Many of the most successful CEOs in the world use meditation to give them an edge. That’s what the card that appears at the beginning of a Huffington Post video/article on meditation titled Top CEOs Reveal The Most Important Habit For Success tells me. “Russell Simmons calls meditation ‘the core of my existence’,” it whispers to me under that. And Russell Simmons has a net worth of $325 million!
Then why, after 30 years of this meditation shit, am I still not a success?
I know, I know. There are different ways of defining “success.” But let’s not kid ourselves. The kind of success this article is promoting isn’t some abstract sort of “success of not wanting success” Zen bullshit. They’re talking about real success, baby! The kind that Donald J. Trump has! The kind you get when you’re using meditation to give you an edge over the competition. Boom! Smoked you! Cuz I meditate, bee-otch!
Looked at it that way you could never consider me to be a success. I’m a 52 year old man who has never owned a house, doesn’t own a car and never had one that wasn’t a beater, doesn’t have a steady income, and has no real prospects for ever obtaining any of this stuff.
Success depends on measurement and comparison. On the one hand, I am successful because I have six books out, all of which are still in print including the first one I published over ten years ago. I don’t have to punch a clock every day. I’m my own boss. I earn enough to pay my rent and my bills and have some left over to buy old records over at the Goodwill.
On the other hand, I am unsuccessful because none of my books has ever won a literary prize. They don’t sell as well as those by many other writers in my field. I’ve never been reviewed in the New York Times and no doubt never will. I’ll never be on Oprah’s Super Spiritual Sunday. NPR routinely ignores every book I put out. Bill Maher doesn’t want me on his show even though every other person who writes a book about religion gets on. I was once told by someone who deals with the big names on the spiritual scene that I am “not even on the radar” when it comes to the real stars of the meditation world. My retreats don’t pack ‘em in like those run by the big boys in the scene.
It depends on what you compare yourself to. That’s what success is all about — comparison.
The samurai in medieval Japan understood that meditation could give them a competitive edge. They used zazen practice as a way to “strengthen their skills” and “strengthen their ability to focus” to paraphrase the HufPo video.
“Different parts of the brain, especially located in the prefrontal cortex and parts of the brain such as the amygdala which respond to fear seem to be strengthened through meditation so you can assess the situation a little more calmly with a little more objectivity,” says the presenter over some Discovery Channel footage of animations of the inside of the brain. “I meditate and think about the goals I want to achieve that day,” says Paolo Moya, CEO of Marshall Moya Design. Then up comes a card that says, “meditation is an effective tool for success.”
It sure is! If you want to slice off the head of your archenemy from the Miyamoto Clan or just destroy the careers of your economic rivals, meditation can definitely help.
And that is a problem.
Selling meditation as a key to success destroys meditation. If your meditation is directed at achieving goals, you’re only strengthening that part of you which is forever unsatisfied, forever seeking outside approval, forever chasing after money and power. You’ve discovered an even more effective way to ensure that you’ll never be happy, never be balanced, never have any kind of peace.
There’s a damned good reason the early Buddhists taught ethical precepts along with meditation. They understood right from the start that meditation without ethics can be a very bad thing indeed. For the meditator as much as for anyone else. But now we have to make our meditation courses completely secular. So a whole generation is learning to meditate without any training in ethics to go along with it.
A friend of mine posted one of those little affirmational memes the other day. It said, “Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It.” I posted a comment that said, “I want to achieve the ability to be unconcerned about achievement.”
Even though I want that, it’s probably not in the nature of things to ever be completely unconcerned about achievement. It may be hardwired into us as animals to compete with each other for resources. And even if it isn’t hardwired, we live in a society that measures success in very specific ways and rewards those who appear to achieve it while punishing those of us who do not.
But although we may never be completely free from the desire to achieve, we might be able to learn to see that desire for exactly what it really is. Just another thought inside our heads. No better or worse than any other random firing of neurons. Nothing to get excited about. Nothing that requires any response.
Maybe that’s another way to define “success.”
