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 journeys. The blog is now archived. I originaly termed it my Buddhist-Spirit blog because I oscillated between the two, now there is no oscillation in Nature's Insights blog.

Themed Alphabetical Index

The blog now (01/01/10) has 134 entries. Titles don't always show what it is about so I have created a list of themes (with explanations); might help if you don't want to read my going on about my health. Themed Alphabetical Index

CURRENT 16/12/10

Meditation Posture


Monastic Function


Meditation - Right View




Beaten by Compromise


Changing Buddhisms?


Zandtao Treatise


Suicide by Woman




4 Noble Truths and Zen


Reaction to Thay talk


Brad Warner and 5 Precepts


Blocked Part 2 and Brad Warner


Blocked part 1


Dying Regrets


Sam Harris


Urban Gurus Cafe


Thay & Oprah


Of love and education


Of morality and marriage


Bleep - movie


Desire and morality


Monk and Politics


The Girl Cell


Political monk?


Lost shape - Taan Khuu 1


Attached to the House


Blog removed


Blog removed


Lying about Love




Disengaging with Dharma Dan


Non-attachment overcomes dukkha


Thai Culture and me


Next Time Around


Engaging with Dharma Dan

2009 Go to Archive


Right View - Eating is Health


Sixth Sense


Insight or Spark before Insight?


Eschewing Consciousness - 6th sense


Conviction of Soul


Intellectualism and Intellectuals


My opinion revised


Ajaan Brahm Expelled


Religion and Creativity




Lila - A reminder of judgementalism


Pirsig Warning Rescinded


Compassion, Peace and Spiritual Attainment


The Mahachula Incident


Changing meditation - on the stool


On death again


On life after life


Was it really eclecticism?


HH Sogyal Rinpoche


The Trickster Guru


my Buddha-Nature


Death as a Motivation


Death and Inconsistency


First on death


Warning - Learning and Being


Following One Tradition and Monasticism


Bangkok Buddha Nature


Bangkok Sabaie-Sabaie




Fire from Within



2008 Go to Archive


Ground Zero


On Insight


Unnatural Animals


Diet Intuition - Role of Meditation


The Conformity of Institutions


Enabling Love of KuanYin


On thoughts and feelings


Revising My Daily Eating


Microcosmic Orbit Meditation


The Spectrum of Mind, Energy and Body


On Social Responsibility


Ideas, Individual Revolution, Perfect Democracy


One Mind and Religious Tolerance


Home - About Men and Women




Chi and Emotions


Transmutation - the human processor




No-self - less blog activity




The Quandary of Addiction




Right Livelihood - Ethical Money


Turning Point J


Kaya as self


How does self operate?


Self-Awareness and Control




Trying to understand the self in kaya


A difficult day with self


two selves or one?


Power of Addicted Self


Even the Little Things

Second Half of 2007 Go to Archive


Procreation first, then love


Understanding Stress


Going Back Online


Pirsig Again - - Warning Rescinded


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



First Half of 2007 Go to Archive


Warning against ACIM


How much do we learn unconsciously?


This course is trying


Meditation can be a fix?


Zukav's Love and Peace Chakras


Macro Thoughts


ACIM has started with God


Part of God's Mind




What Burdens do we carry?






Fresh Start and Quick Fixes




AI vs Meditation


What is insight?




Dharmakaya is Evolution


Stored Stress


Plant Allergy


Meditation Knock






Response to S


Bangkok Mindfulness


My Spiritual Day


Mindfulness - Early Years


Mindfulness - Understanding the Channel


Scientific Materialism and the S factor


My own ego and S


Eclecticism 10/11/06

Emotional Blocks 13/11/06

Sati Overcomes Attachment


Detachment dominated 2/12/06

Sila - the only way 03/12/06

Sila - the only way to social order


Kicking into a Course in Miracles 27/12/06

I am a teacher 28/12/06

Disentanglement and Engagement

Engaging with Dharma Dan
I have begun a new book journey called "Engaging with Dharma Dan". It is not a typical book journey as is explained in the first blog entry. Check it out
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Next Time Around
I began thinking of fear and the time fear really had a grip on my life. It was childhood. I was a frightened child, and despite family issues I think the basis of that fear was that I was afraid of life. This is on a par with my recent considerations of death, and how I was apprehensive about having to go through all of this grief again. I have previously said (quote blog) how I have moved through that and accepted that that is the way life is.

But that did not address the fear I felt when young - the insecurity, lack of confidence etc.

Now mb discusses a thread of chakras which attracts life force until it builds into the human. This is a suitable model at the moment. So suppose I have fear and this is in the chakra model. Then fear is a lynchpin of the life that I lead, and it attracts fear. And that fits for me as I attracted parents for whom fear was a serious issue.

Planning for the next life can start now. Reflect on your life now and then see what could be happening next time. Fear gave me my parents. This fear led to the insecurity that became the booze. So start with love. If love becomes the essence of the chakra model of BillNext then love will become the model for the parents.

At the same time if love becomes part of BillNext then love can lead to relationships if sex is also a driving force. This Bill has been lucky in that the insecurity that could have led to clinging insecure relationships produced a shyness that took me away from them until I had relationships that taught me relationships are not the way forward. That lesson needs to be held to but if sex drives me then I will again be driven into futile relationships, relationships where I want sex and the partner wants love and family.

My reaction from this life is that being single is the best way, but that home is the source of a stable society. So maybe coming back it is time to learn about home. Must meditate about that. But before that I must control my sex drive, so that BillNext is not dick-led.

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Thai Culture and me
An incident has brought home to me the reality of existence for Farangs in Thailand. They might be tolerated, they might become adjuncts to family, and there might be Farang enclaves throughout Thailand. But as a generalisation Thailand can never accept Farangs in their number, and this is a position of strength for me.

I have had an ongoing problem with my computer guy, he is basically inefficient. I bought a laptop from him, and it broke very quickly - but sadly not quick enough to demand an exchange. The screen went and the cursor is jumping all over the place. It was fixed, and 6 months later the same problem has come back. It needed to be sent to Bangkok for repair, and the guy told me he was going Friday so agreed I bring it in Thursday. When I went in on Thursday he had already gone, I internalised my anger. His father was in the shop, and he was very rude. I sent an email to the computer guy explaining all this, and asking why his father was angry.

Yesterday I went to the shop t give him the laptop for repair, luckily I caught him the day he was going to Bangkok. He hadn't bothered to apologise for himself. His father was quiet but did not apologise. When I phoned he answered in Thai. It was all saying "accept the way we are". No sense of apology. We are tolerating you but we cannot be criticised; no sense of justice. And that is the way it is.

What does this mean? First and foremost my community can never be Thai. I can be tolerated to live in Thailand by accepting their faults and not demanding any rights, but I will never be accepted beyond that. And therefore my community has to be Farang. I am a Farang in Thailand. It can never be improved by having a relationship either. In a relationship you become an asset to the family, and that asset is fundamentally financial - my suai for your money. That is a family life of Thai conversation with a Farang sat there like a spare prick. Thai culture is strong enough to allow relationships, allow Farangs, allow Farang interaction but never to allow for change by Farang.

Even within this communal Thai protectionism there is a suitable way to live for someone like me so long as I am not critical. By being jai dee I can move in and out of the culture, their culture, through teaching English - they want English but their chauvinism prevents it from being taught properly. So from a Thai community point of view being jai dee and offering a service gives me a good basis for being tolerated. So my community is Farang or western. Now the Farangs in Trat are sozzled but there is more of a community based around Ao Dtaan Khuu. That is too much as there is too much conversation for me, but it is a community. But where is my influence? It has to be writing, and through my website. To increase my influence I have to increase the impact of my writing or my website. Am I really bothered? That is difficult to say. But at least the rules are clear.

But what becomes clearer from this is not that I have created an isolated existence for myself but that I have moved to a country where that isolation is fundamentally demanded by the Thais. It is not by my decision that I live alone, but it is the only way that someone with my clarity of purpose can live here. It means more that I live in the country that is Thailand, that I am tolerated by Thai people, and I live my life.

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Non-attachment overcomes dukkha
Well this is just dogma, but of course dogma has its basis in the experience of the Buddha. The other day I had a migraine - not a bad one thankfully. The next morning I woke up to realise that it was dukkha, not suffering from a headache but suffering from attachment. I had begun working with the 4 brahma-viharas again, but upekkha wasn't very strong. Yet it was obviously there. At the same time DD was talking about the three characteristics being present in all things, and the two together combined in my understanding of the migraine. The result was a recognition that I was too attached. My focus on upekkha increased and produced results - a release.

This was maybe 4 days ago, and the feeling of non-attachment producing results has been with me every morning, anger attached in the liver, fear attached in the kidneys, and stress in my GERD. Slowly I have been releasing these. Dreams have played a part as my dreams have pointed to my stress. The usual of teaching dreams was there, but this morning I awoke with a weird dream about my father. I was arguing with him about something he was causing, and then I awoke and realised that it was not my father I was arguing with but an image of my father. This image was not arguing using words of my father but my words, he was an image that I had created. I had created this image in me and was arguing with it. I began to release the image, let it go. There was relief in the GERD, and I felt general release mostly from the Gerd, but also anger from the liver - knowing where the anger is helps release it, Simon!! But the pain in my left side was also my father, and I began releasing that pain and as the release moved up my body it reached my left temple - it was a place of migraine. I knew my father had given me headaches but .... It was a good release. I then began to think about fear and my love for my mother and I felt the fear in my upper back round my cervical spondylosis. Of course it would be there because my mother had the same.

This is more ammunition for my consideration of Kamma. Should we accept that we cannot know about Kamma or can we say that certain things are carried forward in Kamma, namely anger fear and delusion? I am not saying only these yet these are carried forward. And they help form our link with who our parents are. I had anger issues and there is no doubt in my mind that my father was there to be the object of my anger. My anger is still strong enough that I keep wanting to write legitimate (so string that I have used this plausible ruse), but I can let go of the anger. I had to have anger for him, I could let my anger go. And when I did let it go in that holiday from Botswana I developed a relationship with my mother which was love. And I did conclude that deep love (that now exhibits itself as the 4 brahma-viharas) is something to develop so that Billnext's mother and father are based in love and not fear and anger. Deep love can produce a good home next time round.

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I feel as if I want to disengage from Dharma Dan at the moment. Whilst the challenge of his position has been helpful, I now find myself repeatedly returning to the same argument - mixed ability. The Path is mixed ability, and his stance creates the same issues as schools used to be. Before Thatcher consolidated the exam factory rationale, education at least paid lip-service to mixed ability - in truth they were only concerned with exam success. The consequence in schools was that the majority of students were marginalised and considered failures because they didn't pass the exams. Yet education should be primarily about working with people where they are at and trying to help them improve themselves - mixed ability. Surely the Path is the same - find where people are at and help them improve themselves. In some ways one could describe Dharma Dan in this way, as he has attempted descriptions of the Path, but he doesn't leave it there. Throughout there is an imperative that arahantship is the target - parallel with the exams, thus undervaluing the improvement people make in their strides on the Path.

There is a Path that the Buddha described:- the 8-fold Path of the 4 Noble Truths. How are these described? Right. The Buddha did not say that you must attain a set of criteria, he described it as right. Whilst what might be described as completely right would be Nibbana, the approach is to follow a Path with 8 "folds". What is right changes as one progresses, but the rightness depends on the individual and where they are at - individually. As with any mixed ability approach this leaves the matter open to complacency, but within the Path there is an anti-complacency measure - right mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the key to Dharma Dan's challenge. What is right as mindfulness at the time is the key to the Path because mindfulness has this ability to detach from complacency. And at the same time it does not have the inherent suffering in DD's approach with its emphasis on "exams" - arahantship. Whilst it seems perfectly acceptable for me that arahantship can be achieved and that this is a good message, that is completely different to arahantship should be achieved. It might well be that this is not the implication of DD, or it might well be that DD states that he is only interested in those who wish to attain arahantship, either way I am excluded at the moment. I suspect his position is more like "I want to include all people and they can achieve arahantship", expressed in this way there is an obvious contradiction for me, and that is the mixed ability of people on the Path. I feel his approach addresses more the issue that "I want to include all people who can achieve arahantship", a much more tautological position.

But for more people the Path is as the Buddha described - the 8-fold Path, with its inbuilt individuality of appropriate rightness. This leads me to the Kamma question I have recently considered:- What are the aspects of our consciousness such as anger that are used to form Billnext? (See this blog entry) I postulate the 8-fold Path as being the criteria of Billnext. In a way this goes without saying if one looks clearly at consciousness. Consciousness is part of samsara, and therefore the 8-fold Path is part of samsara. So why should following the 8-fold Path finish at death? So what should we do in this life to improve Billnext - follow the 8-fold Path.

Whilst this is clear it does leave some unanswered questions. I have no doubts that fear and anger contribute to Billnext - and love as well. This time round Bill clearly had love issues to address with the mixed attitude of his parents. Also fear was strong on the agenda with the fear, distrust and insecurity within the home. And yet this manifested as anger in Bill. In the blog entry, love was a solution, and deep love has become part of meditation with the 4 Brahma-Viharas. But how does love, anger and fear relate to the 8-fold Path?

The 4 Noble Truths relate to desire, and implicit with the non-mixed ability approach of DD is desire - the desire to achieve arahantship. And this fits in with Phra P who discussed the need for the desire for spiritual attainment, even using sophistry with the word "aspiration". For me that doesn't now feel right. Implicit within the 4 Noble Truths is compassion, freedom from suffering. This does not feel like a desire but something to do, to be detached to be free from suffering, and to achieve this would be the position of non-attachment. And to be completely non-attached is to detach oneself from previous attachments. Where I am at now is to continue developing mindfulness, to continue with the process of detachment, and consider how I can work on the 8-fold Path to help Billnext. The word for this might be skilful.

