Although starting this blog as a personal diary recording development, it has now become more of a description of my journey. On the way I make mistakes, and I try to go back to correct them; it is important to me that you note the warnings. Please read the journey that is part of all our journey. The blog is now archived.

Second Half of 2007 Back to Current Buddhist-Spirit Blog


Procreation first, then love


Understanding Stress


Going Back Online


Pirsig Again - - Warning!


More about S


Talking about the Body


Concerning the 60s


Materialist Conspiracy vs Virtue


Universe in a Single Atom


Western Education - Hollow Core


First Person Methodology and Qualitative Research


Tabula Rasa of the 60s


Blogging, Internet and Engagement


Two Paths and the Drink


Context of Internet Dilemma


Clinging to the World


Human Development


It is not all wonderful


Nature's head


Trying to work on Vedana


No Self following self-indulgence


One Religion


Nature and Buddhism


Food and the birth of a blog


Understanding Yin-Yang




Being Magga


Integrating mind and body - avoidng traps of doctrine


Macrobiotic Philosophy


Mb Philosophy Addendum


Cognitive Macrobiotic Development



Procreation first, then love
Buddhadhasa has perhaps sparked the end of my final swelling. This morning emotion flew as I realised that some of the swelling was this love thing, and now this love thing has crystallised more. The love that is held there was so stupid - N, M, and of all stupidness, T. Not was probably stupid, maybe she was all lies. What kind of stupid things did I do?

And how many stupid ways could my life have left the path? That girl who laughed at me because I didn't know big feet, and asked me to babysit with her. Then luckily at uni I was too drunk to get into women, and that poor MP - fortunately I am probably infertile - deservedly so. And yet there was my crime - yet was it? It might have been a lie - so many times infertile since. I let Th con me into unprotected sex, why should I have believed her? Lust!!

And then there is my life disaster, N. How much further could she have dragged me into the mire?

At least with Th I had changed to looking for someone to live with - love? With N there had been some good living, and Th I lived with nicely for periods. But love with Th never, and that was why I had some element of control despite the stones and the loss of goods. But how stupid?

What was missing in all of these was procreation - none of it was procreation. Love is not the objective and procreation the corollary. Look at Nature, where in Nature do you see love? You see mating - procreation, and rituals. Then there is human ritual, going to the disco, showing off your body - mating ritual. Whatever!

The teens, the dance, the mall, the - whatever, they are mating rituals - I never did them; I was not trying to mate as I didn't have the drive for children. That was why my search for love failed, I was never searching for children. Somehow in life, this crazy western search for love inspired by Hollywood and propagated by family pressure is all a perversion of craving. Instead of it being a search for a compatible mate t procreate, it has become some ritualised desire enshrined as the ultimate; my own words - cosmic. This search for love is just that a desire, an attachment a movement off the Path - unless your Path is procreation. Will my stomach swell less now? Now that I know there is only Path.

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Understanding Stress
I got rattled by the stress management comment. Because I had used various techniques to help with stress throughout my life I got rattled but in truth it was because in recent years I had avoided recognition of a fuller understanding of stress.

The usual dictionary definition doesn't work the way I want it to, but I will start there. Firstly what is generally accepted as stress in this context:-

strain felt by somebody: mental, emotional, or physical strain caused, for example, by anxiety or overwork. It may cause such symptoms as raised blood pressure or depression.

cause of strain: something that causes mental or emotional strain [Encarta]

These do help in that they point to anxiety and overwork, and that they cause strain.

force deforming a body: a force or system of forces exerted on a body and resulting in deformation or strain [Encarta]

The definition in terms of physics helps more because it talks of deformation.

Although at times I have felt stress due to emotional relationships, it is not these I wish to consider at this point. It is the relationship between stress and work, and the ensuing deformation or strain. We must work together in society to survive and progress. Nature has not given us individually the skills to cope on our own so we need to share skills one way or another. As our society has globalised and as we have moved into using technology, this sharing has become more complicated. Rather than a simple skill or barter exchange, it has been necessary to develop money as a means of representing work and worth and as a means of barter on a global level. Here is where our society has begun to break down, move away from Nature. Rather than remaining as a means of skill purchase and product training, greed has turned money into accumulation. This accumulation is an imbalance in Nature, and produces many problems, one of which is stress. When humans are working in a way that is creating such an imbalance the Nature creates stress. Does work create stress? No. Does work against the interests of Nature create stress? Absolutely. Let us examine where the impact of workplace stress is being felt the most, in the workplaces in the finance capitals of the world. It has been felt a heart attacks, heart disease.

Accumulation in defence of itself tries to point the blame at hard work and other excuses, but simply does a financier in the city work as hard as the peasant in the field? Does the financier do as much physical work? So then we get descriptions of intensity and responsibility. The apologists use the term responsibility to mean that because they are involved with large amounts of money there is high stress. This is then equated with job loss, if the blow a deal they get the push. The peasant is just as likely to be given the boot, perhaps even more so.

The only apology that can justify increased levels of stress is that jobs depend on the decisions - people's lives. This is an important accumulation of responsibility and produces legitimate stress but not in the way the apologists describe it. The stress is caused because the financiers do not accept their social responsibility for the decision-making. Rather than making the decision based on greater social benefit, the decision is made based on accumulating money by increasing profits. This accumulation is an imbalance as all the potential community sharing and skill-trading represented by that finance becomes buried in a set of figures stored in a computer. What is a representation of skill-sharing and community development is locked away from human access. Stress is one of Nature's ways of removing this imbalance.

But this issue of stress is not a level playing field on an individual level either. Why doesn't stress affect all people in the same position in the same way? Because some people are more aware of Nature and the imbalance, the more you are aware that you are contributing to the imbalance then the more stress you have.

In Buddhist terms you are increasing the suffering, stress is the price you pay for increasing that suffering.

In my own case I have become increasingly aware of the Natural Path, the True Path as Castaneda put it. With that awareness came an increasing conflict as I recognised that the motivations in education were not educational but profiteering and careerism. The more that awareness developed the more the conflict existed and the more stress I was under - increasing the number of jolts to the pit of my stomach; and increasing the time I am taking to recover from work.

Awareness is a joy, a joy that comes from moving away from ignorance. Of course that awareness leads to conflict, there would not be dukkha otherwise. There is a joy knowing one is on the Natural Path but with it comes a responsibility - a responsibility to Nature. In recent years I knew that continuing to work in international schools was wrong. These were schools setup to profit from the rich offering a product education which to varying degrees depending on the level of profiteering and careerism associated with it was actually a true education. They gave token acceptance of educational direction provided that increased their profits, but this happened rarely as short-term profit-reaping does not encourage education. UK public schools such as Harrow can have a working balance (this is conjecture as I have never worked there) between education and profit as they are long established and their reputation depends on examination success. Yet a small private school in Africa or the Middle East setup with the sole purpose of making profits does not have the vision or expectation to see that increased profits come with educational success and educational success comes from investment in resources, teacher and material. By accepting appointments in such establishments and then trying to promote education I was fundamentally creating conflict. Most teachers in such a situation accept the limitations and wait to move on creating instability that the short term profiteering prefers; established human resources presents an education power base in opposition to short-term profiteering unless those teachers are educationally compromised and are bought off.

Just to note here that recently in the UK for a year where I was working to earn money for personal rather than educational reasons I had no work stress - wasn't too successful either.

So in truth I have a stress management issue that I am probably only capable of coping with by not working. "I am a teacher" means that I must stand up for education. Now that I have retired I am considering what True Education is, and as such limiting my philosophical intersection with education establishments. To return to work without resolving the stress issue of closeness to the Natural Path would be health-wise disastrous. It looks as if Matriellez must remain the engagement and virtual as well.

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Going Back Online
The last two weeks has been difficult physically, only this time it's my head. But pushing through a difficult time with my head I woke up this morning to put my blog back online. I have been rereading Pirsig, and although it is undoubtedly his word I respectfully accept this is my Chautauqua. In so doing I shall add two links for completeness:-

My Early Spiritual Life

Musings on a Journey from Soul to Mind

If you are seeing this as a book then you should read these in turn before following on to the rest of the journey.

As this site is copyleft, and as at present I am unlikely to write commercially, this might be the nearest I get to a book. Internet readers do not use the web as a book, why not? Anyway this is my journey, and as I am still writing it it is not complete. There are various themes in the blog that I trace because that is what comes out - not dissimilar to Pirsig's themes. I now believe in what is out there - this is another part of my engagement (like Matriellez). If it is meant to be read, it will be read. I even had the idea of making paper-card printouts for the Journey, me, Matriellez and Wai Z. Then when I travel I give the appropriate card for wht we discuss.

This is a long way ahead of myself. As part of the decision to return the blog online, sila dictates anonymity for people, and clear warnings. I came offline because I made the mistake with ACIM and was concerned for the Karma, however why am I going through this stuff? Why am I bothering to write? (No emails). It is all shared experience, it is our lives lived together in different ways. Maybe there is something that I can help with. Maybe what I say strikes a chord, helps, and maybe you have stuff for me. Anyway it is out there to be shared although how will you find it?

As part of the sila process I had to reread the blog. I note two things. At its beginning I focussed on the need for sati, and yet it hadn't registered until the Bangkok incident - surprised myself there.

And how many of the blogs have followed stress-release disturbed nights? If the proportion of stress-related blogs were the same in daily life I would be miserable. Yet despite focussing on my health, today the migraines, I am happy and outwardly very happy - without feigning it.

Just how much of the migraine is stress - head neck and shoulder stress. I recall the wonderful Chinese Amazon who for three weeks gave me acupuncture hell in Oman to give me a year of migraine-free bliss. Sadly they have come back experiencing perhaps my worst ever two months ago. But now with continued massage and meditation I might well reach the end of the migraines. As they are stress - and I now have none. In meditation I just felt the tension steaming out from my head, it is no wonder I have this cutting trichotillomania - so much tension pouring out. I feel my body is shaping up the way it was after Oman. In Oman swimming helped.

As an afterthought the house that was the issue is still for sale, unlikely to be sold and it is now less than a month until the end of the tenancy contract. A simple conversation could have resolved it.

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Pirsig again - - Warning!

I had reached p180 before I began to find anything that had previously rocked my world - fascinating. At the time I wrote this blog entry I completely misinterpreted Lila - "I am beginning to see some of why Lila was a move sideways or even backwards and why sadly he never gained the happiness this work deserves". As can be seen in this blog entry I have rescinded a warning about Pirsig but not the 60s generation warning.

I am creating a notebook in Onenotes 2007 and will attach it to this blog as a zip file. What a book!

Here is the Onenotes zip file

In the onenotes notebook I have a section "downfall". This is a misinterpretation:- "To summarise Pirsig opened so many doors but closed them again as his ego went back to fight for Quality in the Church of Reason. Once accepting that return there must always be issues of sanity."

But Nature provides a strength through Meditation and Virtue. Armed with these you can build the personal strength to go back in and fight. The following is completely invalid, see Pirsig warning rescinded:- "Pirsig only gained that strength through his son, and that was sadly short-lived".

The dangers we can face engaging in mind-expansion without the strength and security of meditation and virtue merits a warning, a warning that I feel should apply to much of what happened in the 60s - my heroes.

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More about S
I am still having trouble laying his ghost, maybe this is it.

S was ignorant - aviddya. Deep down that is probably the most insulting thing anyone could say to S, and I really don't mean it in a nasty way, but he was ignorant and my interaction at his level of ignorance was what caused my spiritual reaction. And it had to be spiritual because sufficient of me respected his intellect, and wanted to draw swords with it.

I believe he went to Cambridge, he might even have a first. He would not talk about that as it would be arrogant, but he was protectively and furtively arrogant about his own approach - this mental picking at one hors d'oeuvre tasting it and moving on. As with the purpose of hors d'oeuvres they whet the appetite but provide minimal nourishment intending to open the body for serious nourishment. S never got to the main course as his arrogance in his own approach, his ego, blocked that intake; without any intake he was ignorant.

Trying to intellectually match swords was never a possibility because there was never any intention of going beyond the appetisers, that was part of the arena. It took too long for me to recognise that because I so wanted to help someone go beyond that. But once his hors d'oeuvres approach was threatened, then the intellect was switched off and the ego blocked dismissing any possible intake of food and shielding the intellect from any threat. The shield was raised to prevent engagement of his own ideation, and the discourse demeaned itself into "don't go there" - apparently mutual although never on my part until I severed contact.

So how can I describe a qualified person as ignorant? Because he never saw knowledge, he never tried to see anything so in truth he never tried to understand. His intellect was never used to pierce through the barriers to learning his own intellectual arrogance (ego) put up. S might even read this and doubt whether I am describing him - especially if time has passed. Isn't it ignorant not to try to understand? And yet he sought me out to engage with me on spiritual matters.

As an interesting aside his ego blocked analogies. This, of course, is intellectually an excellent self-protection mechanism as from what I have seen the best way of describing wisdom or insight to those who don't want to see it is through analogy or metaphor. It is a similar defence to one that Pirsig recognised in the Church of Reason - the requirement of definition. Sadly that was also what S sought.

But I too was ignorant. I allowed S to set the arena, the arena of appetisers. The interaction could only reinforce ignorance once I did that, and once those terms had been accepted by me there was no hope for his learning. Our interaction could only add to his own arrogance because my own spirituality had not penetrated his shield - justifying the existence of the shield in the first place. Egos cannot be broken unless there is sufficient heart-force to break them down, I must be careful not to engage if that is not the case.

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Talking about the Body
Since this blog is now in some way for public consumption - available, I might try to explain some of the building bricks I believe in. As there is much talk about my health I want to start with the body.

To read the blog you might consider that I am unhealthy - even a hypochondriac. I was last in hospital when I was 28 - I am now 55, and this was self-inflicted; I was drunk and walked into a car. I was there for a day, and that was for observation because when I came into the hospital I was very loud (drunk) and the next day I was very quiet (me and hangover) - they thought I was concussed.

I have on occasions been to outpatients. Once with the skin - below, and when I cut off part of my finger when I was doing my mother's garden - very mindful there!

I have however had a myriad of minor ailments that I associate with stress. Firstly my skin. I had eczema which was violent when I was in a seriously bad relationship - blood on the sheets because I had been scratching when asleep. However that is not to say I haven't been for treatment. I have taken every opportunity to go to acupuncture, working in China was such a dream for this. It would cost me £2 or £3 for an expert, and I went weekly.

My worst illness was in Africa - I called it Hepatitis Z. I would get up in the morning feeling fine, reach lunch-time and I was knackered with cold symptoms, and sleep the rest of the day. I did this for a seriously long time - maybe 3 months. I went to the doctor, and he tested me for hepatitis as the symptoms were so similar, and the blood test was high but not Hepatitis A or B. He told me that my blood looked like a heavy drinker. Although I had been a drunk, I hadn't taken a drink for 8 years. He gave me some pills called Essentiale, and told me he gave them to drunks whose livers were failing. It helped a little. I had heard there was an acupuncturist at the hospital and in the end I went to see her. It took one treatment and the problem had gone.

Just one final section to present a picture. I had regular occasional illnesses. I would exhibit cold symptoms. Initially these were seriously bad hangovers, but after I stopped drinking I still had something similar; it was stress. In my final job where the stress was horrific I would wake up in the middle of the night stressing, and eventually after much further deliberating, stressing my mind, and feeling pains in my stomach I would call in sick. There was no doubt that this was affected by which classes I had, if I had a full day in which the students imitated animals I wouldn't go in.

Now I am not a doctor and have no medical training, I don't know whether you need to have the above brief medical history to understand the body as I do. But the problem is that in understanding the way I do will mean it is different for every person. That sounds crazy, doesn't it? Especially for westerners. The body is a rock of science, it has symptoms of illness, bang in a drug and it is cured. This is the premise in which western medicine functions.

