Posts Tagged ‘sila’

Brad wrote about Orlando.

Posted: 18/06/2016 by zandtao in Struggle, War
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Brad wrote about Orlando.

I am not immersed inside US culture but I was seriously irritated to read his acceptance of “the winning gun lobby”. I assume his acceptance is true, and that is the irritation. I hope he is wrong.

I want to consider the framework of his discussion. Perhaps there are assumptions within his piece but his focus on second amendment rights frustrates me. First and foremost the sale of guns is a business, it is important not to lose sight of this. In our 1%-world facilitating selling is fundamental, the selling is the power, the dominant factor, the driving force, the motivation – all else follows.

Compare this with the discussion on morality, what teacher Gudo said as discussed in Brad’s blog here. It is not the justifications of morality that allows us to follow the precepts – this is not possible, we must be true to ourselves (through zazen); reason is secondary. Socially I feel this applies in this case. There are powerful companies selling guns. Everyone knows that using guns is a major social problem but the selfish people that sell want their profits – all along the sales chain. Reasons that appeal to certain mentalities exist but these reasons are not the source – not the motivation.

There are people who adhere to the rights, and there are people who are constitutionalists – a set of ideas backed by power when it suits. These situations are a sideshow because they can be debated, and have adherents. But see the underlying truth. Children, minorities and others are being killed so the gun companies can make a profit; this is the power and truth – and not the hazy justifications. Focus on this greed, this inhumanity, this murder for profit.

As an English person I can compare. Despite a strong lobby to control gun sales in the Third World the government is too controlled by the munitions industry, and the sales continue. The people are violent and in times of struggle that violence increases, an MP has just been shot by the loony right (with links to the US right), this violence is typically shown with the increased racism at the moment. If guns had been part of our personal history, the arguments would be the same – fortunately history was not the same on this issue of personally bearing arms. The driving force is not the morality but the demand to sell by a powerful gun lobby. Playing around in the sideshow diffuses the issue and allows the culprits to escape.

For info “The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

Promiscuity and Monks

Posted: 01/05/2016 by zandtao in Insight, Struggle, Zen
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I tend to feel that there are many issues in society caused by promiscuity. This is intentionally vague as it is so difficult to describe what is promiscuous, and equally it is hard to describe problems whose source is lust.

I can only understand lust in one way – from my own experience of lust and the sex-drive. I would not assess my own experience as being typical nor would I say all men are the same. Nor would I say the sex drive of men is the same as the sex drive of women.

In traditional communities a teenage girl’s sexual needs were repressed, some such communities requiring virginity as a prerequisite for marriage. This tends to be associated with chauvinist societies. In the West now I feel that the fashion is for promiscuity on behalf of both girls and boys. As a boy I grew up just feeling the need “to get my end away”. Without going into more detail than that as I don’t know whether anything can be generalised from my personal experience, this “getting the end away” had no love attachment, and was simply an idea that satisfaction could be obtained sexually with any woman. Now it appears that “hooking up” is the feeling that satisfaction can be obtained physically by both men and women. Both “”getting the end away” and “hooking up” are promiscuous, and I consider dangerous because of the issues that arise.

I do however feel that discussions of sexual conduct need to be increased and dealt with in a more serious manner. My own sexual education was predicated on a shameful titillation culture, typified by “Carry On” films. As I went to a boys’ school I had limited contact with girls, and was completely ill-equipped socially especially because I had a huge shyness. My knowledge of where society perceives sexual conduct should be has come from observation when being a teacher, observing gender interactions over the years. It appears that people grow up and it is hoped they don’t get into too much trouble. In my view so many problems arise from sexual relationships, and this lack of appropriate guidance is reprehensible.

The real problem lies with sila, we are not societies guided by moral integrity. Compassion and sila should have been what guided my relationships, not “getting my end away”. Unfortunately I only got to see that later in life, possibly when the lust was waning. It is often accepted that mothers shackle their daughters but fathers tend to encourage boys to “sow their wild oats”, such male irresponsibility is a disgrace. Whilst I would prefer to see an end to promiscuity I do not envisage that as a possibility, however responsible parents and other responsible adults ought to do more than insist on prophylactics – they need to insist on compassion and sila. In sexual matters there is limited discussion, limited compassion and limited sila, it is not surprising that many young people begin life in trouble.

