03-30-06 4:20  •  Money

Colin: Is pursuing money and wealth ungodly or unholy ...not spiritual?

Are money and god in conflict?

You don't respect Osho - just because someone makes or has a lot of money does that make them somehow ungodly or despicable as a spiritual teacher and Guru?

"is money the root of all evil?"

The actual quote is: The love of money is the root of all evil.

Pursuing anything beyond your actual needs is not spiritual.
In particular, pursuing things like power, money, and sex, where their mispursuit harms others, is not spiritual.

The number of people who become wealthy via their own effort and don't lust after wealth can be counted on the toes of one hand.

Sorry Colin, Osho is a study in the corruption and abuse of spiritual authority. Money, power, sex, there is not one temptation he failed to succomb to.

mc: You said, "The love of money is the root of all evil."
Amen to that. I'm trying to unevil myself.

Its just like the ego game buddhists play. Loving it and fighting it are really the same coin, giving it attention.

When it occupies none of your attention, then it is derooted.

Anjali: I don't think the actual money itself is a spiritual issue; I think it's attachment to money (or anything else) that will hinder spiritual growth.

And as in all things, I think moderation is key - we don't need to be ultra-wealthy, we also don't need to live in poverty.

The poverty question is a difficult one. Buddhism vacilates back and forth. Is it better to swear total poverty and subsist on begging, or is it better to do honest work and support yourself? Basically I think the answer is that it depends on the person and the needs of the moment. Both approaches have merit and potential for abuse. But living just within your means or below seems a pretty solid spiritual technology across a wide variety of traditions.

Living above your means as a spiritual path seems equally rejected across a wide variety of traditions. As JC said, easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than it is to pass a rich man into heaven.

But money is sticky. Temples full of people who have forsworn the stuff still end up lousy with it. Then they feel like they have to build stupid golden buddha statues and crazy things like that. There is no doubt love of money is a form of crack for the soul.

03-29-06 3:21  •  ID Hawk

Mary: I know intelligent design exists, because when the anatomy of these birds (particularaly hawks) was explained I was completely blown away, and I was sitting in my chair thinking, "Wow! What a brilliant design!" If there is a point where science and belief in a higher being are aligned, then I can think of no better example.

Why blame your god? It is the hawks who selected their form over the course of a billion years, since their neurons first began making selections.

No one could design all of this from the top down. This universe is from the bottom up. Literally a grass roots effort. The human brain has pulled itself up out of the muck by its own bootstraps, and that is way more amazing than any deity.

Sean: I'd have to agree with you, Swarm, that the image of a "Creator" sitting in some laboratory or tool shed working on a project seems simplistic.

But. Given all of that: when, along our evolutionary path, did our ancestors decide that, say, fingerprints would be a good idea? Or fingernails, for that matter?

Just because neurons favor certain configurations over others, that doesn't mean everything is a conscious choice. For a long time neurons were barely making things twitch in certain ways and so the more basic evolutionary forces held sway.

As for fingerprints and fingernails, in our past we spent a lot of time in trees and fingernails and fingerprints are pretty functional for improving tactile sensation and grasp in that environment.

Sean: But I prefer to see God as a metaphor for the things we not only can't fully understand or duplicate, but may never be able to.

Why anthropamorphize lack of understanding? Especially when it includes all that ancient baggage. "I don't understand" seems far more honest and to the point.

Sean: "God" represents the human desire to understand.

Why represent it as something other than what it is: the human desire to understand.

03-28-06 2:11  •  Xtianity = 1st rate

Jon: What do you think? Tom DeLay said: "We are, after all, a society that provides abortion on demand, has killed millions of innocent children, degrades the institution of marriage, and all but treats Christianity like some second-rate superstition."

This is a horrible miscarriage of justice!

Xtianity is a first-rate superstition if ever there was one.

03-27-06 12:11  •  Afraid in Love

Jamie: I miss my dear friend, and it hurts me that we are not connecting right now. As much as I tell myself that he needs space to reflect, I am scared that my heart will become too scared and shut itself off while waiting.

I don’t want to conceal the love I feel, because I would be throwing away the chance to experience love, denying him the experience of the depth of my love. How can I not be scared?

Be scared.

You know what is at risk, and so you are scared.
Facing this fear is exercise for the soul.
Bearing its weight while you do what needs to be done
will leave you a stronger person.

