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The Tez Board
October 14, 2002
11:41 am
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Cici
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Definately. It's somehow better to think "God is watching us" than to think "I perceive this in the light that I want to perceive this, I can pick out evidence that supports this thesis because I can choose what I perceive."

And there is this wonderful, very seductive illusion of control - if you know "why" things happen, then maybe you can prevent them from happening again by doing A, B, and C. I am reminded suddenly of Mark Vonnegut's "Eden Express" - where he begins his schizophrenic decompensation and starts to think that whenever he eats any food, thousands of people go hungry in Africa. Surely these two things can occur in tandem, but one does not affect the other - but I suppose it would be nice to eat less and know that other people are magically eating more because of your restraint.

Ego. It seems so essential to existence. But as Sartre said, "Existence precedes essence".

October 14, 2002
5:23 pm
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Is existence part of the illusion as well? I mean, I keep thinking of "The Matrix" (or it's much better low-budget grand-dad, "Pi").

In an equation you have the equation itself and possible results. But when you display the equation graphically (no pun intended), you get a 3-D image of what the equation represents, a line, an ellipse, a sine wave - each of these is unique.

My Dad has a theory that God is just a super-computer and we are all just equations being continuously fine-tuned, upgraded and tweaked, and our "reality" is the graphical representation of binary. 1000101010001011101010. I'm sure I just said something, in the Differential Equations class I dropped out of before it started, we were supposed to learn basic binary.

Sometimes this seems like a big puzzle. If you can fit the puzzle together correctly and look at it from above, you achieve enlightenment.

So - the whole birth to death process of the individual is in itself an illusory process? And when I look at all the cars around me in a traffic jam, are we all complicit in our acceptance of the illusions?

October 15, 2002
4:12 pm
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Cici.

You said, 'Ego. It seems so essential to existence. But as Sartre said, "Existence precedes essence". '

But what is "essence"? Does a pattern constitute an " essence"? And if that pattern can change - even as the molecular patterns of the body radically change on death - then do the newly formed patterns constitute a new essence? In fact does essence exist at all other than as a figment of our perceptions? In fact are there any clearly definable boundaries between 'you' and 'not you'? When you go to the bathroom, at what point do parts of 'you' become 'not you'? Are not body orifices artificial mind constructs wherein they are perceived as entry and exit gates of the arbitrarily selected and conditioned boundary fences of the skin covered 'self'? But were I able to shrink myself to the size of an atom, what would I make of this artificial boundary construct? With the frantic interchange of electrons, ions and molecules between your surface and the surrounding air, would I even be able at that level to discern that boundary at all? Would I not see all this interchange as an interdependent process wherein no boundaries would seem to exist period?

That there is an awareness of existence, there can be little doubt. But it is a hugh leap of faith when we, like Descarte, make the claim that awareness of thoughts and perceptions constitutes an independent and essential 'I'. ("I think, therefore I am") In fact, I believe that it is the same leap of faith that is the very bricks and mortar fabric of that 'ego' that imprisons and so severely limits, constrains and curtails our consciousness.

NDE'rs upon 'regaining consciousness' - as though they lost it - talk of remembering travelling out of their body, seeing without eyes, hearing without ears. They say, "I was looking down from the ceiling at my body." So it seems that somehow the "awareness" that is seeing the body image from above, is identified as being synonomous with the "I", the 'self'. But, in this OBE, what boundaries differentiate this new experience of the "I" from the not "I"? Thus somehow a leap of faith is still being made that perceives this awareness alone as constituting a 'self'. Perhaps the 'ego' is the imprisoning conditioning that refuses to let go of the boundaries that constrain the limits of this awareness even after deaths portals have been breached. In this light, is the word 'ego' just another name for the karma of the conditioned mind that goes on and on until total realization of the true nature of all existence is reached.

Such total realizations would surely explode the ego boundaries with such an intensity as to make the peak of all sexual orgasms seem a trivial experience by comparison. Once all boundaries collapse, all that would be left would be the awareness of the experience sans the experiencer. As Michael Jackson said, "... I dance and dance until there is only the dance".

October 17, 2002
2:21 pm
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I've read skeptical criticisms of self-reports about NDEs, that what people report, like the tunnel of light and feeling of comfort is just the brain's normal chemical reaction to death, being cut off from oxygen - and that moment of death can seem to last a long time because your perception of time gets skewed. Who knows....that one moment could last forever.

