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  • hardie karges 11:58 am on October 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Bunuel, , STFU, Thay, , , Zen,   

    Zen and the Art of Dishwashing… 

    We are not slaves to the objects of our desire as much as we are slaves to desire itself. The objects come and go. And isn’t that just like us? I mean, to desire for the sake of desiring, as much as any object as the supreme goal, or maybe we can call it ‘cet obscur objet du desir,’ if I may borrow the title of the famous film by Luis Bunuel to illustrate my point.

    And as in that film the object is not only unattainable, ultimately, but is constantly changing its face, such that “What follows is a tale of cruelty, depravity and lies — the very building blocks of love.” (Wikipedia) So is this simply our fate, as Westerners, especially, to bite off more than we can chew, simply for the pleasure of the sensation of the food inching its way slowly down our throats, and only gradually entering our stomachs?

    There it triggers the feeling of fullness, if only for a moment, and begs the question as to whether that is really enough, or not, since consciousness comes with no gas gauges, just feelings, often random, of completion or vacuity, in this case, in addition to sensations of tastiness or disgust. So are we left to desire for the sake of desiring, in the same way that one might misinterpret Thich Nhat Hanh’s invocation to “wash dishes to wash the dishes” as “wash dishes for the sake of washing dishes,” which is not correct.

    And I will admit that I misinterpreted that advice for years, as if he were advocating mindlessness as mindfulness. Now I know that he is a master of Zen, but I never knew that he was that Zen! And he’s not, in the sense that Zen sometimes goes too far in its linguistic riddling, in the hope that enlightenment might somehow magically result if we can only prove language to be the trickster that it is, full of bluff and bluster, but ultimately empty. And that may be true, but that does not mean that there are no meanings.

    But Thich Nhat Hanh was not advising mindless dish washing, even though others may also have misinterpreted it that way, no salve to my chastened ego (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281608722_Washing_Dishes_to_Wash_the_Dishes_Brief_Instruction_in_an_Informal_Mindfulness_Practice). What he was really advising was to make the best of mundane situations, and be aware of just that, AND ONLY THAT (ouch), when in the process of doing it (if you’re feeling bored, you can always increase the speed. Walking meditation can be fast or slow).

    For meditation I personally advise sitting on a cushion, on the floor, lotuses optional, ditto mantras and mudras, eyes closed, body unflinching, for at least twenty minutes, more if you can. This is what I call STFU meditation. It may not be as famous as anapanasati or vipassana, or any of the other myriad of styles and subjects, but it accomplishes much the same thing, and that is to shut off the internal dialogue, at least for a spell (!), and return to pre-linguistic proto- or paleo-consciousness to reboot the program. All systems work better after rebooting (hint: try counting breaths, if you feel it’s otherwise just not working).

    And so it is with desire. As much as Western culture rewards the act of ‘being in love with love,’ ultimately it is not only wasteful, consumptive, and useless, but even destructive, e.g. global warming. But don’t torture yourself. To chase illusions is only human: usually futile, sometimes rewarding, almost inevitable. This is life, a passing show. Stay safe.

     
  • hardie karges 11:08 am on September 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Bhavana, Chan, , jhana, , , samatha, , Zen   

    Meditation and Mediation, Buddhism on the Half-Shell… 

    The best meditation requires no app. Only silence can solve the problems caused by language. Not that I don’t find ‘guided meditations’ interesting, I just don’t think that they are the best form of meditation.

    Not that there need be many forms of meditation in the first place, but that comes with the turf, the modern commercial turf, that just one more thing under the tree will get us through the next year with flying colors, the colors of Christmas and New Year in joy and celebration of what I am not sure, but it seems that abundance is the common theme, my cup running over and all that jazz, eternal life and all that rap.

    But is the ‘special insight’ of ‘vipassana’ really some sort of qualitative improvement over the ‘awareness of breathing’ in anapanasati? Is there really any difference between the ‘calm abiding’ of ‘samatha’ and the ‘concentration’ of ‘samadhi’?

    Self-described experts go on and on about the ‘four different kinds’ of meditation like bloggers slicing and dicing adverbs and artichokes for the special garnish to Sunday brunch, to be ladled over with the special sauce of ‘mindfulness.’

    Then there is the ‘mental development’ of bhavana holding lengthy sessions, while the ‘trance-like states’ of ‘dhyana’ and ‘jhana’ morph into entire schools of Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen, so that entire cultures can be exported overseas a millennium later, and Alan Watts can make a living without ever having to plant rice, much less harvest it.

