Wednesday, August 09, 2006

cake

Can one realize there is no self while still pursuing a life that keeps the (non-existing) self happy? Can one have their cake and eat it too?

As long as one prefered pleasure to pain and happiness to sadness wouldn't this perpetuate a belief in the self? Wouldn't this feed the ego?

I don't see it as black and white - but more of a range with total selfish narcissism at one end and total altruism at the other. Is this why zen monks give up so many pleasures? Because they have realized there is no self, or because they hope that by doing so they will have a better chance of realizing there is no self? (What a selfish thing to do! - as Alan Watts said "getting rid of your ego is the biggest ego trip going")

These are the problems that loom large for me.

48 Comments:

At August 09, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

Can one realize there is no self while still pursuing a life that keeps the (non-existing) self happy?

It depends on how you define "happy." Happy like a grinning idiot? Happy like someone on Zoloft(R)? Or happy as in free from suffering?

Buddhism and meditation have changed my perspective on happiness. When someone asks me if I am happy, I am sometimes confounded. This is because the questioner usually thinks of happiness as an emotional state involving pleasure and contentment or manic exuberance. Thing is, I don't see that as happiness. I see it as suffering, biding its time. You know, "This too shall pass."

As long as one prefered pleasure to pain and happiness to sadness wouldn't this perpetuate a belief in the self? Wouldn't this feed the ego?

As biological organisms with nervous systems, we naturally recoil from pain and, by definition, enjoy pleasure. The key is not the biological response, but rather the emotional and mental response. Grasping and clinging is the problem. Grasping at and clinging to pleasure could turn you into a miserable sex addict, while "active" avoidance of pain can turn you into a couch potato that never exercises.

Grasping and clinging to a naive notion of "happiness" and aversion to the notion of "sadness" could result in deep depression, because "happiness" is fleeting, and sadness is a part of life as clearly as death is a part of life.

Living with this perspective, it is hard for me to rejoice with colleagues and loved ones when they tell me how happy they are. In ecstatic exuberance, I always see a pendulum that just happens to be swinging to one extreme. Again, this "happiness" looks to me like suffering, biding its time.

Some may call this attitude pessimistic, but I do not feel pessimistic. I feel balanced (except when I don't ;)

When dealing with a "happy" person, it sometimes feels like I'm dealing with a drunk person.

 
At August 09, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

Wow. What a load of crap.

I think I'm done with Buddhism. Well, maybe not Buddhism... the practice has been valuable. Maybe I'm just done with Buddhists.

Kinda reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw recently: "I've got nothing against God. It's his fan club I can't stand."

Or maybe I'm just fed up with people who wouldn't know passion if it slapped them in the face.

I got my nose pierced through the middle a couple weeks ago... the piercer said, "now, you are... a WARRIOR!" Thought that was funny.

Looking forward to all your cold analyses. Fondly,

-Jules

 
At August 10, 2006, Blogger Drunken Monkey said...

"This is because the questioner usually thinks of happiness as an emotional state involving pleasure and contentment or manic exuberance. Thing is, I don't see that as happiness. I see it as suffering, biding its time. You know, "This too shall pass.""

Other buddhists have this view too, but these people have no understanding of the concept of time. As long as you are aware of the present moment, then you will be relatively happy all of the time.

Suffering is caused by thoughts bound by the past or the future.

 
At August 10, 2006, Blogger gniz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At August 10, 2006, Blogger gniz said...

I happen to think the basic premise faulty. "Can one realize there is no self when..."
How do you KNOW there is such a thing as no self?
Because Alan Watts wrote it?
Because when you think about how the mind and body works it appears that there is no constant self?
And yet...and yet, you still live your life as if you have a self. You still FEEL as if you have a self. That is why you even ask such a question, "Is it possible to realize there is no self..."

You have not realized it yet.

