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Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance
May 6, 2004
9:20 pm
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Twinks.

You said:

"... wondering why, if we are, we can't just read each other's minds, and all know the same things, and agree on everything."

The reason that we can't is the preconditioning that constrains us to our own mind constructed boundaries.

As for "agreeing on everything" if the boundaries disappear then so does all the 'selfhoods' - so there is no 'one' to disagree with any other 'one', just 'All seeing All'. This is what the Buddha discovered 2500 years ago and several others since.

And you asked:

"... can you elaborate on the critter killing? "

The persistence of the critter in threatening to inject 'me' with Ross River fever or any other disease momentarily angers me. Anger is just one emotional response to a threat but it is my predominant response to persistent critters over which I am more powerful. It is no big problem though - being momentary.

And regarding a ride on your son's sickle:

"Should I desist, claiming that I am too old for such things, or should I just go for it, on the grounds that such opportunities only present themselves very occasionally, and what would be the effects if I were to agree?"

Do you want a thrill?? Do you want to be presented with your own mortality and feel the fear of being faced with the possibility sudden death and then to conquer that fear? Do you want to feel alive? Do you want to feel 20 again? If you answer 'yes' to any of these questions then go for it!!! Who knows what the effects will be - you may need a change of knickers. 🙂

May 9, 2004
7:01 pm
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Twinks.

You can mention my 'underdungers' anytime you like. 🙂

Wasn't your 120mph fang exhiliarating??

Didn't you tingle all over after that experience?

May 16, 2004
9:18 pm
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Twinks.

You said:

"Tell you what was weird though, realising that this large person that I was relying on to keep me safe on the journey was once an embryo that grew within me, and was for a long time reliant on me to keep him safe. How zen is that?"

Not a very Zen realization in and of itself.

However it may well have led to the Zen realization that the mind's concept of time is an artificial construct that delineates a sequencing of events - i.e. embryo, almost totally dependent on womb, having preceded womb being partially dependent at a 'moment in time' on embryo's consequent and dependent development for 'survival' of both. Such a realization may well have led to the very, very Zen realisation that there were in fact no 'independent', permanent entities riding the bike at all - just cause and effect sequences of which 'consciousness' itself is aware.

It is very Zen to then realize that this 'consciousness' isolates itself into 'pockets' of delusion indicated by the pervasive belief in the existence of 'selfdom'. It would be very Zen to then observe that you and your son are just two of the billions of 'pockets' of 'selfs', inhabiting this planet, who are deluded into believing that they are totally separate 'beings'. Now such a realization would be very Zen.

Two Zen monks were once arguing over whether it was the 'wind' or the 'flag' that was 'moving'. Along came a Zen Master who overheard the debate. The Zen Master said: "You are both deluded. It is the 'mind' that is moving."

Similarly, it would be very Zen of you to realize that it was your 'mind' that was 'moving' - not any independent 'object', called a 'motorcycle', that was moving at 120 MPH.

However ... it would be very 'unZen' to conclude that neither you nor your son, nor the motorcycle exists - that would be nihilism, not Zen.

May 17, 2004
8:35 pm
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Twinks.

Before I attempt to answer your difficult question, I must say that when it comes to Buddhism I am neither an expert nor am I even a member of that religion. I have never 'taken refuge' - the Buddhist equivalent of the Christian baptismal ceremony.

" ... what does Buddhism make of 'fate'?"

The word 'fate' implies determinism; that is, that everything is pre-ordained and therefore the future is pre-determined. I have had difficulty in getting the Chan Buddhist monks - that I know - to address this issue.

I said, "If everything is subject to the laws of cause and effect, i.e. my future is determined by my karma, then it must be my karma as to whether I believe the Buddhadharma or not! Therefore it is pointless to try to change my future by trying to change my present behavior. My enlightenment will not happen one second earlier than is already determined! Is this not so? The old debate of 'free will' versus 'determinism'?"

The answer that I got was that: "Buddhists discuss this very point at depth and there is much disagreement amongst them on this issue. Each must find his/her own way and experience the Buddha's teachings for themselves - not to just blindly accept the Buddha's explanations of 'reality' and the way out of their suffering." in other words their advice is to 'test the water with your big toe before you dive in'.

You also asked:

" ... can you recommend some reading?"