The "ego precedes essence" - I took it to mean that essence, any essential knowledge of "self" is a comforting afterthought that can only be created AFTER the fact of the Ego. The Ego kind of creates its own spin-off to define itself in some method of rationalization (which humans seem to be exceedingly fond of since it is the default coping mechanism).

Why is it in english that we rely so much on articles? "I" is everywhere you look, read, watch. I noticed in romance languages that native speakers tended to throw articles out, leave them off or hanging. In some sense "Cogito, ergo sum" doesn't have the hang-ups that we have about the "I" pronoun. The verb is conjugated in the personal form, but could you construe that this may mean the general "you" rather than the specific "I"?

Signed,
I didn't pay enough attention in philosophy 101

October 18, 2002
6:50 pm
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Cici.

"The Ego kind of creates its own spin-off to define itself in some method of rationalization (which humans seem to be exceedingly fond of since it is the default coping mechanism). "

Yes... and as such ego manifestation is bound to fluctuate depending upon the perceived presence of a threat to it or the perceived presence of a well being enhancing event.

Therefore the ego is a mind construct and has no permanence. Yet we tend to think of "I" as a constant that is always with us. As though the "I" exists, we say "I feel sick" not "there exists an awareness of an illness". It seems that it is this conditioning that thwarts the use of the power of the mind to its full potential.

In regard to your comments about the "skeptical criticisms of self-reports about NDEs", I would not believe all that I have read, nor would I throw out the baby with the bath water.

However, I've read some well researched works by professional medical practitioners like Dr. Michael Sabom and the late Dr. Helen Wambach, etc. Many came to scoff but left with a much more open mind on subjects beyond the scope of science.

Again, it is conditioning that closes the mind to all that does not conform to it's set paradigm. The philosophy of scientific is also a conditioned state of mind.

October 22, 2002
12:52 pm
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So I'm reading this interesting book - a fiction piece, written from the point of view of a murdered girl. It's about her experience in the afterlife, and follows her family and friends from her death until the killer is found.

Anyway, from the book's standpoint, heaven (as it were) is whatever the individual needs it to be. I have a hard time stomaching that for obvious reasons. But I wonder - if ego and reality itself is a consturct used by mind to define itself, does this end with the biological end of life? Can the mind just keep spinning in an endless loop?

I'm jsut wondering. Halloween is coming up and one of my good friends and I are planning on going to supposedly "haunted" places to get a good scare (forgive me, I love scarey movies - adrenaline rush, I think). I have had some bizarre paranormal experiences, and I wonder about the concept of ghosts (how timely, hee hee).

During the Tibetan meditation circles, we would do a food blessing and leave an offering of food out for "hungry ghosts" - do you think ghosts could be the ego manifestations of beings who could not let go of the "I" construct? Can ego be that strong?

As for NDEs, I'm not about the throw the baby out with the bathwater. I remember when my Dad had his fourth heart attack, he died on the kitchen floor. My Mum eventually revived him with the precordial thump that only healthcare providers can use (she's a nurse, luckily) - but he said that while dead, he felt an immense sense of peace, and no pain. I remember looking into his eyes while he was dead, and I was about 9 or 10 at the time - but I remember thinking, "He's empty" - not "he's dead". Hmmm.....

October 22, 2002
5:14 pm
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Cici.

"if ego and reality itself is a consturct used by mind to define itself, does this end with the biological end of life? Can the mind just keep spinning in an endless loop?"

I see that there is only boundless 'Mind' with a capital 'M' which contains all else.

As a subset of 'Mind', there exists many deluded 'minds'. From my perspective, these 'minds' with a lower case 'm' are conditioned constructs, the artificial boundaries of which are set, maintained and defended vigorously by the ego. It is that product of the deluded 'mind'- the ego - that sees 'separation' of 'self' from 'other'.

Enlightenment entails not theorizing, nor just believing this, but actually experiencing the crumbling of the ego constructed boundaries of 'mind'.

With the collapse of these ego boundaries, the 'awareness' that is attributed to 'mind' explodes to encompass 'Mind'. This is, I sense, the 'omniscience' attributed to the monothiestic Christian deity called God. No longer would the "I" exist in such a state of enlightenment. Nothing has been gained - only the delusion of small 'm' mind has been shed.

In regard to the deluded 'mind', I suspect that what happens to it after death, is of its own making. I suspect that the 'ego' of the deluded 'mind' continues to fight to maintain the 'integrity' of its own creation. Thus, I suspect, we congregate with like 'minds' in the heaven or hell of our own 'collective' making. I think that one of these collective realms - very close to this earthly realm - is the the one populated by 'ghosts'; that is, egos with strong attachment to earthly beings, places, things, events etc.

