[some selection, almost zero editing: posted here as archive]
“Canon in use” is a very useful notion to delineate relevant scriptures of a living tradition, as opposed to comprehensive “library canon.” > A dozen sutras, a dozen commentaries, and a dozen practice manuals, tend to suffice for a coherent practice mode.
The idealistic notion of “beyond” is used quite indiscriminately in spiritual lingo. Is “in the midst of” not where it all ends up?
Of many tropes in Buddhist scriptures, hyperbole is the most used, and very skilfully, throughout the long literary history. Hard to say who has more difficulty with hyperbole today, the conservative apologist or the rational detractor, both prone to literalism.
“Everything you know is dead wrong.” ~ tantra authors “No, old Buddhism is good.” ~ tantra commentators (sometimes same people)
There’s always the danger of self-improvement. #thingsisaywhenmentoring
“The world worlds.” — Heidegger Meanwhile, selfs self.
Student says: “I have not realized it!” Teacher replies: “I have not realized it either!” Student packs up and moves on. #storiesofsiddhas
Faction: neo-feudal overlords embrace neo-vajrayana, while rewarding their serfs who practice mindfulness at home and at work.
“Life’s barely long enough to get good at one thing, if that long.” — True Detective
Fantasy, sex and violence in books, movies and TV shows abundant. Mainstream spiritual discourse avoids all these.
Everything that begins – ends. It’s that simple.
If spiritual practice passively integrates into and vindicates the existing socio-economic political order, it’s amoral & visionless.
We are redeemed by those among us who do what most felt or thought impossible.
Next time you order dim sum, remember the original characters mean “bit of heart” but can also be rendered “pointing out mind.”
Murderer: “There is no God.” Hannibal: “Certainly not with that attitude.”
Ceci n’est pas un tweet.
“A revolutionary career does not lead to banquets and honorary titles, interesting research and professorial wages. It leads to misery, disgrace, ingratitude, prison and a voyage into the unknown, illuminated by only an almost superhuman belief.” ― Max Horkheimer
One man’s everyday life is another man’s psychedelic experience.
Russian film adaptations of Shakespeare refreshingly free from the usual mannerism.
Change and improvement mostly come from below, not from on high. True in society, but also with individual experience.
Life is good. #firstignobletruth
So refreshing when a philosopher or thinker says, “I was wrong. I see things differently now.”
14th century Francesco Petrarca ie Petrarch is reputed as first man to climb a mountain to enjoy the view. Surely not.
Isn’t the world one big cautionary tale? #anotherignobletruth
Perhaps European post-secularity is paralleled by American post-spirituality.
Dependent origination brings together chaos and order, accident and inevitability, without reducing either to the other.
Blessing comes not from without, nor from within.
Japanese say “Nanakorobi Yaoki” which means “seven times down, eight times up.” That’s what practice is.
Ritual is myth in action. #opendharma
One cannot love without embracing the cruelty of life. Or understand without renouncing what one already knows.
Somatic dialects and inflections are as pervasive as linguistic ones, but poorly understood. Our cultures are very much physical regimes.
“Whenever feasible, one should always try to eat the rude.” Dr Lecter
The word psychologia was first used by the Croatian humanist Marko Marulić in late 15th or early 16th c. Who knew:)
What we often referred to as ignorance and confusion, is really twisted and distorted imagination.
Marxist and capitalist make same error by assuming economy comes before everything else, and thus create a world where it kinda does.
It may be so tempting to define who and what we are. #openpractice
Birth and death appear separate. Closely observed, however, becoming and unbecoming approach simultaneity.
99,9% of what we think may very well not be original thinking. At best, it’s mostly conceptual digestion.
Conceptual diet and fasting are as important, or even more so, than our eating and drinking habits.
Imagination, just as attention itself, can be passive or active, distracting or presencing, confusing or clearing.
What happens when growth driven profits dry out? Society, that’s what.
Buddha: ” “Monks, I will teach the All. Listen well.”
Vajrayana: “Everything holy.”
Zen: “Nothing holy.”
Now go and practice.
Avoiding disappointment, disillusionment, disenchantment, and discouragement, we end up holding beliefs that defy our own experience.
Every body is an erotic metaphor, and the meaning of all these metaphors is always the same: death. — Octavio Paz
Warning: this life contains content that some may find disturbing.
One of original Chinese terms for Buddhism was 像教 xiangjiao, the teaching of [many] images, descriptive of both Mahayana and Vajrayana.
Result of modern naive suppression of ritual is pseudo-ritualization of everything, including the most trivial and banal.
It’s rather common to ask whether a view is true or not, correct or wrong. What if we asked what it does.
To cultivate insight is to embrace not knowing, to cultivate compassion is to feel pain. Day in, day out. And that’s the good news.
Internet makes forgetting impossible, and thus remembering seemingly pointless.
Essence of ritual is embodiment. Its character, devotion. Its function, energy transformation. Its result, spontaneity. #opendharma
Buddha nature is human nature seen clearly. #allsaints
Segregation of life and practice is a modern contrivance. Their integration is futile, since they were never separate. #opendharma
To speak of “meditation” is similar to speaking of education or exercise. Scope and variety defy generalization. #opendharma
行善障生 gyōzen shōshō [When you] practice goodness, hindrances arise.
Spontaneity is the ultimate form of mastery. To be free is to be natural.
The “world” appears crazy now and then. It’s only as crazy as normal is assumed. To itself, it is just so. To awareness, words fail.
The Young Pope is gorgeous and smart, quite refreshing and deep. Of course, pomo critics hate it.
Imagining a different world is quite useless, unless you are also imagining a different self. Same with acting upon such imagination.
Freedom is not a feeling. To feel free is not to be free.
Simulated society creates a simulation of life that only permits a simulation of spirituality. HT to Baudrillard
Deep practice puts one in touch with primitive emotional material, usually not much fun, but pure gold nonetheless.
Attention engineering *could* mean something positive, but it doesn’t, not even remotely, with huge implications both private and public. The attention being engineered is the habitual *passive* attention. Not just harnessed, rewarded, exploited, and monetized, but also drawn further away from the already slim possibility of becoming *active* alertness, much more difficult to manipulate. Socio-economic dead-end, public health issue, parenting challenge, psychiatric concern, and spiritual malaise — all in one, depending on your hinge point question.
Found on the web: “Everything is politics in the adult world.” I hope not.
“First do no harm” never appears in the Hippocratic oath. It’s basically an example of a samaya vow, concerned with apprenticeship to a teacher, lineage, and sacred healing.
Two journeymen were spotted at the edge of my hometown, on their way. Viel glück, gesellen!