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Check out my podcast with Pirooz Kalayeh, ONCE AGAIN ZEN!
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July 1, 2016 Cleveland, Ohio Zero Defex at Now That’s Class!
July 4, 2016 Cleveland, Ohio Zero Defex TBA
July 8, 2016 Seattle, Washington EastWest Bookshop 7:30pm Talk & Book Signing
July 9, 2016 Seattle, Washington EastWest Bookshop 10am-3pm Workshop
September 10-11, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland 2-Day Retreat
September 14, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland Zazen and Discussion
September 16-17, 2016 Dublin, Ireland 3-Day Retreat
September 22-25, 2016 Hebden Bridge, England, 4-Day Retreat
September 27, 2016 – Wimbledon, London, England – Talk and Q&A
September 29-October 2, 2016 Helsinki, Finland, 4-Day Retreat
October 3, 2016 Turku, Finland, Talk at the University
October 4-5, Stockholm, Sweden, Talk and 1-Day-Retreat
October 7, 2016 Berlin, Germany Zenlab
October 14, 2016 Munich, Germany, Lecture
October 15-16, 2016 Munich, Germany, 2-Day Retreat
October 23-28, 2016 Benediktushof Meditation Centrum (near Würzburg, Germany) 5-Day Retreat
MORE EUROPEAN DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON!
Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Beginners only!
Every Saturday at 10:00 am (NEW TIME!) there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Beginners only!
These on-going events happen every week even if I am away from Los Angeles. Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info
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“There’s a damned good reason the early Buddhists taught ethical precepts along with meditation. They understood right from the start that meditation without ethics can be a very bad thing indeed. For the meditator as much as for anyone else. But now we have to make our meditation courses completely secular. So a whole generation is learning to meditate without any training in ethics to go along with it.”
I’m not trying to be a pain but I don’t remember either Kevin or you giving a single dharma talk related to ethics. And I’ve listened to a fair number at this point. Or is the ethics training hidden in between the words?
Am I missing something or am I destined to turn into an immoral money grubbing success monster by practicing zen?
There’s a damn good reason he never taught ya the ethicals. He don’t got none to teach.
See here, he says it himself, he’s unconcerned about achieving the ethicals.
Really? I feel like ethics is about 40% of what I talk and write about.
I can’t recall specific talks I’ve given, but the book Sex Sin and Zen was intended to be about ethics from the Buddhist perspective using the Third Precept (the one about sex) as a way into the subject.
I was talking specifically about the lectures. I’d agree the books do delve into the subject more. And like I said, I may be missing soemthing…
The impression I’ve come away with is;
a) zen doesn’t like to talk about specific ethical rules too much. I happen to like this because too often ethics can become a rather narrow and inflexible way of approaching the world. I also look around and see way too many people wielding ethics as a hammer to stop other people doing things they don’t like.
b) at some point zen practice may lead to a clear understanding of the nature of reality at which point it becomes understood that doing someone else bad is the same as doing oneself bad. From that point I believe all real ethics can flow.
If (b) doesn’t happen to me ( which I find increasingly likely), where forth do ethics flow? My guess is that you may end up as a person whose claim to fame is that he does less harm than the average schmo. Which may be good enough….
I think we all assumed it was a way into increasing book sales. As they say in the biz, sex sells!
That too, of course. But I used sex as a way to get into writing about ethics.
Is that ethical?
Without gazing out a window,
the way of the world can be seen.
Without stepping beyond a door,
the way of the Tao can be followed.
The Way does not get closer
by searching farther.
The sage keeps to the beginning
to discover the end.
And finds without seeking;
Arrives without leaving;
Does without doing;
And knows without understanding.
George Harrison wrote a song based on a different translation of that poem.
Really good post Brad. And (I’m being serious here) I bet you that this subject could get you on all those shows you just mentioned. The points you have made need to be put into any article or show talking about “mindfulness”.
And to Alan’s point, unfortunately most Zen teachers don’t talk about ethics and compassion enough.
