Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2011

the truth is frustrating and liberating

everything is fragile, coming together and falling apart
we can observe the amount of effort that goes into being with someone who is very ill or inclined towards death, and the other extreme, being with youthful energy, which requires containing & protecting it from harm and danger, guiding it, teaching it.

likewise, we can observe all the time and energy it takes to guide a human life in worthwhile directions and to be with its day to day difficulties
—we've got to sustain and feed ourselves, protect ourselves, teach ourselves, etc

when we open the heart to the conditions that have to be lined up in order for our life to be sustained we see fragility; so many conditions have to be coordinated just to make it through a day
—when we consider the delicacy and contingency of it all, its not surprising when things go awry
—as ajahn brahma says, we shouldn't say to a doctor something's wrong, i don't feel well, but rather something's in line with the nature of life, for …

So, what is the point of it all?

We all have questions along the lines of: What is the point of it all? Why are we here? What is the transcendent nature of reality? What is important to achieve in life? What is our reason for being alive?

In Plato's world, the meaning of life lies in attaining the highest form of knowledge, the ideal, from which all good and just things derive utility and value. there is a perfect, ideal version of all things, from which our world falls short.

Emmanuel Kant wrote a single moral obligation, the "Categorical Imperative", demands adherence and duty. for actions to be ethical, they must lead to what is universally good

utilitarianism: the point of each action is to bring about the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people

Nihilism seeks to reveal the flaws and unverifiable assumptions that our transcendent truths and purpose rest upon, revealing life's lack of essential value or purpose.

Taoist world view focused on an underlying energy or state of flow in the Uni…

understanding how obsession works

the Buddha had many terms for things that stir up the mind.
anusayas are fixations, thought habits, ideas that arise constantly
kiriya means mental agitation
papanca is the sheer proliferation of thought that is obsession

anusayas or obsessions have seven types. we become obsessed about
1) people and things that make us feel good, that stir passion
2) people and things that make us feel uncomfortable, that stir aversion
3) our views and opinions about life, people, the world
4) our fears of the future
5) our self centered ideas; "who am i"
6) our craving to attain higher states of being, to "become better person, more equipped to tackle the world"
7) our tendency to blame external forces for our stress and unhappiness, to avoid seeing the role our mind plays in creating stress and suffering for ourselves (we tend to objectify our experience, rather than see it as a subjective process)

the buddha teaches in the anusaya sutta that the purpose of spiritual practice is to learn h…

disentangling the mind through awareness of feelings

disentangling the mind through awareness of feelingsobserving the breath, a sound arises—a repeating buzzer or car horn—a sense of aversion arises—then a thought "why do people have to be so impatient?"—perhaps a memory of a place that was quiet or peaceful—the mind moves into that fabrication, then perhaps launches into an inner dialogue "what did i do wrong or deserve to live here?"—and so with thoughts and images we move farther away from the breath and the event, the sound, that interruptedthis is the process that repeats itself over and over again in the chain of co-dependent arising: sense contact with the world (phassa) leads to feeling (vedana), leads to craving (tanha) leads to attachment (upadana) leads to self-identification (bhavana).So, can we trace the mental events backwards, the self condemnation, back to the memory of the better place, back to the aversion about noise, back to the car horn or buzzer.?—we eventually wind up back with the breathwe ca…

the proper uses of judgment, acceptance and non-duality

We practice meditation, mindfulness and virtuous action in the hopes we'll attain a happiness and sense of security that is longer lasting and less conditional than what we've experienced so far in life. We're all familiar with the rewards of our world which, in all its bountiful array, lends its rewards only temporarily. As the buddha explained in the eight worldly winds (Lokavipatti Sutta, AN 8):"Monks, there are eight worldly winds push us about in the world. Which eight? Gain, loss, fame, obscurity, praise, blame, pleasure and pain. These are the eight worldly wind that push us about in world."The sutta goes on to detail how
—the world can praise our efforts, then suddenly switch to showering us with blame
—the world can provide us with pleasure, then just as quickly strike us with painful events
—the world can give us a moment of fame, then snatch it away, leaving us with obscurity
—the world seems to have much to gain, and just as much to take away (note how fo…

So, what does healing look like?

