Hi Brad. Yesterday I allowed myself to get hung up over not having the job I want or the money I want and convinced myself what a total failure I was. During zazen that morning I had a wonderful experience which only pisses me off even more when I allowed my day to turn to shit. I finished zazen just now once again to start my day and have the thoughts that it does not really fucking matter if my self exists or not or if I have a ton of money or not or if I have a great job or not. All that matters is the present moment and how I think feel believe and act during the present moment. Circumstances can and will change sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. But right now they are what they are and the rest is all up to me. Dude. How do you STAY in this good space for long periods of fucking time? The roller coaster of emotions can be a karmic bitch!!!
There is no trick to staying in a good space for long stretches. You can’t do it! It’s just the nature of things. Don’t even bother trying.
It’s the preference for good spaces over bad spaces that’s the biggest problem. The hardest thing is learning to give up both. You can, however, gradually understand the unreality of both the good spaces and the bad ones.
The only trick I’ve discovered regarding this is that you have to address it immediately on a kind of micro level. Let me see if I can explain what I mean by that.
The famous Zen poem Shinjin Mei (Faith Mind Inscription) begins with the line, “The Great Way is not difficult. Just avoid picking and choosing.” Sometimes the second line is translated or paraphrased as “just have no preferences.” I think that’s how I first read it.
If you conceive of preferences the way I did, this seems impossible. For example, I prefer cherry ice cream to chocolate ice cream. That preference seems to function as if it is a permanent part of who I am. Any time I’ve been offered those two flavors of ice cream I have always chosen cherry. There is no reason to think that’s going to change.
Furthermore, my preference for cherry ice cream over chocolate is a part of who I am as an individual. All of my preferences are like that. Dropping any of my preferences seems dangerous. They’re part of my identity.
I’m choosing to talk about ice cream flavors because that’s an easy topic. If we start getting into preferences that are more emotionally or even politically charged, we’re getting into an area where dropping or avoiding them can seem dangerous. When you drop those kinds of preferences you feel vulnerable. It’s almost like removing your clothes in public or even like taking off your bulletproof vest in a war zone.
Moreover, it can seem impossible. I mean I just like cherry ice cream better than chocolate. Cherry tastes better to me. What can I possibly do about that?
But that’s not quite what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about in this moment, when we’re faced with this situation — no matter what the moment and no matter what the situation. At this moment can you drop your preference either for the situation to be other than what it is, or for the situation to continue forever?
Maybe what gets in the way is the illusion that you have a choice. If you’re in a bad situation, you can certainly choose to take steps to change it. If you’re in a good situation, you can also take steps to try to make it last. That’s true. But in order to do this effectively you have to accept the situation exactly as it is. This moment is what it is. There is no choice.
Your preferences for this moment to be other than it is, or for it to last forever don’t really matter. That’s just something your brain does. It’s an evolutionary function designed to insure your survival. Your thinking mind grabs hold of that natural tendency and turns it into a problem. But it’s an unreal problem.
Everybody wants the good and wants to avoid the bad. I do. You do. Buddha did. No one is exempt. That, in itself is not the problem. It’s how we make it into a problem that’s the problem.
Sitting zazen is a good way to learn to deal with this. You’re sitting and you start thinking about all the interesting things you could be doing instead of staying still and looking at a wall. That’s the moment when you have an opportunity to either be carried off by your preferences or just remain where you are. Don’t try to stop wanting to do something more interesting. Just sit with that too.
Where it gets tougher is when you’re sitting zazen and all of a sudden you feel a rush of bliss and peace and transcendence or whatever other name you have for all that good meditation-y stuff. It feels fabulous. So naturally you want it to last.
That’s fine. It’s perfectly OK to want that to last. Any sane person would. Just see if you can avoid getting caught up in that desire. And if you can’t, then that’s OK too. Just keep on sitting.
So you’re not trying to somehow remove the fact that you like cherry ice cream better than chocolate from your personality. But in this very second, when that dish of chocolate ice cream is placed in front of you, just eat it. And if you happen to think, “I wish this was cherry ice cream,” that’s fine too. Just finish your dish of chocolate ice cream and maybe next time you can get some cherry ice cream.
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Another day; another shooting in America
At least we know what the next blog post will be about.
I’m getting tired of writing about mass shootings and the problem of gun violence in America. I really, really, really am.
That’s what the NRA wants Brad. If we become numb to it and just accept gun violence as the way it has to be nothing will change. But I know you know that.
There’s a very easy solution to that problem.
It’s the other problem that’s.. um, the problem.
If you want to take guns away from the people that own them, then someone with guns will have to take them. There really is no other way. I don’t see how that is going to reduce gun violence.
Silliness, Harlan. You suffer from a lack of facts and imagination..
“If you want to take guns away from the people that own them, then someone with guns will have to take them. There really is no other way. I don’t see how that is going to reduce gun violence.”
Here’s “another way”…
Step 1 – make specific guns illegal – (you know, like what we already have.)
Step 2 – initiate a gun “buy-back” program.
That is how Australia did it after Port Aurthur, and it was so successful that they have not had a single mass shooting since 1996.
Sounds like a new idea for a book, “Mindfulness and Mass Shootings.”
“When confronted with a shooting, be sure to draw on your practice. When ducking, there is only ducking. When running, only running. When bleeding, note the sensations as life drains from your body.”
