TRANSCENDENTAL IDEALISM

9 Jun

APOPHATIC MEDITATION

9 Jun

What IS Mindfulness? A Perspective as Taught by the Buddha.

19 Jul

There is a discrepancy between the teachings of the Buddha on Mindfulness and the definition of Mindfulness as stated in much of the current psychology articles as well as a continuing confusion among psychologists regarding the original intent of the use of Mindfulness and the modern popular one. Several examples of well-known phrases define mindfulness as: paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally; involves a kind of non-elaborative, non-judgemental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is; and finally, the practice of meditation and mindfulness will clear away the dullness of being on autopilot and free you to live more fully than you ever have before. This blog is an exploration of what the Buddha really intended in the practice of Sati (the Pali word for mindfulness), as different from the previous definitions.
The Buddha was the originator of the practice of Sati and it is clear that he meant meditation as the “Royal Road” for all people to potentially attain a transpersonal psychological experience named enlightenment, or awakening. In Buddhism, meditation is more often referred to as bhavana or mental culture, which emphasizes the holistic nature of mental cultivation associated with the Buddha’s Eightfold Path. Mindfulness is one of the eight factors of the Eightfold Path. For a fuller explanation of the Buddha’s teachings from a cognitive science perspective, I recommend my book, The Buddha’s Teachings: Seeing without Illusion (revised edition, 2013).
The Eightfold Path is the Buddha’s goal-oriented program with specific systematic procedures or instructions for psychological transformation. Like any learning program, there is advancement from basic to more refined concepts and practices. The beginning of the Eightfold Path is Right View, or perspective, and it is an orientation to the values and ideas of the program as presented in the Four Noble Truths. This is crucial, as the conceptual Right View gives the basic foundation and principles of the Buddha’s teachings. It is the correct framework of the problem and how to solve it; therefore, the Right View gives direction and coherence to the program rationale.
The next factor of the Eightfold Path is Right Effort. The Buddha taught from his enlightenment to his passing away to “strive with earnestness”. So fundamental was this teaching, that these are reported to be his last words. He also said, “All wholesome things are founded on earnestness, converge on earnestness, and so earnestness is to be considered as the most important of all. Clearly to reach any goal, whether psychological, academic, commercial, etc., and to earnestly practice any program, requires energy, and in the case of the Eightfold Path, Right Effort concerns making conscious practices to positively shape cognitions and thoughts and, therefore, the mental world.” Right Effort in Buddhism is commonly ranked in an ascending order from: (1) Prevent unwholesome mental states. (2) Abandon unwholesome mental states. (3) Arouse wholesome mental states. (4) Maintain and perfect wholesome mental states.
Mind training through these four interventions takes time and effort. Right Effort is also considered “right endeavouring” and it is the Buddhist practitioner’s continuous effort to keep his or her mind free of thoughts that might impair or be a hindrance to their ability to put into practice the other elements of the Eightfold Path which can eventually lead to enlightenment. Right Effort includes the skilful, appropriate, and balanced exertion of energy and intensity that is needed for different skill applications as they arise.
Now that one has the right schema and intentions as well as a willingness to skilfully exert a balanced effort, the next three path factors of Sila, or moral discipline, become the focus; these are: Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Living. These factors of Sila interact and support each other, and while outwardly are actions of kindness and benefit to others, are in fact, by controlling one’s behaviour, also modulating one’s thinking and training one’s cognitions. For it is impossible for unwholesome actions to originate from wholesome thoughts and vice versa. We have seen that in Right Effort, the four rankings of cultivation of wholesomeness and their application to Right Sila is obvious. To practice Right Speech in a wholesome and kind manner, we must, for example, prevent and eliminate speaking with the unwholesomeness of anger, slander, and deceit.
At this point along our journey on the Path, we are following the program of the Buddha to begin to purify our minds with wholesomeness and to use skilful actions through the practice of Sila. We have more trust and confidence in the program because we see the beneficial results of our becoming happier, having a better relationship with the world, and experiencing uplifting and positive thinking. Therefore, we continue to exert a balanced effort into the application of wholesome “right” skills to achieve further positive results.
