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The Tez Board
September 17, 2002
5:14 pm
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Cici
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Hi Tez,

I thought the best way to get your attention was to post something here. I hope you're doing well.

I wanted to ask you about Buddhist philosophy when it comes to birth and miscarriage. I don't know if you know but I miscarried 3 weeks ago tomorrow, it was my first pregnancy. I fully converted to Buddhism about 5 months ago but I'm finding it hard to find info on Buddhist attitudes about birth and miscarriage.

I did find information about the Jizo figures popular at shrines in Japan for babies who have died in utero, in early infancy, or from abortion. But I am interested in the journey of the being itself. I know that Buddhist mothers often give offerings to help usher a new being into their womb, but what about the being itself? Does it simply pass into another lifeform? Is that part of that being's and the mother's karmic destiny, to experience just those months of being created?

I've asked local Buddhist meditation circles. I hope you don't feel overwhelmed by these questions. Feel free to remain silent if you don't feel comfortable discussing this with me. I just don't have people locally with knowledge of Buddhist doctrine about this subject. Thanks in advance.

September 17, 2002
6:00 pm
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Cici,

I'm truly sorry to hear about your miscarriage.

To answer your question from a Ch'an Buddhist perspective, I would resort to the Diamond Sutra. This is Hsing Yun's views on a quote from that sutra that is relevant to your question.

Master Hsing Yun is the 48th Patriach of the Ch'an (Zen) school of Buddhist philosophy. This is what he says about Buddhist beliefs about the existence of an enduring 'soul'.

"... the Buddha says,'If a bodhisattva has lakshana of self, lakshana of human beings, lakshana of sentient beings,or lakshana of a soul, then he is not a bodhisattva.' This means that any and all notions of individuality are delusions. No notion of self is real. All lakshana of self are false. To make the point as forcefully as he can, the Buddha states that all notions related to the delusion of selfhood are false; not only is the self a delusion, but so too is the notion of a human being, a sentient being, or a soul. If a bodhisattva believes that any of these constructs are real -- i.e. has lakshana of any of them -- then such a one is not a bodhisattva."

In essence the 'baby', whilst extant, is not an independent permanent entity that can 'go anywhere'. That is not to imply that there is not an ongoing 'continuum' of cause and effect relating to the 'life' of your miscarried child.

From a Buddhist perspective,(my opinion only) that karmic continuum, your baby, would proceed into the 'bardo realm between human births'(Tibetan Buddhism) until causes and conditions are right to bring about the formation of another embryo in either your womb or that of another woman. If you become pregnant again soon, it will probably(only probably) be that 'karmic continuum' in due process of maturing and coming to fruition.

Of course, compassion is a crucial part of Buddhist philosophy - one wing of the 'bird'. So no genuine Buddhist would want to play down or trivialize your loss in any way whatsoever!!

Who (who is not a Buddha, aharat, bodhisattva etc)knows anything, Cici for sure and for certain?

Experiential knowledge of absolute truth is only my quest not 'my reality' - though I've had fleeting glimpses, of which I retained very little if anything.

I do hope you're coping well with what must have been a terrible time in your life.

September 18, 2002
5:19 pm
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Thanks Tez - grasping at straws, but so many women get genetic tests, etc etc - to find out why this little 11 week old life simply stopped sparking. We all look for answers.

And of course there is no definitive. Yet for some reason the simple act of naming that life gave me comfort. Oh the tangle, musty attic that is the human psyche!

September 19, 2002
6:49 pm
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Cici.

I guess naming your baby was an act of paying respect to it as being something other than an 'object'. It was an act of love, indicating to that baby that it was wanted.

If conscious awareness exists in the Bardo between death and re-birth, and I suspect that it does, then that conscious awareness that was present in your womb, is probably receptive - even now - to that act of love.

Next time it will undoubtedly have a different name but life goes on.

Your 'spark' analogy was apt. We all are but tiny, short lived sparks in the flames of the Mind's eternal quest to manifest expression of itself in all forms of life.

Even though in a very complex matrix, causes will continue to have instant by instant effects ad infinitum - even after the demise of our so very temporary solar system!

September 20, 2002
10:54 am
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One of my Tibetan Buddhist friends called me and said that perhaps this being needed to experience conception and growth in the womb and that was it, since a human being is completely formed after only 12 weeks (isn't that amazing?).

In times when you are confronted with a strong emotion, rage, love, grief - more often I think with the negative spectrum of emotions, there is always that impulse to find greater meaning somehow, somewhere. As if by looking at the big picture your puzzle piece will make sense.

In a dark moment my husband stood before me and said, "Maybe it was God's will" and I almost spat on the ground.

I did say, "God doesn't give a f*ck."

My Mom (had 2 miscarriages and my oldest sister died shortly after birth) and I wondered how many women's Chrisitan faith was lost after an incident like this.