To continue: “…while noting sensations as life drains from your body, become aware of whether the ability to note sensations increases or decreases…if noting ability increases, pay particular attention to the form that it takes – perhaps obsessive thoughts about doctors and ambulances? If noting ability decreases, past readings of the Bardo Thodol may now appear before you…”
This one is close by; only an hour from LA.
Oh my Jesus…
‘Where it gets tougher is when you’re sitting zazen and all of a sudden you feel a rush of bliss and peace and transcendence or whatever other name you have for all that good meditation-y stuff. It feels fabulous. So naturally you want it to last.’
When I sit zazen, there seems to be some kind of ‘gap’ happening, It is a moment which at first I do not even notice, but which I do eventually notice. I have been pondering on those for some time, and now see this whole thing as kind of ambiguous; there seems to be some kind of a shift, completely involuntary shift in what you describe as a rush of bliss, peace and transcendence. Those shifts, I now see as shift in emphasis. It is as if this bliss, peace, transcendence, vast space, (whatever you want to call it) is always present, but it is so in a background and discontinuous way, the emphasis being foreground in what we call our continuous daily activities, choices, dilemmas, preferences, etc. When I sit zazen, this emphasis changes, what is foreground progressively yield, it simply and in a quite unnoticed way, slip away. As it yield, this silent, still, peaceful and blissful background surge up and simply become ‘what is’ emphases. Some times, what happens is a complete and mysterious shift. What I am usually aware of, is of myself and the world (problem, concern, etc), which I see as being continuous and ‘rock solid’, I see/feel those as foreground. And then progressively when doing zazen I feel those blissful, peaceful, still moment, I see those as discontinuous manifestation of my/the background which I am. Those moment gets more and more frequent and last for longer and longer time. And then a much deeper shift happens, what was background and discontinuous (bliss, etc.) shift to the foreground and seems to become continuous, what was foreground and continuous (sense of self/the world, all this agitation of the mind) which we take for granted and absolute, shift background and becomes discontinuous. As the perception of the world becomes background and is only perceived in a discontinuous way, it kind to give up this absolute character. And so as the emphasis is on the world, it becomes real and the bliss yields, as the emphasis is on the bliss (true nature?) the whole world simply vanish out of sight. Do I want it to last?
“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” Ts. Elliot
Interesting TS Elliot quote.
The Hollow Men – “1925: Eliot wrote this poem during a period of absence from the bank, having just suffered a nervous breakdown.”
Hi Shodo.. You might be right that I lack your imaginative abilities. I know I could be wrong about this too. However, I can’t help but imagine that you must not be an American to misunderstand the weight of the problem. Gun ownership in America is tied up with religion in odd ways that I admit I don’t truly get. People in outlying areas don’t just own one gun. They have been collecting guns and inheriting guns for generations. It is not that unusual for people to own multiple handguns and multiple automatic weapons. Your Australia plan might work if all you are interested in doing is partially disarming the inner city. But for the true believing NRA types.. If anything things have gotten much worse. Concealed carry is way up. Guns are the main conservative cause in America. Most politicians won’t touch the issue. I imagine you will only get the guns when you take them from the owners.. I am certainly for any non-violent plan though to get some off the streets.
Don’t underestimate the power of effective legislation.
Also, don’t assume the results need to be “perfect” or are a total failure if there is another mass shooting.
Slow incremental steps, and constant revision is the name of the game. Improving over decades, not days.
Start with a ban on “assault” weapons, cease all ammunition manufacturing for said weapons. Illegal to own with stiff penalties. Can’t hunt with them, can’t go to the gun range with them.
Then initiate a government buy-back program… you’d be amazed at how much money would be generated. Even the most die-hard gun-nut can recognize when that gun they had has turned into nothing more than a dollar sign.
And as far as crimminals, they really only get to use the weapon until caught, then it too (and them) are gone.
No need to start there. I’d be happy with regulations that close the gun-show loophole and with tight enough regulations that prevent schizophrenics and people who are mentally unfit to own mass dealers of molten lead death. No extended clips. Extended and lengthly background checks.
Also keep in mind most gun owners in the US want this too – the NRA is a very powerful lobby however…
Begin there, see how it works, if it works. Keep changing as necessary.
“I am certainly for any non-violent plan . . . ” – Harlan
All armed, none harmed.
These “thrill seekers” only attack Gun-Free Zones.
“Cherry blossom in the wind . . . ”
“All armed, none harmed.”
All armed, more harmed, more often.
Foolish to be armed and wish harm. Breathe and wake up.
Look behind the curtain. Gassho
“Foolish to be armed and wish harm.”
I looked behind the curtain and saw a country of fools.
We can get rid of guns or, to take a page from Donald Trump, we can just kill the families of people who commit mass murder. However, the terrorism of the future will probably involve aerial drones equipped with explosives anyway. Yeah so, I think we’re living in the end times, seriously. I know we’ve been saying that for a thousand years now but this time it’s real.
“The world” is constantly ending.
It is also constantly beginning.
It is also never ending.
It is also never beginning.
That is just the way of the world
No, I don’t think you get it. This time it’s different. So if you find yourself sitting under a highway overpass one day burning your own excrement for heat, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The world’s oldest continuous death metal mosh pit:
So I guess this is the part where I post some mindless drivel about the Tao…
“Why are poor people hungry?
Because their poverty is not the concern of rich people.
Why are simple people restless?
Because their peace has been disturbed by complicated people.
