How Easy…

How easy it is for us to slip into our emotional skin and become utterly entrenched in the passions of our current opinions and viewpoints, angered with those who disagree with us. A Culture War may be more dangerous than any other in the way it consumes the inside of its very host.

May we call to mind Big Brother Mountain and Father Sky, who simply look on from beyond, observing, unattached, the goings-on below. If we can slip into the mentality of the Observer we can see more clearly the reality of the things around us and will be capable of extending the respect to others that All deserve.

Let us wake from our virtual reality and ceaseless running today.

Be a Master, Be Free

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Let not the Mind, in its attachment to the Past and to the Future, steal the Present from you. Let not the Reality of what Is, and is Now, be hidden from you. See what Is, in all its purity and reality. Let the same be true of the words we speak and the actions we perform. Let us study ourselves, and embrace the reality of what is true.

Beauty of Soul-lessness

…Till recently scientists believed in an indivisible and indestructible atom. “For sufficient reasons physicists have reduced this atom to a series of events. For equally good reasons psychologists find that mind has not the identity of a single continuing thing but is a series of occurrences bound together by certain intimate relations. The question of immortality, therefore, has become the question whether these intimate relations exist between occurrences connected with a living body and other occurrence which take place after that body is dead.”…

“There are some philosophers,” he says, “who imagine we are every moment conscious of what we call ‘ourself,’ that we feel its existence and its continuance in existence and so we are certain, both of its perfect identity and simplicity. For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call ‘myself’ I always stumble on some particular perception or other — of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never catch myself… and never can observe anything but the perception… nor do I conceive what is further requisite to make me a perfect non-entity.” Bergson says, “All consciousness is time existence; and a conscious state is not a state that endures without changing. It is a change without ceasing, when change ceases it ceases; it is itself nothing but change.” …

When life ceases the kammic energy re-materializes itself in another form. As Bhikkhu Silacara says: “Unseen it passes whithersoever the conditions appropriate to its visible manifestation are present. Here showing itself as a tiny gnat or worm, there making its presence known in the dazzling magnificence of a Deva or an Archangel’s existence. When one mode of its manifestation ceases it merely passes on, and where suitable circumstances offer, reveals itself afresh in another name or form.”…

Buddhism does not totally deny the existence of a personality in an empirical sense. It only attempts to show that it does not exist in an ultimate sense. The Buddhist philosophical term for an individual is santana, i.e., a flux or a continuity. It includes the mental and physical elements as well. The kammic force of each individual binds the elements together. This uninterrupted flux or continuity of psycho-physical phenomenon, which is conditioned by kamma, and not limited only to the present life, but having its source in the beginningless past and its continuation in the future — is the Buddhist substitute for the permanent ego or the immortal soul of other religions.

Highlights from a lovely passage on the fluidity and freedom of anatta… By Narada Thera. Enjoy the entire article here!

The Inner and The Outer

…just as he who wishes to see the intelligible nature will contemplate what is beyond the perceptible if he has no mental image of the perceptible, so he who wishes to contemplate what is beyond the intelligible will contemplate it when he has let all the intelligible go…we in our (aporia) do not know what we ought to say, and are speaking of what cannot be spoken, and give it a name because we want to indicate it to ourselves as best we can…

—from “Apophasis”

Evolution, Goddess Gaia, if you will, has granted us a most astonishing gift… Our brains, our mind, our consciousness, our perceptions — this intricate interweaving of grey matter with electric impulses and tissue and muscle and bone has, over the expansive eons, given us not merely a thinking mind by which to behold and contemplate our surroundings, but almost another, outer mind beyond this natural mind, by which we are able to contemplate our own selves as well! We are able to Observe the Observer.

In this sense, we might say that we are capable of, at its most basic, two focuses, or ways of looking and experiencing. This concept has already been beautifully and plainly described in the study of Open Focus, and I highly recommend you explore Kurt Keefner’s writings on the subject at the aforementioned link! Additionally, the Buddha would call this very concept and practice Mindfulness. But, too, let us consider the pragmatic implications of this kind of understanding in regard to our personal and societal interactions…

In our American society at present, there seems to be a great struggle tearing us violently apart, pitting basic religious and social viewpoints against each other. This debate is very near and dear to my heart at present, as I have experienced both sides of the struggle in the full and complicated extent of my own personal journey, and I feel I’ve at least been able to grasp the basic concepts rooted at the heart of the struggle. “The Devil is in the details,” it is said, but from an eagle’s eye view, I see the broad lack of understanding on the whole as a resistance against accepting Open Focus or allowing oneself to Observe the Observer in a mindful manner.

Consider this:

What is it that drives our current breakthroughs in Science, that which enhances our knowledge of the Universe and our place in it, that which enables us to create technological advances to enable us to understand more? Is it not the scientific process of careful and testable Observation and Experience through experimentation? What is it that enables us to live our daily lives and make basic decisions? Is it not the result of our current and past observations, built upon habit and understanding? How is it that a child learns what is not particularly beneficial to their well-being but by testing and observing and getting hurt and thereby learning in the process? We live our lives, we observe, we learn, we grow… and we develop frames within which our experiences fit — frames that seem to explain our experiences and by which we are able to categorize future experience and observation, frames that will guide our future decisions if we let them. One might call this living life through the Ego Filter

I would also call this the Inner Experience. This is the realm in which most “normal” life is lived, without thought, without mindfulness. This framework we build and with which we shelter our Egos and Perceptions could very well be called rigid religious structure. It is protective, offers guidance, and seems reliable in an apparently unreliable world. It gives meaning and explanation to the uncertain. And, when it is attacked by other emerging viewpoints, it is defended violently.