    So I suppose that there is a difference between a ‘one-focus’ meditation and a ‘field-focus’ meditation, but I’m really not sure, if the underlying concentration is upon the breath, or if you’ve got a really quiet place, then worth noticing the heartbeat, which our ears normally block out as background noise.

    But there seems to be a more significant distinction between meditation ‘upon’ something and meditation for meditation’s own sake. And this is where guided meditation comes in, because it is certainly a meditation upon something, if it is meditation at all.

    And I’m not sure who started this, because I have practiced the art in formal and semi-formal settings in three SE Asian countries, all of the Theravada school of Buddhism, and I can assure you that there was no bloke holding forth at the time. But I do see this online with monks of the Tibetan school, and saw it myself with a Western ex-monk of the same school in Nepal. So which is better, guided or silent?

    That I can’t say, but when I discussed all this with research neurologists interested in measuring the effects of meditation on the brain, all they wanted to know was, “Were you able to stop the internal dialogue?” To which I giddily responded something like, “Yes.” To which they responded with a dubious, “Do you understand this concept?” “Of course. That’s all I remember of Don Juan’s ‘Tales of Yaqui Power.”

    Guided meditation won’t do that, so you still need silent meditation IMHO. But to be a good Buddhist, more important than the sutras, the precepts, and all the meditations are the simple acts of kindness and compassion, ‘metta karuna’…

     
  • hardie karges 12:29 pm on January 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , uppadana, Zen   

    Buddhism and that Special Flavor of Sadness… 

    Plato not Prozac. Buddha not Benzedrine. In other words, don’t go running for the medicine cabinet every time you feel a little sad, or bored. Life is not about getting all charged up, whether looking for thrills, or looking for bliss. Life is about being aware, not much more and not much less. So if you’re feeling a little down in the dumps today, or just can’t seem to pump it up any how any way, I can’t recommend experiments of the chemical sort, unless it’s the last resort, and you’re the experimental sort. Because the results don’t always work out well. Pills are not always equivalent to thrills, and thrills are not what they used to be, better for kids in playgrounds, than adults in real lives. (Unless you have serious clinical depression, of course, and then you should get thyself to a doctor, post haste, and follow his instructions to the letter, because they are the masters of experiment, and can save you some time and trouble). But depression and sadness are two different things, and boredom is even more insidious. Boredom may be a call to action, true enough, but that action is best when more than the zen koan: what is the sound of one pill popping? This is a Western disease, and American, especially, home to amusement parks and extreme sports, daredevil stuntmen and short short shorts. We know what we want and we want it now. The only problem is that once gratified that sensation, there will always be another, and another, and another. This is the main realization of the Buddha: craving, ‘uppadana’, closely related to ‘tanha’, thirst, and the need for constant needs. This is a vicious circle, of course, and the best way to nip it in the bud is to gain control over yourself, to whatever extent that is possible. And this is the essence of Buddhist ‘practice’, the control that you gain, primarily by meditation. But self-control can still fall short, especially if you have a history of chemical imbalances. Buddhism always reverts to causes, and even if 90% of those are ‘mental’ and ‘impermanent’, some of them are more intrinsic to this particular manifestation of our transitory physical dimension, and are best dealt with in that way. Sometimes you have to treat symptoms first, worry about ultimate causes later…

     
    • Alexia Adder 9:09 pm on January 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      That is the only way to survive. For myself, it isn’t just awareness but the idea that chaos or loss of control [self] =/= fun for me. I find joy in experiences and ideas, even if I disagree. I like to be intellectually stimulated, I got bored if I am not. To do this I try to learn more, talk to people, get their perspectives… there’s always a subjectivity aspect to life even if one is part of a culture, unique ideas and opinions may or not be born from a combination of experiences and cultures.

      One thing I love science and always philosophize and think about it. But science is only about the objective which can get one only insofar, there are subjective areas science can never cover. Most rational people are blind to the subjective part of living and reality, putting too much “faith” in the objective.

      Real harmony is finding the balance between both views, and not seeing the mutual exclusives. Instead knowing that both perspectives have their place. This is the Middle Path.

      • hardie karges 10:19 pm on January 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I’m a big fan of science, actually right now trying to put together a Facebook group for a more science-oriented Buddhism, stay tuned. Thanks for your comments…

      • hardie karges 5:39 pm on January 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Here you go, just got the group page up, so it’s pretty empty, but if you want to discuss anything, then doing it there might make it a little less lonely! Basically the idea is to discuss the possibilities of a modernized Buddhism without the burdens of rebirth, past lives and karma. But we can discuss anything, hope to C U there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/196544654825092/

        • Alexia Adder 5:55 pm on January 27, 2020 Permalink

          Thank you so much! This will help me and others a lot.