September 20, 2002
6:06 pm
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Cici.

I think that you make an irrefutable point.

Regarding your miscarriage, God, if he exists, is either a callous sadist, is beyond caring, or knows that your loss is somehow in everyone's best interests.

I personally find all three alternatives repugnant and would want no part of any relationship with such a god.

Even in the event that your suffering is in your best interests, we are still left with the scenario of an all powerful god who cannot find a better way of fostering your best interests without either causing or permitting your suffering. Hmmmm!

I am in full agreement with the Buddha who upon attaining enlightenment under the bodhi tree, realized that no god, as defined by the Christian religion, exists. However, I believe that Mind - spelt with a capital M - is boundless, all powerful, all-knowing, and unconditionally loving, exists.

In effect I believe that Mind is our true nature - our Buddha nature. Unfortunately we also have minds - spelt with a small 'm' - that have been conditioned such that we have created a perceptual reality based upon the limits and distortions of our sense organs. Getting past that mind was in my opinion the great triumph of the Buddha.

If the Buddha's teachings are right then you, me, your baby are inseparable - only the differentiating preconditioned mind is telling us otherwise.

Why would Mind choose to delude itself into fragmented deluded minds? How else could Mind know compassion and love without the prerequisite fear and vulnerability that results from ignorant delusions?

Perhaps we are just Mind knowing all human experiences through our deluded minds.

Again, I am showing the limits of my own deficiencies and delusions. πŸ™‚

September 23, 2002
12:03 pm
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Hmmm - why did that read as the Buddhist philosophy equivalent of "Who's on First?"

It's strange how conceptually, we are little specks in the infite expanse of space-time. Yet individually we seekt o eke out some greater meaning in what could just be statistically random events.

My obstetrician comforted me with statistics - 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, 30% of them are pregnancies that went undetected. So, this is merely a bad flip of the coin. A "tails" instead of the much desired "heads".

Have you seen "A Beautiful Mind"? The minute equations that could explain every occurance as something beyond statistical odds. A reason for everything. An equitable explanation - is that piercing the veil of reality, or just trading one set of illusions for another?

September 23, 2002
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Cici.

Buddhist philosophy places great store in the fact that every effect has at least one cause and/or a set of conditions. Further every cause has at least one effect given the right set of conditions. The right set of conditions is the key here in dictating when the effect occurs.

Planting good roots is a major tenet of Buddhist belief. It is interesting how cause and effect ties in with this.

"The roots of our phenomenal bodies are our karma. The roots of our thoughts are our intentions. The roots of our perceptions are the consequences of everything that we have ever done." - (Hsing Yun, 2001)

Since perceptions play a major role in whether we suffer or not, your very understandable grieving over the loss of your child is bound up in your perceptions of that event. Thus by deduction your past behavior, intentions, thoughts, and karma are inextricably bound up in this cause and effect web that involves also that of your unborn child.

'Chance' is a construct of a mind that has little or no understanding of cause and effect. No wonder that Nash found a statistically base equation to describe 'chance' events. I suspect like all other mind constructs, Nashes equations are based upon his perceptions - perceptions that are based upon consequences of his past behaviors - that are based upon his past intentions and perceptions that are based upon his past conditioning that is based upon his past experiences and his perceptions of the consequences of the ramifications of those events for him in the future.... and thus the wheel of sharp knives rotates. How to break this vicious cycle??? That is the Buddhas legacy.

September 24, 2002
12:04 pm
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I remember discussing a strange experience I had while on acid with a friend recently. I closed my eyes and saw a fractal, and I perceived myself zooming in on this fractal - which was essentially my own life, splayed out before me, repeating itself in cycles that seemed endless - the sight of this filled me with an extreme discomfort, and as I zoomed in closer that discomfort was replaced my dread - I saw my life in its entirety repeating over and over, with only very minute changes happening with each reptitition. My overwhelming sense was that if I were to find the right "key" - I would be able to escape the endless repitition.

What is so startling about your assertion is that Nash was in full-blown delusional paranoid schizophrenia when he discovered his equation which changed economics thereafter - so if his equations were based on his perceptions, and his perceptions were skewed (in our terms), yet his equation was applicable to the economic structure (in our terms) - hmmmmm. Tip of the tongue syndrome. Actually no, I was able to construct the proof without the solution. Story of my life.

I also had a recent discussion with my roommate about religious figures. I agree that they exist historically - Jesus Christ, Siddhartha, Muhammad - but disagree about the idea of divinity incarnate (unless you express enlightenment as a form of divinity in the human sense of the term). But, based on what you wrot, the same situation with Nash was then replicated for these iconic individuals, on a grander scale (or perhaps the schizophrenic as philosopher - there's an idea)?

September 24, 2002
6:39 pm
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Cici.

Yes... I would agree.