Maybe IT does not exist (no-self).
Maybe you DO have a self.
Instead of drawing conclusions based on something Alan Watts wrote 40 years ago, maybe you should just practice without ideas about what you will find.

Then this question becomes totally unnecessary.

G

 
At August 10, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

"Can one realize there is no self while still pursuing a life that keeps the (non-existing) self happy?"

At the momement that you write this you believe/know that you have a self and strive to keep this self happy. That is all you can do. [OK, you could strive to make yourself unhappy, but most people choose the former not the latter].

When you have realized no-self (and I do not mean an intellectual understanding of such a thing) then maybe the question is no longer relevant.

 
At August 10, 2006, Blogger Friend said...

Can one realize there is no self while still pursuing a life that keeps the (non-existing) self happy?

The Buddha attributes three fundamental characteristics to this thing called Existence, namely: Impermanence, No (Permanent) Self, and Suffering.

Impermanence means that all known phenomena are arising and passing away (changing) constantly. Since "The Self" is a term given to a collection of phenomena, it too is arising and passing away constantly.

With everything always changing, the attempt to "keep" anything, including happiness, is going to fail, hence Suffering. You can't always get what you want.

So my answer to your question would be no. If one's intent is to sustain a phemonema (such as the pleasant feeling of happiness) despite failing again and again to do so, that person would be operating out of delusion or ignorance of how this thing called Existence actually behaves.

But there is another way...

 
At August 10, 2006, Blogger Friend said...

(Still looking at your question)

One cannot realize there is no self while engaged in the pursuit of happiness.

To pursue happiness one must not understand that if it is attained it will pass and one will suffer.

Better to stay with the moment and watch happiness/unhappiness come and go.

After some time the coming and going of the very quick and subtle things that make up the self may be seen more closely.

Then, the futility of holding on to anything-at-all is simply apparent, and suffering lessens.

 
At August 10, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

"suffering lessens"

I like that. Sounds like a pun: Suffering Lessons.

 
At August 10, 2006, Blogger me said...

anatman - thanks. Your words stuck with me. Suffering, biding its time and dealing with a happy person is like dealing with a drunk person. Manic depressives are like that. Again, depends on one's definition of happiness.

jules - no idea where you are coming from and your comment seems totally unlike what I've seen you write before. Are you really done with Buddhism? And what makes you think that people who engage in cold analyses don't know passion?

gniz - you ask How do you KNOW there is such a thing as no self? well... it's only one of the most basic but difficult realizations that the Buddha had. It forms, I think, the fundamental basis of Buddhism, that which separates it from all other religions which emphasize not only a self but a permanent one at that (soul). When I talk about realizing there is no self, I'm not talking about a temporary intellectual understanding but a 24/7 feeling - if that's even possible. And gniz, stop harping on Watts, he was a wise man. I doubt there's anything he said that contradicts what the Buddha said - or to be more precise, I doubt there's anything fundamental to Watts' perspective that contradicts Dogen's or Brad's for that matter. Your suggestion maybe you should just practice without ideas about what you will find although well intentioned is pretty naive. Who starts sitting everyday without ANY idea as to why this might be a good thing to do? And what's the point of communicating about Buddhism via blogs etc if the best thing to do is avoid ideas and communications about it?

and friend - thanks.

 
At August 10, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

Anatman wrote:
Living with this perspective, it is hard for me to rejoice with colleagues and loved ones when they tell me how happy they are. In ecstatic exuberance, I always see a pendulum that just happens to be swinging to one extreme. Again, this "happiness" looks to me like suffering, biding its time.

Some may call this attitude pessimistic, but I do not feel pessimistic.


anatman:
Rejoicing with happy colleagues and loved ones should be easy and natural. Why add more to it?

Me:
Sorry. Zen's supposed to be a path to free us from suffering. Lately it has seemed to me like 95% of the people who study it, even some of those who have been practicing for decades, simply use it to make new intellectual webs to get tangled in. "Why aren't I enlightened yet? Whoops, I almost got passionate there for a sec, but my new Buddhist identity is supposed to stay cool and balanced. What does happiness really mean, anyway?"

