of states of mind they have not experienced?

These are all examples of philosophical questioning, questioning that benefits from not having answers for intellectuals who keep jobs by not having answers.

There are plenty of things that the path does not have answers for. There is much that needs to be learnt about humanity, transcending, going beyond conditioning, how to go beyond, etc. All of these are important philosophical questionings but such enquiry cannot exist because the 1% and the intellectuals have not gone beyond questioning. With what they do to humanity, the 1% cannot go beyond – cannot transcend.

All of the above is usually rejected by academic philosophy because it is vague – path muse is not defined. Words like insight creativity have a meaning beyond the rational yet there is an unwritten academic assumption that there is nothing beyond the rational. Perhaps they can discuss that of course. Genuine enquiry, Campbell’s quest?, gets buried in words and circular arguments. What if I had a stake up my arse would I or perhaps I wouldn’t maybe as if I suppose.

“Death is in the mouth” reminded me of Castaneda’s “death is always over the left shoulder”. If death as a constant presence provides motivation and determination it is useful. Death is, why discuss it? Death gives motivation and determination, why discuss it? What happens after death, do we know? Why discuss it?

During the interview they had a conversation about football – personal, and a conversation about humour – professional. Personal and professional conversations must happen, when a teacher I just rabbited on – only of interest to teachers – and then only some. Philosophy needs to be about learning and wisdom ie the path and not conversations. But as explained above it won’t happen. Philosophy is just professional discussion for philosophers.

Russell can have interviews about philosophy, but it has very little to do with learning at any level. This interview with Simon to me demonstrates all that is wrong with philosophy. A significant proportion was spent discussing football “in a philosophical way”, and at the end they only just touched love. Russell was into the diversion as much as Simon. Maybe Simon has more to him than this, but as a philosophy prof he could be just a conquistadore of sankhara.

Russell, intellectualism is an addiction – addiction to the self of sankhara. Intellectualism is not learning, it is circulating around mental proliferations. Learning is the path scything through these proliferations and coming up with internalised truth. There is a case for studying the intellectual ideals so that you have the tools with which to discourse, but remember that discourse without purpose – without internalising – is simply verbalising the proliferations.

Russell, you have a huge advantage over most intellectuals. Through the 12 steps you connected with the path – with the power that helped you fight through your addiction. Intellectualism per se does not know this power, in fact conditionality (which includes the intellectual) is afraid of that power, of the truth that scythes through meandering rationales. Remember the path, do not get sucked back into the world of intellectual addiction because you respect “profs”.

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Embracing the path

Posted: 13/03/2018 by zandtao in Insight, Meditation, Struggle
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Embracing is not what I did. And that was because I was immature when the compassion decision was made.

The path takes many shapes, and that is why I have written about it so much in the last year. It is the most important thing in life but it is often ridiculed by a system that is threatened by its very existence. This is a system that on a wider level is controlled by conditioning with an essential part that enables the accumulation of the 1%. When you see all the intended confusion around – Dark Money Network, how are we able to make moral decisions? Simple, the path must decide. This is the path of compassion insight and creativity, and because of its nature gives us the ability to be beyond conditionality and make decisions. By this nature it is a threat to the power of the 1%.

When we are on the path we need never worry about our decisions, they are always right. But we have to be sure we are on the path. Because I was immature when I first found the path, I lacked the discipline to keep to the path.

Is there regret? No. But there is a deep feeling that I want to shout from the rooftops “embrace the path”.

I started with all the bells and banjoes experiencing the tremendous (5 Gateways-level) euphoria that can come with the path. Amidst all that euphoria I mixed with some wonderful people who helped me consolidate the path, and I will always be grateful.

After that consolidation still in the midst of all that euphoria, compassion drove me to start work in kids’ homes, and then into teaching. But I did not have the maturity to hold to the path after making that decision. I failed to deal with all the conflict associated with the world of work in these caring professions. Whilst I still partially followed the path I also allowed myself to slip into alcohol addiction. Within that period of addiction I still experienced sober moments when I became grounded in the path again. After the path gave me the strength to end that addiction I still did not become totally grounded in the path as I was then also immersed in the world of teaching. Again there were times when I was totally grounded but I did not embrace the path.

You need discipline to fully embrace the path, discipline that can come with meditation. But without the discipline fighting off conditioning can be difficult.

