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[P]
Zazen: The Fundamental Meditation of Zen

By jjayson in Culture
Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:32:33 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)
/etc

Zazen is the fundamental practice of Zen Buddhism. It is an form of meditation that focusing on living in the moment and being undisturbed by unnecessary thought and attachment. In various forms, it has spread from India through China, to Japan and now to the West. This is my attempt to provide you with what I have learned through experience and others, hopefully giving you enough to try it yourself.

Zazen has helped me relax, remove stress, and deal with stressful situations as they occur. I have noticed a large change in attentiveness to others, and I now notice the small things that I never used to, such as: when somebody changes their hair or when they wear something new. I speak slower, listen better, and generally communicate better with others. A true selflessness does come from zazen practice that is hard to qualify.


"To study the Buddha Way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to be enlightened by the thousand things." — Master Dogen

"When the mind rests on nothing, true mind appears." — Diamond Sutra

The Zen school of Buddhism developed in China about one thousand years after Shakyamuni Buddha lived. It is practice of awareness, not a philosophy or theology. It is about being present in the now, just as the now is.

The fundamental practice of Zen Buddhism is zazen meditation. Zazen literally means "sitting zen" or "sitting concentration." It is a form of meditation where you try to concentrate on the now while sitting motionless, speechless, and thoughtless. In it you become completely focused on the moment. The mind is pacified, without complications and fear. Selfishness diminishes; compassion and wisdom come. Zen is about having time for the self. By reaching the deepest part of you, you can notice what brings you happiness and unhappiness and change your way of looking at things. It will reveal what you are letting crowd your thoughts, how hungry you are, if you are sleepy, and other changes in your body, making you mindful of the self. Yet, sitting in zazen is to be beyond thinking. Biologically through zazen, your cardiac and respiratory functions are regularized. Your brain reacts to stimuli, but quickly returns to the rhythm of zazen, collapsing your brain's waves to slow alpha and rythmic theta waves [alternate reference], and stress does no develop.

Start by giving yourself small islands of time each day, gradually growing, hopefully to 24 hours of zazen. Even five to ten minutes is good to start with. Select a quiet place away from distractions: telephone, television, radio, and others. Zazen can be practiced at any time in the day that is best for you. Some find it best practiced after getting out of the shower and your are loose, refreshed, and not tired.

Use something soft to sit on. In Japan they use a thick round cushion called a zafu, while in Tibet they use square mats. However, any cushion, pillow, or rolled-up blanket will work. Dress in loose clothing or at least loosen the clothes you have on by removing belts and unbuttoning pants.

Posture

Zen grows out of the idea that there is little distinction between the mental and the physical, so that by sitting with a straight aligned spine and being physically still, it will support the mind in settling and focusing. Because of this belief, a large emphasis is placed on posture and what helps to hold correct posture which will then hold correct thought. Indian Yogis first knew of sitting cross-legged for meditation. It is hard to fall asleep that way and less tiring than standing. There are several ways to sit on the floor, as well as ways to sit in a chair or lying down. However, all the classic postures involve a stable three-point base: each knee and your sitting bones.

The simplest position is called the Burmese position. The legs crossed by placing the first foot between the opposite thigh and groin, then the next foot is placed in contact with the shin. Both feet should be on the floor and well as the knees. This is one of the best positions for those just starting. The common full-lotus position is where each foot is on top of the opposing thigh. It is symmetric, solid, and efficient. It originated as a yogic position in India, but it requires some good flexibility. You should not attempt to force the full-lotus as it will be painful and can result in injury. There is also a half-lotus position where one foot is on the opposite thigh and the other foot is tucked under. Its asymmetry makes it difficult to remain relaxed while trying to hold the body symmetric. The full-lotus is preferred to the half-lotus because in it, the legs don't move out of position when they are deeply tucked; while in the half-lotus the legs can move, misaligning the upper body.

Tip the pelvis forward to help the knees touch the floor. If they are not, sitting on the edge of a cushion will lift the bottom higher and allow the knees to naturally drop. Push the knees against the floor, picture pushing your head against the ceiling, then relax into position. If the knees will not touch the floor, then try a higher cushion or try to place cushions under the knees. It is common for the legs to fall asleep, but if they are numb for more than a few seconds after standing up, then too much pressure was placed on the nerves in the legs, and sitting closer to the edge of the cushion will help this too.

"If one's body is straight, one's mind is easily straightened too. If one sits keeping one's body upright, one's mind does not become dull. One must be aware when one's mind runs around in distraction, or when one's body leans or sways, and allow body and mind to return to sitting upright." — Dogen Zenji

It is most important to keep the spine straight. Keep the back straight to allow the diaphragm to move easily. The spine should be in a natural S-curve, centered on a base above the bottom. Rock side-to-side slowly diminishing, from a wide arc to smaller arcs, to center the spine. To assist in getting that nice S-curve, slightly thrust forward the diaphragm while pulling your head back and tucking your chin. This way, the chest is kept open. Don't become tense and rigid. Picture yourself like a puppet hanging from the ceiling. Find a position that is comfortable to you. Never hurt yourself, and don't get caught up in the position. The mind is more important than the body.

If sitting cross-legged doesn't work, try kneeling-style with your knees together and sitting on your feet with cushions piled between your feet or on a small bench that can be purchased. You can also sit on the front of a chair with the feet flat on the floor, using cushions to vary your height, if necessary. Support the back instead of leaning against the chair. Another alternative, if you have disability problems, is to lie down on the back with the knees bent so the feet are flat.

The position of the hands is very important to zazen. Hold them in each other, parallel, so that the knuckles and fingers overlap. The thumb tips should be slightly touching, forming an ellipse. Hold the edge of the hands against the abdomen so that the thumbs are navel high. So not rest the hands on the feet, as sometimes this will pull the shoulders down, while holding the hands up will allow you to be mindful. The shoulders and arms should be relaxed. Pay attention to the hands and thumbs. They will tell you how you are doing. If you are drifting, the thumbs will also drift apart. If you are tense, the thumbs will push against each other too hard and form a peak. If one side of the body is higher than the other or one shoulder is tense, the ellipse will be lopsided.