Why do so many people care so little about dying?
Because a few people care too much about living.
When there is little value in life, people are not afraid of death…” etc. etc.
as all things must pass,
in this instant, from this place-
I can stand right here
frenchy, good one. I am putting my faith in the rhythm expressed in Gautama’s sixteen, the mindfulness that he described as his way of living, to wit:
the cessation of habitual activity, is dependent on the witness of detachment;
the witness of detachment is dependent on the witness of impermanence;
the witness of impermanence is dependent on the freedom of mind;
the freedom of mind is dependent on the collection of mind;
the collection of mind, on joy in a particular thought;
joy in a thought on the witness of a thought;
the witness of a thought, on the calming of the activity of thought;
the calming of the activity of thought, on a witness of the activity of thought;
the witness of the activity of thought on a feeling of ease in the body;
the feeling of ease in the body, on the feeling of zest connected with the body;
the feeling of zest, on the relaxation of the activity of the body;
the relaxation of the activity of the body, on sensation of the whole body;
sensation of the whole body, on the comprehension of the long or short of in-breathing or out-breathing;
the comprehension of the long or short of in-breathing or out-breathing, on the witness of in-breathing or out-breathing;
the witness of in-breathing or out-breathing, on the witness of the relinquishment of self.
** Ok, that’s only slightly different from this (in that I started above with cessation and worked backwards):
“Mindful [one] breathes in. Mindful [one] breathes out.
Whether [one] is breathing in a long (breath), breathing out a long (breath), breathing in a short (breath), breathing out a short (breath), one comprehends ‘I am breathing in a long (breath), I am breathing out a long (breath), I am breathing in a short (breath), I am breathing out a short (breath).’
Thus [one] trains [oneself] thinking, ‘I will breathe in experiencing the whole body; I will breathe out experiencing the whole body.’
[One] trains [oneself], thinking ‘ I will breathe in tranquillizing the activity of body; I will breathe out tranquillizing the activity of body.’
[One] trains [oneself], thinking: ‘I will breathe in… breathe out experiencing zest… experiencing ease… experiencing the activity of thought… tranquillising the activity of thought.’
[One] trains [oneself], thinking: ‘I will breathe in… breathe out experiencing thought… rejoicing in thought… concentrating thought… freeing thought.’
[One] trains [oneself], thinking: ‘I will breathe in… breathe out beholding impermanence… beholding detachment… beholding stopping (of “voluntary control… concealed from the consciousness by habit”) … beholding casting away (of “latent conceits that ‘I am the doer, mine is the doer’ in regard to this consciousness-informed body”)’.
(4) (parentheticals added, from Feldenkrais and from MN III 18-19 Pali Text Society III pg 68; “zest” and “ease” from SN V 309-312 Pali Text Society, in place of “rapture” and “joy” (9))
The sixteen pins are in the air, and the Big Juggler ® knows how.
Or, “It’s all in the right hand” (Keith Richards, according to Matt Sweeney).
cumpulsory Taoist stone-bridge artist:
Hello Footy, well, just a few questions and some bad answers . Who is this Gautama? Aren’t all these technical instructions for beginners? Reminds me of Vipassana and some mindfulness schools. They are very good technical instructions for beginners, but one must go way beyond techniques. There is to me, a huge difference between let us say concentration and contemplation. Concentration, to which most of your instructions seems to refer to, are useful to focus the mind, to bring the mind to rest on a single point, instead of being scattered all over. Contemplation is entirely different, some call it the Samadhi way. First, it is not useful in any way, secondly, the mind does not rest on any particular point, it does not rest on anything at all, you cannot evoke Samadhi, you cannot bring those ‘state’ with the help of any techniques. And so, we start with concentration, then contemplation arise by itself without any kind of technique, support or instruction. What you call the witness or witnessing has always irritate me as metaphor, there is no doubt a subtle duality with this witnessing or samadhi state. Even in the most profound Samadhi there is this subtle duality. The witness is what I call ‘the field knower’ within being. It is this field of knowing (witness) within being that is the source of this duality. And its sudden dropping away which some call awakening, which I name ‘coming to’. Coming to, but not coming to something.
Just a few words on the breath, breathing isn’t only in-breathing and out-breathing, long or short, there is/are space/gaps within this breathing.
Since this blog seems to be more about gun control than anything else, what we could do is bring local law enforcement into the background checks. I know in some of the cases of mass shootings, the background checks didn’t reveal anything because they were sent to the FBI but the local law was aware of the shooters and had run-ins with them. But not everything gets sent to the FBI.
But the latest shooting might have been terrorist related and that is another problem entirely.
Scott dead on the tour bus at 48.
“Dead and Bloated”? That seems insensitive considering the circumstances.
Obviously you are not a Buddhist. Take your trolling over to McMindfulRUs
Who died and made you the 15th Dalai Lama?
“No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa.”-Eugene Ionesco
Shodo, You presume Americans want more gun legislation. You can propose all the sensible gun laws you want but unless people want gun limits nothing is gonna happen.. The USA just had record gun sales in November. More guns were sold that month than in any previous month in American history. That was the seventh month in a row a new record was set.. And still, with all those AK’s out there, a Brit is more likely to be killed by a punch than an American is of being shot dead by an “assault” rifle. So while it is an admitted problem, there is more than a little hysteria involved. If you are really interested in saving lives and not being PC, you should work on banning beer drinking in the UK..