But if you think a bit further there are all kinds of side effects with drugs. I remember the worst for me - cortisone. That time when I was waking with blood on the sheets the doctor gave me a choice - continue the bleeding or take the cortisone. I knew the problem was my relationship but I had no hope of dealing with that - except to walk out and I was in love. So I took the cortisone and the problem went away. But it wasn't gone, it was displaced. I increased the other symptoms I showed - migraines, colds etc. They call this - side effects, but you could describe it as the disease moving. Was it better? The more immediate problem had gone, and become diffused into more of the less serious diseases; I had not heeded Nature's warning to get out of the relationship. I paid a price for that one.

Personally my doctor became a provider of sick notes - no disrespect intended. If these cold things lasted longer than a day, then the sick note was the employer's requirement. As I travelled my body was less immune to the local strains so instead of being occasional days they became longer. Occasionally they grabbed hold, became what is known as a virus, and I needed penicillin. Was this illness? Or was it just that the stress I was under made me more vulnerable to the local viruses for which I had no Natural immunity - as I hadn't been born there? Mind you, in the countries I worked in, I just asked for the penicillin. My last attack before I retired I had something - can't remember. The school nurse gave me the name of a type of penicillin, I bought it over the counter and I recovered.

These last appear to be a vindication of western medicine to a certain extent but I have no doubts that the immune system was reduced under stress of work - as well as the stress of being in a new country. As a teacher you are very vulnerable to disease. Whenever there is a virus or cold going round, students are in your classroom spreading the germs. What is worse is that because some people don't understand a disease, these children come in when they should not. They are often forced to go to school because the parents are stoic and believe they should attend. It is this attitude that spreads the disease amongst children so quickly. Parents should have a concern for their community, and not send the kids in. Of course it is not always easy to be fair as children/students use illness as an excuse for dodging.

I have been rambling a bit but I am trying to build up a picture, if this were an attempt to be commercial it would be edited out - but patience is a virtue needed with the internet so I have no intention of doing so.

I first remember migraines affecting me when I just started teaching, I don't know whether I had them before. I don't remember experiencing one but then I was drunk so often it is difficult to judge. Due to the era I was born in I had a predilection to things alternative so I decided to try an acupuncturist, I don't remember the migraines starting but I do remember my reaction - the need to look for treatment. She was western and just starting up, and she helped. But although she helped with the physical side she could not address the causes - the drink and the work stress that led me to my attachment to drink. However I responded well, and this boded well for the future as acupuncture helped me stop drinking.

I was 35 and the migraines had continued. There was an acupuncturist near where I lived, so I gave him a go - he was Asian-British but I think born in Hong Kong. He helped but after a while he was brutally honest - and I will always remember this. He said the acupuncture was helping but then I drank away the benefits by the next week. Give up or don't come back. If you come back I can give you acupuncture and herbs that will help you with the withdrawal symptoms.

Now I wasn't particularly fed up with the problems the drink caused me, I held down my job fine. The only time the drink ever really impacted was when I was living with someone - that was rare and I wasn't at the time. But sufficient of Nature pushed its way through, and it would feel kind of nice if I wasn't addicted to booze. I went back and said I would give it a go.

I say it like this because initially I had no major resolve. I think people were commenting about me and the drink, but it was managed in such a way that it had no major impact except at home. True to his word the acupuncturist gave me treatment and herbs, and gradually a resolve grew in me. Nature and my body worked against my ego desire for the booze.

I was still working on my spiritual journey at the time, I can even remember falsely thinking that the most caring people had a drink problem - had to have. My mind was developing even though my desires were trying to prevent it. I suppose having taken the first step to stop the drink, my body didn't want to let the chance slip. The withdrawal symptoms weren't too bad. I cooked up my herbs and drank them as told. I even developed a horrendous concoction of brewer's yeast and orange juice, just sufficient juice to take the taste away. When my body gave me pangs I drank this concoction, and slowly but surely I came out of the need for drink.

I confirmed that the drink was stress (as if I needed confirmation) as my worst time was Friday. Previously on Fridays I had waited in school until 5.30 when the pubs opened (didn't have to wait when the hours changed - was just drunk earlier), Friday was not the only time I got drunk - it was usually 3 times a week - alternate workdays and occasional drinking on Tuesdays. But seriously drunk quickly on Fridays. Getting over the drink I had Tai Chi on Fridays and I remember having stress getting past the pub on the way and on the way back. After 6 months the withdrawal symptoms stopped on the Fridays.

The migraines didn't stop but I think my body drove me to stop drinking because it felt better - I cannot say there was any great mental will power. And there was no moral imperative either. I think back now to some shameful acts but embarrassment at those acts wasn't a driving force - as I blacked out I pretended it wasn't me. But now the thought of those hangover feelings prevents a drink passing my lips even if sila didn't.

I think this last can start me to help you understand the way I see the body. It is a body, a set of organs - it is physical. Each of those organs has a role to play within a physical system - the body, but beyond that role the organs possess no intelligence.

What holds the body erect? Is it the skeleton? Is it muscles? My own answer is the Chi and the skeleton. I have done Chi Gong, and I have done Tai Chi and I know that the Chi alters the alignment of the organs of the body. During Chi Gong I have felt the Chi vibrate through the body - making it shake.

Do you believe me? Do you believe all the Indochinese who perform such acts? Is a karate chop because the hand has become very strong muscle? How do western scientists and intellectuals rationalise the Chi? "He is a liar", pointing at me.

And the acupuncture which is a system of medicine based on chi flowing down the meridians in the body. Was I lying when I said my liver problem healed after one treatment? Are the millenia of Chinese texts simply lies?

If historically there is not empirically sufficient testimony to prove the chi and acupuncture, why isn't there scientific research? What is preventing this cheap source of medicine being used? People might say fear of the needles. But the Chinese aren't afraid, are they less sensitive to the points? And the needles don't hurt anyway - there are western medicines that cause far more pain. And acupuncture has much more success with stress disease.

So there has to be another reason, and it is that old chestnut - the pharmaceutical industry. And they are way too big for this little blog. Just if you are reading this that means you are open-minded enough to question, find a good acupuncturist and give them a go. Try Tai Chi, Chi Gong.

OK so there is a physical body and the Chi. What about emotions? Where do they fit in? I can tell you how they function in me but I can't explain it beyond that. Basically I experience emotions, let's keep it simple - choose 2, love and anger. I fall passionately in love and there are huge amounts of emotions flying around my brain and body, way beyond any form of my mental control. What happens then? I have no idea, have you? Where do they go? I see Naomi Campbell, I fall passionately in love with her, I want to take her to the beach and share the sunset, I want sex; all of these powerful desires are flying around me. Then something happens, she makes me angry and this anger is flying around in me. And what? And then the same thing happens the next day when I see her and fall in love with her again.

Unfortunately Naomi Campbell hasn't been so lucky, but there have been times when these emotions have been disturbing my system. And some stay, and the pit of my stomach can tell you. Now the pit of my stomach is not only inhabited by erstwhile emotions concerning women I have loved, it is inhabited by another major player - anger. I was a serious teacher, I wanted the students to do well. I would go into work and blam, some directive from some power-monger is going to damage my teaching. Anger rages. The older I got the less I rampaged with the anger as I sought measures to deal with it, but I still experienced it. Mentally I developed a strategy to help the students, but the anger joined my old flames in the pit of my stomach.

So my "body" is now organs, chi and emotions. There is one other guy, the cavalry - the mind. At least the mind is the cavalry in parts because the mind is also the cause of the emotional problem. I have experienced the anger, why doesn't it go away? Because I hold onto it. I have a habit of being angry, I have been angry all my life with the injustices in this world. I feel angry at the powermonger, and I keep the anger - I hold it. To be honest, I don't know why - my being angry is not a pleasant sight tirading all over the place making this and that demand. I hold onto the anger, I don't want to - I have a right to be angry, this decision is absolutely stupid - so damaging.

And where did I hold it? Mainly in the pit of my stomach, and where else? My migraines - in my head. The anger and stress that is up there is phenomenal, I am not surprised at my pain. So what can the cavalry do? The mind can come along and gently break the hold. It can look and see the emotions. It can feel the anger and let it go. I remember being involved in a particularly powerful and destructive relationship - the one that caused the skin issue. Eventually I left, and years later I was camping. I had been studying an online awareness course - I can't remember the name, some Canadian guy like Isthon, and it said something like use your mind to go inside and release the emotions attached inside. Wow, what a night! By the end of the night I was so drained, it was almost like reliving the emotions. But they were not then buried inside, not held onto. I can also remember finding some issues concerning my parents. The next day, after limited sleep, I felt drained but so light - there was a release.

This type of release has been happening on a regular basis since I have retired. Slowly but surely the anger and misguided love is working itself out of the system. If you have followed the blog - I don't know how you have reached here if you haven't, you will see many references to my stomach. In the last three weeks it has been my head, neck and shoulders. I will have throat issues at some stage being a teacher.

What more can I say, talking about my body? Nutrition is my responsibility so I know my vits. I exercise to build up the chi, and while doing Chi Gong my body is finding its shape. I have a bad cartilage - football, and my shoulder issue is not just stress as I cracked a collar bone when 14. So I exercise my knee, shoulders and neck. Then I meditate - some of which at the moment is taken up with relaxation and not holding on.

Why did I hold onto all this stuff? I don't know, yet I knew it was a problem - maybe I did it unconsciously? Will I hold on in future - a serious question when I consider engagement?

Finally I want to talk about visualisations. This concerns the emotions, where they are and how to get rid of them? I try to visualise my mind melting and wiping away the stress. Is that actually happening? When I feel the heat build-up at the base of my skull and then I say to myself "detach, melt and wipe away", does anything happen? I know the answer for me. Does it happen for you? Find a visualisation that makes it happen. Learn about your own body, its own system, how do the emotions and chi fit in in your body and your mind. Nutritionally what is best for you? Know your body enough so that it doesn't get in the way of your happiness, your learning.

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Concerning the 60s - - Warning!
I am beginning to fear for this. I was always 70s but the people of the 60s were still impacting on daily life in the 70s. There was openness, the questioning, it was so powerful - so seductive. And when you add the sexual freedom which I sadly did not partake of, you have a trap. This trap is the rejection of Sila, of Virtue.

Any unbiassed empirical analysis of contemporary western morality must describe it as being less moral than existed prior to the 60s. Our contemporary (2007) youthful cult heroes demonstrate rejection of criminal law, how can we see these people as heroes? The 60s sought freedom from restriction - the Victorian straitjacket. But this freedom lacked discipline and developed a social mores that lacked Virtue.

Fundamental to this was the sexual awareness. Out of the Victorian straitjacket grew a sexual freedom that was called love but was primarily hedonistic - based on lust. The spreading of sexual contact disease followed. And then the hedonism turned to drugs. Drugs in the 60s was about exploration - mind expansion. Now they are about entertainment, and the STC financially benefit from them. The sexual freedom led to the increased use of drugs.

And what has followed from this lack of morality, hedonism based on consumerism. As a conspiracy materialist I must draw a conclusion I don't want to draw. I have always been proud of being a part of the mind-opening of the 60s - even if a belated part. However instead of this mind-opening producing increased Virtue - Sila and removal of false restrictions, the lack of discipline has led to greater exploitation and a level of control of the profiteering that is far in excess of what existed prior to the 60s.

I must see conspiracy where I don't want to see it. As previously discussed it is impossible to recognise conspiracy by seeking out the players, the conspiracy can only be seen in terms of those who benefit. Humanity has not benefitted from the 60s but the STC has. The 60s opened the human mind in the West, and destroyed the control that Virtue had over it. This gave the STC the opportunity to increase its exploitation of humanity in general.

Typical of this lack of Virtue is the internet. Scattered throughout the internet are examples of horrendous criminal abuse - child pornography amongst others. Although law enforcement is attempting to deal with this, the STC is hiding behind a movement that wants to prevent restrictions of the internet. The internet is a parallel of this 60s mind expansion - removal of restrictions, the crime is occurring because the internet like the ill-disciplined mind is without control by Virtue.

Sadly I came to this from re-reading one of my heroes - Pirsig (Proviso). It started as consideration of why he personally never moved forward. This would appear to be because of a personal lack of strength that could have been provided by meditation and/or virtue. Throughout there is a clear recognition of the directions to take - there is even a description of Tao intake (p324), but he does not stress forward movement either through meditation or the development of virtue. How his ego and desires managed to block this movement is very important but would involve far too much speculation to comment on meaningfully.

Lamentably this creates for me a concern for danger. Church of Reason - blind faith in rationality - is worthwhile, understanding that underneath all is Quality is powerful, but without any imperative his ideas are just that and become dangerous. Idea itself flying back and forth across the mind is important as it is distraction but the mind needs substance and that substance can only be provided by Meditation or Virtue, preferably both. Unless those ideas are Wisdom itself, and are recognised as such, something Pirsig did not see.

Ideas that explore and question are a danger as they can easily destroy virtue. Pirsig's ideas are dangerous, not because they are false ideas but because they are true; his own insanity is a testimony to that. By presenting ideas that opened up the fabric of understanding and then not enhancing that fabric by presenting an improvement, he is a danger. Pirsig without Virtue or Meditation is dangerous and deserves a warning.

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Materialist Conspiracy vs Virtue
Previously I have described myself unashamedly as a conspiracy theorist (check my political blog), the world functions in terms of conspiracy whether conscious or not. If the world functions in this way then it is not a theory. Consider the notion of empirical proof. The scientifically-repeatable evidence for the existence of conspiracy praxis is clear. The STC, speculators, transnationals and conquistadores (WTO, World Bank, etc.), continue to work together to maintain their profits, the consequences of which are inhumane. Look!

Actions which are inhumane, damaging to the planet, are repeatedly carried out with varying degrees of commitment - blind greed of the extremely wealthy down to the jobsworth and the family-provider. This is not in any way theoretical, it is happening.

The word, theory, is fundamental to the sceptics and the STC. By implying that Mulder's cartel actually exists and implying that these men sit in their conference room drinking whiskey and designing such an appalling daily life for so many people makes the conspiracy appear less real. But it is not a theory, it is happening. focus on possessions: devotion to material wealth and possessions at the expense of spiritual or intellectual values Look at this definition of materialism, isn't that what is happening? In this world don't we work together to increase profits at the expense of spirituality or intelligent development. Let's try conspiracy:- plan to commit illegal act together: a plan or agreement between two or more people to commit an illegal or subversive action agreement among conspirators: the making of an agreement or plot to commit an illegal or subversive action These definitions fit together fine, except for the smoke-filled conference room. The people agreeing, the players, are the extremely wealthy with their blind greed, the jobsworth and the family-provider. The actions the players perform are subversive to the interests of humanity as a whole.

As the players are most people, what is the point in such a delineation? Because there are people who don't participate in this conspiracy - the virtuous. Can we consider our actions to be virtuous? Not are our intentions virtuous? Family provider. Are our actions virtuous?

Whilst most people who question the prevailing materialism gravitate towards the political left, this does not mean they are not part of the conspiracy. Whilst undoubtedly a political system that is based on equality and the greatest good for the greatest number of people would tend not to be damaging, they are not necessarily not-materialist. A fundamental tenet of Marxism is the redistribution of wealth, and this clearly works towards the greatest good, but it is still materialist just not personally greedy materialism - not accumulation. Whilst clearly being more beneficial for humanity as a whole, in the end it is still materialist. What about a tenet of redistribution of wealth and the reduction of wealth creation in line with the needs of humanity as a whole - sufficiency economics. There is no doubt that a proper consideration of existing wealth together with the needs of humanity would mean that policies of sufficiency economics would have this two-pronged approach:-

- Redistribution of existing Wealth - to help

- Reduction in productivity whose purpose is Wealth Creation

The above two bullets only touch on much meticulous and authoritative work done in the field of sufficiency economics. None of this can possibly happen in a world of conspiracy materialism, and can only begin to work when Virtue is valued. Sila.

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Universe in a Single Atom
Universe in a Single Atom is the title of a book which describes some of HHDL's thoughts and experience connected to a Mind and Life investigation, perhaps it could be seen as an attempt to marry science with Buddhist science. Perhaps intentionally, it does not discuss issues of resistance to this process, and presents an analysis that would allow open-minded western scientific minds to expand their approach to include first person methodology to investigate consciousness. Whilst there is a possible approach that already exists within statistical investigation (see blog - first person methodology and qualitative research) to allow for this approach I believe there is a fundamental dynamic that is a major obstacle. Do strategies to deal with resistance to changing this dynamic need to be mooted within the context of expanding western methodologies? Can changing the dynamic be appropriately discussed without discussing strategies to overcome the resistance?

