Kelly: I think the hardcore atheist is as annoying as the religious fundamentalist. Niether version of the universe has any room for poetry, or else they might be more familiar with Walt Whitman's affirmation: "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."
Both types of fundies miss the entire idea that there can be many versions of "truth" that they can even be contradictory and still valid.
This is the key misunderstanding and bears a bit of exploration.
There can be many descriptions of the truth and such descriptions can even be contradictory and still true (valid is a different claim) since any description is by necessity at best both a fragment of what could be said and a reflection on the limits of understanding. But the referant of that description cannot be contradictory and still true. Paradox is a limit of understanding and language. It is not a feature of reality itself.
Thus as Whitman alludes, I can and do contradict myself. No matter how great my view, reality remains one heck of an elephant.
Rene: Well stated, Swarm!
10-22-06 10:21 • Meditation Advice
Background: Still Shiney takes care of his sick sister.
Still Shiney: Do you have any non-advice-type advice for me and my sister?
This advice will not sound sexy. It also is not a "cure" or a "treatment."
I would suggest you both take some time each day for silent meditation.
While there are some generalities and traditions, there is no set way to do it. No right or wrong. No success or failure.
Just find an unhurried spot and sit quietly. Then pay attention.
If that seems really simple, well it is and yet it isn't.
The mind will want to pay attention *to* something, so in the begining you can pay attention to your breath, or listen to the ambient sounds, or pick something to look at. There is nothing magic here. It is just a focus.
Then the fun starts. :) The mind will chatter. Notice this and refocus. The mind will get distracted. Notice this and refocus. The body will itch. Notice this and refocus. The cat will use you as a scratching post. Notice this and refocus. Most people find they can maintain focus for an entire tenth of a second. Notice this and refocus. Your mind may relax. Notice this and refocus. Your mind may be tense. Notice this and refocus. You may become one with the universe. Notice this and refocus. You may have some result or goal in mind. Notice this and refocus.
You can sit for a short while, say 5-15 min, and that is fine. It is best to do at least one session a day, but if you don't, notice this and refocus. ;)
You can also do two sessions with a short walk between, go for what you can sustain though. 5 min. every day is better than 4 hours once a week. If you miss, just notice this and refocus.
Most people notice some effects after a while, but effects aren't the goal. Most people notice resistence and break throughs, but those aren't the goal either. Don't let either effects, resistence or break throughs bother you. Just notice them and refocus.
I'm really out of line even telling you this much so forget I even said anything about it.
Still Shiney: Thanks man. Actually I do meditate but Rose can't. No, her nervous system is too scrambled to sit still at all.
It is a misconception that meditation requires sitting still in some particular pose, or even sitting at all, or being still, or being anything in particular.
It is the rhythm of what one does while meditating that is key.
If she can understand the inner practice, she can implement it how ever best suits her.
The basics are really a matter of picking anything to focus one's attention on, doing that until there is a distraction, noticing that distraction for what it is, not getting caught up in it and going back to the focus.
Doing that over and over and over until one can really pay attention and not get distracted about not getting distracted.
Most people need to make the focus really boring and or painful so that the distractions are distracting enough to notice. In her case there are enough distractions that she may need a more interesting focus instead and you may want to make a chant to help ingrain the practice, something like: What am I doing?
The part most people have trouble with is that there isn't any way to fail, or do it wrong, or succeed, or do it right. If you get distracted, you just got distracted. If you don't do it, you just are doing something else. Whatever happens is just what happens. She may actually have an advantage in this.
10-21-06 10:21 • Celibacy
Shaku: I've always wondered, could celibacy be cool? I mean, I mostly doubt it, but every now and then I seem to get a glimpse of it being possible and wonderful, although not for long, of course, but still.
Only a subgenous can pull the wool over his own eyes.
Not having sex is just not having sex.
Turning it into celibacy is not cool and never has been.
Sun: I disagree. Celibacy is to divorce the monkey within...think of it, the instinct to have sex resides in the deepest and oldest part of the brain/mind. It is the same part of the mind where violence, fear, rape, and genetic ego reside...sex is the lowest form of intimate energy.
Any time I see a special word for not doing something, I know I am entering the "Bulldada Zone." (tm)
If you don't have sex that's fine, you don't have sex.
If you do have sex, that's fine as well.
Do either one as you see fit and find appropriate.
If you are celebate, you have already failed.