So now we are ready to move into another phase of the path, and that is Right Concentration, or meditation, which in Pali is known as Samma Samadhi. Right Concentration is intensified concentration that results from a deliberate intention and mental effort to raise the mind to a more purified level of awareness. The main function of Samadhi, as wholesome concentration, is to collect the ordinary scattered stream of mental states to create a unified mental state. The mind trained in concentration can remain absorbed on one point without distraction and this induces the more serene mind to better insight. Traditionally in Buddhist meditation, one passes through the eight “Divine Jhanas” which are fully immersed meditative states of profound stillness, and which in the end one experiences the height of mental concentration. However, this experience still lacks the wisdom of insight and is not sufficient for gaining enlightenment.
Next (while not in a strictly linear sense but for ease of discussion) we need to adopt the skill of Right Mindfulness. In our present, hypothetical scenario, we would now be working the Buddha’s program well. We have a “right” perspective, desire, effort, energy, and intention to skilfully maintain wholesome thoughts and behaviors; we can now collect our ordinarily scattered stream of mental states and create a unified mental state. This induces an open and serene mind more available to insight as we strive to be honest and objective with ourselves about our intentions. However, to not only gain and practice new skill applications but also generalize and maintain any previous “right” skills acquisition, one needs also to be able to become heedful, maintain a balanced, watchful mind, and be aware of oneself in an objective, non-attached mindful manner; to do this is a vital factor in the Buddha’s program of mental purification.
We can now see that the function of Right Mindfulness is not only observation and attentiveness, but also the skill of discrimination, refinement, and maintenance between having wholesome vs. unwholesome and skilful vs. unskilful thoughts, feelings, and behaviour, and the integration of all skill acquisition with the other right factors of the Eightfold Path. An example of this is shown by the explanation of the Buddha:
“One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view. This is one’s right mindfulness…
One is mindful to abandon wrong resolve & to enter & remain in right resolve: This is one’s right mindfulness…
One is mindful to abandon wrong speech & to enter & remain in right speech: This is one’s right mindfulness…
One is mindful to abandon wrong action & to enter & remain in right action: This is one’s right mindfulness…
One is mindful to abandon wrong livelihood & to enter & remain in right livelihood: This is one’s right mindfulness…” — MN 117
The commentary of a verse in the Dhammapada further explains:
“The wise person is always mindful. Through this alertness he discards the ways of the slothful. The monk, as the seeker after the truth, is frightened of mindlessness because he knows that if one is unmindful, one is caught up in the unending suffering of samsara. Therefore, he forges ahead diligently and mindfully burning away those bonds that fetter people to worldliness.”
We see clearly that Right Mindfulness has the function of not only present moment awareness, but more importantly, self-regulation. In fact, often in the Dhammapada the word “heedfulness” or “heedful” – which means having or showing a close attentiveness to avoid danger or trouble – is substituted for “mindfulness”.
Throughout the suttas or Buddhist texts, it is clear that Buddha taught a skills acquisition, goal oriented, introspective bhavana or mental cultivation program. We can say it is an introspective program, because its primary orientation is the observation and examination of any number of one’s own mental states, including sensory, bodily, cognitive, emotional, and so forth. Regarding mental cultivation, the Buddha said, “The training of the mind is good, a mind so tamed brings happiness”, “The tame mind brings bliss”, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought; it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts”, and finally, “We will develop mindfulness immersed in the body. We will pursue it, hand it the reins and take it as a basis, give it grounding, steady it, consolidate it, and undertake it well. That is how you should train yourselves.” Here the taming of the mind that the Buddha is talking about is actualized through mindfulness, which has a function similar to that of the trainer who tames an unruly animal.
Therefore, what is being discussed in the early Buddhist description of mindfulness is not a passive, sense-based, non-judgemental skill, but more accurately involves metacognition. Metacognition engages in self-reflection and refers to a regulation of cognition or a level of thinking that involves active control over the processes of thinking that are especially used in learning, and it enhances problem solving ability. Metacognitive regulation refers to processes that coordinate cognition. These include both bottom-up processes called cognitive monitoring (e.g., error detection, source monitoring in memory retrieval) and top-down processes called cognitive control (e.g., conflict resolution, error correction, inhibitory control, planning, resource allocation) (Nelson & Narens, 1990; Reder & Schunn, 1996). Metacognition is closely related to executive function, which involves the ability to monitor and control the information processing necessary to produce voluntary action. Metacognition refers to any knowledge or cognitive process that monitors or controls cognition.
