Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cracked Buddha.

Cracked-faced Buddha

A cracked buddha might be
someone we can come to know
who isn't turned by the world
but appreciates that these human feelings

are just his own. She makes them here
but is content not to spin
that same old story. A cracked buddha
might even come to play

in his broken world, in its overgrown garden
of hate and fears. It's no mystery that he can know love
as a intangible fact before his own concerns.
A cracked buddha, unmaking herself

as she goes along, unties the drawstrings
of the world's great purse. A cracked buddha
may be happy in being 'an unacknowledged legislator
of the world'.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Moving Experiences.

File:The Rage of Achilles by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.jpeg

Above: Achilles got seriously pissed off. Talk about 'acting out'! ...No Doctor Phil back then.

Well, I've gone and changed the name of this whacky blog again... right back to what it originally was in olden times (about 4 million kalpas ago, internet time). I did this because I'm moving house and am 'enjoying' all the frustration, stress, disruption and ANGER that are said to often go with that.

I was flicking back through some stuff from the net about anger (seen in Buddhism as one of the Three Poisons... if you're not too fussy about translation) and came across this interesting page.

In a turn that should be read by anyone that has ever taken up arms to defend the Holy Dharma on Buddhist internet forums it states:

Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on)...

and continues...

or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven't learned how to constructively express their anger.

Could that have been written for you? ... Me too!

Now, I don't quite agree with some of the approach expressed therein, but it may just be more useful than mouthing off and pretending that the Absolute is speaking through me when, actually, I'm just mistaking aspects of my self for something which they are not (i.e. me, me, ME, MEEEE!). Is that all a bit cynical (although I think it may be valid to be cynical about anger... or at least to doubt very much the views and perceptions it engenders)? Sorry if so. Let me address that by saying 'I love you' and offering this pleasant image:

Feel free to drop a few lines about anger if you have anything insightful to say about it, based on your own experience. Or rant away and I'll just ignore you if you're boring and predictable.

Regards (non-cynical regards, that is),


Thursday, August 22, 2013

'Hey, That's Not a Tile You're Polishing!', or 'Whose Effort?'

Uchiyama Roshi, commenting on the nature of what he termed 'adult practice', said:
For children, kindergarten and elementary school are necessary. They have nothing to learn at a university. You have to be mature, an adult, to climb walls of doubts and difficulties that you will encounter in your practice. What is the exact difference between childish practice and adult practice? Simply put, the question is if you are able to wipe your own ass or not. Kids want to be carried around by "big people". An adult has to walk on his own feet, face the difficulties of his own life, solve his own doubts.
Who would learn to wipe everyone else's ass before learning to wipe his/her own? There's a lot of dirty asses out there.

When there's still someone else to blame for me not wiping my own ass then I'm still some way away from my own practice. I think it's all a valid observation, even if I don't always live up to it.

Now, time for a word from my esteemed and enlightened detractors (I hope you brought plenty of bog roll)... :-p



'Zen' as Shoddy Byproduct.

Zennist injured after making terrible shampoo choice.

Oooooh, "Zen".... sexy word.

What does it promise with its tantalizing zing of stripped-down Eastern sophistication? An exotic experience; a psychological trip; a cure to how I currently am; an insight into the mysteries of the Orient; an attractive enigmatic philosophy that no one can disagree with (or quite agree with); a powerful and effective New Me who will never look back, never doubt and never fear; an updated version of myself that I can lord over the deluded masses grovelling at my feet; something to believe in, and identify with/by, that will console me..?

If 'it' is working at all it'll disappoint in all these regards again and again, although, in doing so (and if I can continue to take it's bitter pill), maybe it can be said to have some faltering purpose.

I don't believe in Zen. I don't practice Zen. It seems to me, at this stage, that it's more often a load of less-than-useless latter day psychobabble employed to bolster people who have, and want to maintain, personality disorders and/or stagey quasi-religious guru personas. That may be a big part of 'its' attraction.

