Archive | August, 2015

Actuality and Reality in the Buddha’s Teachings

16 Aug

Actuality and Reality in the Buddha’s Teachings
I was surfing the net and came across an image of two sign posts, each pointing in an opposite direction; one direction pointed to Reality and the other, Truth. This demarcation was surprising because often Truth, or Actuality, and Reality are understood as synonymous, depending on whether we use small or big dictionaries. The shorter the annotation, the more “actual” means the same as “real”, while in more extensive annotation, Actuality is “what it is”, and it is the addition of subjective and conscious factors that create Reality. Our Reality, or our “world”, is how we understand and cognitively organize the complexities of existence. We make a “model” of life and operate along those guidelines. In addition, this “world” serves as both a means to process incoming information and as a filter. It not only determines what we pay attention to of Actuality, but what it means. In the Buddha’s teachings, Reality and Actuality are described as very different states of mind. Understanding this significant difference between the meanings of Actuality and Reality has enormous consequences in comprehending the profundity of the Buddha’s teachings.
In the Buddha’s teachings Reality and Actuality are very different, and this difference is significant. Let’s further explore this difference – an Actuality is that which involves action or exists in motion and can never be considered static. Reality is that which is perceived with a subjective consciousness and interpretation, meaning, or value. Actuality is universal, while Reality is that which is idiosyncratic. Reality is a person’s cognitively determined interpretations, perceptions, assumptions, cultural indoctrination, motivations, and countless other subjective elements that make up how something is perceived. It is what one thinks occurred. All the representations of our Reality are just representations, not Actuality. While an Actuality that is independent of any human conceptualization/construction exists, pre-enlightened beings normally experience only an interpretation of that as Reality. Pre-enlightened people react to their Reality, not to the actual and therefore, the same event can be viewed in countless different ways. One person’s Reality may be the opposite of another’s, with very different interpretations. However, Truth is beyond representation, is the antecedent behind the referent, it is the Tathatā.
As Paul J. Griffins described in his book, On Being Buddha, “The technical term actuality (Tathatā) used here is key. It is an abstract noun denoting the way things are, the true nature of things, and is often used as a synonym for Buddha, an accurate mirroring or reflecting of things as they are. Buddha understood actuality is naturally pure and radiant, and it is this natural purity that makes possible the perfections of cognitions and actions. Implicit in this is that actuality can be defiled and in need of purification because of affective and cognitive obstructions (affective is hate, passion and delusion) and cognitively by doxastic habits and false beliefs. The removal of obstructions is called ‘the radical reorientation of actuality’.” (1)
The Buddha referred to himself as Tathagata, which when interpreted correctly can be read as “One who has arrived at suchness”. Suchness is also referred to as sunyata,emptiness, or void. Tathatā, as a central concept of Buddhism, expresses appreciation of the void nature of existence in any given moment. Tathatā is the purified mind in its natural, empty state, free of obscuration. Sunyata is seen not as a negation, but rather as the ground out of which all apparent entities, distinctions, and dualities cognitively arise. It denotes the way things are in Truth or Actuality and is therefore beyond the range of
conceptual thought. (2) There is no worldly knowledge, be it science or philosophy, which can lead to the attainment of the state of Tathatā. The experience of Actuality, “as it is”, is one of the goals of bhavana or mental cultivation practice. Meditation as bhavana is prescriptive as a method to transcend the ways in which people normally experience “Reality” in order to attain a higher, pure state of Tathatā mind. For the Buddha, many conventional ways in which Reality is interpreted are seen as pathological; for example, the imposition of constructs and concepts onto Actuality, maintaining the notion of a substantial self, and applying dichotomous constructs to interpret Actuality. The Buddhist path to the state of Tathatā is via the development of supreme wisdom of an equanimous
and discriminating mind through bhavana, or mind cultivation of the Eightfold Path.
Rodger Ricketts, Psy.D.
1. On Being Buddha: The Classical Doctrine of Buddhahood Paul J. Griffiths SUNY Press, 1994
2. The Buddha’s Teachings: Seeing without Illusion, Rodger R Ricketts Callistol Green. 2013