Fear is nothing but a phantasm of the mind.
Face it squarely and it will have no power over you.
All it can you is make you uncomfortable
and tease you into needless worries.

Be scared. Be uncomfortable.
Use this time to learn to stop worrying.
Become more than you started as.

Jamie: Very wise advice, thank you.

I am learning to be comfortable with what I am feeling now. Scared of losing this connection, uncomfortable with not knowing what's going on, worried that I'd done something wrong...everything.

This is the time to stay calm, despite everything I am feeling, I need to stay present and I appreciate your help. Thanks and namaste.

03-26-06 11:11  •  Topic Generator

Kevin: I am in an undergraduate class that focuses on East Asian Buddhism and I am having a very hard time coming up with a topic to write about. I just can't seem to narrow down the subject matter enough. I was wondering if you might be able to suggest potential areas that would make an interesting paper.

I am not asking for you to come up with my topic for me. I am just seeking inspiration as to a way to focus down a large body of material. I have to spend this weekend really working on this as I have to have a proposal turned in next week. Thank you!

Here is a topic generator.

Get paper and pen.

Spend a short time thinking about the class. Anything at all about it.

Make a list of anything that makes you smile or catches your interest or makes you mad.

Don't do more than write enough to remind you of what it is. Don't judge or justify it. Note it and go back to pondering.

When your list hits between 5 and 10, stop. Read through it and cross off anything that no longer stirs your passion. There should be 3 to 5 items left.

Pick one of them and see if you can write one specific point per page you have to turn in for that topic.

If you can, then look at them and write a premise and a conclusion.

Add research, and voila! you have your paper.

If you can't, save it for later and try the next topic.

Part of what makes this trick work is you have to care about the topic, hence the passion requirement (negative or positive will work). The passion will focus the subject for you and make the paper more interesting. Also, you should be making about 1-2 points per page. More than that and you aren't supporting them, less and you are babbling. Add an intro and outro and you get about a point a page for 5-10ish-page papers. Never drop below three points even if you only give each a paragraph and only passing support - you need to generate the minimum scholastic paper: the 5 paragraph essay (intro, 3 points, outro).

Kevin: Swarm,

Thanks, it worked! I THINK I have settled on a topic, but things could still change.

My current idea is Tathagatagarbha: Origins, Influence & Controversy

Any other suggestions?

This is a bit vague for just a 10-page paper, but as an undergrad you probably aren't expected to do much indepth analysis.

But you could easily do a 10-page on any one of those by looking a bit deeper.

Kevin: The main points I have been reading are regarding the controversy aspect.

I'd go just with that. Controversy is great paper fodder. One - two pages to establish context. Then juicy pros and cons with a bit of off-the-wall spice. Then one to two pages of wrap up. Its pratically like falling off a log.

03-23-06 10:01  •  Kill the Buddha

Jon: The ninth-century Buddhist master Lin Chi is supposed to have said, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” Does this mean that as students of the Buddha, we should dispense with Buddhism?

What is buddhism?

Stop suffering.

Once you stop do you need to be told further?

Jon: So real Buddhist dont suffer? Or, do you need to wait until you become a Buddah to stop suffering?

Real buddhas don't suffer. That is noble truth #4, the path that leads to the cessation of suffering.

Real buddhists suffer like anyone else, hence the wish to be buddhas. That is noble truth #1, life has suffering.

Somewhere in between you suffer, but not so bad as you used to.

Ozai: Now, that's Buddist Light!

Buddah or not, we still have to chop our wood and carry our water
(pls dont take it literal : )

That's a slighty different point.

Getting out of suffering is not getting out of work.

Oh, the suffering is more specific than the word generally is taken - it's not getting out of pain, or out of ever feeling sad. It's specifically getting out of the stuff you do to yourself in addition to the ups and downs of life.

Ozai: yep, ive seen people that are accepted by some/many as being "awakened" but they still have (at times) medical and physical problems that most likely will cause some physical pain.

thanks for sharing, i can see that you have done your homework ; )

03-22-06 9:01  •  Daily Meditation Practice

Renate: I've been practicing meditation on and off for a few years, but I've never been able to keep up a daily practice. Everytime I'm on a good streak, it lasts for about one or two weeks then stops alltogether. Either I "don't have the time" one day, or I'm too tired, etc. etc. It seems I keep making excuses for myself that I can't meditate that day, and once I break the trend, the whole thing falls apart, until I try again. What is the best way to go about setting up a daily practice and sticking to it?