I have described my path as two childhoods. My first childhood was middle-classed in which there were no signs of the path and I was just conditioned – numb to any compassion insight or creativity; there was perhaps one sign, people said I was always smiling.

Once starting on the path after my upheaval I was too immature to hold to the path, I did not have the discipline required. I think of what happened in my second childhood. As I grew up through that second childhood whilst sometimes being grounded in the path it was definitely the case that I did not always hold to the path. Grounding was sporadic, the clearest example of which was the muse. When I was writing (during summer holidays) I got back to the path and experienced some of the joy again that comes with the initial euphoria of being on the path. The muse gave me that joy.

As I came towards the end of my second childhood I underwent a mid-life review. This led me to Buddhism and meditation. Once I started meditating life in teaching was on the way out. Life in teaching had always been polarised between term-time teaching and the path during the summer holidays. But that polarisation increased once I started meditating daily (or at least almost daily). Nigeria put an end to meditation and teaching. Every time I meditated I wanted to resign because of the appalling management situation at the school. But deeper was the aspiration to follow the path more closely.

When I had sufficient money I resigned and retired developing the path I am on now. At the time of resigning I wanted to study Buddhism and once I did that I became a writer. A writer is who I am now, I have matured into a writer. Meditation and study are part of the path, but writing is the whole of my path now.

I now embrace the path of writer, the writing path that is compassion, insight and creativity.

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To end addiction you need power. In the Christian 12 Steps you get that power from God, here is where Russell [Recovery p 68 of 444] got his power to overcome addiction:-

I became an alcoholic because being middle-classed I had no power. Equally I was fortunate with my addiction because of my middle-class powerlessness, that needs explaining. The essence of being middle-classed is that you have no power to make decisions, decisions are made for you by the culture you are in. The nature of this culture is conformism, you are expected to confirm to the decisions the culture makes for you. These decisions are primarily education – to get qualifications to get a job (not real education). There is no freedom to make different decisions as is evidenced by the family uproar caused if someone chooses not to follow education.

I remained middle-classed until I hit bottom. University was a sense of freedom for me as evidenced by the first night where I was completely drunk, puking and unaware of anything by 8.00pm. University followed the course of few lectures, exam resits, return to the parents during vacation where I became completely middle-classed again. At the end of 4 years – I did one year of a two-year M Sc course, I got on the required middle-class rung.

At this point being middle-classed (hetero) ought to mean that I had played at university, I’d got a job, would find a woman in the office, get married and procreate within the culture – create a new generation of middle-classed. But the conditioning was failing me, I am not sure why – it was not a failure process I was conscious of. In part it was the drink, it could also have been the discipline of having to work all day long at something I didn’t want to do. At uni I never wanted to do the maths but being middle-classed I wanted the degree so worked for the exams. In the job what was there to work for? Personally I had never made any decisions. I went to school – not my decision, I went to uni – I chose which one not whether I went; it never crossed my mind not to go. Going to uni and getting a degree was the totality of being middle-classed – the only ambitions I had. By the time I was sitting my finals I was a well-disciplined student. I was in a hall of residence – a good place to get middle-classed. There were varying levels of playing throughout the 3 years but the ethos was pass your finals. Starting as a complete drunk I emerged as a well-conditioned member of the middle-class with sufficient control of the drink to get a degree. The next year, postgrad year at uni, was more of the same although I met social studies people who thought and we discussed a lot – I can’t remember about what. Maybe this was the beginning of the upheaval.

When I started work there was the usual pub-oriented work culture that I was well trained to join in. But I did not have discipline. Once the discipline of the exams had gone I had nothing. Exams had been the motivation, I did not know how to hold down a job. But in my first job there were interesting people, and for some reason the interesting people liked me. At work there were the careerists and the people who had a life outside the career. The careerists soon lost interest in me, and the others took me under their wing. But I only played, they played and knew how to hold down a job. At the end of the year the firm pushed me out, giving me a token wage increase – I was lucky I wasn’t sacked.

Someone introduced me to the second job. He played up the job as having all the things I thought I wanted – all the things a good middle-classed would have wanted (I had that in the first job). But the job paled in comparison as did the people. And I drifted to the bottom in 3 months.

