Enlightenment and Freedom from Suffering

PlaeOfShrimpThere were 325 comments on my previous post the last time I checked. I haven’t read all of them. But a number of them appear to be discussing the matter of Enlightenment. Someone said that Zen is definitely a religion because it promises Enlightenment, which is the freedom from suffering.

I never really understood that. My teachers never said anything remotely like, “This practice will bring you to Enlightenment, which is freedom from suffering.” The only places I ever saw or heard statements like that were in books and magazine articles that I did not trust, or from people who clearly had no idea what they were talking about. Those people and, of course, Yoda from Star Wars.

I can’t tell you whether the practice of Zen will lead you to Enlightenment and relieve you from suffering. I’ve done this stuff for over thirty years now, though, so I may be able to say a little about what it seems to have done for me.

To me, meditation – zazen specifically – is a way to decrease some of the distractions of the mind. We don’t realize, generally, how incredibly distracted we are by the processes going on in our own brains. But if you work on dealing with some of your distractions you discover that there was a whole world out there you had not noticed before because you were too distracted to perceive it. Do this for long enough and a shift in perception/understanding occurs. At least that’s how it was for me.

I don’t like words like “Enlightenment” or “kensho” or “satori” or “awakening” or any of the other terms commonly used to refer to what happens after you do this process for a long time. They’re inaccurate and misleading. However, after years of doing this process I had a number of interesting shifts in my understanding of things. There was one major shift and countless clusters of others that accompanied it and that keep on occurring even now.

People tend to picture these experiences as a change from confusion to certainty. In a sense that’s kind of the way it is. But the certainty is more about what’s not true than about what is true.

For example, before this stuff started happening to me, I would have pictured Enlightenment as giving me, among other things, certainty about whether there is or is not a God and whether there is or is not life after death. I thought the answer would be either yes or no. How could there be any other answer to questions like that?

Now I comprehend that there is another answer and that is; “framing such questions in the form that requires a yes or a no as an answer is absurd.”

The problem is that EVERYONE HATES THAT ANSWER. You hate it. I hate it. The Pope hates it. Pat Robertson hates it. Richard Dawkins hates and despises it so much he hacks up a giant phlegm ball and spits on it. Deepak Chopra hates it more than Oprah does. You will never make big money with that kind of answer.

I understand now that the very way I was trained to think and to communicate my thoughts to others does not allow for me to answer these questions any better than that. There is no linguistic solution to this particular problem. When I say that there is certainty, that’s what I’m referring to. This aspect of the problem is certain.

Language communicates common experience. If you have seen a plate of shrimp and I have seen a plate of shrimp, then when I say “plate of shrimp” to you, you have some idea what I’m talking about. But if you said “plate of shrimp” to an inhabitant of the planet Mephiras in the Andromeda Galaxy, zhe would have no idea what you were talking about.

Sometimes, if I’m talking to someone else who has sat with their own minds for a few decades, I can discuss matters like this and can communicate about them. But I can’t put straightforward answers to these kinds of questions into a blog or a book. I’ve tried. Dogen tried. Lots of people have tried. It doesn’t work. The questions themselves make it impossible. Although if you sit for a long time observing your own mind, you can sometimes read things like the stuff Dogen wrote (to take one specific example) and they’ll make sense to you.

So that’s Enlightenment in 200 words or less. What about suffering? Does this practice lead you to freedom from suffering?

Well… my friend Logan died last year and that made me very sad. It still does. A couple months ago I caught a cold and I felt like shit for a few days. Next time I catch a cold, the same thing will happen. I sometimes wish I had things I don’t have. I sometimes wish I did not have things I do have. I dislike doing certain things that I nevertheless must do, like my taxes. And so on and on.

yodpool

Any excuse to run this pic again is good enough for me. Look! It’s in color now!

What would relief from suffering look like? Would it look like Father Yod in his swimming pool full of naked girls? Would it look like Neem Karoli Baba sitting under a blanket with a bunch of people asking him questions and feeding him oranges? Would it look like Tom Cruise in a mansion in Beverley Hills with enough money and fame to buy him anything on eBay or Craig’s List? Would it look like Krishna, perpetually beautiful and immortal?

What are you asking for when you ask for an end to suffering? Do you even know? Maybe you do, but I don’t.

Are you asking for a way in which you can do your taxes and enjoy it? Are you asking for a way in which you can have cancer and yet not feel shitty? Do you think that exists? Do you wish it existed? Will wishing it existed make it so?

Don’t fill my comments section up with answers. Thanks.

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ONGOING EVENTS

Every Monday at 8pm I lead zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. All are welcome!

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502 Responses

Page 3 of 3
  1. Harlan
    Harlan March 23, 2015 at 9:36 am |

    It’s a good thing we have Fred here to protect us all from the doubters. Furiously digging into the dirt to try and uncover embarrassing items from their past. It’s almost like having our own little zen intelligence agency. F.R.E.D.

    But Gniz was a doubter and a loud mouth too. It was like he enjoyed argument and exploring ideas as an exercise at getting after the truth. That is just insane.. So un-zen like really. Upsetting.

    It’s odd but I’m not feeling all that great about what happened here though. I keep having this bad thought about the ending of suffering that bothers me a little. What if the idea is to help end the suffering of others by our words and actions or non-actions and not just to comfort ourselves.. Maybe even troublesome people like Gniz? Where do I get this shit?

    1. Fred
      Fred March 23, 2015 at 10:51 am |

      Gniz isn’t troublesome. He’s a professional writer. He writes thousands of words a day, some of it fictional, some not.

      1. Fred
        Fred March 23, 2015 at 10:53 am |

        There’s a gateless gate, but there isn’t a truth.

        1. Fred
          Fred March 23, 2015 at 11:07 am |

          Zafu the Wonder Troll wrote:

          “Any critical thinker would have a problem with Brads posts, perhaps especially a Buddhist critical thinker, come to think of it.”

          Do you think that there is such a thing as ” a Buddhist critical thinker “?

          What is ” thinking non-thinking ” ? Is it the same as rational thought?

          I don’t have a problem with anything Brad says. Maybe you don’t understand it because you look at it with your troll brain.

          1. Fred
            Fred March 23, 2015 at 11:13 am |

            “Furiously digging into the dirt to try and uncover embarrassing items from their past.”

            It didn’t take any furious digging. If you don’t like your past, own it, and move beyond it.

          2. Zafu
            Zafu March 23, 2015 at 11:21 am |

            You mean my sadistic Machiavellian brain.

            Thinking non-thinking is thinking about non-thinking, I think.

    2. Zafu
      Zafu March 23, 2015 at 1:33 pm |

      What if the idea is to help end the suffering of others by our words and actions or non-actions and not just to comfort ourselves…

      Then the meaning system would actually be meaningful.

      1. Jason
        Jason March 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm |

        How do you mean?

        1. Zafu
          Zafu March 23, 2015 at 2:42 pm |

          I can’t tell if you’re kidding.

          1. Red Hat Zafu
            Red Hat Zafu March 23, 2015 at 2:47 pm |

            .Meaning.

