TREATISE ON ZANDTAO Email Zandtao:-Mail to Zandtao
Zandtao Treatise TREATISE ON ZANDTAO

Creative Commons License

Enquiry to Zanatta

Now we move back inside again. As children we pick up an appreciation of life from our parents, schools and peers. This collection of ideas and facts is received from outside, but for the most it is not internalised as understanding. One could imagine this collection as residing on the surface of our minds, and that by internalising we mean somehow that the collection changes to understanding and starts to reside deep. But instead this collection resides in the realm of the intellect subject to the intellectual organisation that comes from that aspect of mind. But does intellect understand? Is it a process of logic to understand?

At the beginning of life we are born with instincts to survive, these are facets of Nature. We have hunger, we seek emotional sustenance from our parents and then our contact widens seeking that sustenance from society. To gain emotional sustenance from society we concur with the ideas and facts that are presented to us, we more or less accept social mores, and we are forced to accept the law. Instinctively in our upbringing we appropriate a collection of ideas and living practices that might well be described as personality. Through custom and practice personalities form interactions that are our societies, so the driving force that adheres society is essentially instinct. Look at the exaggerated position the sexual instinct has in society, a definite indication that society is instinctual.

So we could start to enquire whether there is more than instinct. Our personalities are based on instinct and a collection of information and thoughts, but is there more than this instinct-based approach? Beyond instinct? Are we really just instinct?

For most people what is gained through upbringing lasts through their adult lives until death. But for some what is received is not enough. Doubt develops, the doubt that comes deep from within, the doubt that comes from the Path. For these people the received information becomes subjected to question. Do we live in a democracy when the laws benefit the rich? Do our elected democracies work when “our representatives” don’t do what we want collectively? Once these basic questions are asked, a can of worms is opened. How far is that collection of ideas and facts that we gained in our upbringing true?

Soon we can begin to question so many assumptions about society, and then about our personality. Once the rigid assumptions of our upbringings are undermined then the restrictions that enclosed our Paths are taken away and we begin to question the results of being subject to instinct. Do we need to be greedy? Can’t we live sustainably? Is it necessary to have more money than the next person, a bigger house, that latest smartphone? Why do we conform to what is expected of us by the received customs and practices? Why are we afraid to move forward? Why are we afraid to follow our Paths?

By pursuing this enquiry we undermine the received knowledge that has accumulated through instinct. One of the most notable aspects of instinct is its need to survive, that is why it is there in the first place – to show us how to survive when we are young and not old enough to make mature decisions. Instinct does not wish to lose control, it increases our fear, it identifies with the emotions and ideas so that when that received info that is our upbringing is questioned instinct lashes out; I have previously discussed the way intellect defends itself.

A significant aspect of this collection of ideas and facts is the belief system. Whether we subscribe to a religion or not we grow up believing a set of information that we have received, a belief that we live in a democracy, that our government is interested in our well-being, that there is a God, that there is reincarnation. The truth of some of our belief systems can be established, but to do so we need to start questioning. Very quickly the illusion of democracy falls away. But what about other beliefs?

Once Path casts doubt on our received belief system then we become vulnerable, and it is important at this stage that we learn tools to mature. What usually happens is that because our minds are educated to accept belief systems, when we start questioning we replace society’s belief system by that of someone else’s. Go East, and we accept the belief system of Buddhism. Politically we recognise the ownership of the world by the few, the delusion that money is substantive, and when demagogues stand up and explain this, we believe them wholeheartedly – including some questionable beliefs. This doesn’t help as all we have done is replace one belief system with another; we have replaced the received illusion of our upbringing by an alternative illusion. The real issue is the education process that has taught us to accept. We instinctively accept what we receive, and when we step outside for a moment we use the same acceptance process to wipe the surface clean of the system of our upbringing and replace it with the alternative system. In the end neither brings satisfaction.

Once we have genuine enquiry then there are no ideas that restrict the Path, this is freedom. Once we have genuine enquiry we are not told what to do by a received system, we make our own decisions.

And perhaps one of the most difficult belief systems to comprehend is that of the self, and now I want to begin exploring self. What does this word mean? This word is bandied around the world of Eastern religions and their western colonies, and it is difficult to come to terms with. Self also has the word selfish attached to it as well as some concoctions such as Self and higher self. Are these all different? Up until recently I would have said most definitely so.