Fascinating and Mysterious Life

11 Aug

This small project of mine began a few winters ago after I had time to begin to search for some further trends in thinking from some of my previous experiences and research in the area of Buddhism and science. It has turned into a fun and interesting search of ideas which are presented here as quotes. Life ideas are like reading a good mystery novel where the plot twists and turns as you contunue the story and you are never really sure what is the “truth”. While no “truth” is always forthcoming, ‘trends’, patterns, “evidence” starts to appear which create important hypothesis or propositions about the nature of life, reality, knowledge, etc, as well as show the mystery, complexity and strangeness of life. I share those now on my blog(s). I hope you enjoy the thread!                                                                                                                                                                                             —————————————————————————————————————————-

Mystery is not something negative that has to be eliminated. On the contrary, it is one of the constitutive elements of being. B.D’Espagnat  

Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine. A. Eddington

The Big Bang Theory is just a model and is not accepted by all astronomers – although the vast majority of the do accept it. This idea proposes that 14 billion years ago the energy of the Universe was suddenly created, with all the energy required to produce it concentrated into what was essentially a point, a point with no volume referred to by scientists as a singularity. From that point the Universe expanded outwards and 14 billion years later has evolved into what we observe today. The implication of this model is that, at the instant the Universe began, space and time did not exist. One cannot refer to a time before the Big Bang because there was no such thing as time before the Universe began. Again, one cannot ask what the Universe expanded into because the only space that exists is within the bounds of the expanding Universe. … On the basis of the Big Bang theory what was the Universe like at the instant it began? It was an unimaginable concentration of just pure energy – no matter could exist. Then it began to expand and, once this happened, then time and space came into existence. … From the beginning to 10(-12) seconds, there would be no clear distinction between energy and matter and the forces that operated would be of an unfamilar kind. During this period there occurred a rapid expansion … at a speed greater than light. Michael M. Woolfson

Steven Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose. According to their calculations, time and space had a finite beginning that corresponded to the origin of matter and energy.”3 The singularity didn’t appear in space; rather, space began inside of the singularity. Prior to the singularity, nothing existed, not space, time, matter, or energy – nothing. So where and in what did the singularity appear if not in space? We don’t know. We don’t know where it came from, why it’s here, or even where it is. All we really know is that we are inside of it and at one time it didn’t exist and neither did we. There was no explosion; there was (and continues to be) an expansion. Rather than imagining a balloon popping and releasing its contents, imagine a balloon expanding: an infinitesimally small balloon expanding to the size of our current universe. anonymous

The cyclic universe model *space and time exist forever *the big bang is not the beginning of time; rather, it is a bridge to a pre-existing contracting era *the Universe undergoes an endless sequence of cycles in which it contracts in a big crunch and re-emerges in an expanding big bang, with trillions of years of evolution in between *the temperature and density of the universe do not become infinite at any point in the cycle; indeed, they never exceed a finite bound (about a trillion trillion degrees) *no inflation has taken place since the big bang; the current homogeneity and flatness were created by events that occurred before the most recent big bang *the seeds for galaxy formation were created by instabilities arising as the Universe was collapsing towards a big crunch, prior to our big bang. In the new paradigm, each cycle proceeds through a period of radiation and matter domination consistent with standard cosmology, producing the observed primordial abundance of elements, the cosmic microwave background, the expansion of galaxies, etc. For the next trillion years or more, the Universe undergoes a period of slow cosmic acceleration (as detected in recent observations1), which ultimately empties the Universe of all of the entropy and black holes produced in the preceding cycle and triggers the events that lead to contraction and a big crunch. Note that dark energy is not simply added on — it plays an essential role. The transition from big crunch to big bang automatically replenishes the Universe by creating new matter and radiation. Gravity and the transition from big crunch to big bang keep the cycles going forever.Paul J. Steinhardt