“And still, with all those AK’s out there, a Brit is more likely to be killed by a punch than an American is of being shot dead by an “assault” rifle.”
That’s a fascinating statement. Do you know what the source of that is?
I was curious enough that I went to look at a couple of government web sites for some data. The total number of homicides in the UK in 2012 is ~500 people. The population of the UK is ~64 million. The number of gun homicides in 2012 for the United States was ~9000. The total population of this country is ~320 million.
Doing the math says that 0.0008% was the homicide rate in the UK. The gun homicide rate in the USA is 0.0028%., over three times higher.
I’d also guess that out of the 530 British deaths, a large part were not death by fist…
I realize that you are presenting a different comparison ie punching deaths vs assault rifle deaths, but still?
“Shodo, You presume Americans want more gun legislation.”
It’s not a presumption Harlan. 😉
“Surveys by Johns Hopkins and the Pew Research Center show that about 85 percent of gun owners favor universal background checks, an idea fiercely opposed by the gun lobby. Gun owners also strongly support a federal database of gun sales, prohibiting ownership for those convicted of domestic violence and barring people with mental illness from buying guns.”
Roasted, I admit I shy away from practice, from “the setting up of mindfulness”, and from Gautama’s “training” (Brad refers to Gautama as “Gotama”- guess I’ve been reading English translators or something- in any case, the fella that was later called the Buddha). Soto indoctrination. I’m drawn to Dogen:
“When you find your place where you are, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point. When you find your way at this moment, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point…
…Although actualized immediately, the inconceivable may not be apparent.”
Dogen doesn’t say to practice, he says practice occurs, and that practice actualizes the fundamental point. Except in the case where the inconceivable is actualized immediately, right through your body, as was the case with Zen master Baoche.
“First, it is not useful in any way, secondly, the mind does not rest on any particular point, it does not rest on anything at all, you cannot evoke Samadhi, you cannot bring those ‘state’ with the help of any techniques.”
So how does this stand up, when Americans go to Japan?
That’s deafening, isn’t it?
My lotus is only good enough for 40 minutes in the morning. On the dance floor last Saturday though, I was comprehending the long or short of inhalation or exhalation, and the fundamental point was dancing.
From dark roast coffe beans to Mark, (the best morning espresso you can get).
“When you find your place where you are, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point. When you find your way at this moment, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point….”
Hum! I tend to agree with most of what you said, but with slight variation, yes ‘practice occurs’, but this thing about actualization of the fundamental point stink. I understand the ‘need’ of this point when we begin our sitting period, maybe it is I who is confuse but there is a difference between what the author call ‘ the inconceivable’ and actualizing the fundamental points. The way I interpret what is written by ‘only point here’, has something to do with hara, which I sense as a big steel rounded ball who is on fire at the lower end of my belly. What fuels the fire, what gives it intensity as strange as it may sound, is pain. One of the thing that I have notice is that if your practice is concentration, even if it is concentration on the hara, it will require tremendous energy to sustain your practice, so much so, that you might feel completely exhausted after a few round of zazen. But contemplation generate its own energy, its own vitality. Shikantaza practice can be ‘done’ from without (concentration on the lower belly) or can be from within (contemplation). But first concentration, then contemplation. Concentration always imply a something, a point of focus, we make use of the discriminative mind in order to accomplish this, we do this in order to focus the mind, to make it rest on a single point or something. Our ordinary mind is like a Christmas tree, with all lights going on and off chaotically, randomly, concentration helps but does not stop completely this chaotic activity. It is the grasping mind, the mind that wants to grasp, hold on to, control, etc. Contemplation is the spontaneous emergence of the undifferentiated mind. That is not a very nice way to talk about this ‘other’ mind, I would rather say that it is a different way by which ‘one mind’ ‘sees, feel, etc’, but do so from within and in an undifferentiated way. There is no two minds, there are two different ways by which we make use of the mind, one is concentration, differentiated, and the other is contemplation or undifferentiated. Contemplation in our so call ‘post modern’ word (world made up of words) has vanish from our sight, in the sense that we now strictly emphases the discriminative mind way of using the one mind.
‘…Although actualized immediately, the inconceivable may not be apparent.” I would think that this ‘inconceivable’ is beyond both concentration and contemplation.
”So how does this stand up, when Americans go to Japan? ” In coming and going, I never leave home!
He’s one of my faves, Mark, thanks for that. Never topped this one, though, IMHO…
Good gawd he’s the worst
Isn’t that dude from England
I’m only joking
& is somehow related to this one…Maybe the Fripp gtr solo?
Which has to box next with Phil Manzanera here:
Ok let’s keep this going John. I’ve taken a strong first move, as you’ll see:
the world is about to change
Too True, Khru 2: Behold the long awaited sign of the Apocalypse…
Behold, The Abomination that causes desolation.
Nah, Gaia lives. But agree: get ready to know what a flea feels like, shaken off a dog. Gassho
Gun murder rates in America are high. I get that. Murders committed by automatic assault weapons are comparatively low tho. Most U.S. gun murders involve handguns. Murders by long guns are much lower. Automatic Assault type gun murders are lower still. Remove shotgun and semi-automatic hunting rifle murders and you have numbers that go way down compared to the UKs artifially deflated murder numbers.