One phrase that describes this dynamic is intellectualising insight, and in western education this process is perhaps the most important principle of the hidden curriculum. As from birth intelligent people enter the western education system. Herein the very word intelligent presents a conflict in western epistemological terms, and yet fits smoothly into eastern understanding. It is one of those words like Wisdom and Insight which is impossible to define but whose very existence is at the heart of Understanding.

How does one consider Intelligence, Wisdom and Insight in terms of accommodating western science? In western science it is as if these terms have been appropriated by the methodology and have become subsumed into the general category of reason, logic or intellect. They are however allowed to exist in academic circles as art through creativity and intuition, and this uneasy balance between art and science is a fundamental building block of western education.

Can an eastern educated mind understand this dynamic? Can an eastern educated mind brought up with meditation understand the contortions a western mind goes through within its education system? I don't know, I am western. Because an eastern educated mind has not undergone this process of "intellectualising insight" or "rationalising wisdom", are the strategies such a mind proposes for western scientific methodologies going to fully comprehend the implications of this dynamic? Investigating the dynamic and developing strategies might indeed be part of the Mind and Life process.

How many westerners are there like myself who have experienced the conflict I have here described as "intellectualising insight" or "rationalising wisdom"? If you see and experience the difficulties, both for yourself as an educator and the other as "student" - as I have just recently in attempting to help others understand this dynamic, then there is empirical evidence that this dynamic is a major obstacle.

"How does this dynamic become an obstacle?" and "what are the implications for this dynamic?" are very important questions. Intelligent westerners go to school. Initially the children experience insights, children's intuition being a reputed experience. Not being appreciated as little more than a parlour game, this intuition tends to disappear and a gradual process begins in which their intelligence is guided into faculties of consciousness which western academia accepts within its realm, primarily faculties of intellect and reasoning. In practical terms this process leads to a qualification process whose fundamental testing of consciousness is memory with occasional flashes of intellect and reason. Yet as the education process continues the individual's intelligence is directed further and further into research, and scientifically this becomes the third person empirical methodology of objective hypothesis testing.

At this point the researcher or scientist has a vested interest in maintaining that process as their jobs or grants depend on it. So the process of intellectualising insight has now trapped the intelligence, without accepting this intellectualising of insight the individual has no livelihood.

Now intellectualising insight has to appear tolerant inasmuch as its methodology of hypothesis requires that science can explain. And therefore engagement with a process such as mind and life would continue within that methodology. But is that engagement a legitimate enquiry or is it an institutional aspect of intellectualising insight? Whilst the front end investigators from the west might well be pursuing genuine enquiry, would that be the case for academia in general?

But the dynamic of intellectualising insight in the west has many more implications that have more than epistemological dimensions, and because of this restrict the possibility of genuine advances in science's methodologies.

And this is the question of what happens to the internal dynamic itself? In my own case and in the case of others that have been documented such as Eckhart Tolle and Neale Donald Walsch (and I suspect many others less famous), there was a process of "hitting bottom" and coming out the other side. Using the terms of intellectualising insight, the faculty of insight asserted itself as a means of understanding putting intellect into a relative deductive position the faculty merits. This is a powerful experience as anyone who has gone through it knows.

It is also a very powerful dynamic within others who have not hit bottom and come out the other side, the majority who are living with the conflict of the intellectualising of insight. Some of that power can be observed but with others that dynamic gets channelled. The usual way the conflict is observed is through drug addiction, normally legal drugs but also illegal, but socially acceptable, drugs like cocaine. The pain of the conflict is buried in the addiction, and the dynamics of the addiction take over - financial requirements and peripheral criminality. Once corrupted in this way the compassion of the original intelligence has been compromised, and has little chance of being demonstrated.

The dynamic also can lead to addiction in other ways, craving for greed and power. Internally there is a deep-seated dissatisfaction often unrecognised as such, this is most easily attested to by the descriptions of that dissatisfaction by those who have come out. For whatever reasons the individual does not resolve the fundamental dynamic, s/he proceeds to sublimate that conflict in these cravings. The cravings themselves become self-perpetuating, developing a dynamic of their own, greed and power then becoming addictions. The repression of insight by intellect, the fundamental product of the hidden curriculum of western education, is the dynamic that fuels greed and power in the world. This ignorance of insight once fuelled by the internal repression is the driving force behind the greed and power that is the basis of the capitalist system, and this is evidenced as those who are not ignorant of insight do not seek wealth accumulation at the expense of compassion and do not seek power within a destructive society.

One important corollary of the intellect is its ability to justify, and this greed and power need at least to satisfy some people. Justifications throughout capitalism defend the system's injustices, whilst power is accepted as a burden they can use to do better. Whilst these justifications are transparently erroneous, they are not there as explanation. They are there because of the mind's failure to block compassion giving the intellect the justification to say they are being compassionate whilst the system that they support through daily livelihood inherently causes suffering. Both the explainers and general recipients need to hear justifications for different intellectual reasons; neither want to hear the truth.

Whilst intellect and the need to intellectualise insight are the basis of driving forces in contemporary society at the level of the individual, introducing differing methodologies might need strategies to help those who recognise the need for first and third person approaches but find themselves encumbered within a system in which the above dynamic militates against the first person approach.

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Western Education - the hollow core
Consider Asimov's robots and his laws of robotics. The laws were established so that when the robot deduces based on comparison that a robot's faculties are better than humanity's there is at the core of the robot a set of code that cannot be broken. Humans created robots, cannot be harmed and must be protected. Ultimately humans fear robots because they fear the effectiveness of such coding.

Now consider humanity in the west. Some people believe in God or Allah, others don't. In education they go through Piaget's stages and in adolescence develop reason and deduction. What happens then? Humanity deduces. It searches for the core of its being, and what does it find there? Adolescent confusion and perhaps a belief in God/Allah. Slowly this intellect conceptualises a core full of confusion, sexual disturbance, competitiveness and fear - the fear of being alone in a frightening world. As it knows no better this hollow core becomes the self, and associated with that self is all the adolescent confusion that we see in western teenagers. These teenagers get older, become more reliant on Allah/God, or they accept this hollow core, call it self and protect it.

Knowing that it is a hollow core intellect needs to seek justification elsewhere, seeks enjoyment through adolescent enjoyment - sex and drugs, seeks personal justification in status such as the boss, the film star etc, and develops the greed and power associated with these. Our capitalist system of wealth accumulation is fundamentally teenage fantasy as a global system.

As adults age this hollow core becomes sacrosanct and coping with this the intellect deflects any attempts to reach it. Meditation, Insight, Wisdom, Intuition are all deflected by any means including vitriol, whilst broader understanding of life is achieved by attributing to God/Allah.

Because the intellect was never given anything to fill the core, it sees as the core the feelings and emotions of an adolescent. Is this not a description of the western-dominated world we live in? It is a world where fashion dictates, style and personal aggrandisement are more important than any form of substance. And as we get older we seek succour in this external Allah/God.

Some people break through this hollow core. Artists gain inspiration through a recognition of creativity or intuition. Others such as Eckhart Tolle or Neale Donald Walsch learn that this confusing hollow core is not the self and learn through meditation to substantiate their interconnectedness with God and humanity.

But what if from an early age we learn without intellectual understanding that we are one with Nature which as Nature's creatures we must be. What if throughout our lives we are told that at our core we are One with Nature? What happens then when we develop intellect? Instead of finding a confusing core of adolescence intellect finds this Nature. It doesn't necessarily know what this Nature is, but it does know that it must live One with Nature because that's what adults have told it.

What then happens? As this intellect grows older with Nature then it sees the benefit of Harmony. There is no necessity for greed and power to protect the hollow core as success comes through Nature. Maybe then the insights and intuitions start to flow. Nature shows that meditation can provide answers. Without having to defend a pointless hollow core, intellect is free to deduce the wonders of Nature that humanity is part of.

As for God or Allah? This approach does not negate belief in either, because who created Nature? And if you believe Nature always was, there is no conflict either. But what is removed is the ego which is a hollow adolescent core that gains in strength through life, as systems support it, as greed and power feed it. And the fear of the exposure of this hollow core creates all kinds of personal and social problems.

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First Person Methodology and Qualitative Research
The science of statistics is interesting in terms of the first person methodology. Possibly scientific method developed the branch of statistics as a means of suring up its process. Whether that is the case or not, statistics started to analyse and verify conclusions, and to determine the likely accuracy of such conclusions. In doing so statistics recognised that numerical evaluation of situations, quantitative research, ignored much that a person experiences. At any one instant there is perhaps an infinite amount of data that could be obtained, yet the scientist only obtains a finite amount. Put simply. The temperature of the water is 180C, and on a graph a point (5min, 180C) might be plotted. However an observer at the same time might see an experimenter in a white coat sat at the bench who has had a bad day and conducted the experiment badly. Or an observer might note that the thermometer had been used by another experimenter and has a chemical substance attached that is lowering the temperature invalidating the result. And a deposit that was on the glass has dissolved into the water invalidating the result. Or that whilst the experimenter was focussed on this particular experiment (and hypothesis), his scientific evidence could have been used to validate another hypothesis if … And ….

What gets reduced to one scientific result, (5min, 180C), has potentially far more information. However in 3rd person methodology science determined that by treating all else as experimentally constant the observation could be recorded, and used to prove hypotheses.

There are situations in which this approach has advanced knowledge and understanding. However statisticians recognised that this approach had many disadvantages when attempting to draw conclusions concerning social situations, what sometimes gets termed social science. Education is one field in which attempts are made to hypothesise and collect experimental data. Statistically exam results are used as an indicator of education success. But then when one starts to consider what is the education that person has received then undoubtedly a number of exam passes does not express that totality. Whilst recognising that the number of exam passes could indicate that the school had educational quality, and therefore quantitative methods (the number of exam passes) could provide a 3rd person approach to evaluating the quality of the school, educational researchers recognised that there was much more that could be gained and understood by considering different approaches to accumulating observation.

They determined that whilst asking specific questions of a student that could obtain quantitative answers much more information could be gained from that student by recording testimony of their experience. To use the statistical term that science recognises, they recorded the student's testimony as qualitative data - as a case study. In other words the first person testimony of the student is recorded, this is a precedent for science to accept first person methodologies.

Quite clearly a meditator's testimony concerning their experience of consciousness would be a case study (in statistical terms). Recording such case studies could very easily lead to a plethora of academic studies that could bring together appropriate empirical evidence to validate any of the conclusions of meditation, Buddhist science etc. Science accepts qualitative data when it chooses. So why is meditation research only referred to quantitatively in HHDL's book "Universe in a Single Atom"? Clearly quantitative methods have more proven rigour but intellectualised society applies its scientific conclusions based on qualitative research when it chooses. Is the issue methodology?

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The Tabula Rasa of the 60s
Recently I have become critical of the 60s. The mind expansion was dominated by an intellectual questioning that opened up the wounds of erstwhile repression, but sadly did not provide a basis for future positive advancement. Rather than creating a platform of a new morality, the old morality was simply destroyed and satisfying desire irrespective of social order became a substitute for virtue. This need for desire-satisfaction led to the current consumerism boom that has done nothing for society but enlarge the pockets of the speculators and transnationals. A great opportunity for social development has been lost. Whilst some of the restrictive repression has gone, the lack of morality of contemporary western society is just bringing us closer and closer to ecological disaster, human and environmental.

It is interesting for me personally to reflect on the 60s and my own development in this context. I would call myself a child in the 60s and a product of the 60s in the sense that much of my early learning as an adult came from the works of the 60s trailblazers that I read in the early 70s. I went through a process of learning about Castaneda, Lyall Watson, Colin Wilson, Laing and Cooper (Jung), in some ways culminating in Pirsig. Adolescent rebellion geared more at that time to a rejection as to how society was repressing became adult rejection of the system as a whole. And for a few years in early adult life I moved around in a nether world of rejection whilst my heart determined some course of action.

As I was born to be a teacher this instinctively led me in the end to education college and into teaching. But this was not a teaching of social acceptance, of perpetuating the status quo, the intention was what they taught us to believe education was - self-realisation. Whilst knowing I was swimming against the tide I hoped there might be opportunities to move ahead with promoting self-awareness. In teaching one never knows how one impacts on children, yet with the slow but gradual political degradation of teaching I ended up out of consideration for the students being an exam junkie and hoping that with qualifications students might gain an opportunity for social equality. And then conceivably some form of awareness.

Generally, including my life in teaching, I became aware of the impact of the changes the 60s had produced. In teaching amongst the students who were trying to learn, the most noticeable change was the lack of concentration. The rigid discipline that had been applied up to the early 60s was replaced by some strange hybrid that purported to offer some discovery approach to learning, although how anyone in their right mind could conceivably believe that 30 students in a confined space requiring constant adult disciplining could possibly be considered a discovery environment.

This change in curricular emphasis added to the problems that 60s intellectual expansion was creating in society. The erstwhile morality of repression and blind respect for adults were replaced by social immorality and criticism of adults for creating such a devastated world. In the classroom and in the home this disrespect showed in disobedience, that has now fully transferred itself into social disobedience of such a level that one questions the long-term survival of western society.

It should be noted that this is not the case in other societies. Whilst Islamic peoples are accused of acts of terror in the West, many of their own societies are primarily peaceful. In Oman it was not unusual to see an empty car parked at the supermarket with the engine on to keep the A-C going whilst someone has popped in for the groceries. Part of the way Middle East societies maintain order is through respect for adults. However they are not poor countries, and the wealth of oil has led to an influx of cheap Indian sub-continent workers who maintain the wealthy life-style. In the Middle East one can question the morality of the dictatorship, one can question some of the poverty, one can question aspects of Sharia law, but the generally peaceable lifestyle is easily observed. It is not possible to describe all Islamic societies the same way - particularly Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obviously Iraq has to be considered differently in view of its history of US intervention and dictatorship since the late 20th century.

Perhaps the best judge of the importance of the impact of these changes would be in a poor country, and there is no doubt that respect for adults is a contributory factor to the stability of countries in South East Asia. The poverty creates certain problems such as prostitution - further enhanced by western money. But village life continues in a respectable way despite the levels of poverty, although if you asked the peasants they would say they wanted more money. They would want the tangible things that money can buy, and some richer even go to the West to obtain that money. And in the West you find sub-communities of these countries sheltering from the ravages of the western society breaking down.

To end this diversion I want to return to consideration of my own history. 60s questioning has helped lead to disruptive classrooms, and whilst I practiced firm discipline I still tried to develop self-aware approaches. These were rejected by the system as a whole, and when Queen Maggie came to power so many obstacles were placed in the way of such awareness processes that it became impossible to countenance their development.

Whilst in my late 20s and early 30s in London, I looked to awareness processes for myself moving around the fringe of alternatives. But this exploration was infused with alcohol, and complete virtue was never on the agenda as my intellect encouraged my lust to embrace parts of the sexual revolution - not massively. However I paid the price for such virtue-less conduct in a relationship that altered the course of my life - thankfully in retrospect. At the time I did not see virtue as the problem, especially as I considered we were in love.

After London I looked into politics as a means of activity. It was an attempt at fairness in the hope that bringing about a fair society would enable spiritual growth. Whilst meeting a number of caring people in the mass movement, social politics was primarily a movement of people who had found homes in activism itself in one form or another. Whether it be the homes of the activist who had climbed one form of socialist ladder - in trade unions or in the Labour party. Whether it be the activist homes of the left-wing intellectuals who found comrades of like mind, but more often than not were seeking that comradeship as meaning in their life rather than seeking relief for people who were suffering - even in the limited terms of pecuniary relief. Often enough guilt played a part in these movements as people's wealth pushed them into seeking solace by attempting to relieve suffering in some way. These views are totally negative and intentionally out of proportion, yet the people and processes were not totally negative. But what you have to understand in this political activity was the level of ego, including my own. The professed objective was never achieved because society's barricades were so large and the personal commitment of the activists was commuted by ego. But it was worth doing, and the current lack of activity is showing itself in the intellectually-driven expansion of capital through speculation and the power of the transnationals.