Also attached to this world self is the word consciousness and in some cases there is a kind of synonymous feel to the two words. That was definitely my case. From my earliest time since I was reborn, and by reborn I mean following the time I hit bottom with the drink when I was 23, I started on the Path and for me the Path then included a notion of Spirit. I use capitalisation now as I did then to show that some kind of spiritual consciousness had entered me at birth, I was this Spirit with a body and .... I don't remember more specifics than this now in my dotage. And generally this kind of "Spirit entering" has stayed with me and evolved since then. Even at that time I had some vague notion of reincarnation, a kind of "conservation of energy principle". When we die where does human spirit go? It is preserved and is reborn elsewhere. I never went as far as to think that I could remember previous lives but I definitely felt that I had reborn.

This developed under Buddhism as Kamma entered the fray. I used Kamma as a guiding light for the reincarnation process. I worked with this theory. When I was born it was my Kamma to have to deal with certain weaknesses, and if I didn't deal with those weaknesses those weaknesses came back in someone else to be dealt with. I even developed a terminology for this:- BillThis and BillNext. These were names not of personalities but of the collection of weaknesses that Kamma expected to be paid. I thought this was what Buddhism intended although in truth that would not have mattered. I believed it was true and that was what I would live by.

Kamma and chakras came together. I experience chi, and can feel the tantien (2nd) when I am doing nai gung. Chi entering the different chakras during chilel is also real, and therefore not an idealism to have faith in. I have not experienced all the chakras but I am prepared to accept the others - ying tan (6th). I have also felt the 5th chakra during a chi exercise. Gary Zukav's chakra meditation worked well, and that was the 7 chakras. Chakras are real. I still howvere am not sure about kamma. And here is the theory surrounding kamma and chakras. When we are born kamma has its job for us to do. By influencing the chakras - setting a kind of chakra blueprint, energy is attractedto each of the centres eventually formulating our human existence. Unlike chi itself which can be experienced none of this particular kamma theory can be proven - and that for me eschews it. (An interesting question for elsewhere is how Tan Ajaan (Ajaan Buddhadasa) views kamma as it is clear he considered it real.) So this consolidation process of manifestation around kamma and chakras was also part of this reincarnation theory.

To describe my history of self seems so paltrid, for something that has been so important to me these above descriptions just seem like nothing. Note this.

Next Buddhism threw in another curve ball - anatta, the doctrination of no-self. I studied this and incorporated it into my understanding, at least I thought so. It fit in well with my anti-intellectualism. Intellect is a faculty of mind which has become overblown by western society. , Whilst clearly there are intellectual processes, to give them the importance they have attained is a process of egotism. I have often contrasted intellect with insight. We have strata upon strata of education facilities, universities and so on, where the enshrinement of intellect is the objective. Yet what is the real learning faculty? Insight through meditation or otherwise. I have often personalised intellect in its struggle against the truth, in a sense I have seen intellect functioning as a self trying to survive against the wisdom of insight sypporting itself by innumerable academic structures. Anatta suggested to me letting go of intellect as a self.

But letting go of self has been important in many other ways. I have internalised pain and anger. I remember that night in Nyanga in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. I remember I had been reading a spiritual self-help plan that taught that we internalised some of our emotional experiences, and that carrying this internal baggage was harmful. Five years earlier I had emerged scarred from a particularly turbulent relationship; it was the relationship that did in for me the romantic love of Hollywood - I never wanted love again. I began searching in my stomach region for this lady. And I found her, I found the hurt. Instead of backing off I went in to experience the hurt again. I began crying, but there was more to come. I kept going in until my tears had scooped out all the hurt of that relationship. But it didn't stop there, for whilst I was there I felt buried emotions about my parents. I cleared them out, and drained but light-headed I went to sleep. In the morning I felt light but still drained - the experience was that powerful. Since then I have had emotional clearoutsbut none as powerful as the first. I consider that the emotions had formed a self that had substantiated inside me. This emotional self affected my decisions, for example fear of relationships or anger in my family. One of the issues attached to meditation is that when people are beginning to calm themselves such emotional selfs rear their heads causing problems. Some are afraid of these emotions so steer clear of the meditation. This is saddening as facing them and expereinceing them as I did allows release of this attached emotional baggage.