Here too. Here as at the other edge
Of the hemisphere, an endless plain
Where a man’s cry dies a lonely death . . .
Here too the never understood,
Anxious, and brief affair that is life.
–Jorge Luis Borges
A friend of mine at work wrote a novel. She self-published. She is hoping some people will read her novel and maybe even buy it as a physical thing or an e-book. We were talking about how little money most authors make. I mentioned that I know this guy (I met him once, he played my guitar at a thing in Victoria, and I have had random momentary connections with him on the internet) who has had six books published, each of which you can still find in bookstores, but he doesn’t make “real” money from it. I mentioned that he writes about Buddhism with a bit of punk edge and so on. I mentioned his name. A stranger who happened to be sitting nearby said, “Oh yeah. I’ve heard of that guy.”
I’ve heard of that guy! Some random dude in a teacher’s lounge in Canada has heard of that guy. Gee, random dudes in teacher’s lounges in random places in North America haven’t heard of me! “That guy” is a “success”! (Being heard of = success. I’m not sure I can support that proposition with anything logical, but let’s just let it sit there for a while anyway.) I said to the random dude, “Buy his books.” I don’t know if this will have any effect.
Shit, man! *I’ve* heard of that guy too!
I drop him a meagre £5 a month. The thing I like most about Christianity is the story of the widow’s mite.
Thank you, Khru.
“There’s a damned good reason the early Buddhists taught ethical precepts along with meditation.”
Putting it that way makes it sound like there definitely was a reason; more, that it should not be questioned that there was a reason.
“They understood right from the start that meditation without ethics can be a very bad thing indeed. ”
Like they say in Wikipedia, “references are needed”.
I think in the Pali Canon, “they” can be said to be “he”, and Gautama does definitely say that upright behavior is a prerequisite of meditative attainment. However, Soto Zen does not accord any special status to meditative attainment, but rather looks to actualization as a way of living.
Gautama spoke of a way of living that involved mindfulness of particulars in inhalation and exhalation, and the words “[one] trains [oneself] thinking” imply that he applied and sustained thought much of the time. This would identify his way of life as belonging largely to what he identified as the first meditative state.
To what extent is upright behavior necessary to the induction of the first meditative state? To what extent can we say that “mindful, (we) breathe in”, or “mindful, (we) breathe out”?
“Making self-surrender the object of thought, one lays hold of concentration, one lays hold of one-pointedness of mind”–to what extent is upright behavior necessary to making self-surrender the object of thought?
Gautama recalled the happiness he felt as a young boy, sitting meditating under a tree while his father plowed a field (that’s in the Canon, though I have to wonder why a king would be plowing-?!). When he recalled this, he thought to himself, could this be a way, and he answered himself something like, “this is indeed the way”. Had he concerned himself with upright behavior, prior to sitting under the tree?
Was Angulimala the murderer unable to experience happiness in the way of living of a monk because of his prior conduct?
Most of the Vinaya rules of conduct were established as a result of particular incidents; we know this because the incidents are cited as well. In the end, Gautama said “just keep the main three rules”, but nobody knew which three he was referring to.
Gautama spoke of five hindrances to the religious life: they were coveting, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and doubt. He prescribed particular remedies for each of these hindrances, and for doubt he spoke of being unperplexed about the states that are skilled.
If you can overcome doubt, you can experience the states that are skilled and be unperplexed about them, but if you haven’t experienced the states that are skilled, you can’t be unperplexed about them so as to overcome doubt.
Do I have to hold still, or do I have to let go?
“The sage keeps to the beginning
to discover the end.
And finds without seeking;
Arrives without leaving;
Does without doing;
And knows without understanding.”
Here’s an article on the same train of thoughts that I find in your’s quite often, which is the reason I like your writing so much: http://upliftconnect.com/spiritual-people-dont-say-fk/
Maybe the non-authentic of the success-stuff and the damaging potential of it scares me so much…but to do about it?