the rootwe start off life with a fully functioning amygdala, ad a non-functioning hippocampus—this means we're capable of experiencing fear, anxiousness, wailing disappointment, traumatic big emotions without any narrative contextualization—the amygdala tags as threatening anything we experience during an emotional stateif we're scared and our parents are too busy paying bills, working, dealing with their own lives, we experience 'people not paying attention to us' with vulnerability and fear—again, we have no hippocampus in crucial, formative years, to bring a sense of background perspective into why our felt needs aren't being met—regardless of how attentive or inattentive our families really were, the mind can build up these associations (of not being emotionally mirrored when we need it) into entire complexes of traumatic feelings, such as being abandoned, rejected, unconnected, unprotected, unloved.being abandoned is the most threatening vulnerable experience …

david foster wallace & the ending of obsessive thought

[quotes at first are from David Foster Wallace's Kenyon commencement speech. He starts out by telling the story of fish that don't know what water is...]DFW: "everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute centre of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centerdness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. "Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute centre of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. "…[DFW goes on to say that the work is] getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered [where everything is interpreted] through this lens of sel…

grasping and resisting

the mind's circuit board is hardwired to feel insecure, unprotected
so we look around for things to make us feel secure—feeding off the world, upadana
clinging onto the pleasant sensations, phenomena for security—sensual pleasure, financial gain, approval, productivity, etc.
beating back, fending off the sensations & phenomena —sensual discomfort, financial loss/instability, disapproval, unproductiveness, etc.
as we consume and repel the world, the feelings of security last for a short while, then we are returned once again to the insecurity that is our default wiring—this is what keeps us running around
worse, eventually as we feed off of these things, be it money, or approval, or health, we're setting ourselves up for horrible states in the future, as we eventually lose the ability to find peace elsewhere—the energy, momentum, karma, of clinging and resisting creates —grasping and resisting is stress, it is dukkha
so we all need to practice letting go. this requires a place a…

dealing with a crowd of inner voices

inner community wherever we move into our inner experience a similar cast of characters come out. some of them are wise characters: —desiring peace, virtuous integrity, ease, generosity, effort, awareness, etcthese voices are stable, generally not too loud or repetitive, dramatic, agitated
others aren't as wise in the long term (nivaranas)i want: craving love & approval, status, things that make us feel good, pleasant events, etcdislike and fear: disapproval, loss of status or things, unpleasant events restlessness, busyness: so much too do, can't relax, but it can never pinpoint what the exact most important thing we have to do, just a general we're not getting it doneescapist laziness: its all too much to deal with, i want to check out & feel nothing (not ease or relaxed, more annihilation)mistrust, suspicion: nothing will work to bring me peace, its not for me, no confidence
often we've relied on these voices for security; they're great short term solutio…

putting the punx in dharma punx

what is punk?punk rock as a rejection of self-indulgence in music, specifically long guitar solos, tolkeinesque lyrics, complex interludes set up to display musical chops, 10 minute sludge like, plodding songs of pink floyd, the whispy melodism of pop music.—for every decent act like hawkwind or syd barrett, there were countless dozens of yes, emerson lake & palmer, etc.—trying to make rock palatable to make it more commercial, it sabotaged the beauty of eddie cochran, jerry lee louis, chuck berry, etc.—the core energy & power of the music became diluted. ("lets spend the night together" "mother's little helper" turned to fleetwood mac, chicago, journey.)
punk rock revolted, espousing short songs, bereft of solos and needless show offy musical passages, lyrics about real challenges of inner city life, etc.—a return to the purity of the form—it dared to question the established order; more is better, include everything in the pie less we offend anyone.—an…

letting go

external sources of happiness are unsatisfactory:we try to find lasting security, purpose, self-esteem, from unsatisfactory sourcespleasures (sex, drugs, drink, etc)gain (accumulating money and things)approval (people pleasing, attaching to positive reviews, etc)fame (having lots of friends, prestige in one's field of work, etc)
1) they're unreliable; people don't say what we want them to, money can vanish, etc2) they're conditional; they're not always available3) their rewards are short term and require exponential fulfillment—the hedonic treadmill, "as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness." —Brickman & Campbell people report about the same level of happiness before and after economic gains and losses, so long as they can meet basic needs.
the more we try to grab at happiness from unsatisfactory sources, the more controlling and self-sabotaging we become—eventually we exper…

dealing with idiots

there's a difference between the stress that comes from the world, and its inconsistencies, and the stress that comes from our craving to change the world so it fits our agenda
the buddha said the way things are: —all phenomena is impermanent—all phenomena is stressful—all phenomena is without lasting identity
but the stress that comes from craving (as taught in the four noble truths & paticca sammupada) arises from our ignorance, and that's something we can do something about—the core of wisdom is seeing what we are responsible for, what we can change—and what we're not responsible for, what we cannot change (not our duty or burden)
This is exemplified in learning how to deal with difficult people:
how to tell if someone is one worthy of respect (sangaha sutta):—Generosity, compassion, beneficial wisdom, consistencyadditional qualities to consider (vassakara sutta):—someone who helps people—someone who thinks skillfully and doesn't worry needlessly—someone who has att…