“Mantra” has been adopted and bastardized in many colloquial languages – eventually to express a debased, negative, derogative meaning. Same with “guru” and “zen” and “nirvana”, along with buddha statues for massage rooms and gardens…
Counter-sorcerers, instead of making a world out of nothing, make a nothing out of a world. — Nietzsche in “Human, All-Too-Human”
Truths cannot compete with lies, or other truths, without our consent. On what was, what is, what could be, lies are cheap and comforting. Truths, costly and demanding. What is referred to as belief can be either, both, or none.
Sharon Stone: “Can’t the Bible be upgraded?” New Pope John Malkovich: “Alas, the Bible is not an iPhone.”
Madness is rare in individuals, but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule. — Friedrich Nietzsche
Paranormal romance is a huge subgenre dominated by female authors and audiences. Though anglophone by origin, it’s translated & sold as pulp in many languages. A supplement & vent for culture’s omissions? An orphan of religion’s shadow? An alternative to woke fantasy?
No need to be epic, just persevere. Keep failing, keep trying again. Keep deviating, keep correcting course. Keep learning, keep going. “Nana korobi ya oki.” Seven times down, eight times up.
For a practitioner, the challenge is now, as always, to abstain from making it into a story about how things are, from being right.
A simple ceremony of Medicine Buddha, as promised. Downloadable in pdf format.
Progressive circles flirting with scientific jargon self-helped to remove wonder from spirituality. Result is such that meditation practitioners publicly cringe at mere mention of mysteries. Tempora mores etc.
Current crisis exposes inherent contradictions of contemporary institution-dominated mainstream story in *every* domain – finance, law, economy, politics, religion, science, arts, humanities, education, media, technology, and health. Not sure there’s a silver lining. Yet.
“One day the fish, who were by this time very smart, decided to have a revolution, to change everything. Let’s start, they said, by destroying the water.”
There’s a pace to everything. So, what is called life unfolds at a pace of years and decades. It may hinge on “now”, but only when that now is stretched over years and decades. It took me decades to figure that out.
Naively applying spiritual principles to cultural spirituality is overkill, plain and simple. And it doesn’t matter which tradition one considers. The semantic gap is collosal and multimodal.
Catholic Cathecism on meditation: “Meditation is above all a quest. … The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. … There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters.”
Catholic Cathecism on contemplation: “The choice of time and duration of prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One… makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter.”
Aside from serving a perplexing variety of purposes, spiritual practice is basically an extremely decelerated, daily-based, self-administered hybrid of Gom Jabbar test and Voight-Kampff test, its accuracy verging on 100%.
Etymological siblings: duhkha ≈ dystopia sukha ≈ eutopia * τόπος being place, kha being space; duh/dys is bad, while su/eu is good. “utopia” is from 1516.
An interesting slide for utopia (noplace) to end up meaning eutopia (goodplace). A semantic alloy fusing cynical and idealist elements into a januslike riddle.
Esoteric etymological siblings (based in phonosemantics) 1. YHVH/JHVH – Hebrew name of God in four letters (hence, in Greek, tetragrammaton), articulated as Yahweh or Jehovah. 2. Jah Hum Vam Hoh – central Yoga and Mahayoga mantra syntax used in deity union. Unrelated? Hardly.
Syllables-and-letters as sound symbols are liminal with visual symbols, their shared phylogeny resistant to reductionist demands. LJJ Wittgenstein was right, words are deeds. And so are images.
Being true to oneself is a long journey. First you discover there’s more than one in oneself, at odds. Then such self goes through a series of hoop jumps reinventing itself. By then, the you to be true to is altogether different. And that’s just a start. Now you look deeper. > Generalities of what follows are same for everyone. Specifics are different and unique for each. Nothing can be said with certainty, except now you no longer decide when, where, or how to go.
Virus was a trigger, and a test. Fragility, safetyism, intolerance of uncertainty, media frenzy, hesitation in decision making, brutalist measures, and ill-preparedness did the damage. Blame culture will do some more.
There are *so many* ways to enjoy, engage, relax, heal, connect to the body, emotions, each other, and be creative doing it, without feeling virtuous or special about it. And they all work, and have worked for thousands of years. That whole segments of society would turn to psychotherapy, physical exercise, and even meditation, to serve these ends, while eroding and dilluting the very notion of spirituality, speaks volumes about the never ending confusion. There’s obvious need for taking it easy, enjoying cooking, keeping company, reading a book, writing & painting, playing an instrument, singing & dancing together, getting lost in nature, & most of all – doing nothing. No special effort, no virtue, no cost involved. /end > Addendum/ Then there’s the whole question of hobbies and I mean virtually *anything* pursued diligently and passionately b/c it’s rewarding in a quiet, implicit and unimposing way. Fast forward 10 or 30 years and you’re *really good* at something.
Mind vs body, doing vs being, masculine vs feminine, good vs evil, reality vs illusion, mundane vs sacred, society vs nature, matter vs spirit, light vs dark, human vs god, knowledge vs ignorance, object vs subject etc. Tension is fruitful. Separation is catastrophic.
Space and time for formal practice sessions, decoration & cleanliness, clothes to wear, arrangement & setup of altar & procedural manners strongly affect one’s experience, as well as the outcome. Contemplative practice is psychoactive. Set and setting are worth cultivating. > A further dimension to explore is the structure of sessions, a syntax of sorts. Not too much, nor too little, like composition of a painting or a piece of music, it serves a purpose, enhancing the details, while holding balance and supporting spontaneity.
“Mountain-brush and ocean-ink,
Heaven and earth a box of sutras,
Every stroke holds miriad forms,
And desires of six realms are also texts and writings,
Gleamings [of dharmakaya] echo like a bell in a valley,
A conversation sharper than a tip of a blade.” — Kūkai (774-835)
> Lines 1&2: everything is involved in meaning making; Line 3: so meaning is abundant and unfixed; Line 4: as emotions articulate their own sense making; Line 5: truth itself resonates throughout; Line 6: conveying what sharpest minds fail to grasp. > Six realms in this instance isn’t about hells, hungry ghosts etc. It’s the realms of six senses, ie sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and thought, varieties of “sign-letters” imbued with meaning. In short, all experience is a text of sorts. So, do read between the lines… Radical literacy.