Eventually the universe will become a cold, dead wasteland with a temperature approaching what scientists term “absolute zero”. Professor Priyamvada Natarajan (which contradicts the Cyclic Model)

And so without even quoting about string theory or M theory, the obvious question that goes beyond our present ability of understanding is the question “how did it all begin” or “where did the massive energy that appeared to become our known universe orginate?”, etc.. These questions can also become the fodder for religious thought, ie “God created the Universe” and it can be left at that for at this point science just can’t answer that question. Neither “answer” can be “correct” because science admits it is unanswerable and religion takes it on faith. So, as T. Caryle says, the world is an inscrutable and magical place. Rodger

Wonder is retained by wise pondering.” –Ravi Zacharias

Xuan(Tao) is the dark mystery beyond all mysteries.Han Zhongli

The more I learn, the more I understand that life is amazing, sensitive, responsive, mysterious  and totally interconnected . -Rodger  

It remains admitted that to this day we don’t have a convincing notion of why there is something, why not merely nothing: What “spiritus rectot breathes fire into the equations and makes the universe for them to describe?”- raising the question, what do the laws of nature permit beyond what actually exists? H. Genz  

In the realm of particle collisions and quantum processes, antimatter is produced as often as ordinary matter. In fact, the big bang should have produced equal amounts of both—not a good thing, because each piece of antimatter would destroy an equal amount of matter. The big bang should thus have created universe of only light and energy, free of any solids, liquids or gases. So, some sort of asymmetry occurred that skewed the universe’s evolution toward matter. It would not have taken much—just one extra matter particle for every billion particle-antiparticle pairs. Researchers have discovered an asymmetry between the behavior of matter and of antimatter, called charge–parity violation, which could have skewed things to our side of the material world. But for this subtle bias to translate into an excess of matter, the primordial universe would have had to go through a wrenching period of imbalanced conditions, and so far no one knows how that might have happened.Philip Yam      

We are mounds of quarks in trios, we are proton-and-electron families. …There is but a single family on this planet, just one life-form stretching out its tendrils, testing possibilities as dust and stars did once upon a time. Face it, we are all in this together, microbes, seaweed, starfish, salamanders, humans, every strange extrusion of nucleic acid chains. We are the kin of yeast, the brothers of cockroaches, the sisters of sugar beets, and the cousins of maize. We share a common birthright born of ancient gene-and-membrane teams. All of us are children in the clan of DNA. Howard Bloom

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. –Albert Einstein  

The religion of future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description… If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism. perhaps Albert Einstein

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the “Universe,”a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something seperate from the rest – a kind of optical illusion of his consciouness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security. Einstein

We know from science that nothing in the universe exists as an isolated or independent entity. M.Wheatley

The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos.S.J.Gould

This world, after all our science and sciences, is still a miracle; wonderful, inscrutable, magical and more, to whosoever will think of it. T. Carlye

What is the mind of ours? Last week’s potatoes!…The atoms come into my brain, dance and dance and then go out-there are always new atoms but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.  RP Feynman  

“… all those who apprehend the single significant whole, or experience cosmic religious feeling, with or without the awareness of the existence of the principle of cosmic order, are engaged in similar acts of communion with the Whole. Yet any translation into conscious content of that experience , in scientific or religious thought, invokes reductionism where it cannot be applied. …all knowledge in the conscious content is a differentiated system that cannot by definition articulate the universal principle of order. Just as there can be no one-to-one correspondence between physical theory and physical reality, there can be no such correspondence between religious descriptions of beings and Being itself.” and ” … conceiving of a human being, as Einstein put it, as “part of the whole” is the leap of perspective that will prove most critical. It is only in making this leap that we can begin, as he suggests, to free ourselves of the ‘optical illusions’ of our present conception of self as a “part limited in time and space”, and to widen “our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty”.  and ” The central problem… has been trying to “prove” the existence of Being when it can never be proven because of its inherent undivided wholeness. Being neither requires or permits “proof”. It merely is, and accepting this abundantly obvious fact can provide a “foundation”, as Einstein put it, ‘for our inner security.’ …the description of the parts cannot disclose the existence or nature of the Whole. Yet one cannot, of course, merely reason or argue oneself into an acceptance of this proposition. One must have the capacity for what Einstein termed ‘cosmic religious feeling.’  Hopefully many of those who have the capacity will also communicate their awareness to others in metaphoric representations in ordinary language with enormous emotional appeal. …As described by Jonas Salk: ‘…By using the processes of Nature as metaphor, to describe the forces of the Cosmos by which it operates upon and within Man, we come as close to describing ‘reality’ as we can within the limits of our comprehension. Men will be very uneven in their capacity for such understanding, which, naturally, differs for different ages and cultures, and develops and changes over the course of time. For these reasons it will always be necessary to use metaphor and myth to provide ‘comprehensible’ guides to living. In this way, Man’s imagination and intellect play vital roles in his survival and evolution’.” from The Conscious Universe  

