First, although there is Zazen at Hill Street Center this coming Saturday June 6, 2009 at 10 am, you cannot park in the Hill Street Center parking lot that day since there’s a parking lot sale sponsored by the church going on.
Second, I managed to kind of solve my AT&T; problems. I wasn’t entirely happy with the solution. But I managed to get most of the charges knocked off. The woman I spoke to on the phone was very sweet about the whole thing. I’m sure she got hired there because she’s got the kind of voice you don’t want to scream and yell at. Not that I would have. Anyway, it’s OK now. And thanks to the people who donated money. I think I got about $17 from that little mention. So that was cool.
I just wanted to say a little bit here about solipsism as it relates to Buddhism. I was looking at some of what’s written on the Internets about Buddhism in English and noticed there’s a great deal of confusion. It used to be that people figured Buddhism was a form of Nihilism or a form of Atheism. Those two ideas are kind of out of fashion, though they still persist. Yet the idea that Buddhism, particularly Zen Buddhism, is a form of solipsism still remains.
Lots of people, including lots of so-called “Buddhist Masters,” are confused by the idea, which is present within Buddhism that the inner world and the outer world are one and the same. From this idea, they generate the mistaken solipsistic notion that there is no real outer world and that everything we experience is all in our heads. This is not Buddhism at all. It would be just as crazy to say there is no inner world and that everything we experience takes place outside ourselves. We know that’s bullshit. Yet somehow it’s easier to believe the opposite is true and think that there is no outside world at all.
In Nishijima’s translation of Nagarjuna’s Fundamental Song of the Middle Way, Nagarjuna says, “The four reliable facts are reason, the external world, the present moment, and reality — this world — which seems to be similar to God. A fifth reliable fact can never exist.”
So the external world is very real in Buddhism. Do not doubt its existence.
I say this because it’s pretty scary to think there are folks out there teaching people not to believe in the outside world. This is a very dangerous notion. If you cease to believe in the outside world you can commit all kinds of horrendous actions against whoever you please, since they don’t really exist after all.
In a way this kind of dovetails into my reservations about “cyber-sanghas” — and even about this very forum you are reading right now, dear friend. Interactions with computers tend to lock you into your head. I see a lot more solipsism in the world of Internet Buddhism than I do in the world of flesh-and-bone Buddhism.
There is a real world “out there.” Your perceptions of that world may be limited and faulty. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. And it doesn’t mean the outside world is exactly the same as your inner world. This is a very important point.
There is just one world, with no division between inner and outer. Yet the two sides are not the same.
Get it? Got it? Good!