Anecdotal from a reliable Central European Buddhist: even when a teacher tolerates students educating themselves wider (which isn’t standard practice), most students will self-impose an intellectual and spiritual quarantine to create a safe and simple existential oasis. Wow. > I wonder if teachers who actively encourage robust spiritual education (across Buddhisms *and* including basics of Western legacy) fair badly with oasis seeking students, or are they just extremely rare. Could be both.
thread: Reverse engineering spiritual teachings and methods betrays a dangerous tendency to control, manage and predict a process that should be one of learning, epistemic humility & genuine curiosity. Instead of working it, let yourself be worked by it. > Only ≥50 yrs since most recent east-west encounter. Idioms have been changed to suit modern sensibilities. Organizational forms adapted. Problematic notions done away with or psychologized. Refuge non-essential, precepts optional. Teachers replaced with apps. What’s next? > With the benefit of hindsight, this is no pragmatism, it’s devolution and involution. It’s corrosive, barren and clueless, an inverse cargo cult, with locust for its totem. “Only shallow people do not judge by appearances.” — Oscar Wilde > Change is due, for sure. If anything b/c this is a time of tremendous change. But it has to come about through returning afresh to first principles. Not the answers, the questions. Not the methods, the attitude. Not the extraction of goodies, but the sacrifice of indulgence. > Asked “what’s next” earlier in this thread. Well, as it turns out, politicizing orgs, then teachings and practices, each of three trainings. Also, bastardizing the notion of bodhisattva along the way. It’s already happening, and it’s thought of as progress, a good thing.
To reiterate a simple point: to even think of “hacking” the genius of prophets, visionaries and giants is to suffer from heroic self-inflation and delusion. To build a “culture” around such attempts would be pitiable, if it wasn’t outrageous. Nonetheless, there’s competition. > Competing camps are the institutional and the start-ups. The institutional is concerned with canonizing, monopolizing & diluting/distorting the original. Start-ups are mostly about repurposing, parasitizing & “disrupting” the institutional game, hoping to get in on the action.
For practice sessions, dress like you’re hosting the most important person in your world. For life, work and leisure – “Dress like you are going to meet your worst enemy today.” — Coco Chanel
Social media & constant access are effectively blocking local original developments from taking shape in any domain. By preventing relative isolation, everything ends up being the same. An endless mesh/mush of beige vanilla flavoured frustration. > Social structures mirroring that have no origin, no aim, no memory, no leaders, no betters, no message, no viable strategy and no coherent meaning. That’s spooky.
Etymological siblings: skt. jñāna ≈ gr. γνῶσις gnosis jña-, gno-, kno- as in knowing. Rendered as pristine awareness, wisdom, understanding, knowing etc depending on context. In Slavic languages it’s rather straightforward: cro. znanje, rus. знание.
What is, teaching, religion, practice, quality, phenomena, all experience, thing, virtue, law, proper conduct, devotion, duty, character etc. In one word, dharma. Semiotic sibling gr. λόγος logos Both terms shape-shift used in a variety of ways with rich and layered meaning.
Madness is custom defined. Not all madnesses r equal, just as not all ideas r equal. There’s also a verticality to madness. Conventional level periodically breaks, so vertical is overcompensated with hysteria & pseudo-religious fervor for stability. Think emptyform gyro. #polity
Practicing fine teachings with an adequate teacher is great for many. Autodidacts without formal training learning from a variety of sources are also great, though few. Combining these two modes is precious & rare. An authentic teacher will stimulate autodidactic potentials.
thread: “If what you do and who you are don’t match now, they will, for better or worse.” This was 11 years ago. Karma used to be an issue then:) > Karma is *not* about fairness, has *nothing* to do with justice. It’s about pattern-formation, habituation, emotional and conceptual hangups. When you act in a certain way, with a particular aim, this becomes just a bit easier & gets you closer to a certain way of being. > Its opposite becomes just a bit harder, which gets you further from a certain way of being. This force is effectively irresistible, like any natural law. It’s quite useless and pointless as an article of belief. It only matters how and why you act. And act you must. > There are those who refuse to align themselves with this hidden force, thinking karma is for uneducated simpletons or folks of yore. They thus become a blackbox to themselves, forever lost in the labyrinth of their own free will, foolishly smart and confused. > There are also those who naively believe they can game karma, as if it was bookkeeping of sorts. They indulge in karmic graft through acts deemed good, pious & worthy. Lost in the labyrinth of quid pro quo, they peregrinate aimlessly, foolishly virtuous and confused. /end
I happen to believe genuine practice protects one from ideologies, tribalism, and perspectival chauvinism in general. When it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong, or you didn’t go deep enough, which is same difference.
Attraction-indifference-aversion are exhibited by atomic particles consistently & predictably. They come to life in living organisms, organelles to plants. They come to emotion in feeling organisms, sentience dawning. They come to mind in conscious organisms, reflection dawning.> They come to awareness in knowing organisms, when the whole spectrum of desire & fear & confusion displays its obstinate opacity. Be kind with yourself & others. Be patient & humorous. Be also firm & humble if you must know more. /end
thread: While self-minded are increasingly becoming spiritual but not religious, the social-minded political shades into overt pseudo-religiosity. Both trends are symptoms of a profound confusion and resulting malaise in postmodern societies, being severed from their bedrock realities. > These two “tribes” significantly overlap, as a dissociative identity disorder. While the two-faced god Janus presides over transitions and journeys, this particular Jekyll-Hyde only seeks to abolish all history, and thus any future as well. > Just to make it clear: this seems to be happening on a vast scale – Americas, Eurasia & further – with local conditions modulating conventional appearances, seemingly contradictory, yet deeply unison. > The sacrificial offering in this frenzy is the very notion of sacred, and thus of mystery itself. Death of God was just a beginning. The stillborn reborn is a mere absence, negation – imago dei cut out & replaced by anything/nothing. A nothing to be obeyed, or else.
Three maxims from Apollo’s temple still make deep sense, and always will. Know thyself. Nothing to excess. Surety brings ruin. 25 hundred years later, progress in these matters remains somewhat unimpressive. These three maxims reflect the structure of threefold refuge in Buddhist practice at their innermost level. In a slightly different reading, they also mirror the three trainings, ie prajna, samadhi and shila, respectively.
As has been held by every mystical tradition in history world over, the great equalizer is our shared humanity. We are all born to die, we all experience loss and pain. Any deviation from this basic insight is born of confusion and results in discord & misery. Have a good day!
Now and then the phrase “It’s quite a world out there” comes up. I know what it’s meant to mean, but being a non-native speaker, never far from literal meanings, it’s a bit like a koan. A world. Out there. Quite.
Some things might be helpful in a crazy world, if the world was crazy. There is craziness, for sure, but there is also sanity, and most partake of both, often without realizing. It’s a bell curve, even on Twitter.
