Posts Tagged ‘Path’


An odd weekend and home retreat.

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

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

Inner guide is so dangerous.

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

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

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

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

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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.

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

point1WARNING 27/2/16

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

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

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

Hinayana
Mahayana
Vajrayana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) Shifting 5) Cultivating familiarity 6) Experiential understanding

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

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

The Path of Awakening
Deep Study that leads to Understanding

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

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

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

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.