“The whole is something else than the sum of its parts” K. Koffka

The usual conception of the world is that matter is “embedded in” space and time. …this cannot be the case. There are many factors which indicate that reality is “projected onto” space and time. … The picture and also its frame, space-time, are located in the mind of the observer….the fact that reality is not embedded in space-time but is rather projected onto space-time. …space-time is not installed in the brain as a definate system but it is only “inserted” if there is actually something to be portrayed or represented, i.e., when our sense organs register objects and processes from the reality outside. W. Schommers  

I am therefore inclinded to think that “the Real” – alais human-independent reality- is not embedded in space-time. And, indeed, I go so far as speculating that, quite on the contrary, the nature of space-time is… not “noumenal” but “phenomenal”, that space-time is a “reality-for-us.” B.d’Espagnat  

Time is a dimension in the domain of descriptions, not a feature of the ambience. H.Maturana

According to classical physics, the universe consists of bodies in space. We are tempted to assume, therefore, that we live in a physical world consisting of bodies in space and that what we percieve consists of objects in space. But this is very dubious. J.J.Gibson

Most of us still think like Newton, regarding space as sort of a vast container that has no walls. But our notion of space is false. Like time, space is neither physical nor fundamentally real in our view. Rather, it is a mode of interpretation and understanding. It is part of an animal’s mental software that molds sensations into multidimensional objects. time does not exist independently of the life that notices it. Robert Lanza and Bob Berman  

The concept of time cannot actually be understood. We are accustomed to thinking that time is something which can be found or which one has. But it actually has no existence. The physicist says time is something that can be measured in one way or another by a clock. But what does the clock measure. Nothing but time!E. Dammann   

In recent years many planets have been found around nearby main-sequence stars, all of the Population 1 variety, and it is generally accepted that the material of these planets will have come from the same source as that which formed the parent star. This is how the material that formed our world came into being – its atmosphere and solid substance, the biosphere and everything within it, including us. An eminent American astronomer, Carl Sagen (1934-96), a great expositor of popular science, once described humankind as being evolved from star stuff. How right he was! Look around you- look in a mirror. All the matter that you see, living and non-living, has been through the violence of several supernovae, and may do so many times more in the distant future. Michael M Woolfson  

Unknowingly, we plow the dust of stars, blown about us by the wind, and drink the universe in a glass of rain.–Ihab Hassan  

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset. Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator 1830 – 1890 

So, I don’t really know how to justify my love for the electron. Perhaps it is because an electron has no location. Electrons interact via the electromagnetic field, aka the photon. All the electrons in the universe and all the photons in the universe are talking to each other all the time. They are all connected, no matter how far apart, by the electromagnetic field, which has infinite range.Jon Butterworth 

further reflections on Israel/Palestine

11 Aug
While I wrote this six years ago the issues are the same as well as continued settlement expansion, etc.  I include these reflections now, 2015,because history as written on my posting six years ago and the current situation in that region just reminds us how the words of politicians have had no significant meaning for any positive resolution for that situation. Sad. Sad
Feb 5 2009

As an American I continue to reflect on the treatment of Israel on the Palestinians and now especially Gaza. As a result of my reflections, I am horrified at the callousness and mean-spiritedness of the Israeli government. Even if one accepted the position of the Israeli government for the “disproportioned” attack on Gaza to stop rocket fire on Israeli towns, now there is a ceasefire and hopefully a continued peace effort by all involved. Despite this fact that almost all hostilities have ceased, the Israeli government refuses to allow the necessary border crossings to be opened to allow a reconstruction of the massive damage it inflicted on the population of Gaza.