Phew! There is so much in the offering - yet like a menu in a restraunt the preferred food is very much customer dependent.

I like the writings of the Vietnamese Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh. He has written some very beautiful stuff. There is a book called "The Path of Emancipation" by Thich Nhat Hanh that I liked a lot. He has written many books though.

Three Poems by Thich Nhat Hanh, first two from his book "PEACE IS EVERY STEP".
_____________________________________
" Peace is every step.

The shining red sun is my heart.

Each flower smiles with me.

How green, how fresh all that grows.

How cool the wind blows.

Peace is every step.

It turns the endless path to joy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second to be a bud on a spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile, learning to sing in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, in order to fear and to hope. The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that are alive. I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river, and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond, and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence, feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks, and I am the arms Merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate, and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands, and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to my people, dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all walks of life.

My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans. Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up, and so the door of my heart can be left open, the door of compassion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You are me and I am you. It is obvious that we are inter-are. You cultivate the flower in yourself so that I will be beautiful. I transform the garbage in myself so that you do not have to suffer. I support you you support me. I am here to bring you peace you are here to bring me joy "
_________________________________

The Chan(Chinese Zen) Master Hsing Yun also has much to offer.

If you like Western writings, the works of the late Mr. Francis Story are very pragmatic and down to earth. Francis was a Theravaden Buddhist scholar of renown.

If you like Theravadan Buddhism and freebies, you might like to try the url: http://www.buddhanet.net/ebooks_s.htm

A web surf using any of the above names will reveal much for free.

May 21, 2004
8:50 pm
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Twinks.
You asked:
"... So if my ommissions of the complete truth to him at all times is bad karma, resulting in the present unhappiness, what should I have done?"

Firstly, 'karma' is not an account kept in some 'etherial' data base. Karma, from my understanding of it, is little more than the conditioning of our mind that is occurring on an instant by instant basis. Much scientific literature in the field of psychology has been published about such conditioning. Such instant by instant conditioning of our minds relies on past conditioning(karma) as much as upon present events - the two factors interact (cause and conditions).

Secondly, in regard to internal factors, our intentions are at the root of our conditioning (karma). If we have 'good' intentions that result in 'bad' effects, then our conditioning (karma) will be still 'good' despite the outcome of our actions.

Thirdly, suffering and dissatisfaction is largely a consequence of our attitudes towards our experiences. This even applies to some extent to physical pain. Our attitudes are a consequence of our mental conditioning (karma). My nose job, incurred some years ago, bears testament to this. I refused any painkillers after painful surgery and suffered little pain - much to the amazement of the nurses. It was a case of mind over matter - mucho, mucho man. 🙂 Had I been been in a fight and underwent the same surgery as a corrective measure, I would have been in agony and screamed for pain killers. 🙂

So to finally answer your question, bases upon the above, if your intentions were to prevent suffering(compassion) in your husband, then your karma would be 'good' - therein leading to the probability of less suffering for you in the future.

Of course to be successful in preventing future suffering you require both 'wisdom' and 'compassion'; that is, both a good understanding of the laws of cause and effect and the compassionate intentions of 'mindfully' not doing anything that would cause suffering.

'Mindfulness' is a whole new topic for discussion.

Interestingly, Buddhists seem not to like using the words 'good' and 'bad'. They prefer words like 'appropriate' and 'inappropriate'. Of course the criterion of reference is whether suffering will not (appropriate) or will (inappropriate) be the foreseen outcome of some 'intended' action.

Thanks for such a good question.

May 25, 2004
5:35 pm
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Twinks.

As for my nose job, it occurred many years ago, was one of life's lessons for me, and today is largely irrelevant in my life except as an example of how attitudes to life's experiences determine pain levels.

When both you and 'he' are complex human beings, you want me to keep it simple? Well ... here goes.

You partially answered for me. You pointed out that 'he' has little or no insight into himself for starters. Yes he, like most of humanity, is probably both 'self-seeking' by nature and ignorant of this 'fact'.

Let's not waste your valuable time trying to get into 'his' head. There isn't much point. Your suffering originates from within you - not within him. If you really grasp this at a deep level and see why, then you will be empowered to make progress towards finding out how to let go of suffering.