In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle in the USA, F.B.I. data shows. – The NY Times
“American homicide rates are based on initial data, but British homicide rates are based on the final disposition.” Suppose that three men kill a woman during an argument outside a bar. They are arrested for murder, but because of problems with identification (the main witness is dead), charges are eventually dropped. In American crime statistics, the event counts as a three-person homicide, but in British statistics it counts as nothing at all. “With such differences in reporting criteria, comparisons of U.S. homicide rates with British homicide rates is a sham,” the report concludes. – From The Guardian
A 2000 report from the Inspectorate of Constabulary charges Britain’s 43 police departments with systemic under-classification of crime.
The gold-standard “national statistics” status has been withdrawn from (UK) police recorded crime figures following repeated allegations that some of the quarterly published figures have been subject to “a degree of fiddling”. The UK Statistics Authority said it had taken the decision as a result of “accumulating evidence” that the underlying data on crimes recorded by the police may be unreliable. – The Guardian
Police fail to report 1.4m crimes – Criminologists have always known that the official number of offences recorded by the (UK) police is an underestimation of the real rate, but the report details widespread rule bending. – The report, On the Record. – The Independent
Lastly, I have never owned a gun and probably never will. I just don’t like guns. I just know that this issue is highly politicized and sometimes numbers can be used to hide truths as well as reveal them.
Now I’m even more confused.
I thought a homicide was a death, not the perpetrators. For example, if three people kill one person that counts as one homicide. Is that not true?
In any case, it seems like we agree that the United States has a pretty alarming number of gun deaths. I’d also pessimistically agree that restricting assault rifles would not have any real effects on the number of gun deaths.
However, If I was part of an organization trying to enact gun restrictions I would start by picking the more psychologically alarming guns to concentrate on, in hopes of persuading more people that such restrictions are reasonable.
I have no way of proving this, but I think the United States has a mind set which encourages the thinking that gun violence is the solution to many problems.
For example, I’ve lived through the war on cancer, the war on drugs, the war on poverty and now the war on terror. I’m also thinking of the romantic view of the Wild West, where all injustices can be solved with a fast draw and a six-gun.
I have no idea what the mythology of other countries is, but this country seems to have the idea that a gun can solve just about any problem.
I too got confused after looking for the quote I referenced. I found much but it all depended on which lie or expert I wanted to believe.
I think we both agreed that the USA has a problem with guns. I think we also agree that many people are susceptible to their favorite mythology.
A lot of gun owners seem to be worried about some kind totalitarian government arising. They see gun ownership as their last ditch defense against it. I say good luck with that awful scenario.
I don’t worry too much about guns or Manchurian candidates yet. Not enough to get involved politically beyond voting. Not until someone like Donald Trump became president. That might worry me a little but he claims to be a nice person so what do I know..
“A lot of gun owners seem to be worried about some kind totalitarian government arising. They see gun ownership as their last ditch defense against it. I say good luck with that awful scenario. ”
Yeah, I’ve seen many of these types.
They have about as much chance of overthrowing a totalitarian government as they do running a 10-minute mile.
It does sound like we are pretty much on the same page. Thanks for replying to my questions.
I think the issue with assault-style firearms is that they are very useful in mass shootings. Most of the mass shootings covered in the media are conducted with high-powered firearms. Even if Lanza, for example, only had a handgun, there’s a significant chance that he would have had less victims.
John, thanks for Eno- I really haven’t listened to much, I guess, because I’d never heard 3rd uncle. Pogo city!
‘Beans, I agree with most of what you’ve written (December 5, 2015 at 3:16 am).
This morning my sitting was touch and go for a bit, as is often the case. Shortly before the close of the forty minutes, there was a transition, something like what you speak of.
“Concentration always imply a something, a point of focus, we make use of the discriminative mind in order to accomplish this, we do this in order to focus the mind, to make it rest on a single point or something.”
In the parlance of the Pali Canon, the first meditative state is characterized by “thought applied and sustained”, and “thought applied and sustained” ceases in the second meditative state. To what is thought applied and sustained?
Gautama taught “the setting up of mindfulness” in Satipatthana Sutta, but later (in my opinion, later) he taught that his “way of living”, his “way of living in the rainy season”, and “the Tathagatha’s way of living” consisted of the sixteen I outlined above. Moreover, he claimed the sixteen were his “way of living” prior to his enlightenment, and that the sixteen constituted one instance of the mindfulness of body, feelings, mind, and state of mind (each four of the sixteen belonging to one of the four) that he described in Satipatthana.
My principal delight these days is that I perceive the sixteen to key on an interchange between activity throughout the body that sustains pressure in the fluid ball of the abdomen (in support of posture) and comprehension of the long or short of inhalation or exhalation. One instant I am relaxing the activity of the body that sustains the pressure, the next I am comprehending the long/short of inhalation/exhalation, and the interchange gets to feeling like about 120 cycles a second, sometimes!
“… a big steel rounded ball who is on fire at the lower end of my belly.”
On concentration and one-pointedness of mind, we have:
“And I… at the close of (instructional discourse), steady, calm, make one-pointed and concentrate my mind subjectively in that first characteristic of concentration in which I ever constantly abide.”
(MN I 249, Pali Text Society I pg 303)
That would be Gautama, no explanation of what that “first characteristic” is but presumably having to do with “making self-surrender the object of thought”.
“Contemplation is the spontaneous emergence of the undifferentiated mind.” I would give you that the “spontaneous emergence of the undifferentiated mind” is one-pointed, that it involves the experience of a singular location in space, a singular location informed not only by each of the senses but by what is beyond the boundary of each sense as well. The meaning of “when you find your place where you are”.