The anatta that I had understood encouraged the non-formation of new selves so letting go, detachment and non-attachment was a regular part of meditation. But until I started studying Tan Ajaan I had never really began to understand what self was.Now we move back inside again. As children we pick up an appreciation of life from our parents, schools and peers. This collection of ideas and facts is received from outside, but for the most it is not internalised as understanding. One could imagine this collection as residing on the surface of our minds, and that by internalising we mean somehow that the collection changes to understanding and starts to reside deep. But instead this collection resides in the realm of the intellect subject to the intellectual organisation that comes from that aspect of mind. But does intellect understand? Is it a process of logic to understand?

At the beginning of life we are born with instincts to survive, these are facets of Nature. We have hunger, we seek emotional sustenance from our parents and then our contact widens seeking that sustenance from society. To gain emotional sustenance from society we concur with the ideas and facts that are presented to us, we more or less accept social mores, and we are forced to accept the law. Instinctively in our upbringing we appropriate a collection of ideas and living practices that might well be described as personality. Through custom and practice personalities form interactions that are our societies, so the driving force that adheres society is essentially instinct. Look at the exaggerated position the sexual instinct has in society, a definite indication that society is instinctual.

So we could start to enquire whether there is more than instinct. Our personalities are based on instinct and a collection of information and thoughts, but is there more than this instinct-based approach? Beyond instinct? Are we really just instinct?

For most people what is gained through upbringing lasts through their adult lives until death. But for some what is received is not enough. Doubt develops, the doubt that comes deep from within, the doubt that comes from the Path. For these people the received information becomes subjected to question. Do we live in a democracy when the laws benefit the rich? Do our elected democracies work when “our representatives” don’t do what we want collectively? Once these basic questions are asked, a can of worms is opened. How far is that collection of ideas and facts that we gained in our upbringing true?

Soon we can begin to question so many assumptions about society, and then about our personality. Once the rigid assumptions of our upbringings are undermined then the restrictions that enclosed our Paths are taken away and we begin to question the results of being subject to instinct. Do we need to be greedy? Can’t we live sustainably? Is it necessary to have more money than the next person, a bigger house, that latest smartphone? Why do we conform to what is expected of us by the received customs and practices? Why are we afraid to move forward? Why are we afraid to follow our Paths?

By pursuing this enquiry we undermine the received knowledge that has accumulated through instinct. One of the most notable aspects of instinct is its need to survive, that is why it is there in the first place – to show us how to survive when we are young and not old enough to make mature decisions. Instinct does not wish to lose control, it increases our fear, it identifies with the emotions and ideas so that when that received info that is our upbringing is questioned instinct lashes out; I have previously discussed the way intellect defends itself.

A significant aspect of this collection of ideas and facts is the belief system. Whether we subscribe to a religion or not we grow up believing a set of information that we have received, a belief that we live in a democracy, that our government is interested in our well-being, that there is a God, that there is reincarnation. The truth of some of our belief systems can be established, but to do so we need to start questioning. Very quickly the illusion of democracy falls away. But what about other beliefs?

Once Path casts doubt on our received belief system then we become vulnerable, and it is important at this stage that we learn tools to mature. What usually happens is that because our minds are educated to accept belief systems, when we start questioning we replace society’s belief system by that of someone else’s. Go East, and we accept the belief system of Buddhism. Politically we recognise the ownership of the world by the few, the delusion that money is substantive, and when demagogues stand up and explain this, we believe them wholeheartedly – including some questionable beliefs. This doesn’t help as all we have done is replace one belief system with another; we have replaced the received illusion of our upbringing by an alternative illusion. The real issue is the education process that has taught us to accept. We instinctively accept what we receive, and when we step outside for a moment we use the same acceptance process to wipe the surface clean of the system of our upbringing and replace it with the alternative system. In the end neither brings satisfaction.

Once we have genuine enquiry then there are no ideas that restrict the Path, this is freedom. Once we have genuine enquiry we are not told what to do by a received system, we make our own decisions.

And perhaps one of the most difficult belief systems to comprehend is that of the self, and now I want to begin exploring self. What does this word mean? This word is bandied around the world of Eastern religions and their western colonies, and it is difficult to come to terms with. Self also has the word selfish attached to it as well as some concoctions such as Self and higher self. Are these all different? Up until recently I would have said most definitely so.

