First Half of 2007 Back to Current Buddhist-Spirit Blog
|How much do we learn unconsciously?|
I am talking about this for two reasons. Firstly, my own experience with A Course in Miracles (Warning!) and my previous holiday work, and secondly because of a frustrating encounter with a recent contact.
Let's begin with my own study. How does that occur? I read a lesson, and then tend to think about it as a bit of a meditation and usually drift off to sleep. Inside stuff is happening especially at night when I am sleeping, so much so that yesterday I had to sleep because of my stomach. My stomach seems to have been the battle ground for most of the last 6 months, as it is the place where the stress has been deposited so it was the store of my emotions and the receptacle for the past. I am conscious that this is a process I go through but this is not a conscious process, and it is a process I need to be conscious of. My consciousness needs to be learning not my unconscious, and somehow that unconscious breaking through.
This leads me to the recent contact. I suspect he will not be a contact for long. He networks, and I have now learnt the downside of that. More networking less quality; it is fashionable to network so I should have suspected it. Networking means knowing more people, it mattered to me in Brighton politics how many people I knew. It did not matter how well I knew them but then politics is not about depth of understanding. For political reasons I was networking, when I left Brighton not one of these people kept in touch because it was contact and not depth, not quality.
This brings me to the latest contact referred to above, he gives lectures, makes contacts, attends courses, has a "friends" mailing list, and generally proliferates. But depth and quality are not the bywords, emails finish with "must run" before they have really started. I read a book by this Aussie about talking to rocks, somehow for his unconscious, the Dhamma, to talk to this Aussie, it had to be a rock. If a medium is needed then the ego (intellect?) is blocking. This brings me back to the last paragraph about my unconscious, do I need to sleep because there is no other way my unconscious can talk to me. If so how am I blocking?
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|This course is trying - Warning!|
It hurts, it is confusing and it hurts. It tells me the meaninglessness of things, and I question what I have held onto. That is good but then I have to dig through 54 years of pain and emotion. And reading through the main text I need to forgive my errors, but I have to recognise theme before forgiving. And that hurts with the years of drink. But without it hurting how do I reach ground zero?
It hurts and yet when I go out I feel great. It is not a front, I do feel great yet when I am cleansing it hurts. Hard work.
At night my insides are dropping. Last night I wake up at 4.00am, and I think my insides are dropping - one of the points of alignment of Tai Chi. So today I am whacked and tomorrow I will feel much better. My chest has the occasional twinge today as it too is dropping to as the lower regions drop. I am sure this is healthy but troublesome. How much of it is there?
But it is good, I look forward to the balance of the completed course with Buddhism.
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|Meditation can be a fix?|
This has been a morning for insights, thank you. Firstly meditation can be a fix, that one got to me on the toilet, let me go into that later. Secondly the heart needs the ridgepole to travel and enable me to be my heart, it allows my heart to move when I still have the poisons of baggage inside - the ridgepole is free from poison. And it is time to start the Wai zandtao blog, but it is not time for him to really start to write. But there is the birth of Sulacco, through Sulacco WaiZ will explore the Will to Peace and the inherent conflict in that Will with the powers that be requiring expansion of capital.
Meditation can be a fix. Ah this one is so sad, and why so many have issues with meditation? Why are there so many forum questions that just appear so pointless - it sound arrogant I am sorry but why? Why this posture? Does it matter if I am 15 minutes or five? Should my legs be crossed two or three times?
ASK YOUR HEART.
And if you don't get an answer, then look for your heart. Just sit there and look for your heart. The trouble is I don't know enough so if you then ask what if I can't find it the only thing I can say is keep looking it is there in all of us. Just keep looking.
How can meditation be a fix? How can I say that when I have previously lauded the routine for meditation? The problem is work, and the need to survive, money and all that stuff. When we are working we are not following our paths, in this world with this dukkha we are not. I am sorry Kriya yoga but …. No that's not true as we must be engaged so there is a balance between dukkha, work and the path. I didn't have it because of my brickwalling or did I?
This is good for a blog two ongoing issues:-
1. Meditation can be a fix.
2. Can work be following a path?
Both good themes, I look forward to them. And Sulacco.
The name Sulacco will be changed.
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|Zukav's Love and Peace Chakras|
Thought I'd blog this as I had one of those many restless nights that is part of my path's development. I still have internalised emotion causing me problems, and I have issues with digestion. Not a disease with a label so I cannot get western medical treatment. Acupuncture might help but with my limited Thai I couldn't explain. So I must DIY.
I suspect the issue is my duodenum. That is an area susceptible to ulcers, and it is internalised anger that produces my problems. I have shortage of breath sometimes as well.
Through Tai Chi I know I want my internal organs to drop, and I feel that has happened to some extent but not completely. So when I woke up, I tried Qi Gong - I have done that before in the middle of the night - cuckoo!! The Qi was causing all kinds of movements after a while.
I lay back down and suddenly remembered Zukav's Love and Peace Chakra breathing. I started that and it helps. And then I did the yellow breathing, that also helped. So I have found the DIY. I think I must accept that maybe it will never be sorted, but it can certainly be helped. Must compromise with the Dukkha.
From ACIM (Warning!) I am determined to see, that is good. Yesterday's stuff was determining to see a fixation differently. Being angry at someone unnecessarily is a fixation, seeing a person as horrible is legitimate. It is not necessary to be angry but seeing is OK. The lesson became a determination to see, so I ran up and down my ridgepole happily.
Because of the issue with a particularly horrible man, I learnt more about control. I have inherited control issues sadly, but fortunately I have never been nasty enough to force that control on someone else. It has resolved the suai issues. I can never accept control from a suai, and how can continue my journey without control? Yuu kondiao is the only solution despite the pressures.
I am totally crazy eh?
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I have recently attended a seminar on Buddhist economics, and I became bogged down with the facilitator's approach as to Buddhist Macro economics. This is a development from that. To simplify discussion I will consider macro-economic strategies as being global strategies, as compared to micro-economic strategies as being from the ground up.
Economics is concerning money so economic principles could be considered an oxymoron, but certainly economic principles are practical as is economics. So therefore macro-economic strategies have to be practical. That therefore means that a macro-economic policy must address the powerful. Buddhist economics could be considered as an awareness process for the powerful to be more compassionate, but that is in the realms of pipedream. If a powerful person becomes compassionate then that is good, but can they then do practical good in the macro-economic sphere?
Can macro-economic strategies be more compassionate? Let us examine the prevailing economic situation. We have ST and the Conquistadores - Speculators and Transnationals backed up by the IMF, World Bank, GATT and the WTO (Conquistadores nicked from Race and Class). Basically the ST and the Conquistadores adopt strategies for maximising profits and compassion is not considered. Speculation - consider what happened in Argentina. Transnationals - child labour exploiting one group of kids after another. The Conquistadores then establish rules of trade, obey our rules or we won't trade with you - and they call this Free Trade. In Thailand now they want to use generic drugs to treat Aids patients because it is cheaper. But they have signed WTO so that they only use drugs from big companies. Compassionate?
Fundamentally compassion and the "ST and the Conquistadores" are not compatible. OK so you look for change. What happens to the powerful who has become compassionate? He is eschewed. Although these people are powerful they are not autocrats, the system has checks and balances. If someone turns away from the prevailing power direction they are not in an autocratic position to make changes, they might be powerful but they are not potentates.
Can you change from within? Work your way up and then make changes? Sorry, no. They have checks and balances for that. By the time you have climbed the ladder to possibly make an effect you have paid your allegiance in blood and have been totally compromised.
So what about caring capitalism? What does this mean? Does it mean that when they are making their profits they actually care how they do it? No, that is ethical investment. Caring capitalism means :-
When they have an abundance of profits they let some trickle down to the people so that the people can continue to delude themselves that they are in a caring society and it is just unfortunate that Africans kill each other over raw materials.
What are the implications of this trickle down? By the time they have reaped sufficient profits by exploiting one part of the world, they can take their excesses and give them to their people in the metropole so that their society is safe and those people can continue to provide the services for the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
In Buddhist terms the macro issue also tinges Right Livelihood. Can it be right to set macro policy that is not compassionate as a strategy to put one in a position to set policy later? Ends justify the means? No, that is Jack Bauer capitalism, not Buddhism.