  2. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 23, 2015 at 11:34 am |

    Zafu, whilst making my cup of coffee, I found myself pondering your notion that religions exist to provide their adherents with a shared sense of meaning. Am I getting that right?

    That people can share a sense of meaning to their lives, or purpose in living, is something of a miracle, I think. That it can go wrong when they point to something beyond cause and effect, beyond the causal relationships that exist in the natural world, is no surprise.

    To me, Gautama’s teaching is good when he describes the meditative states, and when he says that experience of sense organ, sense object, consciousness, impact, and feeling (with respect to each of the senses) causes a diminution of fever of the mind and body, and an increase in happiness of the mind and body, and for one abiding in such experience (of sense) as it really is the eight-fold path is taken care of– I can relate to that, though it’s taken me a long time to be able to do so.

    But as to religions providing a shared sense of meaning to their adherents, if we all agree with you on that, will it satisfy some desire for a shared sense of meaning for you, and can we incorporate as “Yod 2” and recreate the scene in the beautiful photo which Brad is so fond of? Maybe?

  3. Harlan
    Harlan March 23, 2015 at 11:35 am |

    Look Fred, I’m not enlightened like you. I still like and dislike some people by what I think they mean. I like Gniz. I didn’t find anything malicious in what he wrote. I rather enjoyed his perspective. And sometimes I manage to overlook what I don’t agree with. Is this blog just for you and Brad?

  4. Zafu
    Zafu March 23, 2015 at 11:44 am |

    Wow, even the untouchable Mark Foote has fallen from Zen grace and feeds the troll. To continue, you might do us the honor of explaining what you mean by “the eight-fold path is taken care of.” Do you mean that the eight-fold path is taken care of in the sense that it has provided sufficient meaning?

    1. mb
      mb March 23, 2015 at 12:02 pm |

      Hungry trolls are just too hard to resist feeding in most cases! You must be absolutely starving. The Troll Cafeteria is just down the hall next to the Hardcore Zen Cafeteria. “Emptiness” is the main dish served at the latter, and “meaning” at the former. However, the condiments served with the meals are the same in both places.

      1. Zafu
        Zafu March 23, 2015 at 12:12 pm |

        Down the hall? The buffet is right here, with you.

        1. mb
          mb March 23, 2015 at 12:16 pm |

          Of course! Trolls don’t like to hang out with other trolls. What would the point be?

        2. Zafu
          Zafu March 23, 2015 at 12:23 pm |

          Great comeback.

    2. Mark Foote
      Mark Foote March 23, 2015 at 10:40 pm |

      “(Anyone)…knowing and seeing eye as it really is, knowing and seeing material shapes… visual consciousness… impact on the eye as it really is, and knowing, seeing as it really is the experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye, is not attached to the eye nor to material shapes nor to visual consciousness nor to impact on the eye; and that experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye–neither to that is (such a one) attached. …(Such a one’s) physical anxieties decrease, and mental anxieties decrease, and bodily torments… and mental torments… and bodily fevers decrease, and mental fevers decrease. (Such a one) experiences happiness of body and happiness of mind. (repeated for ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind)

      Whatever is the view of what really is, that for (such a one) is right view; whatever is aspiration for what really is, that for (such a one) is right aspiration; whatever is endeavour for what really is, that is for (such a one) right endeavour; whatever is mindfulness of what really is, that is for (such a one) right mindfulness; whatever is concentration on what really is, that is for (such a one) right concentration. And (such a one’s) past acts of body, acts of speech, and mode of livelihood have been well purified.”

      (MN III 288-290, Pali Text Society III pg 337-338)

      1. Mark Foote
        Mark Foote March 23, 2015 at 10:42 pm |

        Where’s the meaning. Here’s the hot tub; the sinky, liquid feeling just makes it that much more obvious that the snow only falls right here.

      2. Zafu
        Zafu March 24, 2015 at 6:46 am |

        Ba-a-a-a

  5. Jason
    Jason March 23, 2015 at 11:46 am |

    anon said, “You know gniz has posted anonymously (not for some time, I’ll wager) because gniz told you. ”

    Well, if you’re referring to me, I really didn’t know anything about this weird history. I’m a relative newcomer to this blog, and I only comment once in a great while (until this thread).

    There may be more going on behind the scenes than I know about, but I’m not sure I’m buying this gniz-as-Fox-Mulder being shoved into the basement for questioning the status quo proposition. I can’t speak for Fred, but what I saw, for the most part, was people giving him the conversation he was asking for, and being fairly polite about describing what works for them and how they see the issues he was bringing up. At first, he readily admitted that he was mainly criticizing himself for his own issues, which I found absolutely refreshing since that tends to be what we’re all doing. After awhile though, many of his arguments degenerated into simply telling people that they were full of shit and not able to think right while claiming his own language was “precise” etc., and conflating the act of disagreeing with him with worshipping Brad Warner (a popular fallacy in this forum).

    I saw some logical inconsistencies in what he was saying, but Conrad did a pretty good job of addressing them, which seemed to just further infuriate him. If anything *he* seemed unable to accept dissenting opinions (except early on, when he seemed perfectly reasonable), not the other way around. But that’s just how it looked to me.

    I don’t consider myself a Buddhist or a follower of Brad Warner, I tend to be long winded (to say the least) once I get going, and the first time I ever engaged in this comment section I was sort of criticizing Brad over some incident where he felt he was being persecuted by a travel agent. Somehow no one’s accused me of being a troll or tried to shut me up or run me off, so I really don’t think the problem is that he wasn’t part of the club. I’ve lived my life in the presence of outsiders of one sort or another, and I find it all too common for people to claim they’re being punished for speaking truth to power when, in fact, they’re just assholes with whom people get tired of trying to communicate.

    I don’t really think he was that bad, I just don’t like the excuse.

    1. Zafu
      Zafu March 23, 2015 at 1:24 pm |

      I just read through the last page, with particular attention to the discussions with Conrad. Maybe I missed something but gniz seemed perfectly reasonable throughout. Things seemed to turned south after Fred’s harassment campaign.

      I’m curious what these “logical inconsistencies” are in what gniz shared. Conrad’s subjective experience thing isn’t particularly rational but based solely in his belief of the 4NT’s. He believes that everything is an expression of dissatisfaction, even apparent satisfaction. You can’t argue with that level of brainwashing.

      1. Conrad
        Conrad March 24, 2015 at 3:30 pm |

        Oh, dude, that’s just not fair. And I think you know it.

        I never said there’s no such thing as satisfaction. Only that it’s always limited and impermanent. Hence, even our satisfactions ends up dissatisfied. If you have even one counter-example to disprove that, please, let me hear about it. Otherwise, you’re the guy being illogical.

  6. Red Hat Zafu
    Red Hat Zafu March 23, 2015 at 12:14 pm |

    Meaning.

  7. anon 108
    anon 108 March 23, 2015 at 12:16 pm |

    Jason –

    My “You know gniz has posted anonymously…because gniz told you” comment was addressed to whoever had followed the latter part of the conversation – the part graced by Fred’s revelations – not to you specifically. The way I kicked of my comment did conflate you, Conrad and Fred and that was unfair.