I'm just fed up with all this pointless analysis. If you don't know what happiness is, you're spending way too much time thinking about it and not enough time pursuing it.

Maybe I'm just cranky.

 
At August 10, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

Rejoicing with happy colleagues and loved ones should be easy and natural. Why add more to it?

Jules, do you really want an answer, or are you just venting? My impression is that you are venting frustration, but what the hell, vent away.

Personally, I don't care if something "should be" easy and natural. It is not for me. Bouts of ecstatic exuberance and optimism sometimes just seem like emotional drunkenness to me, and when I'm around it, experience tells me that a hangover will follow. I can't ignore that experience.

If you don't know what happiness is, you're spending way too much time thinking about it and not enough time pursuing it.

Sorry, Jules, but this makes absolutely no sense. If you don't know what happiness is, then what is it that you are pursuing? And I'm pretty sure that pursuit of happiness will always lead to dissatisfaction.

Maybe I'm just cranky.

Jules, I really do wish you the best. And even if it only makes you laugh (or curse), let me offer you a cold, analytical zenbot platitude: Whatever you are going through, it will pass.

 
At August 10, 2006, Blogger Drunken Monkey said...

"Whatever you are going through, it will pass."

You might as well say this for every occurance in your life and not enjoy a moment in the present moment.
Life is to be Lived, totally, openly and nakedly, appreciate every moment because it doesn't last. Don’t hope for the future, or regret the present. Definitely not let your happiness be obscured by thoughts of ignorance.

 
At August 10, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

jules wrote: If you don't know what happiness is, you're spending way too much time thinking about it and not enough time pursuing it.

anatman wrote: Sorry, Jules, but this makes absolutely no sense. If you don't know what happiness is, then what is it that you are pursuing?

Stop thinking. Spend a half hour sincerely looking for all the beauty and wonder that surrounds you this very minute. Take some time to appreciate all the kind and loving people in your life. Congratulations, you're pursuing happiness.

And I'm pretty sure that pursuit of happiness will always lead to dissatisfaction.

Only if you expect what you're pursuing to match up with that you actually get, and become upset when it doesn't meet your expectations. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't pursue happiness, joy and passion with all our hearts and minds.

Now, I'm off to go pursue my own happiness. Thanks to everyone for all the conversations.

 
At August 11, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

Drunken Monkey,

Your message completely contradicts itself:

"You might as well say this ['it will pass'] for every occurance in your life and not enjoy a moment in the present moment."

"Life is to be Lived, totally, openly and nakedly, appreciate every moment because it doesn't last."

 
At August 11, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

Which is it? Does realization of "it will pass" lead you to "not enjoy a moment in the present moment," or will you "appreciate every moment because it doesn't last."

 
At August 11, 2006, Blogger DB said...

gniz wrote "maybe you should just practice without ideas about what you will find."

Now THAT is good advice. It took me a long time to sort of stumble on that for myself and I still have to remind myself about it daily. I spent (and probably still spend) too much time concerned with what ought instead of what is. I've noticed that attitude infesting everything from my sitting to my sleeping.

Well said gniz.

 
At August 11, 2006, Blogger Dan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At August 11, 2006, Blogger Dan said...

"I don't see it as black and white - but more of a range with total selfish narcissism at one end and total altruism at the other."

i think that total altruism is in the middle. the two extremes would seem to be total selfish narcissism on one end and total masochistic disregard for one's own well being at the other.

 
At August 11, 2006, Blogger Drunken Monkey said...

"You might as well say this ['it will pass'] for every occurance in your life and not enjoy a moment in the present moment."

"Life is to be Lived, totally, openly and nakedly, appreciate every moment because it doesn't last."

There is no contradiction. When your mind is clouded by thoughts of "this will pass", then you are not really giving your self up to the moment.