Keeping the head level, very slightly pull the chin back, bringing the ears over the shoulders. Pulling the chin too far back will produce tension that you will feel in your neck. The mouth should be closed. The tongue should be held gently to the roof of the mouth. This will prevent salivation and the need to swallow as much. The teeth should be touching lightly to prevent the mind from talking. Breath in from the nose, expanding and filling the lower lungs down to the diaphragm. Exhale through the nose, deflating the lungs. Breath at a natural cadence and do not try to control it. Look down at a 95 degree angle, so you look about a meter in front of you. Only the gaze should be down, not the head. Blink a few times and let the eyelids naturally fall slightly open, enough to let in light. This will prevent falling asleep and dreaming. Try to unfocus your eyes.

Now that you are in correct position, work on correct thought. Take a few deep breaths, then let the breathing go at its natural pace. Feel your body for a few seconds: feel the rise and fall near your diaphragm; feel your spine and back; feel the air come in your nose, down into your lungs, and then leave your body. Be as still as possible. Then concentrate on the now: not your posture, not your breathing, not bills you have to pay, not a problem from work, not what is in front of you, nothing. Do not concentrated on any particular object or try to control your thoughts. However, be mindful of everything that is around you and do not drift off. As a thought comes, let it pass, making no judgement. Do not struggle with it; just leave it alone. It will only stay as long as you attach to it. If thoughts recur, let them come and go as they please. This is not failure. Don't try to use zazen to suppress thoughts that need to occur. Essential to zazen is to awaken from distraction and return to right thought in each moment.

After zazen your legs can become tense, stiff, and asleep. Kinhin, a form of walking after zazen, can be used to stretch them after or between long periods of time practicing zazen. It is zazen in motion: walking meditation. In Kinhin, everything above the waist is as in zazen. However, you walk in a slow motion with short steps, breathing synchronously with each step: in on one step and out on the next step. In Kinhin still strive for correct posture and correct thought. It is not a break from zazen, merely a different form.

Concentration

Concentrating and emptying the mind is very difficult, and when beginning, it can be maddeningly difficult. A good beginning for many people is to count the breaths. Focus your attention on each breath counting starting from one and going to ten, then repeating. Some people restart at one whenever they have a stray thought that enters the mind. Don't worry if you cannot get very high — some days you will not get past one. Eventually, this is abandoned when the concentration grows. This is real zazen, don't think of it as practice for the real thing.

When a thought enters your mind, picture it floating away as a cloud or as if on a river. This helps some people to not attach to thoughts and more freely let go.

If you are having trouble clearing the mind of random thoughts, another technique is whenever a though enters the mind, try to think of as many related thoughts as quickly as you can. You will soon run out of related thoughts and the mind will become blank. Over time you wear your mind down and then can truly concentrate on the self in the now.

Since we are social animals, group activity is important to us, as well as individual meditation. Try to find a meditation center near you to speak and learn from others. It will also keep you motivated for the entire time you practice zazen. Zen is practiced in more than zazen; Zen is practiced in daily life by letting moments come and go as they are and living in each of those moments. Learn this through zazen and try to apply it to all moments.

[[ More Pictures of Positions: Full-lotus, Full-lotus from angle, Half-lotus, Burmese, Sitting-bench ]]

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Poll
Have you even practiced Zazen? If not, will you now try?
o Yes, I have practiced before. 43%
o No, but I will try. 39%
o No, and I will not try. 16%

Votes: 114
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o collapsing your brain's waves to slow alpha and rythmic theta waves
o alternate reference
o Burmese position
o full-lotus position
o half-lotus position
o natural S-curve
o cushions piled between your feet
o small bench
o position of the hands
o Full-lotus
o Full-lotus from angle
o Half-lotus
o Burmese
o Sitting-be nch
o Also by jjayson


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Zazen: The Fundamental Meditation of Zen | 208 comments (168 topical, 40 editorial, 0 hidden)
The swinging door (4.28 / 7) (#7)
by phliar on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 04:43:48 PM EST

When I started zazen, I was told that one way to start is to visualise the mind as a swinging door, that swings in and out with each breath. It was easier to do this than to immediately start by trying to clear the mind of any attachment to thoughts.

A couple of passages I find interesting:

Let your mind be as clear as night. Thoughts will flash, like distant lightning. Simply watch and let them pass. Neither cling to them nor attempt to avoid them.

Fundamentally, no Bodhi tree exists;
Nor the frame of a mirror bright.
Since all is voidness from the beginning,
Where can the dust alight?


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...

Selfishness and the empty mind (4.14 / 7) (#19)
by El Volio on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 06:15:49 PM EST

Selfishness diminishes; compassion and wisdom come. Zen is about having time for the self.
This seems to me to be on the verge of contradiction. Does not selfishness diminish by taking an active interest in others? Compassion, or fellow feeling, should likewise come from trying to understand and sympathize with others. Those qualities in a person should be developed by spending less time focused on the self and more time focused on others, especially showing interest in them and genuinely trying to help them. This is not to say that improving the self does not result in more compassion and selflessness, but the focus in that case should be outward, not inward.

Additionally, I fail to understand how freeing one's mind of all thought will improve concentration. This is distinct from simply relaxing and trying not to focus on matters that would cause concern or stress of any sort. Just as a muscle must be exercised strenuously and then allowed time to recover, so our minds as well cannot spend every waking hour intensely focusing on some matter. But I am not convinced that to completely empty one's mind will provide the sort of rest needed; a good analogy might be the heart that must be exercised regularly but still beat at all times. Likewise, the mind must be exercised, but "freeing" it from all conscious thought does not accomplish the goal of simply resting it. There are many ways to be able to withdraw from complex thought (the mind's equivalent of rest while not sleeping) without completely avoiding any thought whatsoever.

Personally, I find meditation (traditional, not "transcendent") to be valuable for this. For me personally, that might mean spending time contemplating some abstract thought separate from day-to-day concerns or perhaps meditating on some spiritual matter. There have been days where my stress level was such that I needed to avoid considering any matters of even minimal complexity or depth for a time of relaxation at the end of the day, but this can be done without attempting to completely empty my mind.

If someone wishes to pursue zazen meditation or some other method of clearing his mind, then that's certainly his decision. It just seems counterproductive to me.

yeah, kinda. (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by jjayson on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:01:09 PM EST

It does sound borderline contradictory, just like the statement that you need to love yourself in order to love others.