At the same time we have to be careful that we become too involved. The world is Anikkha, as a delusion we have to be careful of atachment. Macro strategies within Dukkha have to be Dukkha, if sufficient micro strategies impact the macro it is great - that is unity. Top down within Dukkha will never yield compassion.
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|ACIM has started with God - Warning!|
Lesson 29 God is in everything I see.
Lesson 30 God is in everything I see because God is in my mind.
This is the first time I have had to accept a non-Buddhist concept - please excuse the use of the word concept when describing God. Apparently there are areas where the Lord Buddha was questioned and he would not answer, I believe the Creator and the existence of Soul were two of those areas. Buddhism has been appended onto many existing practices in the East, and hence the non-uniformity of Buddhism in Japan, China, Tibet and Thailand for example.
The universe existing throughout eternity does not preclude a Creator, "God is in everything I see" could be Consciousness in all Nature, and therefore "in my mind". The phrase "Seeing is Being" has popped up. So even God is not creating an inconsistency although the Bible would, I suspect. .
Making meditation conscious has also popped up. This is concerning Michael Roads, drifting off to sleep when meditating on ACIM and others - especially as I have stopped using the stool. Meditation produces for me a state of happiness that is much more obvious in my limited interaction with people than it is in the contentment I experience at home. At the moment I have termed that "making meditation conscious" but I am really asking "what is happiness?" or even more "why am I experiencing the happiness so differently?". The contentment is little more than just getting on with things, being at home, doing the washing, having a cup of coffee, doing the daily stuff contentedly, all of which is kind of emotionless - as Roger said "just a good place to be". .
When I am asked about retirement or asked to convey how I feel, then emotion arises. Then I become happy. I watch Soi Lor Gwian kids playing I become happy, when Man U play good football I become happy. But I am not happy during meditation, I start to feel agitated if I don't do it. .
Can't do much today. My body is dropping. During the night my digestive system gave me trouble, today I have sharp pains in the lungs, and I must make more of an effort to be consistent in building the Chi ridgepole so that the muscles don't hold up my body, just lower it when I am ducking and diving in the market. .
I am thinking my writings should be "Open Source" like Sourceforge.net is for software. This would mean I pay for zandtao, and people read the books. See my conspiracy/politics blog - minimising involvement with capital.
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|Part of God's Mind - Warning!|
Lesson 35 My mind is part of God's, I am very holy.
This is powerful, it helps with Alec's macro-meditation. It led me to "we are part of God's"[*], and then "we are all there is" - a sad and happy statement. At the same time "there is no time" came out. Somehow these insights are coming out but in a way I don't feel they are mine. Is this healthy?
Normally I would feel an insight completely. As I don't it concerns me. I was thinking of evil. Is it knowing the truth and ignoring it? I think that is what led to my recent strong reaction against an individual - the reaction is still there. So if I am getting partial insights, and ignore them out of ignorance, then is that evil?
Yet is there a choice in the ACIM process? Clearly the process is intended to disturb, is that good?
I am now much happier with God, all respect to Christians. This lesson gives me back Nature and One Mind. My mind is part of the One Mind, Nature, and add on "we are all there is". And I have learnt more. Where are eastern Gods and Devas - the Wonderful Kuan Yin - in this scenario?
I also got Compassion as Nature as One Mind as God.
[*] Note ACIM does not use God's Mind. Again intended confusion, defining God is of course not on, but Mind maybe? Without Mind then there is ambiguity but correctness? This note is perhaps wrong as in the next lesson it refers to God's Mind.
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Thay, Thich Naht Hahn in Living Buddha, Living Christ, has just talked of the essential of dialogue. It sparked off a train of thought in which this was recently discussed re David Bohm's dialogues.
Dialogue is of course the medium of communication between human beings so to talk of dialogue is to talk of communication. Of course communication is essential, this has to be a given, so why could someone wanting an end to suffering be in any way critical of dialogue?
In the same way why would some Buddhist Aa-jaans claim they do not read books when clearly they have read some?
Because both dialogue and books can survive within the realm of the chattering mind and not go deeper into the heart. In the West now, academy has reached such a level that it could be considered a process of considering the minutiae of the scratches of the scratches on the surface without any desire to find the route to the centre of learning.
Sadly these academics have appropriated Pirsig through academic courses and David Bohm's dialogues gave off the same feeling. In Pirsig's mailing lists, where were the academics whose desire for knowledge drove them insane? Or further seeking wisdom through travelling or perhaps they find it in a Liverpool suburb? I must of course include here an apology because undoubtedly there have been contributors, both to Bohm's dialogues and Pirsig's academy, who are serious Learners, contributors whose main purpose in life is to seek and disseminate Wisdom. I give those people my deepest apology, and I wish them every luck on their journey to understanding.
But they will understand me when I talk of the heart. Their dialogue is about their heart's journey, their contributions are concerning their own heart and the hearts of others, their words are following a journey to and from their hearts. These are the hearts that seek understanding and are searching for wisdom.
What about writing? A successful academic, by the terms of academy (illustrated by CVs) is one who publishes, a successful writer (in terms of the publisher) is one who sells many books ie the sale of a commodity the content of which in general (and again apologies to those to which this does not apply) matters little. An author who can sell pulp fiction is of more import to a publisher than a writer whose soul-searching leads to Wisdom in print.
One must question such institutions.
At the same time we must try to understand. We live in a world that requires money to survive, that money becomes an end in itself and for many a measure of their own self-worth or ego. Writers, academics, publishers have become trapped in the same world as businessmen, seeking of money, and perhaps fame, as a measure of self-worth or ego. The word instead of being a means of communication has become engulfed in the world of money and profits, sadly the content of these words is not now governed by communication. The very dialogue, that was originally sought as a means of betterment by some, becomes a tool for the ego. Sadly we must also begin to question the motivations of those participating in such dialogues. It would not be right to go further as I have limited personal knowledge of the people concerned.
In reading Thay's book his dialogue was predicated on continued meditation. He described a process in which he continued with his good works and dialogues based on the spiritual strength gained from this meditation (paraphrasing his words with the best of intentions). In seeking the strength of his heart (my words and I don't know whether Thay would support their use), he engages in dialogue and socially-useful action. In my terms his engagement is governed by the heart and not motivations driven by money.
It is so hard in this world to conduct genuine dialogue. As that is so, is dialogue worthwhile? How does one answer that? In the workplace genuine dialogue does not usually exist as the parties concerned are usually involved in ego activities such as career-making and politics. In the West we have now become past masters at saying what needs to be heard without having any concern as to the meaning. Job interviews become a process of regurgitating the current professional fashion rather than any determination as to the quality of the candidate. Sadly in many cases that same job is moving more and more towards this sound-byte, and the quality of the profession matters less and less.
On the international stage power-mongers play out diplomacy in the media using words to encourage their voters to believe that their power strategies are in their own best interests. Sadly this verbal manipulation has led to global conflict, and this misuse of words, this lack of proper dialogue, this process that has no meaning is killing our people, killing ordinary people who only seek food for their families
Fundamentally many people have moved so far from words as Truth that war has become a consequence, war is always a consequence when we move so far from the Path of Nature we were born to follow.
Do we therefore engage in dialogue? In as much as we engage dialogue must follow. Are we engaging in dialogue for its True purpose -unity through communication? Seeking understanding of ourselves prior to communication might well be a prerequisite but to ask for that in this world might be out-of-sync? Heart-to-heart dialogue has to be an objective and therefore pulling people back to the heart in the process of dialogue might be a modus operandi. Either way, can we recognise dialogue as an end in itself? If we do why?
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|What Burdens Do We Carry|
My stress caused me difficulty yesterday, and I needed time out. And then last night a teacher's stress dream. You have to laugh at the pathos. There was some event, and break came along with 3 separate areas for tea, 2 for children and 1 for the teachers. Nothing appeared for the teachers. Off I went in typical tirading fashion to find some genial guy carrying a tea trolley. He laughed at me "teachers are always last", and I authoritatively told him to take it to the teachers now. He smiled and said he couldn't, presumably someone had told him to do it this way. Off I tiraded, and reached a sedate lounge where a genial Mr Norris completely agreed with me and said he would deal with it.
I woke up totally burdened with stress, it was as if my stomach was pregnant with it. Now I know I was particularly anal making issues like this mine but burdening myself with this 8 months after I have retired. How much more is there?