Working with Depression

its important to see things in the mind in terms of intentional acts (kamma), the results if past intentional acts (vipaka), and events which are mere activity (kiriya) and the obsessive thoughts (papanca) of an agitated mind.—its important to avoid getting tangled up in what the mind is always pointing to in the world, what its representing.
we do this by becoming very observational of what's going on moment by moment: the way we discern what's what is clear from how events arise.
karma always has an intentional element to it, its suffused with goals and agendas that we're aware of; whereas it begins with contact and vedana, gut feelings, almost immediately there's vitakka or purposeful thinking present.
incoming results of previous mind states, vipaka, arise as vedana, gut reactions to what's occuring.—vipaka starts off as Sukha-vedana (feeling good about what's occuring and wanting more); Dukkha-vedana (stress & gut discomfort with what's occuring, wa…

what does right livelihood mean?

which jobs to reflect onovertly, the lists five professions that are to be avoided—trading in poison, weapons, human beings as slaves, trading meats, intoxicants. —if we do work as bartenders, or waiters in steakhouses, we start by being aware of what effect our work has on our mind.
The buddha was not a proseltyzer and didn’t set out on a crusade against specific professions. Only if he was pushed would he condemn a particular occupation. —when a soldier came to the buddha 3 times refused to answer when pressed if his occupation was unskillful. eventually the buddha replied: "if, while, in the midst of battle, the desire for the killing or causing harm to other beings arises, that mind state will take you to future realms of suffering. —note PTSD
from the precepts, the buddha's teachings ask us reflect on whether or not our livelihood:1) harm other beings? 2) does it steal from other beings?3) Does it involve lying? 4) Does it involve unskillful mental states such as promotin…

what does staying heedful mean?

the buddha's last words, he didn't talk about not self, emptiness, dependent co-arising:achieve completion through heedfulness (appamada)vigilance in protecting the mind against detrimental mental states
—The greatest danger is the mind's creative capacity for self-deception through rationalization of its obsessions
heedfulness (appamada)is based on an awareness of kamma:—just as our selfish, craving born actions lead to long term kiriya and dukkha vipaka—our skillful, selfless actions also have long peaceful ramifications for the mind
heedfulness is the wisdom that sees we don't have much time and we want to accumulate as much merit as we canits not possible to find inner peace if we're constantly engaged in dramas & attachments—dramas keep us ignorant of the peace & security available in the present, as it diverts our attention away to concerns that are not present based.—we don't want to wait until greed or aversion are big trees in the mind—opportuniti…

judicious versus judgmental

actions are helpful in relieving stress and which one's create more suffering.
the importance of surrounding ourselves with wise practitioners
how do we judge people to discern who is worthy of our time, and who isn't?comparing ourselves with others is always a form of conceit; the only time a conceit is useful is to spur us on in the practice.many comparisons are completely speculative based on guessing at what other people are experiencing inside (speculative) or lead to discouragementif our comparisons rest on objectifications, turning ourselves or others into static, static characteristics, it'll often cause unskillfulness—it may be worth seeing that someone could use our help, or that someone is better at something than us and could help us learn
sometimes things start as skillful, early in the practice, then become less skillful later on.—self can be useful early in the practice, but then after awhile we don't need it to spur us on—skillful thinking is useful in …

notes for a talk about relationships

how do i meet the right person?someone who loves, understands, accepts, supports us & shares my life?The question is, why aren't we providing these things for ourself? In order to be understood, supported, accepted, we have to give all those things to ourselves. All the acceptance in the world is empty when we don't truly have acceptance for all of our experience.We have to arrive in relationships from a place of wholeness, rather than being needy, lonely, desperate. Neediness is utterly unattractive.self-confidence and inner peace is very very attractive to others.When we can give ourselves what we need, we have no need to control our partners.Why do we need there to be a single person who knows everything?Why can't we give that to ourselves?
THE TESTclose eyes and ask ourselves what we most want from a new relationship or present one. whatever it is we're searching for is what we haven't developed yet:if we want support, its because we haven't rewarded our…