I apply and sustain thought with regard to the three motions right where I am, that is to say, I find the sense of pitch, roll, and yaw right where I am; I draw in the experience of the proprioceptors and gravity, and I recall Cheng-Man-Ching’s admonition to “use no force” in the overflow of chi to the tailbone and thence to the top of the head. That I believe is my necessity, to apply and sustain thought in such a manner, in my case in order to simply breathe (sometimes).
“To unfurl the red flag of victory over your head, whirl the twin swords behind your ears—if not for a discriminating eye and a familiar hand, how could anyone be able to succeed?”
(“The Blue Cliff Record”, trans. T. and J.C. Cleary, case 37 pg 274)
When things get painful with regard to the activity around that boiler in the lower abdomen, I look for a sense of the fluid ball that receives activity throughout the body, and I move to comprehending the long or short of inhalation and exhalation; if I draw a blank, nothing doing, then there’s nothing to be done.
”I would give you that the “spontaneous emergence of the undifferentiated mind” is one-pointed, that it involves the experience of a singular location in space…..”
When it is one-pointed, (concentration) it does indeed involves the experience of a singular location in both time and space, most of which are cultural hearsay. But when ‘in’ contemplation our usual razor sharp discriminative mind looses all grip on all spacial and temporal referents, even proprioceptive perceptions collapses, all boundaries collapses (not only space/time), you simply cannot pin down what you see, feel, hear etc. It is not the what you see, feel, hear that really matters anymore, it is the That I hear, That I see, That I feel, That I touch, etc. : That I AM! We usually emphases the what we see, touch, feel, sense, hear, but in contemplation this what don’t matter at all anymore, it is the That I see from, that I hear from, that matters. (of course, the perception of the strict separation of the senses also collapse. Even that you have senses collapse.). You simply cannot pin down anything any more as a definite this or that, as soon as you do this pinning down, it simply collapse and vanish. Contemplation act as a solvent, it is highly dynamic, it is not a relax state of mind, and whatever (what) come to your awareness simply dissolve. Nothing remain, nothing can be grasp for very long, all become fluid, impermanent, complete openness. The shift is one of emphasis, from the what (I see) to the that (I see). I Am is not a ‘what’, it is a ‘That’. It is a shift away from the what is being perceived to the that which is perceiving, which obviously you are and cannot be perceived, for you are not something, a what or a thing. As Ts Elliot said; the darkness, the light!
”To what is thought applied and sustained?”
I would think that it is applied to whatever point you decide to focus on. It could be the breath, a word, counting your breath ect. I usually start the first period of zazen by directing my attention towards my two thumbs gently touching each others.
”When things get painful with regard to the activity around that boiler in the lower abdomen……”
From my experience, nothing get painful in that boiler. Pain, in the legs, back, or even so call ‘psychological pain’, intensify the fire of practice, it truly feed the fire, and you simply do not feel pain anymore, you cannot call it pain anymore, but fuel for the practice. St-Paul said ‘if you would know how to suffer, you would not suffer’
Cherry Garcia is the highest of ice creams.
Thanks for the link, altough I am not in love with Mcleod, I did appreciate reading the review of his book, he says: ‘The direct awareness traditions of Tibet teach the possibility of an awareness that is not an observer, an awareness in which thoughts, feelings and sensations form and dissolve like mist.’ That is similar to what I mean by ‘contemplation’, But I must add that even in this dissolving awareness, there is still a subtle duality, which I call the field knower. Furthermore, it is not an awareness, it is simply a different mode of awareness.
Your welcome french-roast.
“Field knower” has a nice ring to it.
Jigme Lingpa’s Nyingma affiliations led sometimes to his participation in the sort of tantric activities that have long been criticized by more conservative Buddhists. He was himself ambivalent about some of these activities:…he regretted the black magic he performed during the Gurkha war. Jigme Lingpa even admits that the ancient ordinance of Lha Lama Shiwa O and Changchub O, which famously censured the indulgences of Nyingma practitioners, might have been merited. And yet he reports with a certain pleasure taking part in a drunken communal feast (ga?acakra) or being given beer at the house of the Nyingma master Kum?rar?ja (1266-1343) and doing “a dance of bliss-emptiness integrated.” -Gyatso
My kind of Lama! Except for the “regrets” part.
Just found an extensive bio and some of his songs in my copy of Masters of Meditation and Miracles: The Longchen Nyingthig Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism (p 118-). McLeod’s teacher was Kalu Rinpoche, there is a lot of related info in his (Kalu’s) Luminous Mind collection. I’ll have to get hold of McLeod’s Trackless Path. For info on Dzogchen, see my essay here:
Jigme Lingpa is my kind of lama too.
Pint of IPA and bedtime stories…
Hell yeah brother! I also sip. then bow and thank you for the mention of the Trackless Path review (I’d not heard of it)… McLeod’s trans of Jamgon Kongtrul’s col. of directions on Bodhichitta is excellent, I highly rec. it:
Thanks for the recommend, I’ve come across that commentary before but never read the thing. Sipping on a brew and browsing the root verses on Ken’s site. http://www.unfetteredmind.org/mindtraining/fullindex.php
Practice what’s important now 😉
You would enjoy Approaching the Great Perfection by Sam van Schaik.