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us -don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog! – Emily Dickinson
To be fair, you did get to be on CNN once.
Anyway, thanks for this post. It gave me impetus for a response over at my place, re: my sangha.
TWICE! I was on CNN twice! Get it right! Acknowledge my attainments!!!
Great, great attainments indeed!
1. of or relating to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal: secular interests.
2. not pertaining to or connected with religion (opposed to sacred)”
Notice how this is not a synonym for no-ethics? Please try to keep this in mind in the future when you want to rant against meditation without religion. If you want to write about things that don’t have ethical teachings embedded don’t use the word secular to describe them as it has nothing to do with the issue.
For further reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_ethics
I know the definition of secular. But if you watch how things go in America and Europe these days, often any talk of ethics gets shot down as being “religious.” Especially in the context of meditation. Secular meditation programs often need to be sterilized of ethical content so as not to seem “religious.”
I think Buddhism could be considered a religion, in that we believe in the doctrine of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, of which keeping the precepts is a significant part. So dispensing with those aspects of Buddhism which are normally kept within the scope of Zen training and practice, would indeed be ‘secularising’ our practice.
I don’t recall any specific Dharma talks or interactions with the Zen teachers in the Kwan Um school with regard to ethics, but the focus of the teaching has always been, “How can I help you?” The school’s mantra, The Great Dharani, is chanted twice every day during regular practice, and three times every day on retreats, along with the Heart Sutra. The Great Dharani is an excerpt from the Thousand-Hands-and-Eyes Sutra, which is about great compassion. Maybe this counts as ethical instruction.
But that is just, like, my opinion, man.
I applaud the Big Lebowski reference.
Thank you Brad!!
“Making self-surrender the object of thought, one lays hold of concentration, one lays hold of one-pointedness of mind”–to what extent is upright behavior necessary to making self-surrender the object of thought?”
Self-surrender is surrendering the self, and one-pointedness of mind is the universe realizing itself.
Whether the everyday self that is shaped by family, school and culture should have need of some ethical proscription, is nonsense. This self isn’t it. Fuck the self. Drop the self. Drop the body-mind.
Maybe my upbringing was too liberal; I have trouble relating to good reasons and very bad things.
The emphasis on happiness, that has appeal for me. Beholding “this self it isn’t” has appeal for me.
If ethics are so important, why is it that Gautama declared a person “defeated” if they engaged in intercourse, and most Japanese Zen teachers are married? The first schism in the order concerned whether or not an arahant could have a wet dream, and things have snow-balled from there, but it seems very apparent to me that it’s not necessary to have the same ethics as Gautama the Buddha to be considered enlightened enough to teach Zen these days.
My personal opinion, as long as householders can’t find a way to live the way of life that makes someone qualified to teach Zen, a sustainable world economy will not be realized.
My guess is one reason you haven’t enjoyed more success in the Amerikan cultural matrix is that you aren’t (correct me if I’m wrong) one of the Tribe or one of their favored goyim demographics. Your demographic is being slowly being culturally deprecated and purged according to a diabolical tribal strategy (hence the Trump phenomenon). You will probably deny this, but if you reflect upon it honestly, you will surely perceive that this is a huge factor in determining who succeeds and who doesn’t in Amerikan mainstream media-driven culture, which is so dominated by one particular group with such an openly hostile and radical tribal agenda.
Are you seriously suggesting that it is the Jews’ fault that Brad is such a loser?
I don’t know, for me success is more like a drug. You get high so you can forget how miserable you feel about yourself. And zazen is a way for me to see there’s no reason to be miserable in the first place, so no more need for those highs. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy when things work out, it’s just that the urgency is gone, and you’re happy about things working out rather than having shown again how great you are.
I also think that you can screw up pretty much everything in life, including mindfulness. We’ve just been openly plagiarized by a guy who claims that he is not only a genius and a true polymath, but also a ‘mindfulness teacher’. Frankly, I don’t see how this can work, being mindful, and screwing other people, because if you were truly mindful, you’d be so disgusted by yourself that you probably wouldn’t do this. He’s just turning himself into a hoax rather than take his own chance to realize his own unique potential, and on top of this, his paper sucks, even for a copy. Nothing of this strikes me as particularly mindful.