How much more of this is there to uncover? On and on I carry this misshapenness. Am I "not letting go" or is it that I just have to go through with all of it and for how long? And then to think how much do other people carry? And how do they deal with it? After all I was supposed to have been coping with this stuff well through meditation and Tai Chi all the way through. I was supposed to have been aware. Is it any wonder we are all so crazy in this world of wage slavery?
And then think of the deck of cards we call economics. It is all an image. Poor Gaia. She wakes up and sees these thoughts flying past. Let go, she wants. She observes. But some prick wakes up and sees the thought. He attaches to the thought, if I can make others attach to this thought I can make a killing. He invests his money and makes a few calls. More invest their money. The prick watches and waits …. and waits, and then sells. Others see him selling so they sell. And months later a factory closes, a weak man cannot face getting up another day to search for money and gives up. He runs to the bottle. That was the child's medicine drunk but he is partly dutiful and borrows. But he had borrowed before, and this time he must pay his debt back quickly. He delivers the drugs. And these drugs were tainted - which was why he was brought in. The idiot at the other end who had long time given up takes the drugs and that night was dead in a pile of his vomit.
And the next day Gaia watches another stray thought pass her by. And a prick who is part of her latches on, and his attachment is another game that he snorts up his nose later. And meanwhile up the line ….
Market forces. Snorting pricks, drunken consequences and life goes on. Gaia watches.
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I can't remember the title but I think it was a book by Frederic Lionel that first alerted me to Glamour. To me glamour is the dark side of the force, it is the powers like the siddhis which people claim they can possess. Perhaps Kundalini is also such a power. I am completely unaware of the journeys that any people have followed involving such glamours, and this cannot be seen as possessing glamour as meaning they have followed the "dark side", but the issue is targeting the glamour is playing to the ego.
This was a fear I had for a book that calls itself A Course in Miracles (Warning!), I feared it would be an attempt to engage the ego:-
Lessons 35 through to 40 - Warning!
My holiness envelops everything I see.
My holiness blesses the world.
There is nothing my holiness cannot do.
My holiness is my salvation.
I am blessed as a Son of God.
Holiness envelops everything I see.
Holiness blesses the world.
There is nothing holiness cannot do.
Holiness is salvation.
As a Buddhist there is a problem with paragraph 9 of the introduction where we are asked to do without understanding.
I also remember the Jane Robert's books, they were seductive. Easy reading that was disseminating knowledge, but seductively involving the ego - I can't remember how it was just an insight. But there was a subtle hint, the contact was Seth. Who is Seth in Egyptian mythology?
Why is automatic writing and easy ego stuff appearing in the West and not the East? This part of the Plan loses me. This stuff is not meant to be easy, understanding is not gained by having it dished on a plate. Without making an obvious personal reference here, but does such a revelation truly alter someone? What is the burden on the person who is revealed to if it doesn't alter them? Does it strengthen the ego and worsen the conflict? The dark side of glamour. Again something recalls the dangers of following too far down the path without having formed the basics. Or some such equivalence?
ACIM has been useful in drawing into question many things, this has helped me to let go of dogma. But there is tremendous danger to the ego, and it is time to be warned. I will continue warily.
My stomach has given me pain for two days, I hope it is pain on the way to recovery. Today's pain became a migraine (not as serious as some) yet with a migraine I came up with insights. This is good.
Compassion is salvation.
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|Compromised - Final Warning as this is the end of ACIM|
I have just blogged Glamour (see 21/02/07), and now I must blog that I am stopping the Course in Miracles. Basically I am frightened as to where the course is taking me. Spirituality has power and there are dangers in that power as discussed in Glamour. Unless I am certain I will not follow a spiritual course that has potential danger.
Let me say before I continue that I am too ignorant to know whether ACIM is good, however sila demands of me to place this warning. For those people interested in ACIM because I have previously encouraged their interest, I now say to them please do not follow that interest. There are so many clear and attestable sources of knowledge and Wisdom, please choose one of those.
I am going to give two personal reasons for not continuing, one will sound stupid and the other has more rationale. My stomach pains have stopped today. Still have shortage of breath, the stomach is still too much of a balloon but there is not the pain, and my decision about glamour fought its way through a migraine - leading me to compassion and compassion is indisputably divine (small d). I suspect the pains will come back during the process of the internal organs dropping but as of today they are not there - a sign.
No problem if you don't see that one. But appeals to the ego, asking one to follow lessons without understanding, repeating statements throughout the day in an almost self-hypnotic fashion whilst not understanding and then saying
Whilst understanding that in terms of Buddha consciousness this statement contains Truth, it is truly frightening to ask people to repeat hypnotically for a day something that is potentially pure ego without requiring a level of Substance to base it on.
I was learning following the course because it was bringing into question dogmatic positions. I will have to learn to let go in other ways from now on.
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|Fresh Start and Quick Fixes|
So what do I look at now? I am part way through Living Buddha Living Christ by Thich Naht Hanh and I shall also look at the Open Heart by HHDL.
Before I completely leave ACIM I am concerned about visitations, the talking world and automatic writing. I am sitting here and I don't know what to say - I am nodding my head. No you cannot write anything because you don't know. But all 3 concern me. I will venture this far. I met someone who had knowledge passed onto him by one of these quick fixes, from my limited knowledge what was passed on was Truth. Because this individual did not have a sound personal basis the passed-on knowledge enhanced existing internal conflicts, and led to a high level of disorganisation and other issues.
I observed this so I can comment. It is a personal warning for me to be concerned about these quick fixes. Buddhist masters encourage meditation, in the West where egos abound (and the economic ego is killing Gaia) we get quick fixes. It is necessary to consider that these arose in the West. What is insight? It is the faculty we have been given to understand knowledge from within. What is our heart? We have a guide we can appeal to. Historically there is an abundance of Wisdom that has been received, don't we need insight rather than an increase of that received from outside?
Finally my deepest apologies to all who have experienced a quick fix and have gained from it. I am an ignorant man and can only express what I feel at the moment.
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It matters to have given up ACIM, this morning I feel so much more comfortable. Without realising chores had built up, I took this as an indication that the ego was too important to do dishes. It was like an attachment, a drive that was not comfortable, a drive that had to happen. This morning I wake up and it is happening - but no drive - comfortable., a comfort that feels right and not complacent. That's all.
Oh, and I started reading HHDL's Open Heart last night, and this morning Buddhadhasa's Prison of Life.
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|Artificial Intelligence vs Meditation|
I was sparked into writing this because it's raining and because of this article. (I didn't want to waste my blogspace with it so the article is referenced elsewhere on my site).
It annoys me because it is academia defending its territory - I must watch this, academic territory raises anger. Why does defence of meditation perpetually discuss states - it opens itself to academic counter?
Clearly AI can have a rational mind as a rational mind if used properly will argue logically. But again how does AI choose the axioms from which to develop the logic? Possibly the most appropriate axiom can be programmed but I don't know enough about the possibilities of AI to be definitive.
However how can any discussion of AI vs meditation ignore insight? This totally confuses me as Vipassana is a major meditation technique. To use Alan Turing's words used in the article, an "operationally explicit definition of intelligence" could be:-
Intelligence is that which has insights.
The discussion is fundamentally flawed. Unless insight is accepted into the discussion, then how does one discuss intelligence? If insight is accepted into the discussion, then how else can it be described but as an intelligent faculty of mind? And then how can a machine possess insight?
"Consciousness, AI researchers contend, is not a single, ineffable quality; it's a matter of degree, dependent on the complexity of those connections. And the hardware doesn't matter; whether an entity's brain is made of meat or transistors, mind is as mind does." I can only see insight being accepted into the discussion as some form of complex connection. And that makes little sense to me.
How does one value insight? This of course is why academia does not accept insight as intelligence, because an insight can only legitimately be valued by the person having the insight. There are certain accepted objective forms of insight which by mutual consent society or academia have agreed to call genius although the tendency there is to describe the ego as the genius. This then gets appropriated as academic genius - brought into the fold.
But this opens up the whole question of what is an insight? - my next blog.
