Saturday, November 04, 2006

you can't force your mind to awaken

 In reply to "Oh Ye of Little Faith" posted by Anatman, Karen said...

If you know something to be true, you don't have to believe in it. I think if you believe in something you are hoping that it is true. I don't have to say I believe the sun comes up everyday because I know it does. As far as faith goes, I see faith a little differently. I was raised catholic also and went to catholic school most of my life. Faith for me is implicit trust in the universe that all is well and all will be well. I forget which mystic said that but one of them did. And I really feel that way. When I get to worrying, wondering, driving myself crazy with why people are the way they are etc, I just know that it is the way it is and everything will be ok. That doesn't mean that I sit back and do nothing. I do what I can, when I can, but I'm not married to the outcome. For me this is the meaning of form is emptiness and emptiness is form. I sit, but I don't have to sit to come upon reality and people who sit to gain a glimpse of something are going to be in for a big disappointment. You can do a lot of things with your mind. One of the things you can't do is force your mind to awaken. I have in the past tried to do this. It doesn't work. Neither does all this talk.
November 03, 2006

And I thought it was such a good comment I'd like to repost it here - I hope Karen doesn't mind! It struck me as having an important similarity with the passage I've included below.

"... Yet the superficiality of this consciousness is seen in the fact that it cannot and does not regulate even the human organism. For if it had to control the heartbeat, the breath, the operation of the nerves, glands, muscles, and sense organs, it would be rushing wildly around the body taking care of one thing after another, with no time to do anything else. Happily, it is not in charge, and the organism is regulated by the timeless "original mind," which deals with life in its totality and so can do ever so many "things" at once.

However, it is not as if the superficial consciousness were one thing, and the "original mind" another, for the former is a specialized activity of the latter. Thus the superficial consciousness can awaken to the eternal present if it stops grasping. But this does not come to pass by trying to concentrate on the present - an effort which succeeds only in making the moment seem ever more elusive and fleeting, ever more impossible to bring into focus. Awareness of the "eternal now" comes about by the same principle as the clarity of hearing and seeing and the proper freedom of breath. Clear sight has nothing to do with trying to see; it is just the realization that the eyes will take in every detail all by themselves, for so long as they are open one can hardly prevent the light from reaching them. In the same way, there is no difficulty in being fully aware of the eternal present as soon as it is seen that one cannot possibly be aware of anything else- that in concrete fact there is no past or future. Making an effort to concentrate on the instantaneous moment implies at once that there are other moments. But they are nowhere to be found, and in truth one rests as easily in the eternal present as the eyes and ears respond to light and sound."

Alan W. Watts 1957 "The Way of Zen"

I really like his explanation. It was something the me of 1987 didn't really understand but the me of 2005 did. And thanks Karen for stating it so well also.


At November 06, 2006, Blogger Kalsang Dorje said...

I agree with the title, and the post in general.

I think this post is very related to the previous post in the way that even our beliefs are emptiness. We need to have the "AHA" and the feeling of proof for our worldview to change. A bunch of these form awakening. It's different for everyone because everyones AHA's are attained differently. Its true that you can't just declare yourself enlightened and exist that way. Wouldn't it be nice if we could? We just have to cultivate the neccessary conditions and allow them to percolate for a while. Thank you for the great post!! :D

At November 06, 2006, Blogger earDRUM said...

Thanks for that. I enjoyed this post too.

I had not thought about the point that Watts made in your quote. I think it is an important idea.

Watts' "The Way of Zen" was the first book about zen or Buddhism that I ever read (22 ywars ago!). Maybe I should read it again. I imagine that I would get a lot more out of it now.
I find it interesting to see how my understanding of zen gets more and more subtle and deep, as time moves on. Luckily, I also find that I find it easier to let go of my thinking mind and just be here, now. I guess that this is one of the benefits of getting older.

At November 06, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

I've never read any Watts. I guess I avoided him because he seems to get slammed so much by practicing Buddhists as someone who talked the talk, but didn't walk the walk.

I seem to keep bumping into quotes by him that seem very insightful, though.

I think I'll track down some of his work at the local recycled book store.

Any suggestion on a good Watts 'primer'?

At November 06, 2006, Blogger Karen said...

I dont' mind the post being used at all. Thank you.

At November 07, 2006, Blogger earDRUM said...

Anatman, I would suggest the following Watts books:

Tao: The Watercourse Way.
The Way of Zen.
The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.

But keep in mind that his books were written in the 1950's and 1960's, when zen was still brand new in America. (It is so different now.) The books have a definite 60's hippie feel to them. Watts was exploring all sorts of Eastern philosophies at once. He seemed to take whatever he liked from each one that he explored. So he jumped around alot in his lectures, quoting from the Vedanta one minute and Taoism the next. If you are looking for a good Soto zen book, you might as well look elsewhere.
Having said that, Watts really helped shape my thinking when I was in my early twenties. He had an enthusiasm about most things in life... cooking, the arts, music, people, etc. And that enthusiasm was the important thing that I took from his writing.
That's my 2 cents worth.

At November 07, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

Thanks, Eardrum. Personally, I don't care if it's called Soto Zen, Zazen, Theravada, Mahayana, Tao, or Dharma. As long as I can learn from it and use it.

At November 10, 2006, Blogger Ed said...

Do we know the sun comes up every day? I'm taking it on faith, myself.


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