By focusing on just on the now, you mellow trmendously and become more observant because your thoughts are not always raging about other things that are not in the now. This has many benefits in communication with people and in other areas of your life.

Quantitatively there are are not many direct benefits of zazen, but that isn't what it aims for. Zazen tries to get to the essence of problems, the mind worrying and wandering, and it does that very well.

Does this make any more sense to you?
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

Understanding (4.00 / 2) (#51)
by genman on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 10:39:09 PM EST

The first step in helping others is understanding the self. The best way to truly help is to act without ego. Compassion comes from being patient, from being able to separate yourself from others, from being able to act without impulse. Very, very few people are truly honest and compassionate. Why do you need to dwell on abstract thought? What is the purpose? How does dwelling on this thought separate yourself from it? Zen Buddism isn't about abstraction, it is about the here and now. It is about reality, focusing on the concrete, the matter at hand, not on theoretical bullshit. The point of Zen isn't to be good at thinking about nothing, the point is to become truly aware.

[ Parent ]
I'll try to make sense of this (3.66 / 3) (#56)
by MMcP on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:30:03 PM EST

Let's say a person wakes up one day and 'decides' they want to help people.  It happens A LOT.  Find a person who is truly opposed to helping people.  Not too many, and those people are probably pricks in the most direct sense.  So what do we have?  A crapload of people who WANT to help others but who for the most part do not.  Why is this?  

Well, I'd say it is because of people's true goals.  We see what happens to those who help others - they get thanks, they get respect, they get loved etc.  Our ego wants that REAL BAD, and if it were easy in any sense to help another person, be selfless, love EVERYONE - the ego would love that and we'd get all these rewards.  

But it ain't so easy when the ego is running the show.  The ego loves the idea of selflessness and altruism but it really doesn't want to give up all that great stuff like possessions and free time.  So we are stuck - if we listen to ego we desire the rewards but are not at all prepared to 'do the time' so to speak.  

Where does that lead us?  The buddhist notion is to 'let go' of the ego.  When we do this we naturally gain compassion, selflessness etc.  Now it is no effort at all to be generous, kind - it becomes natural!

So there you go.

[ Parent ]

heh (2.83 / 6) (#26)
by xriso on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 06:55:47 PM EST

It seems a lot like this: "X is good. Zazen is good. Therefore, Zazen makes X happen. To do zazen, sit like this. Zazen is scientific and mystical."
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
well, no, really it should be like this: (none / 0) (#88)
by amarodeeps on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:45:54 AM EST

zazen is zazen. You do it, or you do something else. But actually all you do is zazen.

[ Parent ]
So the article is pointless then (none / 0) (#98)
by farmgeek on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:55:55 AM EST

If all I do is zazen, then I have always been doing zazen, and therefore the whole meditation schtick is pointless, therefore an article giving instruction on the proper way to perform the meditation schtick is even more pointless.

What were we talking about again?

[ Parent ]

sorry (none / 0) (#106)
by amarodeeps on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 02:48:28 PM EST

I was being a bit obtuse; I apologize.

Really, all I was trying to say was this: when you practice zazen, you are practicing zazen, and the point is to elevate your mindfulness. After a while, hopefully you start to apply that mindfulness to everything you do, and therefore everything you do becomes a form of zazen.

However, to say that you have always been doing zazen is confusing...but it's akin to the idea that we are all buddhas, without doing anything. A more Soto notion, Soto being a form of Zen started by Dogen in Japan in (I believe?) the 15th century (but don't quote me on that). The point there is to realize that _trying_ to do something isn't going to get you anywhere, you are already where you need to be. It's a paradoxical way to alert you to the fact that you aren't paying attention, and you need to pay attention. That is, if you try to do something you will be getting in the way of yourself actually becoming aware.

A lot of Zen language in particular sounds confusing and paradoxical because it is trying to make you think outside of your normal mental chattering and get you to experience things directly. Unfortunately, talking about this is difficult, it just adds confusion rather than elucidating what it is all about. Practice is how you develop an appreciation for what it is all about.



[ Parent ]
Mystical or Scientific? (none / 0) (#115)
by phliar on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:31:41 PM EST

People do zazen for many reasons, and they have many ideas about what it is or why it works. Me, I'm an atheist and skeptic; sometimes I'm even a cynic. I practice zazen.

It may be that zazen has all those benefits mentioned in the article. Maybe it's all new-age bullshit. It doesn't matter; ultimately, I do zazen because I do zazen. I don't have to sit for zazen, although sometimes I do. However, it's not easy. When I started zazen I thought I needed to learn a bunch of stuff, and thought about its importance etc. Perhaps it is the right way, and you need to do it that way. I don't think about it any more, I just do it. It all sounds stupidly solipsistic and shoe-marketing-slogan-like and perhaps it is. I'm no expert or authority on it. But when someone says anything about zazen, keep in mind that someone else might say something completely different, and maybe they're all wrong, or right.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Zazen and me (4.83 / 6) (#29)
by phliar on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 07:01:10 PM EST

You might not be interested in my experiences with zazen, but I am interested in yours; I'm hoping this comment will bring out some personal experiences.

My first introduction to Zen was as a freshman in college; when we got drunk, we'd read koans to each other and laught uproariously, making fun of these stupid people and their stupid pointless stories. However, over the years I guess I started reading more about Zen, and five years later, I was in grad school and a friend recommended a Zen meditation center. Zazen was fun, and released a lot of the dissertation stress. The couplet by Hui-Neng I wrote in an earlier message:

Fundamentally, no Bodhi tree exists
Nor the frame of a mirror bright.
Since all is voidness from the beginning
Where can the dust alight?
I found it appealing. A friend wrote it for me in Kanji calligraphy; I scanned it in and made it the last page of my PhD dissertation. (It was in computer science.)

Skip sixteen years and we get to the present. Alas, time pressures make it impossible for me to go to a meditation center, so I practice zazen on my own. It helped me gain perspective on my fears and insecurities. I have a tendency to obsess on the worst possible outcome of any decision point; zazen gave me the control I needed to move my mind away from the route. Recently I have been diagnosed with depression with slight bipolar tendencies (mania). I don't yet know whether zazen will be helpful. I plan to try it, and of course I plan to keep my psychiatrist fully informed.

