Sunday, February 26, 2006

Oooh!

Have any of you heard of this? Thoughts?

***

Also, here's a pic of my retooled altar. What do y'all think?

15 Comments:

At February 26, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

Regarding your altar...kewl!

I use the same chime-y thingy you have on the right side of your altar to begin and end the meditation sessions at the local groups I host.

When I first started teaching meditation groups I began and ended the meditation periods with a quiet voice, hopefully ushering in the silence, but I started using the chime when a few of the participants told me that they found my voice (which I consider to be deep and sonorous and soothing)"grating"! Huh! Some people can be pretty blunt, eh?
:-)))

 
At February 26, 2006, Blogger K'vitsh said...

Tee hee!

How many times do you ding it? I just ding it once at the beginning, once at the end.

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

K'vitsh ~

While in the monastery I developed the habit of striking it three times (allowing for about 15-20 seconds between each ring). The aim, the zen monks told me, was to allow the meditators to become settled into the 'right' frame of mind at the start, going deeper and deeper into quietude, and, at the end, to gently come out of the meditative state. The three rings allowed a kind of slow, placid, incremental refusing with the non-meditational state-of-mind.

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger rot-13 said...

endo, they make a "meditation clock" with a similar bar-type chime on it. You can set it so that instead of just ringing at the end of a session, it'll ring once, then again a minute later, then in thirty seconds, then fifteen, and like that. The idea being just what you've said, to be gentle about the whole thing.

It'd make a great alarm clock.

The twin problems: it's as ugly as homemade sin, and it costs more than it's worth.

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger karen said...

I also have the same chime for beginning and ending meditation periods. About the sutra, I will read it all, but the little I've read, (and I probably shouldn't comment since I didn't read it all)looks like for some readers there may be a contradiction in the usual teachings of no-self and this sutra which is saying that there is an unchangeable sort of ground of being that runs through us all. It's not really contraversial to me because I have always felt that something or some state of intelligence must be our ground even though we are not aware of this at all times. But, I am a long time student of Krishnamurti who speaks of an intelligence and I have come to experience this type of thing occasionally. When I take my "self" out of the drivers seat, it just seems to happen of it's own accord. I have also felt that a lot of what is written and spoken is empty of meaning after a certain point. One author that is not buddhist, but has had profound, what she calls no-self states, is Bernadette Roberts. I had studied her about 20 or so years ago and I am reading her again because her descriptions, while in a christian language, seem to parallel some of mine. Although I consider myself buddhist in philosophy, I stay pretty close to Krishnamurti, but where I'm at right now, which is a very dry, no- interest kind of state is talked about by Roberts. When I go through these things, I take help wherever I can get it. So, as far as I've read, that "unchanging" think mentioned seems out of character with most of the teachings on impermanence. But, this is the first I've ever heard that there is anything hidden in this and I wasn't ever aware of any controversy. But now I have something to look into while I am on vacation this week. I guess I'm really a nerd.

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger rot-13 said...

K'vitsh, the Nirvana Sutra's no great secret, but "the zennist" has sort of a vested interest in pretending that it is. Apparently that's one of the names used by the boys at Dark Zen, who are on a crusade. They contend that Buddhism went wrong at the start, that the whole "no self" thing is a perversion of the Buddha's real teaching, and that there is indeed an Atman, a permanent self, soul, whatever. If you go to E-Sangha and search on Dark Zen, you can read all kinds of invective about how evil and misguided blah blah yada et bloody cetera. I don't know if any of it is true.

The sutra in question is mainstream Mahayana stuff. Standard interpretation of it is not that it's about the Atman, but about the Buddha Nature, which is emptiness -- and you can tie your brain in knots over that if you want. Wikipedia has a decent introdution to the sutra. (BTW there's a lot of other good introductory Buddhist stuff there.)

As for the Geluks hiding the sutra in the darkest vaults and burning each other's monasteries down about it and whatnot ... eh, could be. If you read anything by Robert Thurman (Uma's dad) you'll get the impression that Tibet used to be one huge holy land, peace and tolerance and enlightenment and whatnot for everybody. But in fact there were as many sectarian (and secular) wars there as anywhere else, complete with Rinpoche This torturing Lama That to death. But whether any of the battles had to do with the Nirvana Sutra, I don't know (and neither, probably, does the Zennist.)

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

Thanks rot-13 ~

Yes, I saw that meditation clock when I was surfing for a chime thingy. There are several on the market. I use the manual chime thingy when I'm in charge of a meditation group. I set my chronograph to x minutes and look down, occasionally. On my own, I just set the wrist alarm on the chronograph. I don't find the "beeping" that annoying and, if I want a duller sound, I just put a cushion or pillow over it (or put it in a drawer).