At this stage I started to travel. Without making a conscious decision to be more virtuous, I became so - but ironically with more activity, this activity being the way of things in the place I went to, Botswana. Whilst not losing in terms of virtue, the stress and strain that lust and relationships brought to me reinforced understandings I had gained in the previous difficult relationship. And gradually I moved away from being part of a relationship leaving only desire for such. That gradually has waned as I cannot possibly see how a relationship can work where I don't want children and I want to meditate and do my own thing. That would just leave lust and despite what the 60s pretended sex is not a raison d'etre for a relationship.

Virtue is our inheritance, it is our Tradition that is a road map that both gives us Inner strength to cope with life and it helps in our conduct during a relationship - a time at which whatever system of marriage you belong to you are left alone to sort out the problems. It is at these times of heightened passions that we most need a guide and more and more we are losing the one Nature has given us.

However the greatest lesson I have learned whilst travelling is the need for Nature, and in that Nature has grown a recognition that family and respect for adults is a fundamental part of human interaction. This Natural infrastructure provides society with harmony, and gives people meaning in their lives. How much joy have I seen in societies where this family and respect for adults operates without being dominated by the intellectually-inspired consumerism of western society. This joy is also fostered by lack of the wealth that leads people to seek joy in the false entertainments of consumerism. They fall back on the human joys of family and community. Rather than the family being the consumerist battleground for limited resources, in community it is people working together to overcome suffering. Suffering is recognised rather than hidden from through entertainment, and knowing about the human condition of suffering people work together to overcome it. Would that we all worked together to end suffering rather than spending our time trying to create money to pay for illusions that pretend there is no suffering.

I feel in some ways as if the 60s wiped away all that there was of my upbringing and at the same time it wiped away the inherited Tradition that moves generation to generation. In some ways I was left with a tabula rasa on which to build. I chose the output of the 60s, and moved with the 60s intellectual expansion. That implies I confronted rather than worked with prevailing approaches. Having been fortunate to learn of the Path at a young age, I had the Inner strength to confront and not be swayed by what prevailed as an intellectual common denominator. Early on I recognised a truth, grew that and grew with that. Whilst it was undoubtedly my lot to move with the intellectual expansionism of the 60s, I slowly began to dismiss much that the 60s stood for. And yet because of much that the 60s heralded I clung to their ideas. But eventually the degradation that the 60s has enhanced in the West has to hit you in the face:-

The lack of Virtue in societies that can go to war to manipulate the cost of oil.

The lack of Harmony in societies that dismiss family values, laud promiscuity and lock up the consequences.

The lack of Humanity in a society that creates the conditions for gang youth, pressurises minorities into killing each other within these gangs, turns a blind eye whilst their youth consume the product of these gangs as entertainment, and then blames the minorities for the problem.

The lack of Caring in a society whose young don't take responsibility for the old and infirm, at best abdicating responsibility by putting the old in homes, at worse leaving the responsibility to inadequate welfare services.

The lack of community that allows liberal interference with family development and then runs away from the consequences.

The leaders of these societies put profits before people, disempower the people in the decision-making, and then blame the people for the inadequacies.

Yet they succeed in one thing. Their education succeeds in developing within their people a bigotry that enables criticism of all things other, and bigotry that their society is virtuous - despite the evidence.

So the legacy of the 60s is consumerism and the global madness that has led to. For myself I started with the rejection that epitomised much that the 60s portrayed. Moving with that I came to understand the values of Virtue, family and discipline, yet accept much of the criticism the 60s offered. Such criticism can add to the existing Virtue and respect for family but only in the context of Nature, if the intellectual ego continues to try to substitute for Nature then the impending disaster we are heading for is inevitable.

What is abundantly clear from the mess that western society is in, and from my own experience, no matter how attractive the change may appear to be that change has to be viewed from holistic viewpoint. Questioning for questioning's sake is not a solution, neither is tinkering with one part and expecting the whole not to be altered. The 60s heralded changes because people said that what had gone before was not good. But the impact of the changes, the impact of the loss of morality, was not considered sufficiently, and we now pay the price. Nature's system is in place, adhere to that system unless you are certain there is something better.

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The Dilemma of Internet and Engagement
How many good people are blogging? I am sure in unknown places there is a whole plethora of Wisdom that if society used it would greatly enhance existence. Marginalised by the degrading path society is taking, aware people develop a needed outlet. Book publishing is dominated by the need for profit so integrity in writing has become difficult - often perverted by editors with a need to sell. Possibly as a consequence of blogging, it is easier for writers to blog their thoughts that were once short stories or anecdotal anthologies. This Wisdom proliferates in hyperspace, and where is the social impact - the purpose of the Wisdom?

Equally activists have taken to the keyboard. The young lifeblood of change in our society is sat in bedrooms creating blogs, websites and email conspiracies whose social impact is effectively non-existent. Their youthful activism has been compromised into a need to earn money to survive in a society where such an unbalanced amount of money is actually needed simply to exist, whilst their legitimate path takes to the airways where separation of identity is a dominant force rather than communal unity.

Who is happy with this?

The powers-that-be are not at all threatened by the internet. Ideas unless put into practice cannot affect the control exerted by the speculators and transnationals. And yet the problem is you can kid yourself you are doing something, after all you see yourself typing, you can visit a website; it is so easy to fool yourself that you are actually doing something.

But what choice do you have? Where else do you engage? Up a mountain where tablets of knowledge await collection - to then do what?

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Two Paths and the Drink
A friend has written a blog of his experiences leading up to and including Wat Thamkrabok. They were so lucid, it brought many comparisons to mind, and that is this blog entry.

As the Path is dictated by Kamma, one can never in truth describe Path entry as events or specific processes in daily life. However that is how we receive them. For myself starting on the Path was much more intellectual although triggered by the drink. I was an arrogant academic youth, and this arrogance was fostered by the academic process at university. At the same time university was a great social experience, and led to alcohol. Soon after leaving university I discovered how ill-equipped I was to work. I had no discipline, and had none of the desires that held most people in work - family, career, power etc. Whilst not consciously aware of it at the time I sought some sort of meaning in the work, and there was no meaning in coding (programming). However I was sparked by many of the interesting work projects that came along, modelling the human knee for arthritis - close to my own cartilage problem, understanding how seismic data was collected, but I had no interest in the programming and didn't have the discipline to do what I wasn't interested in.

The arrogance, the needed discipline at work, these produced an increase in the drink started at uni. I perceive this conflict between intellectual ego and the Path was what led me to hit bottom, and then start on the Path.

Where did P's Path begin? There was the bright light, the voracious consumption of Buddhist literature, but no bottom incident was described. Maybe bottom was more to do with the 70s although since then Eckhart Tolle and Neale Donald Walsch have described hitting bottom processes before they joined the Path.

Intellect appears not to have contributed to the process in P's case either. What struck me in his case, and with others, was his ability to read whilst under the influence. I was never able to read when drinking. Even taking a book to the pub was show as very soon the haze prevented cognition of the words.

I have been fortunate that much of my adult life I have been on the Path. Whilst that very strength has led me into conflict, the mind being open for so long has been of great succour. However, because of being on the Path drinking was heightened, there was no doubt that oblivion was sought by the awareness of the Path.

My vocational direction combined with the drink dictated a life infrastructure. I was a teacher so early morning bouts were never a possibility, thank God - although occasional Friday lunch-time bouts were too excessive. The teacher lifestyle also induced dry periods, namely the long holidays, so sustaining and feeding the Path was also built into the infrastructure. Whilst never at any time taking the pledge during those holidays, reading and Path development were much more of interest than sinking into alcoholic oblivion. I was also fortunate that my weekends were usually dry. The working week combined with huge alcohol consumption on Friday meant that Saturdays were usually out. I can remember major efforts to get out and do the shopping, and that was Saturday - +the tv. Sundays were little better as I spent the day putting off the marking.

Once term started stress kicked in and that was it, the term lifestyle started and any Path following was just put on the backburner. The night before was sleepless, the first night would be a binge, and possibly even the second as conflict arose inside. I would often consider the alcohol mind-numbing. I had this arrogant notion that I had too much intellect to do the job I was doing. This would exhibit itself on Mondays when I would rush to the bar after work - not complete oblivion like Friday but sufficient; I would know I had to get up so it stopped before oblivion usually. But the mind had been numbed, so I din 't hae too much of that intellect.

Alcohol rationalisations have always amused me. "Holding down a job" - I used to call the above "holding down a job". I know I did a good job, but how much more could I have done if I had not been working with such diminished capacity? I loved P's 3 weeks was enough time for the liver to recover. It never ceases to amaze me how much rubbish intelligent people can think under the influence. My own favourite was that drink helped me meet women. I was never one of those drunks that women wanted to take on, whatever wants them to do that I don't know but sadly I never had it. I was shy as a youth, and discovered at university that after sufficient booze I could go up and talk to women. In that talking I was not able to form a meaningful relationship of any sort - not even sexual, especially not sexual having lost the use of the limb. I have flashbacks of this "being able to meet women" as I would lunge halfway across the bar at a 45o angle to try to chat up whoever.

I came to Buddhism much later than P - long after being sober. Apart from the life structure I had I never had dry periods in my life. Why would I? Drinking was never a problem as I was holding down a job - intelligent? However in my late 20s I did have a year off as I studied theosophy and got into alternative stuff, but never Buddhism - alternative in England! In that study yoga and early morning study was a part, and therefore the booze was out. Apparently this made me more demanding at work, I don't know this for myself but recall a snippet from a boss frustrated with my caring demands.

Even stopping the booze was no great thing - I didn't have a drink problem. I was getting headaches, did long before I stopped, did long after I stopped. I went to an acupuncturist. He helped me on a weekly basis, but then I proceeded to drink away the goodness. He was good enough to say, stop drinking or don't come back. I could never accept that drinking itself was a problem, but maybe I could stop for my health. Fridays were the worst and helped by Chinese herbs and a gross brewer's yeast concoction I continued to stop. I can still remember the brewer's yeast taste, that almost became a craving. On Fridays and sometimes other times, I would get an awful taste in my mouth - it was a symptom of the physical craving for booze. I needed an equally obnoxious taste to counter it - the brewer's yeast concoction; I used to make batches of the stuff. : The bright light is interesting. I never had one bright light as P, but I used to try and get smaller ones. They only occurred during the Summer hols, and after a while I could generate them a bit. Some holidays I managed to write, but I would write in the early hours. So my holiday would become "waiting for the early hours" - maybe a walk in the park but definitely not a drink or I couldn't write. Then I would go to bed and lie there. Suddenly a centring would occur after a period of agitation, and I would lie glued to the bed whilst this happened. The room would give off a soundless hum, the air would give off a motionless vibration,and the light of night in my room would brighten, nothing staggeringly bright but bright. After a while it would go and I would write.

These don't happen now, and I don't regret it. I consider it a kind of forlorn meditative state. My Path needed centring but the booze and stress-lifestyle was keeping me so far from my Path that eventually my Path needed to burst back in. With meditation this process of centring is ongoing so that I generally feel so much better all the time, but a price I pay is the lack of these buzzes. A small price.

My Buddhist lessons from alcohol are not as all-encompassing as Garro's, it is only an understanding of stress and craving. The need for alcohol was a demonstration of this craving. I first began drinking at uni. There were others who drank more than me, and I hope that they were able to stop after leaving uni - but I doubt it. Drinking was what outgoing people did, people looking for some kind of excitement. I cannot remember any of the physical signs of addiction, just a process of growing psychological drink dependence. This would show itself in waiting for drinking ie waiting to go out to the dance or waiting for the weekend. Everyone does this. Of course but not "everyone does this" as an excuse to drink. The dance meant getting down the pub early, parading gear, and by the time you reached the dance you were a senseless drunken fool. The dance then comprised of wandering around drinking, and occasionally going onto the dance floor. Maybe I would be fortunate that some woman would think that my groping drunken body-swaying (that I called dancing) was attractive, and one or two occasionally met me after - when sober. But that never worked because all I was was a maths intellect who drank. I spent 4 years wishing I had a woman, and doing everything possible not to get one.

But drink was dukkha and craving. Once the poison had installed itself in my body, I had physical needs - I did physically need a drink. But my drive to drink was psychological. Primarily stress - dukkha. I became addicted to the means of falsely controlling stress. I was never stressed when drunk - I just caused it!! The stress was caused by my survival need to earn money and so distance myself from my Path, and my means of overcoming this stress was craving. Once I stopped drinking craving did not go away. I started craving other things - brewer's yeast? There were certain aspects of compulsive behaviour but none that were so personally-damaging or so socially unacceptable.

Unfortunately the stress did start to damage my health in other ways as I started to internalise it. But the drink was never an option. Once I stopped drinking I saw what a mess my life had been, and there was no way I wanted that again. There was no way I wanted to wake up feeling like that. Years later I learned terminology dukkha and tanha, (not P's anicca and anatta) - fascinating.

Are paths the same? Isn't it fascinating? Same problem, different life!

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Context of Internet Dilemma
The dilemma on the internet needs to be placed in context, it is a dilemma that I am aware of but not a dilemma that I am actually trying to come to terms with at the moment. The issue is still - what do I want? And I really have no idea. At the moment I am generally content. Two general areas of desires cross my mind:-

1) To go to the mountains, maybe even to live.

2) Engagement but engagement that I choose. I am a teacher, and proud to be so. But nowhere have I been involved in teaching that is mostly positive. I sometimes think I have been dishonest staying in teaching but that's just my being hyper-critical of myself. I earned enough money to retire and I fought far too many battles. I am tired of wrestling with egos who proclaim a genuine care for kids and just exploit one way or another. If I am going to engage in writing at whatever level beyond my website I want to be properly prepared. At the moment I am not, the thought of going into all that mess again makes me shiver. If I stay like this and I am happy, it doesn't matter - I have certainly given enough and if people choose to read they can read the lessons I have learnt.

My last two years in Nigeria were very hard. Meditation went and in my second year I was ill with occasional stress days. Now the school and Nigeria were crazy but I need to be far stronger than I am at the moment. I feel as if I am building up strength slowly but I don't have the confidence to go out there and know that I will still meditate, do the yoga I have just started, and generally let all the dukkha wash over me but not grasp. If I cannot do that, it's not worth leaving - there is no reason for me to leave at the moment.

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Clinging to the World
I am shattered. Yesterday I read this is Handbook for Mankind - "What we are clinging to is the World itself". I am not really sure what this means but I am rocked. I read it yesterday afternoon, and it just sank me. I slept, I woke up, thought about it, slept again etc. Some vague notion about "being in the world" as opposed to clinging to it. I just couldn't really see what I was clinging to with my lifestyle, but I had released emotion?!

The phrase helps me to understand more in others, (S), they are frightened to see what is what. This collective fear leads to a common understanding of what can be seen and wha cannot. Americans cannot see the damage they do in the world. They collectively see the good that many of them do, they present the arguments their education gives them, they are happy to believe their capitalist press, and he world suffers by the excesses of their leaders. S is not American but he has the common beliefs of the intellect. Despite all he has read S just accepts the common intellectual currency, and takes collective strength from that. However you can see two things. Firstly S's own truth is searching, and secondly that S is frightened knowing this collective strength is fundamentally weak on a personal level and is ot open to serious questioning or insight.

The night was difficult with sporadic sleep. I woke after a lucid school dream. This was not a school I knew. I had been ill for a month - never happened, and when I came back I couldn't find my class. First I couldn't find the room then the class weren't where they were supposed to be. I felt terrible they had already lost a month's education. Two boys, one short & one tall, neither of whom were supposed to be known were digging themselves into serious trouble as they broke one rule after another. I did the teacher advice but they were not listening - learning did not matter to them. I have no idea why I had a teacher dream - unless it was letting go - but of what?

I lay there thinking of clinging to the world, and thought of "being in the world", of "being Nature", "holding to Nature", I can't say I felt any great insight. I did my yoga and meditation, and in breathing the meditation was concerned with the body. I could be clinging to the body but I never felt that. At the end I collapsed on the bed, and slept a short while.