(I also have really bad knees from years of running, cycling and skiing; the full lotus position is now excruciatingly painful!)


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...

Zen relieves depression (4.00 / 1) (#164)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 01:53:22 AM EST

Although practicing zazen for the purpose of relieving depression is rather missing the point.

I'm manic depressive.

I find it impossible to meditate and be depressed at the same time.

If you're experiencing what really exists, what is really happening, it is impossible to dwell on the agony of life, which is a product of your mind.

I practiced zazen early in my illness, when my depression was the worst, and it helped tremendously.

Sadly, I havent meditated regularly in years, although from time to time I try to pick it up again.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Meditation. (2.20 / 10) (#33)
by kitten on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 07:30:12 PM EST

A fancy word for "daydreaming".
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
That is actually kinda the opposite. (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by jjayson on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 07:49:53 PM EST

You are not supposed to day dream in zazen. Well of course you are so intelligent that you didn't need to actually read what I wrote to know that, though.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
No. (1.80 / 5) (#45)
by kitten on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:35:05 PM EST

They sound, for all intents and purposes, virtually identical. Turning off concious thought and just mentally drifting, without any particular direction, yet paying attention to where those thoughts are going. You dress it up with the word "meditation" and justify it with hocus-pocus claptrap about spirituality or mental clarity or whatever else.

I call it "daydreaming" and get bitched at by my boss.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
That I agree with :) (1.00 / 1) (#50)
by Strange on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 10:35:12 PM EST



[ Parent ]
meditation and daydreaming (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by hoskoteinos on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 04:05:28 AM EST

The difference between the two might be made more clear with a comparison.

Think of the time just after waking from a deep slumber, before you even realize where you are or bring in any baggage about things you need to do that day. At that time everything is peaceful. Not blank, not nebulous - just quiet. That's the state meditation ideally induces.

Now think of when you wake up after you've slept in for too long, after you've been dreaming crazy dreams and your mind is racing. You might not be thinking about your external baggage, but you've still got all sorts of nutty things going on upstairs. That's more like what daydreaming is.

Note that I don't have much experience with zazen -- for me it tends to be too undirected and leads to random, wishy-washy states of mind. But there are many different types of meditation to accommodate various types of minds. Some people need to stop thinking, some people need to think more. Depends. Many meditation methods aren't necessarily mystical - they're just exercises for bringing the mind under control.

[ Parent ]

Meditation is serious (none / 0) (#47)
by Strange on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 10:00:52 PM EST

Can speak for Zen meditation, but do not be so haste to undervalue meditation.

meditation: ... the act of meditating; close or continued thought; the turning or revolving of a subject in the mind; serious contemplation; reflection; ...

Meditation can help you see clearly the problem and the solution. If you don't give a problem more thought than a few seconds, then don't complain if the answear turns out not quite right.

[ Parent ]

you've obviously never tried it with sincerity. (5.00 / 1) (#87)
by amarodeeps on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:42:50 AM EST

Go to a real zen center with that attitude and you'll see how long you can last. You'll get smacked with the kyosaku so quick it'll make your head spin.

I'm really tired of these people who have never bothered to try any sort of meditation with sincerity and are now somehow experts in it. Why don't you try sitting and following your breath for 10 minutes without losing it by thinking about your girlfriend or money or your job or whatever. That's all: "in out, in out." I'll bet you can't do it, and if you do, you'll realize it's not daydreaming.



[ Parent ]
Uh. (none / 0) (#163)
by kitten on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 07:32:49 PM EST

Go to a real zen center

Why would I want to? What possible benefits would I derive from this?

I'm really tired of these people who have never bothered to try any sort of meditation with sincerity and are now somehow experts in it.

I'm really tired of people who disagree with someone, and immediately assume that the only reason for said disagreement is that the other person is totally ignorant of the topic.

You, sir, know nothing about me or what I've tried in the past. For anything you know to the contrary, I used to practice meditation daily during my freshman and half of my sophomore year in college. But maybe not. You don't know, so please find some other argument than "You must not have tried."

I'll bet you can't do it, and if you do, you'll realize it's not daydreaming.

Again, you don't know what I've tried and you have no idea what I can do. Maybe I have tried it. Maybe I have done it. Maybe I've done it lots and gained absolutely nothing from it.


mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Look, it's simple: (none / 0) (#167)
by amarodeeps on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 11:01:08 AM EST

...either you've never tried meditation with sincerity, or you are being a troll. I'm guessing both, but you are right, I don't know. Maybe you are just bitter about meditation for some reason and want to troll about it now.

But I might just be a sucker for responding to a troll!! Shucks.



[ Parent ]
You know, (2.00 / 1) (#173)
by kitten on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 03:23:28 PM EST

Just because I think meditation is inane, and that people who espouse it's virtues as though they've gone through some Grand Enlightenment, doesn't mean I'm a "troll". It means I disagree with what you're saying on this issue. Period.

Your arguments sound exactly the same as the cliched drugged-out permastoner who talks about "mind expansion" through drugs. If you tell him drugs are stupid, he assumes you're lying, full of shit, or haven't tried drugs. (Meanwhile, he'll also be the first to tout the glory and effectiveness of using acid to bring about some grand wisdom, or pot that gives you deep and profound insight into your inner mental whatever. Sounds a lot like 'meditation' advocates to me.)

So, please, continue with your daydreaming - oops, I mean "meditating" - and keep babbling about spiritual this, Zen that, expansion of the conciousness, fundamental Koans, and whatever else. You'll be sure to rise above the rest of us squalid and wretched unenlightened dwarves in no time, you Wise Man, you.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
you need to relax (5.00 / 1) (#175)
by amarodeeps on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 04:10:30 PM EST

Maybe you should try meditation. ;)

Look, it seems pretty clear you've got an issue with the idea of meditation, or people who meditate, or something. The simple fact is, meditation != daydreaming. You can try to force that point until you are blue in the face, and you will remain incorrect. Of course, unless we want to get into a semantic battlefield, which I note is what a lot of these drawn out kuro5hin battles end up as. But here is some idea of the words I'm using, and that most people use to describe these two concepts: meditation and daydreaming.