First of all, don't worry about it. Every body faces this. Its perfectly normal and not worthy of concern.

Here is my understanding. It takes a while for meditation to get to the point of a breakthrough.

So you start out with smooth sailing in the begining and everything is cheesy because you are in "safe" territory.

But as the layers peel away you get closer to something your mind doesn't care to deal with and the resistence begins to build.

There isn't enough time. It isn't working. Something more important needs doing. You'll just learn a "better" technique. Anything other than just sitting through it.

When you stop at that point, and I have, you head back toward the begining and it is smooth sailing for a while, but you are just retracing your steps back to the same point of resistence.

As the resistence builds, that is when you must draw on your resolve to see yourself through. It can be difficult but eventually you'll have a breakthrough, gain some insight and it will be "thank god that is over." But don't be fooled into taking a break because this is just the other side of the resistence. If you stop, once again you will start back toward the begining.

Eventually though you stop having to "do" the meditation while you meditate and it just happens, like breathing. It isn't easy. It isn't hard. There is neither resistence nor relief. You are in the balance point. Thoughts come and go of their own accord without disturbing you.

A lot of people like to set a specific time to meditate. Start simple. 5 min is plenty. I wouldn't do more than 30 min absolute max.

Keep a journal. If you miss a day just miss a day. No big deal. Just make what days you can. Worrying about what you miss is worse than the actual missing. Have faith in the process.

I'm a bit chaotic, I like to meditate in snips throughout the day. One of them is when ever it occurs to me, so there has been quite a bit during this post. Thus anytime I've time to think "Oh, I didn't meditate" I take a moment to meditate.

If you have the time, the vipassana people have a free ten day silent retreat. Fun but intense: www.dhamma.org/
03-19-06 12:05  •  Forgiveness

Piksee: You talk about forgiveness. I just want to point out that I work professionally as a therapist, and I think you should realize that forgiveness does not apply to all things.

Forgiveness applies to everything you would not carry on your back.
Forgiveness applies to everything you would not have darkening your heart.

It is truly divine when accepted by another or offered by another.
But that is their business, not yours.

Your healing is in your offering of forgiveness, not in another's acceptence of it.
Your healing is in your acceptence of others, not in what they choose to offer to you.

Step up to the high ground and show your true mettle.
There is only one way you can choose to end the darkness of the past.

All that you can forgive is unbound and you are unbound with it.
Let go it go and move on.

Step into the light.

Tea Man: This is beautiful Swarm.

Piksee: There is a different sort of light and forgiveness for the people I work with.

I liked what you had to say nonetheless.

If there is a god, he will not be in heaven.
He will be in hell because that is where he is most needed.

Piksee: halleluiah to that!

03-19-06 11:04  •  Bicycle on the Path to Enlightenment

Anjali: People are rude! Sometimes I wish that even if spirituality is hard to put into words, that everyone would demonstrate their spiritual path through the way they approach, consider, and speak to/about one another.

Everything I do and say is my spiritual path. It is the same for everyone.

You might want it to be something else.
You might be striving to improve it.

But what your spirituality actually is, is who you are now and it is best described by what you do and say.

Anjali: That is definitely true.

Good. :)

Since one's spiritual path is most demonstrated by what one does and says, progress along that path comes from closely and clearly seeing what one does and says *as* it is done and said so that it can be eased into alignment with what one truly believes.

Spiritual teachers generally only effect what we believe.
What distinguishes Zen is they purposefully block what you believe until you realize what it is you do.

Now you have both halves of the puzzle: Examples of enlightened belief and where to look for your own enlightened action.

All that is left is to how to begin acting on this understanding.

We are constantly thrust fully into the complexity of life. Never is there a moment's peace.

So you must artificially create the peace you need you learn in.

Meditation is one way of slowing down the pace of mind and body.
It is as close to doing nothing as a human can consciously get.

If you can clearly focus and see this, it is enough to leverage everything else. It would seem easy and in truth its ease is its great difficulty.

That point of grasping your personal moment of intense awareness, in between distraction and oblivion, is a fine balance to strike and hold.

Find it and you have the bicycle on the path of enlightenment.

Read more in the Archives.