And, to end on a positive note, I'm glad to say that sitting on a cushion is actually just exactly sitting on a cushion. So there will always be that option of not getting caught up in the squalid little misery industries that have sprung up around that rather attractive and intoxicating word 'Zen'.



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What My 6-Year-Old Daughter Just Said About Dust...


When you don't clean up
it makes itself.

Friday, August 16, 2013

'Absolute' Envy, Anyone?


I hear a lot about this 'absolute' on Buddhist forums and in Buddhist discourse.

What is it?

Is it something we can believe in, something to console us? (an 'absolute' that can fit inside the human head....hmmmm, sounds small)

Is it something we can comprehend at all? (graspable by our very limited sense organs and consciousness....hmmmm again)

Is it just a vague notion? (recognising that may be some sort of start at least methinks....)

Is it what Buddhist doctrine refers to as shunyata? (I'm inclined to think our own spurious notion might be better than someone else's)

Can we 'know' it? If so, how?

Is it something we can be convinced of, or is it something that requires us to unconvince ourselves?

Please say whatever you want (preferably nicely, or nice-ish at least) because, don't worry, you won't convince me:

I might run an 'absolute envy' competition to determine if yours is bigger than mine however.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Zazen: Recoiling from the World, or Being Realised By/In It?

There is an aspect of zazen, an emotional aspect (how one approaches the practice of it), that, I think, is very important but that is not discussed very much in meditation instructions. It's about ones attitude in approaching zazen, and is related (in my case at least) to what one might think zazen is for, and to some dimly held assumptions as to what I am doing in zazen.

Basically, I think a certain constricted/constricting emotional approach to doing zazen can be indicated by contrasting the notions of zazen as being about opening up and being 'realised by the myriad things' and zazen as being a retreat into a sort of numb, never-never zone, or escaping the world by embracing some remote state of 'emptiness'/shunyata or some other such negation.

Dogen seemed to be pretty much about the first position there; about ceasing picking and choosing and allowing our experiences and the things of the world come forth as they are in zazen, and, to Dogen, this 'coming forth as they are' is realisation itself, and is the vivid experience of shunyata, and is the real/realising 'myriad things' coming forward as 'instances of prajna'. This is the view of immanence; about realisation in and through and with all the things of the world. There is quite a stark contrast to be made between this and another strong theme in Buddhist tradition; that of transcendence or sloughing off the world of suffering and things and designations. This latter position, the idea that we can get away from all our troubles, might be very attractive, especially if we are suffering in the world of messy detail. I wonder, however, if it isn't a sort of emotional rejection of life, a type of suicide, to sit and basically reject the world for 30 or 40 minutes at a stretch? I doubt anyone really gets stuck in this sort of practice for too long (zazen seems to have its own sort of inbuilt corrective gravity, but it may be something to watch out for).

All this because I tend to find myself unconsciously sinking into a sort of emotional 'numb' place in zazen from time to time, and this because at that time I am using zazen as a sort of escape from the messy details of life. This isn't emptiness or 'transcendence' however; it's just a sort of emotional dead zone where I hide and rest. I'm sure it has its valid functions at time of stress, but it's not somewhere I think a person should hang out in for very long (especially if I am mistaking it as some state of balance or insight or transcendence or whatever).

This state can be contrasted to practice where everything is clear and vivid, and where any occurrence of 'the myriad things' (a thought, a physical sensation, a sound, a sight etc etc) seems to support and enhance that clarity and awareness, carrying one along in the open current of awake experience with everything presently occurring... Can this sort of practice be validly discussed in terms of 'transcendence'? I think it can, but it would be a mistake to confuse this 'transcendence' with a sort of emotional rejection of life and every thing it contains: It would have to be acknowledged that the 'transcendence' is a function of the very things themselves that are 'transcending', as far as I can see.

In practical terms, it might be the difference between allowing things to exist in zazen in their manifest free condition (and keeping awake to this), and rejecting or avoiding their real existence which, in a very direct sense, may be to reject and avoid a fundamental aspect of how our life is unfolding.