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 23, 2015 at 12:49 pm |

      Mind you, I don’t think there’s anything suprising or “weird”about having posted anonymously and you seem to. Some of us are weak like that. Or have been. So whatever I said about that still applies (to you). As for the rest of what you say – fair enough.

  8. mb
    mb March 23, 2015 at 1:25 pm |

    FWIW #2 – I am having a “duh” moment. When thinking about internet trolls in the past, for some reason my mind always conjured up images of leprechauns and bridges and the like.

    And then it hit me – it’s the verb not the noun!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJaWnqfvtbE

    1. Zafu
      Zafu March 23, 2015 at 1:36 pm |

      This is the part where you say something to the effect that you have a choice in whether to swallow the hook or not.

      1. Shinchan Ohara
        Shinchan Ohara March 23, 2015 at 2:31 pm |

        you have a choice in whether to swallow the hook or not

        I just replied to one of your comments Zafupathy, but is on the previous page now, due to the onslaught of commentary.

        In the future scholars will say: Hardcore Online Zen was a religion so complex and wordy that it made Hinduism look like… eh… Softcore Zen

        1. Zafu
          Zafu March 23, 2015 at 3:11 pm |

          Funny.

          a major pretext of Zen is that there’s no 7) to be found, and looking for a 7) is a cause of suffering.

          You phrase this quite well, it’s just a pretext or how it’s ‘supposed to be’.

          The 7 of Buddhism is the cessation of suffer’n.

          The 7 of Hardcore Zen is emptiness, or whatever else the Sheep Herder comes up with.

          The 7 0f 9 is like totally hot. You probably won’t get this reference.

          1. Shinchan Ohara
            Shinchan Ohara March 23, 2015 at 5:12 pm |

            “The 7 of Hardcore Zen is emptiness, or whatever else the Sheep Herder comes up with”

            “Emptiness” as used by Buddhists, is just shorthand for “There ain’t no 7)”

          2. Shinchan Ohara
            Shinchan Ohara March 23, 2015 at 5:18 pm |

            7 of 9… ANYBODY pathetic enough to spend hours on end commenting here is already very intimate with her… in their wet nerd dreams

        2. Zafu
          Zafu March 23, 2015 at 5:59 pm |

          7 of 9… ANYBODY pathetic enough to spend hours on end commenting here is already very intimate with her… in their wet nerd dreams

          Lol, true dat, true dat.

  9. Red Hat Zafu
    Red Hat Zafu March 23, 2015 at 1:32 pm |

    Meaning..

    1. Fred
      Fred March 23, 2015 at 3:18 pm |

      Zaflu:
      ” just read through the last page, with particular attention to the discussions with Conrad. Maybe I missed something but gniz seemed perfectly reasonable throughout. Things seemed to turned south after Fred’s harassment campaign. ”

      Now that’s funny.

      Of course, your continuous flow of shit isn’t an harassment campaign.

      1. Zafu
        Zafu March 23, 2015 at 3:42 pm |

        The difference is that you single people out. I’m an equal opportunity Machiavellian sadist.

  10. haha
    haha March 23, 2015 at 3:42 pm |

    ha

  11. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 23, 2015 at 3:52 pm |

    When you don’t have a strong argument to make, accusing others of harassment seems like the next step.

    1. Zafu
      Zafu March 23, 2015 at 3:58 pm |

      I don’t believe that gniz accused anyone of harassment. His parting comment about having been bested in Dharma combat by Fredy may have been suggestive.

      1. Fred
        Fred March 23, 2015 at 4:14 pm |

        Your mother was suggestive

  12. Jason
    Jason March 23, 2015 at 3:53 pm |

    anon said, “Mind you, I don’t think there’s anything suprising or ‘weird’about having posted anonymously and you seem to. Some of us are weak like that. Or have been. So whatever I said about that still applies (to you). ”

    No, I don’t think there’s anything weird about posting anonymously per se, it’s the trolling and hiding and being seemingly hypersensitive and ashamed of it that all struck me as weird. I wasn’t there on the old site, so I have no idea how weird it actually was. gniz himself made it sound pretty bad, and sort of implied that he was part of a cruel elemant that eventually led Brad to shut the site down. I got the impression *he* thought it was pretty weird. I didn’t even think the quotes Fred posted were that bad. They were somewhat confessional, as you’ve noted.

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 23, 2015 at 5:21 pm |

      I appreciate that you’re not familiar with the details…

      Gniz had nothing at all to do with with the shutting down of the old comment section. That was largely the result of the incessant one-word-per-line ‘trolling’ of a chap calling himself And3rew, IMO…and other general misbehaviour. In fact (as gniz mentioned) Brad had come to trust gniz sufficiently that he offered him the post of moderator at that time. After gniz declined and Brad shut down the comment section, Brad gave notice of (supported?) the “Reblogging Brad Warner” site which maintained the comment section in another place, initiated and hosted – without interference or moderation – by gniz. Gniz’s trolling occured in the very early days of the blog, long before I and my alters showed up.

      (I agree there was nothing remarkable in the posts Fred re-posted. I don’t know why he does it.)

      1. anon 108
        anon 108 March 23, 2015 at 5:44 pm |

        In fact, Brad might have asked gniz to moderate after the re-opening of the comment section, I’m not sure. I know that gniz declined and Brad got ‘Stone Mirror’ to do it (say ‘Hi’, Stone Mirror). For the first few weeks of the newly-moderated blog you didn’t get to see your post until it had been moderated, and the process was far from speedy, making conversation impossible.

        If you’ve nothing better to do one wet weekend you could always check out the HCZ blog archive, starting in 2006. It’s the history of a little bit of history repeating.

        http://hardcorezen.blogspot.co.uk/2006_03_01_archive.html (comments start shortly thereafter).

        1. anon 108
          anon 108 March 23, 2015 at 5:52 pm |

          In ACTUAL fact, it looks like the blog started way before that. Fred – find out would you?

          1. anon 108
            anon 108 March 23, 2015 at 6:10 pm |

            …because this post from June 20 2006, which I remember well although I wasn’t yet posting ( and in which you can see gniz trolling as ‘gniz’ and signing his real name, Aaron), shows Pupster and Lone Wolf celebrating the re-opening of the comment section. Looks like there were two comment section shutdowns, some years apart.

            http://hardcorezen.blogspot.co.uk/2006/06/sitting-in-chairs-part-million.html

        2. Jason
          Jason March 23, 2015 at 6:13 pm |

          I can’t imagine I’ll ever have that little to do.

  13. justlui
    justlui March 23, 2015 at 4:08 pm |

    Anyone want to watch Wizards?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geZScCm_JUA

    1. Fred
      Fred March 23, 2015 at 6:06 pm |

      “(I agree there was nothing remarkable in the posts Fred re-posted. I don’t know why he does it.)”

      He said something about getting to the truth of it, so we got to the truth of it, his very own words.

      I guess you shouldn’t say you want to get to the truth of something when you don’t really want to face the truth of something which is the truth of you.

      And maybe looking at the truth of you might set you free if you face it. After you face it, you could look at the illusion of you.