Spiritual leaders need to see the importance of exemplary guidance on sexual matters because of all the problems caused in society by the limitations discussed above. I support the idea that monks should be celibate and not homosexual. This at least demonstrates that monks can control their lust, showing lay people that they do not have to be driven by these urges. Many spiritual teachers are monogamous although before such relationships they were vulnerable and so therefore was their message.

All Buddhisms have a form of precept which refrains from sexual misconduct, so I do not know how Buddhist teachers can accept of themselves sexual liaisons with women attending their talks. There is no doubt they bring disrepute to Buddhism. Here is a comprehensive list of teachers who have allegedly misused their position and brought Buddhism into disrepute (note this list includes more than sexual allegations) :-


By their very position of being a spiritual teacher such people have accepted an authority and responsibility. We do not expect school teachers and lecturers to take advantage of students, whether legal or not, it is even less acceptable amongst spiritual teachers. Equally it is not acceptable for schoolgirls to flirt with teachers, so it is not acceptable for students to flirt with spiritual teachers. But in both cases the responsibility of control lies with the teacher, both in school and in spiritual relations. Unfortunately in both situations there are vulnerable women, vulnerable schoolgirls and vulnerable spiritual students. It can never be acceptable to take advantage of vulnerable people, and all teachers should be aware of this sila imperative.

In the US a group of teachers of Buddhism put out a statement, I would welcome more of such.

On the View on Buddhism page the writer noted that HHDL advised students to confront these teachers. One such teacher was Sogyal Rinpoche, and HHDL has publicly supported that teacher since the allegations have arisen. The writer made a note that they still study Sogyal’s teachings. As soon as I read the allegations I stopped studying him – discussed here (there are pertinent comments). I thought then as I do now, if there is doubt that a teacher cannot conduct themselves properly how can s/he have understood the teachings?

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

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Brad, Precepts and the 1%

Posted: 05/03/2016 by zandtao in Struggle, Zen
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I am confused as to why I stopped zazen last time – and surprisingly I did not blog the decision. First reading of the Dogen Sangha’s precepts definitely shows that morality cannot be the issue – see here [p4]:-


The first thing I looked at when retiring was sila and order link . The rest of the precepts bring sila with them. Maybe it was the 4NT that was why I stopped. On reflective retrospection I did not get from zazen what I am getting now so maybe that was the reason.

Amongst some Brad stuff is a talk on Zen and Politics. Here is a clip.

In this he describes Zen as doing the little things because the bigger things lead to frustration – the frustration that was at the basis of punk rock. Let’s examine this in the context of the 1%. The 1%-system includes the control of change. Colonialism changed to neo-colonialism primarily because maintaining a colonial presence was too expensive – this was before the politics of the MIC and before a shift in economics. Let me try to explain this shift in economics. As ordinary people we understand economics as we pay for something, if we don’t have the money we don’t have – unless we borrow. If we borrow we have to pay back and this is a millstone around our necks. The 1%-system does not work like this. Over time economics has changed, and let’s consider the MIC as an example. War is big business. He amounts of money are spent on war products that creates a flourishing economy in the areas where those products are made. The money for such products come from governments, and that money they argue is taxes but in reality most of it is fiat money – money created. America has a huge amount of debt because of this fiat money that it keeps creating but who do they owe it to? Who is going to make them pay it back? Through the MIC the 1% get vast amounts of money, and the economy ticks over. This is a pack of cards, totally unstable, but where will that instability come from? It requires an awareness of the instability. In 2008 the 1% wanted to control the economy, too many people were getting rich through hedge funds. Through the media the crash was engineered – see the Two Johns for an explanation of these hedge funds and download Money Masters for an analysis of the crash. Much instability was exposed then and since 2008 the gap between rich and poor has increased, to understand the hand of the 1% we have to examine what happens and not what they say; this is now economics. The instability is still endemic in the system whilst the 1% get richer. This is what economics is – a mechanism to make the 1% richer, and not the delusions of the textbooks.