We cling to our suffering (feelings of guilt, etc) without realizing that we are causing it by the very act of 'clinging' to the desire that things be different from how we perceive them to be. Our perceptions are the problem!

If we stop the clinging, yearning, craving, and our obsessing then the dissatisfactions and the downright physical and psychological pain dissappear like the clouds in the sky.

But how do we 'uncling' or detach ourselves from our desires, needs, wants, etc yet still function in a practical way within this world? That comes from realizing our own true nature and that of the world around us. These realizations are NOT simple to attain and require dedicated effort, commitment and guidance.

But who should we trust to be our guide??? There are charlatans everywhere looking to use our 'vulnerability' to their totally self-centred 'advantage'. I found that my best guide is my 'inner wise old man'. We all have access to this 'guide', if we choose to take the time to quieten our minds and listen for the answers to our questions - I assure you. But what are the questions?

May 26, 2004
10:02 am
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Tez,

This is the first time I've entered a discussion. I read what you wrote to Twinks and thank you - thank you Twinks for writing it and to Tez for the insight!

You are so correct- my suffering originates from within me. I have hit the wall and am finally facing my life patterns. The desire for things to be different - things of the past are what I hang on to - oh if only they were different, but I hadn't found how to let go.

I'll work on it.

Anewday

May 31, 2004
6:15 pm
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Twinks.

Well however stupid they may make you look, leathers, helmets, etc do come in mighty handy when sliding down the bitument with a heavy motorcycle on top of you - I speak from experience, ouch!

As for the bike and your ride being real, you are talking about 'mental objects' that have an independent identity only in your mind. Outside of that mind there was only a pattern of energy in proximity with other patterns of energy moving within other energy fields. Even these words don't accurately describe 'reality' and never could no matter how educated I become or how hard I try.

Reality lies between 'emptiness' and 'form' and encompasses both. This is Zen.

May 31, 2004
6:19 pm
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Anewday.

Where do the boundaries of the 'you', that is experiencing suffering, lie?

Can you clearly pinpoint 'your' extremities?

June 1, 2004
7:34 pm
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Tez,

You asked: Where do the boundaries of the 'you', that is experiencing suffering, lie?

Can you clearly pinpoint 'your' extremities?

The word "boundaries" throws me into a dither - such issues with boundaries that I don't know where they lie...so i would have to say my whole being, past, present and future. ooh, that's scary.

so my extremities are encompassing everything!

always trying to find inner peace from an outer source. so maybe I have to start at my core being and begin to expand outward.

Peace, I want inner peace, to be able to just enjoy each moment and not worrying about all my past mistakes and the feelings of not being good enough and thereby blocking the possibility of friendships. I inwardly decide in advance that I'm not worthy and then prove it to be true. this has got to change.

June 2, 2004
5:35 pm
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Twinks,

and when you touch on that kernel deep within...yes I think I know what you mean.

I had an experience today that my "comfort zone" would have been to go to the place within of feeling like the victim. as soon as I felt that beginning to happen I just sat down and talked my way through to not being controlled by my feelings. Feelings just mess me up. Past behavior has been to lock into the feelings and allow them to drive me. I saw (a kernel) today that by stoppig that old behavior immediately I was able to move on to a inner peace. It took a lot of talk and reasoning but after several minutes taking accountability for those feelings helped me to see that they are more destructive than helpful.

Yeah, it came and went and each time I just sat right down (I'm at home today so it was easy to just stop)and walked through the victimness and into something better. so for the moment I got a glimpse...
Oh for it to become the norm!!!!

Tez definitely has some thought provoking questions....

June 7, 2004
8:40 pm
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Twinks.

You said:

"... a couple of times I have felt as though I have touched on a kernel of something peaceful deep within me. I try to bring it out, but I can't get a grip on it, and it disappears as quickly as it came. It is like a word that is on the tip of my tongue, and I just cannot grasp it. Very frustrating. But I know it is there, and it feels good."

Perhaps this experience is you experiencing (y)our true 'self' - the Tathagata; that is, that which is.

Perhaps the very desire to grab a hold of 'it', and somehow retain it, is that which drives it away.

June 7, 2004
9:03 pm
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Anewday.

You said:

"The word "boundaries" throws me into a dither - such issues with boundaries that I don't know where they lie..."