      And then after seeing the illusion of you, and having some type of insight you could admit to all, the reality of that insight and hono(u)r other’s insights

  14. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara March 23, 2015 at 5:59 pm |

    One more comment me hearties… and we’ve hit 400. Full Steam Ahead!!!!

    1. Fred
      Fred March 23, 2015 at 6:32 pm |

      June 25, 2006 Brad said:

      “Enlightenment is not a state. It’s not an experience that happens to you after which everything you say or do is cool because – hey – you’re an Enlightened Being, so it must be cool. No. Enlightenment is action. Enlightenment is not something you experience. It’s not something you own which other un-enlightened folks don’t. Enlightenment is something you do. This is why Dogen said that sitting Zazen is Enlightenment itself. When you behave like a Buddha, that behavior, that action, is Enlightenment. When you behave like an asshole….”

      1. justlui
        justlui March 23, 2015 at 7:00 pm |

        Perhaps his intention vs my interpretation of his words are simply miles apart, but totally disagree with this quote from Brad.

        1. Fred
          Fred March 23, 2015 at 7:14 pm |

          For you, its right here in front of you?

          What’s the difference?

          For you – THIS!

          For his statement – sitting in zazen here

        2. justlui
          justlui March 23, 2015 at 7:25 pm |

          It’s too bad, Fred, I would totally discuss this with you, but I know that you are not interested in discussion.

          Brad, I would totally discuss this one with you if I knew you! That would be way fun!

  15. Zafu
    Zafu March 23, 2015 at 6:56 pm |

    “Emptiness” as used by Buddhists, is just shorthand for “There ain’t no 7)”

    Buddhist believe that everything is empty, if that’s what you mean to say. My wet dreams are empty, Fredy Jr. is empty, meaning is empty, and indeed even Buddhism is empty.

    1. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara March 23, 2015 at 6:58 pm |

      Yes, exactly

    2. Fred
      Fred March 23, 2015 at 6:59 pm |

      “Buddhist believe that everything is empty, if that’s what you mean to say. My wet dreams are empty, Fredy Jr. is empty, meaning is empty, and indeed even Buddhism is empty.”

      Good stuff, Zaf.

    3. Zafu
      Zafu March 23, 2015 at 10:08 pm |

      Oh God, I’ve turned sheep.

  16. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 23, 2015 at 7:08 pm |

    What in the world is going on here?

  17. Jason
    Jason March 23, 2015 at 10:41 pm |

    “Don’t fill my comments section up with answers. Thanks.”

    Well, that didn’t work.

  18. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 23, 2015 at 10:57 pm |

    “When you behave like a Buddha, that behavior, that action, is Enlightenment.”

    “When you find your place where you are, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point.”

    (“Genjo Koan” by Eihei Dogen, trans. by Aitken and Tanahashi)

    Behaving is not the same as actualizing the fundamental point. Everybody here knows that, Brad knows that. How is that, that we all know that even though we can’t explain that.

    Zafu, I did reply: here.

  19. goran
    goran March 24, 2015 at 12:47 am |

    Enlightenment is both real and attainable. But there’s a lot of confusion regarding what it actually is. Here’s a good primer on what Enlightenment really is:
    http://www.uncoveringlife.com/enlightenment-what-it-is/

    1. justlui
      justlui March 24, 2015 at 1:14 am |

      You lost at me “go see the matrix and then buy my book”

    2. Fred
      Fred March 24, 2015 at 7:41 am |

      “There’s no objective reality — there’s only experiencing

      But to the un-enlightened, things don’t seem that way. Rather, it seems as if we’re human beings walking around on planet earth; as if we exist as physical entities in a universe of time and space. It seems as if we experience an objectively existing world — as opposed to, let’s say, a field of subjectivity that’s perpetually transforming, morphing and modulating itself — which is how the awakened experiences life: as a mere flow of ever-changing phenomenality.”

      1. Fred
        Fred March 24, 2015 at 7:47 am |

        The subjectivity field morphing and modulating as the flow of ever-changing phenomenality.

        And now 4 pages on the various types of Phenomenalism and The Hard Problem of Consciousness by Sigmund Helacoital.

  20. anon 108
    anon 108 March 24, 2015 at 1:50 am |

    Zafu – Brad’s teacher, Gudo Nishijima, wasn’t impressed by the 4NTs, either. Perhaps you’re familiar with Nishijima’s theory.* If not, you might fancy glancing through, or even reading, this. It’s long.

    http://www.dogensangha.org.uk/PDF/4%20Views.pdf (1986)

    From the Introduction:

    “This small booklet is an edited collection of seven talks given on Buddhism by the Reverend Gudo Wafu Nishijima to the weekly seminar he has held in Tokyo for the last fifteen years. Reverend Nishijima bases his explanations of Buddhist theory on the Shobogenzo, the central work of the Buddhist priest and philosopher known as Master Dogen. Though a brilliant and original thinker adept with words and the complexities of Buddhist logic, Master Dogen never lost sight of the gulf that separates ideas and reality. He found the true foundation of Buddhist life not in theories but in the simple sitting practice called zazen.”

    An excerpt:

    When I was a teenager, I read about the Four Noble Truths in Buddhist books, but I could not understand what they were referring to at all. So these four truths, which were said to be the core of Buddhism itself, became a hindrance, or stumbling block in myefforts to study Buddhism.

    If we look in old scriptures, the Theravada Buddhist Scriptures for example, we can find traditional explanations of the meaning of these Four Noble Truths. They explain that the Truth of Suffering means that all things and events in this world are suffering; that the Truth of Aggregates means that all suffering derives from human desire; that the Truth of Enclosure or Subjection means that we must destroy our desire; and the Truth of the Right Way means that, having destroyed our desire, we can find the right way. But I can find no real meaning in these explanations, no matter how hard I try.

    If all things and events in this world are suffering, then Buddhism can be at best a dogmatic and pessimistic religion. If all suffering results from human desire, then Buddhism can be no more than asceticism. If the idea of “destroying all our desires was a Buddhist idea, than Buddhism must be a religion which advocates what is impossible; for it is utterly impossible for us to destroy our desires. Desire is the basis of our human existence itself. The Truth of the Right Way is further explained as the Eightfold Noble Path; right view, right thinking,right speech, right behavior, right livelihood, right effort, right state of body, and right state of mind. But I cannot find any relationship between this fourth truth and the first three.

    * It is just a theory; just one maverick Zen priest’s take on things. But Zen has always had its fair share of mavericks. Brad will have sat through – as in listened to – a lot of this kind of thing. If nothing else it might give you more pertinent trolling material : ) [The word “emptiness” doesn’t appear once.]

    1. Zafu
      Zafu March 24, 2015 at 6:45 am |

      Ba-a-a-a

  21. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon March 24, 2015 at 3:53 am |
    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 24, 2015 at 5:52 am |

      Thanks, TGC.