Colonialism changed because policing was not financially effective, it is cheaper to get people to police themselves. In the West this is what we do. We live in the 1%-system, and we accept the benefits of that system; previously in “Am I extreme?“, I have examined how those benefits arise. We collude with all that is wrong. In this audio clip Brad says that Zen deals with the little things and avoids the frustration of the bigger stuff – I surmise because the frustration causes suffering. The little things are part of the 1%-system – they allow you to have small victories to give you the delusion of effecting change. Typically unleaded petrol came in when it was practical for them to make a profit from it, health and safety regulations were first used by unions to make better working situations now they insist on them so profits are made from sticking to the regulations. Whilst winning little things can be beneficial to the winners, in the bigger picture they don’t matter. In the bigger picture Snowden is in exile, Assange is under arrest on trumped up charges, and Manning is in prison for 30 years – all for telling the truth.

So the zen issue is as Brad describes it, (paraphrasing) accept the status quo and work for the little things. Morally this is unacceptable because of all the hurt that is caused by the 1%-system, but can it be accepted because it reduces suffering? In my life I found less frustration by being true to myself, it was frustrating but I was not deluded. I definitely feel this was better for me, would it be better for all? Or is accepting the status quo better, accepting delusion? I do however completely agree with what he says about the speed of change, but I would maintain that if that change grew out of a grassroots movement in which all participants owned the change then the speed would appropriately change.

As for political leadership I feel that spiritual people should lead in spiritual matters only, that is their field of expertise. Brad sees Zen as not being spiritual, that is his decision. However he is not a wage-slave; he chooses what he wants to do, his zen teaching and writing, and hopes he has sufficient money to live. If you have not learnt from the life of being a wage-slave perhaps you are not equipped to understand the struggle, and politics in the 1%-system is fundamentally about controlling the wage-slaves. Can someone not in the struggle lead those who are struggling?

Such people as monks end up advising because they are respected for their spiritual knowledge; some advise about sex when they are celibate!! I have difficulty accepting this but it is up to those concerned.

So where does this leave me? On the question of morality and zen I was confused. On the 4NT that is not zen but there is nothing to say I can’t do them …. so far, and as zazen is helping I continue. I have to work on Dogen’s Shobogenzo whilst continuing with zazen.

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Posted: 18/07/2013 by zandtao in Insight, ONE planet
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Although I wasn’t asked to consider this one, for completeness I have to – I am assuming it’s lizards. Here is the clip:-

I wanted to consider this because in the 3rd clip (second considered in the previous blog) I was impressed with his down-to-earth clarity. Well here goes!

…. Sorry, I gave up. What’s the point? If he’s right about bloodlines, lizards and shapeshifters does it alter the politics? Does it alter what we need to do? Be moral, meditate and enquire.

Blogs:- Zandtao, Mandtao, Matriellez.

David Icke

Posted: 18/07/2013 by zandtao in Insight, ONE planet
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I was encouraged to listen to David Icke, I have discussed
him before – here at Oxford and last month here. Here is the first talk of 3 taken from David Icke at the Brixton Academy in 2008:-

It’s half an hour into the talk and it is quite simplistic, that is maybe his forte. He says “don’t believe him”, but then presents a lecture of conclusions. The format belies his belief proposal, he presents the material as ideas and facts to be believed. This first talk starts with a straight-forward rant about our being conned, no issue there – nothing new except for a sportscaster saying it. But he is clear.

But then he says religions destroy spirituality. This raises a flag in me. OK religious institutions suppress spirituality, but the original people who sought out these religions were spiritual people. “Religion is the opiate of
the masses” is what Marx said, and I would say the same to him. It is not the religion but the religious institutions. And why do I draw such a distinction? Because there is so much Truth in religions if you want to look and find it.

And maybe more? I don’t believe David Icke is a moral man with discipline. I have said this before and one of the reasons I am taking time to watch this Brixton stuff is to check this. Religions focus on morality – I prefer the use of the term sila, moral integrity. Without sila we limit our own Paths. Nature is completely moral, we must fit in with Nature so we need to be moral. If we have righteous anger, are promiscuous, carry out any form of immoral behaviour we distance ourselves from our Paths, from the oneness of infinite consciousness that David Icke talks about. When the founders of all the world’s religions discovered that morality was at its base we should listen. But we should NOT listen to the institutions who turn that morality into conformity. The highest form of morality is revolutionary because it is the highest power of Truth.