We tend to regard anyone who is having experiences that are not locked into our comfortable conceptual framework of physical trigger source, sensory reception, cognitive interpretation, emotional and cognitively based standard 'script' response, as mentally ill. We then classify and categorize these 'mental illnesses' in order to feel comfortable with being able to explain their behavior. We say such things as "Oh he's schizophrenic." and then we can dismiss the whole thing easily. We can lock the 'sufferer' up for his or her own 'protection'. Then we feel OK. Hmmmmm!

But to get beyond all the preconditioning of our deluded minds is to 'see' things as the really are. I'm sure that to try to put such experiences into words is futile. All our words have been derived in order to describe and symbolize in 'nmenonic' form our sensory derived perceptions of the world that we think we see 'out there' - little, limited egos peering out through tiny 'peepholes' seeing only what the filters and distorters allow in.

It's Plato's cave scenario with us seeing shadows on the wall and thinking they are what is 'really out there'. Even the construct 'out there' is an ego fabrication.

Regarding such historical figures such as Christ, I doubt that today he would have any truck with Christianity whatsoever. He would probably be just as scornful of it as he was of the Pharisees. I suspect that he had intimate contact with Buddhism, Hinduisn, Jainism etc between the ages of 16 and 30 when he travelled extensively throughout the world known to him. I believe that he tried to bring compassion and prajna wisdom into the strict, pedantic Judaism of the time. Present day Christianity is the result of the distortions introduced by the deluded, pre-conditioned minds of his followers in 'interpreting' his message ever since.

Oh boy... I'm on my soapbox. πŸ™‚

September 24, 2002
6:57 pm
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Cici.

Perhaps the "key" that you seek is to be found in finding out what it is that causes your life's "repeating itself in cycles that seemed endless".

As you are undoubtedly aware, the Buddha defined very clear models of this cyclic process and like his 'finger pointing to the moon' analogy, he pointed to various 'places' where this cycle can be effectively broken. But do you want to 'finish the game'?

Do you want to expand beyond the petty comfortable confines of the ego and, in realizing 'all', no longer experience the spectrum of human experiences? No longer experience maternal, fraternal, romantic love etc?

Beyond, beyond gone beyond!!! Parinirvana!!

September 25, 2002
1:25 pm
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The idea of escaping suffering is so deliciously tempting, but then you get to the part where, to give up suffering, you must give up it's compliments - intense joy, desire, dependence that flow from parenthood or romantic love.

I find BUddhis appealing, but the American interpretation that has emerged since the '60s leaves something to be desired. Long time practitioners become these blissed-out, asexual, calm beings - and although I enjoy the idea of them, there is something inside me that long for a spark, a fire, a flame.

I guess it's my youth. I love that sensation of recklessness, or passion, being passionately driven to do/write/say/speak. The balance is what's difficult - and picking and choosing what to be passionate or reckless about.

So I have admitted that the Buddhist ideal isn't really all that tempting to me. Maybe when I'm older. My spiritual quest trudges onward. BLAH! BLAH, I SAY!

September 25, 2002
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Cici.

You said, "... to give up suffering, you must give up it's compliments - intense joy, desire, dependence that flow from parenthood or romantic love."

This is the sticking point for most of us - I suspect. We want the 'good' without the 'bad'.

When it comes right down to it most of us have great difficulty defining what makes something good or bad. We resort to such things as 'conscience', the biblical 'do unto others..' and to using our 'feelings' as a reference or criterion for determining what is good or bad.

The Buddhists relate 'goodness' to not intentionally doing harm to sentient beings and to not acquiring any more negative karma that will have suffering as a future consequence.

Most of us want peace and happiness yet we seem all too willing to go to war. We are deluded into thinking that killing our enemies leads to peace and happiness. What we don't seem to realize is that the seeds of our own threats were sown in the past by us. We then resort to laying the blame for our past 'baggage' on our parents.

When it comes right down to it the quest for peace and happiness has to happen within 'ourselves'. The mind is a powerful thing - it can create a hell out of heaven and a heaven out of hell.

We all live and die in our head. We are the only ones that we can truly know.

Each of us is in an unholy wedlock in which one partner, our emotional centre, is intimately connected in permanent intercourse with our cognitions. Both partners in this turbulent relationship torture the living daylights out of each other. They then seek to find the external 'culprit' that is 'causing' their pain. Yet both of these brain located partners seem blithely unaware of their intimate intercourse with each other. The result is the angst each is causing the other.

Thus the dance continues with humanity futilely seeking happiness in external people and things. One has only to look at a nearby thread to see this in action.

Pleasure is all about that which we believe will enhance our survival. Pain is about that which is detrimental to our well being. The survival that I'm talking about is not just survival of the body; it includes the well being of the ego, that self-cherishing separate entity, that cancer that erodes any chance of happiness.

According to the Buddhists, there is no permanent self only a flowing process that is intimately interacting with many other processes till all is merged into one. Emptiness is form, form emptiness. There is not nothing and there isn't anything. Yet we are here!!!! Wow!!