  22. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara March 24, 2015 at 5:49 am |

    Welcome to the flock Zafu. In case you ever want to back to being a sheep worrier, here’s some ammo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlIJFrmanJI

  23. haha
    haha March 24, 2015 at 6:33 am |

    When I was a teenager, I read about the Four Noble Truths in Buddhist books, but I could not understand what they were referring to at all. So these four truths, which were said to be the core of Buddhism itself, became a hindrance, or stumbling block in myefforts to study Buddhism.

    Wow, I had a similar experience in college. I took physics but I just couldn’t understand what the textbook was saying. So I concluded that this textbook was a hindrance to my understanding physics.

    1. Zafu
      Zafu March 24, 2015 at 6:48 am |

      Ba-a-a-a-a-a

    2. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara March 24, 2015 at 7:30 am |

      Wow, haha, Albert Einstein had a similar experience in college. He took physics but just couldn’t understand what the textbook was saying (like how could Maxwell’s Equations and Newton’s equations make sense together after Michelson and Morley had disproved the idea of a stationary aether). The textbook was a hindrance to Einstein’s understanding of physics, so he did something about it. It worked out for him: he came up with a better, more realistic explanation.

      Why’s that OK for Einstein, but not for Nishijima?

      1. haha
        haha March 24, 2015 at 10:28 am |

        Einsteinium tribble many placemat cinder, right?

        1. Shinchan Ohara
          Shinchan Ohara March 24, 2015 at 11:14 am |

          Mostly.

      2. Conrad
        Conrad March 24, 2015 at 3:43 pm |

        Einstein didn’t fail to understand the physics textbook. He simply added to it something it already knew it didn’t yet understand.

        1. Shinchan Ohara
          Shinchan Ohara March 24, 2015 at 4:31 pm |

          OK, maybe the analogy doesn’t stretch that far.

          Then again, nobody but Albert was seriously considering rewriting Classical Mechanics to fill the gap… afaik

  24. robert
    robert March 24, 2015 at 7:01 am |

    Brad, Brad! For the love of Dogen; execute some comment moderation pulease! I may be wrong, but I think there was a time when the comments sometimes added to your posts.

    Zafu and friends; fuck off!

    1. Zafu
      Zafu March 24, 2015 at 7:26 am |

      Ba-a-a-a a-a

    2. justlui
      justlui March 24, 2015 at 4:48 pm |

      Robert, I hope that you don’t consider your unneeded comment of “fuck off” on this comment section to be more useful than anyone else’s comments here. Just sayin. . .

      And when I say “Just sayin. . . ” what I mean is, you’re a cunt.

  25. anon 108
    anon 108 March 24, 2015 at 7:27 am |

    No, zafu! Not Ba-a-a-a! You’re better than that. You can think for yourself. I can tell.

    Perhaps like haha you’ll go on to make an important new discovery in the field of physics…or something. When you do, be sure to come back and tell us all about it. Not that it will mean* anything to us. Ba-a-a-a.

    * see what I did?

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 24, 2015 at 7:41 am |

      Sorry, TGC. I did maun earlier. But sometimes…. you know.

    2. Zafu
      Zafu March 24, 2015 at 8:06 am |
      1. Shinchan Ohara
        Shinchan Ohara March 24, 2015 at 8:14 am |
  26. Red Hat Zafu
    Red Hat Zafu March 24, 2015 at 8:21 am |

    Meaning.Meaning

  27. Jason
    Jason March 24, 2015 at 8:22 am |

    Conrad posted this earlier and didn’t get so much of a Ba-a-a-a, so I’m afraid it may have gotten lost due to the aforementioned nature of the response button in this forum. I think he’s made some salient points, so I’m reprinting it.

    “Zafu,

    I’m not a regular here, and I’ve never encountered gniz before, so I really don’t know much about him and his trolling. So my opinion is just from the limited exchange we had above and on the last thread. I don’t find him either interested or capable of the kind of subtle reasoning or patience that is required to discuss these topics. Even the quote you give from Brad confirms this. Brad points out that yes and no answers to a lot of questions aren’t very meaningful. I agree. But gniz wants yes and no answers, and if you don’t give them, he starts hurling insults. It’s pretty childish.

    That doesn’t mean he’s wrong or unintelligent. But if a person can’t try to empathize with another’s point of view and try to figure out what they are trying to say, it’s not going to work. And I’d point out that it was gniz who refused to discuss things further with me, not the other way around. So it’s not me who dismissed him.

    Likewise, “I don’t know” isn’t the only possible answer to these sorts of complex questions, unless one is demanding unquivocal yes/no answers. Which again makes the discussion an absurdity. Gniz fails to even grasp the principles of science, by saying several times that science seeks and finds proofs of various statements. It doesn’t. The very word is anathema to any scientist. Science seeks data that supports or discredits various theories. It is always dealing with shadings of evidence and theory, never anything remotely resembling a proof. In fact, it’s fair to say that science is always wrong, and never knows, it just tries to be less wrong and less ignorant over time.

    Likewise, it’s easy to imagine gniz’s point of view. Anyone can drop into the mindset and get argumentative about it, and make it impossible for anyone else to make a valid point. I’ve dealt with such people many times before. I’ve even been that person before. Haven’t you?

    It’s not that I can’t imagine a Buddhism without the 4NTs, I just think it’s definitionally not Buddhism any longer if you take your eclecticism that far. I suppose you can slap the name on just about anything you like, but words do mean something, and Buddhism at the very least means the 4NTs. Why would you still want to call yourself a Buddhist if you rejected those? Just to make yourself feel connected somehow to a venerable tradition? What’s that all about?

    As for emptiness, I should have clarified my statement simply by adding that it’s a proposition about the nature of things. It may or may not be true, but it isn’t some sort of promise that if you do various Buddhist methods, you will be given emptiness as a reward. It’s supposedly true for all beings and all things, Buddhist or not. So you have to find out if its true first.

    You say the purpose of emptiness is meaning, but I don’t see how that can be the case, since according to Buddhism, all meaning is empty. So I’m not sure how emptiness leads to meaning. Maybe you could explain?

    “I thought Zen practice was supposed to cure people from suffering such dualities. I believe we can subscribe to meaning systems and work on cures for diseases simultaneously.”

    I think Zen simply highlights these contrasts, and requires that we resolve them. Yet life demands priorities. You can’t cure all diseases, and everyone is still going to die somehow. So dukkha isn’t going away. The Buddha’s entire approach was predicated on the idea that it was necessary to address the problem of dukkha first, and not worry about the rest so much beyond the minimums necessary for survival. I think it turns out that if you address core and root problems first, most of the other things fall into line. Not that cancer cures miraculously pop out of nowhere, but death and disease are no longer insurmountable problems requiring cures. An ultimate cure isn’t even possible, so one settles for what’s possible, and accepts those limits with grace.

    “We satisfy our hunger by eating, but inevitably we get hungry again.”

    That’s exactly the point. We never actually get satisfied, even with food. This should tell us that there’s no ultimate meaning in eating, or in any other craving. There’s just temporary, provisional, and unsatisfiable meanings that come and go depending on the circumstances.