        • hardie karges 5:59 pm on January 27, 2020 Permalink

          You’re welcome! C U there!

    • Robert@69 10:27 pm on January 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Nice read hardie. to paraphrase I read you to say that the american disease is wanting instant or damn near instant gratification, and the problem with this wanting is that it’s never sated and we end up in the cycles of craving and thirst. – agreed. but isn’t the wanting to be in control just another form of craving/thirst? And is gaining control over ? the essence of Buddhist practice? It isn’t for me.

    • hardie karges 11:00 pm on January 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      SELF-control, yes, and self-control only, which for a Buddhist is only natural, since no permanent self is even acknowledged. I know it sounds a bit draconian from an American perspective, point of the post, but it works, it really does, with meditation, non-confrontation (don’t ‘take the bait’), etc., and it all starts with the breath (maybe). No, it’s the opposite of craving, really, purely non-grasping, the power of inaction. It isn’t a subject that gets written up in Buddhism, really, but I’ve discussed it with Asian monks, and it’s often acknowledged that yes, that’s the deal. Think about it. It can be very satisfying, actually, foregoing the white noise of sometimes mindless action. Thanks for your comments…

  • hardie karges 2:01 am on October 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dada, , , Zen,   

    Emptiness and Form, and the Power of Zero… 

    I need to see the emptiness, so that I can hear the silence. That’s the latter-day Buddhist approach to life, as exemplified by the Mahayanist doctrine of ‘shunyata’, emptiness, zero-ness, more concerned with the bowl’s field of probabilities than the stuff that you might want to cram in it, the world as potential more than present, form over content, and quite content with that, foregone the shopping trips to outlet stores and brand-name malls, fulfilled by conscious lack and voluntary homelessness, just add a dose of Zen-like Dadaesque do-si-do and lose the logic, and now you’ve got something unique and special, a glimpse of eternity in a spoonful of sugar, infinity in a grain of sand. But this is the advanced course for meditation masters and others of like bent, experts at the short-circuit of logic and aficionados of thoughtless realms, archeologists of the paleo-consciousness, prime and pristine, pure as driven snow and just as hard to find, in the vast clutter of derived drivel in the garbage heaps of mind. But basic Buddhism is much easier, the ABC’s of rightness and righteousness, and the mitigation of suffering. You can forego the quantum leaps in favor of baby steps, and maintain a wry little grin all the while, keeping eyes on the forward path, and never get lost in a crooked smile. The path is the path, and there is no better way. Do the right thing, even if it hurts, even if there is no immediate benefit. Do the right thing just because it’s the right thing. End all craving and suffering will be mitigated. That is the Buddha’s message…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 3:24 pm on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Great phrase which conveys the continuing relevance of the message – ‘foregone the shopping trips to outlet stores and brand-name malls’, One thinks of the hungry ghost …

  • hardie karges 10:35 am on May 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , juju, , , woo-woo, Zen   

    Got religion? Juju or woo-woo: take your pick… 

    IMG_0829Beyond all the fibs and fantasies, behind all the lies we tell ourselves, is the l-DNA we create for ourselves in language, a trail to our past and an arrow to our future, and pretty much the only thing we had before y-DNA and mt-DNA, revealed now to be something like a parallel universe to those more precise measurements, yet far more analogous to the largely hypothetical cultural tracks and traces, like c-DNA, full of long lonely nights and broken promises, frightened misgivings and belated thanksgivings…

    But the first thing we did in every case, and probably even before language, was to speculate on the nature of things, and try to create some meaning for it all, maybe even best articulated in fear, that which we fear being that which we worship, synonymous anonymous, or even better in groups to amplify the effect exponential… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:16 am on April 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , Rinzai, , , , , Zen   

    Buddhism is all about love—sweet dispassionate love… 

    img_1111It has long been predicted that Buddhism’s future is in the West, and for better or worse, that may very well be true. So the question then becomes: what kind of Buddhism would that be? For purposes of dialog and dialectic, I see the two chief protagonists to be the Thai Forest Tradition and Zen, both of which have numerous and faithful adherents in the West, and both of which can claim some purity of faith and doctrine…

    Tibetan Buddhism I imagine has as many or more adherents as either of the above, but is already mixed-and-mashed to the max, so the purity of doctrine is just not there, for better or worse, not to mention modern sex scandals, a dubious devotion to physical reincarnation, and a generation-jumping karma of retribution that just won’t quit. This was the final chapter to a previous crossroads, in Asia, and what worked there, and then, will not likely work here, and now… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:25 am on February 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, , , , Zen, , Zen in the Art of Archery   