Now, you may not agree that they are different, and you can continue to live in your world where these two things are synonyms. But if you open your mouth and spout out your knowingly, provocatively insulting opinion you are a troll and will be treated like one. Deal with it. Why do you need to go into a forum where people are sincerely discussing Zen and call it daydreaming? Because you want to upset people and get an emotional response. Do you expect any other response? No, or else you are a fool. Therefore, you are a troll (well, you could be a fool, I guess).

However, when you get a reasoned response that is difficult to defend against, you get up in arms about who knows what about who, who is holier-than-thou and how you have the right to put forth your opinion. This continues to support my assertion that you are a troll. Not a very good one either; a good troll has a certain Zen-like detachment from the emotional aspects of the act of trolling (nyuck nyuck nyuck!).

As far as your drug metaphor, there's one essential problem: you are the one who made an assertion, and you are the one now being forced to defend that assertion. And it was not, if you will recall, saying that meditation was stupid. You said that meditation was synonymous with daydreaming. That is the point which I am challenging. I did not claim any other general or fantastic truths about meditation, and I've yet to hear a coherent response from you other than a confused and angry sputtering. Give me some facts, or even semi-educated opinions as to why meditation is the same as daydreaming, and maybe I'll take you seriously.



[ Parent ]
I disagree. (none / 0) (#179)
by kitten on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 07:42:56 PM EST

Look, it seems pretty clear you've got an issue with the idea of meditation, or people who meditate, or something. T

My issue is this. I lump "meditation" under the same general category as pyramid nonsense, color therapy, chakras, astral projection, and all the other vaguely new-age nonsense: absurd.

Other than forcing yourself to slow and mediate your respiration, which I suppose could have a calming effect, meditation produces very little, if any, actual benefits that I can see.

But here is some idea of the words I'm using, and that most people use to describe these two concepts: meditation and daydreaming.

I'm not particularly interested in the dictionary definition, thanks. I'm looking at the actual practice: You say you're "meditating" when you're sort of staring off into space with unfocused eyes, or maybe just focusing on a particular point without any concious effort. You let your mind wander, but you dont' really direct it - it goes where it goes, though you're fully aware and are paying attention to those thoughts. The rest of the world seems to kind of fade away, and you lose track of yourself and the external world, but bizarrely and somewhat paradoxically, you're also accutely aware of the external world. This is how I experience daydreaming, and it is, in essence, how meditation is described as well. The only fundamental difference is I left out the "Zen" part, and didn't mention breathing.

So the next time my boss wanders by and sees me with that thousand-yard-stare as I'm drifting off into some unknown waking dream, and he barks "kitten, quit daydreaming and get back to work!" I'll simply say, "I'm not daydreaming, I'm meditating!"

Why do you need to go into a forum where people are sincerely discussing Zen and call it daydreaming?

This is a discussion site, and that's my contribution. It's not as though I'm the only one who made a comment about it, and my initial comment was not "deliberately provocative and insulting" as you say. It was a one-sentence statement of my opinion: "Fancy word for daydreaming." Suddenly you're all screaming for my head on a platter because horror of horrors, I made a snide remark about your enlightened art.

Here's another: If you can get that upset over a one-sentence remark, then it looks to me like your meditation isn't doing all that much for you.

As far as your drug metaphor, there's one essential problem: you are the one who made an assertion, and you are the one now being forced to defend that assertion.

Maybe you aren't keeping up on current events here. I did not make an assertion - the author of this story did. I was merely rejecting it. My drug metaphor is perfectly valid. The drug user blithers on about the mind-expanding aspects of drug use, how it relaxes you, lets you explore possibilities, frees your conciousness, blah blah blah. The meditation advocate does the same thing. I reject both. The assertion was, "Meditation does x and is good." The burden of proof does not lie on me.

Give me some facts, or even semi-educated opinions as to why meditation is the same as daydreaming, and maybe I'll take you seriously.

I have given you my opinion, several times. See above. You've chosen to ignore it each time and instead, try to psychoanalyze me, assume I have emotional issues, or am deliberately stirring the hornet's nest, or am wholly ignorant, or any number of other excuses you've pulled out to ignore my opinion that daydreaming is just meditation without the high-minded rationalization.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
stop dancing around the issue. (5.00 / 1) (#192)
by amarodeeps on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 04:09:13 PM EST

My issue is this. I lump "meditation" under the same general category as pyramid nonsense, color therapy, chakras, astral projection, and all the other vaguely new-age nonsense: absurd.

My issue is this, I lump "you" in with all the other people who feel the need to make a comment that will obviously piss people off without really having anything worthwhile to say: troll.

Other than forcing yourself to slow and mediate your respiration, which I suppose could have a calming effect, meditation produces very little, if any, actual benefits that I can see.

Okay, does this support your claim that meditation is this the same or different than daydreaming? What's your point, why are you bringing it up?

I'm not particularly interested in the dictionary definition, thanks. I'm looking at the actual practice: You say you're "meditating" when you're sort of staring off into space with unfocused eyes, or maybe just focusing on a particular point without any concious effort. You let your mind wander, but you dont' really direct it - it goes where it goes, though you're fully aware and are paying attention to those thoughts. The rest of the world seems to kind of fade away, and you lose track of yourself and the external world, but bizarrely and somewhat paradoxically, you're also accutely aware of the external world. This is how I experience daydreaming, and it is, in essence, how meditation is described as well. The only fundamental difference is I left out the "Zen" part, and didn't mention breathing.

(my emphasis)

Look, do you want to talk practice? Then tell me about your experience of meditation. Don't say you want to talk about practice and then trot out the line "how meditation is described as well." Described by who? Yourself? Or someone else? Please.

Actually I too am, and have been, talking about the practice of meditation vs. daydreaming: I just figured giving you the dictionary defintions might help us start off on the same foot. However, I see that that would too easily nullify your 'point,' so I can understand how you'd want to throw that out right away. But if you want to talk practice, let's talk practice.

Meditation means different things to different people, and in turn it acquires a different meaning through practice. It shifts and does not remain one way. And it is a practice, that means you do it over and over and it changes. Maybe if you've tried learning an instrument you might better understand, it's the same way: when you start you are playing scales and whole tones, maybe you start doing some more sight reading, maybe you start adding some improv to your practice, maybe later you start being able to play for longer, and later maybe you start trying different styles, expanding your repatoire. Meditation is similar in that regard. It does not remain the same, and it isn't the same for two different people.