    Keep in mind that the cessation of craving won’t stop your body from needing food and getting hungry. But simple hunger is not craving. Craving refers to our existential need for permanent satisfaction. Meaning is nothing more than the mental equivalent of hunger. And the basic teaching of Buddhism is that there’s no satisfying and lasting meaning to anything, just these provisional meanings that come and go and at best give temporary and incomplete sustenance to us in the short run. So you can’t build some system of meaning that will hold together over time, or even completely answer all questions in the moment. The mind is unsatisfiable.

    Gniz is an example of that mind seeking satisfaction. He’s further evidence that Buddha was right. But so is everyone’s mind. No one’s mind is any better in that respect. Not mine, not yours, not even Buddha’s.”

    1. Zafu
      Zafu March 24, 2015 at 8:37 am |

      “Baa-ram-ewe! Baa-ram-ewe! To your breed, your fleece, your clan be true! Sheep be true! Baa-ram-ewe!”

      1. Fred
        Fred March 24, 2015 at 8:53 am |

        I met Baaramewe in Europe last year. Great guy and he definitely knew his stuff about the real, vigorous examination of the truth of the matter.

        1. Zafu
          Zafu March 24, 2015 at 9:00 am |

          Ba-ba?

  28. Fred
    Fred March 24, 2015 at 9:41 am |

    Yeah, Baba Ramithard.

    1. Fred
      Fred March 24, 2015 at 9:43 am |

      You probably met him when you were in prison.

      1. Fred
        Fred March 24, 2015 at 9:45 am |

        I hear you guys got down with the real, vigorous examination of the truth of the matter

        1. Fred
          Fred March 24, 2015 at 9:47 am |

          In the throes of ” lovemaking ” you use to scream out ‘I’m your ewe. I’m your ewe.’

        2. Zafu
          Zafu March 24, 2015 at 10:22 am |

          BA-BA!!

          1. haha
            haha March 24, 2015 at 10:27 am |

            ha

  29. Red Hat Zafu
    Red Hat Zafu March 24, 2015 at 9:49 am |

    Jason,

    “I think it turns out that if you address core and root problems first, most of the other things fall into line.”

    I’d tend to agree. I think that “root problem” is a mistaken perception of self.

    I read a fun book a few months ago by a monk who has practiced many years with the group up at Mount Baldy. He got into zen to find the source of all his problems, only to find (to his dismay) a big fat arrow pointing directly at him.

    Cheers.

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon March 24, 2015 at 11:31 am |

      Was it this book? I liked it.

      1. Red Hat Zafu
        Red Hat Zafu March 24, 2015 at 12:13 pm |

        Yes. I liked it also.

    2. Conrad
      Conrad March 24, 2015 at 3:48 pm |

      Yeah

  30. anon 108
    anon 108 March 24, 2015 at 10:44 am |

    Jason pp Conrad wrote:

    “It’s not that I can’t imagine a Buddhism without the 4NTs, I just think it’s definitionally not Buddhism any longer if you take your eclecticism that far. I suppose you can slap the name on just about anything you like, but words do mean something, and Buddhism at the very least means the 4NTs. Why would you still want to call yourself a Buddhist if you rejected those? Just to make yourself feel connected somehow to a venerable tradition? What’s that all about?”

    I know what you mean, Conrad.

    Bodhidharma is credited with a sermon called “Outline of Practice”. It’s the first piece in Red Pine’s collection ‘The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma’. It describes “Four inclusive practices: suffering injustice, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and practising the Dharma”. This is Bodhidharma’s presentation of the 4NTs, which he goes on to flesh out. It requires quite a bit of stretching to relate his version to the traditional one. Why didn’t Bodhidharma explain the NTs the way they’d been explained in the suttas? Was Bodhidharma a Buddhist? Maybe not.

    Here’s Dogen on the 4NTs (It’s short. Worth a quick look):

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9nqqLwjgzQoC&pg=PA234&lpg=PA234&dq=dogen+the+four+noble+truths&source=bl&ots=Y7wyClrIML&sig=Ku-KTOpYC1pijKSgehRQ58nFJrA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=9JYRVe_EFsPvav3jgrgC&ved=0CDoQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=dogen%20the%20four%20noble%20truths&f=false

    As far as I know, that’s the only time he mentioned them. Now what is THAT all about? Was Dogen a Buddhist? Maybe not.

    Perhaps Zen isn’t Buddhism at all. I don’t care. I no longer bother about whether or not I’m ‘a Buddhist’. I don’t believe in Buddha. I don’t belive in Bodhidharma. I don’t believe in Dogen. I don’t believe in Nishijima. I don’t believe in Mike Luetchford or Brad Warner. I consider the things I hear, grab whatever I find meaningful and try not to hold on too tight.

    1. Jason
      Jason March 24, 2015 at 11:58 am |

      Same here.

    2. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara March 24, 2015 at 12:29 pm |

      This is getting silly – ‘getting’ lol.

      Starting to question my own sanity, I just re-read the Brad’s post a couple of times, and I re-read the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta a couple of times, and I read anon 108’s Bodhidharma and Dogen quotes a couple of times.

      I can’t see ANY obvious way that any of these texts contradict one another, or are incompatible in ANY way. Conrad, et al., are tilting at windmills, and pissing in the wind.

      Sure, some post-Buddha Buddhists have created novel ways of expressing their interpretation of the Buddhadharma. So what? Only a really shit teacher would just quote from the textbook. Bodhidharma wasn’t the first Buddhist in China, Dogen wasn’t the first in Japan, Brad wasn’t the first in LA. They’re giving a new slant on what’s already known.

      And while we’re at it… those who’re saying you can’t be Buddhist without the four noble truths, utter cessation of suffering, etc – do I have to literally believe in reincarnation too, ’cause Buddha mentions it in Sutta 101?

    3. Conrad
      Conrad March 24, 2015 at 3:59 pm |

      anon108,

      I’m not very big on Dharma anyway, so it’s perfectly fine with me if a person doesn’t make much direct mention of the 4NTs, as long as they incorporate their meanings and principles into what they teach. If they are working to diminish craving and dukkha, and increase freedom from these, I don’t really care if they do it in some dharmically incoherent or even nutty way. Upaya is fine with me. But the test of upaya is that it actually reduces dukkha.

      So if someone has some eclectic interpretation of the 4NTs, like say Brad’s teacher, I don’t much care unless they are obviously rejecting them and then advocating a practice that, say, encourages one to crave more and better ways to be an asshole. And that’s going on. Brad’s criticism of some teachers out there pretty much amounts to that.

      I don’t think what I’ve said about the 4NT’s is contradicted by Boddhidarma. He, too, seemed very clear about relinquishing all forms of mental craving and conceptualization. Do you have something specific there you’d like to point out?

      I think one aspect of Zen is that it tends to eshew mental and dharmic justifications in favor of direct practice. Like I’ve said before, if you really do just sit zazen, that’s going to reduce your cravings in and of itself, because what cravings could possibly be fulfilled by staring at a wall? You don’t need to have some sort of Dharmic concept to go along with it. In fact, letting go of that is pretty much the point.

      But I would also suggest that unless a person has actually felt the truth of the 4NTs, regardless of what their conceptual mind recognizes, they just aren’t going to sit zazen. Not for very long at least.