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My world has been rocked by this word - Thammachat - Nature. As a teacher of Nature, or sometimes a man of Nature, why should the use of this word rock my world?

My Thai teacher was on her usual hobby-horse learning of about me and why I am single. And I had talked about my relationship briefly referred to as Marcia in


The discussion started on how to control wayward boys and veered to the relationship as that was the only time I knew where in the home I attempted to control children - in this case delinquents. I described how Marcia didn't love me, how we bought the home together, and how Marcia eventually lived in the home - with joint ownership, and the Thai teacher just said "Thammachat - Nature". She lied to me, and the teacher said "White Lie". So I asked "How far do the lies go?"

And therein lies the question "How far do the lies go?" She described a sexist Thai phrase that finding a good woman is like a lottery, but when a good relationship can only be based on trust and lying is Nature then can there ever be trust?

So Marcia had kids, and that was the basis for the teacher saying Marcia could lie as much as she wanted in order to provide a home for the kids. Marcia also wanted a good father but when I applied discipline and morality they were so alien to kids from a battered home it was too hard for them. So she turned on me, and eventually got the home. Of course she was a mess, so she blew the home and in the end her family were in tatters. One dead son, a teenage girl pregnant, one delinquent with a partner but no means of a livelihood and the other delinquent having already spent 6 months in prison, and only the pregnant girl living with her whilst she was bankrupt.

Lying doesn't work. Lying is against Nature - Right Honesty in the 8-Fold Path. I suffered with bad luck in Africa but I am now following my Path, where is Marcia? After ill-fated relationships in Africa I concluded that the only way to a good relationship was through shared religion, what better as a basis than sila with panna and samadhi to support.

How far do the lies go? The teacher accepted it was legitimate for Marcia to lie because she was looking after her children. This bodes a tremendous warning to all the Farangs who become step-fathers, in Thailand it is Thammachat for women to lie to protect their kids. So Farangs can be lied to in order to entice them to be step-fathers. But take it a step further, can the woman lie to provide a good home for an unborn child? Thammachat to that as well?

Buddhism is Thammachat but this lying isn't. Providing a good home is a mother's duty but that good home can never be based on deception. In Buddhism it is based on the 8-Fold Path, and this 8-Fold Path needs to be applied in the rearing of children. It is the duty of parents to follow the 8-fold Path, if the man does not provide this sila then the Path does. The mother's role of nurture is amoral, and on its own this is not enough. The man can bring love to the relationship whilst the mother's primary demands are nurture. If this love and nurture are not sufficient to provide direction then the 8-fold Path needs to be the guide. If the mother sinks into deception to create her home then the children will suffer as it is NOT Thammachat.

Theme - Nature
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Lying about Love
The comment that women lying about love can be Nature is still disturbing me. I mentioned it to a friend, and got a complete look of bewilderment. Of course women lie about love - fact of life. Then men lie about love to get into knickers.

So why did it disturb me? Because love is so important. Love is the link to unity, love is what we are - being. So how can we lie about our essence? But people don't see that because of the stage of their relationship to the Path. This is a serious issue of concern for Billnext.

Now Bill blundered in and out of love often misdirected by the booze and definitely misdirected by the dick. But in all of this blundering Bill learnt about his love, focusing love on one individual heightens it to new levels especially when additional factors make the feeling stronger - sexual passion, security, fear of loneliness and so on. Now these additional factors are not love but they enhance the experience and make love part of conscious awareness.

Different factors then come into play. Initially the most significant is the home where there needs to be the most important social environment for bringing up children:-

Matriellez on home

But then hopefully the child-rearing aspect of the home gives way to a spiritual journey as people get older - I don't know this as a single person.

But for those who experience couple love but remain single this love is significant in the spiritual journey - its real purpose. Knowing that spiritual origin of love makes it hard for me to understand how people can lie about it.

It leads to a further investigation of the relationship of women to love and the role of the man in relationships. It reminds me of what someone said "she brought business, motherhood and much more he brought his dick". Who brought the love? Does a woman actually love? For me the female focus is the home, the love of children, the creator of the home environment, does she love .... the father? For the woman is courtship a vetting process about whether the man can provide the stability and finance for the home?

As for the man does he actually bring a different love? Does he bring spiritual love? His love starts with a focus on the woman, then as he ages the focus on the woman diffuses as passions subside. He enjoys the fruits of the home that his wage provides for, but at the same time his love becomes that of guidance - the guidance of spiritual love.

It is essential that the mother's love works with the spiritual love, but does this happen? Certainly not if women believe it is acceptable to lie. At the same time if women perceive their role as protecting children from the strictness of the man, if the relationship is perceived as some form of battleground then what happens to the children? In some relationships the man is marginalised, this is damaging. There needs to be a clear pact for the proper upbringing of children, and if the man is weak then together that guidance needs to be religion - in my case the 8-fold Path. Or at least the 5 precepts:-

Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.

Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.

Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.

Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.

Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.

Theme - Home
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Attached to the House
I have decided I want to move to Ao Taan Khuu. It is a beautiful beach, usually empty except very crowded public holidays. I can swim there, it would be ideal; to go swimming there in the morning every day, and then in the afternoon with some chilel. Around Ao Taan Khu the scenery is pleasant and there could be some nice walking. Initially I was considering the haunted house, but once I rejected that I have been hunting for other places. I have got hooked on it especially when a friend said that he would buy land and a house to my specs and I could get 30-year lease from it. We found land, I spent time thinking about the design of the house, and then he said he couldn't afford it. Disappointment.

My journey had been slipping and taking a back seat to the house, this is wrong - even the chilel was slipping. I have to be detached. This process of attachment has given me a life plan. Live near Ao Taan Khuu, and try to get a 30-year lease on the right property. Even if I have a change I will want a home. This is it - walking in the country and swimming in the sea, the air is fresh; once settled I can take on my journey again - being a writer being more important than it has been.

But with this plan I am to be detached. My journey has to be the priority even when looking for the house, the house is just job, like the computer. One good thing about the attachment, I have worked out what I am looking for in a house. That is good, I had never even considered the possibility before. Be detached and see what comes up.

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Lost shape - Taan Khuu 1
My life's gone off track because of Ao Taan Khuu. I have lost my priority - my journey. My week has become Mon/Wed/Fri Taan Khuu, Tues/Thurs Thai lessons, Sat at home, Sun cleaning. Mornings are a mixture of meditating, snooze-meditating, chores and computer chores. On top of this I would like to move to Taan Khuu, it could be my resting place. I have made enquiries about moving there, there was the abortive KP buying a place, and now my heart wants to move out of Trat and live near the sea in the country. But the moving is difficult. It is rural so there is not much renting except for bungalows. I am therefore being pushed towards buying land and building, yet that is such a commitment. And I cannot be on top of the builders as I don't know what I am doing - so I will get ripped off. Yet having my own place feels secure so I am stuck. At the same time Taan Khuu is my exercise but that is now being affected by the rainy season, so there is a whole lot of external stuff that is controlling my life. I am stuck.

So my journey has stopped because it is not the priority. So it has to become the priority again. That means I have to forget Taan Khuu as part of the routine yet Taan Khuu is my exercise. It feels like taking a step back. This is not resolving it, I am struggling.

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Political monk?
"Actually it seems to be a habit of all societies to discuss what their ordained ones 'should' be like, 'ought' to do etc…. There's little profit in such discussion as it is always coming from an extreme ideal … Actually ordained ones are just the same as others. Perhaps they 'should' do this, and 'shouldn't do that', but really, a Buddhist looks to their own hearts with mindfulness.

I have a high impression of Thai monks personally. And I can't blame them for getting involved, even if they 'shouldn't'.

I might add that as you say it is the minority that are seen actively supporting one side or other, but the majority hold strong views that are not kept quiet.

I'd also echo Marcus - the Reds have been very nice people. Not threatening, and with a justified grievance they want to campaign about. But this new 'no colours' (which are likely yellow shirts) are outright nasty in their approach. I don't feel comfortable anywhere near them. They are spitting hatred, and that is not the right way."

This is a quote from a monk and for me it completely belittles him. What underlies any consideration of the troubles in Bangkok - the fact that people have died and that there is the potential for more to do. The only scenario that mature people can entertain is the one for peace, a strong fervent striving for peace. What is portrayed here is a monk's intellect fighting against restriction, the restriction of good conduct beholden on someone who wears the orange robes. This one is probably my ego but he is actually arguing for this intellectual freedom against someone (me) who is propounding a peace-only platform, and proposing that monks amongst others should be peace activists. This whole scenario of red and yellow is presented in such a cavalier attitude of ego that people are forgetting that on Black Saturday so many people died. What is the peaceful way forward? I don't know. Caring leaders need only to focus on peace.

His concern for restriction lies around the lay ideal that monks should be aiming for perfection, and therefore it is legitimate for monks not to be perfect. Whilst the context of imposed idealism is legitimate, and whilst such a restriction can be argued against, this is not the place for it. Violence is violence, and this is a horrendous violent situation. It is ironic that the army chief is the one who is showing the greatest level-headedness in containing the violence. Because of the desire for intellectual freedom there is a need to express opinion above that of a need for peace. This intellectualism is so strong that he did not comment on the lay restrictions that apply in life, and my fear of his intellectualism prevents me from saying this on his forum as well as the fear that others in his Sangha would react against me because he is the monk. And here is the problem of authority. As the monk leader of this Sangha he has a responsibility to lead, a responsibility that he earns with regards to his knowledge and training in the Dhamma, but which he has not earned with regards to learning about lay life - a life he has never lived having worked a year or two as a chef.

How do his words encourage violence? "the Reds have been very nice people" The Reds in general might well be very nice but on Black Saturday Reds had weapons and many people were killed. Assuming the genuine Reds are very nice, it is still the case that these Reds do not have control of all the violent elements that have shown themselves. Therefore the Reds being there is a screen for these violent elements to disturb a peaceful society.

"Not threatening, and with a justified grievance they want to campaign about." Of course they are threatening, look at the violence on Black Saturday. They are also threatening because they are affecting the powerful interests in the shopping areas. When the power of money is threatened there is confrontation. There are times when it is legitimate to confront a dictating power, is this situation in Thailand such? No because it is not a revolutionary power struggle. Not all the grass roots people support the Reds, and therefore this is not a revolutionary situation geared towards overpowering a dictatorship. There is no doubt that the political power in Thailand represents the rich ruling class, to overcome such a class requires the unity of all the people in Thailand. But the Thai proletariat is divided over this struggle so the only potential is a bloodbath in which the Reds and Yellows fight whilst the ruling class looks on.

And this brings me to the Red puppet-master, Thaksin. Is he the justified grievance the monk is supporting? He is corrupt and has been convicted in a court of law. He gave the Thai poor 30-baht health care, does that make him a caring socialist? He also gave them unlimited credit, and now that the poor cannot pay the credit back there is this Red crisis on the street. And what did Thaksin do with his populist support? He changed the laws to further his personal wealth. The 30-baht health care is found from taxes whilst changing laws increased his personal wealth. Is this the justified grievance the monk is supporting?

And what happened when the Thaksin-support party won the election last time? Did Samak institute policies that helped the North? No. He began a process of law-changing so that Thaksin would not lose his personal fortune. With Thai politicians being the way they are, will a new Thaksin-support party do any different?

The monk is talking of the problems of idealism with regards to restrictions on monks, but what about the Red idealism that is being manipulated by Thaksin? By supporting legitimate grievances the monk is supporting the accumulation of power that could lead to a Thaksin-party getting into power, leading to the instigation of laws in support of Thaksin, leading to the Yellows going on the street, and the whole process starting again. Is this what he wants? No, of course not. Is he using mindfulness?

Suppose my arguments are correct. Then they are based on insights into political life and power. Where do they come from? Experience. And of course he cannot have had that experience.

PS This is inflammatory:-

"But this new 'no colours' (which are likely yellow shirts) are outright nasty in their approach. I don't feel comfortable anywhere near them. They are spitting hatred, and that is not the right way."

It may well be true but is it conducive to peace?

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The Girl Cell
This TED talk by Eve Ensler is fascinating but also illustrates some of the misconceptions and alienation caused by the Feminist movement. In fact it is such an in-your-face approach she might well be being facetious.

She postulates that there are cells in your body - she calls them girl cells. She said that there were cells that world leaders didn't want - cells such as compassion, caring etc., and these leaders had then proceeded to educate them out of people. On a couple of occasions she did say that males had these girl cells, and in fact she said at one stage how awful male conditioning was. This is the real issue, it is that compassion has been educated out of all of us.

What she fails to address is my adage that women know how to live with bad men but they don't know how to live with good men. In her talks she champions women who have overcome adversity, this is important:-

All people need to champion such women, and need to fight against men who behave like this.

But by lauding compassion as being a feminine virtue it is alienating men for whom compassion is an equally needed virtue. How does this compare with my recent discussions on women lying to protect children and compassion and the 8-fold Path being the way for education?

The issues around gender discrimination and the conduct of women and men in relationships are important to observe, but it is important to see this not as a battle but to understand what is human such as compassion.

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Monk and Politics
I have allowed myself the waste of time in venting against the monk again, mainly because there is little point in venting on his site. He has written another blog which is half political, and there are many points in this I agree with but there is still a level of political naivety, a naivety that still makes me say monks should keep out of politics. Or at least monks should stay out of politics unless monastics form part of a government.

"As the 'fresh wave of violence' spreads over Bangkok, anyone who is watching the media can't help but feel a sense of danger, and a sorrow that this beautiful country is in turmoil.

But the headlines are somewhat misleading. For most of us here the only real impact is loss of that precious Skytrain service and some inconvenience travelling around. In terms of danger, you are far more likely to lose your life or get injured on any normal day in a taxi ride, than you are by any violence in Bangkok protests."