Metacognitive skills have been identified as: Planning the appropriate selection of learned strategies; the correct allocation of psychic resources that affect learning; self-monitoring of understanding and task performance; and finally, evaluating or appraising the final results of a task and the efficiency at which the task was performed. Other metacognitive skills or executive functions are maintaining motivation and effort to see a task to completion, and the ability to become aware and skilfully intervene when both distracting internal and external stimuli occur. Engaging in self-reflection or introspection enhances metacognition through monitoring lapses in knowledge and addressing them, or through judging knowledge availability and feelings of accuracy. Right Mindfulness, understood as Metacognition, plays a critical role in successful “right” skills acquisition, “right” skills consolidation and application training, and the generalization and maintenance of the right factors of the Eightfold Path.
So to summarize, mindfulness as metacognition involves both executive management and strategic knowledge. Executive management processes involve planning, monitoring, evaluating, and revising one’s own thinking processes and products, while strategic knowledge involves knowing what (factual or declarative knowledge), knowing when and why (conditional or contextual knowledge), and knowing how (procedural or methodological knowledge). “Both executive management and strategic knowledge metacognition are needed to self-regulate one’s own thinking and learning” (Dunlosky, J. & Bjork, R. A. Eds). H. J. Hartman (2001) has written about other benefits of mindfulness, such as, “promoting executive-level functioning in detecting when the mind has wandered (meta awareness) further reduces lapses in attention. Mindfulness practice promotes a form of meta-cognitive insight of learning to emotionally disengage from distracters (frustration; anxiety). This form of top-down cognitive control leads the Mindfulness practitioner to more readily focus on the present task leading to better performance.”
Now that we have explored briefly the idea that mindfulness is really describing metacognition and executive function which includes the abilities that help us learn new information, remember and retrieve information we’ve learned in the past, and use this information to solve problems of life, let’s see more examples of this idea in Buddhist writings. The early Buddhist definition of Sati as memory is indicated by such terms as: calling to mind; remembrance; bearing in mind; and recollection. In the Dhammapada, mindfulness is compared to the treasurer of a king who reminds the king of the royal possessions in detail, daily, at night and in the morning. Also, the mindfulness of the aspirant to enlightenment reminds them of Virtue, Concentration, and Wisdom, which constitute the three pillars of the teachings of the Buddha. The value of the recollected activity of mindfulness is seen in the increasing awareness of the essentials of “right” living in the aspirant’s mind, and the growing strength of purpose for realizing these within him or herself.
Thānissaro Bhikkhu also emphasizes the memory aspect in this comment: “As he [the Buddha] defined the term, right mindfulness is not bare attention. Instead, it’s a faculty of active memory, adept at calling to mind and keeping in mind instructions and intentions that will be useful on the path. Its role is to draw on right view and to work proactively in supervising the other factors of the path to give rise to right concentration, and in using right concentration as a basis for total release.” So, mindfulness is the bringing or keeping of something in (to) awareness, but it is not solely awareness. Mindfulness can be used to bring any mental quality to mind.
Bhikkhu Bodhi offers us another perspective of mindfulness and its function as executive function: “There are certainly occasions when the cultivation of mindfulness requires the practitioner to suspend discrimination, evaluation, and judgment, and to adopt instead a stance of simple observation. However, to fulfill its role as an integral member of the eightfold path, mindfulness has to work in unison with right view and right effort. This means that the practitioner of mindfulness must at times evaluate mental qualities and intended deeds, make judgments about them, and engage in purposeful action.”
In Satipatthana, The Direct Path to Realization, Venerable Analayo wrote that we need to distinguish clearly between a first stage of observation and a second stage of taking action. Calmly assessing a situation without immediately reacting enables us to undertake the appropriate action. Thus, Sati provides the information for the then wise use of Right Effort, and it will oversee the countermeasures by noting if these are right and balanced, not too much or too little.
Soma Thera, in his short book, The Way of Mindfulness, The Satipatthana Sutta and Its Commentary (1998), it is also quite clear that mindfulness involves what we are now referring to as metacognition and executive functions. To quote at length: “Mindfulness is the activity that takes care of the mind and protects it. It is compared to a wagon driver who ties the oxen to the wagon’s yoke, greases the axle, and drives the wagon, making the oxen go gently. In this activity mindfulness looks to the smooth working and movement of the mind and takes notice of the processes both skilful and not, taking place in the consciousness. In the more complex forms it is the selective and integrative action of the mind. The selective activity has been compared to the work of the Chief Adviser of a King. As the Adviser is instrumental in distinguishing the good from the bad, and in getting the good and avoiding the bad, so mindfulness distinguishes the worthy from unworthy things, avoids the unworthy and obtains the worthy.