“We do have to have a really clear and really disciplined approach to try and maintain social distancing whilst also enjoying pubs.” Good luck with that.
There’s an elephant absent in the room – new ideas. Genuine vision, across the board. And it’s fine. Not regressing is hard enough. Finding ways of doing better with what is known. Also, remembering what was forgotten. And reclaiming what has been lost. Is that radical?
“Listen as if you were being told a secret” — Federico Fellini
Humans live in stories. Some are shared collectively, some taken as identity. Some are public, some private. Some are concealed from oneself, as assumptions or beliefs. But all these stories are about something. To some, that something matters more than the sum of all stories.
thread: Variety of common fig in is huge, these are just in Istria. Dalmatia has additional sorts. Not to mention the rest of Mediterranean. > Gautama Buddha sat under a different kind of fig, known as pippala or ficus religiosa. > Fig was also sacred in cults of Dionysus, Bacchus and Aphrodite. Plus, important ingredient in serf and slave nutrition across Med. > Boundaries of Mediterranean are defined by fig, olive, pomegranate and grape, chief among “seven species” as acceptable sacred offerings. > As to pomegranate, it’s sacred with Persephone, goddess of the underworld, queen of the dead. Grapes are with Dionysus, of course, olives are with Apollo, Hermes, Metis and her daughter Athena, used as oil in rituals of anointment. > Finally, the fig sign, even today a ubiquitous gesture across the Med. > So, common fig and sycamore fig trees were likely the first deliberately bred for agriculture, starting at least 11k years ago in Middle East, which predates first known cultivation of grain. Also, in ancient Egypt, fig tree wood was used for mummy caskets. > According to Haggadah, the fruit eaten by Adam and Eve was fig, not apple. They clad themselves with leaves of fig tree of knowledge. In every case, the fig was there in the Garden of Eden, aka garden of delight or bliss, which translates to Sanskrit as – sukhavati. / end
thread: “I know only that I know nothing.” became “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” There’s a problem, a little inconvenience. Socrates *never* said anything even close to that. Or, to be precise, Socrates as related by Plato and Xenophon never did.> Plato’s Apology has him say something quite different. “I do not fancy I know what I do not know.” Which is equivalent to the original Buddhist formulation of the precept against speaking falsely. Actually, Socrates was confident in his knowledge & willing to die for it. > The misleading paraphrase originated in Rome by none other than Cicero, perhaps to substantiate his academic skepticism. As opposed to skeptics of Pyrrho, academic skeptics insisted knowledge is impossible, and obsessed with attacking true knowledge of Stoics. Sound familiar? > Be that as it may, a capacity for disbelief, when based in commitment to what one does know & care about, is infinitely superior to dogmatic rigidity arising from lack of clarity and feeble commitment. Pretending to not know what one knows is just as detrimental as the opposite.
thread: Indeed, primary fault lines in a society, between societies, and in history, are not lifestyle, identity, education, wealth, status, religious & political labels etc. It’s ethics, first & foremost. Everything else carries weight inasmuch it demonstrates, signifies or signals it. > Ditto in actual Buddhisms. Much has been written on diffs between yānas in terms of lifestyle, methods & views. While these are non-trivial, basic variance lies with ethical norms, in both attitude & behavior. It’s these “sets of vows” that delineate practicing sanghas. > Some use the analogy of cuisines to argue for hybrids, which is somewhat misguided. Even there, cooking based on frugality, health or enjoyment will go in very different directions. Overlap is possible, but the basic orientation and commitment is critical. And known by results. > Vows and commitments are about establishing a firm basis for a practicing life. Not about purity or perfection or expediency. It’s a line in the sand, an obligation to oneself, and a promise to the world. Something those obsessed with freedom of choice refuse to acknowledge. > In Buddhist context/s, vows & commitments are 2nd only to refuge. It’s less what we hold, more what holds us. It’s less how we are protected, more what is protected in us & around us – from us. It’s how that function is actually accomplished that delineates yānas & sanghas.
Religious services with parties, nightclubs, cinemas etc? Actively reimagine religion for a combo of larger open air, unlimited online, and many smaller events, move two or three rubrics to the left. Do that 6 months ago. Deploy now, huge demand.
thread: Story of Christian saint Josaphat aka Gautama Buddha, courtesy of cultural cross-confusion. > In 21st century the plot thickens. Here’s a curator’s introduction to the manga series Saint Young Men, featuring Jesus and Buddha doing Christmas in Tokyo. > For a full circle, and in real life, debuddhified mindfulness (jap. マインドフルネス maindofurunesu) introduced to Japanese companies, courtesy of Google’s mindfulness program. > A curious mirror image. Japanese western-trained instructors “introducing” mindfulness to Japan, as eastern-trained Westerners “introduce” meditation to the West. The allure of imported goods, perhaps an oblique strategy to rediscover one’s own heritage without admitting to it.
One’s self is no safe space.
“It makes me so happy. To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing…. A door like this has cracked open 5 or 6 times since we got up on our hind legs. It’s the best possible time of being alive, when almost everything u thought u knew is wrong.” — Tom Stoppard, Arcadia
I grew up in an illiberal society. Self-censorship was just a part of everyday life. On the other hand, long-standing democracies can take some basic freedoms for granted. “…self-cancel culture is not a thought experiment—it’s a reality.” > Without actual freedom of expression, hence freedom of thought, herd mentality and tribalism take over. People police each other overtly and covertly. Reputations are precarious. Avoiding problems by parroting becomes the norm. It’s obvious, yet too easy to neglect.
Looks like I’m not the only one perplexed. As if the elites are *utterly* at a loss. Rudderless and clueless, yet in denial. Perhaps life has been too good for too long.
If my math is right, a centibillionaire could create one hundred thousand millionaires. And some people think numbers in mahāyāna sūtras are exagerated.
“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” — Simone Weil
Mentor (from Greek Μέντωρ) is cognate to Sanskrit mantṛ, a wise & trusted counselor or teacher. Similar to iatrogenic harm through medical error & negligence, there is pedagogic & mystagogic harm through failing to teach the primacy & the art of asking questions.
Humour is an important quality combining wit, fearlessness, empathy, and insight. It relaxes & connects, jolts & heals, liberates & absolves. A reliable gauge of vitality. Find a humourless environment & you’ll find morbidity & decay. Even tragedy won’t work without humour.