Without a moral and disciplined life what happens? What do all the lost souls at the Brixton Acadaemy do? They listen, they recognise some (or all) of what Icke says, and they go home with the blinkers off and become angry. They have a right to be angry, what is being done to us is awful. But learning this partial truth, the truth of the manipulations by the corporatocracy, isn’t enough, we have to learn how to live with that truth. Living peacefully with that truth is the real Truth. Living at peace with the all the knowledge of war disease etc all being created just for the profits of the few, this is the Truth. The knowledge is not enough, how we live with it is needed. I am looking to see how Icke teaches us how to live with that knowledge. Knowing Brixton I can imagine hundreds of disillusioned people leaving the Academy going home getting drunk or doped, screw themselves silly, and say they’ve had a good day. The next day they get up their illusions have been altered and they have no idea what to do with those shattered illusions. Peace, how to live with the knowledge.

I have now started the second clip (part 3), I suspect part 2 is lizards and my friend didn’t want me to be thrown by them – maybe I’ll watch it:-

More and more I dislike his didactic style – here are the facts “take it or leave it”. Here is my journey, you do the same; he doesn’t say that but he does it. And I don’t find what he says integrated. There is too much ego. I have gone on and on about the importance of anatta, and in particular how the image of the higher self is an extension of the survival instinct. Here is an image from this clip:-

Is this the way we all experience the connection with oneness? Suppose it isn’t. Are the impressionable young people at the Academy going to say “I haven’t got it” and give up? What is the energy, what are the frequencies? How do we get in touch with them? If this is going to be helpful then people need answers to these questions, or they need a description of what to do. Download every David Icke and rant at the press like he did – mentioned here. In Britain those kids will be arrested for disturbing the peace or whatever charge the system is using for “being different”.

He also talks about growing upsurge of people following him, from the small groups he used to put chairs up for to the crowds at Brixton Academy and Wembley, acceptance at Oxford etc. But what were the 60s about? OK they weren’t talking of illuminati, but they were about rejecting conformity, not accepting the man. What was he doing then? Learning to be a sportscaster. He is two months younger than me, but for me the 60s was about change and questioning. Maybe that is a big difference for me, I ask questions CONSTANTLY. I don’t want the man’s dream, I don’t want David’s dream, Alex Jones’ dream, I don’t want any dream. I don’t want any self although I am making miserable progress in being no-self. I want to question so that I hold no dream, no ideatestructure (including that of I). This way of “mine” is not a set of beliefs but an approach – a methodology. Be moral, sit on your bum every day, and continually ask questions. David says “ask the questions of the system”, here are the answers – believe me even though I tell you never to believe me.

I’m going to continue to attack him with a proviso here and another one at the end. I am not talking about David Icke – I am talking about the David Icke of his clips (not even his books I have never read them; who the real David Icke is I don’t know I’ve never met him. He (my perception of who I think he is) is better than the bombast Alex Jones but basically he is the same. David has an ego. He stands up in adversity and shouts out ideas. The ideas that made him famous, the standing up to be ridiculed, these have fashioned a shell that tells him what to do, and that restrictive pattern has created a closed approach. He is stuck in his awakening, and does not appear to asking questions of himself. He bashes out David Icke dogma, he has rhetoric dementia (thank you Doris Lessing). And here is the other proviso, so much of what he is saying can help you understand society if you do ask the questions. His political analysis is pretty much on the button as far as I understand it. But the trouble is, I see ego, and where he talks about stuff I haven’t experienced for myself I cannot trust it because of that ego. Let’s take the obvious – lizards. No I don’t believe in believing but if Tan Ajaan (who as far as I know is the closest to anatta I have come across) said there were lizards I’d be tempted to believe. David says lizards, and I ask ego?

