Posts Tagged ‘unity’

Brad wrote a blog based on a book by Chuck Klosterman “But what if we were wrong?” The book asks the question from the perspective of future man looking back. I haven’t read the book, doubt if I ever will but very much like the notion of questioning. Questioning is most essential in any learning and any form of spiritual life. I would normally be interested in such a book of questioning but then Brad quoted some questions and I didn’t see deep questioning. The first question that future man would have to ask is “Why did they allow so many wars?”, and if future man is not dominated by corporations “Why did they allow corporations to create these wars for profits?”

I liked this quote about Buddhism when Brad advised against Chuck being a Buddhist “If he ever did get into a form of Buddhism that wasn’t totally corrupted by religiousity or drowning in academic stuffiness, he might find it very appealing. And if he ever started writing about Buddhism his book sales would sink to the level of mine, and he’d have to go back to writing for the Akron Beacon Journal.” The issue of the lack of book sales is not about Buddhism, it is about marketing. If Brad found a mainstream publisher and was willing to be paraded like a stuffed dummy to meet ….. rant, he might make more sales. If he wrote for profit he might make more money. Tom Clancy, or mainstream galaxy shoot-em-ups with Godzilla. It is the truth that makes Brad’s books unmarketable (or unwilling to be marketed). I do not know why Eckhart Tolle was successful, after Oprah I know why. End rant.

For me what was interesting in this blog was his discussion of intelligence especially his experience at the Tokyo park bench. “I can recall a moment around 15 years ago when I was sitting on a park bench in Tokyo eating my lunch. I was watching some crows strutting around the park looking for food. Suddenly I noticed that the very same intelligence that looked at the world through my eyes also looked at the world through the eyes of those crows.”Immediately after he wrote “It’s very difficult to write a good, watertight, rational kind of explanation for why I knew this to be true. …. It even sounds dopey to me and I know it to be true.” Brad, do you expect there to be a rational explanation? It frustrates me to see this type of quote. The explanation is not rational, it is beyond reason as Dogen says (paraphrase):- reason drops away in zazen. This truth is about Unity, about Intelligence that is Unity, you know it is truth, why be ashamed of that truth – dopey? True thinking is not normal thinking or why would the world be in such a mess? There is a huge question that I wonder whether Chuck Klosterman asks “Why do we assume that we are separate beings simply because our bodies are separate?” There is wisdom and tradition that talks of this Unity yet that wisdom is ignored. Does Chuck ask “Is it wise to ignore traditional wisdom of centuries?”

“This insight seems to be connected to my Zen practice, but it’s difficult to say just how.” For me it is one understanding of Vipassana meditation that the purpose is genuine insight. Since doing Zazen I feel that the purpose of meditation is this genuine insight. Buddhadasa was always keen to stress insight, and I have a feeling he liked Zen because it didn’t bother with the proliferations that abounded in his own Theravada tradition.

“None of my teachers ever told me anything like this. It’s not part of Buddhist doctrine. At least not as such. But if I go back and read some of the older Buddhist writers with that insight in mind, some of the stranger things they said start to make a lot more sense.” This issue of Unity is commonplace but I suspect that perception comes from my background. My first dogma approach to this stuff came from theosophy, and then a fusion of Hindu-Buddhist teachings until eventually I reached Zen.

This is worth considering so we can understand intelligence “Intelligence isn’t a function of the brain. It isn’t contained there. The complexity of a creature’s brain doesn’t determine its intelligence.

“It (BZ The brain) does determine how that creature is able to use its intelligence and what it can focus its intelligence on and to what degree it can maintain that focus. So there are huge differences between creatures (and non-creatures).”

Brad obtusely referred to measuring intelligence for comparison. At present we don’t measure our own intelligence. What we measure is an ability to do IQ tests or their equivalent. These tests are created by academia, and as such would obviously rate academics with high scores. Academia, being the lynchpin of the Church of Reason, is not going to see intelligence as beyond reason. When we examine the intelligence of dogs or other animals we are familiar with, we tend to ascribe human behaviour to the animals, and once ascribed value the animal as intelligent because it mimics human behaviour. The most intelligent lion I ever saw was one who sat on a chair under a tree on the edges of the desert smoking a pipe.

Brad mentioned the book by Zen Master Seung Sahn on “Only Don’t Know”. I have not read this but it seems to me that we have to unlearn our conditioning, and then be in a state of permanent enquiry into what we experience and what we are told.

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

Impasse, no not an impasse

Posted: 18/11/2015 in Insight, Meditation

Pursuing yesterday’s consideration of meditation here is a description of this morning.

Yesterday I had some issues on my mind, and wrote about them before meditating; today I did not. I sat and just started thinking. There are two issues that I am currently dealing with:-

zbullet Insight and Understanding
zbullet Tolerance

And the issue of emptiness came up again.