Also attached to this world self is the word consciousness and in some cases there is a kind of synonymous feel to the two words. That was definitely my case. From my earliest time since I was reborn, and by reborn I mean following the time I hit bottom with the drink when I was 23, I started on the Path and for me the Path then included a notion of Spirit. I use capitalisation now as I did then to show that some kind of spiritual consciousness had entered me at birth, I was this Spirit with a body and .... I don't remember more specifics than this now in my dotage. And generally this kind of "Spirit entering" has stayed with me and evolved since then. Even at that time I had some vague notion of reincarnation, a kind of "conservation of energy principle". When we die where does human spirit go? It is preserved and is reborn elsewhere. I never went as far as to think that I could remember previous lives but I definitely felt that I had reborn.

This developed under Buddhism as Kamma entered the fray. I used Kamma as a guiding light for the reincarnation process. I worked with this theory. When I was born it was my Kamma to have to deal with certain weaknesses, and if I didn't deal with those weaknesses those weaknesses came back in someone else to be dealt with. I even developed a terminology for this:- BillThis and BillNext. These were names not of personalities but of the collection of weaknesses that Kamma expected to be paid. I thought this was what Buddhism intended although in truth that would not have mattered. I believed it was true and that was what I would live by.

Kamma and chakras came together. I experience chi, and can feel the tantien (2nd) when I am doing nai gung. Chi entering the different chakras during chilel is also real, and therefore not an idealism to have faith in. I have not experienced all the chakras but I am prepared to accept the others - ying tan (6th). I have also felt the 5th chakra during a chi exercise. Gary Zukav's chakra meditation worked well, and that was the 7 chakras. Chakras are real. I still howvere am not sure about kamma. And here is the theory surrounding kamma and chakras. When we are born kamma has its job for us to do. By influencing the chakras - setting a kind of chakra blueprint, energy is attractedto each of the centres eventually formulating our human existence. Unlike chi itself which can be experienced none of this particular kamma theory can be proven - and that for me eschews it. (An interesting question for elsewhere is how Tan Ajaan (Ajaan Buddhadasa) views kamma as it is clear he considered it real.) So this consolidation process of manifestation around kamma and chakras was also part of this reincarnation theory.

To describe my history of self seems so paltrid, for something that has been so important to me these above descriptions just seem like nothing. Note this.

Next Buddhism threw in another curve ball - anatta, the doctrination of no-self. I studied this and incorporated it into my understanding, at least I thought so. It fit in well with my anti-intellectualism. Intellect is a faculty of mind which has become overblown by western society. , Whilst clearly there are intellectual processes, to give them the importance they have attained is a process of egotism. I have often contrasted intellect with insight. We have strata upon strata of education facilities, universities and so on, where the enshrinement of intellect is the objective. Yet what is the real learning faculty? Insight through meditation or otherwise. I have often personalised intellect in its struggle against the truth, in a sense I have seen intellect functioning as a self trying to survive against the wisdom of insight sypporting itself by innumerable academic structures. Anatta suggested to me letting go of intellect as a self.

But letting go of self has been important in many other ways. I have internalised pain and anger. I remember that night in Nyanga in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. I remember I had been reading a spiritual self-help plan that taught that we internalised some of our emotional experiences, and that carrying this internal baggage was harmful. Five years earlier I had emerged scarred from a particularly turbulent relationship; it was the relationship that did in for me the romantic love of Hollywood - I never wanted love again. I began searching in my stomach region for this lady. And I found her, I found the hurt. Instead of backing off I went in to experience the hurt again. I began crying, but there was more to come. I kept going in until my tears had scooped out all the hurt of that relationship. But it didn't stop there, for whilst I was there I felt buried emotions about my parents. I cleared them out, and drained but light-headed I went to sleep. In the morning I felt light but still drained - the experience was that powerful. Since then I have had emotional clearoutsbut none as powerful as the first. I consider that the emotions had formed a self that had substantiated inside me. This emotional self affected my decisions, for example fear of relationships or anger in my family. One of the issues attached to meditation is that when people are beginning to calm themselves such emotional selfs rear their heads causing problems. Some are afraid of these emotions so steer clear of the meditation. This is saddening as facing them and expereinceing them as I did allows release of this attached emotional baggage.

The anatta that I had understood encouraged the non-formation of new selves so letting go, detachment and non-attachment was a regular part of meditation. But until I started studying Tan Ajaan I had never really began to understand what self was.



The wave does not need to die to become water. She is already water. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Next Chapter/Contents