Just because he is different doesn’t make him right even though different is mostly right when you consider the dream being forced on us. Because he is just giving dogma I think he is dangerous because to be different requires great strength, a strength that can only come from harmony with Nature and personal discipline – be moral, sit on your stool and ask questions.

He is dangerous in another way, in a way that I can see why he has become popular. He has got an excellent grasp of some stuff, taking responsibility, not blaming others etc. And he talks about changing the holographic image from inside – spot on. This is exactly it, the Path. But what about his more extreme positions? Trendies from Brixton will think he is so clear about the other stuff – personal responsibility etc he must be right about the more extreme. So they want to look for lizards, tell people, get laughed at, become frightened and don’t change. Young adult trendies go to their parents and say we must all take responsibility for our actions, stop blaming others. Parents might be scared for you, but they can’t ridicule you – because it’s in-your-face truth. This is his danger, he has really got some stuff – and others? And the more extreme stuff doesn’t matter. He talked about the fear of the lizards, what about attributing that to the fear of ego and instinct for survival? Does that change what people have to do? No, it brings the focus more clearly home to where the action should be happening. Personal responsibility becomes stronger when you don’t ask whether there are lizards?

Throughout I have not been happy about his use of left and right brain, I have never been happy with that description of the brain anywhere. My mind is amorphous, sometimes it is one-pointed in the heart, sometimes it is one of 4 of the 5 khandas. Now my brain doesn’t move, but my mind does – wherever I focus it. I don’t know enough about the research into left and right brain, but I do know that science is not clear about mind and brain – it picks and chooses definition depending on which prof has the chair. David associates closed thinking with the left side, and the way he describes the left-side-only thinking is self. He talks about survival as left-side – this is instinct, self. But when there is no self there is insight, by David’s approach infinite consciousness already knows the answer so no need to question. This is all or nothing, and I don’t know of people who are all. We are on our Paths but we are not anatta – completely enlightened. So there is still self trying to survive, trying to hold us back from learning. We can help by developing a mind that always is asking questions so that we can access the insight the answers that infinite consciousness knows. Here is an RSA clip about the way science is seeing left-and-right brains:-

Just because it is science doesn’t make it correct, just because David is different and addresses many real questions very well doesn’t mean that everything he says is true (ego withstanding ….).

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Adyashanti4 – contemplation

Posted: 20/06/2013 by zandtao in Buddhadasa, Insight
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Adyashanti4 – bouncing off contemplation ….more on Buddhadasa page

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Posted: 20/06/2013 by zandtao in Insight
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Adyashanti – part 1

Posted: 09/06/2013 by zandtao in ONE planet
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I was put onto Adyashanti by a friend a while back and spoke about him here. The context in which his name was raised was that of enlightenment. We were discussing whether someone could be enlightened, and my friend said Adyashanti claimed he was. I have started to read Adyashanti’s “Way of Liberation”, and now think he does claim he is enlightened; in describing his book he says “The Way of Liberation is a stripped-down, practical guide to spiritual liberation, sometimes called awakening, enlightenment, self-realization, or simply seeing what is absolutely True. It is impossible to know what words like liberation or enlightenment mean until you realize them for yourself.” This tends to suggest he considers himself enlightened. Maybe I will find a better quote, as I have no wish to misrepresent him.

This quote is in the introduction, and it is quite clear that the book is a methodology of the Way to live – a “guide to spiritual liberation, sometimes called awakening, enlightenment, self-realization, or simply seeing what is absolutely True”. Here we have much use of terminology, and it is worth considering these words. I assume here that Adyashanti is seeing these words as equivalent (I hope this is not misrepresenting him). I want to consider these words in terms of “gradations” . I have no idea what being enlightened is. Theoretically I accept that being enlightened is living anatta – 100% no self. I am nowhere near that although by Adyashanti 1 (see below) my aspiration is to be 100% non-self. Are his synonyms (inthe quote from his intro) 100% no-self?

In this blogentry I originally used awakening to describe my own experience and then changed my terminology to “Realising the Path” here. Now my hitting bottom was a sort of awakening, it was a sort of recognition of unity, it was nowhere near “100% non-self”. It was not seeing the Truth for what It is, but was seeing some Truth. It was some sort of awakening and should not be belittled but as Brad says in describing Soto Zen “Soto style Zen training tends to emphasize moral grounding and balance much more than the gaining of “awakening experiences,” so much so that one is often told it’s not important even to have such experiences at all” – here. It appears that Adyashanti does not ignore them but is encouraging people to get them – to me this is not a good approach.