I'm hardly surprised. Even our moods seem to effect where our boundaries lie. When we fall in love they seem to expand to encompass the whole world. When we are rejected, insulted or transgressed against, our boundaries seem to shrink to a small space around us. When we are very close to dying even our bodies become 'other' than us.

It seems to me that it is this sense of selfhood and our preoccupation with same that drives away the experiencing of our true 'selves' as mentioned by Twinks above.

It seems that every'thing' in our world is usually classified as either 'I' or 'other than I'. Yet in the limit, accurately defining the boundary between the 'two' is virtually impossible.

The mental objects that we create in our head seem to be really 'out there' as we imagine them to be. It we had a microbe's eye view how different would we appear then.

The eternal struggle to survive destroys our peace and harmony. Yet no one 'survives' or gets out of this world alive. Life seems to be a fatal dis-ease whose prognosis is certain death. But does it have to be this way? Is there another way to look at life other than that of the denial of their mortality practiced by so many people in so many different ways?

Perhaps peace comes from the deep realization that there is no'thing' which can be actually gained or lost, nor any'one' who can do the gaining or losing.

Perhaps, perhaps ... ...

June 9, 2004
1:37 am
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Twinks.

"... Don't they say that what you are looking for will come when you stop looking? "

Somebody probably did say that.

The problem comes from the intentions and motivations underpinning the 'looking'. If we look carefuly we usually find intentions and motivations based upon serving the interests and the welfare of the perceived 'self' and that of its extended support network - friends, relatives, etc.

All the 'seeking and getting' reinforces our belief in the existence of this 'self' as we perceive it to be. Our 'self-image' in all its forms is the perception of which I speak.

If you were to sit down and write about your self-image what would you write? This is the 'self' who you imagine you are. Your 'real' self, the Tathagata, is indescribable!

June 11, 2004
11:13 pm
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Twinks.

You said:

"But anyway, you are taking the mick, right?"

No ... not at all; not even remotely in the dim dark recesses of my unconscious.

And:

"Tathagata, the real me, no way. I am no Buddha."

The Buddhist masters say that Buddha was an ordinary person who came to realized that he was a Buddha; whereas an ordinary person is a Buddha who has as yet not realized it. They further say that the state of Nirvana is not a place to go or a thing to achieve; it is integrally present in all things. It is just that we are unable to see 'it'. I was suggesting that in these moments of bliss we are perhaps momentarily reverting somewhat to our true nature; that is, beyond the preoccupation with 'self'.

And:

"You must think that I have a few kangaroos loose, Tez, if you think that I would believe that after only a few months, nay, weeks, of considering something like Buddhism."

I have never considered that you might consider Buddhism of any other '-ism'. Nor did I sit in judgment on the state of your 'top paddock'. I was simply stating my thoughts and speculating about what you wrote - it was as simple as that.

Incidentally, I am not a Buddhist - I have never taken refuge. Even if I had, Buddhism is not a proselytizing religion like Christianity, Islam or many others. They don't ask people to believe anything. In fact I found it is very difficult to get a Buddhist monk or nun to argue about anything. They keep saying: "you might be right and I might be wrong". That sure has a way of killing any argument. 🙂

Similarly, what you choose to believe or not believe is of little or no concern to this 'me' - you might be right and I might be wrong, who cares; certainly not this 'I'.

June 13, 2004
11:12 pm
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Twinks.

"how could you possibly say with any degree of certainty what is or is not "in the dim dark recesses of my unconscious." Surely that is what the unconscious is, that which cannot be known? "

Well ... knowing what my intentions are with any degree of accuracy has become of prime importance to me. The reason being that I have the deep conviction that my intentions govern the nature of my own psychological conditioning that results from the corresponding actions and re-actions driven by those intentions.

Whilst at times I may have conflicting unconscious thought processess vying for supremacy, I generally am aware of this by the negative emotional arousals that result from the resulting cognitive dissonance. No such arousal was felt at the time of giving my honest thoughts to you. Your response, suggesting that I might be trying to take the mickey out of you, came as a complete surprise. My immediate thought was that you are somewhat defensive in your relations with others and may always be on the lookout for such a possibility.