The integrative character of mindfulness is like the Minister-of-all-work of a King. He is wanted in putting through every project of the King. He is commissioned to organise and combine the workers and execute the tasks. Mindfulness is also like that Minister. It is the organizing activity of the mind necessary for the development of wholesome states of consciousness. It combines the various other qualities which compose those states, puts them to their appropriate tasks and keeps them in proper working order. By the strength of integrating mindfulness a conscious state of skill functions harmoniously and becomes a well-knit unity. This activity of mindfulness makes the work of the aspirant complete at every stage of his progress. Integrating mindfulness sees all lacks and deficiencies, brings in the needed qualities and suitably applies them. It is called the highest wisdom of mindfulness [parama satinepakka], and constitutes the core of the Mindfulness that is included in the Real Way [Ariya Magga Pariyapanna Sati], of the Way Factor of Mindfulness [Sati Magganga] and of the Enlightenment Factor of Mindfulness [Sati Sambojjhanga]. It is Right Mindfulness [Sammasati] in the full sense of the term.”
Other, shorter quotes from Soma Thera’s book that indicate the executive function of mindfulness include:
“That it is mindfulness that holds things together in the mental flux, brings them up, and prevents them from floating away, getting submerged, forgotten and lost. Without mindfulness there will be no reconstitution of already acquired knowledge and consciousness itself would break in pieces, become fragmentary, and be unable to do properly the work of cognition.”
“Strong mindfulness ignores the unnecessary, by adhering to the center of the business in hand, and extends its view to important peripheral conditions, with a wide spreading watchfulness resembling that of the sentinel on a tower scanning the horizon “for the glint of armour. By such a balance between width and depth mindfulness steers clear of the extremes of lopsided vision and practice.”
“In the sense of overcoming mental conflict, and in the sense of getting rid of all unclarity, all incapacity to judge aright and indefiniteness due to mental unquiet, mindfulness is a controlling faculty [indriya]. The controlling faculty of mindfulness makes for the absence of confusion [asamussanata] and produces lucidity of thought, sound judgment, and definiteness of outlook. Mindfulness accompanied by keen understanding appears as the controlling faculty of mindfulness.”
“Mindfulness accompanied by sustained energy is mindfulness considered as a spiritual power [bala] and is the quality of earnestness [appamada] which destroys the wavering of negligence [pamada]. Negligence is the wandering of the mind in objects of fivefold sense-pleasure, repeatedly: it is the absence of thoroughness, of perseverance, and of steadfastness in doing good; the behavior that is stuck in the mire of worldliness; the casting aside of the desire to do what is right; the casting aside of the duties which belong to one; the absence of practice, development, and increase of wholesome qualities; the lack of right resolve, and the want of application. Earnestness is the opposite of all that negligence connotes. According to meaning, earnestness is the non-neglect of mindfulness [atthato hi so satiya avippavaso]. Indeed, earnestness is the name for mindfulness that is always active, constantly at work.”
To conclude our discussion, we have seen that contrary to the simplistic, popular definitions of mindfulness, Sati is really considering the executive functions and metacognition of the learning program called the Eightfold Path. In other words, the early Buddhist definition of mindfulness as memory, which is an executive function, is indicated by such definitions as: calling to mind; remembrance; bearing in mind; and recollection. We have seen that to proceed on the Eightfold Path, practitioners need to assess whether or not retrieved information is relevant to the life experience they are trying to skilfully master. “Successful differentiation of relevant from irrelevant memories is key to problem solving, planning, and other complex tasks. Planning requires reflecting on which course of action is necessary to achieve a goal, and as such planning is part of metacognition” (Brown, Bransford, Ferrara, & Campione, 1983). Action planning requires establishing both a main goal (enlightenment) and a hierarchy of sub-goals that must be satisfied for the main goal to be obtained (ethical behaviour, concentration, learning the Four Noble Truths, etc.). The main goal usually guides the sub-goals, which is considered Right View. So we can adopt a definition of mindfulness as a method by which we skilfully and intentionally focus our attention on our behaviors, perceptions, feelings, thoughts, and mental phenomena in the present moment, with the right intention of purifying the mind as prescribed in the Eightfold Path.