At the moment I’m digging into this,
I need to buy a pint, pronto.
Hasty pudding, with coat and tie:
donkey-crosses, frenchy! horsey-crosses, GC! olly, olly, oxen free!
RE the original post … My neighbor built a small house with no heating source. He says, “Get cold. Stay cold. Til the weather warms up.” Some things, although difficult, are simple.
“Those who know
And those who can explain
do not know.
Forget about words and ideas.
Empty and follow the ancient path.”
What a funny way to stand! What a funny man…
In the West, we found our way into science, and while it may be imperfect and may result in the annihilation of the planet, we have actually been able to transmit accurate descriptions of the relationships of things in words and symbols.
Pressure in the fluid ball of the abdomen, I see it when the funny man moves; the ligaments that hold the sacrum to the pelvis, do they generate the activity that maintains pressure in the fluid ball of his abdomen, as he turns?
“That I hear, That I see, That I feel, That I touch, etc. : That I AM! We usually emphases the what we see, touch, feel, sense, hear, but in contemplation this what don’t matter at all anymore, it is the That I see from, that I hear from, that matters. (of course, the perception of the strict separation of the senses also collapse. Even that you have senses collapse.). You simply cannot pin down anything any more as a definite this or that, as soon as you do this pinning down, it simply collapse and vanish”
There is no I. Yes, everything collapses or expands. Yes, and no pinning down this or that.
Yes, “I” was thinking that this morning, a different mode of awareness.
Sasaki said don’t refer to yourself in the 3rd person, but fuck him.
The socially conditioned set of neural constructs composes an image, takes a photo , creates an impression of this realization of the fundamental point, but the photo is of nothing.
If the universe is manifesting through everything is there a subtle hint of duality?
“Actualizing the fundamental point”, this is action, even if it is only the action involuntarily generated by the stretch of ligaments, as the senses become distinct in a location of mind.
When “the place where you are” and “the way at this moment” fall away, what is beyond the boundary of sense may be actualized immediately.
“The millstone turns, but the mind does not turn”- a saying from the classics of Tai Chi, according to Cheng Man-Ching. “Outwardly cease all involvements, inwardly have no coughing or sighing in the mind– with your mind like a wall you can enter the Way”- Bodhidharma, as recorded in the Denkoroku. “When you arrive at last at towering up like a wall miles high, you will finally know that there aren’t so many things”- Yuanwu, in “Zen Letters”.
Actualizing the fundamental point for Dogen was enlightenment.
Perhaps the Soto priests ( sorry for the slander if it is offensive ) don’t say enlightenment. They might say the action that occurs while just sitting.
How about, the practice that occurs “when you find your place where you”, “when you find your way at this moment”, is enlightenment, and the actualization of the fundamental point (the one-pointedness of mind as the senses become distinct) is the action of zazen, is the action of the posture in sitting.
Meanwhile, “sometimes zazen gets up and walks around”, and the guy who said that believed in “soft” rather than “hard” zazen.
I am entering the Rohatsu retreat this morning until next Saturday. Try to behave yourselves while I am away (No shooting please). I will attempt to actualize the fundamental point, and try to finally know if there are or aren’t so many things. No french-roasted ristretto espresso for the whole week, hard-boiling week coming ahead!
Man Aamadeh Am.
Pakistani pop music! Quick, name the stringed instrument in this photo:
Google doesn’t have a Pashto translator, unfortunately…
It seems to have various spellings. Rabab? Rebab? Rubab? Rhubarb?
The musician playing it in that Coke Studio video is Ustad Tanveer Hussain.
A cool Indian cousin of the rabab is the sarod.
Ahh…the rabab is the precursor to the sarod!
Of course the most famous exponent of the sarod was Ali Akbar Khan:
Rebabs, sarods, sitars, and the rest of the Indian orchestra for sale.
This post is why for the last 4 years I come back every 2 days to check for new posts…they’re all good, but some cut right through. Holy sh**, incredible. It’s a “cut n paste n print and highlight and glue to my desk at work and read every day” sort of post.
Also, it’s true…we don’t have a choice even at a biological level. The decision to choose cherry is a choice that happens in the emotional part of the brain that happens subconsciously and makes it feel like you chose. You have to make split second “choices” like this every day, most go unnoticed cause it’s not “you” controlling anything since there’s no you. it’s simply a function in that moment based on passed events. Which sounds like karma.
When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, you might assume that the shore is moving. But when you keep your eyes closely on the boat, you can see that the boat moves. Similarly, if you examine many things with a confused mind, you might suppose that your mind and nature are permanent. But when you practice intimately and return to where you are, it will be clear that there is nothing that has unchanging cherry on top.
Good times: bad times
Scott Weiland’s ex-wife:
“. We read awful show reviews, watch videos of artists falling down, unable to recall their lyrics streaming on a teleprompter just a few feet away. And then we click “add to cart” because what actually belongs in a hospital is now considered art.
Many of these artists have children. Children with tears in their eyes, experiencing panic because their cries go unheard. You might ask, “How were we to know? We read that he loved spending time with his children and that he’d been drug-free for years!” In reality, what you didn’t want to acknowledge was a paranoid man who couldn’t remember his own lyrics and who was only photographed with his children a handful of times in 15 years of fatherhood.”