Insight and Understanding:-

An insight is a just a thought or an idea so that when you look at it objectively it does not appear any differently to any other thought. To consider this I take the 4NT, I consider this a tremendous Insight found by the Buddha; some argue this is the major teaching that the Buddha found was different to previous teachings. This Insight I consider phenomenal, and learn more and more all the time I try to understand it. But no matter what I do I can never have the same Insight the Buddha had, I can have Insights about it but it can never be the same.

So if it is just a thought or idea, why is Insight so important? Because it is a process as well. When I have received an Insight I have felt a sudden clarity at the thought, this clarity is deep, it holds conviction – as I said link here it might be the difference between ideas and faith; I don’t know because I don’t have what people call faith – I don’t believe in a set of ideas. However I can accept that a religious experience can lead to faith, and accept this.

In meditation I tried to think of other ways of looking at Insight. There was the channel in the worksheet I wrote, the word I used above for this channel is clarity, a clear mind makes the channel. Where does the channel go? Voidness, somehow through meditation (and the other examples) a channel to Voidness is created and this brings with it an Insight. How do you know that it is an Insight and not just another idea? Conviction.

I cannot explain it any other way. Why do I want to? To help correlate the Paths of Awakening and Study, I am unable to do so and have reached an impasse.


I got involved in a good discussion concerning the tolerance of other Paths that led to the consideration of the Paths of Awakening and Study. There are religious paths that do not merit consideration as Paths, I consider the far christian right and violent muslim extremism such as isis example of this. However I do consider Christianity and Islam as Paths. The discussion however arose with the different Paths of Buddhism:-

zbullet Theravada
zbullet Mahayana
zbullet Vajrayana

Vajrayana considers these a linear development over time, and therefore implicitly, and by some explicitly superior. But I consider all Paths equal because by its very Nature it is a Path. There was disagreement.

In meditation the issue of tolerance came up. What is tolerance? A Path requires Understanding, and this Understanding is personal through Insight. So there can never be intellectual agreement between two people about their Path so there needs to be tolerance. So what is this tolerance? First of all there needs to be anatta. A Path is intensely personal, and so atta identifies with that Path; for tolerance there needs to be anatta. When that atta identification occurs then comparison happens, and because it is so deeply personal it is natural for atta to consider one’s own Path superior. This of course is judgemental. So Tolerance of another’s Path requires both anatta and non-judgementalism, both very hard.

This morning I couldn’t stop thinking, and even when I sought clarity my mind started thinking again. Towards the end I tried giving out compassion but gave up after a short while, the intellectual mind was too chatty – 39 minutes.

At the beach I studied Berzin’ article “What does it mean to understand something?”, early on it reminded me of the worst aspects of philosophy – detailed definition of minutiae (judgemental). But I went through the stages of understanding which seemed to fit well with HHDL’s description of the Path of Study (here). At least the article was heading deeper, and then I came to this:-

“Intuitive understanding does not rely directly on logical reasoning. Some non-Buddhist spiritual systems explain that intuitive understanding may be mystical and derive from a transcendent source, such as God. In Buddhism, we speak of understanding deriving through inspiration (byin-rlabs, “blessings”) from the Buddhas or from our spiritual teachers, or deriving from the ripening from our network of positive force(“collection of merit”). We find this most prominently inmahamudra and dzogchen practice in which our teacher helps us, literally, to meet face to face (ngo-sprod) the nature of our minds.

Dzogchen also speaks of the “self-arising deep awareness” (rang-byung ye-shes) that is primordial (gnyug-ma) and arises simultaneously (lhan-skyes, innate) in each moment of cognition. This deep awareness is part of the nature of pure awareness (rig-pa), the subtlest level of mental activity, devoidof all fleeting stains, such as those of unawareness (ignorance). When we access this deepest level, the deep awareness of the two truths is revealed. In Western terms, we would classify this deep awareness as intuitive.”

For clarity this intuitive understanding I think of as Insight, and this I liked:-

“An intuitive understanding of impermanence, voidness, compassion or bodhichitta may or may not apprehend its object. Sometimes it is not very precise in terms of either accuracy or decisiveness, or in terms of both. We may be convinced of the accuracy of our focusing on, for instance, impermanence or voidness, derived through intuition based on personal experience, but this is often just presumption (yid-dpyod): we are merely presuming it to be accurate, whereas it is rather vague. We may or may not be able to express our intuitive understanding of something in words, but this can be the case whether or not our intuitive understanding apprehends its object accurately and decisively. ”

When I read this at the beach I just read mahamudra and transmission, and I thought impasse, however reading this again I like Dzogchen “self-arising deep awareness”. In order to correlate the two Paths I need to understand Dzogchen. And I have a hard book “The Union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen” by Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche that might give answers.