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the Fruit of the Universe

11 May

Reflections

4 May

Reflecting, I realize that every experience has the potential for changing my life, however, some are more significant, at least that I recognize, than others. Probably one of the most important life-changing experiences in my life was, in the late 1990s, during meditation in a Buddhist monastery outside Chicago, while I was on a weekend retreat there. In fact, during the late 1960s, the American youth culture was responding eagerly to a new influx of Eastern thought. This included Yoga as well as meditation. I became interested in Zen Buddhism and its offshoots of the Tea ceremony, Bonsai, Haiku poetry and even martial arts like Kendo. All of these have an underlying meditation aspect of mindfulness or being relaxed and focused in the present moment. In Chicago, there was a vital Japanese community and I attended some classes about Zen at a ‘school’ of Japanese culture. Later, I also went to a Zen temple and did some Soto Zen meditation which again emphasizes meditation of ‘Mindfulness’.

Well, I started to study also T’ai Chi and another Chinese internal martial Art which also emphasizes being aware of the present in the body’s movement, being relaxed and full-body coordination. I continued my involvement in Buddhist meditation because I appreciated the psychology/philosophy of it and I felt relaxed and good during and after meditation as well as during a tea ceremony or walking meditation, etc.. I went to Berkeley, California to attend a three-week course about Tibetian Buddhist bodywork to also apply in psychotherapy and I started to go to Thai Temples near Chicago for weekend retreats lead by English-speaking monks.