It is a well documented fact that before the attack on Gaza the blockade and occupation of Gaza had made life there terrible in the most basic ways. Yet now, after the very destructive attack on Gaza, the blockade continues and life in Gaza is many times more miserable because of the suffering and injury and death of the residents, extensive damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure of the Gaza strip.

Why? Why does the Israeli government continue to punish the people of Gaza. Why don’t they allow the necessary aid that is ready and available to help the people of Gaza rebuild  go into Gaza? Why don’t they allow international observers assist them in monitoring the flow of aid into Gaza?

To answer these whys one must conclude that the Israeli government is discriminating against the Palestinians. The Israeli government has a vendetta against these people. They must want these people to suffer greatly. It has been common practise in the past that after a war the societies damaged by the war if not directly helped, at least, were allowed to rebuild their shattered lives.

These are the obvious yet true conclusions that any objective person must conclude.

So where does that leave a peace process? No-where. There must be a will to resolve the conflict. In conflict resolution, a win-win attitude is necessary for both parties to believe they are getting something out of a conflict resolution process. There is no win-win mentality on the Israeli side. Only I win- you lose. There will be no peace in Palestine under those conditions no matter who goes to try to mediate a peace. Only words will be the result and no action for resolution. This is the history of the conflict.

Israel is the dominate force here not Palestine. Israel continues to ignore International law and it lacks a “good will” to resolve in any win-win situation.

Therefore, my reflection on the Israeli governments actions – not words- continues to show me that Israel is not intent on resolving this conflict in a just manner, in accordance with international law and humane standards, but instead it wants to persecute, humiliate, and discriminate against the Palestinian people and frankly make them suffer.

Therefore, let’s stop the charades and really put pressure on Isreal to engage in a meaningful peace process. Actions speak louder than words. Let the world community make Israel act in a responsible way for peace. If they don’t sanctions or other means that are available to the world’s governments must be used to make Israel act as a responsible country that exists in a world community.

Continued reflections on Israel-Palestine

11 Aug

 

Jan 28, 2009

As an American I have been truly unaware of the sinister Janus approach of Israel regarding peace with Palestine -until recently. Because of the largely one sided news coverage in the USA, while most Americans truly wish for peace and justice in the region, we keep believing Israel’s promises that Israel wants the same.

However, now I don’t believe that anymore. Instead I believe there are other fundamental(ist) conservative forces in Israel that really don’t care or want a just peace. I have recently been blogging and researching about the consequences of this -what I call Racism and also nationalism- of the majority of Israeli people/government.

The EU and USA have continued to not forceably challenage this lie. For example, if the settlements are- and I believe for now will be- allowed to continue- Israel breaks International Law and the Palestinians will not accept the settlements in a peace agreement.

So why does Israel insist?

Because they only want the peace agreement their way and that is to keep Israel’s expansion in Palestine.It now seems so obvious.

But when Tony Blair shakes hands with Netanyahu, us poor mortals, who try to believe in the wisdom of our leaders, think Ok these guys must have some long term plan or inside information we don’t know.

But I don’t believe that anymore. Here is the article. Make up your own mind.



Likud allow settlement expansion

The leader of Israel’s right-wing Likud party, Binyamin Netanyahu, says he would continue to expand settlements in the West Bank, but not build new ones.

The remarks to Mid-East envoy Tony Blair come in the run-up to Israel’s general election next month which Likud is favourite to win, polls suggest.