Being celebate is caring way more about not having sex than is wise.
It is also inherantly an insipid form of spiritual bragging.
Sun: And what is "caring way more" explain please i am curious...
First, what you describe doesn't match my experience of sex at all. This leads me to suspect it is yourself and your issues with sex which you are talking about and not sex itself.
Second, being so driven by sex that you have to foreswear it is hardly a mark of spiritual attainment. While I'm glad you aren't destroying yourself and others, you sound a bit like the alcoholic who thinks everyone should join AA.
Sex is intrinsically just a body function. It is how you choose to express yourself that determins if sex is the highest or lowest expression of intimacy, if it is a manifestation of deepest love or total disregard. If you choose to do nothing with it that's fine, but forswearing something is not choosing to do nothing with it. Instead it is making its absence a central part of your life and such obsessions lead to suffering.
Sun: All animals have sex your experience is not special...
This is where you make your mistake.
10-13-06 10:13 • Truth in Love
Sparkling Devi: My Lover says that LOVE doesn't hurt, it is thinking and expectations that hurt - basically all the head stuff.
you expect someone to be honest and they are not, you get hurt.
He loves without trusting.
I kind of understand the concept intellectually, now I need to put it into practice. I am currently weighing, adjusting and changing all my beliefs and expectations - or more like deleting my expectations at least some of them. It is painful at times but hey how else is one going to learn?
Love hurts because pain is a part of life and love is a part of life. Love may make hurts bearable, forgivable or less important, but they don't go away.
Living in an intimate relationship with some one means they will hurt you. There just is no way around it. If you value them, the relationship and your love, you forgive, make up and get on. Sure there is a point where what some one does crosses the line of what you can bear to live with and that relationship ends. But if you are with some one worth staying with they are trying hard to avoid that line and the hurts that happen are just the natural consequence of people living together.
What will kill love though is little hurts that are nursed into big grudges. If you want a relationship, you must learn to forgive and let go.
Honesty is never welcome in intimacy because it really hurts and is not helpful.
What is welcome is some one who values the truth almost as much as they value you.
My understanding of trust is not about other people doing what I want. It is how I choose to relate to other people even if they don't do what I want.
10-11-06 10:01 • What Buddha Had
Tashi: It is clearly stated that Mahayana is not distinct! The Mahayana vehicle only works if you have the empowerment levels and sutras of the Theravadic vehicle. How else can you identify the superior path?
I don't care if my path is not superior or a greater one or a lightning one or if I lack empowerments or esoteric powers. None of that is important or even relevant.
All the buddha had was his ass and a tree. I do have both of those.
Tashi: He gained compassion from witnessing the suffering of others...so I guess I feel that the Buddha had more than that...
He had his problems but they would not be different in kind from the problems of any other person.
Tashi: We need to learn to dissolve the self and serve others.
We are part of the web of life and yet we are distinct as well. Understanding the interplay and balance - being a part of the whole and still knowing seperation - is definately a great source for subtle understanding.
Personally I feel over-emphasising either side brings a loss of balance.
Tashi: I would think the Buddha had fewer problems because he was getting closer and closer to omniscience.
No one gets closer and closer to omniscience, and if you think about it for a while you'll see that like omnipotence and other omni-x-es, its a trap and a curse. How horrible to know everything and live devoid of any novelty, surprise or learning.
Getting smarter and wiser is one thing, omnipotence is another altogether.
Tashi: My argument is based on historical fact...
Historical facts about the buddha are almost as few and far between as those about Jesus.
Tashi: Buddhas are omniscient, not omnipotent...
They aren't onmiscient either. Buddhas are people. They may have access to insights others have not accessed yet. They may be "awake." But they are without a doubt not omniscient or anything else which is impossible and unachievable.
In fact making a buddha something superhuman is inherantly a path to suffering as the buddha defined it, demanding what is not possible.
Tashi: You say, "How horrible to know everything..." but I think...how horrible to suffer and die, suffer and die, suffer and die.......
Replacing one horror with another is not the path.
Don't be taken in by glittering out-of-reach phantasms. There is no omniscience to be had by any human no matter how enlightened.
Tashi: Problems with Buddhism are the problems of men/women; not that of the teachings themselves...
The teachings are the teachings of men and women. All that we can fall prey to the teaching can fall prey to.