I think that any discrimination between a person, place or thing and anything else is a delusory construct of our past sense organ based conditioning. Suffering is the result of this delusion. The challenge is to do what has to be done to 'survive' yet to not be attached to the outcomes nor fooled by the illusion.

It is as if one tiny water molecule is agonizingly trying to maintain it's independence and self-worth in the middle of the ocean and blaming other molecules for its suffering. Yet sooner or later electrons from that molecule will be interchanged with those from other molecules. Even the molecule itself will evaporate with many others and return as rain. Form, no form, form - all illusion.

Now I am lecturing. πŸ™‚ Hmmmm!

September 27, 2002
1:53 pm
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I remember learning about the chariot idea in my Buddhist Philosophy class: Just as the term β€˜chariot’ is used to describe a combination of components - pole, axle, wheels, framework – so, what we call the self is a term which is supported by a combination of the 32 parts of the body and the five khandhas – feelings, perception, mental formations, consciousness, and corporeality.

Actually I had a very intimate experience with the realization that conditioning of the sense organs creates the delusion of perception. I was talking with my husband about my Mom, who is from Vietnam. He mentioned that she had such a thick accent that it's difficult for him to understand her sometimes (eg., she was talking about the Swiss Alps but it came out as "Switch Aups"). I said, I can't hear an accent. I understand her perfectly. Sometimes I have to get her to repeat herself but that's about it.

I've heard her voice since before I was born, so it's "normalcy" was established through a conditioning of my sense organs that began before I was even born into the world. His conditioning did not involve the constant murmur of her accented voice, so he hears the accent. It boggled me for a little bit. A simple observation, but a strange consequence.

I mean, from that idea you realize that what you perceive, colors, shapes, objects you identify - are merely "things" that you were taught to label as such by someone else. I suppose if you grew up isolated with your family and they all referred to what we call a table as a tree, then they would be confused by a visitor - and the visitor confused as well.

Reading the philosophy pales, I guess for me, in comparison to actually working through the proof myself experientially and observationally.

Strange for me, though, when you said "The challenge is to do what has to be done to 'survive' yet to not be attached to the outcomes nor fooled by the illusion." Sometimes I wonder if the Buddhist philosophy denies our basic animal nature. When I was pregnant, and the progesterone rapidly increased (with its companions morning sickness and bloating, ha ha) - I felt many strong impulses and "emotions" (it's difficult to identify them as such because they weren't really emotions per se) - that emerged from a source within me that I can honestly say was definately instinctual. From the food my body told me to eat (it would even reject the food if I ate what the cravings did not demand), to when to sleep, to these very strong, protective, feelings of attachment.

Now I am ambivalent - being that I've never been pregnant before, nor was the subject broached prior to conception. But this could be conditioning. Mental constructions, etc. Yet - I felt almost as if my own will had no say. As if part of my brain had been completely taken over.

By they way, I bought a Japanese Kizo figure (I don't know if I mentioned that). We are planning to make a small offering to help usher the being that I carried for a while into a new re-birth, wherever that may be. Also, for some reason, after we named her I felt this overwhelming comfort - and much of my sadness over the loss seemed to seep away. We named her Aislin, it means "dream" in Celtic. Of course this is all for us rather than the being, but the sense of peace that settled over me when we named her was very moving...

Anyway, Lecture away. Give it to me!!!! ha ha ha

September 27, 2002
6:24 pm
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Cici.

You said, "Reading the philosophy pales, I guess for me, in comparison to actually working through the proof myself experientially and observationally."

Yes... this is one of the critical Buddhist messages - experiencing the Buddha's teachings for the self. Then even the Buddha Dharma itself has to ultimately be discarded once its usefulness has ceased.

And you also said, "Sometimes I wonder if the Buddhist philosophy denies our basic animal nature."

No... Buddhism would not deny the existence of our animal nature. However most Buddhist monks and nuns would probably say that, for most of us, our 'perceptions' of it are delusional.

We tend to see an 'animal' as an 'object' that has a 'nature'. We tend to perceive by discriminating between parts of a continuum and 'objectifying' these 'parts';therein 'perceiving' them to have a separate identity an illusory permanence, a 'selfhood', a separate 'nature' etc. These perceptions of 'duality' cause us to suffer.

Since most of us hold these perceptions in common,we have tended to unquestioningly acccept these perceptions as the existence of an 'objectified external reality'. We thus similarly help condition our offspring without the slightest realisation of what we are doing. Thus the perpetuation of the illusion of a 'self versus other' world continues.

In the Diamond Sutra it says, "A bodhisattva should give rise to a mind that is not based on anything." Now both the depths and the implications of that statement are staggering. Hsing Yun,(2001) in his excellent book 'Describing the Indescribable' says "Enlightenment is full realisation of the truth contained in this line, while delusion is nothing more than an endless misunderstanding of it."