Maybe mindfulness is such a hot thing for some people right now, that they’re willing to focus on their breath, listen to sounds, or even stare at a white wall for hours without end, without ever figuring out what it is all about. You just can’t become mindful without letting go just a little bit in the first place. We always claim that ‘zazen does the work’, but I think you also have to be willing to let it happen. Perhaps that’s the true difference between ‘religious’ zazen and ‘secular’ meditation, it’s this little extra bit of humility you feel when you’re on the zafu, acknowledging that you’re not the greatest guy in the world, but just a part of something greater.
If it wasn’t to avoid this feeling, there’d be no point in making meditation ‘secular’ in the first place, because why bother about this talk of Buddha, then? The guy’s been dead for over 2500 years. He’s not telling you any odd stories you’re forced to believe against your own better judgment, and most of his teachings are pretty obvious ethical rules that my grandmother could’ve told me as well. He never even mentioned a cross. So why avoid him? Actually, my grandmother was way more rigid than Gautama. Anyway, for a true secular, I see no need to avoid ‘religious’ meditation. You can just grab a zafu, enjoy the nice smell of whatever people are burning on that little table behind your back in front of that funny statue, chant the sutras as a respiration exercise, and enjoy those lovely, old stories for their poetic beauty if you absolutely can’t avoid them. So, if people go at lengths to avoid ‘religious’ meditation, what are they really avoiding? I think it’s right this letting go of ego without which mindfulness is just not possible. Maybe there’s people who find other ways of doing this, but I’d bet these wouldn’t be the people putting a strong emphasis on ‘secular’ vs. ‘religious’ meditation in the first place.
“That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy when things work out, it’s just that the urgency is gone”—great point!!
We do stuff all the time that we know isn’t the best thing to do, out of habit or whatever. If we are mindful, in a secular sense, we stand a better chance of breaking such habits, I believe . Religious mindfulness, on the other hand, is more like what you describe, with the odd narrative about egolessness and the inability to do anything ‘wrong’.
It’s not about what’s right or wrong (not sure what that would be in zen, anyway), it’s about the ability to deceive yourself. Either you want to see reality for what it is or you don’t. You just can’t mindfully believe in your own lies.
To the extent that everybody shares the experience of not being able to grasp his own ego at a certain stage of his practice, I also don’t think you need a narrative to reach egolessness, it simply becomes an observational fact. So there is no need for any religious narrative or dogma. I also don’t quite see how ‘religious’ mindfulness would be a different thing from ‘secular’ mindfulness, for me it’s just the same thing thought all the way through. Look at it that way: Just because you can hit a few keys on a piano doesn’t mean you’re Mozart. You can either follow a few rules about when to hit a given key on a piano, or you can express yourself fully through the music. Hitting the right key requires concentration, being Mozart means you’re letting yourself be penetrated completely by the technique. You forget yourself. You just can’t have the one (minfulness) without the other (egolessness), because both mean ultimately the same thing.
I can only speak for me, and I’m an odd duck… I got here recently by way of “secular” mindfulness because, ironically, its proponents try to convert people to it (isn’t that what we all love to hate about door-to-door religions?) And they are successful at converting people, because they kept enough of the stuff that works if you try it out.
It is like eating toast with the crust cut off. Eventually a few people, who were picky eaters, get desperate enough and figure out that crust is an integral part of toast and that it will not kill them to eat it. Actually toast is better with crust. Anyway, I was curious, and also desperate (does anyone opt to sit and stare at walls who is not desperate?), so eventually read enough about where they cribbed everything from.