Over the years I also practiced Jhana meditation and during one of the retreats outside Chicago, it was toward the end of the retreat, I had practiced Jhana meditation and I experienced what is called ‘Nothingness’ or pure being in the present. Well, this experience was profound. There it was and I knew I had to relax into it and let it be because if you try to force it, it leaves you. Also, later when I was rolling up my sleeping bag and packing my backpack preparing to leave, again I was purely and calmly in the action, in the present. Well, now I interpret it as the experience of non-duality and it has been a focus and perspective for me especially in the last fifteen years. In the last ten years, I have had time to reflect on that experience and research and write about it and I am still trying to explore the significance of it not only for myself but for its application as a paradigm shift that is an ancient, universal and valid perspective. Unfortunately, in the highly dualistic and scientific modern world that we are increasingly living in, we are losing sight of this fundamental perspective of non-duality and I believe there are important negative consequences for individuals, society and the ecology because of that.

So one of my most important life-changing experiences was on a Sunday morning at a meditation retreat outside Chicago and the fruit of my previous study and practice ripened and changed, and continues to influence, my life.
Here is the complete blog I wrote about that day:

    ‘My weekend retreat began similar to others I had attended at the Buddhadharma Center, in a pleasant suburban setting about 30 miles outside Chicago, Illinois. I arrived by car on a sunny, summer Friday afternoon with my sleeping bag, meditation pillow, mat and a small bag of clothes and toothbrush/shampoo and towel. I was grateful to again have an opportunity to practice a few days of Mindfulness meditation in a supportive and relaxed atmosphere.

As I walked into the renovated small church, now temple, I was greeted by the friendly smiling faces of volunteers who were going to provide us visitors with delicious Thai vegetarian meals as well as evening tea and cookies. One of the helpers showed me to the large room where the male meditators would be sleeping and, looking around the sparsely furnished room, I found a spot where there wasn’t an open sleeping bag on the floor and, firstly, I put my mat down and then on top of it, my sleeping bag. Next to my sleeping bag, I set down my clothes bag. No one else was in the room.

Shortly after setting up my ‘bedroom’ I heard a bell ringing which meant for all participants to go to the main Temple room. Leaving the ‘bedroom’, I put my shoes back on and walked upstairs where there were already about thirty people, men and women, young and older, sitting. I again took my shoes off and went into the Temple room, which, in the front, on a small stage, had a large gold-painted statue of the Buddha, beautiful flowers on both sides and three monks in light brown robes were sitting quietly in front of the Buddha statue. With my meditation pillow in hand, I found a comfortable spot, sat down on my pillow and quietly focused on my breathing and centering myself in this new situation after a three-hour drive.

Everyone sat quietly. I heard birds chirping in the field outside. There was a pleasant smell of incense and the light whirling sound of the three ceiling fans. My meditation weekend had begun. After about ten minutes, one of the monks went to the microphone and greeted everyone and then gave a short talk on the five precepts, which is the basic Buddhist code of ethics, undertaken by lay followers, that we were expected to observe during the retreat. He said that the precepts were meant to provide a harmonious situation for the best practice of meditation and cooperation among all the participants. The five precepts are:
I shall refrain from harming the life of others

I shall refrain from taking the not given

I shall refrain from harmful sexual practices

I shall refrain from deceitful words

I shall refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness

After this short introductory talk and ‘Taking the Precepts’, we all participated, for an hour, in first chanting and then sitting meditation. After that, we had individual time during which I went to the Temple’s small bookshop where I browsed through the titles. With the again ringing of the bell, we were informed that lunch was ready for us so everyone went to the auditorium area where tables had been set up and we chose our lunch of Thai cooking, buffet style. Sitting at tables with our food, we all ate silently and mindfully. After lunch, the program had a pause and I went outside behind the temple where there was an acre of lawn with neat rows of different fruit trees. Sitting in the warm sun, I enjoyed my contentment of the moment.

So that day and the next two included the following: mindfully meditating on loving-kindness, walking, sitting, yoga, chanting; Dhamma instruction by the monks followed by Q&A; individual time to read, write, think, rest, and eating nourishing and tasty vegetarian meals for breakfast and lunch and refreshments in the evenings. All activities were done in silence to help keep our focus on the here and now and to quiet the mind and body. As in previous retreats, I noticed a gradual transformation of my mind/body condition. With the meditation practices, the instructive Dhamma talks, and the peaceful environment, my mind/body began to shed the stress and tension of everyday life and I began to melt into a deeper state of present awareness and mindful absorption.