I suspect that I, like most of us, want 'enlightenment' to empower myself in some way, to free myself from suffering, to feel of more worth, to feel more important....;on and on the list goes.

Central to all of my motives for wanting enlightenment is the delusion of a 'me', an 'I' that I am trying to preserve or bolster in some way. Yet central to the message of the Diamond Sutra is the delusory nature of the perceptions of self that 'I' have. Even my language continually gives me away in this regard.

Is all of this just a mind game? I think not. I fully believe that this, the greatest of my delusions, is at the very core of my suffering. The delusion about which I speak is the delusion that I have something called my 'self' to save or lose.

My constant striving and the frustrations that result from my perceptions of failing to meet certain 'ego preservation' standards causes my emotions to erupt. I then experinece these emotional arousals as feelings of fear and I 'suffer'.

Until 'I' can "give rise to a mind that is not based on anything" the 'ego' will reign supreme as it has for eons and suffering will continue. You experienced this infernal continuum in your 'acid trip' - "I saw my life in its entirety repeating over and over, with only very minute changes happening with each reptitition."

However there is much hope. Enlightenment can come with the 'snap of the fingers'! When it does, I suspect that we will see that nirvana was always there all along - not somewhere else or something that we had to obtain. πŸ™‚

From my understanding of your last paragraph, I sense that your sadness signals the passing of much of the pain. I sense that your sadness is the beginning of acquisition of the acceptance so necessary for the letting go of this horrible episode in both your life and that of young Aislin.

September 30, 2002
12:52 pm
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I think so - I doubt I could say this to other women grieving over miscarriages, but I appreciate the perspective that this experience has given me. Seeing the progression from self-focused, intense grief to the point I am at now. It's strange to see the comparison - an in-your-face example of how there really is no such thing as my "self" - the me that was a pregnant woman, the me that is a grieving woman, the me at work, the me in my relations with my husband - I have begun to differentiate and see how very different they are.

I was thinking about that over the weekend. How, in a sense, you could say everyone has multiple personality disorder. I was paiting a watercolor of my husband when he was about 5 years old, swinging on a swing - when I paint I use a grid and enlarge the image to the shape and size I want to use, and when I was sketching I studied the facial expression and thought how the picture just looked like a child in a swing, perhaps related to my husband in some way, but in terms of experience, personality, they are not the same person. This child came and went long before I even knew he existed.

I don't know if my rambling makes sense, but I had a strange sense of realizing something that I already knew in a more coherent way.

And yet - I feel like there's this demon of delusion living in the middle of my chest, with his hands up over my eyes, and each time I come to some realization like this, he doubles the guard and I have to wrestle with my realization and this demon.

I do enjoy talking with you about this subject. I missed it!

September 30, 2002
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Cici.

Your "ramblings" make a hell of a lot of sense.

Because the changes in 'ourselves' occur imperceptibly, we easily fall prey to the illusion of a permanent self, don't we. Then one day we look in the mirror and see the change. We notice a wrinkle that wasn't there before. But still we like to cling to the illusion that we are developing into 'something better'. Personal development became my mecca. Then my dear old dad 'developed' Alzhiemer's disease. I watched his cognitions slowly fade away until there was only his 'little child' left. That 'little child' was his now unbridled and uninhibited set of emotional memories. He either threw tantrums like a little child or, if I came on strongly, would resort to appeasement tactics like a child would. I asked myself, "Where is that 'permanent' dad that was always there - whether I liked it or not?" That father existed only in my memories. I think we take 'snapshots' of people places and things. We update the 'snapshots' without realizing the impermanence of all things. Yet we cling to a sense of a 'permanent self' out of fear of the alternative - a changing and ultimately decaying 'self'. The thought that this 'imagined self' might be the result of the interactions of atoms under the influence of force fields conforming to some pattern that is also interacting in a seemless fashion with many other processes, is daunting. We fight against this by trying to stand out from the crowd. Yet we are terrified if asked to speak at a large gathering for fear that we will stand out as a consequence of our inadequacies.

I'm back teaching at the moment. Because I haven't being doing much teaching recently, my mind has overwritten some of the cognitive data. I was shocked to see my stupid mistakes. I then realized that my mind is far from static and permanent. In fact there is nothing permanent about me at all!!! If there was no permanence about my father - he both started and ended his life as a little child yet different - then, where is his 'self', now that his body has been converted into gas and ash? Yet the effect that he had on this world continues like one billiard ball striking another on an infinite, frictionless billiard table containing many ricocheting balls. Could we consider a pattern of ricocheting balls to possess a permanent 'self'? Yet there is a conscious awareness that exists. What is the basis of that conscious awareness? Just neural activity? If so how do NDEs and verifiable 'out of body' experiences occur when all measurable brain activity and sensory organ function ceases?