But by appreciating every moment, you do not try and anticipate/hope what will happen next because you can never know what will happen.

Give up your ideas on impermanence, because you are quite mislead on that concept. Any ideas to do with the future; rebirth, impermanence, karma, these are all ideas that you have to let go of if you want to be alive in the moment.

 
At August 11, 2006, Blogger Friend said...

In my experience, it's not so much that I appreciate the moment, it's more like I see that a feeling of appreciation is present in my mind. Actually, I've been taught one form of mindfullness practice, which is just to note pleasant, unpleasant and neutral sensations when they arise. So appreciation would just be noted as a pleasant state of mind. Someone saying something that rubs me the wrong way is just unpleasant, etc. I think this gets away from getting caught up in a storyline or narrative, which is like a big bundle of mental perspectives, and simplifies the matter by noting the feeling quality of the moment in three ways. Maybe it's easier to see three types of things come and go than billions of types of things (perspectives). Well, there's some thoughts!

 
At August 12, 2006, Blogger gniz said...

ME,

Sorry I keep harping on Watts--only cuz you keep bringing him up!
Maybe he was a wise man.
I prefer Osho.
However, i really know nothing about either of them! And, ME, you dont know them, nobody who didnt spend time with them does.
Just like the Buddha.
I know you look at Buddhism as sort of a scientific process and that Watts and Buddha were like fellow scientists coming up with similar discoveries.
Still, I think (based on what your write) that you take far too much for granted in terms of what you know about these people or their discoveries.
One of the most consistent themes in Buddhism is that the writings and words and discussions do not do justice to what you will find. They are all approximations.
This means, to me, that it doesnt pay to sit around and imagine what I am going to come across through this practice.
I already have spent far too much time imagining and being wrong!

So all I was pointing out to you is that, it seems to me you are imagining what No-Self is and then trying to attain it. As opposed to practicing, then seeing if this concept or occurence of "seeing there is no-self" actually happens for you.

Until it does, you are just talking and talking. Like a person who has read a hundred books about guitar and maybe played a few chords discussing what it would be like to play a Jimi Hendrix solo.

When you can play it, let me know!

-g

 
At August 12, 2006, Blogger Drunken Monkey said...

Master Kosen, successor of Master Deshimaru and 83th patriarch of the zen soto lineage of Buddhism, presents to us; "Le Chant Du Dragon" A documentary movie from Joel Daguerre and Master Kosen

http://www.zen-deshimaru.com/EN/real-effect/le-film/le-film-le-chant-du-dragon.php?langue=en

An extract from the film;

"People think that religion is something one has to adhere,to believe.
And that the fact of having to believe is something objective.
That's bullshit.
We don't see things this way.
We think that religion are a creation of man.
And religion is creative, it should be creative,meaning that we are god.
And it's true because man is the creator of his own reality.

The most beautiful thing we can do with our body is zazen.
lt is the splendour of nature. And it inspires calm, harmony, power.
Everything is contained in the zazen posture."

 
At August 13, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

Me:
I'd tend to agree with Gniz.

Just practice and forget about what it 'should' be like and where you are 'aiming' for or what the outcome 'might' be like. All these extra thoughts just get in the way.

 
At August 14, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

Any ideas to do with the future; rebirth, impermanence, karma, these are all ideas that you have to let go of if you want to be alive in the moment.

I fully agree with this. But for the purpose of discussion of concepts like rebirth and karma, it is good to have a logical framework. Otherwise, communication is difficult.

In discussions, the question sometimes comes up, "So you believe in karma and reincarnation?" To explain my perspective, it is necessary to have some understanding of these ideas, and how they relate to the concept of impermanence. Otherwise, a brief response like "live in the moment" sounds like just another zen platitude, ala "this too shall pass" (irony intended).

 
At August 14, 2006, Blogger me said...

Excellent points gniz & mikedoe. & good analogy with Hendrix.