Now the fact is, when you state that it is the same as daydreaming, you are saying one of two things: your experience with meditation is the only valid one in terms of determining 'what it is,' or that you've never actually tried it and you don't really know what it is, but still somehow feel qualified to make an authoritative statement about what it is. You are a troll, but it upsets you to hear me call you that, so you try to defend yourself, but there is no defense. If you'd just accept it, you'd probably be much happier.

So the next time my boss wanders by and sees me with that thousand-yard-stare as I'm drifting off into some unknown waking dream, and he barks "kitten, quit daydreaming and get back to work!" I'll simply say, "I'm not daydreaming, I'm meditating!"

I'm sorry, this is just bullshit; what are you trying to say? That your boss would sanction your behavior if you were meditating but not if you were daydreaming? Did I even remotely suggest any such thing was viable? I don't know of any workplaces where either is acceptable on working hours. When you are at work, you are expected to be working at whatever you were hired to do, not meditating or daydreaming. This is more nonsense. Don't try to pass it off as something clever, or even remotely as an argument.

This is a discussion site, and that's my contribution. It's not as though I'm the only one who made a comment about it, and my initial comment was not "deliberately provocative and insulting" as you say. It was a one-sentence statement of my opinion: "Fancy word for daydreaming." Suddenly you're all screaming for my head on a platter because horror of horrors, I made a snide remark about your enlightened art.

I never said you couldn't have your opinion. But I maintain that the act of posting a one sentence response to a story about Zen equating meditation with daydreaming is nothing more than a troll. It may be your opinion, you may even have some sort of basis for it (actually, I hope you do; otherwise you're really a fool), but it remains a classic troll. You've given me no reason to believe otherwise. And as far as discussing, here we are, on the discussion site, discussing. Did you just want everyone to keep quiet after you posted your simplistic nonsense? Sounds like you are the one that doesn't understand what discussion is.

Here's another: If you can get that upset over a one-sentence remark, then it looks to me like your meditation isn't doing all that much for you.

So, are you saying that meditation has the benefit of helping one control one's anger or emotions in general? This seems to go against your idea that it was the same as daydreaming. Because, between the two of us, you are the first one to make this claim. Or does daydreaming help one keep cool?

Oh, and I never said that I meditated. You made that assumption. Of course, now I will state that I have meditated, so we can get that out of the way. But just because I meditate doesn't mean I want to throw my emotions out the door. Why do you think I should? Being detached doesn't mean I don't get angry or sad or whatever. It means I have some more perspective, and can better, more effectively act on my emotions. If I were to remove my emotions, I would be a robot, a zombie. I would not be human. Meditation, if I let it, has the power to make me more human, not less. And lest you pull up the 'holier-than-thou,' 'enlightened art' stuff again, let me just say: being more human means acknowledging my weaknesses, it means trying to honestly understand my condition. Meditation does not make me better than anyone else, in fact if anything it makes me realize more that I'm no better than anyone.

Yes, your statement made me angry, but I don't apologize for that--what you said was foolish, and intended to provoke. You're still incapable of defending against that charge.

Maybe you aren't keeping up on current events here. I did not make an assertion - the author of this story did. I was merely rejecting it. My drug metaphor is perfectly valid. The drug user blithers on about the mind-expanding aspects of drug use, how it relaxes you, lets you explore possibilities, frees your conciousness, blah blah blah. The meditation advocate does the same thing. I reject both. The assertion was, "Meditation does x and is good." The burden of proof does not lie on me.

Sure, you were responding to the story, but with my last statement I was responding to your analogy of meditation with drug use. Please don't take my statements out of context, or try to twist what I was saying. I merely challenge your comment that meditation is synonymous with daydreaming, and I assert that either you have never tried it with sincerity, or you are a troll, and possibly both. Please respond to that assertion rather than the presupposition that I agree unconditionally with all statements that the poster of the original story which you were responding to made.

I have given you my opinion, several times. See above. You've chosen to ignore it each time and instead, try to psychoanalyze me, assume I have emotional issues, or am deliberately stirring the hornet's nest, or am wholly ignorant, or any number of other excuses you've pulled out to ignore my opinion that daydreaming is just meditation without the high-minded rationalization.

Yeah, I guess you have given me your opinion several times, and I just keep telling you what I think about it! That's what this thread is about, actually: I think you're full of shit. You just don't think you should have to hear it. Every point you've raised I've responded to, and I keep coming back to the same thing: you've never tried meditation sincerely, or you are a troll, or both. I'll keep handing it out if you keep asking for it.



[ Parent ]
Meditation a fancy word for Daydreaming. . . (none / 0) (#131)
by Fantastic Lad on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:06:45 AM EST

Certainly. Except next time you daydream, you might try to push and prod in certain directions. Like any area of human endeavor, there are those who seek the outer boundaries of possibility, some of whom become masters. --Heart rates lowered to almost nothing, and feats of healing, (among those very few items grudgingly accepted as real by the West. There is SO much more!). Think of it this way; many thousands of years have been spent in this area of study; consciousness!

Try this: Shut off your internal dialogue for a whole minute. --Like muscle training, you get better with practice. This is one of the keystones. If you can shut off that garbage, (the endless prattle which re-affirms 'reality' every six seconds, grounding each one of us here), if you can shut it off for a few minutes, then the Universe will start speaking to you directly; you will be able to see the world in amazing ways! This is the root of sorcery.

You already have some idea as to what a mere mortal can achieve, if your post script is any indicator. Though, trying to 'become a god' (the pamphlet promise of any number of New Age cults), is a petty, selfish and ultimately futile goal. We are all equal parts of that which is God. Rather, one would do best in seeking to serve others, to channel the universal will.

But yes, daydreaming is as apt as any a place to begin.

-Fantastic Lad

[ Parent ]

not quite (4.00 / 1) (#138)
by YelM3 on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 03:47:24 AM EST

Daydreaming suggests letting the mind wander, letting thoughts flow into new thoughts without much interruption.