My lifestyle makes me feel good, even though I am studying what is what I am feeling good. So I am clinging to the world with that but am not too convinced. There is more on this, I think, but I fell asleep and woke up, and finished this unconvincing blog. I am still tired.


It is the evening of the same day, and it became clear in meditation. the issue waxs quite simply that I had been clinging to the world. My meditation had sliped and I had become focussed on health issues concerning my body. I had recently taken up yoga, and the yoga was giving me aches and pains. But it had been helping with my back and stress in my head muscles. Instead of proper breathing I had been focussing on relaxation of problem areas - I had become attached to the process of healing my body. Whilst that needs to happen, attachment to it is not appropriate, and I need proper breathing to maintain proper detachment. A fascinating self-trap - attachment to body. Even in the blog abive I recognised the problem even if "I never felt that". Good tricking, the ego wanted it to be so much more.

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Human Development
This fits in with the work that Matriellez has done but has more of a theoretical description. This further develops an understanding for the attachment of ego in the young as it shows it is not just a process of intellect.

At birth we respond by instinct. Here we seek food, the security of the family, and all such. These instinctive needs are rarely disputed except in detail of description and that is not important here. It is appropriate at this stage for humans to become attached to these instinctive needs, but as we grow older we need to extract ourselves from these attachments. Whilst not saying that some of these instinctive needs are not still part of our lives eg food, it is not necessary for the instincts to guide our lives - as it was when we were young.

In contemporary society young people move from having these instincts satisfied at home into an education environment - usually a school. At school we learn the skills required to interact with the world of work, primarily by obtaining qualifications in various recognised subjects. So we grow from satisfying instincts into a supposed learning environment. But is the material we learn about appropriate?

The subjects that we learn are division up of what society tends to accept as skills we need. It is difficult to rationalise this division as it is not justified anywhere. Schools have been this way for a long time so that's what we do. What is clear is that schools focus on the development of intellect, the system wants the power to reason and deduce. These mental attributes tend to lend themselves to the money-making and profiteering essential to western life. At the same time schools do not develop a humane and caring curriculum for the same purpose, these skills do not lend themselves to the money-making and profiteering.

So our schools develop the intellect, and as Matriellez has discussed throughout, this focus on the intellect is dangerous particularly in adolescence when there is an absence of a proper basis for understanding. In adolescence learning continues to be a driving force. Instinct has developed a model of self and as we develop in adolescence we seek that self. Intellect searches inside and finds adolescent fantasies and desires, and knowing nothing else deduces this is self. Society does not offer anything else, and this becomes the modus operandi of society.

Hear our teenagers and look at what drives society. More money for clothes, fashion, entertainment, sexual playing and diversity, drugs, portrait people as iconic leaders, the list of objectified adolescent traits is endless. We are driven by desire that drives the greed that fuels economy, that fuels war etc.

Our teenagers are looking for guides, they see our adults doing the same thing and know this is not the right way. The adults are also seeking guides but when the guides they hear tell them to reject the desire-gratification lifestyle, the guides are rejected one way or another. Rejecting the lack of adult guidance young people further seek desire-gratification whilst rejecting any form of adult control. This has got to be a recipe for social breakdown.

Meanwhile there is guidance all around, moral codes in our religions that are rejected, but more importantly guidance in Nature. Nature is now saying enough is enough as the planet is irreparably changed, perhaps permanently damaged. Adults reject what Nature tells us, and for most children brought up in cities Nature has little access. Let us hope that soon our adolescents will begin to hear the voice of Nature, as the adults cannot hear it.

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It is not all wonderful
My decision to retire early, come to T, and work through stuff has got to be a positive amongst many negative career decisions. But as the title says, there are many thorns with the roses. As millions of you are avoid readers you might think all is one insight after another, but in reality my experience is far from that. It is however the diversity of experience that is appealing.

My doubt translates to travel. Whilst having travelled I have never been a traveller, I have enjoyed new places. So regularly do I see all the wonders of the world with these dorks on Nat Geo adventure, and the same dorks on Lonely Planet - sorry I shouldn't call you guys dorks but …., sitting in my chair in T makes me realise what I could experience if I was there. Yet I love SLG& T. My doubt has even led to thoughts of travelling through work again because of course there is always the issue of engagement - doing some good. At least I have recently determined that I cannot do anything meaningful, and that in doing good I cannot get involved and committed. Mind you, I knew that but could never do it.

I have developed my routines, some meditation and yoga, and as I use both I develop. Mind you the yoga attaches me to my body, and produces pain; too often I cling to that in meditation - although I often recognise it as clinging now rather than what I used to see as physical development essential to spiritual development.

I continue to release emotions giving me difficult nights, the last two have been of this variety. I was amazed to release the race, such a powerful feeling. I suppose it was powerful because my mother was there but it was also righteous indignation - my usual. I used to represent the school at 880 but I was nothing special. In interschool competitions I never won but used to gain some points. For the 440 there was a relatively better runner but he didn't have the lungs for 880; he was significantly faster than me over 440. If there were a ranking off 880 and 440 local runners, his 440 ranking would rate higher than my 880 ranking.

The race I am referring to was an inter-house 880 and I was expected to win, I was in the third year, I think - now Americanised to year 9. I don't know whether I was competitively arrogant or not, I recall myself as just running, but I know I would have selective memory. The race started and the 440 guy and another less capable runner raced off to the lead - I mean raced. I was never a tactician, I just ran, and basically persistent speed would take me through to victory. After they sprinted the first 100 they reached the first bend and intentionally slowed the race. On the far side of the track from the teacher judges they started obstructing me. My natural distance speed would take me past them so I started to overtake. Both runners blocked my way. I moved out a lane or two and the two formed a shield and moved out as well sprinting to block my overtaking. I moved to lanes 3 and 4, and they blocked me out there as well. The inside lanes would then be empty, I moved inside and they blocked that as well.

After going through the first lap like this I was exhausted but raised a complaint with the teacher judges at the line. I seem to recall one judge telling me I should push them, of course that was not in my nature or training. Having turned the race into a 440 whilst at the same time exhausting me with their obstruction tactics I was at the mercy of the 440 specialist - I had also lost heart. At around 600 his speed kicked in and left me for dead, my will had gone and so the second guy beat me. I complained again - to no avail.

It was Sport's Day. I cannot recall my mother coming to Sport's Day at any other time - she might have. She was sat near the mother of the 440 guy. That mother was excited and started shouting "He's beating Zan…., he's beating Zan….". At the end of the race I was so angry, I am sure I was just whining. My mother would not have liked that, and all she could remember was this other mother.

I complained to the teachers who were completely deaf - and I bleetingly said my mother was there. It was Sport's Day, and these guys would not have had the balls to disqualify the two runners - it would have been a Grammar school scandal. I complained to the 440 guy buthe just threatened me. To this day I do not know which rule, if any, was broken. However this was interhouse, the two guys should have been disqualified because it was not sporting.

I was a dork, immature and stupid, the sort of arrogant middle-class child that does not inspire sympathy. Yet I had run for the school for 3 years, both at athletics and cross-country. I cannot remember making a decision but I also cannot remember running for the school again.

Imagine recalling such detail last night.

And here's another one - even younger. I was at primary school playing football for the school team. The start turn was the centre forward, called Billy Clark - classy player and I was frightened of him. We had reached the final and I was a centre half. Early on in the game I was on the near post and a corner came in - it was a rocket. I didn't have good heading technique and just put my head in the way. The corner was so powerful that the ball sailed out of the area amidst the usual cries of "good head". I hardly heard them my head was rocking, my head had been knocked back so much I was reeling. I staggered ot of the area and continued the game. I can't imagine how well I played but it was a close game. Billy had scored three goals and we were doing well - better than expected. Getting near the end of the game I was on the line and some guy shot - maybe the same guy, and foolishly I turned my back. It was miskick and the ball trickled over the line.

Here's the rub. After the game Billy C laid into one of the other defenders, Joseph R. I was so scared of him I said nothing. And what was even worse was when I realised why he had laid into Joseph R. I had forgotten my socks, and this guy Joseph R had lent me his spare socks. When I had turned round the socks were distinctive and Billy C recognised them - I also think he intimidated Joseph R as well. The guy had been good enough to lend me his stuff and I let him take it in the neck. Needless to say my mistake was the winning goal, and the whistle went.

I was either 10 or 11 at that time, and I remember so much detail - amazing.

Last night did not end there, and I continued to unearth stuff, this time about my father. I tried to convince myself that my thoughts concerning him were to be learnt from - and I did think of some lessons. Unfortunately that was not all I did, and I will be going there again.

I woke up late today!!

Such releases are beneficial, and needed for what is what, but …. not wonderful.

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Nature's head
Ajaan Buddhadhasa's chapter, Insight by the Nature method, in Handbook for Mankind has thrown in a few curveballs. It has increased my concerns about travel as when younger I learnt so much about the Path, as described by Don Juan in "Journey to Ixtlan" recorded by Castaneda, whilst walking through the Ardennes. Whenever I needed a fix with N it was off to the Downs, and anual holidyas walking - away from the routine centred me. Now that I have got used to the comfort of the heat in hot climates, I have gone soft and lost Nature's edge; I will have to find it again. Meanwhile the other way Nature spoke through me keeps rearing its head as travel but it is mostly not that. It is Wai Zandtao - starting tomorrow.
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Trying to work on Vedana
Many of my more traumatic moments since retirement have been as a consequence of unearthing endless emotional baggage; it is frustrating because it appears so endless. I have a difficult night and unearth all kinds of stuff, feel lighter and better, and soon the process starts again. You ask questions "Is it one year's payback for one year of emotional baggage?" "How many years must I pay back for the hell that was N?" and so on.

This blog is quite long because I am beginning with theory from Ajaan Buddhadhasa, noting this perhaps you can wait for the practicalities. In Handbook for Mankind Ajaan Buddhadhasa describes four types of clinging based on the 5 aggregates of rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana. These clingings are sensual, views, ritual and self. In Anapanasati - mindfulness with breathing he does not use the 5 aggregates but uses 4 things kaya, vedana, citta and Dhamma in order to understand the fourfold aspects of Nature - nature, laws of nature, duty in nature, and fruits of duty. From his text it is clear that citta includes sanna, sankhara and vinnana, I suspect the two are the same - I, not what Buddhadhasa necessarily said.

In Anapanasati he describes the breath body as being the body to control the flesh body - as the flesh body cannot be directly controlled. Then he looks at vedana. Feelings are the key. Pleasant feelings lead to desire and unpleasant feelings lead to aversion - and clinging. He says:-

Understand the feelings themselves.

Know the things that condition the feelings.

Then, know how to control those things that condition the feelings, which is the same as controlling the feelings themselves.

"By controlling the vedana so that they do not condition or stir up the mind, or so that they condition the mind in a desirable way, we are able to calm the mind."

He then describes:-

Know all the different kinds of citta. Be able to make the mind glad and content. Then force the mind to stop and be still. Lastly, make the mind let go of its attachments. Force it to let go. It lets go of things it attaches to and the things that attach to the citta let go of it. This is what it takes to be expert, to be well versed, in matters of the mind, in the third lesson of Anapanasati.

And for Dhamma he describes the following as being one Ultimate Truth:

Aniccam:know that all conditioned things are impermanent and in flux.
Dukkham:know that all concocted things are inherently unable to satisfy our desires.
Anatta: know that all things are not-self, not-soul
Sunnata: know that everything is void of selfhood of "I" and "mine."
Tathata: know the thusness, the suchness of all things.

For completeness I have included his description of the 4 things - kaya, vedana, citta and Dhamma, but the blog is concerned with "trying to work on vedana" so that will be the concern now - after I have hung out the washing.

Maybe I have worked on the vedana the wrong way in the past, I don't know. I find the baggage and try to release it by experiencing it. Using Pali terms of non-self, whilst meditating citta searches for the baggage and then releases it by experience. Then there is some kind of feeling of non-attachment whilst the meditation focuses on the breathing and sunnata, voidness or nothingness.

OK, so there is an attempt at a release but it is not all released. What about the clinging? There is clinging to the baggage so there is a need to release. But release what? Am I doing this right?

So what about the types of clinging?

Sensual - love, women and family, lust. For this one it is not appropriate to be totally open, but clearly there is a lot of baggage associated with relationships. What does this mean? I have enjoyed being in love so I hold to it. That feeling that heads straight for the pit of stomach when the passion develops becomes baggage, I have held it. But of course thinking back to the relationships in totality, I don't want to cling to the relationship as most have caused pain. Clinging to the passion of love, it's like I am trying to fashion the whole thing around the passion. Relationships that work are those for whom the passion is superseded by a working relationship functioning around the family unit - mainly bringing up children. Passion is not there. Holding to passion as the meaning of relationship extends the relationship causing more pain as the relationship is not based on what is its purpose, bringing up children - or at the least living together. Look to nature as duty to understand the meaning of relationship, not the passions and lust.

But families are not that simple either - especially in the west. Instead of being natural support, in the west families are awash with passion. When does clinging start? On p54 of Handbook for Mankind, Ajaan Buddhadhasa describes the development of attachment to self a part of life, as being an instinct from the earliest age, and that it is only through spiritual awareness such attachment can be removed. On a personal level what does this mean? Naturally the first attachment is between mother and child - mother-love. How does the father fit into this? Does the father accept his natural role as provider, and upbringer of children? How do siblings work in this? Do they accept roles inside the family? It is not appropriate to discuss such intimate relationships here but there is potential for tremendous baggage here. But where does the baggage start? Clinging to the mother-love, and the emotional consequences. This is the first detachment.

The second clinging is to views. I have always held strong views but have never thought I clung to them for the simple reason that I am willing to change those views and am continually learning. But that is not the clinging to view that damages me the most. Primarily I am talking about the conflict that comes from holding views and attempting to cause change in others as a consequence of holding to those views. What about political frustration? Society is part of dukkha so the political system has to contribute, so you want to change the system and there is conflict.

Are your views right? Irrelevant, somehow you have to accept right views in a situation that has no pretence to rightness. Conflict and baggage. And there have been so many of these. I recall a scenario where a colleague asked why I was in conflict. That's the way it is, after putting in much work a personnel power switch had eschewed all the good work. The colleague was correct but I could never accept it, and I didn't listen to his assessment because his analysis was based on fear of fighting the power block than any valid educational assessment. So clinging to views is a very important issue to me - much baggage.

I think there is much more on the family to deal with. The clinging to views is sanna as is clinging to relationships. Sankhara continue to arise but leaving them alone is getting a little easier although more sankhara come as there are less memories and less clinging to relationships. Work in progress.

Postscript - 2/10/07 Had my first migraine in a long time last night. I had felt the release around my head during the meditation but that doesn't always mean a migraine. This feels like a two steps back number today.

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No Self following self-indulgence
This one's a good one, maybe a bit weird. For the last couple of days practice had disappeared but not with any consternation however, just a kind of resigned dislike but acceptance of the indulgence. A chat happened in the middle of this in which I described my lack of practice as a form of consolidation. To which the chatter just said lazy - understandably.

This entry also requires a recognition of the 4 Ajaan Buddhadhasa "things" discussed here - kaya, vedana, mind and Dhamma.

Anyway I woke today with pains around my liver - mild but causing concern. I lay with the pains a while, and then got up. After a few short house duties I lay down and began a "lying- down" meditation; a half-way house, the kind of meditation I do in which I just allow the emotions to come and in posture it's not so good - or so I kid myself. Slowly the insights came. The self was attached to the intellect, as with the body and the emotions. The self was attached to memory. Love is a wonderful passion with a close person. We hold onto this, we want to keep it, recreate it, so we build up a scenario of "being in love". Then we have the needs for security and a home and fears of loneliness so they become part of "being in love". And then we have the driving force of the original passions - the fruits of natural duty. The initial passion of love is the beginning of procreation. The passion between the two in courtship becomes a relationship, hopefully marriage, and then children. If the couple live according to nature then the fruits of the relationship will be happiness. (I wasn't thinking about this this morning but it fits in with this entry.)