I actually found a "zen alarm clock" that is very attractive. It isn't marketed as a meditation aid - it's basically a regular clock (with a choice of a variety of backgrounds behind the clock's hands). It's set in a large, heavy wood triangular frame of dark cherry wood. Very nice looking. It runs on batteries and is silent (except when it chimes if the alarm is turned on). It rings once. Then, as you described, about 15 seconds later it chimes again, then, the chimes increase in frequency (but not volume) to gently lull you out of lala land.

Regarding the Nirvana Sutra and your comments...You wrote, "They contend that Buddhism went wrong at the start, that the whole "no self" thing is a perversion of the Buddha's real teaching, and that there is indeed an Atman, a permanent self, soul, whatever."

Interesting. I would say the understanding that has evolved for me is that in some sense there is agreement with what they say. But it isn't an either/or; both are true. There is some......essence, not a "thing" or object as we conceive of such stuff......I guess what da buddha called The Unborn, that neither comes nor goes. Some call it Awareness. Or Presence. In zen it is referred to as absolute (or the absolute). It is something that can't be disputed: this unerring sense that some...thing....IS. We are all subject to it (except in deep sleep). But it is not a "thing" as we notionally conceive things (as in subject-object dualism). The poem (that is the capping verse for MMK Case 23 which I quoted a few weeks ago) points to it most articulately:

You can describe it, but in vain.
Picture it, but to no avail.
You can never praise it fully.
Stop all your groping and maneuvering.
There is nowhere to hide the true self.
When the universe collapses,
It, remains, indestructible.

Arising out of that "non-thing" (which is Everything), for whatever reason, there *appears* separate things, people, this whole phenomenal universe. What is the relative world in zen terminology. And along with that the sense of individuality, sentience, all the stuff that I've babbled on about before. The two coexist, simultaneously, and focusing on either one is, in zen teaching, the "error," the misunderstanding. That's how I see it.

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger karen said...

rot-13, Thanks for the directions for where to start searching. It should be interesting reading. I have never heard of Dark Zen before. It could be that the whole no-self thing is a perversion, but who will ever know? Still, it makes for enjoyable detective work.

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

Hi Karen ~

You wrote "...looks like for some readers there may be a contradiction in the usual teachings of no-self and this sutra which is saying that there is an unchangeable sort of ground of being that runs through us all."

*****See my comments to rot-13 on this. I see no contradiction. But a complete understanding of this unchanging ground, this impermanence, is that it is so thorough and ongoing, that there is nothing present, ever, to BE impermanent. It's not like there is some 'thing' or 'things' which possess impermanence. Nothing persists, endures or exists long enough to even attain the quality or title of being 'impermanent.' All there is is ongoing flow and that flow is not an object that can for even a moment be pinned down. Like a stream. The moment it is conceptualized, as we do in writing or talking, we objectify it and miss the non-objective nature that it truly is.


You wrote, "It's not really contraversial to me because I have always felt that something or some state of intelligence must be our ground even though we are not aware of this at all times."

*****I would say that what we genuinely are is that intelligence. It is just not possible to be aware of it, like the eye which can't see itself, or the knife which can't cut itself. And yet, they both "are."


But, I am a long time student of Krishnamurti who speaks of an intelligence and I have come to experience this type of thing occasionally.

*****Me too. I am always touched when reading K's stuff. What a gift to have had his teachings!

When I take my "self" out of the drivers seat, it just seems to happen of it's own accord. I have also felt that a lot of what is written and spoken is empty of meaning after a certain point.

*****Absolutely. The word is not the thing. I invite you to watch your daily life and see how often "you" are absent from events. The sense of self, the "me-network," although a very powerful and pervasive sense, is only operative intermittently and arises only after the events, born in retrospect (or in projection into a future time).

One author that is not buddhist, but has had profound, what she calls no-self states, is Bernadette Roberts. I had studied her about 20 or so years ago and I am reading her again because her descriptions, while in a christian language, seem to parallel some of mine.


*****You might find some of the teachings of Byron Katie interesting. She is a contemporary nondual teacher whose insights push the envelope. But she has marketed it to be available and palatable for the common, everyday person. Behind her process, The Work, lies nondual truths of the highest order. Not for everyone. Her most insightful work, "Losing The Moon," is no longer available. Here's a brief excerpt:

"The world doesn't exist and we just come to see that clearly. It's all an illusion. It never did
exist. There is no way it can exist-it's all the reflection of a concept attached to inside.
There is No One and Nothing. It's literal. Are you ready to live without a world? Is that what
you really want? Are you willing to lose the moon?"


You wrote, "Although I consider myself buddhist in philosophy, I stay pretty close to Krishnamurti, but where I'm at right now, which is a very dry, no- interest kind of state is talked about by Roberts. When I go through these things, I take help wherever I can get it."