When I got sacked I ran home, it seemed the natural thing to do. But I didn’t run home to the warmth and comfort of a loving family, I ran home to the repression – to a place where all the decisions were taken away from me. A place of powerlessness.

Of that time (3-4 weeks) I remember only one day. It was just before Xmas and I was walking the streets of Manchester – it was not unusual for people of middle-class Sale to go into Manchester (I have had many conscious days doing that since). I just wandered around as one does, and I passed a pub in which there was an office party. I listened to the enjoyment, and just thought “that’s not for me”. I cannot remember any of the other decision making processes that were going on then, but early January I went back to London. Thinking back I am amazed at the craziness of my plan. I had nowhere to live. I got off the coach, went into a job agency, and they sent me to a boring cobol programming job in Hounslow. I went there, got the job, found a B and B in Hounslow, the next day got a room in Chiswick – a room that became important to me. Considering how weak I was at the time I am amazed at my fortitude. But I had made a decision and it was the end of being middle-classed.

At Chiswick I empowered myself although I never thought of it as that. That empowering was concerned with the experiences, and was so helped by the wonderful people I got to know. If any of this means anything to you, if you are lost like I was, find good people – or even write to me; without finding people for whom the path means something you might not have the strength or power to stay on the path. And you will regret that all your life.

Overcoming being middle-classed was essential to what happened with my alcohol addiction. Following the path I had become empowered even though I was foolish enough to waste that power in the booze for so long. I teetered along a way of life which included the path and addiction for 12 years until I eventually stopped.

I keep saying I was fortunate with my addiction. I was an alcoholic by the time I stopped but because I had been on the path part of the time I was sufficiently empowered to stop. The decision to stop wasn’t mega-tortuous. I had been going to an acupuncturist for migraines, and he told me that the treatments were helping, I was then getting drunk and drinking away the healing. He told me to make a decision and I did. I can remember withdrawal symptoms, on Fridays I was mentally weakest and had to be careful. I was doing Tai Chi, and my route to the practice passed a pub, and I remember it being difficult not to go in. Until it wasn’t, I felt certain after 6 months.

I had the ability to stop because being on the path some of the time had given me sufficient power. If I had still been middle-classed I don’t know where the power would have come from.

It is the power of the path that enables you to overcome the addiction to conditioning, whatever the conditioning, whatever the substance I presume. There are very interesting questions as to how we connect to our path that need to be examined, but it is the power of the path that enables people to overcome addiction. And that power had to be enabled individually, it is not belief but power, strength, and it is the individual who acts wherever they consider the power comes from.

I was fortunate that the conditions that led to the path and alcoholism were middle-class repression. I was fortunate that I had found the path during my fight with the addiction of alcohol so that I had sufficient power to overcome that addiction. But I have not overcome addiction, and need to make more effort to follow the path.

But please remember, the greatest fortune was not that I found the path so that I could overcome addiction. The greatest fortune was that I found the path, and the joy that the path has brought me in life. I don’t question the way the path has taken me because it has given me that joy. I have great joy now in writing retrospectively about the way the path took me. The critic in me says why didn’t I embrace the path 100% throughout my life rather than indulging the weakness of alcohol. But I accept the critic, I learn from the critic, but I enjoyed the path.

Maybe I had two childhoods, maybe there were times that careerism and profiteering wore me down whilst teaching, maybe I could have done more to help others about the path, but the path brought me joy. That can never be forgotten. The path beyond conditioning, the path that overcomes addiction, the path of compassion, insight and creativity has great joy. Always remember that when considering the path, it has great joy. The path is what Gaia gives us to overcome suffering. Natural joy.

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Meditation not ayahuasca

Posted: 18/02/2018 by zandtao in Meditation

My formative years (early adulthood) was in a time greatly influenced by the hippies. For me the mid-70s was a tremendous time influenced by the efforts of these people to open up minds. I will be eternally grateful.

But I do not know what opening minds means in terms of drugs. For me the constitution of people is made up of aggregates (khandas) – rupa (body), vedana (feelings), sanna (memory and perceptions), sankhara (mental processes and proliferations) and citta (consciousness). How mind-blowing drugs affect this constitution I have no idea.

We exist in a world of conditioning, conditioning that is harmful, conditioning that prevents us from properly connecting with sunnata – with love. I have great sympathy for those who choose the way of drugs and ayahuasca to try to make that connection. And therefore it is with sadness I offer this warning, be careful.