But since I got here from already having a religion (still have it) I was already a huge fan of having ethics and have a high tolerance for apparent silliness (as long as it doesn’t immediately conflict with the apparent silliness I already have) so all people really had to point out was: 1. Buddha was just a guy not a deity, 2. literally no one cares if you don’t believe in rebirth 3. “no self” does not mean what pop culture thinks it means (I don’t know what the heck it does mean but that was good enough). I didn’t really need it to be *secular*, just needed to be better informed.
Great blog and very thought-provoking comments. I’ve known many competitive ‘meditators’ over the years during my practice: for them it is all about bragging rights of how “spiritual” or “enlightened” they are, how many expensive/exotic retreats in far away places they been on etc.
I am fortunate in my Sangha that there seems to be very few, if any people like this.
I’ve seen that even in the Zen world (if I can call it that), there is competition and a craving for success in the practice. It’s kind of funny in some ways but I think it is part of human nature.
P.S. I know someone who went on Oprah years ago. It was supposedly a show about people tackling addiction. My friend had worked the streets to feed her habit (she is in recovery now). They and the other guests were told they were going to talk about overcoming addiction.
Oprah would not even say hello or talk to these people before the cameras rolled even though she was standing right next to them at many times. When the cameras did roll, Oprah acted like they had all chatted like old friends or something and then Oprah just launched into how they had been ‘prostitutes’ once they were filming. Nothing about the strengths they had in overcoming addiction. Oprah is a total jerk and hypocrite as far as I am concerned.
This fits right in with whoring for money to buy drugs.
Supposedly the Buddha said:
“‘Worthless man, haven’t I taught the Dhamma in many ways for the fading of passion, the sobering of intoxication, the subduing of thirst, the destruction of attachment, the severing of the round, the ending of craving, dispassion, cessation, unbinding? Haven’t I in many ways advocated abandoning sensual pleasures, comprehending sensual perceptions, subduing sensual thirst, destroying sensual thoughts, calming sensual fevers? Worthless man, it would be better that your penis be stuck into the mouth of a poisonous snake than into a woman’s vagina. It would be better that your penis be stuck into the mouth of a black viper than into a woman’s vagina. It would be better that your penis be stuck into a pit of burning embers, blazing and glowing, than into a woman’s vagina.”
Based on this, if you engage in sexual intercourse, isn’t your practice unethical?
No, Buddha obviously wanted all the chicks for himself. You know those horny guru-types, insatiable.
Gautama didn’t mess around, in his characterization of the act that brought him into this world.
The things he spoke of seem to me as almost miraculous attainments:
“… the fading of passion, the sobering of intoxication, the subduing of thirst, the destruction of attachment, the severing of the round, the ending of craving, dispassion, cessation, unbinding? Haven’t I in many ways advocated abandoning sensual pleasures, comprehending sensual perceptions, subduing sensual thirst, destroying sensual thoughts, calming sensual fevers?”
Yet as to how he arrived at these attainments, he described a happiness in sitting under a tree watching his father plow, he described a happiness in each of the meditative states including the cessation of habitual activity in perception and sensation, and he described his failure on the path of aceticism.
Zen guys can be remarkable, but one of the big lessons of Zen in the West seems to be that amazing presence and concentration can exist without the necessity to observe the moral and even legal standards of the community.
Gautama emphasized his way of living, a mindfulness connected with in-breathing and out-breathing, and described it as a thing perfect in itself. He said that a cessation of habitual activity in inhalation and exhalation coincides with the experience of a happiness that does not exist apart from equanimity, and what I’m experiencing is that a rhythm of mindfulness in connection with in-breathing and out-breathing requires mindfulness of cessation in connection with in-breathing and out-breathing as well.
And that for me is more a matter of happiness than of attainments and moral proscriptions. I see Gautama’s teaching of a way of living “perfect in itself” as a confession on his part that his emphasis on attainment and on meditation on the unlovely was harmful to his followers, and I have to believe that his teachings about what a monk might as well have inserted his penis into occurred before he acceded to Ananda’s third request and allowed an order of nuns. I have to believe he watched his mouth a little more after his aunt began the order of nuns, and maybe his remarks about “a woman will try to lead a man astray even on her deathbed” ceased then too.