I tend to agree with this. It appears to be the nature of struggle in Thailand that violence can be local and sporadic and not spread to others. Nothing has changed for me here in Trat, and even regular tourists have learnt enough about Thailand to know they can come and enjoy whether there is particular struggle in Bkk - except when they demonstrate at the airport!

"Of course there is loss of business revenue for the luxury hotels and offices, and although this has a real impact on people's pockets (one of our own group lost her job already due to the business being in the wrong area) it is hard to worry much about these big corporations." Whilst one might not care about big businesses losing their profits, one cannot ignore their influence. Big business is the driving force behind much that is politics. It is not the travel inconvenience, and the lack of shopping for the people that has elicited the government response, it is the lack of profits for their business backers. This glib comment is especially naive.

"Estimates for the number of protesters varies between 6000 and 20 000. For the most part they have been peaceful enough, camping out on the streets.

That is about as many people as go to Wat Dhammakaya on a Sunday to practise Dhamma.

It is about as many people as go to the main 10 or 15 temples around Bangkok in various dhamma programs, dressed in white and taking precepts. If you look at some of the big groups - Yuwaphut for instance (where we have an event on Saturday) - they have a constant stream of thousands of yogis going to practise dhamma all year round."

These white shirts - as the Thai/Buddhist custom is to dress in white when you go to stay in a monastery - outnumber the reds, yellows, the army and probably the police force combined. Much as the protests grab headlines, there is much more going on that is wholesome, but does not get headlines. Dhamma is greater here than any political movement." Whilst it is true that the majority of Thais are inclined to the white of peace, this is suggesting that civil war is conducted because people are not peaceful. Whilst I would accept that in general Thai society has a higher peace quotient amongst its people than many other places, this basically states that people have a choice when they go to war. And that is politically naive. Why did the UK go to Iraq? Is it because the people wanted it? No. It is because the politicians and businessmen wanted it. I don't know the exact proportion but initially when the Bush-Blair concord were trying to get into Iraq there was less than 30% in support in the UK. Then there was all the spin and media manipulation about WMD etc (well illustrated by the movie "Green Zone"), and war was started. What about Ireland? Were the troops in Ireland because the people wanted them there? No, for a long time the interest in getting the troops out was far higher but political pressure kept them there. And then Blair milked their removal.

Whilst I have repeatedly argued that the situation in Thailand is not likely to escalate to civil war, it is not because the majority of people attend wats. War is primarily class-based, and occurs when the ruling-class is threatened usually by another ruling-class but on occasions by the proletariat. Bangkok's ruling elite are not being threatened by the proletariat as it is only a minority who support the Reds. And the Reds' demands are not class-based, they want an election, an election they have been promised.

The Reds, whilst having some legitimate grassroots support, are basically hotheads driven by a manipulator. They have lost the plot with this violence. Why aren't they leaving? They were never equals and only tolerated by the government. The fact that there are battles in Bangkok is going to lose them grass-roots support even though it might be what Thaksin wants. And then yesterday some set out demands:-

"The red-shirt leaders Friday announced they would no longer compromise with the government and toughened their demands for the administration to comply with. The red-shirt leaders demanded Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to meet the five demands as follows:

1) The government must cease fire immediately.

2) The government must withdraw troops immediately.

3) The government must lift the state of emergency immediately.

4) The House must be dissolved immediately.

5) Abhisit and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban must resign and must not be in the caretaker Cabinet.

The Nation"

Who are they kidding? Let us hope that after they have been dispersed, Thaksin cannot buy more crazies to come and disrupt.

"In his book Power vs Force author David R. Hawkins notes there are two different kinds of energy in the world - Force pits one thing against another. Force always has an equal and opposite reaction, and can only move things around - one thing at the expense of another. In political terms we know that there is never any end to politics, or to the management of tax/spending where there are always winners and losers.

Power on the other hand, says Hawkins, has no counterpart reaction. It is like gravity - it moves everything, without any opposite effect. He spends much time demonstrating that a growth in consciousness is a kind of power - if you improve it in any small way, it improves everything.

Thus when asked what people can do to solve the world's problems, Hawkins is very clear, you stick to your own development and growth."

The rest of his blog talks of how the Buddha teaches to stick to your own development, and of course is right on the button because it is about Dhamma. But above he is talking of Force, contention between two opposing forces, and politically in Thailand that could be viewed as Reds vs Yellows or Reds vs Government. Yet previously he felt monks had the right to support the Reds, one of the opposing forces. As this Red Force is just moving things around at the expense of human lives why hasn't he retracted his previous blog-entry.

Let us hope for the power of peace.

I want to note two more things with regards to this issue. The first is that of responsibility for authority. A monk when putting on the robe has accepted an authority earned by the institution over hundreds of years. There is a defined etiquette when greeting monks simply because a person is wearing a robe. With this authority comes responsibility. In Thailand there are diverse reasons for people becoming monks meaning that the authority is watered down. My 2 blog-entries are concerning the watering down of this authority.

Look at how one person began a comment that disagreed with the monk "I'd respectfully counter that your argument is faulty." I would also note that his first blog led to division, and the division was concerning the political sides and not the dhamma, as such not of benefit to the community.

But why does this perturb me? The monk is using his authority to address his community about issues that he cannot fully understand, hence his naive comments. Whilst there is no doubt in my mind that he has deservedly earned the respect of his community these comments detract and weaken his authority. Envy has to enter into it to some extent, I do envy his spiritual community, yet again it is not what I want. I do not believe that the issue has divided his community and lessened his authority, but then in truth I don't know because I haven't met the people in such a long time. Nothing conclusive here!!

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Morality and desire

I remember one time writing to a Buddhist group moderator quoting a blog on addiction I had just written and getting a rather negative "I don't have a problem with addiction". I envy him if it is true but if we are free from the control by desire isn't that Nibbana?

In this morning's lying in bed reflecting I began to see how much of my life has been controlled by desire. It is quite obvious at the time I was drinking but during that time and since I think about being pulled from pillar to post by my desire for women - whether this desire was a desire for relationship or desire for sex - lust. For much of my life I have accepted that there is a physical need that drives me to sex - as Nature replenishes my back, I don't know whether this is old age but I feel now that this lust is solely fashioned in the mind. It is commonly said that we all have different sex drives but how much of that is just about how much we allow our minds to direct use?

It then started me thinking about morality. How does one control the desire? It is so hard, therefore we need within us a code of behaviour that will control this desire - morality. I think back to when I have been critical of morality because it is not moralising or moral correctness but moral practice that is the way to overcome the misdirections of desire.

Then there is aspiration, spiritual desire. I was advised that we will eventually experience an aspiration for Nibbana. It sounded a bit semantic when I heard it, and now even more so. The Path is the Path, it is there - there is no choice it impinges on your life. At some stage Nibbana maybe becomes a reality on your Path but isn't having an aspiration for Nibbana just desire?

The power of the mind to sectionalise is tremendous. It can become clear even when deep within it there is black desire locked away. And at the same time when that desire is found it is hard to deal with it, and it is present until it has been dealt with.

Morality and desire has tremendous implications for Matriellez. How little are our children taught of desire, yet adolescence is a time when desire is rearing its ugly head. How little do we teach about the need for moral control of desire. In fact the reverse happens on occasions; in terms of a positive need to identify with students, acceptance of worse aspects of desire is common amongst teachers occasionally in their behaviour but more often with their lack of willingness to chastise.

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Bleep - movie
"What the Bleep do we know?"

Looks interesting, watched the beginning. Have uploaded,

Start downloading here

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Of morality and marriage
Perhaps I shouldn't write this about my parents but morality is what I most feel they didn't give me. I remember discussing an incident when I was 14/15. A group of boys went around nicking stuff. Now this wasn't the odd bit of nicking, it was serious stuff, and it was more than unusual as this was top set of a grammar school. Lucky for me I wasn't a part of it, as earlier I had been tempted and somehow resisted. Early on when I was 14 I had taken to hanging on the streets. Back then, mid 60s, hanging on the street was not the same as it is now, the streets where I grew up were not owned by gangs, and people were not frightened of the streets as they are now. There was a boy who was bad news - always there, and a friend and I began hanging with him. At the same time there were girls. Now my relationship with these girls was far from close - perhaps my defence mechanism I discussed in an earlier blog.

Anyway morality. The three of us went to this sweet shop. Now the bad news boy knew that if he asked for something, the shop-owner would have to go out back for it, at which point he would grab what he could - mainly cigarettes. Apparently he and my friend had done this before, but I refused. Now this is a higher level of courage than I was ever used to showing, and when I discussed it later I supposed it was to do with not being caught. But in truth I now know it as sila - integrity. But at that time it was not conscious integrity, it was kamma. I had obviously done enough in previous lives to warrant this protection mechanism.

It was also around that time that I had a bit of a disaster with a girl. We were walking and stopped. She leaned against the wall, and she gave me a come-on. It was not unreasonable. She was more experienced, perhaps she liked me - I don't know, and she wanted more sexually. I remember her saying she had big feet - referring to her breasts, and I don't know what happened but I did nothing. I remember mumbling, and she went off. The sweet shop and my sexual unpreparedness was enough to keep me away from these people on the streets, nothing compared to the temptations that young people face today. This happened to me about 6 months before the temptations started to face my class. They started nicking trips at lunch-time. At first a good number of them went, and then it dwindled down to 2, and then they got caught. The police went to one boy's house, searched his bedroom and found a serious amount of electrical gear. I remember the boy's name, I remember there being rumours that he was grounded for a long time, and I don't remember his being in the sixth form - perhaps the parents moved because of shame. I also remember this boy was quiet, I do not associate him with being a bad boy, and he wasn't making money from it. I think he stole the things because he had the balls but he did not do it for the money. Of course he couldn't do it now because of the shop's surveillance and anti-security techniques. He did not have morality then, he might well now be a typical middle-class person - working for family and money - I hope so, but his thieving was so easy he might have been tempted another way.

Morality would have helped him, it helped me but it isolated me. The rest of my time before university I spent walking for hours around my home town on my own, and then in the sixth form meeting a couple of friends with whom I talked until dawn. And then I was ready to escape to university where I became a drunk.

I still had no morality but the drink protected me. I would go to the usual dances but always be too drunk and therefore unattractive. I remember meeting one beautiful woman, took her out and was not able to cope with her close-up. It is hard to describe but I put it down to my defence mechanism. I suspect I took her home after the date but she was nice and of course did not invite me to her room but she did invite me during the day. After a lecture the next day I went to her room. I was so uncomfortable, I had no idea what I was doing. All I remember was a blur and being so uncomfortable and leaving, I saw her again because a so-called friend saw her greet me, chased her, and went out with her. I didn't like this because he had a steady girlfriend at home, and I liked her. This made me angry and some of it was morality. The rest of my university experiences sexually with women were not at all moral, and I tried in drunken states to go to bed with anyone who would let me. Fortunately for them few did. In my postgrad year I did mix with a mixed group of people where we would talk long into the night, and for the first time I think I treated the women as people. But I never was able to treat the women as women and people even though there was one woman who I was linked with. I never knew how to cross the line into sexual activity with a nice woman - no not true I never knew how to cross the line unless I was drunk and then I was unacceptable.

Whilst I drank in that postgrad year it was not the same drunkenness of my earlier university years where I drank with sports guys and got blotto - intentionally out of it. When I started at work I can recall a number of encounters with women in the office or in the pub with them after work, but they never became close-up personal. I just couldn't cope. But meanwhile my breakdown was coming, and women mattered less and less as the Path started to emerge. Funnily enough before the breakdown I can recall people saying I was a nice guy, I'd like to hope I was but all I can remember is inappropriate behaviour and worse.

Anyway the breakdown came, and with the emergence of the Path came caring; if I had been a nice guy previously it was unconsciously. I began to see caring as important, and this took me into the care profession and then into teaching. But in relationships I was not a moral person far from it, and again I consider I behaved badly because of this. At the time early-mid 70s sexual mores had just come out of the closet. Sleeping around was beginning to be considered acceptable amongst consenting adults, a Victorian moral code had been rejected, and within this so-called freedom promiscuity became a life-style for some; at this stage not for me. What I do remember was drifting into a triangle, and again I think my conduct was a disgrace. I joined an Arts Centre, and again began talking late into the night. This was with a mixed group although I remember the women. I remember enjoying the contact with these women but it was not physical. There was one lady who I was close to - thankfully it was never physical, but it almost became so. In a group we would talk into all hours but she had a boyfriend. This group first started meeting in their house, and then we moved to another house where there were several bedsits. A friend had watched as my relationship with this lady developed meaningfully but it was safe until a friend pointed out that there was a relationship. Then it developed into a passion on my part. But I still cannot imagine I would have done anything except that one day we found ourselves walking through Rotherhithe - when it was arty-farty. A bond was formed then, and the lady decided to make it physical as I was leaving the country. Fortunately it didn't happen. Again it is a blur as to why not, but not as a matter of volition on my part - I wish it had been. Throughout the boyfriend was in the background to me. I am not sure he was a nice guy but I realised later he was deeply resentful of me, yet at the time he couldn't express it - because of the mores. I just look back in shame at the lack of control I had, and wish I had developed a sense of morality.

I finally did when I got involved with a married woman 8 years later. In the interim I did get involved sexually with some women, and became comfortable with women sexually. I have only just realised this started with a relationship with an older woman. Prior to her, relationships with women were passions even after the breakdown, the nearest not to be was the one I have just described. With this older woman she let out the sexual frustration, and so my passions were more - a bit more - level-headed. I still bumped from pillar-to-post following these passions hoping eventually they would lead to a meaningful sexual relationship but they were soe sort of immature genuine search for relationship as far as I knew then. In between these pillar-to-post passions I had occasional sex with this older woman, and whilst my relationship with her was deeply meaningful on a more spiritual level, sexually it meant nothing at the time; now I thank her for what it did mean - a sexual release that gave me some form of balance. She also did not see the sexual relationship as that important, and I consider my connection with her moral.