One of the Buddha’s precepts is concerned with taking substances that maybe affect the mind. Before I was a Buddhist I was addicted to alcohol, this drug has nothing to offer – other than it is socially acceptable when not in excess. It took me a long time to readjust my mind and body to the after-effects of alcohol. But alcohol is not “mind-blowing”. What do mind-blowing drugs do?

I see a few people of the hippy time who I feel are disjointed, whose minds don’t feel holistic. It felt to me that in these few the drugs had severed the integrity of their minds, that is vague because I cannot say more.

I know nothing of ayahuasca other than Rupert Sheldrake, old experienced and seemingly having got it together, and Simon Amstell. I will not argue with those who advocate ayahuasca as I just don’t know. But it concerns me, and there is an alternative.

In the end there is nothing that drugs can offer that meditation can’t. Meditation is what nature has given us to find the path, use it. In my view it is better to gently unpick the conditioning through meditation rather than the potential risks of ayahuasca. It is harder work, not so romantic as a trip into the jungle with shamen, but meditation is safe and with discipline effective.

So I warn people to choose meditation over ayahuasca, but beyond this I cannot say as I haven’t touched ayahuasca. But remember the objective is the path, and not a wild jungle experience.

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Free to feel love

Posted: 18/02/2018 by zandtao in Insight

This is the most impossible piece of writing I have attempted, how is it possible to talk of love with my analytical style of writing? Still here goes.

It began with something Russell said to Simon Amstell about control to feel love. It’s not control, it’s more no control – freedom, aaaggghh libertarians. Being free to feel love. What freedom? For me the biggest freedom is the freedom not to be vulnerable. This makes me understand some of the trauma that Russell, Simon and others felt with their early initial awakenings to the path. How awful must it have been to have the path open up inside, and to be too young to be able to express it because of parental repression. Who could recognise such a path? I still feel so fortunate that in the repressive environment I grew up in – middle-class society and middle-class education – my path hid me from such exposure.

On the path you are vulnerable, in love you are vulnerable. Because love is so important, for me it is the greatest crime that love can be exploited. All the lies around love are so criminal. For men use of the word “love” is a key to getting their end away, I hate that. For women …. ask.

When we are loving and making love we are so vulnerable, for most instead of love we end up with hurt because of the vulnerability. Or we focus on the physical. We do not know of, we have not learnt the value of this love – Gaia’s greatest gift.

I hope I am wrong but can there ever be a moment when two people feel that love, can allow themselves to be vulnerable enough with another to be love?

I do hope it is possible.

But after with the vulnerability, what repercussions?

But feeling love does not end there. I remember the “guys” when I was writing Kirramura 25 years ago. It was a Summer holiday, and by this time in my life education had taken over so most of the path was only free during the Summer holiday – I had stopped drinking by then. And I got into Kirramura. My whole day was waiting for writing, waiting for the muse, waiting for the “guys”. I knew they would come when I went to bed, and I waited the day for that.

I would go to bed and lie flat – no pillow. …. I knew I couldn’t write this ….

I am lying flat with my body full of its consciousness – a kind of daily stress, daily agitation. The agitation started to lift coming out to meet the “guys”. All this agitated consciousness started to raise, and as it rose the “guys” were there. They mixed and there was just the “guys” as my body lay flat – almost pinned to the bed. I loved this feeling of love for a while, and started writing. Eckhart would call this presence. There was emptiness, Yuval nothing there, but the whole room was so alive it just wanted to write. I was so lucky. The Winds of Kirramura came “out” that Summer, and I hadn’t written since Lidors maybe 6 or 7 years before.

I am older now I meditate and there’s no pent-up writing happening because I am much closer to my path. Writing now. The “guys” are here – just here, I don’t lie down to reach out and meet them. I don’t think I can reclaim the power of the Kirramura times.

But I am happy with the path. I can just let go and feel free to love. There is vulnerability but there is no-one there to hurt me. Sometimes during the day when I mix, I forget the armour necessary for society. But mostly I just drift out, have the necessary daily transactions and drift back again. Vulnerable a bit, but it is just simple transactions conducted pleasantly. But there are always those around who seek out vulnerability, and I am prone …. But I learn more and more to avoid them.

