05-09-05 9:09

Barnaby quotes Sawaki-Roshi: "What is the use of doing Zazen? There is no use in doing Zazen. Until this penetrates your thick skull and you are really doing Zazen that is of no use, it is really of no use."

I find Sawaki to be a bit misleading.

Zazen will not make you anything in particular other than good at zazen. Of course being good at zazen isn't the point of zazen which needs to be pointless to be zazen. Yada, yada, ya. Zazen develops samadhi, but the practice of zazen develops panna. It is a toolset but unused tools are nothing special.

Being a stronger person, being a peaceful person, being whatever person, involves skills, actions and understandings which can be learned. We aren't flowers and the range of human experience is available to each person.

If you are naturally cautious you may never be as brave as some one who is naturally adventuresome. But you can be braver than you were if this is what you practice.

That really is the key. What you practice is what you learn, is how you experience, is how your act. All practice eventually becomes experience and experience leads to action, insight and wisdom.

These two tools (samadhi and panna) can be applied to the question of being peaceful. How do you feel at peace? How do you act at peace? Pay attention to your peace and then practice peace and it will become greater.

And what is peace? Sila - moral compassion towards yourself and others. Not sitting on your ass beaming "metta" to the world but actually dealing with yourself and each person you meet ethically and kindly.

That is what distinguishes peace from quietude or solitude.

Peace is how you are with yourself and with others when there is kindness, forthrightness and no harm.

Peace is needed in the quiet and in the noisey hustle and bustle.
Peace is needed alone and with others.

No aspect of existing can be left out or what peace do you really have?

These three (sila, samadhi and panna) form a resonant whole which is liberation.

05-07-05 6:25

Steve: So you believe that whatever you sense (see smell taste hear or touch) is irrefutable?

Nothing is irrefutable if evidence arives which refutes it. I accept my sense data for what it is - data. I cross-correlate when possible and I enjoy refuting it when I can or analyzing it in new and interesting manners. Optical illusions and gestalt illusions are quite fun.

Steve: I take it you're not much of a fan of The Matrix then.

I love the Matrix, but I hate to break this to you - its just a story.

In a sense everything you think you are experiencing, including you, is the Matrix of your neural net. Its tied to incomming sense data, but your experience of it as sights, colors, tastes, etc. is just abstracted patterns of activation in your brain.

However I'm a pragmatist at heart. What I "see," I find sufficiently based in my surroundings to effectively do what I must and it cross correlates. That is good enough.

Steve: How can I show you if you've already made up your mind and choose not to look?

By actually showing me. Show me something real and I will see it.

Steve: as we think then we have abolute proof of our existence.

As I mention, that point is not free from dispute. But I will let that lie for the moment. We think and exist. Do carry on.

Steve: I'm trying to convince you not a rock.

Do you know how you differ from a rock?

Not one atom in your body can be distinguished as "alive" from an atom which is "dead?" An alive person is vertually indistinguishable from a freshly dead one except for one thing: the manner in which you are organized.

Steve: if you want to make a point for me then why don't you quote them?

First, I'm not getting paid to educate you in this way and I don't have the time.

Second, a quote here and there isn't going to do them justice and you really will want to have the whole story since you seem to have a philosophical bent. It is impossible to argue philosophy without at least a minimal understanding of these people.

Third, I don't think you'd trust my interpritation and that would be unfortunate for you since there are important ideas which are foundational in both western philosophy and our current dominant systems of government in there; and it would be unfair to the works themselves since many of the authors did not share my views and therefore I should not prejudice you against them.

Steve: I know what I Know and I don't need to go reading books just because you have pointed out to me that I haven't read them yet.

You have hit on some ideas which resonate with you and that is great. But Descartes is the beginning, not the end. If you will one day be a philosopher, then you NEED to go reading them.

Not because I pointed them out. Any one read in philosophy would point out a closely similar list because these are seminal thinkers in the field. No, you need to go read them because of what the are: the classic wisdom of western philosophy and that itself should fire your blood.

Take your time, I don't expect you to have them read anytime soon.

Steve: Ok so if you accept the above stated on mathematics when sound being irrefutable Swarm, then lets start with them.

Mathamatics is a wholely mental construct and as such it has only indirect bearing for understanding reality.

Take "two." Where can you find two of anything? There are things we find similar enough to approimate the concept of two, but everything is in some reguard fully unique. Also, we arbitrarily decide certain clumps are seperate, but they really aren't. So what is "two?" Pull out a true circle while you are at it.

Steve: If you begin to count whole numbers from one and going up you will never have a limit to how many numbers you can count. This is a potential infinate.

Actually it is unbounded (n) and (n+1), but not infinate per se. They are still numbers and infinity is not a number because any number (n), no matter how great can be exceeded by (n+1).

Steve: Then as we understand that we may count infinately through time, does it ever stand that a potential infinate set, no matter how inconceivable, must exist?

No. This is where the difference between mental constructs and actual reality comes in. You have but a finite amount of time that you can count and you will arrive at an actual number (n). (n) can always be exceeded after you die by (n+1). And as I said, these numbers are unbounded, but they aren't infinite. No matter how big (n) becomes it is still a number and (n+1) is bigger. Infinity is not a number.

Infinity, the mathamatical concept, truly exists only as a mathamatical concept and what you are describing is not actually infinity.

05-07-05 6:25

What is God?

God, as actually used by its worshipers, is the sum total of all their ignorance and a repository for all blame.

Any unanswerable question, where did everything come from?, why are we here?, what happens after you die?, why is there death?, etc. is blamed on god.

God is also the ultimate excuse. I'm favored by god. You are cursed by god. God wants me to have a caddy and kill you. God will clean up our mess. God will save the day.

God is also the ultimate pain in the ass. God's going to punish me if I don't obey and stop doing everything that's fun. God could certainly speed up his revenge on those I hate.

05-07-05 5:25

My experience is that Zen Buddhism seem to be the only religion with a sense of humor.

Why is that?

Nothing to be serious about and no one to be serious.

05-07-05 5:07

Like that old Zen story (to paraphrase), where the student asks master, "Is that stone on the ground over there, or does it exist in my head?"

"Your head must be very heavy if that stone is inside it!"

The mind is a reflection of reality, and vice versa.

My understanding is that all fundimental change flows from awareness, in particular personal awareness of the impact of the moment.

To grab a well worn cliche, it is easier to pull out a seedling than it is a tree, so if you can catch anger, craving, aversion, etc. as soon as you can, when they begin arrising, and just stop (by refocusing on breath or whatever), then instead of dukkha you have void, which is a lot easier to cope with.

Deep emotions like that tend to short out the higher mental functions down (like reason) and that is why practice is so important. The more stopping is an in grained habit, the sooner you can catch your suffering until you catch it before it even begins.

Also, when you stop, you have an opprotunity to move forward with a choice and this is were compassion and kindness comes in.

So it boils down to be kind, pay attention and practice.

All of zen and buddhism as I see it currently flows from those three.

As to the stone and mind, the stone is the stone and the mind is the mind. Just pay attention so you don't run into it.