In short, I don’t think he himself was perfect, even if he could describe a way of living for the rainy season that was “perfect in itself”.
I never meant my post to lead to my friend being reduced to just a whore. Sometimes this blog comments section is one big sausage fest. It doesn’t feel like a good place for women much of the time. That is too bad because I like Brad’s blog. There are circumstances in some people’s childhood that lead them to living on the streets. People who have had more sheltered, easy lives don’t get that. And they don’t get that people can overcome that life and do positive and meaningful things in the world.
It’s too bad people can’t actually discuss things that don’t just have to do with them and there opinions and views.
Oh I see my stalker is back. I’m sorry this is the only way you can talk with a beautiful, successful woman “Zafu”–by hiding behind some stupid name on a blog. I truly am. You’ll never know true love or happiness (things I have in my life). Don’t worry, you still own this blog. It’s not worth my hanging around to be in some cliquey comments section. Unfortunately, people like you turn this blog into a piece of shit because you’re the baggage. I’m not going to be some woman who needs to stick around and prove assholes didn’t run me off. Good bye, have a nice life, well have a so-called life anyways.
The problem with feeding a troll, o, is… well, you’ll get it some day.
Fred and Zafu would fit right in this…
Go fly a kite, or read a book.
It’s Mahàmaya Day
You probably have already observed this, but the whole appeal of the Oprah “spiritual” stuff is that it’s a competition. It’s right there in the “branding,” hence the title “SUPER Soul Sunday.” It’s not just “Soul Sundays” or “Soulful Sundays” or whatever. It’s “Super.” People who tune in are “Super” soulful or whatever.
The irony being, of course, being that such an implicit message exacerbates the illusory aspects of the ego and feeds the ego-monster, as exhibited by the rather egocentric and megalomaniac Oprah Winfrey, as well as the vast majority of her SSS guests.
Racist and anti-feminist, a winning combination!
Mark Foote wrote:
“Was Angulimala the murderer unable to experience happiness in the way of living of a monk because of his prior conduct?”
I don’t think so, but I don’t think he had it easy either. At one point where he returns from his alms errand bruised and bloody because people had recognised him, he says so to the Buddha who replies that it’s a bit normal…
“Most of the Vinaya rules of conduct were established as a result of particular incidents; we know this because the incidents are cited as well. In the end, Gautama said “just keep the main three rules”, but nobody knew which three he was referring to. ”
I’d bet these were the “don’t kill, don’t steal, and don’t lie” precepts…
Personally, I’m more than a bit tired of hearing “zennists” blabber about the samurai and such. A samurai is a military man, thus not someone who deals in general social ethics, even though he will have his own sort of samurai ethics (which can be somewhat devastating sometimes in a larger context…).
All this fascination with the war thing has led too many zennists to be harsh, unforgiving, unsympathetic and boorish. And when you tell them of Master Dogen’s four virtues of a bodhisattva, they don’t even know what you’re talking about (but, of course, “Master Dogen is important but as you can’t understand him, you don’t need to read him”…).
This is at least the French Zen landscape. And it’s particularly dreary…
Religion does not put morality into people.
People put morality into religion.
Morality puts people religion into.
Into puts religion people morality.
Michel, I’m thinking it was maybe intended as more general right action of speech, body, and livelihood.
“She and her colleagues are testing a relaxation technique called mindfulness-based stress reduction to influence the microbiome. In people with gut pain and discomfort, the meditation-based practice reduced symptoms and changed their brains in clinically interesting ways, according to unpublished work. The researchers suspect that the microbiome was also altered by the meditation. They are testing that hypothesis now.”
“Clinically interesting ways”; Warner, bring your brain in here, we’d like to test your microbiome…
“right action of speech, body, and livelihood” as the three to be observed–I think somehow I’m drawing that from the lecture on “the great six-fold (sense-) field”, which is odd, because what Gautama says there is:
“(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.”