Being wrong can’t be avoided. Being wrong often, on many things, incl things one holds most dear can’t be avoided. Give it a chance. Maybe the point isn’t being right, not being wrong, or being seen as this or that. These never last. Look & learn, get better at being wrong.
thread: Many smart, educated people are confounding ideological “cults” with “religiosity” where *pseudo*religion is á propos. Religious impulse can indeed take weird & extreme turns, always self-defeating with severe internal contradictions. There’s nothing innately religious in that. > Secular thinkers take a religious dysfunction, usually in a slanted psychological & historical perspective, and postulate it as normative. Same with cult. It takes more work understanding & detailing how and why collectives go crazy or hysterical, without distorting basic terms. > Religious thinkers often refuse to acknowledge this problem in their own ranks, so ignoring the obvious, or reasoning the indefensible. Meanwhile, there’s very few thinkers unbeholden to the religious vs secular divide who are willing to look deeply enough at roots of madness. > In short, it’s the examination of roots of madness that will most reliably reveal the blindspots of both religious and secular thought systems, their relative strenghts, as well as their valid but limited internal logic. Of course, such examination is inherently perilous.
thread: There are different levels of challenge in any practice, each with its own logic. Styles, methods and ways of working will have a specific emphasis, a distinctive taste. With or without a guide, initially these levels cannot be distinguished. 1/n Choice of practice. Which to take up? If a practice isn’t chosen for you, search far and wide. Read & explore but don’t dabble. Take on a practice that speaks to you in more than one way, deeply engaging yet doable. Find guide(s) you can trust. Establish rapport and commit. 2/n Learning and developing the practice. Internalize basic instructions first, by repetition. Experience provides additional lessons. Learn what to do when x happens, which has it’s own life. May take months or years as you’re finding your feet. Provide feedback, ask questions. 3/n Deepening the practice. This is often about consistent effort, while shedding contrivance. You go where practice takes you. Dry periods, turbulent times, ups and downs, all of it. Something previously invisible takes shape, and then it’s a new beginning. 4/n Beyond formal practice. At the heart of any practice is a gesture eg. establishing attention, going empty, coming into presence, cutting through a habit etc. Take that gesture into everything you meet, do, feel, or know, without exception. In many ways, there is no limit. 5/end PS. Whether through impermanence, compassion, or devotion, the lion’s share of practice is unlearning. Habits of feeling, thinking, doing, and being are challenged & undermined. It often feels like dying. Get used to it. PPS. Motivation, of course. Comes first at every step, may change in time. Before looking at anything or anyone up close, clarify why you’re even looking, what moves you to seek out a practice. Be clear what a practice aims at, and how that fits with your own purpose.
Many have tweeted this before. I find it worth repeating. “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius
When problems arise, we ask what’s wrong and try to curb, control, or eliminate the cause. We also look at what’s missing, then address the deficit by introducing, nourishing, and enhancing instead. Both aporoaches have merits in correcting an imbalance, at times both are needed.
“Balkanization of epistemology.” There you have it, Balkan and episteme in the same sentence, no irony.
Irrational, arational, non-rational, pre-rational, pseudo-rational, post-rational, meta-rational, trans-rational… Not birds of a feather, except that these terms make *rationality* central, polestar of sorts. Doesn’t work with magical and mythical, bc no claim to universality.
thread: There are many styles or systems of Buddhist tantric practice. Scholars struggle with defining Buddhist tantra, practitioners do not. Key features are few & obvious, optional ones abound, distinctive to lineages. Largely institutionalized long ago, it’s future remains untold. 1/n A tantric practitioner can be adventurer, celibate, parent, dropout, philantropist, recluse, bon vivant, saint etc. Does that mean it’s for anyone? Actually, some individuals are well suited for it by temperament, ability, inclination & circumstance. Not everyone. 2/n Due to its embrace of life’s dualities and complexities, some of its aspects may look particularly well suited to present situation, but that’s a deceptive resonance. Tantra is also utterly unimpressed by societal & philosophical vagaries. It’s roots are deep & acultural. 3/n Even so, when & where it does take shape, it uses found materials to articulate itself in a manner that’s at once natural, apropos, yet radical & challenging of established dichotomies, especially those re sacredness. Thus it reinvents itself in variety of contexts, selfsame. 4/n As to practice, it’s a symbolic reflection of life. E.g. silent meditation plays a role, but so do other modalities – ritual, art, study, magic, song, dance, energy etc. Depending on lineage, teacher & circumstance, practice modalities will vary. Rich, modular, adaptive. 5/n Tantric practice can be as simple as one mudrā, one mantra, one deity. For life. Or intricate, layered, complex & evolving without end. Tantric teachings can be laid out in volumes of scripture, in a single verse or syllable, or identified with whole reality as experienced. 6/n Mantranaya (mantra method), guhya mantrayāna (secret mantra vehicle), vajrayāna (vajra vehicle), Buddhist tantra, esoteric Buddhism etc. Related terms from different periods or contexts. Earliest systems are less elaborate, much later complexity is dissolved, a natural curve. 7/n Tantric threes: vajra body, vajra speech, vajra mind; teacher, deity, protector; mandala rituals involving mudrā, mantra, samādhi; movements, chants, wonderment; mystery, initiation, empowerment; sorcery, energy, awareness; nadi, prana, bindu etc. Fours & fives are fancy too. 8/n Otherwise, it’s a devotional path of practice like any other in a sense. Namely, it’s practice, practice, practice. And then practice some more. At its beginning is its end, at the end its beginning. And likewise at every step of the way. Love it, hate it, do it. Become it. /end PS. Caveat on usual & unusual risks, perils, blindspots & downsides forthcoming soon.