And the “guys” are there – I don’t have to reach out now.

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Path not fame?

Posted: 18/02/2018 by zandtao in Insight

Russell was talking with Simon Amstell, I found this talk interesting and worth listening to.

Before I go into the things that arose for me about this talk, I want to rant. And it is a rant I have never heard from others. Before I rant I want to describe an aspect of my life – partying. I have never enjoyed partying, I think this is because I was a drunk …. and then too old for parties. I can’t remember a good party, but I can remember glimpses of being at a party – none of those reflect great joy. I can however remember times when I went to the pub, played pool and felt good if I won a few games, or maybe got into a deeper conversation although drunk. I never did drugs so parties didn’t grab me that way. I did go to dances at uni/education college but not other than that. Parties were traps, they often went on late, and so I couldn’t get home because I was drunk – although I was used to taxis (see anecdote in comment).

So the party scene and clubs never got me when I was young and looking for entertainment. Now I watch TV, and I ask why are people doing this. I know why I did what I did – my addiction. But these parties, what are they? These clubs, what are they? Are they just things that people go to because parents say you can’t go? I watch TV promoting glamour, not only the glamour of celeb parties but the glamour of young parties. It is standard for a series to begin with sex, presumably that pulls people in otherwise why would ratings people do it. And then alcohol, glamour people are always drinking alcohol, not drunk – just cool with a drink. Glamour shows women strutting their stuff, immaculately prepared in clothes and make-up, and my base side just sees women dressed just this side of legitimate sexual provocation – no justification implied or granted in this statement. Women can choose how they want to dress within the bounds of cultural decency – this is a legitimate right, but why do so many reformist feminists decide that the way they want to dress is the way of male sexual provocation and fantasy. Why does a woman when she says she is looking good appear to be conforming to a sexual view of women? Why aren’t reformist feminists changing this image? Revolutionary feminists do. Where is the path?

But I look at these clubs, parties and alcohol on TV and I see tedium – addiction and tedium. Most of them are a prelude to some form of crime or relationship hell as well, and that is not just TV. These are images the establishment want to portray because they are about celebrity and money, system success can buy you this “fun”. It is conformist consumerism. Where is the path?

My first job was in computers in the West End of London. I was young and attracted to the glamour, but on reflection there was nothing I was attracted to other than hype – it was all media hype “up West” I had grown up with. I look back there was nothing going on. People want to believe celebrity and glamour means something is going on but there is nothing. Spirituality tells you there is nothing there. Putting sexual pleasure aside for a moment, a spiritual high, coming from the insights or “Eureka” moments of a good talk or getting into “dhamma” talking, knocks the spots off listening to dreary posing of young people strutting, intoxicated one way or another. Listen to Simon question running to the Eiffel Tower. Is this the path to the Eiffel Tower?

But when you are young you are driven by lust as well, that cannot be ignored, but if you are comfortable with your sex drive there is nothing better than “dhamma” talking …. a big “if” when you are young. There was a time when I was young when we said “Thank God the sex is out of the way now we can relate.”

But then I am here in Thailand, beautiful sea, pleasant environment – mostly pleasant society, and I just don’t understand why old guys are losing life savings trying to exploit the young and pretty (and vice versa). Where is the path?

My rant – get out of the clubs and parties. Sort your sex out and get on with the life of finding your path. And for me the only time I did get the sex sorted was when I was following the path. I occasionally found love with women (I am cis gen and hetero, are those the words now?), but in the end love came with the path. I fell in love but it didn’t work out, but that falling in love was the basis for my understanding that the path is love, I love now, and I am happy to love. The path is love, find the path.

This rant was prompted by part of the discussion between Simon and Russell where their lives were pre-occupied with sexual addiction – and Russell’s talks with Matthew Todd, and Russell’s fight with his own ego and celebrity. It is the norm to talk about sexual exploits, it is not the norm to talk about the path; if you keep talking about sex it is a problem, people measure each other by sex and not the path. Celebrity and addiction get bogged down in social expectation, forget all that, it is the path that matters. Russell and Simon are now in love (separately ), I hope their relationships work out. But if they don’t they should be happy they have found love. Love is wonderful, love is the path, and that love can be used for humanity – not just focussed on one person. [It took me 7 years to work through that after my love finished, but it was a turbulent love.] Now I am loving, and I question the social acceptance of all the men that they throw away their lives on pretty young Thais. They laugh at me and say I have gone wrong, been hurt or whatever. But I have loved, and I am loving – that is fine. I am not old struggling for an erection in bodies – and damaging hormones, old age is meant for contemplation and feeding back.