In this regard, you said, "I wonder about the concept of ghosts (how timely, hee hee)... ... During the Tibetan meditation circles, we would do a food blessing and leave an offering of food out for "hungry ghosts" - do you think ghosts could be the ego manifestations of beings who could not let go of the "I" construct? Can ego be that strong?"

Then, I suspect, the attraction to the earthly existence - in which we 'possess' a body - becomes overpowering. We then 'slot' into a womb which best fits the fulfillment of our karma based desires for relationships with other 'minds' to which we have previously established attachments.

About your dad, when I saw the dead body of my mother, I saw a corpse that was a shell like the skin of a snake after it had been shed. Now I see the 'entity' that I called my mother in relation to me as 'Mind' doubly manifest as a deluded 'mind' in relation to my deluded 'mind'. If I was not still deluded why would I knowlingly be writing this posting to myself. 🙂 Now, it is my 'mind' communicating through my ego barriers to your 'mind' through your ego boundaries.

All the above are only suspicions to which my deluded 'mind' clings. To experientially know the above beyond any thought is to be enlightened. That day is yet to come.

Let me quote a Ch'an (Chinese Zen)Master.

'The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana says, "All realms are the product of the movement of the deluded mind. If the mind does not move, then all realms and all lakshana will disappear. Only the true mind is universal and omnipresent. '

From Describing the Indescribable - Hsing Yun (2001, p 160)

October 23, 2002
6:02 pm
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Like zero degrees Kelvin - where all molecular movement stops - it's a theroetical temperature point because as of yet we have been unable to create that environment in a laboratory setting. I wonder if they can stop all molecular movement - well I have a feeling they never will.

It's so strange, this sensation - of looking yet not looking. Like when it's really dark, and you want to see something - you have to look just to the side of it, and then those light receptors in your eyes that work in the dark can make out the outline. But if you look at it directly, all you'll see is blackness.

October 24, 2002
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Cici.

Yep!

I was talking to a Tibetan Buddhist friend of mine about this topic. He said, "From my point of view there
is also the requirement of making a stable, calm and eternally abiding
space within the mind to give it respite from the ceaselessly crashing
waves upon the ocean of thought."

Perhaps your statement, "... this sensation - of looking yet not looking" is the same thing as 'seeing' without thinking and perceiving - without the 'leaves on the surface of the lake'.

We are struggling to find words for describing the indescribable. This is where the Buddha excelled, isn't it.

October 24, 2002
4:29 pm
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Yes, he did excel at this - but translations are probably pretty crappy in comparison. I wonder what listening to his lectures were like - he must have been a charismatic speaker. Or at least one who was able to provide clarity of thought and also relate this to others on a level that each individual could understand - that's talent. Then again, he was the enlightened being. Har har har.

I went off on a long tangent about this topic meself last night. I was explaining it to my husband, who isn't Buddhist but is interested in the concepts. I think we were talking about ghosts because of the upcoming Halloween holiday and our current plan to go to some paranormal sites and see if we can have any extracurricular activities. hmmm....

Anyway, I can see the need for quietude. I recently read an article about a Tibetan Buddhist nun, Tenzin Palmo, who went up into a mountain contemplated in isolation for 12 years in a tiny hole. I imagine this and think, well you have to achieve enlightenment then!! But no, of course not - as she said, you have to think in terms of lifetimes, aeons, not just here and now.

It boggles my mind because I am so prone to attachment. The type of person who has too many animals, all strays, and who loves people too quickly, too much. It's a childish kind of love, because the compassion that comes from cultivating compassion is a more fulfilling, all-encompassing emotion that can't really be described as love.

After my long tengent where I got excited and gesticulated wildly, my husband sat for a moment in contemplation and related that he had never really thought of these types of things, not very seriously - because he was ok with just accepting that things are as they are. Oh, to be so laid back about spiritual matters.

He asked me if I wanted to achieve enlightenment, but I don't think I'm anywhere near close. My grandmother is content to be good, do good and secure a favorable re-birth. Then again, there is that saying "why put off until tomorrow what you can do today".

Problem is - I can't achieve enlightenment today. Ow. My head hurts.

October 28, 2002
2:34 am
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What is the name of the book about the girl who is murdered and follows her story?

October 29, 2002
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Cici.