thread: A thread on un/usual risks, perils, blindspots & downsides in Buddhist tantric practice, cont. from previous thread. Each tweet an aspect, not exhaustive. Problems often arise from pre-existing conditions. Trigger warning: it’s blunt. intro/n On the lookout, observe the scenius before getting involved. Avoid business tantra, feelgood tantra, totem tantra, zombie tantra, larp & cosplay tantra, faux tantra, culture vulture tantra, academic tantra, armchair tantra, activist tantra, charity tantra & sex tantra. 1/n Merit hoarder aiming at perfection? Best path, special empowerments, secret methods, illustrious lineage, have empty bliss & eat it? Keep it simple & real. Look into spiritual materialism & bypassing. Also, check four maras. Explore confusion, delusion & obsession. 2/n Find a guide you can (1) relate to, (2) trust for instruction, (3) listen to even when you’re crazy. First, get to know them & let them know you. Second, get to know some of their senior students, talk to their spouse, observe how they live. Don’t rush it, trust your gut. 3/n Devotion is path. Enter with preliminaries, teacher union, deity union, before it dissolves courtesy of protectors, becoming sheer clarity. Schedule a decade for each. Cut through beliefs, expectations, projections, magical thinking, selfhood, emotionalism & intellectualism. 4/n Sorcery, energy, awareness. Each has its perils & trips. Your deficiencies & hangups will come up, repeatedly. Be uplifted, not hypnotized, by lofty promises. Respect your limitations, get familiar with your fears. Take your time to work through, learning at each step. 5/n For sorcery, 10% talent 40% work 50% chance. Hard bargain. Get solid instruction, mimic. Learn by doing, internalize, get feedback regularly. Results vary greatly, keep an open mind. Danger: lethargy coz no fireworks; if fireworks then self-inflation; also stupefaction. 6/n For energy, 10% talent 30% physiology 60% work. Again, solid instruction crucial. Best done under supervision, starting at young age. Danger: physical, emotional and/or mental imbalances resistant to treatment; also unwise energy manipulation. 7/n For awareness, 10% talent 40% integrity 50% work. Prior contemplative skill. Empowerment, introduction to awareness, time with teacher and/or time in solitude. Danger: stupor; non-restraint; addiction to clarity, bliss, stillness; also mood swings. 8/n Before & after, learn & understand samaya vows, both general & those specific for a practice. Know what it means to break & restore vows. Guard loyalty to deep longing, teachers, vajra kin etc. Danger: spiritual decadence & morbidity. 9/n Buddhist tantra is vintage mahāyāna. Therefore, cultivate great bodhicitta. Do your best, no regrets. Pursue a freedom of having no choice. Humour the inevitable.
Study of knots (not knot theory) as an oblique way of understanding people & relationships.
thread: Vajrayāna is not unique among extant Buddhist streams to present a heterogenous spectrum of increasing subtlety, e.g. Nyingma has six yānas under tantrayāna (kriyā, caryā, yoga, mahāyoga, anuyoga, atiyoga). Ch’an/Son/Zen, for example, has five levels, according to Tsung-mi. 1/n Most likely, the notion came from Huayen (Avatamsaka) school, of which Tsung-mi was a lineage master. The five kinds are Common (bonpu), Outer way (gedō), Lesser vehicle (shojō), Great vehicle (daijō), and Supreme perfect vehicle (saijojō). 2/n Far from being mirror systems, they do share a logic of different levels of practice that *can* work as a standalone path with congruent basis-method-aim. And, also be part of a larger methodology. There are other such models, these two being better known. /end PS. Shingon Mikkyō, ie Japanese Vajrayāna, has ten levels: 3 non-Buddhist, 2 hīnayāna, 4 mahāyāna, plus “secret sublime” vajrayāna with its own sub-divisions. Some notes on these from 2011. (My thoughts on subject have evolved since. A follow-up is due.)
thread: Progenitors of Buddhist tantra have, of course, been mystics par excellence, flourishing in a milieu that had ample space for such. Even there & then they wouldn’t always fit. At least some of them were also what today we’d call neurodiverse, and weirdly gifted. Seems obvious. > An institutional framework creates a neurotypical setting, being a replica of many social patterns, as well as cultural structures & strictures. Giftedness & neurodiversity is better served outside of such framework, which explains the fringe kismet of so many tantric adepts. > Call it blessing, curse, giftedness, talent, quirk, genius, wunderkind, prodigy, outlier, whatnot. Nurture & nature, of course. The point of any practice is not to replicate their or anyone’s experience of self & world. Nor could any amount do that. Being who & what is enough.
thread: Unless you’re a cave/hut yogi in longterm seclusion, most of your practice, most of your samādhi, is off the proverbial cushion. Yet most available instruction on that is lame, vapid cliche, because compassion or something. > Usual spiel is about self/ego the patsy, zero reference to selfing being among most interesting aspects to explore in off-cushion practice. In a “sangha” mistreated self/ego thus easily becomes captive to silly virtuous narratives, social “buddhish” personas & cranky moralities. > Also, zero consideration is given in most “sanghas” to attention being syphoned to maintain the right facade. False consciousness is a-ok, when sanctioned by ideology-du-jour keeping church folk on right track. In this respect, WB is now mostly an exoteric secular religion. > Practice vs life is false dichotomy. One lives a practicing life, a life of practice, a life as practice. Card-carrying is no part of that, never was, never will be. Attention is applied thus: drop the practice vs life dichotomy, embrace circumstance & proceed step by step. > Meanwhile, bring close attention to how you do you – body, speech, mind. Trash the card. Trust your way seeking heart, not this tweet. Life is short, make it count.
Pāramitā is best rendered as crossing-over & far-reaching. First, as in crossing over the illusory gap between knowing, doing & being. Second, as in reaching the bonds & boundaries of what is. Rendering as perfection (by E. Conze) points to outcome, not function, of pāramitā.
thread: The classical “seven points” meditation posture, with its variations, has often been presented in ways that don’t do it justice. The emphasis gradually slipped into “being comfortable,” which is to say don’t injure yourself & maintain ability to relax & rest. 1/n But that’s just 1/3 of it. The other two are alertness & immobility, both provided for by the well-balanced posture. Aim at any one & the other two are lost. Actively pursue any two & the third results of itself. It’s a skill. So, what else is there? 2/n Having seen a buddha-image, it’s tempting to make a superficial remark about the posture’s composure, calm, serenity. In fact, a sustained alert immobility is an exact analogue of our always being bound & clueless & helpless. That’s exactly where the journey begins & ends. 3/n Being bound is being bewitched & enchanted. Clueless, as in not knowing whence or where to. Helpless, as in paralyzed, no resource or recourse. Recognizing & accepting the situation must precede any attempt to look for a way beyond it. 4/n Once “seven point” posture is penetrated, we find ourselves pinned to awareness & in good company. Then, with some experience, basic threefold cadence of sustained alert immobility is explored in kneeling, standing, walking & lying down. Hence, “posture” becomes attitude. 5/n This is elementary mudrā training, of course. In step with skill, one learns to balance & harness energy, which naturally leads to deepening levels of attentional balance & psychosomatic pliancy. This then becomes a feedback loop, with composure, calm & serenity as reward. /end
“If not my name, body, feelings and thoughts, what am I?” This kind of inquiry, taken seriously, used to blow minds away & change lives. > Same with meditating on & contemplating one’s own inevitable imminent death. Same with exposing oneself to prolonged period of discomfort & frustration. One would think such basic mindfulness methods could have more clout in contemporary practice, due to their power & benefit. > Even aiming for happiness, these basic subjects inoculate one against infantile emotional obsessions. Aiming for being at peace, the understanding they impart is quite indispensable.
不一不二 not one not two
Looking at the age at which great historical masters made a dent & left a mark, it’s clearly in the 35-45 range. Used to be the same in politics, art, philosophy, science, somewhat earlier for math.