Russell Brand’s public persona does not interest me to say the least, I feel that all people should be considerate and Russell publicly has not been – I accept addiction as an explanation. It also appears that Simon has done some of that. Because I was out living life when I was young – mostly drinking, I never got hooked on TV although when I stopped drinking I watched too much TV when resting after teaching. Once I left the UK, I enjoyed natural beauty and when not doing that and teaching I wasted time in front of the box. I have never watched Buzzcocks – I find it pretentious, so Simon’s raison d’etre of knocking pretention here for me is just part of the celebrity fix that TV is. This talk with Russell is the first time I have heard of him. To make meaning of this talk I had the time to look him up because there were some interesting things said. I found the knocking pretention part of the problem, but his stand-up routine was funny – but just seemed a cry for help.

I was so pleased for him that he found Ayahuasca – I note Rupert Sheldrake went there as well (see this warning – meditation not ayahuasca).

Even with both claiming some allegiance to the path, I see wavering. Will I/won’t I commit to the path? I can observe now but cannot be critical for them at their age. I was so fortunate to find the path so young, but my immaturity was an issue that eventually became resolved only through my second childhood. At their age I was just going out to Africa, and the path was only there in the background, having found it and got sucked into education.

But the path demands commitment. There needs to be work – money coming in, but fame and glamour – drugs – have nothing to do with the path. Money gets in the way of the path but is a necessary evil. Accept that. Sorry, I’m being didactic. I should be asking questions not making demands – are the fame and glamour just addiction? Are you committed enough to the path? These decisions are yours, I apologise for the pontification. Slap my judgmental wrist.

Being judgmental leads me to another criticism, Buddhists are not necessarily vegan. The question of meat comes from the 5 precepts in which respect for life is one. There is a strong logic that respect for life means not eating meat, but many Buddhist monks in Thailand don’t accept that. I understand the vegan push. I have been vegetarian most of my life, but for medical reasons am now eating meat.

I respect life but am forced to eat meat – see explanation 1 and 2. For most westerners healthy eating often means abstaining from meat – as with Simon. As a result such mindful eaters pressurise abstinence and the ending of the horrific practices of the meat industry, there is not a real drive for healthy meat eating – not a misnomer although I might have said so a year ago. My biggest concern at the moment is the level of chemicals involved in meat production. I think my way out might be Halal as there are nearby Muslim communities. A brief study of Halal indicates that it is healthy, geared towards the natural but I am unsure how much their natural production rejects chemicals.

Up until last year (4 months ago) I would have absolutely supported Simon’s vegan approach. It follows Buddhist principles of respect for life, but it does not mean Buddhists must be vegan. Watch his movie “Carnage” – no “legal” link, it is funny. I also note that the Buddhist book he read about the monkey mind was Tibetan. I am not decrying Tibetan Buddhism, I have made my choice, but Buddhism is a very broad church so broad that some Buddhist churches have a tenuous relationship with what the Buddha taught. That is not a reflection on “Taming the Monkey Mind” by Thubten Chodron that Simon read.

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Inner Guide – Bhavana

Posted: 22/10/2017 by zandtao in Insight, Meditation, ONE planet
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An odd weekend and home retreat.

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

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

Inner guide is so dangerous.

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

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

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

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Conditioning – Two Childhoods

Posted: 19/09/2017 by zandtao in Buddhadasa, Insight, Struggle
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Having recognised that in my following the path there has been two childhoods, there has to be a recognition of implications.

I have described these childhoods as system and spiritual. We could describe the system upbringing as conditioning, education or miseducation, and likewise for spiritual. Firstly let me state that these childhoods did not follow one from the other but ran in a sense in parallel. However hitting bottom and following the path was primarily although not exclusively concerned with the system conditioning …. in my case.

Even though I describe the consequence in spiritual terms – following the path, awareness of the process at the time was concerned with systemic education. It was based on the rejection of academia and the rejection of the world of work that academia had led me into. But immediately I rejected the academia, I began to follow a spiritual path. Following the path led to experiences, led to consideration of what spiritual life meant, and led to a removing of systemic conditioning or moving beyond systemic conditioning – mostly.