Very interesting...subject-object, subject-object, subject.... whoops - no object? πŸ™‚

October 7, 2002
10:28 am
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I posted this in the general threads but no one comments on my existentialism. πŸ™ ha ha ha

I'm reading Sartre's "Essays in Existentialism" and was reading his essay on the humanism of existentialism. In my own mind I sometimes think of existentialism as the Westerner's effort towards Buddhist thought without the cultural supports. I wonder - if Asian culture had been more similar to Western culture, if Buddhism would have flourished as it has in the East. Because with the insurgence of Islam, suddenly Buddhism went from a roar to a mumble again. No more warrior king to have a BUddhist kingdom.

"There is no universe other than a human universe, the universe of human subjectivity. This conenctino between transcendency, as a constituent element of man - not int he sense that God is transcedent, but in the sense of passing beyond - and subjectivity, in the sense that man is not closed in on himself but is always present in a human universe, is what we call existentialist humanism. Humanism, because we remind man that there is no lawmaker other than himself, and that in his forlornness he will decide by himself; because we point out that man will fulfill himself as man, not in turning toward himself, but in seeking outside of himself a goal which is just this liberation, this particular fulfillment."

I realize that Buddhism dictates that we turn inward. But I remember once discussing privacy with a friend from Japan, who said that in Japan, privacy is something that occurs inside your own head, not physically. So in the same token - do you see a contrast between the dictates of Buddhist thought and the cultural dictates of Western culture?

Like, we percevie privacy as a physical thing because, well, frankly we have more space to indulge this mind-body connection. Is it just more difficult to overcome this mind-object from a Western perspective?

October 7, 2002
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Cici.

This is my opinion on your topic - but it is only that - my opinion.

I think that all thinking is based on past conditioning and is therefore delusional. Now the basis for the awareness of our very temporary thoughts, that is another question.

Privacy is a mental construct - it is a fortification that we construct in our head when we want to fend of others from peering at the 'self' that we imagine we are but think that we shouldn't be. As such it certainly is subjective, just as subjectivity is also a mental construct.

In the end we get caught up in words, all of which are 'fingers' pointing to many different 'moons'. To see the moon we have to lose our preoccupation with the 'fingers' - our mental constructs!

The two questions that you posed were:

"... do you see a contrast between the dictates of Buddhist thought and the cultural dictates of Western culture? ... ... Is it just more difficult to overcome this mind-object from a Western perspective?"

Q 1.
Yes they are miles apart - chalk and cheese!

Q 2.
Perhaps it is. We in the west take so much of our materialism for granted. Thus the dualism of subjectivity-objectivity is so ingrained that we find it extremely difficult to get even a tiny glimpse at what is meant by 'duality'.

Understanding the delusive 'duality' of emptiness (sunyata) and form, beyond duality, is an aim at the very core of experiential Buddhism - and the aim of experiencing the ever present absolute reality of 'nirvana' or our Buddha nature is quintessential Buddhism. How can the heavily conditioned westerner make a start into such a 'foreign land' of non-thought, yet reality none the less?

The irony of my words are that they are riddled with the very duality, demarcation and differentiation that I propose prevents us from realizing our Buddha nature and absolute reality - as if there is any difference. πŸ™‚

October 8, 2002
10:32 am
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Sometimes I think that words must get in the way, Tez. When I was little I would try my best to remain silent for days at a time, but always ended up caving, not because I had this overwhelming urge to speak, but because the conventions accepted by other people dictate that unless you have a physical or mental block, we humans communicate through speech. I wondered if it was God's cruel joke (when I was little) - that we could get so close to saying what we mean, but never quite hit it on the button.

Then I was in high school and depressively lost without the firm belief in God that I had relied on throughout childhood and I read "Portrai of the Artist as a Young Man" - where Joyce wrote of an essay he penned as a child, he wrote of "always reaching, never attaining" - and was thoroughly punished by his Jesuit instructors.

I mention words because of your answer to my second question. I thought of the differences in structure and content between Asian languages, and the "romance languages" and the weird hybrid that is the English Language. The way we construct a concept using words that are built on letters, whereas conceptual ideas are ingrained in to Asiatic thought by their very written word.

I KNOW you've definately experienced the whole "tip of the tongue" phenomena - where you know the gist of what you want to say, but the specific words fail you for some reason.

So, once you've attained a realization of the true nature of existence, the physical body itself must cease to be, right? Because doesn't physicality in and of itself bind you from realization? huh? say what?? ha ha ha

Here is a funny exerpt I picked up from a Cary Tennis advice column in Salon.com. Well, amusing to me anyway:

"I too am frequently filled with intense loathing and despair, and I sometimes suffer mild panic attacks when I feel trapped in a situation or feel that there are too many items on the shelves in the grocery store. It's lessened in intensity over the years, but I don't really have a solution for it, other than to recognize what it is and that it will pass, and to just keep going.