My sexuality became more active when I went to PGCE, and relationships whilst not moral started to be more normal. But basically at PGCE I chased my dick where I could, but as I was more mature and less drunk it was more successful than I had been at university. And then over the next few years my sexual life was more balanced but not moral. I did however have relationships but in truth I see them as mostly sex relationships as my main pre-occupation was my Path that was always tempered and diluted by alcohol. At this time I had a deeply passionate relationship, I think it lasted about 18 months, but it was completely destroyed by timing. Again I was immoral and became involved in a triangle. I considered the three of us friends but in retrospect there was some animosity even though great pains were taken to say there wasn't. Their relationship was over but to some extent it wasn't - and I did bust up what ws left. I remember a huge passion for this woman, but by the time it came to fruition the passion had tempered. And gradually for me the relationship petered out, but by that time she became involved!!???

The more I look back on my relationships the more I see the importance of the lack of morality. My defence mechanism helped me early on but when I became conscious that mechanism could not help, and I did not have the moral integrity to deal with relationships properly. I suspect fundamental to this was that I did not want to have children, that I was happy living alone, and that although I enjoyed these relationships fundamentally they were dick-led. Dick-led and moral are fundamental opposites, it is one main purpose of morality to control the dick.

Then after this 8 years I got involved with a married woman. Again I thought I had fallen in love, and her family saw this in me. I am not so sure. This woman was enchanting but she was so deeply battered this enchantment rarely came out. It did however suck me in, and when I heard how this enchantment had been battered first by her mother and then by her husband my enchantment thought it was love and I agreed to take her away. This action was totally immoral, and I paid for it. She called what stopped her enchantment from coming out as baggage, and she attributed her baggage to family, her mother and her children. Falling in love I became involved with all her baggage until I felt battered myself and eventually left. It was only years later I realised she had never loved me, and I now wonder whether I loved her. Especially when I read Thay. In his book cultivating the mind of love he talks about relationships as triggering universal love, as a means of bringing it out. For 6 years after this married woman I had some significant moral relationships - looking for something genuine, and then began to realise that I didn't really want one, and that mostly at that time I was being dick-led.

The real point of all this blog is my lack of morality. I had been born with a defence mechanism that was consolidated by a drunken period that prevented me from getting trapped, and then in my awareness after the breakdown morality was not significant in my Path - sadly. There is no doubt at all that my upbringing did not give me morality even though my mother was a moral woman. My father was not a nice man, and in my adulthood I just reacted against everything he represented for a long time. Unfortunately his only moral position was faithfulness in marriage, and I reacted against that as well. To be quite honest for him his faith in marriage was not morality but his own insecurity, but I didn't see that in my anger against him. Would that I had grown up with morality.

This makes me question the Path in some ways. Why didn't being on my Path, after the breakdown I started on it, make me moral? I later learned through Buddhism how important morality is to following the Path, yet I have no doubts that I was following my Path to some extent after my breakdown and before being moral. Following the Path did not keep me off the booze, and if you take the 5 precepts as a basis of morality then I was not moral. But I did have a deep sense of what was right, and that depth of sense came from the Path - I called it soul then. I even argued with a friend who often spoke to me about morality, yet I rejected what he was saying but I considered this deep sense of rightness far more important than moral justification. Morality is often used as an excuse to rationalise deeper evils, or at least an uncaring attitude, by intellectuals; it was this intellectualism I rejected. But why when I was on the Path was I not more moral? The only answer I can come up with is Kamma, it was my Kamma to go through all this.

Maybe that is true but as an educationalist I realise now that it was the most important thing missing in my education and upbringing. But I did have an inbuilt deep commitment to what is right, that also has to be a consequence of the Path. I didn't find Buddhism with the Path, and sila followed my finding Buddhism once I realised the importance of it - see here. Throughout my life I had had meditational experiences but it was only when I sought to make meditation daily that I found Buddhism. By that time I was conducting my life morally. I had left Southern Africa where sexual involvement was hard to avoid. In Oman I was still interested but it was not easy, so by default my life as relationship was moral. With the meditation came Buddhism. Throughout my life after breakdown, ie throughout the time I have considered myself on the Path, I consider that to some extent I have been wise. Where is this going? They say morality is a pre-requisite, whilst I am not saying it isn't - no I'm not I'm saying it is not the only thing. Meditation provides the balance, it provides the ability to see what is going on for what it is. My early meditation was more concerned with wisdom and creative experience. Because it was not happening daily I never addressed the morality issue as the meditation often forced itself out through creativity, and creativity was what I first experienced after finding my Path even though it quickly led to compassion. Isn't that strange how many compassionate creative people are not moral? This is an issue with creativity. This brings me to the 4 Noble Truths as being the basis for the Path - maybe next blog?

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Of love and education
Yesterday's blog was quite simply about love, I was searching for love. That might seem a rather stupid observation to make as it was concerning relationships, but I was actually searching for love despite all my focus on sex.

Initially I was seeking the cosmic one, and I even felt I had found her - the married lady I was enchanted with who eventually gave me so many problems. But in truth that search for the cosmic one was my being confused by my upbringing and socialisation. My upbringing was particularly important in understanding the strength of my passions because I had missed out on a loving environment despite the love that resided deep in my mother. So my search for love was not balanced, and once released from the home I became demanding under my own volition whilst at the same time dealing with my own addiction.

And in the end I have realised that my father was seeking love despite all the negative stuff he threw out in the way of this process, and all that he forced us to go through. Typically he couldn't get what he wanted so why should others?

As said yesterday morality comes into it as love is so often mixed up with lust, and we need morality to control that lust. "All's fair in love and war", I can understand the second because to be at war has no morality. But love is the most precious gift, and to claim that we can behave badly in love is just so perverse. Of course I can understand partly why all is fair in love because it is about the battle of the sexes in relationships, and people seem to feel that battle is acceptable. I have never found it so, and when I have behaved naively in love it just shows how unsuited to relationships I was - I got used or became too hardened.

I have been so lucky to determine some of what love is. It begins with unity, to know we are one together. Not to attach to separation that means we seek love through others. Love is simply being together as one, and the more we can find that the greater the love we feel. Working on the 4 Brahma-Viharas has helped to recognise the importance of feeling this love, and that is more than enough.

This love is so important in education too. Some disadvantaged children who get little love at home can find something at school, but what if they could find love? Wouldn't that be so much better? The cynic in me scoffs at the notion of finding love in school - some teenagers might?, but the real educationalist says that you must at least attempt to offer it if self-realisation is to begin to happen. Subject teachers, like myself, always maligned those that offered nurture primarily, what about the students' education? Many students didn't come to school for love, they had their families; they lost their education because of the nurture focus. But this nurture is needed for many, how many it is hard to say?

There appears to be a dichotomy developing between nurture and education, certainly the two are opposing forces in our current schools. If you spend time on nurture you take away from qualification success. I always complained that I spent far too much fruitless time on the disruptive kids than on the kids who actually wanted to learn. But the paradigm creates this distinction. Learning can be nurture if the learning is of relevance to those being nurtured. Quite clearly the paradigm is creating this dichotomy as they are not interested in nurture. But busines does want a workforce and those to direct the workforce towards corporate profits, nurturing those in need does not matter - not cost effective. Pressure is placed on teachers to educate all, this pressure is then applied to those students who cannot cope and are seeking nurture. They respond with disruption at being rejected again.

This fundamentally is a curriculum issue - learning and nurture need to be one, they are in the early years in a loving home. How does one unite these in education? Learning for life. Does learning for life mean learning for the workplace? Far from it. Does learning for life mean learning how to cope with society? No, far from it. Learning for life means learning for oneself, learning who you are, learning about yourself, self-realisation. Once you begin on that path of learning, how you cope follows. At some stage you know that you need money to work, you get a job and apply yourself. Unfortunately many who learn this alternative way are forced to waste years getting qualifications when they have already learned many of the processes that business wants. Since most training is actually done in the workplace, providing students with process is the best job that can be done in schools. Some might then choose an executive job, hopefully more wouldn't.

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Thay and Oprah interview
I put this interview online for a friend but did not reference it in my blog:- Oprah interviews Thay
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Urban Guru Cafe
I find this Urban Guru Café quite interesting but it does raise a little concern. I feel there is a strong element of mutual congratulation going on at the café - THEY HAVE FOUND THE ANSWER. Whilst they might have ….

There is an eclectic danger in considering this stuff because we are Buddhists, and I perceive that eclecticism in general can sometimes be diluting. There is a Path for Buddhists and there is a Path for Advaita, whilst they will end up at the same place trying to resolve differences part way along the Path might lead to going round in circles. For a long time I called myself spiritual, and looked at aspects of different Paths - occasionally I took a dab of this and a sprinkling of that. All of that didn't really lead me too far. Once I started meditating daily I soon made the decision to focus on one tradition, and as I was in Thailand at the time it was Theravada. If suggested reading wasn't Theravada I wouldn't look at it for a long while. Now I open up and am beginning to consider other Buddhisms but am careful to avoid confusion. The real issue is about going deeper, by considering different religions one tends to move sideways rather than going deep.

Having said all this I don't see too much difference between what I have picked up on non-dualism and what I have picked up on Buddhism. Here I stress the I in what I've picked up because there is so much I don't know about Buddhism - and obviously I know little about Vedanta. There is the unmanifest and the manifest, unconditioned and conditioned, underlying the unity of all beings is this Unmanifest Unconditioned Unity. Therefore for me I don't understand why Bhikkhu Bodhi is against non-dualism. I remember the end of one of Phra Farang's books in which he described dieing as all things returning to the One Earth.

There are two points that immediately spring to mind about these Urban Gurus. In the first talk there was criticism of gurus taking money from people, yet these Urban Gurus sell books. They are earning a living, and of course there is nothing wrong with that whatever type of gurus. This is one reason I am in favour of Theravada, the suttas and books are free if you look for them.

I question whether one can be Being only. If Being is the Unmanifest or Unconditioned then quite clearly there is a contradiction in terms, you cannot be alive and be Unmanifest. Once there is manifestation there is duality even though underlying it is Unity. The journey is to get back to the Unity. For me this is the essence of anatta. As far as I understand anatta we have attachments (egos) that lead to separation, I need to work at removing these attachments - just the 4 Noble Truths. Because I say "This being is given the conventional name of Bill and this being is in Unity with all beings" does not make this being Bill one with all beings. By the very fact that these words are uttered creates a separation - manifest. I perceive life as unity but in so doing I recognise the conventional difference that I can see in Bill and Paul, but absolutely we are not different.

Wasn't Vedanta around before the time of the Buddha? I have the feeling that Vedic texts are as old as the hills, but I have no corroboration of this. There are 3 Vedic texts I recall, The Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Viveka Chudemani. I have a strong belief that The Upanishads were around before the Buddha, but feel free to prove me wrong. Didn't the Buddha come along to try to correct errors on the Path that were erstwhile being followed? I believe the main difference he wanted to focus on was the 4 Noble Truths. I am sure there is more but you know better than me, you used read the Suttas. If Advaita was around before and the Buddha wanted things to change, it would be important to understand what those changes are if you are going to consider listening to a different tradition.

As they say they follow advaita I looked up advaita in wiki:-


The necessity of a Guru

Shankara taught that access to Vedic texts, a prerequisite for liberation, should be restricted, in accordance with caste rules, to upper-caste Hindu males. He seems to have generally held that liberation can only be attained by a male renunciant of the Brahmin caste.[5] According to Shankara and others, anyone seeking to follow the philosophy of advaita vedanta must also do so under the guidance of a Guru (teacher).[6]

The Guru must have the following qualities (see Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.12):

1. ?rotriya - must be learned in the Vedic scriptures and sampradaya

2. Brahmani??ha - literally meaning established in Brahman; must have realised the oneness of Brahman in everything and in himself The seeker must serve the Guru and submit questions with all humility in order to remove all doubts (see Bhagavad Gita 4.34). By doing so, advaita says, the seeker will attain moksha (liberation from the cycle of births and deaths).

According to Adi Shankara, knowledge of brahman springs from inquiry into the words of the Upanishads, and the knowledge of brahman that shruti provides cannot be obtained in any other way. It is the teacher who through exegesis of shruti and skillful handling of words generates a hitherto unknown knowledge in the disciple. The teacher does not merely provide stimulus or suggestion.[7]

See also: Guru-shishya tradition

[S?dhana Chatu??aya

Any mumuk?u (one seeking moksha) has to have the following four sampattis (qualifications), collectively called S?dhana Chatu??aya Sampatti (the fourfold qualifications):

1. Nity?nitya vastu viveka - The ability (viveka) to correctly discriminate between the eternal (nitya) substance (Brahman) and the substance that is transitory existence (anitya).

2. Ih?mutr?rtha phala bhoga vir?ga - The renunciation (vir?ga) of enjoyments of objects (artha phala bhoga) in this world (iha) and the other worlds (amutra) like heaven etc.

3. ?am?di ?atka sampatti - the sixfold qualities of ?ama (control of the antahkara?a[8][9]), dama (the control of external sense organs), uparati (the refraining from actions; instead concentrating on meditation[citation needed]), titik?a (the tolerating of t?patraya), ?raddha (the faith in Guru and Vedas), sam?dh?na (the concentrating of the mind on God and Guru).

4. Mumuk?utva - The firm conviction that the nature of the world is misery and the intense longing for moksha (release from the cycle of births and deaths).

Adi Shankara states in Tattva bodha (1.2) that moksha, or liberation, is available only to those possessing the above-mentioned fourfold qualifications. Thus any seeker wishing to study advaita ved?nta from a teacher must possess these."