So the self is created by these attachments, what were my main ones? These have been discussed before - primarily with the emotional releases. But kaya - the body - the self has attachments connected with sensual attraction. Then there is vedana, the self has emotional attachments. These two produce sanna - the self attaches memories rather than letting the memories come when required. Consciousness does the attaching. And in my own case as in the case of many educated, the intellect is a great source of self.

Whilst I had felt releases from some of these before - especially in the stomach area with emotions, others came this morning. I felt a release inside my brain from self detaching from intellect, and the same at the base of the skull where I feel my migraines are sourced - I have released some stress from there before. From the base of the skull at the back of the neck the release moved down the neck and forward through the throat where there was teacher self and down by back where my cervical spondylitis is. The pains I had awoken with in liver area I also realised were further self-releases - self not attaching rather than releasing vedana, and they continued for a while. I realised that these releases were part of a process of moving to no-self, part of the 4th Ajaan Buddhadhasa thing - Dhamma.

At the end of this, my back arched supply back (comparatively so), I felt a kind of thanks and an affirmation that the yoga was more than physical development, it having contributed to these releases.

For the first time in retirement I had a meditation sign, my head was full of a peaceful yellow - I now associate that with the self indulgence of the two days, akin to when such meditation inducements used to occur when I was younger and not practicing.

It is now even clearer to me to avoid the use of self terms. Education is a process of bringing out, and I have often termed this self-realisation - especially when describing the system as conning good teachers into believing education was self-realisation as an inducement to get them to teach the intellect and its resulting exploitation. I will use the terms realisation or human or personal realisation in future, as this unit, I, exists to know what is what in life as a human and to fulfil personal development in life, in the context of Nature. Self-awareness is an awareness of this person, I, within its role in Nature, again understanding what is what and looking for personal development in the context of Nature.

There is an interesting question that follows from this, the terms self and ego. Ego, usually intellectual ego, I have referred to as the negative aspects of human personality such as arrogance, conceit, lack of caring etc. I have used the term self as part of self-awareness, as the kind of good part. As this good part, this self was a combination of the good aspects of increasing awareness of consciousness acting in accordance with Nature. It was a kind of hybrid of good consciousness and no-self. I shall continue to use the terms ego and egotist, but try to avoid the use of terms involving self, awareness or realisation are suitable terms as is human or personal development as they do not necessarily imply the separation much more inherent in the word self.

I have often reflected on whether I should attend a monastery, I would like to reflect in this blog about the same now. Firstly my stays in monasteries have been limited, maybe a total of a month in all. These stays have had a great impact on my life as staying there helped consolidate my Buddhist thinking as well as help me chill out. One thing that cannot be disputed is that my stays introduced me to many good people, not just the monks, they are undoubtedly places to meet people on the Path. I first knew for sure that I didn't want to take orders at the end of the three months after the probate year. In those three months I had learnt and reached a stage of development that was the "best" in my life at the time - as it should be. I feel now in my isolation retirement that I am now the "best" in my life - especially after this morning.

But I look at what I do. There is no routine. Sometimes I get to routines and then something happens - even if it is only Saturday morning cleaning or chi from the weekly massage. This entry also demonstrates something. The two days of self-indulgence were a prelude to this morning's insights. At such times of good development I ask whether the routine of the monastery would have hindered that development. I was greatly heartened to read Ajaan Buddhadhasa's piece on the Natural course of development in Handbook for Mankind - Insight by Nature's Method. Whilst his passage gives someone like me great opportunities for self-delusion (egotistical pronouncements about being on the Path and having insights whilst not being so), it is a clear statement that Nature has a Path for us all and that Path is not prescribed by a dogma but by Nature herself. When Nature sends us guides such as the Gautama Buddha we would be fools to ignore such guides. By not entering a monastery, am I ignoring his Wisdom concerning the Sangha? I feel that is not true. Sangha is the true Tradition of Buddhism today, and it is the source for Buddhist thinking. Maintaining these bastions of Tradition is essential, but out there are those of Nature without dogma. The way Castaneda speaks of Don Juan, he is a Man of Nature. The Indian guy who drank at the backpackers just outside Taos knew that his Tradition also produced Men of Nature. What about the mountain men - in the US or perhaps even more so in China, who are those guys? Have they gone back to Nature to learn? Maybe and maybe not. Whatever, Nature is the Tradition, and it shows its Paths in many ways. Whilst I believe that Buddhism is the easiest Path (I know of) - when I think of all the stress my own Path has brought me and of others that I have read, Nature is the actual Path. I hope I am becoming a Man of Nature, I hope that I am fulfilling the role Nature gave me. I am a kind of hybrid, I am educated, have worked in the education system. I am now some ways back to Nature, a Nature that is Khmer people and my secluded house and garden. But this is temporary as a totality whilst I learn where I will next engage, But the hybrid is part Nature, part Buddhism, part Natural seclusion and part with people. I am sure there are some who have Don Juan pretensions whose egos might say I am now compromising. I might be compromising but not for now, as now the spiritual contentment is legitimate - it is real. But Paths only end in death, and then only temporarily for most of us.

This clarity brought on by self-indulgence leads me to change the name of the blog to Nature's Insights blog. Whilst I am still oscillating between Buddhism and Spirituality, I now accept that is my Path - the hybrid Man of Nature who oscillates. There is a temporary finality to this if you know what I mean.

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One Religion
The key to my understanding the sameness of all religions is to understand Nature and anatta - no-self. This life is selfless. Buddhism is a Nature religion having four parts to this Nature (Ajaan Buddhadhasa) -

What is Nature?

What are the laws of Nature?

What are duties under Nature?

What are the fruits of these duties under Nature?

When this is combined with the 4 Noble Truths



Overcoming Tanha

Magga - panna, sila and samedhi

and the three principles of anicca, dukkha and anatta there might be some sort of understanding of Buddhism.

The issue that gave rise to this blog-entry relates to anatta. Beginning to understand anatta gives a new meaning to letting God into your heart, if this isn't Nature as Guide what is it?

Let's examine the 10 Commandments. When I wiki-ed this I learnt that there were in fact 12 commandments that permutated into 10 whichever branch of Christianity you were. So here are the 12 10 Commandments:-

1. I am the Lord thy God

2. Thou shalt have no other gods before me

3. Thou shalt not make for thyself an idol

4. Thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of thy God

5. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy

6. Honour thy Father and Mother

7. Thou shalt not murder

8. Thou shalt not commit adultery

9. Thou shalt not steal

10. Thou shalt not bear false witness

11. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house.

12. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife.

7 through 12 are sila, 6 is Nature's duty, so that leaves 1-5. 5 I will ascribe as institutional although should the day of the week mean that we behave better, and 1-4 I will discuss as the God issue.

Bringing God into your heart, bringing Allah into your heart, bringing Nature into your heart can all be considered the same thing. I don't know enough about the Indian religions (Buddhism?), however when I was involved with theosophy spirituality was an appropriate term for understanding. Bringing Spirit into your heart is equally acceptable. Commandments 1-4 all depend on an understanding of God, Allah, Nature and Spirit. Aren't we therefore just talking about one religion?

What about the Muslim initiation vow? There is only one God and His Name is Allah. Divisive - and I find it difficult.

Islam and to a lesser extent Christianity also encourage abdication of responsibility for action by applying a detailed moral code. Whilst increasing the number of required virtuous actions the problem lies with actions that are not covered by prescribed laws or shariya. Whilst priests and imams should be considered as advisors as should monks, how often are all three sought as instructors of action rather than advisors to one's own mindfulness? The laws of Virtue fit in with the laws of Nature - Divine Law but seeking an understanding of bringing this Law into your heart allows Virtue to guide action rather than a human intermediary.

Heaven and reincarnation can be seen as connected when viewed in terms of practice. The rewards of good Virtue (fruits of duty) are Heaven - a carrot, improved situation next time - reincarnation. In terms of practice the religions are saying live a virtuous life and you will be rewarded. If what we do is what matters then the religions say the same.

Do all religions talk of or recognise dukkha?

As Ajaan Buddhadhasa pointed out the Lord Buddha does offer a means for overcoming suffering - but then bringing God into your heart can do that, Buddhism has more nuts and bolts. Magga talks about samedhi, other religions don't emphasise this for lay people - again a nuts and bolts issue. So ultimately the difference in religions is emphasis. Fascinating. The difference of Buddhism is emphasis on meditation.

Islam considers itself an update on Christianity. If it's an update why can't the two faiths be made one, and the answer is simple - human ego. With Christianity and Islam there are two sets of powerful clergy.

In China Taoists and Buddhists are inseparable. In Nepal harmony exists between Hinduism and Buddhism but I am unable to comment in terms of doctrine.

So what about creation? Does it matter? For intellectuals it certainly does because they pretend they answer every question. Here is an answer "Allah created the universe", how does that help us live a better life - overcome suffering - be happy? What about soul? What is it? How does it help us to know the answer? We must purify the soul, what does that mean? We must follow the 10 commandments, 5 precepts to be happy, much easier to understand. The problem is that God and soul are words that divide us when we actually follow one religion.

One religion and so much suffering pain and death over emphasis!

Postscript - Unity has one religion - logical!

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Nature and Buddhism
For Ajaan Buddhadhasa according to the Handbook for Mankind these, Nature and Buddhism, seam easily, in this entry I want to investigate this for myself. The issue of course is dogma.

Before I begin there is an interesting aside. In Thai language nature taamachaat, and virtue and dhamma are the same taama. All things are Dhamma - Nature?

The one religion is Nature. The Wisdom is Nature, what is religion? Religion for me has always been a way of life but that is not how most people read it. Let me examine my own first. It is a way of life because what I understand through my religion has to be the code of practice in my life. If it isn't it is epistemology, a bunch of theories - of no point. So religion for me is an understanding that leads to a life approach.

But is that a description for most? Let's consider my own upbringing. Vaguely being brought up a catholic, I was taught to obey the Ten Commandments and attend church. This was a shell I rejected. But for those that believe the dogma says they will be punished and go to Hell if they live bad lives. God is all powerful and they should trust in the power of God and everything will be OK.

Land-based societies have religions that look more into nature spirits and ghosts. In these religions there is a recognition that these spirits provide a smooth functioning of the particular aspect of life - earth, air, fire and water. In these religions people assign chracteristics to these spirits, and are afraid if they don't appease them this functioning will not occur because the spirits are angry. Fear of God and fear of these spirits is a component of religion.

Then there is ancestor worship. This I know even less about but it appears that these ancestors overlook the lives of future generations, and as such act as guides. I believe fear of angering ancestors is a component of their lives.

With this cursory analysis of a religion I suggest that religion is a combination of understanding and fear together with a creation myth, usually God.

The Lord Buddha never offered a creaion myth, and Ajaan Buddhadhasa suggests that what the Lord Buddha does offer is a means of removing suffering - 4 Noble Truths. But what does this imply? Briefly before I go into that, in Buddhism it is only through understanding by insight (through practice) that any dogma or utterance from Lord Buddha should be followed. If this is the basis then dogma is a guide and not a set of beliefs. Therefore Buddhism is consistent with religion as a way of life.

But then comes the issue of stuff you don't have an insight for - the other things that are not your insights that people say the Buddha said. These are for me the i's and t's of arahants stream-enterers etc - that forum intellectuals spend ages argueing about. Then you have the Theravada/Mahayana dichotomy. Theravadans claim the Pali Canon is what the Buddha said, and therefore see themselves as fundamental; yet no-one wrote these things down at the time - they are the memories of Lord Buddha's followers. Then the Mahayanans develop Buddhism from the writings of great people such as Milarepa and Tshongkapa. Then what happens to Pali Canon by the time it gets to China and Japan where Chan and Zen are Buddhist; what is their relation to the suttas? And where is the relationship to the 4 Noble Truths? And then there are those who follow Amithaba Buddha?

And then there is the Abhidhamma, an intellectual summary of what the Buddha said.

Within all of this dogma there is only one constant - understanding by insight (through practice), and where does that insight come from - Nature, the one religion?

So what is the role of Buddhism? Where are those who have attempted to understand insights? As an institution, Buddhists. Here there are people who specifically teach understanding by insight as opposed to the west where understanding by intellect is taught and insight through Nature is the only true way to learn - ask the American Indians.

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Food and the birth of a blog
On my recent trip to Bangkok I wandered into a Natural Medicine Centre, and was persuaded to start a diet - more or less macrobiotic. I told the doctor how I had lost weight and then it had stopped. He noted the stress, the occasional bile in my mouth and the getting-less-frequent migraines and immediately decided GERD. When I wiki-ed it I agreed that I had the more minor symptoms - not the more serious in case anyone reads the blog and starts worrying. Solution - diet.

Diet has always been something I recognised as important but there has been much of compromise with it, primarily because of travelling. When people go on holiday they sacrifice diets, or even limit themselves to a B&B that provides their diet. But when you move to a new country you have to shop. In some places that is not easy. Shopping here or in China was impossible, how do you read the labels? Thailand is easier as many labels contain some English. But recognising food contents for a proper diet is of course impossible.

Previously diets had been vegetarian but in Thailand vegetarian is not easy. When I came to T, I found the market with all the tasty food at yi-sib (20Baht) so the diet slipped further. When diets slip further vices sneak up on you. Too much coffee with sweet milk - deadly. Cheese is not available so cheese trips to Bangkok followed by a week or so of gorging on cheese good bread and knobs of butter. When you throw all this onto a digestive system pummelled by years of stress and bolts of anger, it is not surprising I needed a diet.

When the doctor told me diet I was worried as I was not sure about the availability of foods - or at least that I would not be able to find them. In the end it turned out that there was an organic food chain here in T. Sadly my food bill has rocketed.

OK to the diet.

I did not get a diet sheet.

Firstly I had to fast for 10 days.

Day 1 - No refined foods, coffee, dairy and additives.

Day 2 - apples, apple juice and water.

Day 3 - oranges, orange juice and water.

Day 4-8 - vegetables and fruit.

Day 9 - 10 - as day 1.

After working a little longer on the diet I am coming to the conclusion that Thailand is an excellent place to be macrobiotic. I am beginning to learn what all the different green things are. To get some idea of the variety that is available look at

Pictures of Fresh Thai food - commercial site

I have now decided to have a kaya blog, a blog about looking after the body. I call it a macrobiotic blog but the file name is Nature Health. I am beginning to think this macrobiotic stuff is a natural balanced way to live so in this Nature-Insight blog no more will I rabbit on about health:-

My Macrobiotic blog

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Understanding Yin-Yang
When the doctor put me on the diet he did not mention macrobiotic. When I mentioned to the senior doctor he said you don't have to bother with all the yin-yang stuff. The guy I liked smiled when I said macrobiotic - I guess there is some kind of power play. I have never once considered that I should stick to the old guy's way, and that is Nature telling me to understand yin-yang, what is what.

Here are the principles for understanding as presented George Ohsawa, the guy who formalised the current macrobiotic movement based on years of practice from the Greeks to now as well as obviously in China through the Tao and Confucianism:-

Seven Universal Principles of the Order of the Universe

1. Everything is a differentiation of One Infinity.

2. Everything changes.

3. All antagonisms are complementary.

4. There is nothing identical.

5. What has a front has a back.

6. The bigger the front, the bigger the back.

7. What has a beginning has an end.

Twelve Laws of Change of the Infinite Universe

1. One Infinity manifests itself into complementary and antagonistic tendencies, yin and yang, in its endless change.

2. Yin and yang are manifested continuously from the eternal movement of One Infinite Universe.

3. Yin represents centrifugality. Yang represents centripetality. Yin and yang together produce energy and all phenomena.

4. Yin attracts yang. Yang attracts yin.

5. Yin repels yin. Yang repels yang.

6. Yin and yang combined in varying proportions produce different phenomena. The attraction and repulsion among phenomena is proportional to the difference of the yin and yang forces.

7. All phenomena are ephemeral, constantly changing their constitution of yin and yang forces; yin changes into yang, yang changes into yin.