But to continue with this one, consider the playing field the article places meditation in:-
"They settle into a "deep state of equilibrium," free of torpor or distraction, penetrated by light and joy. If they persist, they can reach "the level of primordial consciousness, transcending the conceptual demarcations of subject and object, mind and matter, and even existence and nonexistence," an achievement that produces "a state of well-being beyond imagining." It also frequently produces clairvoyance, clairaudience, telekinesis, and lucid dreaming." quoted in favour of meditation by Wallace in some fabricated consciousness studies academic department.
Legitimately however this Wallace says "And it answers our fundamental questions about the nature and origin of mind". That's not a bad definition of intelligence.
I did mention above the question of "defending territory", and I think it is appropriate to take that further here. For years as a teacher I was conscious of being in a profession that taught minds without there being an understanding of many aspects of minds. The profession filled minds with thoughts which were reproduced in exams. Occasionally the students' minds were expected to create. There were the more obvious forms such as arts and crafts, then there was the creativity in writing although that was mainly stifled by the format of literary criticism and reproduction of quotes as standard questions. And in my own subject there was the creativity of problem-solving - the determination as to the start-off where rational method could be applied.
The exam qualification was the determining factor, and the establishment of what is contained in the exam was originally determined by academia although that is now tempered by business requirements. Yet less intelligence is required for the business component than academia, as business laments the lack of skills in contemporary students - I translate that as not knowing the particular techniques a business requires, not a creative process.
I have made a leap in the above, I have used the word creativity without any form of justification. Hereby I propose that creativity be considered intelligent as it is unique, and this is usually accepted. Where else do we find intelligence? Perhaps that is easier determined by asking the question, where else do we not find intelligence? Is it intelligent to solve a maths problem? Out of fear or inability many people say yes, but is it? As a maths teacher I claim there is only one intelligent process in the solving of the problem, and that is the determination of the starting point, development from there is logical and prone to human error rather than application of intelligence.
I am unwilling to speculate about the application of intelligence in other subject areas as that is only appropriate to the specialist, however I will pose these questions:-
To these three questions I personally am satisfied to answer no, however to all three I am equally satisfied to put my hand up and say I cannot. In mentioning my own inability I point to the importance of teaching the above, but equally point to intelligence not being a requirement.
In the context of the referred article I am still satisfied with the definition of intelligence that I always gave the students, intelligence is what a computer cannot do ie intelligence is that which is not AI.
Suppose I used a random paint package on a computer. Imagine somehow this computer repeatedly painted pictures on the screen (using random coloured pixels). Let us suppose that the computer were then to randomly produce the Mona Lisa. Is that creativity? Then ask "would the computer know it had produced a Mona Lisa?" Yes, but only by comparison - and therefore it is not a unique creation but only a copy. Would other computer canvas also be works of art? Maybe? Would the computer recognise it without comparison? No, so can a machine be intelligent?
The issue of AI needs to be considered within a political framework especially when counterposing it with meditation. It is a defence strategy. What would happen if meditation insights were accepted as intelligence? And here we have the nub of the issue. Innumerable academics whose claim to intelligence might be summarised as the volume of output in academic journals would be hard put to lay claim to insight. They cannot be proved as insight. With no disrespect even countenanced, what about the following? I insight the 4 Noble Truths as being a means to Awakening. No-one can disprove that I had this insight. Here we have the dilemma of academia. The process of insight is not part of academic intelligence because it cannot be proven as original, and therefore it is not considered as such. Insights that are original and considered useful by society or business are determined as genius; insights, that lead to personal well-being and drawn out to a grandiose conclusion lead to enlightenment, are not necessarily intelligent by the same criteria. A thesis which delves into the minutest detail of some cloistered discussion on nanodecooctoprobes can be awarded a Ph D, but insights would not get past the research proposal.
There is no conclusion in this discussion, thankfully. Insight is not part of academia, and yet insight is an intelligent process. Meditation cannot be considered academically as intelligent as it produces insights that cannot be shown to be original despite their being intelligent. And therefore we have the argument that AI is intelligent.
Now there is also the politics of the negative. How many of our academics can claim to have ability to insight, an aspect of intelligence? If it was benchmark (an unprovable benchmark), how many would qualify? How many people have insights who have not served years of penance to academic instruction? The real issue of any argument between AI and meditation, insight, creativity and intelligence is that of job protection. Protecting our "knowledge" and epistemological methods, defining criteria for academic success and ensuring that existing postholders remain in situ, and that pretenders to the throne must serve the same apprenticeship, are the main academic pre-requisites. Understanding this gives a clarity to an AI discussion that no open-minded individual would bother entering - that AI is intelligent.
This article is also included in Matriellez education blog.
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What is Insight?
I just don't know, isn't that great?
I would claim to be someone who practises a form of Vipassana (Insight Meditation), and I don't know what an insight is. Brilliant, I would like to thank the article that was the basis for the previous blog for raising the question:-
What is an insight?
Now that one is a bit easier, no it isn't. Wow!
It is early in the dark morning two days after I decided I had to write this blog. Yesterday was a day where I appeared consciously not to be productive, yet I woke up just after 2.15 am and by 4.00 am I had a big release of emotion. I felt the usual stuff near my duodenum(?), was short of breath and then - wow - it kind of welled up and came out. I felt lighter, and then gradually I worked my way round to writing this blog.
I also decided to self-copyleft, and will add copyleft to Wai Z and Matriellez.
Let's begin with the different insights I have had on insight. This morning, soul, I have had insight since I hit bottom. It is insight that has given me strength through life, that strength I have at various times called soul. That immediately leads to asking the connection between sila, soul and insight.
Earlier came Nature's Wisdom, Wisdom that is not personal yet all Wisdom is not personal. Then there is the channel stuff. The issue of Insight is that is not ego, it comes through an individual but it is not knowledge. Jesus, to attain insight is to attain permanence. That is frightening, is it true? I don't know.
Words might be the problem, but what is definitely true is that insight is not ego-driven, it is not part of this incarnation, it is not temporary - I slowed as I wrote that. If it is not temporary then it is ….. permanent. So insight is permanence in life, but that is OK because that is what you have accepted Wisdom as before, the essence of knowledge that is permanent, that is carried forward. So Wisdom is Karma, and Insight is Karma, or rather the seeds of Karma.
NO! That makes Karma two things, the seeds of reincarnation and Wisdom. But Wisdom is not personal. So this is unity. The Wisdom or Insight is Unity is Nature, Nature has life to work out its Karma and that's what I am doing. Insight is Nature's Way of giving you stuff to help you work out the Karma. You need strength, integrity and sila - the connection I sought above.
You don't get that help without seeking it, and one way of demonstrating you are seeking it is meditation. If it is Vipassana, then it is a tautology because you are seeking insights - seeking help to work through your Karma.
So what about meditation as nutrition? The mind wanders off doing this and that ego stuff so it needs redirecting, insights do that. It doesn't give the mind food to go off and do stupid stuff, but it does give it strength to cope with the working day. This is because Nature needs to live to work out its Karma. Where did Nature get its Karma?
This leads to What is your Karma? Does it? Yes, because you are here to work through whatever Karma Nature has given you - your tasks your Duty. I looked at my mother, who your parents are shows you your Duty?
That's it. There is a lot in this one that will take me a while to sort out.
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This got first twigged in my mind when I read Aa-jaan Buddhadhasa's "Handbook for Mankind" and he made this quote "To see this truth is to see intellectual emptiness of all things; the transience, unsatisfactoriness and non-selfhood of all things; to know intellectually the nature of suffering, of the complete elimination of suffering and of the way to attain the complete elimination of suffering; to perceive these in terms of absolute truth, the kind that changes and which everyone ought to know. This is Buddhism as Truth." "Absolute truth, the kind that changes." That sounds a lot to understand?
I refer to Thay in "Living Buddha, Living Christ" p39 "The Buddha relies on is for the Dharma to continue to develop as a living organism - not a stale Dharma, but a real Dharmakaya, a real "body of teaching". This is fascinating because it adds a dimension to insight. The Dharma offers insight to help us with our Karma, but anatta directed my ignorant mind to the personal advantage of insight. But the Dharma is learning through our incarnation, this Dharmakaya. That is insight, insight is Dharma learning. Or in the phraseology of the last blog, Nature learning.
As a teacher I have always said we are born to learn - and that sadly our education systems drive that away. Here is a spiritual justification for that statement. Not only is it a justification but it further points to the need to spiritualise the curriculum. We must educate towards the Dharmakaya.