(Majjhima-Nikaya, Pali Text Society volume 3 pg 337-338)
So I’m thinking that observing right action of speech, of body, and of livelihood are the three rules Gautama spoke of as the only three that really had to be observed, yet it would seem that the way to observe these “rules” is knowing and seeing as it really is with regard to the (sense-) fields, and then you will only know that your past acts of speech, body, and livelihood have been “well purified”–not how to observe right action of speech, of body, or of livelihood in the present.
My ancient and twisted karma, I do now fully embrace.
The road to success! ‘I’
This one is for Zafu, many thanks for all your insightful comments.
What’s a sausage fest?
nevermind, I googled
You’re more than welcome, Mr. Roast.
Bye the way, Brad wrote to me again about my behavior here. He’s been pretty tolerant in the past but now more than ever, for some reason that he didn’t share with me, he’d like to “transform the environment” of the blog. He writes:
I was like, wow, that is different. He went on to say:
He went on, and on, and on… finally asking for my help in what he’s trying to do here. I said that I would try.
I think that’s been done before.
Gurdjieff had a troll on his payroll ?!
Brad a paternal figure?, I would not have thought about that one. And I would not push that metaphor to far either. But, I must admit that after reading what zafu wrote, I seriously ask myself if in some mysterious way I too was in search for a connection with a father that I never had on this blog. It took me a few hours to ponder on this before I could definitively say no. It is of some interest to me because in some way, that is exactly the role which my teacher wanted me to play. I have always refuse categorically and quite explicitly to play that game. I do not have this in me. I would think that the paternal (or maternal) figure metaphor stands for being look at as a caring, valid (authentic) orienting center. I do feel that is what some people are desperately looking for; some kind of orienting center which is above themselves and to whom you kind of bend your own ‘authority/center’ to. To some extent, I do feel that this has some value within the context of a spiritual practice, but within limits. This allows the yielding of one’s rigid center to ‘something’ ‘greater’ than oneself. The value resides in the yielding itself, one yield, but does not yield to someone or something. And that is also the danger! Because both disciple and teacher might no see clearly on these matter. The disciple yield its own ‘center’ to, and may come to think that the teacher is kind of the absolute center to which it yields to. Some teachers unfortunately do not have the necessary maturity to comprehend what is going on and profit from the situation by establishing themselves as the ‘center’, truth itself. There seems to be a ‘natural’ tendency in human being to yield there own center to another ‘center’; Alcoholic Anonymous, new born Christian, Hitler, etc. We all have/are a center, but we are not The Center, nor is anything or anyone The Center. We think that this center is an absolute, that it is unique, distinct and highly important. It is this ‘belief’ that is the cause of a lot of suffering in the world, and in ourselves. I would think that the way to go is to yield to, but not yield to something or someone, including our own self! We must yield our own center, but not to another center, we must yield to the very idea of centers.
That sounds about right to me, but I’m not sure that anybody fully yields “the very idea of centers”. Even Buddha touches the earth for support, from time to time.
It’s completely OK that people sometimes give authority to a therapist or roshi, (or to a God of AA or Born-Again)… accepting an external locus of control. When it becomes apparent that the ego can’t be trusted, we naturally seek a transitional object, to provide sufficient sense of safety to make change possible.
People usually drop that kind of dependent state, eventually – in christian terms,god the father transforms into ” a circle whose center is everywhere and its circumference is nowhere”. I guess this is similar to the “dhyana with suchness as its object” in the lankavatara sutra.
Of course in Zen we want to burst the bubble of “suchness as object” too … but after it’s burst, a crutch is just a crutch, a pacifier is just a pacifier, a teacher is just a teacher, and a center is just a center – we can play freely with all of them.
Is aversion to success automatically fear of it? I don’t want to stress myself unnecessarily, and wanting to suceed does exactly that.
“The more we’re attached to our opinions, the more we suffer.” etc etc.
“We are simply ghosts driving skin-bags,” etc etc.
“Opinions are like belly buttons,” etc etc.
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