*****Kinda sounds like St. John of the Cross' "Dark Night of the Soul," with perhaps less hoopla. I too undergo these transient states. I've learned not to push them away. Like everything else, they come and go of their own accord and REacting to them doesn't expedite their departure. The ole psychological aphorism in play: whatever you resist, persists. :-)


So, as far as I've read, that "unchanging" think mentioned seems out of character with most of the teachings on impermanence. But, this is the first I've ever heard that there is anything hidden in this and I wasn't ever aware of any controversy. But now I have something to look into while I am on vacation this week. I guess I'm really a nerd.


*****There is clearly a need for nerds. If it is here (i.e., arising in manifest form), there is a need for it, regardless of whether we like it or not.

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger karen said...

endofthedream, It is exactly St. John's Dark Night of the Soul. As if none of the things that have happened really matter, a sense of being left alone in a desert with no sense of this "other". It's a little unsettling at times because it feels as if I've lost something, even though I know intellectually this isn't true, it's like a long time visitor has left. It's very hard to explain. So, I just wait it out. It has happened before, but not to the extent that it is now. Or for the length of time.

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

Isolation is illusion,
Separation, delusion.
Look deeply, nothing to fear.
Your loved ones will always be near.

In the darkest dark of the night,
your heart crying out for the light,
feels alone because it can't see,
the light of those who love thee.

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger Justin said...

There are some variant Mahayana teachings of a 'true self' known as the 'Womb of the Tathagata' or Tathagatagarbha. However this is generally understood to refer to inherent egolessness/emptiness and not some sort of transcendental self or atman.

The following passage from the Lankavatara Sutra is helpful to clarify this I think:

Then Mahamati said to the Blessed One: In the Scriptures mention is made of the Womb of Tathágata-hood and it is taught that that which is born of it is by nature bright and pure, originally unspotted and endowed with the thirty-two marks of excellence. As it is described it is a precious gem but wrapped in a dirty garment soiled by greed, anger, folly and false-imagination. We are taught that this Buddha-nature immanent in everyone is eternal, unchanging, and auspicious. It is not this, which is born of the Womb of Tathágata-hood the same as the soul-substance that is taught by the philosophers? The Divine Atman as taught by them is also claimed to be eternal, inscrutable, unchanging, and imperishable. Is there, or is there not a difference?

The Blessed One replied: No, Mahamati, my Womb of Tathágata-hood is not the same as the Divine Atman as taught by the philosophers. What I teach is Tathágata-hood in the sense of Dharmakaya, Ultimate Oneness, Nirvana, emptiness, unborn-ness, unqualified ness, devoid of will-effort. The reason why I teach the doctrine of Tathágata-hood is to cause the ignorant and simple-minded to lay aside their fears as they listen to the teaching of ego-less-ness and come to understand the state of non-discrimination and imageless-ness. The religious teaching of the Tathágatas are just like a potter making various vessels by his own skill of hand with the aid of rod, water and thread, out of the one mass of clay, so the Tathágatas by their command of skillful means issuing from Noble Wisdom, by various terms, expressions, and symbols, preach the twofold ego-less-ness in order to remove the last trace of discrimination that is preventing disciples from attaining a self-realization of Noble Wisdom. The doctrine of the Tathágata-womb is disclosed in order to awaken philosophers from their clinging to the notion of a Divine Atman as transcendental personality, so that their minds that have become attached to the imaginary notion of "soul" as being something self-existent may be quickly awakened to a state of perfect enlightenment. All such notions as causation, succession, atoms, primary elements, that make up personality, personal soul, Supreme Spirit, Sovereign God, Creator, are all figments of the imagination and manifestations of mind. No, Mahamati, the Tathágata’s doctrine of the Womb of Tathágata-hood is not the same as the philosopher’s Atman.

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger K'vitsh said...

Thanks, everybody. I'd love a zen alarm clock, but, yeah, too much moolah.

I just ding my bell once at beginning and end of meditation. I think I may stay w/ that. Or maybe I'll try the thrice thing tonight.

Regarding the "dangerous" sutra, thanks, again. I don't think it rings my bell (or dings my dong). I will google "dark zen", though.

That'd be a good band name, don't you thinK?

"And now on Top of the Pops, Dark Zen w/ their smash hit, Ding my Dong.

 
At February 27, 2006, Blogger rot-13 said...

I dunno. A song title like that might upset parents, don'tcha think?

Owait, that's what pop songs are for. Never mind.

 
At February 28, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

Jules ~

Your (?) poem...

Isolation is illusion,
Separation, delusion.
Look deeply, nothing to fear.
Your loved ones will always be near.

In the darkest dark of the night,
your heart crying out for the light,
feels alone because it can't see,
the light of those who love thee.

*****Really, really nice. Touched me and felt resonant with the primary, fundamental understanding.
Thanks. Quite a blessing.

 

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