Tashi: I think you need to re-read the entire pali cannon or find a reputable teacher. Tsk, tsk. That is a conversational dodge.
Should I now say that you should not be so gullible when reading sutras and that you should get better teachers?
That is no way to have a good conversation.
Let us work with what we have and be satisfied with each other as we are.
Tashi: Okay, sorry...
Tashi: The thing is, yes, the buddhas may appear to us as normal everyday people. However they are beyond a lot of what most of us are bound to.
To be bound is to be bound by the myriad of forms.
To be enlightened is to be enlightened by the myriad of forms.
I look at it as riding a bike. You can practice and that can help a lot or you can just hop on and go for it that way and take a few bumps. Either way there is a bit of a knack and some get it first time and others have a heck of a time.
The ones who can do it seem pretty neat, but there isn't anything beyond what a normal person can endeavor to master.
Tashi: Never said it was otherwise...however as you said, some people get there faster.
No doubt some people get it faster. It took me forever before I could see one of those "magic eye" 3D images. But this isn't a race.
Over-emphasis of "faster," "superior" or "powerful" is a part of what one is setting aside in becoming enlightened and it is, I feel, an inherant problem with "faster," "superior" and "powerful" methods.
Tashi: But one can't discount the momentum, if you will, of previous lives...
I know this will probably spin your prayer wheel, but I find the whole past lives bit at best irrrelevant and at worst a soul sapping fiction almost as dreadful as the notion of "original sin."
10-06-06 4:54 • Loving a Recent Divorcee
Rain: A month ago, I met my soulmate. We both felt it and became fast friends. The kundalini energy is sky high with us and we have common visions and goals and ideals. We love being together. sounds great, yes?
Except for the fact that he is only 5 1/2 months out of a 17 year marriage! I do love him unconditionally, but I still feel myself getting more and more attached. Rationally, I know he must need alot of personal space and freedom and time to heal. I also want to protect my heart.
Any suggestions for proceeding or breaking off the relationship? I am so ready to find partnership with the right person. First. Enjoy your self and him. Whether it works or not falling in love is special and should be cherished.
Second. He is just out of a divorce and it will take time to rediscover his new identity. Also you should consider why he got a divorce. When people are a couple that long any trouble is always shared even if it seems like it was the other parties fault. Finally you should remember he is in prime midlife crisis territory and may be overhauling deep-held beliefs and what not.
Trust your intuition and remember, your heart is strong. Dare to love anyway.
10-06-06 4:54 • Buddha Doesn't Return
Tashi: You have said that Buddhas do not return, not ever. But if a Buddha is acting in the form of Nirmanakaya, he has returned, hasn't he?
The long and short of it is that if it comes back, it isn't a buddha.
Sure, mahayana claims bodhisattvas are almost buddhas who "choose" to come back and "help" others.
But no matter how otherwise refined, if it comes back it is because there is still a reminant of clinging and attachment to bring it back.
Clinging to helping all sentient beings is still clinging and still not done.
You might as well claim coal is almost diamond.
Tashi: But, if a buddha never returns who is it that turns the wheel of dharma for us? Who is asking? That is the one turning.
Tashi: Wherever the Sanghata Sutra is there the Buddha is.
A nice sentiment, but just overblown marketing hype for the sutra. Sutras are at best the dust and ashes of the words of a buddha. If enlightenment could actually be transfered by a book, we'd all be done by now. Personally I read the boasting of a sutra as a measure of how big a grain of salt I'm going to need. Actual enlightened authors don't need to boast. The quality is self-evident.
But even with the best, no set of words is the Buddha, and the Buddha died and is no more to be found anywhere.
There are other buddhas though. Where ever anyone awakens, there that buddha is, but only for a moment. Once gone, nothing remains.
Anatman is a pretty clear and fundimental statement and it is born out in the parable of the flame and other stories and teachings.
I'm sorry if you got caught up in the mahayana religious trappings and missed the very basics, but it was a fundimental fact of the buddha's teaching that a buddha is not reborn, even as a bodhisattva or god or whatever.
A buddha is done with all of samsara from the lowest hell to the highest heaven. Rooted out. Extinguished. The great work is finished and nothing remains once the body is finally exhausted.
10-05-06 4:54 • Fun Questions
Celine: So, what I gather is that you do not believe in any form of life after death, is that correct?