On the last day, in the late morning, during walking meditation, I chose to walk outside among the trees. It was a beautiful warm sunny day. I began my walking meditation by finding a place where I could walk unhampered for about ten yards. I started walking slowly, mindful of each step, keeping my gaze forward, right foot rises and falls, left foot rises and falls. Arriving at the end, stop, stand and turn, begin walking again. And so it went for about twenty minutes. Then, intuitively, I shifted to a standing meditation by just standing and gazing out without a particular concentration. At this moment I had a wonderful, profound transformative experience. I stood without thinking, without a subject/object split. I experienced a state of profound freedom and deep happiness and relief. I was ‘one’ with existence. I realized that my ‘happiness’ was dependent not on the external but on my internal state. I experienced a sense of timelessness.

Without attempting to keep ‘creating’ my experience but only to continue to allow it, my ‘pure experience’ continued for possibly fifteen minutes until I felt the need to return to the schedule of the retreat. After that, my continued meditation and ‘mundane’ activities had a continued profound peacefulness and ‘selflessness’. When I ate, I just ate, when I walked, I just walked. I had a sensitive awareness of everything/everybody. Even in the rolling up of my sleeping bag, my experience was as the Japanese philosopher Nishida wrote, “In pure experience, there is no prior or posterior, no inner or outer; no experience precedes or generates experience” and (there is) “not the slightest interval between the intention and the act.”. There was only the rolling up of the sleeping bag, a oneness of action.

After having had this lovely transformative experience, later the retreat ended, I drove home and went back to work the next day. However, my transformed understanding of ‘myself’, happiness and the ‘oneness’ of life has remained deep for me and has continued to be a spiritual inspiration, guide, and direction in my life as well as has my continued meditation and Dhamma study.

Practically, I have continued to explore how to relieve myself from the burdens of the ‘virtual’ self and the accumulation of objects which, in the past, was a vain and destructive attempt to find happiness in ‘things’. I now understand how to better resist the obsessions that our modern mass consumption society attempts to create in our minds. Also, I have since adopted a voluntary simplicity to my life both for ethical and environmental concerns as well as for my own happiness. I try to create environments –both physically and emotionally – which nurture kindness and wisdom. Last, but not least, I continue to try to be mindful, accepting, compassionate and sensitive to my own being and to other living beings. Reflecting back on my meditation experience, I understand that there was nothing ‘special’ about its creation, indeed, only the correct conditions caused what took place. A deep, spiritual, life-altering transformation is available to anyone who is willing to devote time to study and practice, have a “beginner’s mind” and finds wise teachers.’

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Egoism

3 May
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Zen Haiku

3 May

substantialist’s art of self-making

19 Apr
“And so you opted for the substantialist’s art of self-making, Cutting off all umbilical cords to the Mother of Field-Being. You first dignify yourself in the kingly robes of an independent entity, enthroning yourself in the lonely kingdom of ego-substance. Then with the projective magic of your subjective substantiality, you objectify everything on your way to Godlike rigidity. And with the pointing of the substantializing wand, a bond was broken; a shade of mutuality has withered and waned. Now everything becomes merely external and separate from everything else. External is your objective world, your objectified God, and your objectified self. Anything you cannot safely possess and control you relegate to the dark side of the Other, the Hell, the objective pole, And condemned it as an illusion, unreal, ugly, or evil. Oh, in carrying your Godlike rigidity to all eternity (as if you were in fact rigidly eternal), you, a virtuoso in dualization, have created the most unhappy situation.”
– Professor l. k. Tong
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Inscrutable

19 Apr
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All is One

14 Apr
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Measures

13 Apr
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Gratitude

13 Apr
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LIFE

13 Apr