I wonder how accurate it really is - not everyone, no matter how hard they wanted to, can become 'one' with the guitar the way Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn et al did. Musical genius isn't something that someone 'gets' by wanting it and practicing... Is Zen at all like this? Some people due to forces beyond anyone's control will become masters and others will always, regardless of the effort they put out, always remain non masters?

My initial post was not about what one should have in mind when sitting. I don't sit with some intention to acheive something and try to get there. I know enough about zazen to just sit and see what happens.

The initial post was more about how one lives when one isn't sitting. The other 23.5 hours of the day...

Are there ways of conducting our lives that are contradictory with zen? (not just philosophically or ethically but practically too)

 
At August 14, 2006, Blogger gniz said...

ME,

People are going to quote scripture in response to your last comment. They are going to cite the Pali cannon, talk about the eightfold path, tell you to read the sutras.
But anyone can point you to the ten commandments or tell you to follow Buddha's guidelines.
How is this any different than what 99% of people are doing, simply latching on to a group of rules in order to feel more safe and secure?
If you are looking for rules to follow, you wont have to travel far to find them, or people telling you where to find them.
If, on the other hand, you are looking to find your own understandings, than i think it simply goes back to practicing.
Being in the moment is not a cliche-paying attention is the only thing I've heard of that allows the individual to come to their own conclusions.
Pay attention, maybe you follow a rule for one moment and drop it the next. Work with that works for you.
Fuck the 8fold path. Fuck the Pali cannon.
Those things are dogma, as certainly as the bible is dogma, as certainly as the Talmud is dogma.
The discipline required to pay attention from one moment passing to the next is enough.
How many have that kind of discipline?
How many can be Hendrix?
Probably not many. But i'd rather fail at being my own person than succeed at being a carbon copy of someone else.

Aaron

 
At August 14, 2006, Blogger Drunken Monkey said...

"Fuck the 8fold path. Fuck the Pali cannon.
Those things are dogma, as certainly as the bible is dogma, as certainly as the Talmud is dogma.
The discipline required to pay attention from one moment passing to the next is enough."

Gniz, stop throwing words around uselessly, especially when you don't have a clue what you are talking about. The 8 fold path and the pali canon is a guide to live a good life and to maintain good relations with other humans.

You can maintain awareness of the present moment but if you haven't developed Prajna (intuitive wisdom) then you have no clue what you are or what you are talking about. You can be a killer and still maintain awareness. The samurai used zen for their own purposes and they had no idea on how to live in harmony. Well most didn't.

You want freedom? Doing what your thoughts tell you isn't freedom. Freedom from the ego in all actions is freedom.

Just friggin practice zazen. Simple breathing awareness, won't do it.

 
At August 15, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

"Are there ways of conducting our lives that are contradictory with zen? (not just philosophically or ethically but practically too) "

Yes. When you act against your true nature. First of all you must find out what that is.

The 8-fold path can provide a guide by which you achieve that. Not in a dogmatic '10-Commandments' way but more as a general set of guidelines as to how to find out what this is.

For instance it is difficult to find your true nature if you are using drugs or alcohol or sex to avoid it wheras meditation can help you to reveal it.

Can you be your true self when you are forcing yourself to do a job you hate? You could instead identify what it is that you hate and either change your attitude or your job.

The point I am trying to make is that the 8-fold path is a sensible way to find out who you really are and to come to terms with it whilst not getting hooked on the darker side of your personality.

I am not advocating a rigid adherence to any of this instead just think of it as a pragmatic and moderate way of finding your true nature. Think of it more as a recipe. Follow it broadly but add your own flavours to fit in with who you are.

With cooking, once you understand the recipe their is no longer a need to 'follow' it.

The Taoist approach is a lot more intuitive and mechanical than the 8-fold patht but it is fundamentally the same - starting with meditation and an honest self-exploration.