Leaving the familiar behind ie “renunciation” or “leaving home” remains the basic requisite. Whether shaved & robed, or unshaven & disheveled, or sassy & snappy, makes no difference. Whether in a cave, a monastery, or a crowded household, some leave, yet most never do.
People being instances of development contributes very little to people understanding development or why it’s a thing. While nobody escapes it, very few understand some of it. > Granted, different types of development (“dev axes”) are not equal or necessarily comparable. Plus, not everyone develops in the same way, at same rate, or having similar experiences. And it’s not all good to better to great, either, so it remains somewhat unpopular.
The line between instruction & indoctrination is razor-thin. > To undo indoctrination, a different indoctrination won’t do. Learning how to think is inseparable from knowing one’s mind, both its functions and its nature. > Dictionaries give indoctrination as “uncritical acceptance of beliefs”. Intellectual numbing is implied, by either or both parties, as commonly understood. That’s opposed to learning how to think, whatever the standard for thinking.
A way to protect teachings from oblivion is memorizing them, learning by heart, taking to heart. A way to protect methods is practicing them to their end. A way to protect traditions is transmitting what was thus learned, mastered, and discovered. Heart to heart.
As to wine, I’m a terroiriste myself. A place is a place, no way around it, sort of. This logic is at work in all serious matters, even stripped of contextual accruals of time, place & culture. An unmistakable quality to a tradition of practice, it’s not just methods & concepts.
Practice it, and it gets ever trickier. Control it, and you get in trouble. Ignore it, and it comes after you. Live it, and it takes care of itself.
Music – as practiced in this age – can be taken apart, made to destroy itself, seemingly without punishment (I would argue the procedure is its own reward & punishment). But language, whether spoken or written, won’t allow it. And people can feel that – if they pay attention.
If something matters to you… Opinions on things that matter are easy, and misleading. Take a day to formulate a question. Take a week to gestate an inquiry. Take a month to explore its blindspots & limitations.
A short explanation of an early stage in practice, often overwhelming. Restricted focused attention, as practiced by many, impedes this natural occurence, even further repressing the stored pain & disquietude, while hardening the inner split.
How does one share advice with two (or more) people who – in all likelihood – need to hear opposite things? Come from experience, do your best to show, not tell. > Avoid generalized “we” as much as possible, in both thinking & speaking. There are always exceptions, extremes, and irreducible nuances, not to mention unknown unknowns. Universals are attractive, yet create a false certainty of knowledge & belief. > Finally, beware of solipsisms. The basic human condition *is* pervasive & unavoidable. It’s just a wee bit inscrutable.
Last week passed 2000 online mentoring sessions. No comment.
Covid19 is a mid-level threat to people of certain age and pre-existing conditions. Measures taken have been a high-level threat to pretty much everyone and everything. If this is rehearsal for an actual calamity, most countries failed the test.
thread: Much of Western Buddhism is based on yāna-conflation resulting in widespread yāna-confusion, a rather faithful replication of Western culture’s ailments. One could argue Buddhism has been integrated and co-opted. > Yānas are developmental, but also view-method-specific. Both linear & non-linear. With first, think child to adolescent to adult & beyond. With second, think physics to biology to psychology. Fake egalitarian aims are counterproductive, unless everyone is to be punished equally. > Thru 70s & 80s some hoped WB would develop a genuine response to new environment. Instead, it went overboard in 90s to accommodate the whims of culture & market & politics. A new opportunity presents itself for those who don’t buy this kind of domestication to stale consensus.
Word of new decade: epistemology. What was once a niche specialty will increasingly become staple for anyone seeking to retain broad functionality, not to mention an edge. Gourmet epistemologies and their curators are already in high demand. > Fluid epistemology also implies dynamic axioontologies. Simply put, adaptive knowledge is based in transparent core values & first principles. Quality bespoke education and training in these domains is overdue in most settings across societies.
A few kind words. “The world is full of idiots. There are many kinds of idiots. Foolish harmless idiots. Shy emotionally vulnerable idiots. Over-sensitive idiots. Ridiculous pious idiots. Comfort seeking idiots. Mundane conformist idiots. 1/3 > > Tight-minded conservative idiots. Unconventional exhibitionist idiots. Puritanical idiots. Pompous spiritual idiots. Self-righteous hypocritical idiots. Self-satisfied sanctimonious idiots. Academic scholarly idiots. Tedious self-centered idiots. Clever scheming idiots. 2/3 > > Power-seeking idiots. Arrogant bigoted idiots. Cruel avaricious idiots. And dangerous vicious idiots. I have no time for idiots.” — Kyabjé Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche 3/end
Iroha, the exquisite Japanese pangram. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iroha Improvement on somewhat older pangram, Ametsuchi. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ametsuchi_no_Uta… Both popularized the phonetic kana syllabary. Shown in pic, Iroha in hiragana executed by Shingon master Jomyo Tanaka in Zagreb, 2002.
Nothing brings humans together like a song.
It’s been a month since the Ask Me Anything thread, and it wasn’t too bad, so I’ll do another AMA here on twitter this Saturday, Nov 21. If you’re up for it, until then… #askmeanything
Recent trends show a shift from lineage-based practice to a method-based one. Historically not unprecedented, so no issue there. Yet problems arise when methods are decoupled from principles, and then *played with.* In short, stuff played with is at best sterile. > A related shift is already taking place from a teacher-based to a student-centered learning. Again, on its own merit a good thing. But put these two trends together & they spell insidious marketization mostly driven by dwindling demand. Method-peddlers gotta make a living. > Further, web-based delivery systems facilitate mass delivery of instruction, irrespective of quality. Sign up, pay up, go. Again, can go either way. Looking *across* these trends, obvious where it goes. Will online services outgrow & replace actual communities? If so, not good. > It’s surely both/and not either/or. Yet there’s a definite future for small resilient practice-first communities, a combination of ongoing online connection & living group dynamics, where everyone is invited & challenged to go deep.
All are rooted in faith, but there’s a discernible difference between hope, aspiration, and intention. What is it?