I would suggest that there are obvious conflicts with Buddhism. If this wiki definition is correct then Vedic texts are a prerequisite for liberation, so what about the suttas? You have to follow a guru, Tibetan definitely says this but I am not sure Theravada does although monks seem to follow an Abbott. Western monks from Wat Pah Nanachat are always praising Ajaan Chah. I would say Theravada advises that we follow teachers.

Of the fourfold qualifications 1) Discrimination and 4) Dukkha are clearly Buddhist-equivalent. As for 2) I don't believe that is Buddhist, in Buddhism it is non-attachment rather than non-enjoyment; in Buddhism one can enjoy without getting attached. As for 3) vedic texts are integral, nothing to be said. Now Urban Guru Café doesn't necessarily follow the 4 qualifications exactly, I don't know, but I am sure the originals in India who taught the Urban Gurus followed gurus who did.

This brings me to the Urban Gurus themselves. As I have said I find it difficult to believe they are in Unity - non-dual. I find this difficult to believe as I have stated above. But then I have difficulty accepting it with the Buddha. As far as I understand it The Buddha became enlightened under the Bodhi tree. But at that time the Buddha was still a man in manifestation. Therefore he was One and "many" (man) at the same time. What I believe is that because he was such a good man (enlightened?), when he died he did not come back into samsara and became part of Unity - Nibbana? But even as an enlightened man I do not consider that he was in Unity (non-dual) - until he died. Based on this I would say Urban Gurus cannot be in Unity, I cannot judge whether they are enlightened - as the Buddha.

I think Anicca can also help with understanding this. That which is permanent is Unity, that which is temporary is many. When we are born we manifest attributes such as mind and body. Whilst we have these temporary attributes there is separation. Enlightened minds perhaps have reduced that separation to a minimum - - I cannot of course know, but for me there is still One and many.

There is another concern that I have with the Urban Gurus but this might be completely unfounded. I have not listened to much but they do not seem to discuss the Vedic texts. This is one of the four qualifications described above. Now I suspect that some of these Urban Gurus did a searching number in India, and if they trained with Indian Gurus then they would have been trained in the texts. But what about people who listen to Urban Gurus? Do they learn the texts? I think this learning is important for completeness. It appears to me that the Urban Gurus focus on transition to Unity through pointers, insight etc. Of course these are very important, but is it all that is needed? For me Buddhism is important because it also teaches about conduct in daily life. This is two-fold - meditation and morality through the 8-fold Path. For me Buddhism teaches about mind in daily life, from what little I have heard the Urban Gurus are trying to transcend mind exclusively. Once transcended then Unity takes over.

I believe some of Mahayana says the same thing only they call it Buddha Nature. Each of us has our own bit of Buddha Nature which is all part of the Unity of Buddha Nature. I have a friend who is Mahayana and as far as I can understand him he just has faith in Buddha Nature and tries to live in Buddha Nature. But it also appears to me that this friend does not pay attention to the tricks of the mind and how the mind can affect his daily life. His faith tells him that his Buddha Nature will take care of his daily life.

For me understanding mindfulness of daily life is very important - of course I don't!!! No matter how much I meditate and study I am conscious that aspects of my life are still controlled by attachments of mind. For me this is a constant of manifestation. Perhaps enlightenment means that you have absolute control of your mind so that you are always in control of your daily life, but I am nowhere near enlightenment. I therefore need the help of Buddhism in advising me as to my conduct in daily life. What little I know of the Gita also advises how to conduct oneself in daily life but if the Urban Gurus are not teaching the Vedic texts, is this not an important part of learning about life being missed?

Have you heard of Dharma Dan and Buddhist Geeks? Now Dharma Dan is quite outspoken about some aspects of the Buddhist Tradition. I spent a while studying him and it was interesting. See bookblog. Now he spent years in Burma, studied the suttas, learned with a teacher and then started on his own views. I found them stimulating but then stopped as you can see from the bookblog. Dharma Dan runs websites (details in blog) and I first learned about him through Buddhist Geeks. Buddhist Geeks is interesting because they have podcasts on western Buddhism but they rarely discuss the teachings - the Tradition. For me this is like discussing the issues on the margins without looking at the body of knowledge to base that discussion on. I have no doubts that many of the people in the podcasts do have that body of knowledge but what you hear is not the Tradition. For me Buddhism without the Tradition is not Buddhism. Which aspects of the Tradition you work on is of course a different matter. Perhaps there is a parallel with Buddhist Geeks and Urban Gurus. What I do know is that in general western people (and I include Aussies here - just ) do not like Tradition. Our minds are trained for instant gratification, we want enlightenment and we want it NOW. Maybe that can happen but not for me. I therefore need help in my daily life, and that is why I like Buddhism with its traditions.

Finally as for Bhikkhu Bodhi I still have difficulty with his position. I think it is very difficult to discuss the religion of another because it is not your Path. I listened to an inspiring Tibetan monk with Littlebang; there are pictures and I am in the first with the brown shirt!! Tibetans teach that first there is Theravada (they call it Hinayana), then there is Mahayana, and finally Tibetan. There are more details than this but I have forgotten them. Their teaching pigeon-holes Theravada, and it is then hard to reconcile any positions. I think there is much to be learnt from Tibetan but their perspective on Theravada is not part of that learning. To understand a religion you have to practice it, it has to be your Path. Bhikkhu Bodhi is not a practising non-dualist, he is not practising Advaita, therefore anything he says can only be rational. Being rational cannot include Insight, and so makes it difficult to understand another person or religion.

Thanks very much for putting me onto Urban Gurus. It is always good to investigate what others do and then come up with an understanding for oneself. It doesn't really matter what I say if it works for me. I am sure I could learn a great deal from Advaita and the Urban Gurus but it would probably confuse me so I will stick with what works for me so far. I hope that my deliberations help you, at least it will give me a 2400 word blog!!

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Sam Harris
I was put onto Sam Harris by a friend, and then found he had this TED talk:-

I was interested because the title of the talk is "Science can answer moral questions". Just looking at the title opens up positivity for me, but a greater fear of negativity - later founded. I would prefer a title of "Morality can answer scientific questions". A supposedly blind search for knowledge on the part of scientists leads to misdirection, primarily because such blindness gets misdirected by the need for funding. The Oppenheimer scenario whereby a group of scientists had their desire for knowledge misused by an unscrupulous government, and the result was a nuclear attack and devastation of Japanese people. Accompanied with the ongoing global threat if the US Hawks can do it once, are we next?

What about science's current misdirection - technogadgetry driven by the profit motive? How much of the current technology would fit into the category of sufficient? Are these gadgets sustainable? Is that even a question people ask enough? Is all the effort and finance that goes into developing the latest mobile phone of benefit ecologically? In a world of hunger and starvation, often politically engendered by the same transnationals who are creating the latest gadgets, should human intelligence be directed, or directing itself, into such unbeneficial pre-occupations?

With morality guiding science, both of these global threats would be tempered and perhaps managed.

As a Buddhist morality comes first for me. This morality provides good order in society, and with a moral order comes stability and peaceful co-existence. But with science first what do we get? Science has no direction, no control, and because of this power vacuum finance becomes the guide. Finance without direction becomes profit-oriented, and we have the situation in academia today where scientific experiment is only valid when it validates the results of the sponsoring transnational. How long did it take for cigarette warnings to be put in place legally because of the cigarette companies' profits? Science does not benefit society unless there is a moral underpinning - sila.

And then we have the philosophical questioning of academia. The mind jumps from one issue to another throwing up questions, it is completely destructive. Where is the sense of direction in Sam Harris' talk? He jumps from one issue to another without having an underlying integrity of approach. I am sure part of his populist appeal is the condemnation of Islam. He uses images of the burqa as if the whole of the female Islamic world wears such. He appeals to the intellectual audience by comparing women in burqas with his image of all pervading exploitation of sexual images of women in the West, presenting it as a spectrum with a correct position somewhere along the line. The very suggestion that there is a correct moral position in this spectrum is a chimera of scientific rectitude that belittles the fact that the only correct position is that of moral tolerance, and who are we to judge that every woman wearing the burqa is being intimidated into doing so. We never suggest that every woman who wears a bikini or who is paid money for posing nude in a magazine is intimidated. The image of Madonna is that she is strong, took control of her body, and exploited men because she is now wealthy and famous. In truth I understand that Madonna is a strong woman but how much of what she did was devoid of intimidation and exploitation? I will not judge, nor should Sam Harris judge Islam through the rose-coloured eyes of western intellectualism?

And the reason his judgement is lacking is because his faith is lacking, he has no direction. He is trying to judge Islam and other religions through scientific objectivity. Science and faith are the mutually exclusive sets which were created in the Reformation when knowledge which was both scientific and religious at the same time became separated by the sword of objectivity. As a result all that faith was not subject to rationality, and worse science was not subject to morality. Reunite science and faith under a moral umbrella, and then begin to eschew what is immoral practice in all religions. Do not eschew faith until there is a moral ascendancy. People like Sam Harris are dangerous intellectuals who want to undermine all with their questioning without any moral replacement. How many hours has he sat on a stool to know that his questioning position has the meditative seal of approval?

Let us bring both science and faith into order thorough moral correctness, a morality underpinned by the tools Nature gave us to understand - meditation and mindfulness. The questioning of people like Harris and Dawkins only lead to greater confusion, and the ability of transnationals to exploit as there is no moral force to react against their impositions.

However he does go on to say that there needs to be moral expertise? But he confuses this morality with culture. There might be a universal morality but it is difficult to say it overrides culture. What is required is that a culture needs to seek its own morality, and cultures can do this. To use the culture Sam Harris continually attacks, who has attained greater morality than the Sufis? Kahlil Gibran? Yes there are practices which I don't like - including the burqa but that is for Shariya to work out and for those societies to work it out through their Shariya. Do Buddhists say that priests should not wear dresses or wear collars back-to-front? Or drink alcohol in mass? These are decisions to be made by the religion under moral direction, and where is this moral expertise? That is the question. The question is not to take a moral position dominated by western values that it is more correct for a woman to appear naked on the internet than it is for a woman to be covered in a burqa. The question is to promote the importance of moral practices in all spheres of society. And here western academia does not have good standing, as good morality is repeatedly undermined by incessant questioning of the academic not for the search for knowledge but for the maintaining of their own academic power. Rather than attribute qualities of universal goodness thus decrying the practices of exploiters such as the transnationals, we reach no such definition, no such moral acceptance, and therefore do not condemn the finance that underpins modern western society. We, in the West, give up on morality because we benefit from immorality. We have no moral order, no sila, and Sam Harris contributes to this. Science needs to be given moral values, not apply science to appropriate values. And not use science as a vehicle to dominate cultures with dubious western morality.

Theme - Sila Intellectualism

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Dying Regrets
A while back I started looking into Tibetan Buddhism although initially it was with Thich Nhat Hahn's book "No Death No Fear". Here is a link to that bookblog.

For a while I was considering in this blog HH Sogyal Rinpoche in his book "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying", there were a few blogs starting here. For me one of the conclusions was to live life with no regrets, and I was reminded of this on reading this Littlebang blog. The letter is quoted here:-

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

As the Littlebang blog says, Buddhism promotes the awareness of dying. Castaneda "Death is always over your left shoulder".

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Blocked Part 1
This is not angst but it is the way I have been - blocked. No blogging, the book has stopped - just not writing. I had an amazing writing rainy season - a lot of blogging and 40000 words on teaching. I went up to Bangkok where I am more likely to find interested people and nothing. Education didn't even come up in conversation, except once. And I spoke with a single-minded devotee who simply said "how can someone in Trat expect to influence education?"

Now his position was wrong in that writing is done because it is writing, yet I got blocked because deep down I must have hoped that what I write might reach something. I have long since consciously given up on being able to make a difference, this is not a rationale for doing something. It is a dangerous rationale that can only cause the pain of disillusionment, and that is why such a framework is encouraged within the home of corporate capitalism. Create the hope knowing that it must get knocked down by the grip they have, and then the disillusioned become good corporate slaves. Look at how many hippies have joined the game. Even the beginning of Grumpy Old Men says the same!!

I suppose I am not clear enough as to why I write, and it became clear today. I write because I have to. But there are two levels to this. The first is the need to express, I need to be able to write what I write, and put it out there even if it reaches nowhere. As an aside the world is now full of blogs. People get angry at work, they blog. People see what is wrong with the world, they blog. And then they fall in with the hype that the blogosphere causes change. Rubbish. Where is the result of all that knowledge? Nowhere, there is no action. And if there is no action there is only one winner, corporate capitalism. The blogosphere has become an extension of armchair socialism, the armchair blogosphere, a virtual revolution where virtually nothing happens.

Writing is a need to express, and I began writing long before the blogosphere. I was writing mostly for myself, and the stories are appearing on my site slowly - Wai Zandtao. On retiring I started Matriellez - to expunge the stress that was the mess they call teaching. And I began blogging. This blogging would often start with meditation where something would come to me. Then I would sit and blog - putting meat on the bones of the insight. But even this has stopped, and that is not healthy because that is not giving the insight expression. Without realising over the last four years this has also become an important reason for writing - expressing the insight. And blocking this is dangerous as it is blocking insight.

The negativity I felt after the trip to Bangkok is important, and should fuel my education writing - especially the book (8/10/2010 - it hasn't - nor 1/11/2010). I have long since described capitalism as our system of dukkha, and there are many religious people who draw the connection of spirituality to human greed exemplified in capitalism. People complain about our education system as not doing enough, but few attribute education with equal blame. There is a riddle "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" This can be paraphrased "Which comes first, education or corporate capitalism?" There is no answer to the riddle but what is clear is that the process is one. Education creates corporate capitalism which creates education, or corporate capitalism creates education which creates corporate capitalism. What is most important to realise is that corporate capitalism and our current education system are indistinguishable, and whilst there are many people who go to work to return home and fight capitalism few perceive the need to fight the control the corporations have over education in the same way. What is worse is it is now encouraged. Many teachers are blindly following this need for web technology in education. Who can argue that it is necessary to teach children the skills of the web, but to replace real education by this skill teaching is a backward move. Education needs to use the web technologies to further advance self-realisation, not to turn the first 20 years of our children's lives into a different set of skill-learning (as opposed to the current memory-training that passes for exams and education).