      1. anon 108
        anon 108 March 24, 2015 at 5:04 pm |

        Sure, why would you bother with any practice unless you wanted to have less dissatisfaction, more contentment, in your life? And all forms of Buddhism are about that, even the ones that express the 4NTs in an unorthodox fashion or don’t bother mentioning them at all. Glad we agree about that.

        (I don’t agree with the “crave more and better ways to be an asshole…Brad’s criticism of some teachers out there pretty much amounts to that” part, though. There’a long history of criticising other schools and other teachers in Buddhism. There’s not supposed to be, but there is. People, huh? Whatcha gonna do? Choose not to join in, perhaps.)

  31. Zafu
    Zafu March 24, 2015 at 10:50 am |

    I don’t believe…

    Ba-ba?

  32. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 24, 2015 at 11:31 am |

    ‘s more like a pack of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    Ba, ba, have you any… flesh…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDpYBT0XyvA

  33. Red Hat Zafu
    Red Hat Zafu March 24, 2015 at 11:37 am |

    Any resemblance between this story and real characters is totally possible.

    One upon a time on a planet called Dirt there lived a race of people called humans. A strange and wonderful fact about Dirt was that everyone had a Red Hat on their heads.

    Everyone. Even Jesus. Buddha had one and even Fred, Sally and Mark have one.

    Even Red Hat Zafu had a Red Hat.

    These Red Hats were really big and really tall. Random winds could hit them. People could loose balance because of them.

    The result was sad.

    Because when Red Hats became unbalanced, people would fall and get bloody noses. Everyone was always walking around with bloody noses. Band aids were a real best seller.

    The strangest thing about this very strange planet was this; even though everyone on the planet Dirt had a Red Hat no-one could see them. Those darn Red Hats were causing all sorts of bloody noses, but no one could even see them.

    On day, a long, long time ago, somebody on the planet Dirt started to wonder why he was always getting bloody noses. He tried blaming all those other people around him, but he noticed even when he was alone he would still fall and get a bloody nose.

    He thought, maybe if I sit down and watch what is happening in my life I can figure out where these bloody noses are coming from. So he did. For a long, long time.

    And slowly, very, very slowly, he started to notice that he had a strange, ghostly Red Hat on his head. The more he looked a his life, the bigger and redder and solider that hat became. The hat didn’t get smaller or go away as he began to notice it. In fact sometimes it seemed to get bigger.

    Oddly enough, even as began seeing his own Red Hat, it slowly started to become a little easier to balance. Oddly enough, very gradually, he began to fall over slightly less often than before. His nose was a little less bloody on average. Little winds wouldn’t blow him over. Hooks wouldn’t grab as well.

    This seemed like something worth knowing so he decided to tell other people about his discovery. Some had faith in his odd story about Red Hats and decided to see for themselves if what he said was true. Most, however, ignored his silly story about Red Hats and went on their way.

    You might hope for a happy ending where everyone realized that they have a Red Hat on their head, learn how to balance it perfectly and everyone is happy ever after with no more bloody noses.

    But that’s a stupid ending. That’s not the planet Dirt I live on.

    The truth is, Nothing much really changed.

    The truth is, Everything changed.

    The truth is, You get to pick your very own ending.

    1. Zafu
      Zafu March 24, 2015 at 11:54 am |

      Hooks wouldn’t grab as well.

      Ba-ba?

    2. haha
      haha March 24, 2015 at 1:03 pm |

      Yes and in the Buddha’s case the Red Hat was seen as he directly observed just the coming into existence portion of the smallest particle of energy that exists in forms. By observing this, he saw how his mind began to cling to just that portion of matter. It was as if he observed the first domino that falls to create the cascade of dominos that are the basic human experience. By being able to observe this, he could choose not to cling to it.

      Baaaaaaa.

      1. Zafu
        Zafu March 24, 2015 at 1:21 pm |

        Ba-ba?

        1. haha
          haha March 24, 2015 at 1:48 pm |

          Ba ba ba. Bababa ba baba baba.

          Gategateparagateetc.

        2. haha
          haha March 24, 2015 at 1:52 pm |

          *if* this is true, and you should check with your best teachers, you could imagine the 4NT following from this, and the 8FP as a procudure that results in seeing directly.

  34. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 24, 2015 at 11:47 am |

    Zafu,

    This is one of the other ways I look for meaning.

    I think it makes me look like a total dick. But I still had fun even though soda up the nose hurts.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/8763834@N02/16280111413/

    Cheers.

    1. Andy
      Andy March 24, 2015 at 1:16 pm |

      Enjoyed that, thanks.

  35. Zafu
    Zafu March 24, 2015 at 12:00 pm |

    total dick

    Ba.

    1. Fred
      Fred March 24, 2015 at 1:18 pm |

      Dirt and the real vigorous examination of the truth of the matter

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-S296ENSIo

      1. Fred
        Fred March 24, 2015 at 1:54 pm |

        Right speech:

        1. Abstain from false speech; do not tell lies or deceive.
        2. Do not slander others or speak in a way that causes disharmony or enmity.
        3. Abstain from rude, impolite or abusive language.
        4. Do not indulge in idle talk or gossip.

        1. Zafu
          Zafu March 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm |

          1. Ba
          2. Ba-ba
          3. Ba-ba-ba
          4. Ba-ba-ba-ba

          1. Alan Sailer
            Alan Sailer March 24, 2015 at 4:52 pm |

            A Ba ba ba ba Barbar Ann
            Ba ba ba ba Barbar Ann
            (Ba ba ba ba Barbar Ann)
            Oh Barbara Ann take my hand
            (Ba ba ba bar Barbar Ann)
            Barbara Ann

            ~ The Beach Boys.

          2. justlui
            justlui March 24, 2015 at 4:55 pm |

            Damn well played, Alan Sailer. haha

        2. justlui
          justlui March 24, 2015 at 3:34 pm |

          Is that what you do Fred, follow 1, 2, 3 and 4? Is that part of being a Buddhist for you?

          Oh, you know where I’m going 😛

          1. Fred
            Fred March 24, 2015 at 5:14 pm |

            Got a problem, boy?

          2. justlui
            justlui March 24, 2015 at 5:31 pm |

            No, I was asking you a question 😛

  36. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon March 24, 2015 at 3:44 pm |

    I got your “Baba” right here.

  37. Conrad
    Conrad March 24, 2015 at 4:27 pm |

    I was reading the link above to Nishijima’s interpretation of the 4NTs, and I don’t see anything wrong with it, or contradictory to what I’ve been saying.

    Linking the 1st NT to idealism is pretty good really. Especially in Buddhism, which is opposed to idealism and wedded to realism. “When we are full of ideals and anxious to realize those ideals, we invariably suffer from being unable to realize them” is a very good way of summarizing the craving for satisfaction. It’s also good in that we all know ideals never get realized fully or permanently, and that means we are always going to be disatisfied so long as we pursue their satisfaction.