I do have one concern with Dharmakaya, why is it not in the Buddhist Dictionary?
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|Dharmakaya is evolution.|
Evolution has always been a concept I have thought about and thought that I have insighted. It is now clearly in line with Thay Buddhist thinking.
I mentioned yesterday that I was concerned that the term was not in the Buddhist dictionary, this is a bigger issue than I originally thought. The issue is that of Theravada and revisionism. The Dharma evolves, embodied by this Dharmakaya - hence I intentionally use the non-Theravadan spelling. For myself I have sought strength within the Theravadan tradition, however that of course was laziness, but an understandable laziness as it was avoiding eclecticism. But my concept of non-revisionism is not appropriate as Dharma evolves.
However what I am really talking about is "my concept" ie my reasons for labelling myself as Theravadan. Revisionism is acceptable if it is Dharma. I cannot of course tell except through my own insight, and that's fine.
This is the end of my public blogging - for the time being? It is a spiritual responsibility that I have always accepted that I be careful of the knowledge I put out there. Consider recent debacles with fiends and contacts. Once the Dharma hits my writing, it has become public conception. This should just remain my personal diary, and that's it. I will still html it.
Note:- At this point I continued blogging but kept it as a personal diary. As of 21/07/07 I have decided to put the blog back online - see the blog on that date for the reasons, it wil explain the aparent inconsistency.
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Another difficult night with the stored stress.
Waking in the middle of the night I did some Xi Gong, then lay down. I started with the coloured chakra breathing especially focussing on the lower three trying to dislodge emotion held in the fold just above the tan tien. Slowly I worked up eventually finding a sort of column that came to a point just above the duodenum. It seemed to work well, I even cried a little, and I wake up late, worn out, still tired. But it has to be done.
I know I internalised all stress. But throughout my life I did make attempts often I thought successful to remove stress yet I have all this residue inside. What baggage do people carry when they don't try?
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Well, how do I talk about this?
It's the only allergy I recognise I have, although I don't understand it. I have been a vegetarian on-and-off all my adult life, and in recent years the only times I have not been vegetarian is when it has been difficult. Like now for instance. And this is another strangeness, I find it difficult to be vegetarian in Thailand, a Buddhist country. I know of one vegetarian restaurant that I could eat in, and there is a T Chinese vegetarian festival in November. The dtalaat stalls will do a tofu fry-up, but most dishes have little meat or fish so I live with it. It's the first time since Botswana I have had meat in the house.
I should perhaps change my vegetarian diet as it was mostly cheese and egg-based, but that is the problem. And yet I was primarily vegetarian at home in Chengdu when it was not as easy to get vegetables. So maybe I need to re-evaluate my non-vegetarianism - it has become a habit in Thailand to eat meat, I should question it.
Anyway this questioning arises because of my plant allergy. I first discovered this about 5 years ago. I saw advertised plant extract pills for naturally improving immunity. I took them and for three days I had non-stop diarrhoea, and I could taste these plant things - a sour vegetable taste. This violently evacuated toxins but not by choice. I felt the taste again a couple of years later when I had eaten pau-pau, and had not peeled off the green properly. Being a vegetarian, and I prefer vegetables to the taste of meat, I thought I would like the plant extract, but it produces this violent diarrheac reaction.
Anyway it has just happened again. This time it was a local plant whose stems I cut up as green vegetables - they were sold on the vegetable stand, and they tasted nice - a mind of sweet green taste. Thursday I woke up with a need to go to the toilet. Because of all the stress and strain resident in my digestive system I had been regulating with prunes and prune juice. This regulation was good in the sense that it started foul and was becoming just regular movement. So waking up with the need to move the bowels was unusual.
By lunch-time it had become diarrhoea, and it was a problem because I had booked a massage. I was petrified I would have an accident. The late-afternoon massage passed with a feeling of impending disaster but it never happened, So I got home and settled early evening. And then disaster struck for nearly two hours in which the liquid toxins came out steadily every 10 minutes.
Then it settled, and I thought after such an upheaval I would sleep - not all night. And the stomach has not felt good for two days and I haven't been eating full meals or having bowel movements. However this morning I felt refreshed and had a wonderful bike-ride.
I must try to remove this stuff from my stomach - I still have a tyre.
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|Why do I get the knock about meditation?|
Or at least what is it that I get the knock about? To understand that, maybe I will improve my own meditation. It is arrogance, the lack of humility, I get the knock because I am not humble. I laugh at their preoccupation with posture because mine is so poor. Why they are pre-occupied with posture or jhanas or any aspect of theory is their business, it is not for me to judge, to say something wrong - I should not judge. My judgementalism is perhaps a signpost, if I am judgemental of others it is perhaps because I should be judging myself on these things.
My derision at the pre-occupation with posture is because my own posture is weak and damaging. Perhaps my limited derision concerning their preoccupation with theory is because I am also preoccupied with theory, But that I find difficult to understand at the moment, not difficult to believe as I have that propensity but difficult to understand at the moment.
Accept the signpost. And there is additional evidence. Look at how you were sucked into ACIM. The ACIM-Crowley used the heart's understanding, that I was preoccupied with theory and needed to break that preoccupation down, to sneak in the dark side of evil.
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Spiritual progress has continued with only one major change. I continue to deal with the stress lodged in the digestive system and am hoping that more specific chakra meditation will help. This has been the focus of meditation sessions.
I also feel that I migth have a role in East meets West.
However at the moment my main spiritual direction is with Matriellez.
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S began a series of interactions involving the question "What is the Spiritual Path?" What I wrote to him is contained in Outlook, but I answered the questions fully here in this blog.
In your previous email you used the expression 'a spiritual path'. I would like sometime to explore with you what that means but it is probably matter for a conversation rather than emails. I realise it is not just an ethical choice or an intellectual quest, though it probably involves these, often mystical (another problematical word) elements are involved (but not necessarily?) and a study of 'techniques'. I have seen it defined as 'a way of life involving prayer/meditation and discipline' but I think there is more to it than that. Within any given religion, there seem to be many different spiritual paths. What about an evil spirituality - did Hitler, for example, have one ? I quite understand you might not want to enter into any of this and just throw it out since it is of interest to me.
I thought your response to my opening up the 'spiritual path' question might be as it was - but, since you had originally used the phrase, I risked it. I do also realise that given our differences on so many issues it was quite possibly a provocative subject, which is why I said the bit about you maybe not wanting to pursue it and partly why I have never raised it much before. I don't really go along with your idea of the intellect being threatened by insight: however it might be critical of particular insights which would then lead to followers of the latter feeling under attack. Anyway, you seem to have assumed the premise that a 'spiritual path' is to do with insight rather than intellect which I will consider. My default position would, I suppose, be that any insight would have to be in conformity with reason and I also suppose that I understand by the term 'spiritual path' something more like the development of those of our capacities which act for good.I have off and on done many years of reading myself around this subject and I don't think it is possible to 'fully understand' (your words) a 'spiritual path' since the phrase means so many different things to different people so I suppose what I was asking was 'what did you understand by it ?' - which you partially answered. Perhaps that all means this is not a fruitful area for discussion between us. Back to you!
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|Response to S|
I just started this the day the interaction appeared to get going. By answering fully I could be clear where I wanted to go as I couldn't possibly send it as it would be a waste and rejected out-of-hand. Previously in discussions with S he has ignored much that I have said - conveniently forgetting anything he claims is socialist or conspiracy. This time I only intend throwing out a little and forcing him to engage.
My default position would, I suppose, be that any insight would have to be in conformity with reason and I also suppose that I understand by the term 'spiritual path' something more like the development of those of our capacities which act for good.”
This is a good place to start to place these discussions in a context. In your religious readings you will have come across much that is paradox. So let us start with one. There is an act of faith that isn't an act of faith - Nature is Good. I prefer the use of the term Gaia, rather than Nature, because Gaia implies a form of individuality, the earth and Nature is a cohesive unit of life. In considering this concept of Gaia, an obvious perception is that different aspects of Gaia's Nature will not innately work against the needs of the whole - for the Good of Gaia.
When you consider a human being there is nothing that innately works against the interest of the whole, although during a lifetime experiences sometimes perverts the human into acting that way. Drinking was one such thing for me. Whatever led me to drink led me to behaving in a way that was contrary to my best interests (if only in health terms). When human beings do not act in the interest of Gaia it is a form of perversion.