At times I have thought that I was going mad. At other times I have thought there was something wrong with the world, or with the grocery store, something that could be fixed if only people would listen to me. Early in life, before I had accepted that these episodes were just a part of my particular life, I spent much time trying to blunt the sensations by ingesting various substances, and by fleeing, or changing the landscape or the curtains. I believed for a time that I was unhappy because the world had not yet become politically and culturally enlightened. I thought if I worked toward the political enlightenment of others I might stop suffering. I built a social outlook out of my angst; I wore my suffering like some wretched penitent. I believed that my symptoms were a kind of special knowledge.

But now I think I was completely wrong about all that. My problem was simply that I could not handle the pain and ambivalence of being alive and conscious. As I was walking to the grocery store yesterday thinking about your letter, I realized that the only ultimate solution to my unhappiness would have been to be suspended in warm liquid or cotton, weightless, tube-fed, in miasmic darkness, with soothing oceanic music, all the time. In other words, my problem was only that I was no longer living in the womb.

As a young man, I was too arrogant and too spoiled to accept that I had to spend time suffering like every other fool. My suffering had to mean something. I couldn't accept that it was just random mental bullshit. Now I suffer as a daily routine. Life goes on. I know my suffering is just a phenomenon like any other phenomenon. I might get bitten by a mosquito but I will not blame capitalism. I will put some lotion on it, or maybe ignore it until it goes away.

And, if I recall, that is the kind of attitude that adults seemed to have when I was a child. Remember? We would fall or get stung and cry and cry, but when they had a mishap they just picked themselves up and put on some lotion or a bandage.

So I would suggest that if you are anything like me, you are just a little bit crazy, and a little bit unhappy, and perhaps a little bit sensitive and creative and empathic, and you can live with it."

October 8, 2002
5:48 pm
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Cici.

"So, once you've attained a realization of the true nature of existence, the physical body itself must cease to be, right? Because doesn't physicality in and of itself bind you from realization? huh? say what?? ha ha ha "

Well... yes and no! There are questions of degree. One can have flashes of realizations that are quickly lost as the 'leaves on the mirror surface lake' rejoin after being temporarily parted. On the other hand if the leaves are removed completely then the 'Adonais' can see his/her truly amazing beauty. The Buddha is said to have remained in his body for 45 years after his enlightenment soley out of the compassion for suffering humanity that his enlightenment brought with it. However, I suspect that there is an inverse relationship between worldly motivations for fame and fortune and the degree of enlightenment obtained by one.

I suspect that our illusions, like the leaves on the proverbial lake, are as many and as varied as the conditioning that we have undergone. I doubt that many loose all delusions in one stroke. I suspect that for most of us the process is a slow one. You have 'seen' the many repetitive sojourns on this planet that you have experienced over the eons - I'm sure that you agree. That we are having this discussion, makes me suspect that you are well and truly on the way to enlightenment now. But, just like me, I doubt that you know when, where or how full enlightenment will eventually come. But when it does then the 'game' will be over and no more 're-entry' will occur.

Egoless, egoless - free at last, free at last..... but who is it that will be freed and from what???

October 9, 2002
1:53 pm
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"You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life." --Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)

Funny this made me think of you, Tez, my reluctant guru.

Learning about Buddhism is like learning to use a yo-yo. Or painting a picture. Or writing. There's this effortless effort, the touch-but-not touching - this knack for seeing but not being distracted by what you see - I dunno. Tip of the tongue thing again. Reading Buddhist scripture I often found myself frantically looking through other texts and books of analysis thinking, HUH?!?, but then I realized that this was pretty much - the best effort at describing the indescribeable. Ezekial saw a wheel floating in the middle of the sky, according to the bible. I'm pretty dern sure he didn't see a wheel.

When you press on your closed eyes, you can see sparks because the way the nerves in your eyes are designed to perceive, they only relay messages by stimulating the visual cortex, so you see thse flashes of light because that is the plug hooked into those sensors. Output must be visual, even if the stimulus is not sight-based.

So the brain basically constructs a comprehensible framework for perception, even if the frame does not already exist. In the same token, by struggling to comprehend, each time you reach to grasp, what you seek to grasp edges away. The more effort at "perceiving Truth" the further away you are from truth. Right? Because no matter what, your brain will still try and make sense of it.

Have you ever seen those "3-D" pictures? They look like blobs of color, but supposedly if you unfocus your eyes just right, a picture emerges. No picture is really there, but the way the colors are distributed will "trick" your eyes into seeing a sailboat, or a kitty cat, or whatever it is they were trying to make you see. I can never see those damn pictures.

I want to know who is it that will be freed. I guess it doesn't really matter because whoever is freed is not the "I" that I am deluded by. I hate trying to use words sometimes I feel like a bullin a china shop. Oh, look at that lovely little teacup. oops.