 
At August 15, 2006, Blogger Justin said...

anatman,

I don't think that the aim of Buddhism is to flatten out all our emotions. If this was the case you'd have to try to explain why emotional flatness was a goal worth practicing to get to. There is a value which you are clearly attaching to the 'superiority' of passionlessness over passion. Yet you'd be hard pressed to justify it. If happiness is 'suffering, biding its time' then suffering is 'happiness biding its time' too. Suffering cannot exist without happiness and vice versa.

My understanding is that of course there is happiness and unhappiness and the two have an interdependent relationship. However, this is not to say that those who are happy will suffer for it later.

Buddhism involves dropping attachment to happiness and unhappiness, so that we are free - free to be truly happy, to have an inner happiness which is not dependent on circumstances. If it does not bring happiness, then what is it worth? Why would anyone begin to practice? To become an emotionless android?

This is not my experience at all.

Zen involves dropping desire for a future state of happiness, but that is not the same as to say that there never will be a future state of happiness.

Jules,
To me, your practice sounds as if its on target. Everything else is just hot air. I can understand why it pisses you off, but then, why does it matter?

 
At August 15, 2006, Blogger oxeye said...

happiness is not thinking about happiness.

 
At August 15, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

Justin, I think this may just be an issue of definitions. Term's like "happiness" and "love" are difficult to discuss because they can result in semantic disagreements.

In my post I refered to a popular understanding of "happineness" as that emotion defined by "ecstatic exuberance" and "an emotional state involving pleasure and contentment or manic exuberance."

I also pointed out that the problem is "the emotional and mental response. Grasping and clinging is the problem."

I don't think that the aim of Buddhism is to flatten out all our emotions.

Neither do I. However, as a result of practicing Buddhism, I have noticed in myself not a flattening of emotions, but an evening out of extreme peaks and valleys, or extreme swings of emotion. I don't suffer from anxiety, anger and depression like I once did, and I also don't experience wild peaks of extatic exuberance.

 
At August 15, 2006, Blogger Justin said...

Well happiness is not the same as pleasure.

Neither do I. However, as a result of practicing Buddhism, I have noticed in myself not a flattening of emotions, but an evening out of extreme peaks and valleys, or extreme swings of emotion. I don't suffer from anxiety, anger and depression like I once did, and I also don't experience wild peaks of extatic exuberance.

This sounds like a flattening out of emotions to me.

 
At August 15, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

This sounds like a flattening out of emotions to me.

Inasmuch as rolling hills are really a flat plane.

Okay, this has gotten ludicrous.

 
At August 16, 2006, Blogger Justin said...

By 'flattening out', I don't mean that emotions are completely flat like a plane, I just mean that there is a move in that direction ie. the highs are less high and the lows are less low.

 
At August 16, 2006, Blogger Justin said...

I don't think this is of value in itself, except where somebody is dangerously unstable.

 
At August 16, 2006, Blogger gniz said...

Just to be clear, I only say "fuck the eight fold path", etc, when I am talking to this kind of crowd-that is, folks who tend to constantly point to the eightfold path or sutras, as a rule.
What I am trying to say is, for instance, you have a rule which says not to use intoxicants.
Okay, thats all well and good, but why not? Sometimes we need to experience the bad effect from intoxicants before we renounce them with a full understanding.
Plus, I am not at all sure that renunciation in and of itself teaches anything.
Sometimes experiencing a hangover is a great lesson-or experiencing the misery of meaningless sex and all the shit that comes with it.
If we dont experience negative effects and learn from it for ourselves, we are nothing more than parrots of the dharma.
Going through the motions, feeling superior, going by a rule book.
Those "rules" or guidelines were arrived at by people who went through the suffering and found out it was better to live a life without those things.
However, I need to learn these truths for myself. I can drink alchohol and experience the negative crash without ever reading one Buddhist book.
I can experience the negative effects of arguing or gossiping without ever reading one book.
So when i say, fuck the eightfold path, I dont mean that those guidelines are silly.
I simply mean that we need to discover things for ourselves sometimes. Make our own mistakes.
Rediscover the wheel if need be.