    Zen and the Art of Non-Cyclic Existence… 

    There have been a plethora of ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of’ books, since the original was published, some seventy years ago now, e.g. ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of Faking It’, ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of Happiness”, ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of Housekeeping’, ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of Living’, and more, but did you know that the original was published in 1948, in German, and with a slight but important difference in the title, so ‘Zen IN the Art of Archery’ (CAPS mine), which seems to actually be a serious discussion of Zen Buddhism, unlike the best-known ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of’ book…

    Which was ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, of course, which sold a cool 5 Mil, published almost fifty years ago, and apparently has changed many people’s lives, hopefully for the better. I thought it all sounded very interesting way back then, as much for the motorcycles, my early passion, as for the Zen, but my own personal tastes at the time ran more to the Beats and the Existentialists than something that sounded like a slightly sullied Jonathan Livingston Seagull. But I finally got around to it, a year or two ago now (any book I’m seriously interested in, I try to read within 50 years of publication)… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:48 am on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , EckfardtbTolle, , , , , , , , , , , Tibetan, , Zen   

    Buddhist Back-Story: Dialectics and Linguistics… 

    img_1935Theravada Buddhism has it easy, when it comes to dhamma (dharma) talks, just pull out the old mind-kilesa-breath-nose-navel-‘Buddho Buddho Buddho’ playbook, rinse and repeat, hard to screw up unless you want to get into the murky afterbirth of past lives and kamma (karma), doing Yogic headstands and plotting Ptolemaic cosmic epicycles, trying to explain how anatta (non-self) somehow gets reborn, when there really is nothing there to begin with. But still they do. It’s embarrassing, especially when some of the same ones…

    …get all goo-goo-eyed at the mention of ‘this present moment’, which I agree with, if not to the extent that some would take it. So how can you have both, not only within the same school of Buddhism, but within the same person, e.g. the Dalai (not Theravada) Lama? I can find you quotes of him advocating ‘nowness’ while Eckhart Tolle was still sleeping on sofas, and at the same time opining that if someone’s life hasn’t quite worked out right, then it’s because of something they did in a past life—ouch! What gives? (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:00 pm on January 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Like any long-lived belief system, I suppose, as complex as people and societies are themselves. The Science connection seems an interesting extension …

      • hardie karges 10:54 pm on January 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, It’s amazing to me that the original Buddhist debate, basically liberal vs. conservative, is still alive today, after countless twists and turns, and analogous to something similar in politics, which is all well and good, I think, as long as everyone can be polite and civilized about it…

        • Dave Kingsbury 2:34 am on January 30, 2018 Permalink

          Indeed. The questions arising from reincarnation are the ones I struggle with. My best shot is to view it as metaphor and therefore helpful for perspective and even humour.

  • hardie karges 7:08 am on June 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Bizarro, , , Goldilocks, , , Zen   

    #Buddhism, #Bizarro World, and the 4 Noble Truths of #Christianity… 

    IMG_1183

    Statue of Buddha in Kandy, Sri Lanka

    We all know the Four Noble (Aryan) Truths of Buddhism, of course, indoctrinated in us since birth: 1) the prevalence of suffering in this world, 2) the cause of suffering—desire, 3) the way to reduce suffering—reduce desire, and 4) the way to do that: the Eightfold Middle Path—do not lie, cheat, steal, etc…

    But did you know that Christianity also has Four Noble Truths? Okay, so they’re not exactly called that, but it’s easy enough to interpolate and extrapolate, so here goes: 1) this world is fun!, 2) the cause of fun is desire, 3) the way to increase fun is to increase desire—more bigger richer sexier, and 4) the way to do that: the Ten Commandments: do not lie, cheat, steal, etc. Ha! Gotcha! (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 5:32 am on May 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , Zen   

    Buddhist Karma: more than just cause and effect… 

    img_2116Karma is one of the major tenets of Buddhism, and one of the most misunderstood. The issue of past lives I’ll save for later; first let’s deal with this life. The basic idea is that if you do good things, then good things will happen to you. And if you have to take at least one religious tenet on pure faith to qualify as religious, then I’ll take that one, which I firmly believe, that by doing good, the world is thereby incrementally vaccinated against evil. Thus karma is frequently called the law of ’cause and effect’, BUT…

    That’s not exactly correct. It’s better than that. It’s more than that. It’s purer than that. If I give you a five-spot and you hand me a hot dog, that’s not karma. That’s business, and bad health. Thank me for my custom, bloke. And if I pick up the neighborhood kids to take to school on Wednesday, because that’s my day to man the carpool, then ditto. That’s an agreement, therefore a transaction, maybe not business, since no money changed hands hand, but not karma, either… (More …)

     
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