Hence there is no need for a conception of Good because Good is Natural - Gaia.
I have used a personification of Gaia to illustrate my presentation but Gaia is the same as any of the deities. God is the Gaia of earth. If I were to extrapolate my Gaiac concept would probably apply universally but I have no experience of that so I don't go there. The concept of Buddhic Unity and Gaia are tautologies, and in using it I am introducing a word for clarity (in my mind at least).
Now the Paradox is that I claim Gaia is not faith. Gaia is. Being is. Buddha is. God is. Consider this historical perspective on the development of the word “faith”. Historically primitive peoples understood that the world is the way it was - whatever their understanding of Gaia was. Then as minds developed there was a recognition of the process of reason or logic - amongst other faculties of mind. It was recognised that this process of reason could deduce certain parts of the understanding, and quite rightly it was recognised that this faculty of reason was an important human faculty.
Unfortunately certain powerful humans decided that this faculty of reason could deduce most matters of understanding and dismissed matters that could not be deduced as matters of faith. Later they rationalised that faith was important because of potential backlashes.
This could be a perspective on the disjointed view of the alliance between faith and reason. In itself this alliance perspective sits uneasily because it is not integrated. It lacks integrity, and integrity is an important aspect of understanding.
Now I claim no basis of historical proof to this analysis, however I do claim a dialectically materialist reality to this “alliance”. For many, especially academics, this alliance is their rationale. We will deduce all that we can and the rest we call faith for the moment - until sceince can rationalise it? (A serious leap of faith).. Science then continues to determine more and more that which can be deduced issueing a fait accompli on the reality of the alliance.
However if science were to direct itself to an understanding of the areas of the non-deducable - faith, it would then find greater areas that it would be unable to deduce. In other words science perpetuates itself by the direction of knowledge it takes. This of course can be understood as a reality in contemporary academic institutions where the direction of scientific research is governed by the finance of the research grants.
Classical fields of understanding, and here I include the Arts and religion, are not funded by research, as they have no financially profitable benefit and research into areas that might lead into an understanding of areas I have designated as “faith” does not happen. But here the issue of what is creative in Art opens up a whole arena of that which is not deduced.
What else comes into the field of that which is not deduced - insight, intuition, creativity, genius, inspiration. It is undoubtedly true that many of these “not deduced”s can then be reached by a process of deduction - although not all.
You cited “conformity with reason” as a validation of insight. I would tend to the position that true insights demonstrate the limitations of reason, but that needs far more explanation below. However I would accept “complete reason” would validate all true insights but how does one attain “complete reason”? This is a good question but a diversion at the moment.
I have moved away from the original question inasmuch as I have posited the term Gaia to help with my description of these matters, yet have not determined the spiritual path. The “Spiritual Path” is Gaia's DNA, it is the spiritual blueprint innate in us all that guides us in life and helps us live together. Because of the unity of Gaia, it is failure to follow this Path that leads to the inadequacies of human and ecological relations today - and the future.
I have seen it defined as 'a way of life involving prayer/meditation and discipline' but I think there is more to it than that.
As described above it is life but the other parts of your description - or definition as you called it. It is not definition because it is “the way of life” - or one of the synonyms described above. Maybe I ought to specify “the” here but that is not strictly correct. We all have choices, we choose whether to follow our Spiritual Paths. If we were all to follow our Spiritual Paths that would be the best way of life for Gaia ie on earth. But then if we all did that, would we be in Nirvana? Again that is a question I might answer below.
“involving prayer/meditation and discipline”
I have some minor doubts about this. For most people this is the most obvious method of following a Spiritual Path as it is through discipline prayer and meditation that many connect with their Spiritual Paths. I bring in this doubt to answer one of your own questions.
often mystical (another problematical word) elements are involved
I don't like the word “mystical”. I have picked up a meaning for a mystic as being a person who instinctively follows their Spiritual Path - even the words make the understanding difficult. By “instinctively following” I mean they just do it. My meaning is a kind of gut reaction that somehow this mystic just does it. As I am not a mystic, I cannot explain it.
Unfortunately mysticism brings us into the realms of populist spirituality, and this is why I don't like it. Such populism is moving towards the arena of cultism, and as the Spiritual Path is the most important thing in life I don't like tanting it. Religious tolerance dictates that I should allow for the possibility that those people in cults are on their Spiritual Paths but there are legitimate doubts. The choice of being on the Spiritual Path is personal, and in my view Spiritual Acts are a personal decision based on the guidance of one's Path and not a dictate of a Guru. Buddhists tend to accept this despite the practices of the monasteries.
What about an evil spirituality - did Hitler, for example, have one?
Was Hitler's life of benefit to Gaia? Then he was not on his Spiritual Path, in its own terms the logic is irrefutable. Now I believe Hitler was associated with certain occult practices, and that he is supposed to have attained certain “spiritual” power because of this. Let us accept that as a hypothesis. The evil occurred when he decided to leave the Path. Those then describing his powers as spiritual are using the term differently, Spirituality and Good for Gaia are synonymous.
Is power evil? In physics what is power but a capability? Power doesn't have to be used, it is used when a decision is made.
OK so far we have Gaia and her Spiritual Paths. Let me then look at this premise "I have assumed":-
the premise that a 'spiritual path' is to do with insight rather than intellect which I will consider
Insight is the process by which we connect to the Spiritual Path and intellect is one of the faculties of mind we use to put the Path or Insights into practice - here I am specifically using the term intellect to mean the process of reasoning or deduction. This is why Insight was so important to the Lord Buddha in Vipassana meditation.
Let me try in my ignorance to interpret what that process of Vipassana does in terms of the above description of Spiritual Path. Inside each human, usually described as the Heart - although physically that description has difficulties, resides this DNA - the Spiritual Path. How do we reach it? Vipassana focuses on the breath, breathing in-and-out effortlessly with our attention just touching on the breath. What then happens with the intellect and other faculties of mind? Random thoughts or pressing emotions cross our awareness. As I understand Vipassana, in meditation we gently bring our attention back to the breath. At different times in different ways up pops an insight - Vipassana - Insight meditation. In the terminology of this context our awareness has connected with the Spiritual Path, and produced an Insight.
Let me return to your “conformity of reason” justification of insights. By this description an insight does not need justification. It is part of Gaia as it is an internal connection with the Spiritual Path. The question of validity is not whether the insight conforms to reason but whether the insight is an Insight and not another random thought. And the answer to that lies primarily with the person and her/his relation to the Spiritual Path - their integrity.
However Insights in general must conform to reason but here we enter into an interesting discussion for academics and a difficulty for semantics. Reason is a process applying logical deductions to reach a conclusion based on axioms. As such it is a faculty or perhaps better a tool or technique. What is the first step - the axiom? The Initial step, the INitial SIGHT, the Initial teaching, the INTUITION.
It has always seemed to me that reason is a headless chicken, the route the chicken takes might be prescribed by the previous step but where is it going without an axiom - an Insight? B does not exist in vector AB unless we know what A is. What is A in life but the Spiritual Paths of Gaia? Reason is a very important tool for helping us apply the Spiritual Path to everyday life but that is its place.
So we now reach the Church of Reason - a concept in Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. What has happened in academia that has created the unintended arrogance “conformity to reason”?
Does God have to conform to reason? No, do God's actions have a rational integrity? Absolutely, but only based on axioms that are God's. Do we as man know those axioms? And we are back to Insight.
Let me reconsider the loose historical perspective where understanding had been spilt into that which can be deduced and that which cannot - often denoted as faith. At some stage reason went beyond the process of logic but reason is a process so it cannot. So the choices that man made for reason went beyond the processes of logic. And here enters the fallibility of man, the human ego.
Somehow over time the wealthy and powerful found they could control reason. For such people insight is “out-of-sight” as their greed has taken them beyond sufficient use of resources. They cannot connect with Gaia, with their own Spiritual Path, because they are damaging Gaia - they are not in tune with Nature. They cannot be the powerful, the Natural way. But they can buy the rational process, historically scientists and thinkers have needed to survive and usually needed money/patronage. However this developed it is now enshrined in the research-funding process that for years produced study and counter-study demonstrating that smoking did or did not damage your health - showing nothing other than the dynamics of purchasing within academic research.