Meditation is quite different. The point is not to let your mind wander but to stop your mind from wandering. To reduce and eventually eliminate all those thoughts that are constantly in there. Buddhist meditation is supposed to lead you to "the space between thoughts."

[ Parent ]

Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism (4.71 / 7) (#39)
by demi on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 08:49:46 PM EST

I've always preferred fucking, or masturbation, to meditation. Nevertheless my life was changed by exposure to Buddhism sometime in my late teenage years.

I was introduced to Ch'an by the writing of Upasaka Charles Luk, and especially the wonderful book The Transmission of the Mind Outside the Teaching (out of print), which is far removed from the "self-discovery and stress relief for yuppies" genre. The Northern School of Ch'an is more dialectic than other schools, and an understanding of the history of Buddhism and the Ming and Yuan dynasties in China helps a lot to appreciate the writings of the patriarchs.

I was never one to recite koans or epigraphs but I think the playfulness of the language of Ch'an, when contrasted with its deep and focused context, describes the spiritual, intellectual, and physical balance that I have since tried to achieve in most every aspect of my life. Transmission was a good introduction to reading Ch'an because it gives footnotes that only help you part of the way - it stops short of trying to explain the meaning of things that is helpful for beginners but detrimental in the long term. A lot of time had to be invested in learning the historical and religious contexts just for the annotations to make sense, which then made me understand why some masters were so reticent to translate anything or undertake an "introduction" to their work (until the 1960's explosion in Eastern mysticism at least).

I'm not really an expert in the area but at least I can say that students of Zen that stress external factors like meditation posture and internal factors like koans are trying too hard to achieve a proficiency in something that will give a reward. That's a really modern approach to Zen that I am glad I did not take.

Some of us don't want to learn about Buddhism. (3.00 / 2) (#40)
by jjayson on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 08:56:26 PM EST

I don't want to learn deeply about Buddhism, though. People like me are just in it for the zazen stress relief. I don't see a problem with that.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
no problem with it (none / 0) (#55)
by demi on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:17:37 PM EST

but it's like taking the Christianity out of Christmas, which is not so hard to imagine, while attempting to learn and understand how it is observed. I certainly don't think that it is a necessarily bad thing to separate the ritual from its historical and religious antecedents. And I don't think "my way" is better than anyone else's. But at the same time I feel that the Western approach to learning Eastern traditions is faulty and misleading. Whenever convenience and utility come into conflict with verisimilitude, guess which invariably takes the back seat. People are free to enjoy Zen any way they choose, but there is much more to it than pranayama and scented candles.

[ Parent ]
You're a Zen Buddist? (none / 0) (#52)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 10:55:22 PM EST

If you're a Zen Buddist then I'm a Southern Baptist and jjayson is an atheist. As a Southern Baptist, I want to warn you that you'll go to hell for practicing Buddism. Only Jesus can forgive sins, not Budda.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
all of my sins have been pardoned by (2.66 / 3) (#53)
by demi on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:02:28 PM EST

Bubba.

[ Parent ]
So Zen is the meaning of life? (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by kholmes on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 04:58:13 AM EST

"I'm not really an expert in the area but at least I can say that students of Zen that stress external factors like meditation posture and internal factors like koans are trying too hard to achieve a proficiency in something that will give a reward. That's a really modern approach to Zen that I am glad I did not take."

That's actually quite an enlightening statement, one I'd like to make explicit, unless I am misinterpreting you. You're saying, it seems, that Zen isn't a means towards an end but rather the end itself. And since we do all sorts of things for some reason, there can really only be one ultimate end--even if that end is a composition of multiple ends.

And that one ultimate end has to be the meaning of life.

Which really changes things. How has your life changed since you have adopted this position? What forces you to conclude this position is the correct one? How much worse off, do you believe, are the rest of us for being ignorant?

I'm a little skeptical but these questions are honest.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]

hm? (4.00 / 1) (#101)
by demi on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 12:34:20 PM EST

And that one ultimate end has to be the meaning of life.

It's hard to say because that philosophical concept is incompatible with certain aspects of Zen. Achieving enlightenment is not, and should not be, an end. That kind of pursuit will end only in frustration. Unfortunately I cannot think of a good way to explain it better than that.

How has your life changed since you have adopted this position? What forces you to conclude this position is the correct one?

To borrow from Kundera, I was able to accept that my life has an essential lightness to it; at the same time I retain my inner focus and resolve. Beneath the ever changing pattern of waves is the deep, still ocean. Not everyone that practices Zen is a silent, meditative pacifist - I'm more of an obnoxious jerk whose life is moved centrally by a serious, contemplative, and reverent inertia.

How much worse off, do you believe, are the rest of us for being ignorant?

Nobody is worse off. I don't believe in the cosmogony of Buddhism. But I maintain that a knowledge of its history and writings is useful for the other aspects to have meaning. It helps to know that some of the of Zen trappings that Westerners see as exotic were meant to be completely ordinary.

[ Parent ]

I'm completely lost (4.00 / 1) (#135)
by kholmes on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 02:48:41 AM EST

"It's hard to say because that philosophical concept is incompatible with certain aspects of Zen. Achieving enlightenment is not, and should not be, an end. That kind of pursuit will end only in frustration. Unfortunately I cannot think of a good way to explain it better than that."

You don't have to pursue meaning in life, because you live it has meaning. Or it doesn't have meaning, and everything is pointless [I'm sorry, this is very sloppily said]. Is that the Zen philosophy? that everthing is pointless?

"Nobody is worse off. I don't believe in the cosmogony of Buddhism. But I maintain that a knowledge of its history and writings is useful for the other aspects to have meaning."

But you don't have to practive Zen to learn the history and writings.

From what you have said so far, it doesn't sound like this practice or philosophy has anything to offer.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]

re: (none / 0) (#137)
by demi on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 03:37:19 AM EST

Is that the Zen philosophy? that everthing is pointless?

That's nihilism, maybe.

From what you have said so far, it doesn't sound like this practice or philosophy has anything to offer.

It has nothing to offer. It's not for everyone.

[ Parent ]

Plain talk (5.00 / 3) (#144)
by radghast on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 10:34:35 AM EST

In the Zen school of Buddhism, plain talk is somewhat rare. There actually is a reason for this -- the goal (and 'goal' is a big no-no in Zen, because if you're striving for something, you're already off the mark) is to get you to stop thinking about it and start experiencing, right now. For example, koans, widely used in the Rinzai school of Zen, are paradoxes designed to confound reasoning so that you stop thinking about everything, let go, and be in the moment.