Aaron

 
At August 16, 2006, Blogger Drunken Monkey said...

No offence Gniz, but your points are lacking.

Some of these so called "rules" can't be tried and tested.
For example, you can't kill somebody just to find out its negative impact.

Likewise I don't need to contract aids to know that adultery has a negative impact.

Besides, if you use your intelligence and know the consequences of your actions, there is no need to go through the process of learning from your mistakes.

No need to take intoxication, no need to fuck around, no need to slander.... because I know that these take me away from always being mindful and aware.
And I know all that without drinking alcohol.

Besides, do we always learn from our mistakes? If you were oblivious to the fact that drinking or meaningless sex wasn't going to cause harm in the first place, then what makes you think you are going to stop doing it after you have experienced them?

The 8 fold path and 10 fundamental precepts are important, be grateful little whining bitch*.


*j/k :D

 
At August 16, 2006, Blogger gniz said...

Haha,I am a whining little bitch, so no offense taken.
You are right-I dont need to murder someone to figure out that its not something i want to do.
But at the same time, I kill all of the time, from microbes to insects, to blades of grass, and i am a meat eater these days as well.
And if my life was threatened, I might be capable of murder in self-defense.
So maybe my points are not totally lacking.
Have you ever heard of a white knuckle recovering alchoholic? Yeah, those guys dont drink but all they think about is booze. They may as well be drinking constantly as that is all they think about.
Or people who abstain from sex, my guess is many of them (not all) are more consumed by sexual thoughts than someone who engages in sex regularly.
I dont want to be a white knuckle Buddhist, or a white knuckle anything for that matter. And i dont need to call myself a Buddhist so that I can belong to something special.
I dont need to follow rules set out by another person just so i can feel i am on the right path.
I would rather follow common sense and pay attention.
I sense that many Buddhists are not so different from Catholics or any other religious practitioners, in that they cling to the Buddhist principles and dogma as "fact".
Those guidelines are not facts.
They are just rules written out by some guys I never met.
BTW, I dont know if the Buddha ever even existed, and I dont particularly care.
And all of you who write, "The Buddha said...blah blah blah" are full of shit.
None of you has ever met the Buddha.
Now THAT is an undisputed fact.

Aaron

 
At August 16, 2006, Blogger Drunken Monkey said...

Gniz nobody is telling you to follow the 8 fold path or the ten fundamental precepts.

In fact I can't recall the 8 fold path or the 10 thingies off the top of my head. But I know that
if you do happen to take zazen seriously, you will automatically attune to the precepts. I have no doubt about it.

So in a way, the 8 thingies and 10 jimbobs are a guide for lay peoples who do not practice zazen.

 
At August 16, 2006, Blogger me said...

But I know that if you do happen to take zazen seriously, you will automatically attune to the precepts. I have no doubt about it.

But I love beer. I don't think I abuse it - I just consider it, like sex, to be one of the joys of living. I brew my own beer too - which gives the same home made satisfaction as making your own bread. I also practice zazen, but I wonder about your statement - if indeed zazen will lead to a loss of such joys as beer and sex then I'm not so sure zazen is a good idea.

I'd go so far as to suggest that someone who does so much zazen that they forgo (relatively healthy) things that used to make them happy is doing TOO much zazen. Abusing zazen, if you will. Letting zazen dominate and control one's life.

 
At August 16, 2006, Blogger Drunken Monkey said...

Me; I meant the precepts involving interactions with other humans.
You become more centred and balanced, so you feel no need to get angry or abuse anybody.

Of course zazen doesn't take away your freewill, but as you develope intuition, I think the truth of your actions stares you in the face. You can still decide to ignore them.