I am opposed to transmission personally. I don’t disbelieve it but I don’t really see why things cannot be resolved personally. Dzogchen, Union?

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

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.


point1WARNING 27/2/16

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


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

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


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.

Unity despite a 1% system

Posted: 02/04/2014 in Mandtao, ONE planet

Mandtao 3/2/13

When I first started Mandtao I was more interested in science. Bruce Lipton’s discussion on genes fitted in with much of the delusion I felt about science. And then I came to a personal crossroads when discussing the movie of that name. If I ignore the context in which we live I am avoiding the real issue the same way as the intellectuals I criticised in the movie.

The original sound-byte for the blog was the point and wave. This is an important realisation that I came to when young and reading “Tao of Physics”. But did Capra fully embrace the notion of the system we were in? He discussed paradigms, and at the time the notion of the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm in Turning Point rocked my world. But in the same way that the Crossroads movie blames society so did Capra.

What has made me reject the notion that it is society is the fact that in my 20s I came to these realisations, entered a world of work to some extent cognisant of Unity and Path, and spent my life battling. This conflict grew from a lack of willingness to compromise when I was right, an erstwhile friend correctly called me a “right f—er”. If I was right I stuck to my guns and alienated others.

The tolerant Buddhist in me now says that perhaps my attitude was wrong, an outsider causing alienation. Maybe? Or maybe it was aggression or belligerence on my part that caused the alienation. I was on the receiving end of alienation by idealists for 10 years. This alienation was caused by people placing political ideals before the interests of the people themselves. This lesson came to me most forcefully through an education I received working in the trade union movement backed up by some sound communist theory. It is not ideals we work for but the “Mass Movement”. Or much better Unity – the Path of Unity.

Unity in the 1% system sounds a contradiction in terms. When the concept of 1% first started being raised I read a Buddhist writing it is not 99% we want but 100%. I immediately thought what a dickhead, wonderful theory that has nothing to do with reality. These people, the 1%, have chosen to leave humanity. Their separation takes the form of greed at any price including the price of tens of thousands of lives. These 1% must choose to rejoin, it is they who are creating the problem, not those who are demanding Unity however forcefully. It is simple for the 1% to stop putting profits before people, their own material wealth before humane considerations of poverty, hunger and a “roof over the head”. Whilst their compromise might be seen as financially more substantive the reality is that there is no restriction on their choosing – other than their family. I compare that with myself. When I came to the Path – forced on the Path, not only did I face the wrath and ridicule of my family I also faced similar emotions from people around me. Still do. But with nearly 40 years of such conflicts I have learnt how to deal with them better, but mostly that means a form of separation. Such is a real irony, to gain unity I often separate. There is no doubt in my mind that any steps forward on the Path of Unity are taken because I am able to separate myself in retirement, something I could never do in the world of work.

The Path of Unity becomes that of sila – moral integrity, people before profits. Consideration needs to be at the forefront and such consideration does not exist in the minds of the 1% for whom profit at all costs is the reality.

For the majority of people the choice is neither giving up wealth nor a life of conflict based on what is right. Most people work within the 1% system of wage slavery, and the more fortunate spend the majority of their working lives doing something they can tolerate – or even partially enjoy. But what is significant about all wage slaves is that they have to compromise. When the 1% system pushes them a particular way, there is compromise. What the 1% system has developed is mechanisms that make these compromises palatable. The middle level exec does not kill Afghans, nor do they give orders to do so. Oppenhaimer built the bomb out of a genuine desire for knowledge. He compromised with concerns about its use, but there was a commitment to learning in what he did. But look at the results of his compromise. Do the inventors at Apple think about their own compromise for Apple’s significant military use? And Steve Jobs a Zen Buddhist?

The soldier kills the Afghan or pushes the drone button, but soldiers are groomed from early years to accept this. Is the university geek who builds components for the drone? Far from it, so they are kept from the front end, the battlefield, the place where people are killed.

Do the echelons of workers at Monsanto accept responsibility for the suicides in India? Of course not. No-one, not even the Board, told these farmers to kill themselves, but in each death there is a contribution from every Monsanto employee. It is the sum of the compromises that leads to policy that induces suicide, which compromise was yours?

It is by intention that most compromises are not recognised as disastrous, if we were all to be made conscious of the consequences of compromise then more would stand up for the 99%. How different are the people of Occupy? The endless letters from people who explain why they are 99%, is their story much different to yours or mine? I had a full grant and ended up with drinking debts that I was only able to pay off at work because I was on crutches for two months – and kept myself out of bars.