Compassion:

“It boggles my mind because I am so prone to attachment. The type of person who has too many animals, all strays, and who loves people too quickly, too much. It's a childish kind of love, because the compassion that comes from cultivating compassion is a more fulfilling, all-encompassing emotion that can't really be described as love.”

There is a saying that goes something like this:
‘To really love one person, we must first learn to love the whole world.’

It seems to me that compassion is not a caring that seeks nurture in return. Nor is it the caring of the type exhibited by those - with the ‘Broken Wing Syndrome’ -who seek out codependent, needy partners in order to satisfy some power hungry control need.

I see Buddhist compassion as a kind of detached, unconditional caring about the suffering of all sentient beings; whilst at the same time acknowledging that no separate independent entity, that is called a sentient being, exists (sunyata). It is as though ‘suffering’ is an objective, undesirable process that is happening as a gigantic subset of the interdependent universal set of all processes.

Enlightenment:

“After my long tangent where I got excited and gesticulated wildly, my husband sat for a moment in contemplation and related that he had never really thought of these types of things, not very seriously - because he was ok with just accepting that things are as they are. Oh, to be so laid back about spiritual matters.”

If your husband has been relatively well parented (well bonded and securely attached) as a child, he may not be driven by the same ego based self-preservation needs as a less fortunate person with different karmic conditioning.

His ‘laybackness’ may well be as a result of the absence of negative emotional memories that reside within the amygdala (LeDoux 1996, 2002) of less well parented people.

“He asked me if I wanted to achieve enlightenment … ”

I’ve pondered this question of wanting enlightenment. It is quite a strange experience. ‘Wanting’ anything is a form of craving, which is at the root of suffering. Wanting any experience - albeit enlightenment – holds the potential for suffering. Your words, “Problem is - I can't achieve enlightenment today. Ow. My head hurts” eloquently illustrates this point.

If the “I” created by the ‘mind’ within you were to be suddenly ‘enlightened’ your ego would disintegrate. The consequence of this would be no further consciousness of any “I” of either upper or lower case. In a state of enlightenment, we somehow imagine our ego encased “I” still existing yet seeing the nature of all things. This is a contradiction in terms. As if he were going anywhere, someone asked the Buddha if the Buddha would still exist after he ‘goes to parinirvana’. He replied with words to the effect that the Buddha would neither exist nor not exist. Grasping the meaning of this at depth is to ‘attain’ enlightenment. Yet there is nothing to attain; only ‘something’ to lose; namely, our delusions of selfhood, our ego.

Suffering:

We crave experience in a human body. This, it seems, is why we are reborn, why we suffer. We want the impossible. We want all the nice experiences without the suffering. We want a ‘one-sided coin’. We think enlightenment will somehow enable this to happen whilst still in a human form. Yet this aversion to suffering is a craving in itself. If we could attain a state wherein we are neither attracted to nor have any aversion to anything, then suffering would no longer exist. Such a state requires a consciousness of ‘selflessness’, a collapse of the ego boundaries, the non-existence of the “I”. Experiencing such an ecstatic state brings further craving for experiential replications of same and further suffering upon frustrations of these desires. Ow - my head also hurts. 🙂

The Buddha has shown humanity the way to achieving this. But … I ‘want’ freedom from my ‘self’ consciousness now without any concerted effort.

Hmmm! Silly, ignorant, deluded me – my own ‘wanting’, ‘grasping’ and ‘self cherishing’ contains the seeds of my own ‘suffering’. 🙂 When will I learn this simple lesson?

October 31, 2002
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I always have to take a break to digest what you say.

I always think of the original Star Trek series, and how various alien species would capture Capt. Kirk, and then they would always marvel at the "power of the human spirit", and then they would let Capt. Kirk go. Or he would wrestle some cast member shirtless and then they would be liberated. Or some incarnation of that plot.

Anyway, humans (in my opinion, self-aggrandizingly) boast of their determination, and always list the species' survival as part of this accomplishment. Which is kind of abusrud because the human species' survival and flourishing resembles a viral infection more than anything else.

So - this idea of the "human spirit" - this determination to succeed, to outwit your opponents - is a characterisitc of the species, but stands at odds with the pathway to nirvana. I guess if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. ha ha

My Dad did a lot of sports growing up, football and track and field, that kind of thing. Also he was in the Navy. Anyway, he often said, "You need to want it bad enough to get it". So, part of my conditioned consciousness is this idea that I need to WANT to want something before I'll achieve my goal.

That was a long and drawn-out explanation.