This is why Mahachula has deeply unsettled me. First of all the administration has a reputation for not caring about education. Classes are cancelled at the last minute. Apparently teachers regularly travel from Bangkok to Wang Noi only to find classes have been cancelled. The content of the lessons is dubious. There is Dhamma teaching - no argument, but then they also teach core subjects. I believe this is primarily so that the monks can become teachers, but there appears an implicit acceptance that what is needed in education is more dhamma and this will correct the problems of education. Dhamma with the core subjects is enough? Whilst education in Thailand has not sunk as low as western education, the way society appears to be copying the worst aspects of western society it could soon sink that low. Is it enough to learn the dhamma and core subjects by rote, and for these monk-teachers to pass them on to their students accordingly - without question?

I am unsettled by the apparent acceptance by monks and other knowledgeable people that young people can suffer the indoctrination of 20 years of education, and somehow find their homes in monasteries by a haphazard rite of passage in early adulthood. For western monks this rite of passage can be quite disturbing. At the least it requires a complete rejection of established thinking, often resulting in travel to India, Thailand or Tibet. More often it is worse with some form of hitting bottom before they come out of the other side, and start a spiritual journey. And that is for those who do find their home in a monastery or elsewhere; what about those who don't quite make it? They simmer under the surface of western society in some deeply-unfulfilled position, only occasionally allowing their souls to shine through. For many their compassion is limited to the traps of family, and the financial burdens of western living means that their lives cannot be spiritually more fulfilling than family. For some family is enough but for others it is great dissatisfaction, and hence we have one more reason for so much dysfunctionality in western families.

All this is to explain my blocks. Why do people not see the depths of control in education? Why do spiritual people not see the journey starting at a young age? Such as when they are born. My first block is not to measure what I write by impact, and the second is to understand that I need to write about my insights to free the insights. Now to blocked part 2.

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Blocked Part 2 and Brad Warner
Over a year ago a friend was reading "Zen Wrapped in Karma dipped in chocolate". I thought he'd said it was interesting so I bought it, but he was then ambivalent about the book. It therefore joined the shelf, and I expected it to grow cobwebs.

Then I got blocked, and very soon it became clear what was really blocking me, and I should have known - meditation. Meditation over the rainy season had become a source of insights for the education book. Rather than meditation being the essential process of my journey, the book began to be the journey. In itself that is not necessarily wrong, but after a while attachment set in and meditation became for the book instead of the meditation process itself. I therefore became staganant. For some reason (well I know - meditation) I began thinking zen, and decided to read Brad Warner.

It is so interesting. I have often read books that I use to sharpen my practise by bringing it all into question. Now I had previously known that Zen did this, but I didn't like it because it felt like it was questioning everything and going nowhere. Sometimes I felt that way about Krishnamurti as well. But picking up Brad Warner I liked the way he questioned shit - to use his Buddhist terminology. I have to say I could see myself writing the way he does but I never swear when I am writing - except when I say Buddhist shit. Whoops - done it again!! I liked the book because it is about laying most of his conduct bear and saying I am a Zen Master live with it. Now the book could be easily dismissed by saying he is not a Zen Master, but if you accept that premise then the book brings so much of the puritan aspect of Buddhism into question. Love that. Where I go with this book I don't know, but first and foremost it says Zazen - Shikantaza Zazen.

And I looked at that - sitting still and now. I tried it once and the next morning I woke up thinking Shikantaza. And have been trying it since. Can't do it. But in the trying things get better. I don't really know where to go next, but we will see.

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Brad Warner and 5 Precepts
This blog-entry is not complete.

Brad Warner's book allowed people to question, for me that was the intention. Let me start with the precepts:-

Dogen Sangha International as given by Nishijima:-

1 Don't destroy life
2 Don't steal
3 Don't desire too much
4 Don't lie
5 Don't live by selling liquor
6 Don't discuss the failures of Buddhist monks and of laypeople
7 Don't praise yourself or berate others.
8 Don't begrudge the sharing of the Buddhist Teachings and other things
9 Don't become angry
10 Don't abuse the three supreme values: Buddha, the Awakened One; Dharma, the true teachings: and Sangha, the community of Buddhists.

The Five Precepts from Pali:

1. Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.

2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.

3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.

4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiya

I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.

5. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.

And the 5 precepts as described by Thay:-

1. Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking and in my way of life.

2. Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I vow to cultivate loving-kindness and learn ways to work for the well-being of people, plants, animals and minerals. I vow to practise generosity by sharing my time, energy and material resources with those who are in real need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.

3. Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I vow to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.

4. Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticise or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

5. Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking and consuming. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.

I note sexual misconduct is not part of the Dogen Sangha precepts, and I remembered the story of Shikuzo in the book. As the book is out there in your face I am going to assume that his precepts 6 and 7 don't apply here.

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Reaction to Thay talk
What a strange reaction to the Thay talk. I came away angry with myself. What was I doing there?

So why the ego? I can't have been wasting my time. Have I been reading Brad Warner too much? I was sceptical - had doubts. Why?

So I was angry before I went there. I have begun to realise how weak my practice is. My mind is hung up on stuff, and I let it - I even got angry when I saw West Brom had scraped a draw. Why? I don't care, it's football. It's not important so why even a bit of anger. Because I watch it, I make the effort to download and watch it. So I don't really care but that self which makes the effort got angry. I have not bothered with getting rid of this or other distractions, I have got sloppy and am not paying enough attention to the journey. I have anger because of my journey.

This morning I wrote to a friend "I will be envious of his composure and hopefully improve my practice". Well I need to improve my practice but I didn't enjoy the talk. There was some pleasant singing, and then Thay came on. He introduced the choir, there must have been more than 100 monks or nuns on the stage.

I have got ahead of myself. It was supposed to start at 5.00pm but I was warned that late people would have to watch outside on a screen. I don't know if this put people off as there seemed room inside throughout. Anyway I arrived soon after 3.00pm, there were people milling - so I milled. There seemed no point in milling. I moved away and then a queue formed - I diligently joined it. After half an hour in the queue someone came out and said, those with numbers on the left, those without on the right. Immediately the queues changed. But instead of those without numbers joining the second queue, all and sundry pushed into it. The queuing had been a complete waste of time but as I was near the front it didn't matter, I got my seat ticket. I waited around and went in 40 minutes later at 5.00pm. There was some pleasant music for a while, and then what I described above.

Back on track - Thay introduced the choir. He explained the purpose of the chant to Avalokiteshvara as a means of developing compassion, and then they started chanting. My mind reacted against it, it has never been good with chanting but eventually I got into it and it was powerful and enjoyable. I didn't focus on compassion because of my mind, but it was still powerful. Then there was a meditation.

I had had difficulty hearing Thay, and when he started talking it was worse. This made me a little angry, surely for such an important event they could get the sound level right. The scenario reminded me of what had made a friend angry. In truth I have not noticed hearing difficulty in myself - this appears to be the first time, but I do remember my father who refused to admit hearing difficulty and caused others huge inconvenience. I can also understand the quiet-spokenness. The Dharma speaks for itself, why do we need rabble-rousing and reinforcing gestures from the orator. Perhaps if others had difficulty hearing I am vindicated? In the previous talk I attended he had the same authoritative but quiet-spoken manner, and I heard fine. I am 3 years older, maybe my hearing has deteriorated?

I controlled my anger and tried to listen - wasn't catching enough. His image was on an overhead screen - I watched the screen and listened. I caught more of it because of mouth and words being connected. The sound of the translator seemed a suitable volume - I heard occasional Thai words as usual, but Thay was low. After a long while someone pushed the microphone nearer Thay, it was better but not enough. And discomfort worsened. Together with the chanting Thay was on stage for three hours. The seats were cinema seats and not suitable for sitting around for so long, and very soon the discomfort turned to fidgeting - usually the fidgeting occurred during the English. Despite a meditational stoicism I too started fidgeting. Next to me there was a couple with a young child. The child was very good. In the singing there was a song composed by children and the mother had taught the girl the hand movements - what a nice start in life. The child fell asleep, and when she awoke after quite a while the mother began massaging - I felt like saying I needed that.

With the incorrect sound level I had to concentrate more, and for such a long time this became difficult. I almost dozed with the effort. Thay spoke of listening to partners and waiting before giving an answer, last time he spoke of deep listening in a similar vein about Pattani. Mindfulness creating happiness, bringing out happiness from within. There was interbeing, right and left hand hammering nails with the left hand not bashing the right after being hit. Non-duality and discrimination.

I have to mention my reading of a situation with one of the nuns. Not only was the sound level wrong in my view but there was occasional feedback. Such matters should have been corrected. I don't know whether Thay had his own sound people or it was a Thammasat problem. At one point a nun moved a speaker near Thay, I am not sure why but I am guessing a sound issue. Thay waved her away, and she ran off - I think she was distressed. Is the reason the sound level was not dealt with because Thay was unapproachable? This is what it looked like. But I went in angry - dealing with issues, discomfort worsened my frame of mind so I am not prepared to back my assessment here.

Thay was promoting the new Plum Village by describing what could be gained by a retreat - and there was an inappropriate drawn-out plug after he finished. The Brad Warner in me felt money-making, not as blatant as Brad but maybe. Of course Mahayana has to have this element as there is no dana.

I had the right result, I felt angry with myself about my practice so hopefully I will improve it. I expected to enjoy this, and to be honest I didn't - I just felt I should concentrate more on my practice. But my mind was overly critical - a practice issue I know, but why jaunt to Bangkok, this gig was not meant for me; practice is at home.

My attempted recording of the talk did not work so I only have a weak recollection of what he said, and bad memories. From the talk I need to improve mindfulness in my practice, but I already knew that my practice was weak. I had probably been looking forward to it.

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4 Noble Truths and Zen
I have seen shojo Zen referred to as Hinayana, but I have not seen where Zen approaches bring in Hinayana teachings. It appears that the Zen approaches are Soto or Rinzai which roughly correspond to daijo and saijojo. Saijojo is basically Shikantaza, meditation to recognise True-Nature, and daijo is fast-tracking - Great Vehicle. Both approaches use koans as a means of awakening True-Nature. But it appears that neither looks at morality as a prerequisite.

It is kind of as if sila is assumed, or it is known that awakening True-Nature will bring with it morality. But what happens before that awakening? What about the conduct of practitioners prior to awakening. Now shikantaza brings mindfulness, and this obviously helps with daily life, but mindful of what? Is there training on the what?

So the issue is concerning practitioners prior to awakening, people who practice Zen prior to awakening, how do they conduct themselves? As there appears to be no teaching the morality they practice is the morality they have received from their society, and in the West this is minimal.

As insight experiences increase then the mind clears and westerners practicing Zen would begin to alter their morality. But moral practice is a prerequisite for awakening but rather than addressing the lesser vehicle Zen addresses satori or insight.

As Zen practice improves then insight begins to remove attachments, perhaps this is not a conscious process. In shikantaza maybe moral issues will arise and be dealt with, I cannot know this because with Theravada I have worked on (though not finished) morality and attachment. Theravada tends to continue along those lines slowly working on attachment until eventually there is awakening, but Zen cuts through this with its direct zazen approach to awakening.

I therefore do not expect much of Zen to look at the 4 Noble Truths. The first three truths are concerned with suffering and attachment. Now Thay looks at suffering and attachment, and then mindfulness - he is called a Zen master. Which tradition does his Zen come from? Is it Mahayana but not Chinese/Japanese? So Vietnamese Buddhism is Zen?

Then I started looking at Seon, Korean Zen. I see correlation between Zen and Theravada, and then Seon throws me. And I still have no idea about Amida. Anyway for the moment look at the 4 Noble Truths and Zen. It is time to reread the 4 Noble Truths, maybe HHDL?

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The changes in meditation and reading Brad Warner have led me to Zazen. My personal jury is still out on Brad Warner and I don't think I will ever be sure as I don't know him, but in his latest blog there was something quite interesting in his blog "Hardcore Zen":- "The idea of accepting money for teaching Zen is a bit more problematic. I've already said before that I tend to deal with my own conundrum in that area by regarding myself mainly as a writer. Writers get paid for writing. Well, they do if they're lucky, anyhow. I don't feel bad taking money for the things that I write. I don't feel bad getting paid for a lecture by someone who hires me to give a talk about my books. Since I write mainly about Buddhism, this makes my own position somewhat ambiguous. But I'm OK with that."

All my life as a teacher I have compromised in order to earn money so who am I to criticise, so judge this for yourself. But what it does for me is to cast doubt on his books as a means of learning Zen because of his stated compromise.

Wherever he is as a Zen Master, one thing he has done is brought me to Zazen, and that is definitely a good thing. I had a book "The Three Pillars of Zen" by Roshi Philip Kapleau, and I have been studying that. I am not far in the book but at the beginning there are some lectures by Yasutani Roshi. In lecture 4 he describes 5 types of Zen (taken from Keiho-Zenji) and then in lecture 5 he describes three types of Zazen:-

" Joriki

" Kensho-godo

" Mujodo no taigen

Joriki is about concentration - samatthi. Kensho-godo is called satori awakening, living in Buddha-Nature or The Unconditioned or Amata, and Mujodo no taigen is actualisation of the Supreme Way in our daily lives - mindfulness here and now - here and now judgement-free awareness. This is totally consistent with how I saw myself in terms of Theravada.