As for you 'pissing me off' by simply saying "there you go again", it takes a lot more than that. In the past, I have been atrociously set up and abused on this site - even to the extent that the Site Co banned the perpetrator, a very sick lady. I was thorouly bemused and fascinated by the said abuse. I used it as a valuable learning experience in my journey of discovery of the more fear-ridden facets of human nature and the associated cognitive dysfunctionalities.

June 15, 2004
7:04 pm
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Excellent post Tez. I remember hearing a bunch of stuff about a mustard seed at a lecture given by some Tibetan Buddhist monks. It was about 2 years later in a Buddhist meditation class at university that I figured out that the whole mustard seed concept was actually relating to the idea of the buddhanature inside all of us.

I like to picture a tiny little homunculus inside my head in lotus position. My path to realization is rather meandering.

June 16, 2004
2:46 am
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Twinks.

You said:

"... a bit now, and then a bit later, 'cos it takes a lot of thinking about"

Very little, if any 'thing', is as it seems. If it were then enlightenment would be our normal state and the Buddha nature the only portal through which we view the world.

Defensiveness is a 'portal' through which we squint in the mistaken belief that there is some 'thing' to defend and there is some 'one' whose vigilance is required at the 'bulwarks' to do the defending.

And:

"... that's how thick I am."

Thick? No - just preconditioned over the eons of time into seeing the world through a very distorting lens comprising many beliefs about the existence of a vulnerable 'self'.

June 16, 2004
3:02 am
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Cici.

Thanks for the praise.

It seems to me that your karma has resulted in a dissociation experience that may turn out to be a jewel beyond price.

"My path to realization is rather meandering."

Yet could there ever be any other path for you?

I discussed this aspect with a Chan Buddhist monk. I asked him if it were possible to find a shortcut to enlightenment that was not preordained by my karma. He responded saying that this was a bone of contention amongst far more enlightened monks than he. He evaded the question. He simply raised his thumb and said "What is this?" To my varied responses over many weeks he kept saying "No, no. Go away and meditate upon the question again." In the end he was sent back to China and I never found the 'answer'. I guess that when I do I will be enlightened. However, I doubt that I will ever have 'words' with which to communicate the 'answer' - that's Chan.

June 18, 2004
7:22 pm
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Twinks.
You wrote:

"Equally, you could write that the other way around. Your psychological conditioning governs the nature of your intentions, which result in the actions and re-actions, which in turn produce further psychological conditioning."

Equally you could - and indeed this is a very valid point that you make!

"So which came first, the conditioning, or the intentions?"

A very good question and one which first requires a state of enlightenment to 'see' the answer with an unconditioned mind as diametrically opposed to trying to do the impossible by trying to intellectually 'know' it with a conditioned mind.

Therefore, from the state of unenlightenment from which I perceive things, it is a redundant question. For me to ponder such a question would be analogous to my pondering who made the bullet that pierced my body; in such a case I would do well to consider my immediate medication needs first.

However, more importantly, your excellent question highlights the complex matrix of cause and effects that has me in the present predicament; that is, the circular trap of intention/conditioning that only leads to further entrapment in this suffering world by creating further illusions.

To break this loop altogether so that no further conditioning occurs, is to 'see' what really is with unconditioned 'eyes', not to further condition the mind with yet another illusory version of the imaginary 'self'.

To break this deadly loop is the crucial challenge humanity unknowingly faces. Otherwise there will be born and bred many more Elsama Bin Ladens, Bushes, Iraq wars, Al Quedas etc, etc - all created in the name of serving man made gods, Christian or otherwise.

June 19, 2004
1:36 pm
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I never thought the point was, in buddhist psychology, to create a being that has no preconditioned notions - it is the realization that the "you" that you cling to - the one who gets all emotional (and usual makes a mess of things in the process) - is in many respects a series of defense mechanisms and fallacious beliefs about self and the external world.

As it is, I never claimed to be enlightened, so I still get "hot" about things and irritated on a regular basis.

Anyways, I met a woman at a lecture once who, along the lines of Suzanne Segal (I think that's how you spell her last name), had a sudden enlightenment experience. Suzanne Segal spent something like 8 years in psychotherapy trying to fix the fact that she no longer had an internal locus for a sense of self. The initial experience happened at a bus stop. She was just sitting there and suddenly she hada sense that she was observing herself. The sensation lasted, rather than receding (granted, in her early life she had speant many rigorous years on ashrams training in vigorous meditative techniques before she "retired" to have a family - she was actually pregnant when she had the enlightenment experience).