Since death means the end of life, life after death is a meaningless statement. To render it intelligible at all requires rephrasing to something like "do you believe there is any aspect of the personality which can exist after the body has died." To which one must reply, there is no evidence yet to support holding that belief and all attempts at supporting hard dualism have failed.
Celine: In your belief system how do you explain the existence of the universe?
There is no explaining existence as existence is the end point of any explanation. If I actually have a rock, there is no reason to doubt the rock's existence and therefore no explanation is needed or even possible. The rock's existence is a fact unto itself made plain by its presence.
Celine: What do you think the purpose of life is?
There is no purpose of life. Life is the source of purposes. There can be no purpose preceding it.
Celine: Because if you live your life with the idea that it does not end at your death, you will put greater importance upon how you choose to live your life because you understand that its not all for nothing. First if this were actually true religions would be far less of a blemish on the face of humanity. But unfortunately the religious lie, cheat, steal, torture, murder, burn, rape, and pillage with even more reckless abandon in the name of god than could be mustered by those who think this is all you get.
Second, just because you end when you die, that doesn't mean that it is "all for nothing." It is for what it is now and it is for how those who come will enjoy it.
Knowing that this is it and no magic fairy is going to rescue you makes the moment that much sweeter and your accomplishments your own.
Celine: Why be good if there is no God? With out God there is no right or wrong!
Inevitably this gem pops up. Given all the crimes committed by the religious it seems "Why be good if there is a god?" is a better question.
But you are right, there is no inherant right or wrong. So why do good? Because that is what works and it works well. Virtue is its own reward and vice is its own punishment. Everything else is just custom and habit.
BTW, have you considered that if you just follow the dictates of another you are not doing good and you have no real knowledge of good?
Even if there were a god giving dictums from on high, I would still make up my own mind because that is my responsibility as an independent being. The implied abdication of that responcibility by claiming "infallibility" is a mark of evil staining many faiths.
Celine: Without God, there is no absolute...its all a spectrum of grays.
Not just grays, but all the colors of the rainbow. How wonderful to be free from boring black and white.
Celine: But look at the USSR - they tried to have a system without any monetary or spiritual incentive. People had no reason to work hard, they basically gave up, which lead to the eventual collapse of the government. There is too much to the collapse of the Soviet Union to narrow it down like this, but I will say that many of the factors which lead to its collapse are currently at work in the US. If we survive the rising religious fanaticism and the crushing Bush debt it will be amazing.
10-04-06 3:54 • Everlasting Beauty
Seb: The infallible Baha'u'lla said this: Abandon not the everlasting beauty for a beauty that must die, and set not your affections on this mortal world of dust.
I could not disagree more.
Everlasting and ephemeral are not in contention with each other.
They are not even seperate.
The patterns of reality dance, play, dissolve and reform.
Seperate and one, everlasting and ephemeral are just our delusions.
The heart not so small it can only appreciate one or the other.
Love each for what it is.
Or in religious terms:
Only a fool would think that they could love god while spurning creation.
Even the mortal dust of the world is a marvel beyond compare.
Seb: To me, life is about serving humanity (and therefore God) and acquiring virtues through seemly conduct and goodly deeds.
What is the purpose of life to you?
What is the purpose of life to you?
You have the question backwards. Life precedes purpose. You are alive. What purpose will you choose to express?
Serving humanity, seemly conduct and goodly deeds seem nice enough purposes.
Personally I don't have over riding purposes like that. It has always seemed an extra and unnecessary step. I just do what I do without seeking ulterior motives.
Seb: I think "mortal dust" refers to materialism.
Doesn't matter. Rejecting it is still picking and choosing. If you posit a creator god, then he created it all, as a whole. Will you choose the flower and reject the stem? There is no part, no aspect, no deed which is not a part of that whole. You may not understand it. You may not like it. But that is your limitation and does nothing to reduce its inherent beauty.
People are by nature inherently biased. For example since we are not carrion eaters we will never agree with dogs on dinner choices. But because of our minds we can at time step outside of these inherent limits for a moment and catch a glimpse of the marvel and beauty of it all. You don't really need to posit any gods to do this, but I can understand if you need a crutch.
Do give it a try. Pretend for a moment that your god actually is as great as you claim and maybe, just maybe, everything is both perfect as it is, marvelous and beautiful. Even all that stuff you disagree with or think of as less, or even evil.
All of it is the best, everlasting beauty. Even the mortal dust.
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