The five types of Zen are:-

" Bompu

" Gedo

" Shojo

" Daijo

" Saijojo

Bompu is like the mindful manifesto (write a short blog). It is mindfulness or meditation on a personal level ie make you feel better.

Gedo means "outside way", and is meditation vaguely about religion. It also includes meditation for supranormal powers - I consider this "Glamour".

Shojo means "Small Vehicle".

Daijo means "Great Vehicle".

Saijojo means the Zazen which Dogen-zenji chiefly advocated - Shikantaza.

Here again we have the description of vehicles which is so difficult, and for me fundamentally derogatory to Theravada - the same terminology used by the Tibetans. Isn't it better to avoid such divisive terminology? But the second Zazen characteristic, Kensho-godo, is easily compatible with the Unconditioned, so Theravada as practised on a non-dogmatic level fits in with Shojo and Daijo.

I have just realised some of what Shojo means, and it came to me right at the end of today's meditation. When it says the small wheel it means the little things, but this is not describing importance. Let's use the bicycle and car analogy. The car goes fast and can get you from A to B quicker so this suits the western mind better, but there is a drawback. Let's consider the bike and walking, it takes longer to get from A to B but you see what is going on, and in both you are fitter! The journey does not just require you to get from A to B but you have to know what is going on and get there in a fit state. Therefore Daijo is not enough, you need Shojo. I think sila (moral integrity) is important here. Your actions need to be moral, and they come from Shojo. This is what Theravada does well, it insists on morality. It takes the journey slowly, you see what is going on, and you arrive in a fit state - dana and institution withstanding. This brings me back to the Brad Warner dilemma. Some of his actions appear to bring his Zen Master status into question, this is where shojo comes in. Whilst I would not do what he does, it is shojo that is the judge - and himself. With the small vehicle as the little things it is not derogatory if they are understood as integral and necessary, HHPR's talk glossed over them, and the way I read these 5 types of Zen I also glossed over them initially. But that cannot be done. Sila is a prerequisite for the Path. In the temple monastics are required to live morally, when they leave the temple and cope with the mire of daily life their morals come into question. Morality as developed in the temple cannot be as deep as that developed in the conflict of daily life, by that I am not saying monks when they disrobe become less moral but daily life and morality is a different battleground. The same is true of ego. In the monastic environment ego is quite naturally discouraged. Whilst I am sure there is egoism present, egos will not be battling for ascendancy as they do in daily life. Dealing with ego in daily life is different, and sharpening.

Equally I can ask Theravada about the Great vehicle, the wider issues - the bigger issues? Does Theravada focus on Buddha Nature, the Unconditioned, the Amata? True Nature? The recent talks on mindfulness illustrate the point. Mindfulness is about the little things in daily life. The teachings were never meant to deal with the whole picture, is it correct to describe them as shojo?

There was an interesting quote from Bhante on the Thich Nhat Hanh talk at Mahachula:- "He (Thich Nhat Hanh) gave a talk on … yes, mindfulness. His topic is always the same. The message is always the same. Some people have complained about this - Ven. Kusala was not impressed. In his native Sri Lanka you MUST quote pali stanzas and then expound on them if you wish to give a dhamma talk. Also Thich Nhat Hahn is not the writer/speaker of choice for Buddhist intellectuals who like to get grist for their thinking mills." Appealing to the intellect and mindfulness are perhaps the difference between shojo and saijojo. Mindfulness is so important in daily life - Mujodo no taigen, it is the depth of mindfulness that is required not an intellectual understanding of it. Having said that I have attended two talks (the second one I have had confirmed as there being a sound problem), and both talks spoke of mindfulness. It is interesting that the other thing he spoke of in both talks was deep listening, deep listening about mindfulness? And that leaves Saijojo - Shikantaza. That is most important for me Here and Now as it has led to an improvement in practice. As far as I understand it Shikantaza is Sitting Here and Now - just Sitting. Previously in meditation things come up and I have gone with them. In some ways that is good but I never used the breath. So sometimes I would go off and stay there. That can be good if it is for example mindfulness. But occasionally I went nowhere, and didn't always come back. Now I am trying to work at Sitting Here and Now. This has improved Joriki - Samatthi, and with greater focus has helped me with stuff. I had also stopped with the timing so now I am timing especially in the evening and that is good - hard but good. This timing has helped greatly with determination. Previously during meditation I would sometimes give up if it was going nowhere, with regards to determination in daily life I would also give up on vows. Now with the timing I don't give up, and I am not giving up on my latest vow - so far and hopefully forever.

Eyes open. That is interesting. I am having difficulty with eyes open but need to work with it. When I keep my eyes open my focus tends to go and I feel sleepy. So close them? No, because my focus with my eyes goes in daily life - my eyes wander. I even looked at a prostitute last night because she was pretty. That was not good - or sensible. Keeping my eyes open in meditation makes the eyes part of the mindful control in daily life.

Shikantaza also means living in Buddha Awareness, your actualisation of True Nature in Zazen. This brought Zazen into focus for me. I had always known that the practice was important but practice as actualisation of True Nature is stronger. I have not been keen on spiritual aspiration as purpose in practice because it might be a desire, but being True Nature is fine with me - and the same? I sit because it is right. Sitting improves me, and eventually it is True Nature. This is not a desire it will happen, but suppose it doesn't it is still right.

I haven't discussed Kensho-godo - satori awakening. This is what I think of as Insight. So we have Zazen in Theravada terms as:-

" Samatthi Meditation

" Insight Meditation - Vipassana

" Mindfulness Meditation

with an understanding of the Unconditioned.

For me each insight is so important yet without this blog I forget what the insights are and I do not develop my understanding of them vis-à-vis my understanding of shojo from the meditation. In this blog that insight has helped put Theravada and Zen in balance as well as Tibetan - a huge insight, but it occurred at the end of meditation and its impact might have been missed in consciousness. It certainly feels that way.

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Suicide by Woman
This blog is not politically correct, and if anyone were to read this blog - no traffic, they would be the last. On the appalling American TV shows I watch there is a phrase "Suicide by Cop" in which the criminal rather than being incarcerated gets shot by the police in a vainglorious impossibility for escape. I am not sure of the parallels here with regards to criminality and escape but it is certainly vainglorious and pointless to present this blog.

To begin with I will start with Nature. The dominant force in Nature is the survival of the species, and the leading functionary in this is the mother. The relationship between mother and child is so dominant that all other questions disappear in comparison. Try telling a mother to be moral when her child is threatened? It is difficult to examine such an issue because of cultural differences, but from the different children I have taught there is no doubt that the first instinct amongst teenage girls is that of motherhood. In the West this is quickly relegated as sexual activity and social positioning rear their heads, but I still maintain that concerns of teenage girls are primarily with children.

It is hard to recognise this in the West because of the corporate dominance in education. Business is happy to relegate Nature's procreation to the interests of profit, and soon the concomitant immorality inspired by business raises itself with the demand for intellectualism and competition leading to increased promiscuity. For many of our Western women what is this promiscuity? The dominant male-world of business increasingly demands of women an equivalent sex-drive. The demands of their appetites become appeased by the recognition that a woman's gratuitous sex-drive is the same as the man's. But is this the case? In other cultures women seem perfectly content with the notion that they must be pure for marriage. Such traditional cultures requiring virginity in a wife did not have women ranting and raving about all kinds of issues as they do in the West. These Western strident women would argue repression of the traditional women. That maybe the case but in truth their arguments start from a position of superiority and that is far from certain.

Let us consider the dynamics involved in such strident women. Through the general miseducation of the West they have come to perceive equality as being equal rights in society. These equal rights, gender equality, mean that western women measure themselves by requiring equality in the workplace, and because of this equality they demand equality at home. For those with an intellectual outlook this appears perfectly reasonable. Growing up in the culture that I did, I also subscribed to this, promoting gender equality and the consequences of such. But this approach ignores two very important factors, Nature and the dissatisfaction of such women. By Nature I mean the deeply-rooted procreational instinct of having a baby and bringing it up. The strength of this instinct cannot be measured by intellect, and it is for this reason so many western intellectual women are so dissatisified their intellects created by western education demand of them equality and their Nature demands motherhood. And there is only one way to perceive the strength of this Nature - meditation. It makes no sense to say that men and women are not equal, as human beings of course they are. But what does Nature intend? Can a man demand equality in childbirth, in the nurture of the child by having the same bond as the mother? Intellectually they may want to but by Nature that is not possible. So with women the roles are not equal. I contend that the role of motherhood is more important and that the role of man can never be equal. Further when women demand equality in the workplace their demands are devaluing the importance of motherhood because of their emphasis on the workplace arena.

But intellectually this is not at all appealing. It doesn't appeal to my intellect but as a meditator I have long since learnt of the misdirection of intellect.

Often it is hard to see the validity of meditation, it can only be experienced - experience ratifies the insight. The experience that ratifies the insight for me is the deep dissatisfaction expressed by women. This harangue is usually directed towards men many of whom deserve it, but the source of the problem is not with the men alone. I contend that the majority of the dissatisfaction lies in the imbalance between the demands of gender equality in the workplace and the Natural demands of motherhood. Intuition tells the woman that her priority lies at home with the children, but intellect drags her into work and whilst there she is competing with men and therefore she is required to spend all hours at work to maintain that equality. And the child suffers. Increasingly she demands of the partner that he participate in the home but even that is not satisfying because the woman wants the home to be the way she wants it, she wants to bring up the child the way she wants it, but she does not have the time to do it. Intellect lays the blame on the notion of gender equality and therefore the man becomes the harangued object of her imbalance.

In this situation neither the woman nor the man are at fault. We have allowed a business-dominated society to dictate to Nature. The emphasis of society needs to be reoriented to the upbringing of children in the home, instead it is geared to the greed of the few in the corporate executive suites. Women in business initially develop animosity towards men because of their own battles with Nature, but in the business world this cannot be expressed so they soon take out their anger by becoming hardened. For me Thatcher exemplified this. Rather than her being an ambassador for the Liberation movement she typified all that is wrong with this gender equality. She became nastier than many of the men around her as she eschewed all morality from her actions and did all that she could to promote the greed of the few. The lady is not for turning was fed by the imbalance of her distance from the nurture of Motherhood to her inhuman policies for the benefit of the corporate few.

Where does such a discussion lead? And specifically what is in this for men? The apparent direction is towards the reshackling of women into the home whilst men continue to exploit in the workplace. I would rather the direction that the intellectual gender equality is taking us than a return to such exploitation. There needs to be a societal move towards a recognition of the primary importance of the nurture of children and how that is inextricably linked with motherhood. But with the corporate paradigm that is unlikely to happen as they benefit from the exploitation of women in the workplace.

As for men it is hard to see what they gain in relationships. Women argue that they suffer childbirth and are often the people who do two jobs. Whilst this is undoubtedly true, measuring in this way reflects an intellectual position. Childbirth cements the bond with the child. Nature has decided that childbirth is hard but She has also decided on the benefits of motherhood. A man supports in childbirth, and can do nothing more. In bringing up the children the man can start to do more but from the birth of the child the child orients to the mother, only after a certain stage of development does the father begin to be a strong figure.

So what happens in the home? The man is expected to provide, some do so willingly without asking anything in return. But what happens when a return is asked for? The man questions what he is getting. The mother has the relationship with the child, and she has the home to bring the child up in; what does the man have? When courtship occurs the man has the devoted attention of the woman. The woman is seeking a provider, is trying to entice him, and the man enjoys the attention and all that goes with that. Then the baby comes and the man is by Nature placed second. The mother's attention quite naturally falls on the child, some men accept this but others resent this. What can replace this attention is love for children, but the child's love is firstly directed to the mother. Quite often by the time the man has come to terms with the relationship with the wife they have become devoted to the children. But not always, some men still lament the lack of attention from the wife.

As for the home itself this is the province of the woman. It is the place for bringing up the children, and she makes the decisions because of this. The man goes out to work and comes home to a place that is not intended for him. After a while this recognition takes the form of socialising with colleagues - often alcohol. At least there the man gets some of the attention he had initially got from the wife. Here the emphasis on home is so important as without such an emphasis the marriage can break up. The man has to accept that the home is some sort of priority. At this stage he is getting little attention from the wife who is now devoted to the children. If the man was seeking satisfaction from the woman and from the workplace then very soon the home would have little meaning. Yet maintaining the interest of the man is essential as provider.

The stresses placed on the gender equality woman however militates against maintaining this interest. This woman is pulled by the demands of the children, and her workplace places huge demands on her. Because of these demands the children become a burden instead of a joy, as she is forced to reprioritise in terms of the workplace. And the only way she can get relief is if the man also contributes to the home. For the man who has given the home priority this is no problem but for the man stressed out by business seeking succour from his wife on returning home all he feels is a barrage as the wife is burdened by children and a stressful job.

Under these circumstances it is amazing how many men stay in marriages as it requires a high level of good heartedness for a man to go to work, and to put all his earnings into a house that he has limited control over - as it effectively belongs to the mother and the children.

Now a woman will argue that she also works but when she comes home, she has her bond with the children and the home that she has made for them. Whilst the burdens of a career mother are greater than that of the man, she does have satisfaction in the home and children. What satisfaction does the man have? Without the home being a priority very little. Maybe his children give him joy, but in the intellectual gender-equality home where parents are burdened by the home and careers the children often behave badly and increase the burdens.

Previously I have discussed the notion that the feminist movement got sidetracked. Rather than increasing the emphasis on procreation and child-rearing in society the feminist movement became a gender equality in the workplace movement after business gained control of it. Now we have a high proportion of marriages breaking down as a consequence. I am not calling for a return to the situation of oppression of women that existed prior to the feminist movement but I am asking that women consider that they were the glue that held many families together And because they don't see the importance of that glue single-parent families are becoming more common-place.