8. Nothing is solely yin or solely yang. Everything is composed of both tendencies in varying degrees.

9. There is nothing neutral. Either yin or yang is in excess in every occurrence.

10. Large yin attracts small yin. Large yang attracts small yang.

11. Extreme yin produces yang, and extreme yang produces yin.

12. All physical manifestations are yang at the centre, and yin at the surface.

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Nibbana and Samsara have always been theories that I have considered way beyond me in this lifetime. But then after reading this answer by Bhikkhu Pesala to a thread,

"An interesting paradox! How can we get a better grip on not grasping? Rather like pulling oneself up by one's boot-laces.

The five aggregates of grasping (pañca upadana kkhandha), are physical form (rupa), feeling (vedana), perception (sañña), mental formations (sa?nkhara), and consciousness (viññana).

Self-view (sakkaya ditthi) is a one of the mental formations. Different mental states (cetasika) arise together with consciousness, and determine whether it is classed as wholesome or unwholesome. Grasping (upadana) arises dependent on craving (tanha), craving depends on feeling, and feeling depends on contact. To remove grasping we have to be mindful of the feeling whenever any of the six senses come into contact with a sense-object, which is happening constantly.

It is often said that one should just "Let go," but I wonder if that wouldn't just be suppression of desire. What we need to do is to gain insight into the three characteristics: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and not-self. Either will do. Then, automatically, grasping will cease. When you realise the frying pan is hot, you let go of it!

Self-view wrongly takes what is not-self to be I, me, or mine: "I am happy/sad/confused/mindful, etc." "He is praising/insulting/ignoring, me." "That is my property/name/country." When we identify with impermanent phenomena in this way, there is sure to be grasping. Mindfulness is the one and only way to remove this basic misunderstanding regarding mental and physical phenomena. We must observe all mental and physical phenomena with mindfulness. Only then, insight and realisation could develop, and liberation from grasping would be the final result."

this morning I woke up with a determination to control my mind - mindfulness. In meditation I began thinking about my life in dukkha. As a child there may be unaware happiness, then as a teenager we become rebellious as we see what life has ahead of us. University is an introduction to adulthood often involving drugs of some form. Then as an adult we join a rat race in which at best we find a job we can enjoy in part, whereas most have to work to live. Others in the rat race treat each other like dirt in a commonly accepted practice that to get on we have to be nasty.

All the while this goes on our bodies are getting more decrepit. Illness starts to plague us and as we get older to maintain faculties diet becomes necessary as does exercise. This last particularly came home to me when I considered how much time in early retirement I am spending on my body. Exercise involves up to two hours a day, whilst preparation of food can also involve two hours in a day.

And I now consider myself to be the happiest I have ever been. No stress, I choose what I want, and so on, yet I considered that when I was working I always considered myself happier than most around me. Whilst I am happiest now, how much happier could I be if I were to be able to be the permanent nothingness that I occasionally get in meditation. Oh, to be able to achieve permanently the extinction Ajaan Buddhadhasa describes, and that I believe I have occasionally touched on. Leaving Samsara.

Perhaps I have resisted this and it is something I can work towards. If I could ….

Maybe I am looking for what is not there?

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Being Magga
When I first started teaching I determined that I was a teacher. One thing I relied on heavily was this because in a difficult school a teacher does not have the time to deliberate on action, the action has to be immediate and the action of a teacher. Of course there has to be analysis and justification, initially with discussing incidents with management, and then the horrendous back-watching that dominates contemporary western teaching. But the essence of this was being a teacher, and not having to deliberate. This is a form of right action - the right action of a teacher.

After a while I began to feel the same way about sila, that I would act with integrity. I say after a while as I don't know when this started but on reflection in this century my professional actions and hopefully my personal actions had at their basis integrity. More so my professional actions as they were actions that needed the circumspection of justification at times.

Magga is the Path. Mindfulness is something that needs to be applied for every action, along with right intention, to avoid grasping. It is not possible to deliberate on this, in the same way it was not possible to deliberate on teaching, the actions come to thick and fast. It is necessary to be mindfulness, to know the intentions are right. This is insight and not intellect, it can only come from meditation.

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Integrating mind and body - avoidng traps of doctrine
This blog was written as a waking-up, must-write follow-up to a conversatio with a friend. The first thing to understand about Buddhism is that it is based on firm internal conviction. This is not faith, this is a process whereby the individual needs to deeply understand what is what not based on any intellectual theory. The Buddha always said - don't believe what I say but understand it (paraphrase).

I contrast that with what my Sufi friend (I mentioned him) in Oman did. He completely trusted his Sheikh, as a Guru. His Sheikh gave him very clear guidelines on what to do, and my friend followed them to the letter - the Sheikh gave him discipline. I note that this led to my friend being a good and caring person - although he was prone to proselytising. I discussed with him how Islam seemed to unnaturally separate the sexes in conversation, and that I believed the learning of men and women is complementary and can interact, as symbolised by the yinyang. He said he had no view because his Sheikh had no view - this position was repeated many times the more I knew him. In the two Islamic societies I lived in, Oman and Bahrain, this aspect of discipline also prevailed. As Muslims the people followed a discipline of the Quran, Haddith and Shariyat, if it wasn't covered by these laws they didn't do it. This meant that if it was not covered by law the people did not have to be considerate although in general what was mostly thought of as considerate was included in their Law. In principle I objected to this because I believed strongly in the need for personal conviction and its development. It was after a year of discussion with my friend in Oman that I decided to become a Buddhist - after visiting Wat Phra Keau on my first trip to Thailand at the end of 2000.

Conviction came to me when I was in my early 20s, but not through meditation. I hit bottom with the booze and came out divested of some of the educational shackles that had been placed around my mind. In that process I began to develop what I then saw as soul (and now see as sila - integrity), and nothing that happened to me could alter that soul. It was not a set of moral principles but it was a strong solid core that was irrefutable. I relied on this soul and it gave me great strength throughout that time as I tried to find my feet in this difficult world (of dukkha).

Up until 2000 there were a number of times in which I touched base with this soul, times at which I centred myself through what I then considered was a form of meditation. But this was not meditation in any established form, just a powerful recognition late at night that I had centred myself back on my Path. After accepting myself as a Buddhist I began to adopt the practices of Vipassana - Insight meditation. I then began to perceive the relationship between Insight and integrity and what I had previously termed soul. Now gradually I have moved away from using the terminology soul. I also saw the connection between what I had previously carried out as meditation and Vipassana - and understood what I previously had done through Insight.

So throughout my partially awake life I have recognised the need for depth of understanding. This understanding goes way beyond any form of intellectual theory or doctrinal repetition (cf my Sufi friend in Oman). This understanding, as I said, I now term Insight. Whilst Insight can be gained as a natural process in life such as my early "hitting bottom" I have found it easier since being a Buddhist to gain such insights through Vipassana and through the guidance of Buddhist doctrine. Notice here I use the word guidance. I do not believe in Buddhist doctrine unless I have had Insights concerning it. This is why Kamma is so difficult, especially the aspect of reincarnation - how can I insight that. This is also why it is so easy for you to pick holes in my understanding of Kamma because it is doctrinal. However since our first talk Kamma has come to mean more than just doctrine. Whilst much of what I described to you as Kamma is doctrine, the practice is not. It helps to understand that every intended action has a Kammic reaction. That in itself is still doctrine until I then attempt to improve my intentions. When I do this I become a better person, and I know this deep inside - an Insight that is for me irrefutable. So I am very pleased we first spoke about this a month ago as I had placed Kamma in the realm of doctrine that had a logical completeness for me but was not considered important as it was not part of my daily life. Now it is and I want to make it more so.

I started this as a personal recollection, then moved into Buddhist understanding, and I now want to move away from doctrine. Hitting bottom gave me an understanding of soul that I now call integrity, an integrity of Nature, mind and body. Or as you describe it Divine Presence, mind and body. What was causing that disintegration was my academic background, academia that divides knowledge into subject areas and never makes any attempt to understand mind but simply fills mind with facts that are initially regurgitated in exams and for adults in education regurgitated in papers. This intellectualising takes over in many cases, and enshrined through praise, arrogance and social acceptance becomes the supposed source of understanding. It is as if many people in the West develop an intellectual soul that becomes their self.

But such a soul or self can only be superficial. Some move beyond that, and adhere to that intellectual self a religious framework - academics who have Christian beliefs for example. That religious framework is not understood (as in Insight), their academic knowledge is understood on an academic level and their religion is believed as a faith. This process is disjoint, academia and religion running in parallel without any deep understanding. These processes need to go deeper so that they become united at the centre, the solid core - the Soul if you like or Insight. As I said before I have found this easier through meditation, I believe meditation is nature's tool for doing this. However when younger I found it happening through walking, and artists find it happening through creativity - in such the people are finding their centre by going beyond the miseducated intellectual self.

Reading is taught as an intellectual skill. I describe reading as presenting knowledge on the surface that can be washed away unless Insight grasps it. Instead many intellectuals grasp at this reading and hold to it on the surface but this grasping is not understanding but a process of memory or recollection for the purposes of intellectual self such as institutional advancement. But it is not understanding, it has not been grasped and internalised - as in Insight. But reading has its purpose as does doctrine. By reading (doctrine or otherwise) we become exposed to ideas that we might not have previously heard. Once exposed we then have the opportunity to internalise what we have read as understanding through Insight (or as I used to describe it making that knowledge part of my Soul). This is so important, if it is not internalised it is just another set of facts that are floating on the surface in the realm of the intellect.

When I read the Buddhist forums online people discuss doctrine in the form of "What the Buddha said". This is the practice and I suspect it started because I believe is too fiercely ego and self - as opposed to anatta (no-self). But when doctrine is discussed it still is surface - it is not internalised. However doctrine can be internalised and that is Insight. In discussions I often find myself reacting to the quoting of teachers. This is not out of disrespect for teachers but because I could not understand what the individual had internalised, what was their Soul, what was their Insight on this. However advanced teachers are, when a person quotes they are not necessarily describing their own understanding. This became especially apparent when people move from one doctrine to another where there are some contradictions in doctrine - even if there are no contradictions in understanding.

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Macrobiotic Philosophy
This is the crux of the issues that have been concerning me. There are small incongruities throughout but this philosophy is the major stumbling block for me. Let me mention the first - the preponderance of Japanese food in a diet that is to be primarily local. This might be explained by the lack of products such as tofu and miso in the western diet, but with the organic movement in the West, perhaps sparked by the macrobiotic movement, people should be able to find their own local substitutes. The Japanese content needs then to be a choice, and not a preponderance.

However if that were the only issue, it would not preclude calling myself macrobiotic. But the philosophy lacks the religious need of practice. The dogma of Christianity and Islam have no oral weaknesses yet their societies, particularly Christian society contemporaneously, clearly are aggressive and not peaceful.

Because the Jewish ladies have been so helpful, I want to make a small note here concerning Judaism. Many people in the UK are Christian, I would therefore call the UK a Christian country although many could legitimately argue against that. For the same reasons I call Israel a country from the religion of Judaism. In the same way as I call UK and the US the practice of Christianity, I call Israel the practice of Judaism. I have rejected Christianity because their religion has no peace because of the policies of the West, primarily US and UK.

Now I know little of Israel and Judaism so accept that any conclusions are only impressions for myself rather than being a substantive opinion. And any discussion of Israel has to be considered within the political framework of their being purposefully inserted into a war-zone to create oil instability by the Bretton Woods-type financial manipulators post second world war. In that situation there is no peace, and Judaism has not been able to develop any peaceful solutions. Neither has Islam.

I turned to Buddhism as a religion for peace, and have no doubts at all that the practice of meditation and controlling the aggressive egotism of miseducated minds is a clear source of that which is not peaceful. Therefore understanding mind in macrobiotic philosophy was essential for me.

In my limited contact with macrobiotic people I have noted in several areas that there is a need for mental discipline, the type of discipline that is common amongst Christians whose morality is strong but whose practice is weak. This Christian discipline is characterised by a lack of integration between body and mind, and I now characterise that as being a lack of using any mechanism for creating that integration. And the most obvious tool for such integration is meditation, although Nature can give you that integration if you truly live close to Nature.

So premised on this observation that there is a lack of integration I sought an understanding of this, and received no answers except through the macro-life Israel thread on food and thought. And that understanding became clear when Phiya Kushi, son of Michio Kushi, quoted his father thus:-

"First there is a "pre-mind" that is like an image which forms into our "spiritual" or invisible body. That is like the blue-print of our chakras and acupuncture meridians. This spiritual body is our mind but it is without "thoughts", as we would normally describe "thoughts" to be. This spiritual body then manifests itself through food and then becomes the real body and the real physical mind and brain then has thoughts, feelings, desires, beliefs and so on and makes each of us unique. Changing these relative thoughts and belief systems, without changing food and actions, cannot alter our destiny or make us healthier because these thoughts are themselves the result of the food we ate."

The spiritual body manifests itself through food. Whilst after birth the physical body develops through food is undoubtedly true, it is a big leap to then claim that thoughts, beliefs, desires follow from this. The physical body clearly functions within all these processes but to claim such a complete causal relationship is difficult for me.

Let me try to compare as macrobiotic philosophy and Eastern religions clearly have a similar root-base. But what is this pre-mind as related to the spiritual body? It is not too far away from Kamma. Kamma's blueprint is what keeps us in samsara, keeps us reincarnating. Within that Kammic blueprint is mind-body that reincarnates and improves depending on whether our intentions and then actions merit it. Is the intention to ingest particular foods such a powerful force that it is the same as this kamma? It appears too accidental, it could be but there is such a lack of intention that I have great doubt. Choosing to ingest certain foods could be a reflection of intention but it doesn't feel right.

There are clear counterpoints to this as there are so many examples in which mind controls matter. Consider the monks and the alms round. The monks carry their bowl, the people gratefully give food, gracefully received, and the monks consume. They are healthy often citing examples where through meditation they have overcome physical weakness, yet there is not conscious intention in their food, no diet that is followed. Whilst I am sure there are more examples that one is enough for me.

Whilst proper natural food can develop a healthy body, I cannot accept that the food then develops a healthy mind. This brings me to the mind-body continuum. This is essential to accept that food can direct - food precedes thought. But why is that precession only one-way? The thread on food and thought developed from a discussion on positive thinking, thought can impact on the body. There is so much evidence for this that it seems irrefutable that the process cannot be two-way.

"Changing our thoughts without changing food and action cannot alter our destiny or make us healthier because these thoughts are themselves the result of the food we ate." I think there is strong evidence that improving the way we eat improves the state of our body and our minds become healthier and respond with a greater freedom. But it is then a huge jump to claim that thought can change without changing food. In my own case my thoughts were changed through meditation, and meditation in the end led to my changing food. This is too much of a leap of faith. "My understanding of the interface between belief and habit is that when we shift our thinking so that we are flowing with life in minimal resistance and great allowing, we naturally attract more health-sustaining activities." I think this is more consistent with how I have described the mind-body continuum than the spiritual body manifesting through food. Maybe this is a personal issue between Michio and Phiya, as this last is a theme that runs throughout his posts.

I know little of yinyang but find it easy to accept that these are forces at play in our lives, these are forces at play inside and outside of our mind-body continuum. Understanding yinyang in terms of diet and personally does not require that the pre-mind and spiritual body is manifested through food - that is also such a leap of faith.

Macrobiotic philosophy is not good for the western mind, and understandably so when you consider that it is based in eastern religion. This in itself also presents a problem to me, what Eastern religion? Whilst I can fully accept that an Eastern religion would want to look after the body by eating naturally, to then extend that to the spiritual body being manifest through food does not sound as if it has an origin in an established Eastern religion. I would be interested in a reference on this. I haven't studied this aspect either but although macrobiotic has historical roots such history is not clear to me. It does not for example say that macrobiotic philosophy and practice is the established practice of Shinto religion for example, it is vague connections that macrobiotic is historic - not evidentially established.

Why is it not good for the western mind? Because there is no inherent mental discipline, the mental discipline comes from eating healthy food. Now maybe the preparation, the detail, the understanding of yinyang, all lead to a naturally healthy approach to life - and as such it is a Natural way, but what happens when people fall short? What is there to bring them back in line? Guilt. It is the same moral issue as religion. If it is only that people should behave like this, then people don't do it. Religion has an extra tool as there is usually punishment attached to it - heaven-hell, and maybe the punishment of an unhealthy body is the macrobiotic guiding line, but it is just too tenuous.