Settlements in the West Bank and Golan are considered illegal in international law, though Israel disputes this.

Past Israeli governments have backed “natural growth” of settlements.

Correspondents say the statement may be an attempt to placate the international community before the arrival of George Mitchell, the newly appointed US envoy to the Middle East.

“I have no intention of building new settlements in the West Bank,” Netanyahu told Mr Blair in quotes carried by Haaretz newspaper.

“But like all the governments there have been until now, I will have to meet the needs of natural growth in the population. I will not be able to choke the settlements.”

Intensive

The expansion of Jewish settlements violates the internationally-backed peace plan known as the roadmap, which has served as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that resumed in 2007.

Palestinians cite Israel’s settlement activity on land captured by Israel in the 1967 war as a major obstacle to a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.

However, past Israeli governments have rejected the international legal arguments and in peace talks have sought to keep their big settlement blocs in East Jerusalem and the West Bank which house hundreds of thousands of Israelis.

Mr Netanyahu also reiterated his pledge to shift the focus of talks with the Palestinians to economic development rather than statehood.

He reportedly told Mr Blair he would deal with the Palestinian issue “very intensively.”

Mr Blair’s reaction to Mr Netanyahu’s statement is not recorded. During a visit to Ramallah on the same day, he welcomed Mr Mitchell’s appointment as US envoy.

“I see this as a partnership between America on the one side and the international community on the other… to make sure that we get the help to people in Gaza, then that we set about revitalising the process toward negotiation, leading to (Palestinian) statehood,” Mr Blair said.

Reflections by an American on Israel-Palestine

11 Aug

 Jan 23, 2009

I had grown up in the USA watching the movie Exodus, respecting the proud Mosha Dayan, honoring Golda Meir as a strong and just woman, honoring Israel’s technological success in turning the desert into fertile land, a bit confused about Isael’s socialist almost communist agendes, eg. kibbutz since the USA was in the cold war against socialism. However, this was the image of Israel that was given to the Americans as Israel became a nation. Arabs were little discussed and it seemed fair to Americans that after the holcaust in Europe, Jews be given a nation where they could be secure and not persecuted. It was said it wasn’t a lot of land for Israel and the Arab population would have their own land – less of course, and the Arabs could live as their own nation as the same for Israel.

Ok, this was the story told the American people and supported by Hollywood, the government and newsmedia. Remember this was way before the internet or even sophisticated satellite communications.

When Arab nations attacked Israel this was seen as unfair to Israel and America supported Israel’s right to exist. And this story continues to be told.

I believed this story. I believed that the Iraeli people were a just people wanting to be fair yet firm with thier Arab neighbors.

However, now, I see that story as a myth. Now I see after reading reports from credible international organizations, reports from Israel, and the actions of Israel in it’s attacks on Gaza now and before, Israel is a nation in the grips of anti-Arab racism and it is de-sensitized to the suffering of the Palestinian people. While this is, of course, not the only reality in the complex situation which has unfolded over the past fifty years or so, it is, I believe, a major variable in the present conflict.

Today there is the news about the Palestinian doctor whose three daughters were killed in their home. This man had worked tirelessly to build bridges between Israel and Palestine. Even as this man was being interviewed, in his grief and shock of having lost his only three children, some Isaerlis shouted at him to go back to Hamas, etc.

My story of Israel has been re-written. I now see the dark side of Israel clearly. It is not a new dark side for nations – racism- but it is a horrible darkside because the people who are disciminated against are seen as sub-human, evil, worthless except for contempt or worse.

We in the USA know of Racism and it’s ugly manifestation and consequences. But, fortunately, we have had the strength of some to help us understand and fight against this ignorance. And in the soul of America, there has been a response of confirmation to those calls to stop racism.

However, right now, I don’t see that happening in Israel and the consequences are an almost total destruction of way of life of a people living in what is called Palestine.

I don’t believe the old story anymore. A new disturbing story has become clear. Now, for us who are disturbed by such things as injustice and racism, we must continue to tell the accurate story of what is going on in Israel.