I've been reading a book by Martin Seligman about Positivistic Psychology. The whole thing flies in the face of the psych-processing machine that was established after WWI because of PTSD. The whole focus on negative pathologies, now they are finally studying people who seem to cope better. They all tend to have an elastic sense of self, and an elastic sense of reality.

Like, a simple example would be - an optimistic person attributes their success to their own effort, and their failures to external circumstances.

I'm getting to it, give me some time! OK - so if reality is completely determined by perception rather than some concrete external input, then the optimist is in effect shaping their reality to soothe the ego, right?

So, the pessimist, according to most psychologists, has a "more accurate self-assessment." - More accurate in the sense that their self-assessment matches this concrete external input, which we've already determined is completely shaped by perception. So, the pessimist is shaping their reality to injure the ego?

Which outlook is more effective from the Buddhist perspective? Or is this a silly question with a moot point? Are neither effective because the outlooks are designed to soothe or injure the ego, which is an artificial construction anyway? So, the Buddhists encourage cultivating no-mind, which would negate the whole optimist/pessimist issue altogether?

OW!

October 31, 2002
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Cici.

Yes - ultimately no-mind (but not nihilism). The stage before that is cultivating one-mind; i.e. a non-dualistic mind.

As an irrelevant aside, as you pointed out, you said: "So, the pessimist is shaping their reality to injure the ego?"

Earlier you said, "Like, a simple example would be - an optimistic person attributes their success to their own effort, and their failures to external circumstances."

I see that from a Locus of Control Theory viewpoint, you are talking about someone with an 'internal locus of control'. I suspect that the pessimist operates from an 'external locus of control'.

I doubt that the pessimist (My natural tendency) is about injuring the ego. I suspect that the pessimist perceives only the negative aspects of external events, therein confirming his or her childhood acquired beliefs in the hostile nature of the 'external' universe that controls his or her well being or lack of it.

Such negative confirmations bolster the ego's confidence in maintaining it's defenses in that it convinces and reassures the ego of its abilities to predict potentially threatening subject-object related events accurately and thus prepare to meet them. In my opinion, depression is often results from the loss of this confidence.

I suspect that optimists and pessimists by and large are both constantly driven by the perceived need to maintain ego boundaries despite the ecstacy experienced by them during the periods when ego boundaries momentarily expand to encompass another. (sexual orgasm with that special partner)

At a very shallow level, Buddhism is about 'annihilating' ego boundaries altogether. Of course there is nothing to destroy - only an illusion, a thinking pattern of neural connections, to not maintain.:-)

November 1, 2002
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Learned helplessness, Seligman was the one who did the experiments with dogs and learned helplessness - where the dogs were placed in pens divided into 2 sides by a barrier they could jump over and a floor wired to produce electric shocks. Three groups of dogs - group 1 as control with no electric shocks, group 2 could jump the barrier and escape the shocks, and group 3 could jump the barrier but never escape the shocks.

So, many of the dogs in group 3 exhibited signs of depression - but some did not. Some continued to try to escape the shocks. Triumph of the canine spirit? 🙂

Funny thing to think about - psychology, built on studying the multitude of incarnations of "self" in the human race - completely geared towards validating and studying a construct of conditioned consciousness. Using self-deception in a labrythine manner to overcome the obstacles to that unified consciousness by indulging in a retrospective analysis of - constructs of the conditioned consciousness. Circular logic? I knew there was something fishy about psychoanalysis.

There are stages of enlightenment, right? As you progress - do these moments of clarity expand and grow, or are there fewer moments of doubt/delusion? Sometimes I look at the endless array of Buddhist philosophy text, from early Buddhist thought to contemporary analysis complete with matching yoga mat - it's like metacognition. Thinking about thinking about thinking.

November 1, 2002
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Cici.

I agree with your views on the 'science' of psychology. I have no interest in continuing my studies in that field past my first degree partly for the reasons that you mentioned.

You asked, "As you progress - do these moments of clarity expand and grow, or are there fewer moments of doubt/delusion?"

I suspect that one is inversely proportional to the other whether one progresses or regresses.

"... Thinking about thinking about thinking" This is the ego trap of deluded 'mind' trying to control, maintain and enhance its own perimeters. Unconscious and concious motivating thoughts like "Maybe I can become more powerful by expanding MY consciousness" often drive these "circular" cognitions.

I, I, I, ... ME, ME, ME,... MY, MY, MY ... ... ... ad infinitum - the Circle Game.

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