Even while she slept, she perceived her body sleeping with a sense of detachment. This sensation continued until she died, I believe, but she managed to carry and birth a normal daughter who grew to be emotionally healthy with no major psychological diseases to mention, she cared for her husband and family, and later after she moved back to america from paris she had love relationships with other men as well.

Anyways, psychologically speaking it is entirely possible to be functional and even successful in society without normal emotional reactions. Narcissistic personality disorder is rampant in politicians, actors, and CEOs.

But anyways, I didn't really say what you think I said. Please re-read the post about the infant's need for an emotional marker. A child raised with an abnormal nurturer who cannot respond normally to her emotions or to the child is usually what helps to shape the inappropriate or ineffectual behavioral traits.

June 20, 2004
6:30 pm
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Cici.

"I never thought the point was, in buddhist psychology, to create a being that has no preconditioned notions"

I never thought that it was either. To create a being of any kind would be just to create further delusory differentiations between what constitutes that 'being' and what is 'not that being'.

As I understand Chan Buddhist philosophy, it is to let go of attachment to or to 'see through' preconditioned notions and perceptions. It seems to me that the Chan masters are saying that attachment to form is just as delusory as attachment to emptiness. It seems to me that the masters are saying that enlightenment entails unattached 'seeing' through eyes that see both views of form and emptiness integrated into a 'middle road' that entails no duality, discrimination or differentiation of any kind.

Yet again I am finding it difficult to both grasp and express a 'way of knowing' that is beyond the conditioned mind with which I am afflicted. 🙂

June 23, 2004
7:35 pm
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Twinks.

"I was merely speculating as to whether it would be possible to produce something such as a totally unconditioned mind, ..."

Well ... first and foremost, the programming of emotional memories into the amygdala is to my best knowledge permanent until death us do part - lesions, tumors, etc excepted of course. Therefore, if I am right in what I believe, then to totally uncondition the amygdalas' responses by psychological means would be beyond us. After all, no therapy de-programs the amygdala; such therapies that may ascribe to doing this, in my opinion, only condition our cognitive responses to the amygdalas' arousals. It is these cognitive responses that can either sustain, enhance or passify amygdala arousal.

Second, to remove completely all of of our cognitive processing bases such as scripts, contextual memory etc without replacing it with further conditioning would be tantamount to reformatting your hard drive on your PC and unplugging your BIOS roms and expecting your computer to function. At best, your monitor would probably produce a "NO SIGNAL" error message for you to read and that would be that.

And then you said:

"Hence my saying that I needed to believe in an 'I'. For the moment."

Well ... I believe in an 'I' too. If I didn't I would not be using the 'I' pronoun in these sentences. However it is beliefs about the nature of that 'I' that vary across the human spectrum.

The Buddhist perspective, in that regard, seems to me to be that there is no permanent, clearly definable 'I' that can or does exist independent of any other 'I' or 'object'. This is not to deny the existence of an ever changing, ongoing, dependent process that we call the 'self'. It seems to me that our minds then create a 'mental object' that we call 'me'. We then consciously or mostly unconsciously believe that this 'me' has something about it that is continuous, permanent and ongoing that differentiates and demarcates it from all 'other'. We therefore tend to become emotionally aroused when that mind created mental object, the 'I', is threatened in any way. It is my belief that most of us then tend to unconsciously use that emotional arousal as validation for the veracity of the perceived threat. If the threat is to our 'status' within our network of colleagues, friends, relatives etc, then we will 'rationalize away', until our own cognitive dissonances are reconciled and then we will tend to believe in the 'reality' of the results of our own rationalizations - whether they be true or otherwise.

False beliefs about the nature of the 'I' underpins the above dysfunctional cognitive processing that leads to anger, depression, etc; that is, leads to suffering in the many forms that we choose to name it.

But who is it that is really doing the suffering?? If we meditate on the 'I', and try to 'discover' it, then what do we find? Just processes, mental self-images, beliefs, scripts, emotional, contextual and procedural memories all of which having been conditioned in the past by complex, external and internal interactive processes. We can do this meditation for ourselves to verify this statement - if we so choose.