October 9, 2002
4:25 pm
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Cici.

All I can say is ... Yep!!! That's how it is.

I was watching a TV show based on the paleontological research that's going on into the Jurassic eras. To see so many species come and go over 100 million years puts some perspective on th

As we view what appears to be the potential onset of WW3 - the war that will probably end all wars for this human species - I realize that it wouldn't really matter.

For something to matter, it must relate to an important need of some kind. In our case, we seem to yearn for immortality of some kind, albeit through our genes as we hand them down. We want to feel that we have made some difference, have had some reason to have lived, etc. The thought of total extinction of the human race in the very near future puts paid to all of that.

But what if it is just our collective awareness of what we think is happening and our feelings about those perceptions that validate these experiences and give them intrinsic worth to the 'source' of that awareness. Maybe all experiences are of the same intrinsic value no matter how valuable or valueless they might seem from our self-preservation based perspectives.

It always seems to get back to our delusory constructs of the self we are trying to preserve in some way, albeit as a memory in the minds of others.

Here's a small extract from what one of the great Ch'an Masters wrote about the mind centuries ago.

Faith in Mind: - Seng Ts'an

"The Supreme Way is not difficult

If only you do not pick and choose.

Neither love nor hate,

And you will clearly understand.

Be off by a hair,

And you are as far apart as heaven from earth

.......

.......

Fools put themselves in bondage.
One dharma is not different from another.

The deluded mind clings to whatever it desires.

Using mind to cultivate mind -Is this not a great mistake?

The erring mind begets tranquility and conjusion;

In enlightenment there are no likes or dislikes.

The duality of all things
Issues from false discriminations.

A dream, an illusion, a flower in the sky

How could they be worth grasping?

Gain and loss, right and wrong -

Discard them all at once.

If the eyes do not close in sleep,

All dreams will cease of themselves.

If the mind does not discriminate,

All dharmas are of one suchness.

The essence of one suchness is profound;

Unmoving, conditioned things are forgotten.

Contemplate all dharmas as equal,

And you return to things as they are.

When the subject disappears,
There can be no measuring or comparing.

Stop activity and there is no activity;

When activity stops, there is no rest.

Since two cannot be established,
How can there be one?

In the very ultimate,

Rules and standards do not exist.

Develop a mind of equanimity,

And all deeds are put to rest.

Anxious doubts are completely cleared.

Right faith is made upright.

Nothing lingers behind,

Nothing can be remembered.

Bright and empty, functioning naturally,

The mind does not exert itself

It is not a place of thinking,

Difficult for reason and emotion to fathom.

In the Dharma Realm of true suchness,

There is no other, no self

To accord with it is vitally important;

Only refer to 'not-two.'

In not-two all things are in unity;

Nothing is not included.

The wise throughout the ten directions
All enter this principle.

This principle is neither hurried nor slow -One thought for ten thousand years.

Abiding nowhere yet everywhere,
The ten directions are right before you.

The smallest is the same as the largest

In the realm where delusion is cut off

The largest is the same as the smallest;

No boundaries are visible.

Existence is precisely emptiness;

Emptiness is precisely existence.

If it is not like this,

Then you must not preserve it.

One is everything;

Everything is one.

If you can be like this,

Why worry about not finishing?

Faith and mind are not two;

Non-duality is faith in mind.

The path of words is cut off

There is no past, nojuture, no present."

October 11, 2002
3:30 pm
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Thank you for that, Tez. I copied a quote from "Brother Void" from Salon.com for you, that I thought you'd like:

"Mysteries are not necessarily miracles."
-- James Baldwin

Life is a confusing mess. You get blindsided by a drunk driver. You fall in love when you least expect to. Your firstborn becomes an accountant. Things happen that bring you great pain or pleasure and change your life forever. To find your bearings amid such chaos, you choose to believe that these events happen for a reason. It was meant to be, you tell yourself, and this comforts you. But to live truthfully, you must forgo this comfort. You must accept that there is no cosmic plan -- just a story you tell yourself after the fact. As you try to weave each twist and turn of your life into some coherent whole, you artfully fashion the meaning you need. Things are not meant to be, they are made to mean.

Everything happens for a reason I make up.

Reprinted with permission from "Daily Afflictions" by Andrew Boyd, published by W.W. Norton.

October 11, 2002
5:20 pm
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Cici.

It seems to me that we humans are like de-tuned radio receivers, all we pick up is lots of static.

However with a 'superhetrodyne' receiver, our 'selectivity' is such that all frequencies, other than the desired station, are removed from our sense organs.

That analog comms example above seems to me to be somewhat analogous to the benefits of deep meditation; the meaning seeking thoughts are filtered out and unpoluted reality can sometimes filter through.

After all, it seems to me that seeking meaning in things is about the ego trying to make sense out of our ultimate death in the light of life's one long struggle to survive.

In this light are most religions human ego manifestations?

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