    The linkage of the 2nd NT to materialism is also fair enough. I think he sort of mixes 1 and 2 together here, but that’s how they are anyway, and it’s not garbled in the translation. Likewise the others seem to be pretty consistent with the basics of the 4NTs as I’ve understood them and described them. He uses a creative language and conceptual system, but so what? He’s still in favor of reducing/eliminating idealism and materialism using the hard truths of reality. That’s the 4NTs in a nutshell.

    In other words, it passes my smell test as decent Buddhism.

    1. Zafu
      Zafu March 24, 2015 at 5:09 pm |

      Ba-a-a

  38. justlui
    justlui March 24, 2015 at 4:50 pm |

    Come on 500 comments haha lets do it.

  39. anon 108
    anon 108 March 24, 2015 at 5:12 pm |

    [Reply to Conrad’s 3,59pm, re-posted for visibility. Make your mind up, Malcolm.]

    Sure, why would you bother with any practice unless you wanted to have less dissatisfaction, more contentment, in your life? And all forms of Buddhism are about that, even the ones that express the 4NTs in an unorthodox fashion or don’t bother mentioning them at all. Glad we agree about that.

    (I don’t agree with the “crave more and better ways to be an asshole…Brad’s criticism of some teachers out there pretty much amounts to that” part, though. There’a long history of criticising other schools and other teachers in Buddhism. There’s not supposed to be, but there is. People, huh? Whatcha gonna do? Choose not to join in, perhaps.)

    1. Fred
      Fred March 24, 2015 at 5:20 pm |

      “Sure, why would you bother with any practice unless you wanted to have less dissatisfaction, more contentment, in your life? ”

      Contentment for what, your ego?

      How can dissatisfaction have any meaning if your not clinging to anything?

    2. Conrad
      Conrad March 24, 2015 at 6:12 pm |

      You get less dissatisfaction by not craving satisfaction.

      Contentment is what is naturally the case when you’re not trying to satisfy yourself.

      Fred has it right below. What ego? The ego that craves contentment/satisfaction never achieves it. And when that silliness is relinquished, there’s nowhere for an ego to arise and thrive. Turns out, the ego was nothing more than the sum of all cravings.

  40. Conrad
    Conrad March 24, 2015 at 6:14 pm |

    “why would you bother with any practice unless you wanted to have less dissatisfaction, more contentment, in your life?”

    Why would you stare at a wall if your primary interest in life was gaining satisfaction? What satisfaction is gained from that practice? Surely there’s a lot better methods out there if that’s the aim.

  41. Conrad
    Conrad March 24, 2015 at 6:16 pm |

    I was thinking of Brad’s attacks on the whole “Big Mind” thing. He made it pretty clear that he doesn’t think this is Buddhism. And I’d agree in that it’s just a way of exploiting people’s cravings rather than relinquishing them, regardless of the window-dressing.

  42. haha
    haha March 24, 2015 at 6:38 pm |

    492

  43. anon 108
    anon 108 March 24, 2015 at 6:51 pm |

    I don’t know what you guys are talking about. I know what these guys are talking about –

    Kodo Sawaki said: “Grasp the self, the ultimate in ourselves, the true ego – whatever you call it. It is absolutely necessary to seize it, for as it is, it is the nature of Buddha…One day I got a postcard from a policeman telling me that he was trying to live fully his life as a police inspector. When I read this, I had to laugh. That’s exactly it! He perfectly realized my teaching. Becoming buddha is becoming oneself completely. When you are not yourself, life is hell.”

    The last thing Dogen wrote before he died Dogen’s ‘Eight Truths of a Great Human Being,’ quotes a sutra (presumably Mahayana, the Sanskrit original of which is lost) called YUIKYO-GYO, ‘The Sutra of Bequethed Teaching,” allegedly the Buddha’s last words, too.

    Thes are the first two truths of a great human being, a buddha:

    1) Small desire (alpecchu, as quoted by Ashvaghosha)
    2) To know satisfaction (Santushta, as quoted by Ashvaghosha)

    If you’re looking for scriptural/Buddhist authority, you’ve got it. You’re free to disagree.

    Even if G Buddha, Ashvaghosha or Dogen hadn’t said it, I’m saying it.

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 24, 2015 at 6:53 pm |

      That’s a reply to Fred’s last and Conrad’s penultimate and antepenultimate (at time of writing).

    2. Conrad
      Conrad March 24, 2015 at 7:52 pm |

      Santosha is one of Patanjali’s niyamas. It’s not the same as “satisfaction”, which refers to the fulfillment of one’s desires. It’s what you have when you relinquish desires. By not pursuing satisfaction, a natural contentment overcomes you. And that’s a lot better.

      As Buddha said,

      No earthly pleasure
      No heavenly bliss
      Equals one infinitesimal fraction
      Of the bliss of the cessation of craving.

      Craving/tanha does not refer to “small desire”, which is just the needs of the bodily self. It refers to the desire to please the mythical self, which cannot be accomplished because it’s a myth.

  44. Conrad
    Conrad March 24, 2015 at 8:00 pm |

    Look, it’s pretty simple. Pursing the satisfaction of our desires as if that will make some inner, fictional self happy is not only fruitless, it produces endless suffering and dissatisfaction. It distorts our minds, it creates ripples of bullshit throughout our body, and it never ends. So the solution to this isn’t some even better way of satisfying our inner fictional self. It’s to stop doing that bullshit. And because we’ve habituated ourselves to that pattern of bullshit, it’s hard to just stop. So we have to engage in various practices to help us stop. Like meditation. And all the other parts of the eightfold path. We may even have to trick ourselves into it. Or be tricked.

    That doesn’t mean there’s no happiness anymore. It means there’s actually a whole different order of happiness that comes when we stop bullshitting ourselves. It’s a natural, free happiness that doesn’t have to be sought. It doesn’t come from satisfying our desires, big or small. We will still have small desires, but we won’t imagine that they will ever be satisfied. We rest in the Santosha of reality. Different from getting what you want, certainly, but not worse at all. Actually, lots lots better.

  45. Conrad
    Conrad March 24, 2015 at 8:09 pm |

    You can even observe this going on in the midst of seeking for satisfaction. Notice what happens when you actually get something you’ve been craving for a while. The really enjoyable thing you experience then isn’t the attainment itself, or the pleasures associated with it, but the simple fact that for just a moment, you get to relax. You get free of that craving briefly. And that freedom from the craving is where the real enjoyment comes from. Unfortunately, then other cravings quickly arise and take over, and push you towards some new goal. But contained in that moment of satisfaction is the seed of the relinquishment of craving. It just has to be noticed and used to generate a new principle to live by.

  46. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara March 24, 2015 at 8:42 pm |

    four nine nine…

  47. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 24, 2015 at 9:10 pm |

    I would never do it…

  48. otaku00
    otaku00 March 31, 2015 at 7:57 am |

    “Although if you sit for a long time observing your own mind, you can sometimes read things like the stuff Dogen wrote (to take one specific example) and they’ll make sense to you.”

    Or they don’t. Like his karma in three lifetimes. Or his defamation of Vimalakirti.

  49. otaku00
    otaku00 March 31, 2015 at 8:00 am |

    “Are you asking for a way in which you can do your taxes and enjoy it? … Do you think that exists?”

    Yes, it does.

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