Why is it that some people find the above statements frightening?? I'm not implying that you fall into this category, Twinks.:-)

I can only guess at the answer to this question. I suspect that such people fear the 'non-significance' of their 'I'; that they think this view of the 'self' implies self-worthlessness! Rather, I believe that equanimity and the peaceful feelings that this brings is the result of seeing that 'we' are integral with and at-one with 'all that is'! There is no 'other'!

This is 'real' at-one-ment, not belief in some poor 'human being, god-man' being butchered on a cross to atone for our human behavior; our 'sins' that are nothing other than the result of actions and re-actions based on ignorance of the true nature of the 'self'.

I'll climb off my soap box now. 🙂

June 24, 2004
7:18 pm
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Twinks.

No - Tez doesn't like it on his soap box. He thinks it makes him look like a pompous, hypothecating twit.

In fact he is a motorcycle riding, dancing, fornicating, body conscious, earthy bloke who enjoys life more than he doesn't. This doesn't stop Tez from seeing clearly that he lives in a fool's paradise that oscillates between pleasure and pain; occasionally shifting its axis of oscillation to beat between ecstatic joy and deep sorrow.

However, living at the origin and never experiencing anything is too horrific for Tez to even contemplate! So it seems to him that the cycle of life continues to spin on relentlessly with only the Zen (Ch'an) beacon shining through the darkness of the night.

June 25, 2004
7:42 am
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Cici.

In your 19-Jun-2004 post, you said:

"I never thought the point was, in buddhist psychology, to create a being that has no preconditioned notions - it is the realization that the "you" that you cling to - the one who gets all emotional (and usual makes a mess of things in the process) - is in many respects a series of defense mechanisms and fallacious beliefs about self and the external world."

As I said earlier, I agree with you here. Buddhist psychology is not about trying to "create a being that has no preconditioned notions". Such a creation would only be a sentient being with delusions of having an 'unconditioned' self that would be conditioned nonetheless, only just in a different way.

I have just, a few minutes ago, read and scanned this page from Hsing Yun's book. It struck me that it said far more lucidly what I was trying to say about 'letting go of our preconditioning'. The quote from the book never uses the word 'conditioning' but when it uses the words "delu­sions of having a separate self" in essence it means the same, I feel.

My reason for saying this is that both the conditioned and the inherent at birth fight, flight, immobilization and appeasement responses to a threat are based on the preconditioned sense of a 'self' that we consolidate after the completion of the individuation processes in infancy. In my opinion, it is this 'self' that we are trying to protect from real and imagined threats and to sustain lest our wellbeing be threatened.

Here's the quote:
"The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana says, "Know that all sentient beings are the same as you and that in essence they do not differ at all from Buddha."

In this section of the Diamond Sutra, the Buddha says, "While sav­ing the infinite, illimitable, innumerable sentient beings, realize that in reality there are no sentient beings to be saved."

No sentient being has a permanent or absolute self. There are no absolute coordinates that can define selfhood or individuality. Our notions of having separate selves are delusions that spring from misunder­standing who we really are. To say that the notion of individuality is based on delusion is not to say that there is no such thing as awareness. Ultimately the delusive awareness that believes it is an individual self will come to understand that it is not an individual, but part of a much greater whole; ultimately it will understand that it is a buddha.
The Buddha taught that sentient beings suffer because they do not realize that their "selves" are empty. A bodhisattva seeks to save them by helping them realize that, while they do not have an absolute self-nature, they do have a buddha nature. Their buddha nature rests in nirvana. Sentient beings attain nirvana when they free themselves from the delu­sions of having a separate self. The apparent contradiction between not having a self and saving other selves is one of the most important themes of the Diamond Sutra.

It is very significant that this sutra begins with a discussion of the vow "to save all sentient beings" because this vow emphasizes that enlightenment is not a static state. Enlightenment without compassion is not enlightenment; wisdom that is not concerned about the beings in this world is not true wisdom. Ultimate truths that are not practiced within the realm of phenomena are not ultimate truths; they are, at best, imitations of ultimate truths and nothing more."

(2001, p 44) Hsing Yun, "Describing the Indescribable", ISBN o-86171-186-6.

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