So what about meditation? Now clearly that can provide the mind-body integration and the Nature-mind-body connection but where does that fit into macrobiotic philosophy? There is little emphasis on meditation as a practice although empty mind is a recognised state. Further meditation is better done on an empty stomach is something that I have certainly found - comparing morning and evening practice. Ascetics certainly believe that but I am not sure a great deal can be drawn in terms of a correlation between empty stomach and mind.

It was asked "Could acupuncture, shiatsu, chakra work, etc. affect the blueprint upon which it is patterned?" Chakras and meridians form part of the spirit body that is activated by the pre-mind and then manifests through food. That is more than helpful as it recognises that part of the body in the mind-body continuum. "

"At the level of the "pre-mind" or spiritual body there is a sense that everything is "one"; that "we" are all connected to each other and are one with the universe because, in actuality, it is that way." ….

"Ultimately our destiny is to return to infinity or the oneness. This is true for all us. To return to our "pre-mind" spirit and back to the oneness of infinity."

I note the two-stage process here - to return to "pre-mind" and then to the oneness of infinity. This is not inconsistent with Kammic consciousness and it could be that at the end of life we return to our Kamma whose blueprint has been altered for next time round - I don't know about this - need to study Kamma.

What I have difficulty with are the leaps of faith about food and its preceding of thought, and the lack of meditation to integrate Nature-mind-body. But there is a description of what mind does that I need to consider:-

"Basically our mind (and I don't mean "pre-mind" here) does only two things: it divides and it puts things together. Another way of saying this is that it distinguishes things and it associates things. When we open our eyes for the first time as a newborn we see light, but then we start distinguish light and darkness; then various shades of lightness and darkness, and then colors and movements and so on. At this point we don't have words for them but we do see and can distinguish the differences. Likewise with sounds and all of the other things that come to us through our senses. As this point everything is new and we are just having a wonderful time experiencing all these new distinctions. But then we start to notice patterns and in noticing patterns, all we are doing is making associations with the things we saw or experienced before to things we experience in the moment. Furthermore we notice groups of patterns and so on. This in essence, is all our mind does and nothing more." So this is the crux of the matter - definition of mind. Is all that mind does associate and distinguish? What about intention? Creativity? "we also chose to incarnate ourselves here and to enjoy the struggles of our life and living in our specific bodies on this earth and in that framework there are different levels of fates and destinies and free will. I have a certain amount of free will and can control my destiny up to a certain point. The earth and solar system has its own destiny and regardless of what I do whatever destiny it has is one that I must follow."

Here he discusses choice saying we have a limited amount of free will. It cannot be mind as mind is functioning through language - dividing and associating. It would imply that intention is part of the pre-mind, in my terms associated with Kamma consciousness.

That then just leaves intuition and insight. Phiya said that he didn't understand intuition but he wouldn't if it wasn't associated with meditation. He suggested innateness but wasn't confident.

This leaves a number of issues sorted:-

A macrobiotic diet is a natural diet, and can only be praised and encouraged. Such a natural diet is based on local organically-grown produce without any form of additive etc. Why Japanese foods? Look for local substitutes.

Macrobiotic philosophy describes human birth as having a pre-mind in a spirit body (of chakras and meridians) that through food develops mind with thoughts, feelings, desires, beliefs etc. The philosophy claims one infinity, and that humans return to that infinity. I don't accept this emphasis on food.

Macrobiotic philosophy doesn't talk about meditation and sees the functioning of mind as a consequence of food intake. Again I cannot accept this because it allows for disordered mind - a lack of integration between mind and body. On the same theme of meditation it does not incorporate insight understanding.

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Mb Philosophy Addendum
I was able to get a little more info that has helped with some of the stumbling blocks.

The purpose to meditate is to re-center ourselves, or to reconnect with this "pre-mind " or state of oneness with everything and by doing so, helps one to stay fairly balanced, or at least able to identify when one has excess or has been excessive, thus able to rectify it.

If this excess did not refer to food I would have complete agreement with this as an appropriate definition. There appears to be a source book:-

There are many styles and techniques offered by a variety of eastern (and western) disciplines. Some meditation practices are available in Michio's book, "The Do-In Way" (Square One Publishers).

I am not sure I would read the book as I am sure Buddhist meditation is in advance but it might be interesting for comparison. In addition Phiya discusses a food methodology:-

However for purposes for accessing "pre-mind" I think that probably the best way to do this is to fast or eat minimally for a period, and spend time in nature sitting quietly in a meditative posture.

Interestingly he says:-

I think the distractions of an urban lifestyle make it extremely difficult to be able to sit quietly, reflectively and with an open/empty mind.

As for intention it appears to have an equivalent function:-

Each choice we make determines the next set of choices available to us and is initially based on the choice to make a choice or to not. Regardless of what choices we make in life, it is based on the original image (or choice) of the "pre-mind" to incarnate here and to choose life, as we know it and experience it and we can't go back. It is like we chose to get on a bus heading in a certain direction and while we may be able to influence where the eventually bus goes, when it makes stops and even when we get off it, we can't stop it from moving forward, because it was a choice that we had already made as "pre-mind".

This is an initial choice to incarnate through the pre-mind, what I called Kammic consciousness yesterday. Once the Kammic blueprint has chosen then we have life choices based on that blueprint, so that must be a function of mind - although this has not been specifically stated.

Each choice we make is also fractal in nature.

How important is this fractal stuff?

I am still uncertain what intuition really is and what you say sounds reasonable in that it is a re-connecting with this "pre-mind.

He accepts a reconnection with the pre-mind. With a bit of meditation he might consider it Insight Meditation where through meditation mind-body connects to the pre-mind connecting to the Tao or infinity or Nothingness or Nature.

Ultimately I have no incompatibilities with macrobiotic philosophy except for the emphasis on food manifesting mind. Whatever the Do-In way of meditation is, practicing Vipassana can't be inconsistent. Do means discipline means practice, I follow a macrobiotic way of life with an emphasis on Vipassana.

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Cognitive Macrobiotic Development
It is first necessary to model what is developing within the mind-body continuum. Before manifestation there is the pre-mind or Kammic consciousness, and associated with this consciousness is an unformed spirit body, based on chakras and meridians. The term spirit has so many confusing connotations, so to avoid a terminological issue I will call this the Qi body. At some stage mind develops, and below is Encarta's description of Piaget's 4 stages of mental; development:-

In the sensorimotor stage, occurring from birth to age 2, the child is concerned with gaining motor control and learning about physical objects. In the preoperational stage, from ages 2 to 7, the child is preoccupied with verbal skills. At this point the child can name objects and reason intuitively. In the concrete operational stage, from ages 7 to 12, the child begins to deal with abstract concepts such as numbers and relationships. Finally, in the formal operational stage, ages 12 to 15, the child begins to reason logically and systematically.

In this discussion I will discuss the mind-body continuum as consisting of 3 elements, the physical body, the Qi body and the mind.

Throughout childhood the individual, consisting of Kammic consciousness and the mind-body continuum, develops through food and parental care. At this stage I have no issues with food preceding thought, and it is equally important to understand that in childhood the mind has not formed and therefore it is up to the parents to ensure that the child eats well in order for food to develop the optimum individual. As the children do not understand it is up to the parents to ensure proper development, and this is yet another reason why the development practices in the West where children make decisions without developed minds is just so unnatural.

Equally in childhood the Qi body develops again through the proper ingestion of food and physical development - exercise. It would be interesting to consider how Japanese and Chinese education trains the Qi body in order to consider what would be good education practice in these terms.

As to mental development, discussed in Matriellez' blog and throughout in the ideology of Matriellez' ecosophy schools, minds are trained in schools but when they become adult functioning minds is difficult to decide - differs with individuals. It has to be recognised that minds are not fully developed in schools, and therefore it is necessary to be careful when to allow adult decision-making when clearly the physical and Qi bodies are in ascendancy.

At some stage the physical body is considered to be adult, and concomitant with this is a recognition of adulthood in the Qi body and mind, although why that is the case has no basis in reason. Given this however, we reach a stage where the 3 elements are considered adult, and we therefore need to consider what could crassly be called adult maintenance:-

Now the physical body needs good food - the Natural Macrobiotic Diet, and it needs exercise.

The Qi body needs energetic development and development of the chakras. In terms of energetic development and the body's exercise, this development can be fulfilled with Tai Chi or yoga, or other martial arts which fulfil the same purpose. Yoga helps the energetic body but perhaps specific energetic exercises such as Qi Gung should added to a yoga routine. Chakra development can be fulfilled through chakra meditation - see this page for a description of a chakra meditation.

The mind cannot function well unless it is clear. Is the mind cleared just through eating of good food? The mind needs meditation to maintain its natural clear state, rather than the confusing swirling state of most people's spinning minds.

Integrating the continuum. The 3 elements of the mind-body need to be integrated to function with the one purpose of returning to the oneness. This involves the two stage process of uniting with the Kammic consciousness and then with the Oneness of Nature. In the last blog entry I referred to the Do-In book that describes meditation the macrobiotic way. I don't know this meditation but am happy with the notion that Vipassana fits the bill.

In conclusion I can accept that food precedes thought in childhood, but once adulthood has been reached a different stage of development has been reached. At those stages it is perhaps better to introduce exercise that develops the physical and Qi body such as Tai Chi or Yoga with Qi Gung. Chakra meditation can develop the chakras, and then Vipassana for dealing with mind, integration and returning to the Oneness of Nature.

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I have an addictive personality, do we all?

There are addictions that are recognised by the term, and yet there is addiction in everyday life. We are addicted to food, to television, to sex, to work, to many things. But the issue is not what we are addicted to, but addiction itself. 4 Noble Truths.

Addiction is disempowering. Throughout life we have Paths to follow, and we follow to a greater or lesser extent. What pulls us off that Path is self, and self is just addiction. Why do we do what we know is not good for us? Addiction. Our addictions create power for the self. We get sucked into addictions, and those addictions use up our Natural power, the power from the Path. Not only does addiction use up the power in the addiction itself but it uses the power to create the self that then continues the addiction. Desire creates the activity, enjoyment then renews desire, repeated action creates the joy that motivates ensuing repeated actions, and from those actions there grows a self that wants to perform the action - the addicted self. So there becomes a part of us that is addicted to the actions, a part within that takes control at the time of the addicted action. This part has two concerns, the action itself and taking power to preserve itself.

Recognising addiction in this way is essential because it advises us that we are not following out Paths. Once there is such an addicted self, then our Paths cannot be followed completely. The self is fueled by the intellect as the intellect desires part of that Natural power. They become partners in the addiction, and the addicted self uses the intellectual self to present rationalisations for the addicted activity.

Addiction is important because it means that we do not have control. If there is a self then we do not have control and we are not following our Paths. This addiction is part of the illusion. There is a Path to follow in each of us, this we know. But we get sidetracked by addiction. This addiction might not appear to debilitate us - such as drugs and alcohol, but other addictions do the same thing by taking our power.

We can be addicted to a relationship, wanting to be in a relationship. We can see that relationship affects our ability to follow our Path, but we want the relationship - we are addicted to it. That relationship takes the power from the Path and uses that power to reinforce the relationship. Gradually the relationship can take over all the power, so we are addicted to the relationship. The addicted self in relationship has taken the power.

What about money? Money is a thing, it is not the Path. But money becomes a symbol for self. Money can buy us stuff, can pay for things that appear important, and so we want money. Gradually money becomes an addiction and we measure ourselves through that addiction. That is easy to do because society measures itself by this addiction. We are succesful because we have the trappings of the self that comes from accruing money. Because everyone sees this moneyed self as successful, then the world's addiction becomes a norm. Therefore we do not question whether we are addicted to money or what it can buy. Yet we are not following our Paths, we have a self that is not following the Path, we therefore have an illusion that is addiction. If we know the Path is true and yet we follow something else, that has to be addiction.

We need to know our addictions. We need to stop attaching to those addictions, to stop minimising their importance. We have power, Natural power, to follow our Path. We have minds to control that power and ensure that we folow the True Path - and not some rationalised or hedonistic addiction. This is not easy but we need to recognise that all which is not the Path is addiction, and we must stop participating in the addictions themselves. Not easy.

Whilst we have a self we have samsara. This addicted self has to be remnoved before there is any chance of getting off the wheel. It sounds a bit etheric but whilst we allow self to empower through addiction then Kamma ensures that we have to go through this hell again - assuming that we see the illusion we create for ourselves as hell.

In the 4 Noble Truths the word addiction is not often used. It is often described as desire, sometimes craving. But if we know that desires are stopping us from being enlightened then if we still do it then we are addicted. If we choose to do something that is harmful to us, isn't that addiction?

The world is dukkha.

The reason for dukkha is addiction.

We need to detach ourslves from the addictions that form self by detaching oursleves from the desires that give rise to the addiction.

Magga is the 8-fold Path.

We need to detach ourselves from the addictions, all the addictions, every action whose intention is not our Path. In our world of distractions this is difficult but we cannot give up. Giving up is just so easy as there is usually temporary joy attached to the desire.

I started reading Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss and this is what I came up with the next day. The connection with Myss is power and disease. Facing addiction is difficult. I mentioned above that many of our addictions are socially acceptable because many people have these same addictions. Let's take work as an addiction. We all have to work to live, but is that enough for all of us? My own questioning was always "was my job meaningful?". I always thought I did the best I could but now I think that the meaning was shrouded by the need to survive. I then measured meaningfulness by comparisons with others. When I look back detachedly at what I did, there is little overtly that I could claim benefitted society, although some students gained qualifications through me.

But because we are forced to work most of our lives, it is difficult to accept that the work is meaningless. In my own case it was easy to falsely justify as socially valuable, yet careerists in the same profession sought power as their meaning. In other jobs power becomes meaning, and for some the only meaning is the pay cheque. Workaholicism is a problem. Hidden behind status, power, social value and others, people pursue the illusion of meaning in their profession as an alternative to following their Path. Some like myself claim it was their Path, and whilst teaching is an archetypal profession, what I was allowed to do as a teacher could never have been claimed as the Path of teaching. This pursuit of the work path becomes an addiction as we folow our Paths less and less, and take on excessive work so that our power is sucked into work, the self of work addiction, and away from our own True Path.

This addiction produces meaning as we then measure our success through the values of the addiction, success at work for those addicted to work, sexual conqests for those addicted to sex, and so on. Our Natural power becomes diverted, and once that power is diverted there is the potential for disease.

However in our working and family lives our addictions get covered up. We have problems at home, go to work, bury ourselves in work problems, and then go home hoping home problems disappear. Nothing usually does so we bounce from one problem to another throughout life. As everyone does this, people discussing problems is not unusual. This commonality of conversation allows us to feel that our problems are "not as bad as the next person's". And what is worse is that when some people break away from this commonality of problems they are often attacked. These attacks are stereotyped, emotional without any strong reason attached, can often be intellectual as intellect is threatened when addiction is. People who attempt to follow their True Paths are often marginalised in our society, and many choose to do so because of the vitriol of these attacks. What else could be better described than hell or dukkha. And holding to our illusions, our addictions brings us back to that hell.

Addiction may appear too strong a word for someone who works too long, but whatever our addiction is if it is stopping us form following our Path, depleting our energy or Natiural power then it is doing us no good. Therefore it is better to see it as it is - as an addiction. By so doing you can treat it as an addiction in much the same way as recognised addictive problem such as drugs. One day at a time. If even minor addictions are treated with the same seriousness then the craving can be broken. If minor addictions are treated less seriously, say as things we would better be without, then that loose commitment to breaking the addiction will soon be rationalised out of existence. It is necessary to recognise all that is addiction and treat it one day at a time.

Compared with many, people look on me as happy - they might not envy my lifestyle but they suggest I am happy. I look back and see what I have gone through, and whilst I can look back and say that for much of my adult life I have been happy, have I? Has it all been an illusory happiness? It has been learning, and I continue to learn so long as I don't hold to my addictions.

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