In this blog I discussed two conditionings perceiving difference between East and West. Yet I also say in the blog that there is only one conditioning, that the systemic conditioning is contained within the spiritual conditioning. In spiritual terms (Buddhist) attachments, to desire – greed – and a false theory – the 1%-system, create a miseducation that conditions us into the way of life the system offers – that benefits the 1%. Included within these attachments are intellectual adherence to academic knowledge and an acceptance that we should compete for more money as a rationale for working. Yet this is not all that is in our upbringing. Whilst I consider this as miseducation, this upbringing as education teaches us organisation and basics without which we could not function in any society. But why our education should teach us to function within a 1%-capitalist-system is purely a matter of exploitation – conditioning and miseducation, and is not concerned with our human development in society or spiritually – compassion.

It is important to see how instinct fits into this conditioning. Instinct is nature’s survival, we cling to our mothers, we have a procreational instinct, and generally have survival instincts. Over time these instincts fall out of necessary use, or at least are intended to, but this does not suit the 1% who benefit from manipulating a social imbalance that propagates these instincts. Particularly the sex instinct continues far beyond its natural end integrated with socialising that connects wealth, fame, sexual imagery and exploitation.

Spiritually, what does our upbringing do? Fundamentally it creates I. Using the 5 khandas (aggregates) as that which constitutes a human, then our spiritual miseducation conditions us into attaching to these khandas, and through that attachment creating selves that during our upbringing we aggregate as I (in Buddhism this is generally discussed as anatta). Within this attachment and aggregation is an acceptance of greed and the 1%-system of war and wage-slavery.

By moving beyond our systemic upbringing, we can see the conditioning into the competitive money ethic and the world of work as a process of creating a delusion that we adhere to. By moving beyond our spiritual upbringing, we see that the conditioning that creates attachment and ultimately the self creates a delusion where we are trapped in I. By moving beyond the spiritual conditioning we can experience genuine freedom, by moving beyond the systemic conditioning we can see that this war and wage-slavery now function for the benefit of the 1%. Moving beyond systemic conditioning does not mean we then become free from spiritual conditioning, hence why I consider I had two childhoods. I described the childhoods as one following the other but after hitting bottom and starting to follow the path there was still much systemic conditioning to remove and I hadn’t really begun to think about spiritual conditioning.

What do these conditionings mean? Discussion of 1%-conditioning is common-place usually using rhetoric such as capitalist exploitation – or the like. However spiritual conditioning is rarely discussed generally except in Buddhist or similar circles. How does this esoteric discussion of anatta impact on people? Eckhart Tolle discusses the pain body regularly, this is an attachment to pain – creating a pain self that impacts on our thinking. I regularly harp on about the intellect or an intellectual self, people especially academics cling to this self, expect compliance to intellectual processes, and do not see the importance of higher mental developments (bhavana) such as insight or other benefits gained as described in Anapanasati pp79-81 [8) What is the benefit of concentration?]. The intellect through its own need to survive cannot conceive of thinking higher than its own, a typical characteristic of self. Following the path helps us understand the impact of these selves, moving beyond “spiritual” conditioning helps us to deal with these selves.

Previously in discussion I tend to have been associated with awareness of systemic conditioning – being against the 1%. In reality I am arguing against all conditioning including the conditioning by selves – that above I have called spiritual conditioning. Politically I have promoted compassion as a unifying approach (blogpost and Unity Platform), in this context compassion means freedom from suffering brought about by conditioning (the spiritual that includes systemic). Recognising two childhoods means a change to looking at conditioning rather than just the system, and even more sees the importance of compassion as a benchmark.

Finally it is interesting to consider conditioning. It is normal to perceive an agency that conditions – such as the 1%-system. The 1%-system has a clear purpose – conditioning for profit. But what is the purpose of spiritual conditioning? Who gains? It is nature’s purpose – Idapaccayata. By recognising the suffering caused by conditioning, we can enjoy the happiness that comes from moving beyond conditioning – spiritual including systemic. This is why we follow the path. Further by recognising that all conditioning is part of “spiritual” conditioning we learn how to be free of it, it is attachment – just let go. Don’t buy into it, just let go.

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