OK. I’m gonna try another instant post. Cuz that’s what’s great about blogging, right? Spontaneity! I don’t even know if that’s spelled right! And away we go! Remember kids, unlike many of the posts here, this one isn’t written out beforehand, it’s just typed right in to the blogger template thingy whachamacallit.
Right. So people have been asking me to write about the whole Rule of the Universe thing. Like, hey Brad, what’s up with that whole “Rule of the Universe” thing you always talk about? If it’s rules, why don’t you make us a list so we can know if we’re doing good things or bad things?
Jeez, I hope there’s no one out there waiting for a list of do’s and don’t's from me. At any rate, the Rule of the Universe isn’t like that. It’s subtle. But at the same time it’s not obscure or hidden. It’s as overt as gravity or electro-magnetism. In fact, things like gravity and electro-magnetism are also manifestations of the Rule of the Universe.
It’s the same as what they call Dharma. Only the word Dharma is getting so over-used, it’s become almost worthless anymore. I mean look at what the people who make the TV show LOST are doing with it. I like the show, though this season’s been fairly lame. But I can tell those guys have some weird-ass ideas about Dharma. And I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts the resolution to the mystery of the island is gonna be based on some hokey, half-baked version of some kind of Buddhism. And I’ll puke all over it like I did with the resolution to the X-Files which also blew dead donkeys. Why can’t these guys come up with cool resolutions for their shows like Patrick McGoohan did with The Prisoner? I also realized the other day why big budget “tent pole” movies always suck. I’m at this meeting, talking to a producer guy about doing an Ultraman movie and he’s telling me how it works with the kind of bazillion dollar sci-fi action superhero flicks like he wants to make. And it hits me why they’re always bad. It’s because nobody who makes those movies really wants to make them. I mean like no one was dying to make a Spiderman film or a Superman film or whatever — no matter what their press releases say. They did it because it was the highest paying job they could get. People in those positions will give it their all and produce very high quality work from a technical standpoint (and this goes for things like writing, directing & acting as well as special effects, there is also technique involved). But at the core there’s just nothing, nothing except people working for a paycheck. There’s nobody trying to say anything, to make some point, to communicate.
Anyway, I digress. Because this is an instant post. What were we talking about? Oh yeah. The Rule of the Universe. Did I say it was like gravity yet? Because it is. OK. I’ll try to give some examples. Like, OK, like say you’re riding a bike. You have an intuitive understanding of what it takes to keep from falling over and you do it. It’s kind of like that.
Some overt and obvious examples would be like the way you feel guilty if you steal something or cheat on your boyfriend. You’re sensing that you’ve violated the Rule of the Universe. Now I know you’re probably thinking there are some people who don’t feel guilt (or whatever you want to call that feeling, “guilt” is probably too loaded a word. Whatever). But I doubt it. I don’t think such people exist, or ever have, or ever will. BUT there are people who are very, very, very good at shouting down those feelings with their own thoughts and justifications.
The thing about thought is that you can use it to justify ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING. There is nothing at all so heinous or horrible that you can’t twist your thoughts around to make seem right. One of the scariest things I ever saw in my practice was my own ability to do exactly that. You think it’s just Nazis and child molesters and members of the NRA and people like that who can justify whatever horrible thing they desire to do? Ha! You are A FOOL!!! Anyway, that’s why thought is a lousy way to judge right and wrong. You just know what’s right or wrong without thinking about it at all.
The purpose of Zazen is to allow you to learn to quiet down enough to sense that intuition that is always there. The more you do the practice, the better you’ll get. No one ever gets perfect at it. Even the early Buddhist sutras talk about Buddha facing Mara, the force of evil, all throughout his life. This is just a metaphorical way of showing that he too could be fooled by his own thoughts.
So the Rule of the Universe has nothing to do with any list of do’s and don’t's. Although there are certain things that are almost always don’t's. This is why Buddhists vow to follow the Ten Precepts. Things like stealing, killing, lying and all that almost always get you in trouble. Though there are times when even doing these things would be in accordance with the Rule of the Universe. But those times are so rare, it’s expected that, should such an occassion arise, your practice will be strong enough to allow you to see what needs doing.
That’s really about all there is to it. I know I put a chapter about the Ten Precepts in Hardcore Zen. So some of these same ideas are expressed in there, too.
Y’know another thing I was thinking of today that’s just sort of random is this. When you’re doing Zazen, it’s best not to think, “I’ve been at this 30 minutes — or 2 days — or 5 weeks — or whatever it happens to be — and if this goes on any longer I’m gonna die.” If you go to a retreat, there’ll come a time during the sittings that you will feel like this. The only way to handle it its to just forget about how long you’ve been doing it up till now. Don’t worry about the accumulation of time. Just sit NOW. And no matter how many times you have to get back to that, just get back to it.
Anyway, I should go make some dinner. Have fun!
Remember, Zazen at Hill St. Center tomorrow morning — please show up if you’re around, we’ll go have yummy Hare Krishna food after — and a new Suicide Girls article debuting at 12PM Pacific Time.