Nobody expects the buddhist inquisition. Fortunately though, as most often with religious stuff in buddhism, it is self-inflicted.
thread: Superb statues of the Guardians of four directions (四天王 shitennō, lit. four divine kings), original protectors (skt. dharmapāla) of Buddhism, related also to four great elements. > In Sanskrit they are known as mahārāja-deva, and have a heaven of their own. Their names are Virūpākṣa (west), Dhṛtarāṣṭra (east), Vaiśravaṇa (north), and Virūḍhaka (south). > These protectors of Buddhist triple gem also shield Śakra (aka Indra, see pic) & his Trāyastriṃśa heaven at the apex of mount Sumeru. To that end, each commands one of four groups: Kumbhāṇḍas (dwarfs), Gandharvas (fairies), Nāgas (dragons) & Yakṣas (goblins). > Most of their protective function was taken by wrathful vidyārāja, sorcerer-kings (or queens, vidyārājñī ), e.g. Acalanātha, Yamāntaka aka Vajrabhairava, Trilokavijaya, Vajrayakṣa, Amṛtakuṇḍalin, Mahāmāyūrī, Rāgarāja (King of Lust, pic), Ucchuṣma, Hayagrīva etc. > With the advent of vajrayāna, these protective figures grew in prominence & influence, as did those who knew how to invoke or wield such powers. The necessity of protection remains important as ever, just as its absence leaves teachings & practitioners exposed & vulnerable.
thread: More than a few people rashly enter a transformative practice with considerable emotional & mental issues unresolved. From what I’ve seen, it’s a recipe for disaster, as they end up further disrupting their fragile balance & integrity. Sadly but expectedly, this isn’t advertised. > It’s a rather complex issue, but few points are due. First, some aspects of practice are challenging – sometimes brutal – even for a well-integrated psyche in good health & circumstances. There’s also the possibility of unpredictable emergence, ie more than one can metabolize. > > Second, this makes *years* of preparation & groundwork essential. A well-paced progress is one that doesn’t burn inner structures, while it detects the fragilities & blindspots. Don’t start with dry vipassana or instant jhana instructions picked from a book or online course. > > Thirdly, untreated trauma will resurface sooner or later. It will get worse if ignored or forced through. Plus, an odd mushroom or LSD trip isn’t as innocent as touted by enthusiasts – it’s russian roulette. Same with subtle energy techniques pursued on one’s own. > > Last but not least, conventional structures & healthy routines, lasting meaningful relationships, ability to hold a job etc. are solid predictors of smoother transformation. They’re also effective in stabilizing a disruption that can be agonizing & seem desperately incurable. > > As I’ve often argued, be careful & alert, take advantage of accumulated wisdom, be conservative not naive when it comes to gambling your sanity. If you’re already in trouble, rest assured *a lot* can be done with good sense, patience & reliable guidance. Good luck! PS. Phrase “considerable X unresolved” is not to be confused with those who may not do very well in many circumstances but flourish in practice contexts & tolerate intense shifts. Neuro divergence is a separate issue, which need not overlap with X.
thread: A follow up on the “crash & burn” thread, with additional remarks in reply to comments & feedback. Imo there are no simple solutions, no easy answers, but a sensible strategy is possible. Lacking a mature, widespread contemplative culture, it may be sufficient as second best. > Anti-fragility is essential, work on it. Chaos is necessary to survive & flourish, befriend it. Avoiding every danger & challenge is not the best way to live a meaningful life, but that doesn’t mean being reckless. There are occupational hazards in every field of endeavour. > Struggle, impermanence, emptiness – minds are not safe spaces. Challenges are par for the course on every leg of hero’s journey. Key is to proceed step by step. Take time to establish where you are, start from there. It’s a learning-how-to process. Steps cannot be skipped. > Fetishizing special experiences is integral to some circles of practice. Instead, clarify the purpose, method, effects & results (h/t to @kenmcleod) of a given practice. Start with low hanging fruits – develop confidence, balance, ability to orient yourself in unknown terrain. > Practice styles are not just a matter of inclination or preference. Buddhist yānas have specific starting points, specific paths, specific ends. Different language to address what you are, how to proceed, what you aim at becoming. Of course, training methods differ accordingly. > Maps depict places, phases, features, not individual experiences. Also, aspects of maps are non-linear. What is referred to as “preparation” may cover a decade of groundwork done well. Far reaches describe what few can stabilize through a lifetime of practice. > When you encounter difficulties in your practice, consider three questions. Do I want to be present in this experience? Do I know how to be present in this experience? Do I have the capacity to be present in this experience? http://unfetteredmind.org/three-questions/ > There are also issues faced by new generations, coming into their own in the contemporary quicksand culture. These have to do with relationship to past, reverence for reality, appreciation for genuine relationships etc. > If a young seeker, no need to do it alone. Get together, form a group of like-minded, in-person whenever possible, support each other, define the basics, explore possibilities, seek counsel, engage multiple elders, take responsibility for your lot, learn and share. Good luck! > PS. “Many problems in meditation practice come from confusion about what we think should happen, what we want to happen, and what actually happens.” @kenmcleod on purpose, method, effects, results here: https://unfetteredmind.org/up-against-a-wall-sources-of-unnecessary-confusion/
thread: ༈ འདུ་བྱེད་ཐམས་ཅད་མི་རྟག་ཅིང༌། ཟག་བཅས་ཐམས་ཅད་སྡུག་བསྔལ་བ། ཆོས་རྣམས་སྟོང་ཞིང་བདག་མེད་པ། མྱ་ངན་ལས་འདས་པ་ཞི་བའོ། ། > A common theme in Buddhism across yānas, known as three marks or seals: anityatva, duḥkha, nairātmya. It’s about maturity & sanity, a basis for practice, without which ennobling aspirations & efforts easily devolve into puerile fantasies & worse. > > Anityatva is impermanence, at work on many levels. Knowing with certainty that I/everyone will die at an uncertain time, prompts respect wrt anyone’s time & urgency wrt what one holds most precious ie what one cares about deeply. Antidote to inanity, protection from regret. >> Duḥkha is pain. Knowing failure, loss, sorrow, knowing that anyone alive does experience some form of struggle, helps recognize the limits of ordinary contentment & find common ground. Antidote to excess, aggression, cruelty, protection from obsession. >> Nairātmya means no selfness. Knowing deep intimacy with self, others & things – conceptual, emotional, visceral intimacy. A spacious clarity that makes relating possible, engaging viable. Antidote to naivety, fixation, paranoia, protection from extremes. >> Sometimes a fourth line says “nirvāṇa is peace” (skt. śānti). It’s not a place or a feeling, it’s not an experience. It’s freedom from reactivity, release from the grip of habituation & compulsion. Some seek it as be-all & end-all. Some find it as end of seeking. >> Nirvāṇa sūtra says it’s 常樂我淨 – permanence, bliss, self, purity. Some take it literally. Some as poetry or metaphor. Some as an intimation of mystery. Regardless, it can only be found through the previous three. Which is good, because we are sealed to them, sealed by them./
ends on Dec 5, 2020