Reason became shackled by powerful human interests, and this ego wished to conform God to it - God was somehow controlled by powerful man. Does economics conform to reason? Certainly not, when you argue axiom-based rationales based on human interest or Gaia. However economics has a perfectly clear rational if the axiom is the propagation of accumulation of wealth and the aggregation of such to powerful interests. Reason based on the human ego. The lack of integrated thought inherent in the alliance of the deduced and non-deduced is consistent with the lack of integrated thought in economics, the only consistency in economics is the accumulation of wealth, the only consistency in the conformity to reason is the marginalisation of insight and processes not controllable by ego. How significant is it that those who do gain insight tend to use that insight at the least to take themselves out of control by these powerful interests, if not use it actively against them. This can be seen in the Lord Buddha, Jesus, Engaged Buddhists such as Sulak Sivaraksa and Thich Naht Hahn, as well as the numerous individuals whose works on the Spiritual Path bring them into conflict with the prevailing speculation-oriented economic practices such as the Dalai Lama, Carlos Castaneda, Pirsig, Eckhart Tolle etc.
Despite expected allegations of conspiracy etc., I pursued this avenue in an attempt to draw together the integrated view that man chooses to follow the Spiritual Path or not (consciously or unconsciously is not the issue here), and failure to follow the Path leads to all that is negative in this world. Improved political systems might assuage some of the worst aspects of this humanly-created carnage but unless humanity, individually and collectively, chooses to advance itself spiritually no political system can provide an answer - my own political activities were predicated on the premise that a certain level of economic wherewithal was a pre-requisite for following the Spiritual Path (16 hours in a field does not give one the strength to meditate on returning home).
I don't really go along with your idea of the intellect being threatened by insight: however it might be critical of particular insights which would then lead to followers of the latter feeling under attack.
If we follow on with the posited insight as being connected to the Spiritual path, then intellect provides no threats as supposed rational discussion cannot ever have the power to counter that of Nature. My own Insights have carried me through life in almost complete opposition to the prevailing modes of thought never doubting the Truth of these Insights only tuning and refining the Insights based on experience. Reason presents no threat to Insight, reason is its tool.
However Insight frequently exposes the misuse of reason and the occasional absurdity that man uses it for. It exposes the human ego, and exposing certain powerful human interests can be dangerous. On a personal level I have felt the backlashes as insecurity develops when the ego loses hold on the familiar years of academic training.
On the other hand reason is an important tool in exposing the charlatans that masquerade as spiritual leaders and whose theories, such as the Bhagwan, belong in the depths of Soho rather than in the spiritual arena. Many who claim Insight will have had their insights scythed by the power of intellect - a True and Right use of this faculty of mind, a scythe that could not work on the connection with the Spiritual Path but which would have no trouble destroying a connection with ego.
I don't think it is possible to 'fully understand' (your words) a 'spiritual path' since the phrase means so many different things to different people
In part I agree with this, and in part I almost wholeheartedly disagree perception-wise. If one attempts to synthesise a description from all the descriptions of Spiritual Path put out in the form of concepts or other word-oriented descriptions then it can never have meaning or be meaningfully understood. When one uses words to describe such as the Spiritual Path, one only limits. What do Buddhists mean by Nothingness? That which is not something. Although for some that will have a lot of meaning, as an appropriate definition for some it is useless. A Spiritual Path is best described within the functional approach I have taken - Gaia's DNA. Or in Buddhist terms Karma.
Although it is not possible for most humans to fully understand one's own Spiritual Path, the level of understanding usually depends on how much time and effort one is willing to devote to that understanding - monks in monasteries, hermits in T, hermits in caves etc. Trying to understanding and live one's Spiritual Path is why we are here, for many people the understanding goes way beyond any attempt at collective definition, and knowing this many don't try.
1) You cited "conformity with reason" as a validation of insight. I would tend to the position that true insights demonstrate the limitations of reason, but that needs far more explanation below. However I would accept "complete reason" would validate all true insights but how does one attain "complete reason"? This is a good question but a diversion at the moment.
2) We all have choices, we choose whether to follow our Spiritual Paths. If we were all to follow our Spiritual Paths that would be the best way of life for Gaia ie on earth. But then if we all did that, would we be in Nirvana? Again that is a question I might answer below.
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Bangkok has taught me mindfulness. I arrived here with the attitude that I had to do some shopping chores. Such duties had no meaning to me even though the computer is my main tool of engagement. The first day I rushed to the ACER Factory Outlet hoping I could buy a machine and not have to stress in Pantip. The guy almost sold me an inappropriate expensive computer that was also shop-soiled. Then I escaped because it went wrong, but I paid the price of having the disc with me - that I had to return.
The next day I went to Pantip, and messed up. The guy said windows was a copy, why didn't I register that? It was important to me. So they installed everything only to have to uninstall and put in the real windows I bought. Then what do I do? Leave the windows box in the shop.
I was then late for Thay because of the two installs, and the manager speaks to me. Then I get confused because I think the suai cleaner was at my door - she might have been. And I leave for Thay without the directions - as S described it going to a talk on mindfulness without the papers. We had no problems getting there as we got the stuff online - although my Thai was good enough.
When I got back to the hotel I couldn't find the windows box, and then remembered something falling in the taxi; it turned out to be a new extension lead and not the windows box. But by this time I had no faith at all in my mind - the old man.
The Thay talk and what I knew led me to understand mindfulness. I had been unconsciously mindful for years, concentration at work and the need to do the job making me mindful a little. With retirement that job edge had gone, but not my habits and practices. I still thought I was competent. I relied on my competence that was not now there with the job edge gone. I must make my own mindfulness.
I had Thay's book on mindfulness, and I know more what anapanasati is for and I know what mindfulness is for. It is time for me to develop being mindful - being disciplined towards success.
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|My Spiritual Day|
This is not self-flagellation but it is time for me to accept my responsibilities. I have accepted a notion of engagement to a certain extent but I now need to work towards that engagement more. However I cannot engage if my own spirituality is weak, so I must begin to formulate a more spiritual approach mindfully.
This of course is the key word - mindfully. I now understand the monkish pre-occupation with mindfulness. For most people mindfulness becomes connected to social responsibility - usually family and work - in my own case primarily work. But what happens to the mind without that responsibility? It goes slack. If you live in a hermitage such slackness appears not to matter but if you take on Bangkok then you can make mistakes. But of course you can make mistakes in hermitages, but it appears to have less significance there.
But in terms of personal development such slackness is meaningful. Without the social pressures of work and family it is necessary to develop mindfulness.
A spiritual day is an individual affair - rather than a monastic affair. To begin with health is an important issue, what does health mean to you? Health requires a mindful approach recognising personal weaknesses and establishing a proper health outlook. This needs to be re-evaluated but in this diary I shall be considering health.
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|Mindfulness - The Early Years|
Understanding a little what mindfulness is, I have begun formal meditation again. Although I had never stopped meditating, it was short and dozy - it was whimsical. Whilst maintaining a pleasant lifestyle this lack of a proper meditative approach had lulled me into a false lifestyle. I had accepted Thai safeness, and this attached itself to my own development.
Now I know there is so much to do. I have been very fortunate to see Thich Naht Hahn. I am not into all the words but if there ever was a Master in this world he is the nearest I have seen. The man seemed to have perfect control. He was still composed and gave an interesting talk. When you consider this was at the end of his Vietnam tour, it shows great …. Mindfulness.
That composure is worth aiming for - in an unaiming sort of way.
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|Mindfulness - Understanding the Channel|
27/06/07 What a great start to the day. I woke up early with stuff mulling over and eventually got up to sort it out in the diary. Mistakenly I opened the email first, and read Ben's wonderful fatherhood email and emotion forced me to answer that. Now it is first light, and the mild spatter of the rainy season has just subsided and the peace and tranquillity of the emerging life outside sparks the beginning of a good day.
To mindfulness - it seems ages since I got up to sort out the mulling. Sati is the channel but do you live your life consciously saying "now I am the channel"? You need a confidence that the channel is there, that appears to me now to be what mindfulness is - knowing that you have the channel and that in your daily life your channel is open.