From Rolling Stone Magazine
I am about 2/3 through reading “Eat, Sleep, Sit: My Year at Japan’s Most Rigorous Zen Temple” by Kaoru Nonomura. Holy shit! Eiheiji sounds completely insane! Screaming, slapping, punching, knocking people down and kicking them, very little sleep, many monks getting beriberi from malnutrition, monks fighting over food and secretly stealing waste food from the garbage cans, etc. It makes the terrorist prisons at Guantanamo Bay sound like a Sandals resort by comparison. Definitely the worst example of cult activity I have ever read.
Coming soon, to a county near you!- a genuine Zen training monastery, bringing the best of Eiheiji right next door for the benefit of all the priests in America who didn’t get sufficient time in seiza before their ordinations (I read somewhere that seiza is one of the things they hope to emphasize at Tenpyozan, but I can’t find the Lake County News article anymore).
From the Tenpyozan site:
‘There is an old joke that goes:
“What’s the one difference between a Buddhist and a non-Buddhist?”..
“The non-Buddhist thinks there is a difference!”’
No difference, really; once you get to Tenpyozan, there’ll be screaming, slapping, punching, knocking people down and kicking them, very little sleep, getting beriberi from malnutrition, fighting over food and secretly stealing waste food from the garbage cans for everyone, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.
Ok, ok– it’s amazing Zen got to America, and I’m grateful, but it feels like maybe a change is in order?
“SOME ANSWERS TO FREQUENT QUESTIONS
All Answers Are Subject to Impermanence…”
Here’s a statement I find interesting, from oakland-zencenter.org:
“The Sotoshu is a Zen Buddhist School based on the eternal and universal principle of “abiding by the True Dharma singularly transmitted by the Buddha-ancestors, and realizing shikantaza (just sitting) and sokushinzebutsu (Mind itself is Buddha).”
I won’t go into completed infinities a second time. I’m not saying there isn’t something real behind the concepts, I’m just saying it’s no wonder the contradictions of Zen are near and dear to the hearts of many. To me, it’s twisted; I’d say, “just the facts”, but:
“A common miss-attributed catchphrase to Friday is “Just the facts, ma’am”. In fact, Friday never actually said this in an episode, but it was featured in Stan Freberg’s works parodying Dragnet.”
barn-raising in Northern Cali:
The set of all right handed infinities such that Mind ( M ) = Buddha ( B ) within the completed Soto Shoe ad infinitum ( X ).
Mark, Knowledge is good..
Jack Webb was approached to play the role of Dean Wormer, the dean of Faber College, in National Lampoon’s Animal House, but he turned it down.
Better drugs? BM² ≈ X?-
“This is the real deal time-jump gear; very rare, very old, but first, we gotta get high.”
Thanks Mark, Fuzz Face through a Fender, never heard that before
Good times and bad times.
“Weiland’s dead body was surrounded by a medley of cocaine, weed, Ziprasidone, sleeping pills, Xanax, Buprenorphine, and Viagra, any or all of which formed the chemistry of a lethal death cocktail”
If Scott Weiland’s doctor had been a homeopath, he’d still be alive today.
Not necessarily. Nobody ever died from an overdose of homeopathic “remedies” because they are nothing more than placebos (distilled water, sugar pills, etc.) but many people have died because they believed lies and took homeopathic “remedies” instead of real medicine.
And what problem did Scott Weiland have, that homeopathy would have killed in him?
Anyway, who says it needs to be 100% homeopathy? Use when homeopathy when it’s appropriate (which is often) and conventional medicine when it’s most appropriate. Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines provides clear guidance on when to see a doctor.
“Use homeopathy when it’s appropriate”, which is NEVER!
1,800 studies later, scientists conclude that homeopathy does not work.
This version ain’t too bad, either. I worked hard to book Johnny a few years prior to the end of his life, but we couldn’t settle on a date that worked for everybody.
Forget Eiheiji, go to Thailand…
“Dana” I can get behind!
Hey Brad and Pirooz, nice shot.
From the Blue Cliff bag:
“But tell me, is it better to let go, or is it better to hold still?”
For neon blinded seekers
Transcending self, the empty hand
Letting go and holding still both mastered
The truth a pathless land
Run, neon tiger, there’s a lot on your mind
They’ll strategize and name you, but don’t you let ’em tame you
You’re far too pure and bold
To suffer the strain of the hand and its hold
Grand Canyon wrote:
“Use homeopathy when it’s appropriate”, which is NEVER!
1,800 studies later, scientists conclude that homeopathy does not work.
Two questions, Grand Canyon.
1. What studies?
2. Who funded them?
Blanket statements should always be avoided. You actually can pop a piece of peppermint candy in your mouth for an upset stomach and feel better. You don’t have to take a calcium based antacid. You can if you want to, of course, but if you have elevated calcium levels you won’t want to and how will you know that without a blood test? Peppermint, on the other hand, won’t hurt barring an allergy to it. That’s just one example among many others.
You should click on the link in my original comment and then click on the other links within that article. All will be revealed.
Peppermint candy is not homeopathy. According to the “logic” of homeopathy, one of the “remedies” for an upset stomach is ipecac, which is normally used to induce vomiting, but they dilute the ipecac with so much distilled water that there is no ipecac left in the solution. It is nothing but distilled water. Then they might put a drop of that distilled water on a sugar pill instead of just drinking the distilled water straight. Either way, it is nothing but a placebo.
Homeopathic “remedies” are not medicine.
Homeopathy is not science.
Sometimes general statements are 100% accurate.
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