If, however, one could from time to time, emerge from within this rigid framework in order to observe its colors and shapes and structural intricacies from without, then I would call this the Outer Experience. It is this mind-existing-outside-the-mind observational phenomenon that allows Science to double-check itself for validity. It is the realm in which Understanding and most perfect, unconditional Love dwell. It is the place from which we can come to understand our Egos and its decisions and perceptions, and the place we can come to embrace our Shadow and realize that we are One…

One dwelling in the Inner realm is one who holds to their ideology, for there is nothing else beyond it; it is all they are. One dwelling in the Outer realm is one who does not take part emotionally in anything that is seen, but rather only watches and studies and accepts. From this vantage point, there is much to be learned, and much wisdom and peace to be attained.

The Genius of the Noble Truths

The genius of the Buddha’s message at its heart is that we are ultimately creatures of perfection. Or, perhaps one might restate this in a manner devoid of duality, by saying… We are creatures, as we are… The concept is that we are already whole and bear the Buddha Nature within; there is nothing wrong with us. It is simply through the years of accumulating the Three Poisons of attachment, aversion, and ignorance (all which reinforce each other) that we cover and lose sight of and contact with this original pure form; by accumulating this junk we block our inherent happiness that is naturally ours. The delusion is that we simply don’t see this realization and too easily run after the thoughts in our mind as truth.

A host of other myths and culture proclaim that our beginning state of being is one of evil, or deficiency, or any other such form; and that only by way of some ritual or submission to a deity will we ever hope to achieve perfection.

When faced with these two very simple and subtle approaches of thought toward the human condition, I find myself overjoyed with the genius of the Buddha’s simple observation: the initial ground base of wholeness, and the hope and ease of letting our accumulated poisons go. What good news this is!

Breaking down segments of my reading from:

The Long Discourse on the Ways of Attending to Mindfulness (Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasuttaṁ, DN 22), Translated by Anandajoti Bhikkhu (3rd revised version, October 2011 – 2055)

I have created a series of charts for comparison and understanding of the Buddha’s words on The Four Noble Truths. You can find my abridged version of this text (as it pertains to my chart) here.

The Truths are:

  • The Truth of Suffering (or a better way to think of this word is unhappiness or inability to achieve and sustain satisfactoriness.)
  • The Truth of Origination of Suffering
  • The Truth of Cessation of Suffering
  • The Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering

Chart of Constituents and the Origination and Cessation of Suffering illustrates:

  1. At the basis of the suffering are the Five Constituents, which are the Fuel for Attachment.
    1. These are: form, feelings, perceptions, mental processes, and consciousness
  2. Based upon these Constituents, we can derive both the Truth of Origination and Cessation.
    1. These are located and found at certain points of contact: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind.
    2. For example; from eye comes form, comes eye-consciousness and eye-contact, comes the feeling born of eye-contact, comes the perception of forms, comes the intention in regard to forms, comes the craving for forms, comes the thinking about forms, comes an examination of forms.
    3. Likewise, similar patterns follow at each of the other points of contact.
  3. Origination is the arising of Craving at these centers. Cessation is the complete fading away without reminder of the Craving at these centers.
  4. The beauty of recognizing the step-by-step nature of craving and cessation of craving at any given point at these centers, is to realize that at any given point within the process of grasping can the power of acknowledgment and cessation begin.

The second chart, the Eight Factors of the Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering, illustrates the following:

  1. What is commonly known as the Eightfold Path.
    1. Right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right endeavour, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
  2. Within the topic of Right Concentration falls the Four Absorptions:
    1. First: one is secluded from sense desires and unwholesome things, while having thinking, reflection, and joy
    2. Second: Calmed down thinking/reflection, without thinking, reflection, and joy
    3. Third: The fading away of joy; dwelling as equanimous, mindful, fully aware, and happy.
    4. Fourth: Abandonment of pleasure and pain; the previous passing away of happiness and sorrow; the purity of mindfulness owing to equanimity.

Engage joyfully in your meditation today, study and observe your mind, at all of its various points of grasping — whether for attachment or for aversion — and observe the beauty of the step-by-step unfolding of the Path.

Constituents

Origination and cessation

Eightfold Path

Be Not Afraid of the World

We are each of us, an independent mini-verse; and yet, too, we are fully and intricately entangled with and in our environment, and each other.

How long and often I have heard and seen displayed, the ideology of “Not of This World.” The premise behind it is one of judgement — that this World is of some nature that we ought not be a part of, and to be separate from it is to attain a nature of peace, purity, and enlightenment of one sort or another.

In a way, one might look to meditation and the release of Attachments as a form of this kind of release from the world… But how much better we will fare if, instead, we realize — and, yes, take delight in — the fact that we are holistically integrated with ourselves and our environment. The notion of releasing Attachment is not to bring separation from this World, but instead to come to the awareness that we are One with the World, with the Universe (yes, I know how cliché this phrase is, but it nevertheless remains true). And by this understanding we welcome true peace into our existence.

Without it, we struggle against the World — the Universe, the very womb that birthed us. We see, we, judge, we hate, we long for that which we cannot have and we look endlessly for a mythical release that will not come, as it is powered by fear and hate and a desire for easy, unbalanced escapism… We condemn others who do not conform to our ideologies, and we blame them for the misfortune that seems to overtake us at every turn during our existence on this earth. More than this, by struggling against the very nature of our integrated beings, we create cognitive dissonance in our very souls; how frustrating it is to inherently know the Truth in our beings, for we have the mind of…the Mind… 😉 but retain the need to dismiss it with the excuses of our own imaginings! To maintain this life-encompassing delusion at all costs… This is truly, mentally and spiritually, exhausting!

That we could all come to understand that Perception is everything! That we could each welcome and explore the nature of Attentional Focus; that by employing the realizations of Open Focus we may freely explore the nature of who we are, tied intimately with our environment, in wholeness and peace.