The key is not to abuse. I think this is what the precepts refer to when they say "misuse of sexuality, or using intoxication"
When it means misuse of sexuality, its the really common sense idea that you should have sex moderately and not get addicted. Also, not to hurt other peoples feelings.

I have drunk alcohol before and I think it tastes like crap (hense my bias haha), but if your happiness depends on alcohol, then why should you stop? For me zen is about being happy and opening up to life.
In place of alcohol, I derive my pleasure from expensive chocolate. Of course like alcohol, I could abuse it and become a fat pig, but I appreciate it more when I take it on special occasions.

Zen can be abused, the trick is not to think too much off the cushion and let everything flow.
Naked awareness of the present moment is the aim of zen. Everything else is religion.

 
At August 17, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

...the highs are less high and the lows are less low. I don't think this is of value in itself, except where somebody is dangerously unstable.

Justin, this smoothing out of mood swings is of value, unless you enjoy being angry, depressed, and anxious. You may say that prefer to keep the high-highs, and the low-lows are the price you pay, but a stable and sustainable appreciation for living is better. Subtlety and refinement are the result of practice at anything, be it musical artistry, athletic endeavors, meditation, thinking, or emotion.

Meditation trains the mind and body, which are the source of emotion. It makes sense that as the body and mind become more trained, emotional subtlety and refinement result.

Jules' earlier statement about passion made me think of the root of the word "nirvana" or "nibbana."

I think I remember that the root of "nibbana" is Pali, and it literally means "cooling." As in the quenching of fire or heat... or passion.

 
At August 17, 2006, Blogger gniz said...

Anatman,

Well said.
I think that there is a flattening out of emotions to some extent when practicing this sort of stuff, but it isnt in the "deadened" or detached way that perhaps some people think of.
Like a little kid who cries when their toy breaks, a more wise person might feel a fleeting sensation of disappointment, but understands from experience that there will be more toys in the future.
I think part of moment to moment awareness is an understanding that most of our "big" emotions stem from shortsightedness.
Many people equate passion with living fully, which it can be. But passion can also be simply going for the highest high, the instant gratification of pleasure for pleasures sake alone.
My personal goal is to be passionate about moment to moment awareness, about knowledge of my body and my senses. This is a different kind of passion.

Aaron

 
At August 17, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

Yes. I think the analogy of the child crying when a toy breaks is spot on. It also makes me think of how children will laugh one moment, cry the next, and scream in rage a moment after that. These are mood swings and exagerated passions that we grow out of (hopefully) as we become more experienced with our sensations, thoughts and emotions.

As we mature, we realize, even without meditating, that the pain/anger/pleasure/exuberance will pass, and this tempers our reactions.

Drunken Monkey had said, "You might as well say this ['it will pass'] for every occurance in your life and not enjoy a moment in the present moment."

And, "Give up your ideas on impermanence, because you are quite mislead on that concept. Any ideas to do with the future; rebirth, impermanence, karma, these are all ideas that you have to let go of if you want to be alive in the moment."

This is true if you are constantly rolling around thoughts of impermanence, etc. The thing is, direct experience and the resulting awareness of impermanence is not the same as thoughts of impermanence. And just because we discuss ideas, it does not prevent us from being alive in the moment.

Meditation can provide us with insight, awareness, and appreciation of very fundamental aspects of our existence. This awareness then carries over into our daily lives.

I'm grateful that I have this forum to discuss these experiences with other people understand what the heck I'm talking about, and who can challenge my assumptions with their own related experiences.

 
At August 17, 2006, Blogger Drunken Monkey said...

Good comments from everyone.

Here is your honorary award;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6lySQ5M1EA&eurl=

One Point English Lessons!

 
At August 18, 2006, Blogger Genryu said...

I think you should meet more Zen monks. We don't give up pleasures, we simply enjoy them for what they are, no more and no less.

 
At August 29, 2006, Blogger Milan Davidovic said...

Can one have their cake and eat it too?

Of course!

 

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