I do however like his methodology, Five Foundations – his “Way of Liberation”:-

1) Clarify your aspiration.
2) Unconditional follow-through.
3) Never abdicate your authority.
4) Practical absolute sincerity.
5) Be a good steward of your life.

“In a very real sense the Five Foundations are absolutely essential components of the teaching that apply after awakening as much as, if not more than, before it.” [p1 – pdf p15] I really like this before and after approach. “Misinterpretation of a spiritual teaching by the ego is always a significant danger, since the ego’s tendency is to justify whatever points of view it is attached to and invested in.”[p1 – pdf p15] Now I don’t like his use of the term ego here, again I have discussed this – here. In some approaches ego allows for the existence of self, and whilst these traditions allow for ego and Self – Self being non-egoic, I prefer anatta – non-self. The danger of such terminology comes in the phrase Adyashanti uses as synonymous with enlightenment – self-realisation. Self can only realise by disappearing as it doesn’t exist in the first place. How can self realise and disappear at the same time? For me it is better not to consider it as Self but non-self – no I or mine.

But it is good he ascribes his methodology for before and after; this is much like the 8-Fold Path, sila (moral integrity) and kilesa (defilements) – before and after. An enlightened being will have sila and not have kilesa, and this knocks on the head much of the bonking enlightened ones!! Although sila is a religious word (Buddhism) I don’t describe it as morality. Morality is not a set of rules – it tends to be described as such in both religions and culture, as Adyashanti says “It means that morality is no longer rooted in the cultural and religious values designed to rein in and control egoic impulses.” [p2 pdf p16].

He has an important warning for before and after “It can get complicated because it is possible to have some experience of the ultimate nature of Reality while at the same time not being completely free of egoic delusion. This makes for the possible volatile mixture of Reality and illusion simultaneously existing and expressing itself in an unconscious and distorted way. While some of this is to be expected as we are maturing in spirit, there are few things more distorted or dangerous than an ego that thinks it is God.” [p2 pdf p16]

“The Way of Liberation is a means of opening up to grace.” [p19 pdf 33of 70] Is grace insight? This struck me when Adyashanti was describing grace. If we are open to grace then we can see clearly, insight comes. “The realization of Truth and Reality can never be created by the mind; it always comes as a gift of grace” [p27 pdf 41 of 70]. To open ourselves up to grace we follow the 3 Core Practices :-

“The three Core Practices are meditation, inquiry, and contemplation” [p19 pdf 33of 70]. Insight comes to me in meditation when I am studying (non-intellectually) – maybe synonymous with contemplation? – in a process of deep questioning where there are no assumptions – enquiry?

(added to Buddhadasa page)

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

Awakening – more on how I see UG

Posted: 18/05/2013 by zandtao in Insight, ONE planet
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I am interested in UG’s life, and am continuing reading his book “The Mystique of Enlightenment” downloaded from Holybooks. In truth I am still reading about how he came to his “enlightenment?”, and I have not read what he says about the process. I am interpreting what I read. This is not a good practice because it is distanced from the truth in two ways, what is written about a person is not the person and how I interpret what is written is not the person either. It would be clearer if I use UG-Z to make this distance clear. I am much happier using UG-Z. I don’t know the guy. He claims spiritual leadership, who am I to describe his spirituality? This UG-Z is just my version, effectively a set of characteristics drawn from what little I know of his book and his life – the characteristics UG-Z.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The foregoing is why Soto style Zen training tends to emphasize moral grounding and balance much more than the gaining of “awakening experiences,” so much so that one is often told it’s not important even to have such experiences at all. Dogen says this many times in his writings. Most teachers who followed in his lineage also say this. Which isn’t to say that Soto is good and everything else is evil. It’s just one of the things that really attracts me to the style I have practiced much more than any of the others out there, even though those others often sound a whole lot sexier.”

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

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

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