That is a big knowledge, and do I have it? Firstly I knew that I did have it as a teacher, I am a teacher. From the first steps on Castaneda's Path teaching became an understanding, I am a teacher. So in my working life the channel was mostly open. This proviso is legit, life has ups and downs and you cannot be on a permanent up.
But of course I am still learning so I didn't know how to limit the variations. This is because the Path I found was for work and not for me. How different they are if you subsume yourself in work. Work is what I do, it is the engagement but the Path is first. I say I am a teacher, but then they are different, because I have needed to retire early to come to terms with myself spiritually. As I do that I am more and more looking at how to engage. But it would be a big mistake to engage now.
I have to know that in life the channel will be open and at the moment I am far from that - and I have to finish this stage of Matriellez.
So this sati channel! It means that the ego is not separating me from the reality of life. The wisdom of ages, panna, the wisdom-in-action, sampajanna, are not mine, the channel has to be open to let me use them and to use the appropriate wisdoms wisely. Keeping the channel open is what I must do, I must learn how to do this properly. That is the next step.
What do I know of the next step so far? Anapanasanti - mindfulness of breathing. By design breathing is the key. Breathing is the method of connecting with reality, all that breathes is one. The breathing is one, the breath of the one. So no Nigerian rubbish and no early retirement rubbish - breathing meditation is the first and foremost thing in the day. If there is no breathing then the channel will gradually get blocked.
Ground zero is nearer I must continue with that and learn more about what that zero is. There are still emotional deposits that are blocking, that are dragging me back to the past, watch them work themselves out. I must clean out my attachment to them so that I can make the next step.
There are so many steps that could be taken - Dhammic Socialism, Engaged Buddhism, and I am so ignorant. The next engaged step must be taken in knowledge, and not in faltering exploration - however well that turned out. It must be your step of Now and not a step driven by past emotions and nascent knowledge. Perhaps that is the natural and constant knowledge that Buddhadhasa talks of.
But any first step must be taken in mindfulness, knowing that I can keep the channel open.
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|Scientific Materialism and the S factor|
The clarity with which HHDL expresses the limitations of contemporary science is illuminating. Although it is unclear what kind of mess the S mind is in, what must be clear is an understanding of scientific method as applied to approaches that are not externally observable both for my development and as a means of clarifying his mess. One question clearly is, is externally observable the limiting criterion? Further if internal processes are repeated and produce the same results, is that process and the results obtained knowledge?
In that case the ego enters into the fray because such processes are limited by the presence of ego, and because of this ego then does not want them accepted as knowledge - the S factor. The mutilation of learning applied by the S approach is twofold dangerous. The first is the ego as just described; the second is that his intellectualism wants to dissect and destroy learning that is not observable. When this cannot be achieved, his own ego must resort to tactics of damage limitation, the first of these being inaccessibility. As it became clearer that he couldn't destroy my own understanding, it became more necessary for him to close off and protect himself. His own sharp intellect was unable to undermine my understanding so creating a mental morass akin to his own mind, and it became frightened that my own intellect would expose his own lack of substance so closing itself off. His fear of left-wing understanding and conspiracy is part of this. Such knowledge has strength in being able to stand apart from the crowd - and is an obvious corollary of the extinction of dukkha as seen below, and standing apart from the crowd was an ability he only had with his sexuality. Social acceptance is one of the keynotes of intellectualism, it is a key attribute of the pillars of academia whilst they tolerate intellectual endeavours that encompass insight and wisdom. In fact those academics who become wise are essential to prevent academia from stagnating, but they cannot be lauded as such as the pillars who tolerate will lose their positions as their intellects go around in ever-decreasing circles. S's dual attack on my understanding was dangerous because it masqueraded as a desire for understanding as well as being sugar-coated with a pleasant and helpful personality under the guise of friendship. This sugar-coatedness presents another major danger in dealing with this type of intellectual ego; through being pleasant sensitivity becomes an issue. And of course wisdom desires to be sensitive. But what then happens? His fear leads to a sensitive nature, and creates an interaction that does not wish to pursue the necessary incisiveness. So the means of understanding are withdrawn but meanwhile the tools of intellectual confusion become more dominant as that is all that remains. His terms are the inherent danger, and my spirit was wise to force me to eschew him.
The lesson I said I learnt has greater validity than I thought at the time. In such interactions I must control the learning conditions. If the other person controls the conditions then those conditions become the same obstruction to the conveyance of understanding that they were in the person's effort to understand. Such matters cannot be conveyed intellectually, they can only be conveyed by creating the environment in which the person can connect to wisdom - mindfulness in whatever form - the channel. Intellectualism only increases the activity that blocks the clarity that leads to the formation of the channel. In such matters a teaching relationship has to be established formally.
Scientific materialism - scientific view of the world should be the basis for all knowledge and all that is knowable[p12]; matter as described by physics is all there is [p12]. This is a description of the nature of being, and as such lies in the realms of metaphysics. The scientific physical world is observable, and concurrence can be reached. Hence it is a safe academic approach. Academic knowledge outside of this sphere cannot possibly have the same certainty, and the doubts created by the many disparate views encouraged by the milieu can easily show that scientific materialism has a right to its dominance.
But that is far from the case. Buddhadhasa, in the first section of Spiritual Disease focuses on Buddhism as science. Starting with the position that the Buddha taught "I speak only of dukkha and the utter extinction of dukkha", Buddhadhasa explains that Buddhism is a science of mind-heart. Academia cannot have this as it is not observable, but is it science? HHDL [p24] "Scientific method proceeds from the observation of certain phenomena in the material world, leads to a theoretical generalisation, which predicts the events and results that arise if one treats the phenomena in a certain way, and then tests the prediction with an experiment." Let's paraphrase. Meditation proceeds from the observation of certain phenomena in the mental world, leads to an insight (is this not stronger than a theoretical generalisation?), which predicts the events and results that arise if one treats the phenomena in a certain way, and then tests the prediction with an experiment - verification by practice in daily life.
The usual criterion that leads to scientific acceptability is the ability to repeat the result under the same conditions. Meditators know this to be true but to frame it in the traditions of scientific method become difficult, because of the lack of recorded data - paradoxically because of its abundance. If I consider my own meditation there is a lifetime of information that is unrecorded about how I have meditated and what the results are. However there are describable results that fit in with descriptions of meditation method such as Buddhadhasa's, but there is not the meticulous detail that is a requirement of scientific method.
So science again blocks understanding. Meditation is an empirical process verifiable by scientific method. However in order to verify it there needs to be far more substantive data. To substantialise this data requires funding, and there are so many reasons why such funding will not materialise; amongst which are:-
|No substantial profits to be gained from recognising meditation as scientific method.|
|Establishment drawbacks as a result of society coming under meditation scrutiny:-|
|Meditation as a source of knowledge loosening hold of academic knowledge|
|Academic establishment losing foothold as vested interest exposed|
|Academic establishment losing jobs as those with insight gain positions.|
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|My own ego and S|
There is much for me to learn about this. Why is it still an issue for me when I was spiritually correct? I have now written about the inherent dangers and yet an immediate egoic reaction is to want to send them to him. I have clear ego issues that I should write about and clarify.
I too cling to reason as I have for years. What was my rationale for teaching maths but ultimately as the most transparent tool for reason. Although I knew understanding lay beyond reason, I still thought that the process of reaching that understanding could be argued by reason. Insight is required to start to solve mathematical problems even though the main process is reasoned argument based on the insight. Although this has always appeared to me to be a transparent description of a maths solution, it is not to others; and when others choose to ignore the transparency other issues are in play.
Ignoring (or dismissing) the complementarity between insight and reason is another example of these issues in play, it is an actual desire to walk in the other direction.
But the egoic byline was my need; I wanted to convert. I wanted to teach about wisdom, and despite so many flags I continued in that direction despite the obvious desire not to understand. My egoic evangelism prevented me from seeing the limitations and imminent danger that eventually forced the spiritual reaction - the watcher? I left myself vulnerable, and then I did not finish with honour as I resisted the spiritual intervention because of this egoic evangelism.
Whatever the dangers he presented - whether he was conscious of some of the nastier processes he was involved in is something I will never know. The fact that I allowed myself to get sucked so far into the arena of those processes is an indication of my own ego - my Oprah factor.
It is time for me to see this ego as a reality in the conventional world, and to be aware of it for future record.
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