And there is one important role that fatherhood plays - although unfortunately not often enough. The role of mother is amoral - she would like her children to have morals but it is not as important as looking after them. The man however can provide a moral direction, unfortunately too often he doesn't but I feel this is a moral role for the father. And this role is too frequently eschewed by the mother who loses perspective because of the burdens. With a meditating father this role would be more important as then the purpose of Nature might be perceived. For those who do not meditate the above discourse will be seen as chauvinism and stubbornness, maybe for some who meditate as well. Rationally such a discourse can never be understood.

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Zandtao Treatise
Zandtao Treatise started today. Everybody's life is different, the way to the understanding is different, where we go is the same. How far we go in each lifetime is difficult to know but we all must help each other - help Our Collective Self. Maybe Zandtao Treatise can help some - based on the Zandtao core approach.
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Changing Buddhisms?
I don't feel that I am. It is interesting. I just saw a brief clip from Brad Warner that described Zen as coming out of North India as being a radical effort to return to meditation - dhyana, apparently Zen is dhyana lost in translation. Shikantaza meditation seems to me to be helping to build concentration - #7 of 8-fold Path. Is there an inconsistency?

Shikantaza is there to focus on providing the conditions for True Nature - Unconditioned. No inconsistency.

4 Noble Truths are important in describing the little things. Without the day-to-day morality there are great dangers in just trying to experience True Nature. For me Buddhism needs both - 4 Noble Truths and trying to get True Nature. I don't know True Nature, I feel I have touched it a bit but in reality how many meditators have? Yet for those focusing on True Nature the Shikantaza approach says "sit here and now", and wait for True Nature. Meanwhile where is their moraliity? At the same time if their mind is not moral, how can they ever be True Nature? Without good adherence to the 4 Noble Truths or the Precepts can the mind be ready for True Nature? For some in Zen is there a conflict in that they are waiting for True Nature and True Nature is waiting for Sila - moral integrity.

Sila is a prerequisite, the mind needs to have moral integrity before it can be True Nature. This maybe what is meant by the lesser vehicle but if we stay stuck in this lesser vehicle do we arrive? If we lose sight of the Unconditioned then aren't we stuck?

So here we have the great danger of dogma, and the intellectual pursuit of dogma. So I feel I am moving forward with Theravada, or maybe moralising Zen? For me they are the same. It matters not what "they" say, it matters that I am on the journey. I definitely am again.

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Beaten by compromise
I met an intelligent man who had been a Swiss banker. He was beaten. We discussed life in general, and is quite often the case with people in finance he knew exactly where the source of scoiety's problems lay. And quite rightly he said what do you do? Of course what can you do against the power of the money men?

Then we started discussing health, and he used his sharp brain coming to the conclusion about food and how we should eat naturally. But he didn't. I could imagine him saying "what do you do?"

But it started me thinking about the affect that compromise has on the mind. Doesn't it set a pattern of "what can you do?"? We are all forced to make compromises in this world that needs money. We cannot genuinely say, this is how I believe work should be done - certainly true in teaching.

So what happens to the patterns of the mind when we have a lifetime in which we compromise? We have a mind that is compromised. So what happens in our mental battles during meditation? The mind is compromised, and yet the mind has to make the decisions to remove attachments and defilements. Then there is a tendency to say "what can we do?" - it is so hard. Because our minds have been compromised.

I know my mind has been compromised for 30 years, so when I am dealing with defilements what can I do? I hope that with seeing that my mind has been compromised I can deal with them better.

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Following this on Littlebang, "Theravada looks at the 6 bases of consciousness (the 6 senses) where the Mahayana has 8 bases of consciousness - the six senses, plus 'manas' (roughly the sub/unconscious where defilements and delusion arise) and the 'alaya' (storehouse) consciousness which is your kammic repository.", I investigated a little. Manas and alaya are part of the yogacara system used in some Tibetan Buddhism - I am not sure whether it is in Zen.

The three evolutes of mind (citta), as described by Manjusrimitra, are:

1. All-ground Consciousness (Alaya-vijnana).

2. Obscured-mentation (Klista-manas).

3. Manifest localized Consciousness (Pravritti-vijnana).

(please see below for more info).

I didn't perceive manas as being the source of defilements and delusion, I thought that was our own consciousness (6th sense). I perceived manas as being intermediary between the ground consciousness and human consciousness. In fact in the quote below it does say that manas is the source of defilements, but how useful is it to think of it that way as we have to deal with our own defilements?

For me manas is useful because of its function as some kind of collective unconscious. How do people recall past lives? Are the siddhis connected to manas? Are these phenomena explained by manas? If they are, without manas how does Theravada with 6 senses explain such phenomena? A karmic repository is useful, without one how does Theravada explain? Below it says "local consciousness is ordinarily known" implying that maybe manas may be known extraordinarily?

Quoted from here.

Now, when we come to examine the classic Yogacara treatise known as the Bodhicittabhavana, written by the seventh century master Manjusrimitra, we are told that mind and mental-activity arises in the Universe in three ways. The three evolutes of mind (citta), as described by Manjusrimitra, are:

1. All-ground Consciousness (Alaya-vijnana).

2. Obscured-mentation (Klista-manas).

3. Manifest localized Consciousness (Pravritti-vijnana).

It is only the last, or third state of mind, which is ordinarily known to us. This third evolute of mind-in-general, is the individual body-based consciousness of everyday experience. Even though there is a great deal of mental activity and memory that goes on beyond the veil of our conscious experience, who we are as an organic sentient entity, is localized to the body.

But Manjusrimitra's discussion about mind does not start with an analysis of our localized finite consciousness. Instead, he begins, as it were, at the very beginning, in that he first lists what is called "all-ground consciousness". All-ground (Skt. alaya, in Tibetan Kun-gzhi, the whole or entire basis) literally means the basis of everything, the ground of the whole of existence. All-ground Consciousness therefore means a consciousness that is co-extensive with the ground of all. Furthermore, the Sanskrit word alaya carries the meaning of storehouse, or receptacle. The alaya-vijnana is thus considered both the common ground and the repository of everything.

All-ground Consciousness is the complete store-house not only of the imprints (vasanas, trace impressions) of every experience ever occurring, but also retains the accumulated content of all sentient being's lives. This unimaginably vast Universal Consciousness exists as an endless continuum from the very beginning of beginningless time, until the final end thereof. Buddhism is imbued with the idea that the world operates according to the law of cause and effect-the principle of Karma. Every action therefore leaves its own vestigial imprint (vasana).

Even the tiniest shift in energy from the time of the inception of existence may be included in what is here meant by karma or activity, and the Big Bang - the arising of the natural forces or impulses (samskara) of Creation itself-that started it all, is likewise part and parcel of causal proliferation. And every karma, even the most imperceptible activity, leaves its imprint. Therefore Manjusrimitra argues:

"The vestigal imprints (vasanas) of the creative impulses (samskara) as a whole, proliferate and accumulate. When the [compounded] power (prabhava) of this has ripened [i.e., has obtained critical density] then Mind-in-itself (cittatva, essence of mind, pure Being) shines forth (abhasa) as subject-identity (atmabhava) and [external] objects..."

What Manjusrimitra is saying here, is that when critical density is reached, a symmetry-collapse manifests, shattering the wholeness of original Intelligence (vidya) and giving rise to the duality that we see in Creation. For Manjusrimitra intelligence is primary and the world as such secondary. The world is the stage on which the play of consciousness occurs; a consciousness born out of the collapse of pre-Creation's latent state. This duality manifests therefore as all things throughout the world-both as observing consciousness and so called external objects.

The split between the conscious intelligence emerging in the universal order and all that consciousness may be aware of, gives rise to a fundamental obscuration that lies at the basis of samsaric existence. This obscuration emerges as obscured mentation (klista-manas). Manjusrimitra says:

"Identification (lamba) with the activity of the continuum (santana) of accumulative vestigal imprints gives rise to manas, experienced in terms of a 'self' (atman), which however it is not."

The further obscuring effect of the power of the creative impulses (samskara) inherent in the nature of existence only further leads to subtle diminutions of states of awareness, giving rise to the six sensory consciousnesses localized to sentient life.

What Manjusrimitra seems to be saying here, is that from the first an intelligence is emerging from the fabric of Creation, but this intelligence, which is one with the inherent ground of existence itself, resulted from a breakdown of pre-cosmic wholeness. An inherent flaw in this emerging Universal Mind, is itself the cause for an obscured mentation to arise, which is the basic root of division between subject and object, spirit and matter, consciousness and phenomena. Intelligence is inherent to Creation, but somewhere along the way it became caught up in the duality that creation itself necessitates.

Furthermore, when and where ever living organisms begin to form, or for example, in the moment when conception occurs between ovum and spermatozoon, a further diminution occurs, in the form of a quantum collapse throughout the generalized field of obscured mentation (klista-manas). This transformation is an immediate alteration from the state of undifferentiated monad (vyakta) to that of individual particle (vyakti); in other words, from that of nonlocal unified field, to that of a localized consciousness (pravritti-vijnana). Thus multitudes of conscious beings take birth as distinct waves, or individual consciousnesses, within the otherwise endless single field that forms the great swelling ocean of universal mind.

Manjusrimitra adds, "It is from that [i.e., from those three stages in the evolution of mind], which has the characteristic of successive contamination, that conceptual-constructs between 'self' (atma) and 'other' (dharma) continuously reiterate."

This outlines the threefold nature of intelligence in the Universe, as seen through the teachings of Yogacara. Elaborating on the trend of the argument put forth by the Yogacara masters, it would seem that the lives of sentient beings are part of a complex energized feed-back loop between the All-ground Consciousness of the whole universe, on the one hand, and the entire bio-mass of infinitely diverse numbers of beings on the other, in which Klista-manas operates as the mediating principle. Should we take this concept a step further, perhaps it might be worth suggesting that the nature of individual sentient life is to act as experiential sensory-units for the implicate totality? In which case, we are all part of a vast unified field of energy that is mutually becoming ever more conscious, as it progressively adds to the accumulated body of its over-all information.

As Manjusrimitra says:

"Once that intelligence becomes the site of unbounded activity, imprints (vasana) proliferate endlessly and indeterminately. With the ripening (vipaka) of these vestigal imprints, further conditions for their production multiply profusely. The ripening of imprints are the co-operating conditions from whence the concatenation [of effects resulting in the emergence] of organic beings (deha) occurs."

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Meditation - Right View
This is just a quick note. There are people around pushing meditation - such as the mindful manifesto, I even read one unconnected person who said the manifesto was god because it didn't have any of the Buddhist connections. Then I met someone who used mantra meditation as a process for calming the mind. This quite clearly helped this person. That person then combined it with techniques based on an individual's needs, and this left me with a sad feeling. The techniques that were helpful personally left me with a feeling that they could be misused by the ego. They could provide a selfish awareness whose fruition was that the individual coped with life better. But there was no required compassion, universal truth, however one ascertains it, did not exist. It seemed that such techniques could provide a person with an even stronger ego, greater separation.

I have always believed in the power of meditation, and the ability of the heart to guide. I am now convinced that the techniques can be used by the ego, and hence the need for right view. For such people the right view might deflect the ego from its self-entrenching course.

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Monastic Function
Another quick note - if I make a note in meditation I must write a blog. A monastery has two functions - to provide refuge and to maintain a tradition. I am not sure how this came up, as it seems self-evident? Do monasteries uphold these functions? Here in Thailand they are places of community - a level of refuge there. They provide funeral services - same. Struggling to write more!!
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Meditation Posture
I have been mostly comfortable with the stool that Gavin gave me ten years ago. This is a t-shaped stool so I sit on it with my legs under the bar of the T and have a fairly good straight back. Recently I looked into Shikantaza, and there there is great pressure to sit lotus. To be quite honest I haven't given the lotus much of a go. The reason for this is my knee. When I was young my knee locked when playing football, a 600 angle. My knee was wrapped in a thick bandage and I attended physiotherapy two/three times a week with an ambulance coming to collect me for a while. At university I was particularly unfit in my first year, drunk and not playing any sports, and regularly my knee would lock - just by jerking it unnecessarily. These locks were irritating and slightly painful, but no more. Being a child I wanted it solved, and I went with my parents to Oswestry where I had a painful x-ray injection - at least the first time was. My recollection was that they said the cartilage was loose, and if they removed it I would have a serious problem with arthritis when older. Being a child I said remove it, but thankfully they declined. Over the years I discovered that if I kept the muscles around the knee strong the knee functioned well, I played football for years that way.

But I never tried the lotus. Trying to get the left knee bent and away from the vertical would risk locking and not a mild locking. A few months ago a parent of one of my students said her mother was a masseuse, and hope arose. When I attended the sessions she got my knee in positions they had never seen since I was 12. Hope rose further. I even went out and bought a meditation cushion. I then explained to her that I couldn't sit lotus because of my knee, and I also think there was a problem with my left hip in that I don't think it has proper movement. But I am not sure. Anyway she had a go at my knee and my hip - somewhat painfully. Then I tried sitting and my left knee was several inches off the ground whilst my right knee was on the ground, my right foot however was not resting on my thigh. I tried this for a day, 45 mins in the morning and 40 mins in the evening, and when I finished I couldn't move for a while.

But then the next day I came to meditation and started the same, and it came to me - this was meditation for posture not for the mind. My mind was out of control because I hadn't meditated the previous day. I went back to my kneeling posture.

When I am at Buddhist meetings or when I attended Harnham I always feel self-conscious about posture. It is not that anything is particularly said, but there is undoubtedly an imperative that a Buddhist sits in the lotus posture, even if verbally people speak with tolerance. This is not my imagination but part of the ego that exists in Buddhism - even though the same will refute this vehemently. I will have to learn to live with my self-consciousness, whether it is my knee or my hip I cannot sit lotus. Does anyone want a nice cushion?

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