So, if enlightenment is something you're trying to achieve/striving for, you are:

  • Focusing not on how things are, but how you want them to be,
  • Focusing on a future state (which doesn't exist) instead of the present,
  • Focusing on a static self (which doesn't exist) instead of a dynamic self that only exists right now,
  • Focusing on Zen as if it is a destination (like getting a degree), instead of the process (like listening to music)


  • This does confound a lot of people. I personally had the experience of trying to ask a question of a Ch'an monk, but being unable to figure out how to ask it in a form that wouldn't get me a lecture about how I was off the mark. It was very frustrating, but frustrating because I was still trying to figure it out with my intellect, rather than just letting go of it. It has been said that talking about Zen is like dancing about architecture, and that Zen is only a finger pointing the way. I know that this is probably confusing, but it really is hard to talk about it...

    "It remains to be seen if the human brain is powerful enough to solve the problems it has created." -- Dr. Richard Wallace
    [ Parent ]
    Why should there be a meaning to life? (5.00 / 1) (#111)
    by phliar on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 04:48:51 PM EST

    And if there is a meaning to life, how can someone else explain the meaning of your life to you?

    Ultimately, I practice zazen to practice zazen. The same way I practice playing the trumpet. Sure, there are certain other reasons to play the trumpet. And there is a lot you have to learn about playing it. But I could be sitting at home reading, and I decide to play the trumpet. I take it out of its case, and I play something. I put it back in its case, and go back to reading. There is nothing deep going on. In another sense though, that is the purest and deepest form of playing the trumpet. There is no audience or judge. There doesn't need to be a reason.

    I don't think everyone needs to play the trumpet. I don't go around trying to convince people to start playing the trumpet, and I don't comvince people to study zen or start zazen. If someone wants to start, I'll try to help them, but also know that my help may be completely useless to them.


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    You understand, then (4.00 / 1) (#136)
    by kholmes on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 03:08:18 AM EST

    "And if there is a meaning to life, how can someone else explain the meaning of your life to you?"

    It's based upon the premise of us having a nature in common. If this premise is incorrect, then you're right.

    "I practice zazen to practice zazen. The same way I practice playing the trumpet."

    Then this is what gives your life meaning. Bah, I realize now that the phrase "meaning of life" is not suitable, which is one reason I tried explaining it as an end that isn't a means toward something else. Think of it as why you do what you do. If there is no reason, then you have found your answer. The answer is really implicit in your being, which we can make explicit through discussion if you want.

    But I think you have me all wrong. For some reason, it seems you think I have an agenda of some sort. Perhaps you believe I am preaching a spirituality of some sorts and that beleiving there is a meaning to life implies that spirituality. I find nothing spiritual about the issue at all. Certainly you can involve the spiritual if you want, but I see no need to do so.

    We can have a discussion on this if you want, but it is otherwise offtopic here.

    If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
    [ Parent ]

    We don't disagree (4.00 / 1) (#150)
    by phliar on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 02:22:08 PM EST

    (I have a hard time disagreeing with anything someone says about Zen.)
    For some reason, it seems you think I have an agenda of some sort. Perhaps you believe I am preaching a spirituality of some sorts and that beleiving there is a meaning to life implies that spirituality.
    Not really. I don't really care if people preach and practice spirituality or not; I can only talk about my own motivations, feelings and experiences. However I don't think that it makes sense to talk about goals or aspirations in a Zen context.
    Think of it as why you do what you do. ... The answer is really implicit in your being... .
    This is pretty much my attitude.


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    thank you. (none / 0) (#191)
    by majik on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 03:53:07 PM EST

    That was very thought provoking and enlightening. I'm really enjoying all of this discussion.
    Funky fried chickens - they're what's for dinner
    [ Parent ]
    What's the meaning of life? (none / 0) (#134)
    by Big Sexxy Joe on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 01:26:21 AM EST

    Really, define the phrase "meaning of life." Isn't just a bunch of stuff that happens? Define end. I don't Kant ever gets around to it.

    I'm like Jesus, only better.
    Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
    [ Parent ]
    In case you doubt .... (4.00 / 2) (#46)
    by drblubgut on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 09:41:33 PM EST

    Spend 5 min sitting still trying to do only count to 20 everytime you think of somthing elce or start to fidget start over.

    5 min.. when your done.. you'll know there is somthing to be said for meditation.

    I'll second this. (4.00 / 1) (#49)
    by graal on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 10:22:07 PM EST

    I studied Yang-style Tai Chi awhile back. One of the hardest things to learn is slow movement. It's a helluva lot harder than it sounds. Moving slowly and mindfully for any longer than a couple of minutes is tough, or at least it was for me.

    --
    For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
    inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
    -- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
    [ Parent ]

    Oh yeah... (4.00 / 1) (#84)
    by PixelPusher on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:59:12 AM EST

    Trying to move slowly and smoothly at a constant speed while trying to keep the whole body relaxed and slip into a calm, meditative state...  I have to chuckle at people who think doing Tai Chi is easy...

    And people think doing zazen sitting still is easy!  Try doing it while moving!  =)

    [ Parent ]

    Do you understand hexadecimal? (1.06 / 16) (#89)
    by Fen on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:54:58 AM EST

    I'm guessing that you are not intelligent enough to understand hexadecimal. Stupid people cannot comprehend anything except decimal, and I'm guessing that is you. Otherwise, you would have gave your count figure in hexadecimal. How does it feel to be stupid?
    --Self.
    [ Parent ]
    How do you know it wasn't hexadecimal (5.00 / 1) (#133)
    by Big Sexxy Joe on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 01:20:13 AM EST

    Perhaps by 20 he meant 1E+1. I think it goes without saying that the Budda himself counted in hexadecimal. Ever hear of the eight-fold path. He new powers of two were the way.

    I'm like Jesus, only better.
    Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
    [ Parent ]
    Buddhism, the Total Package (4.70 / 10) (#48)
    by radghast on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 10:07:47 PM EST

    It is quite possible to practice zazen as stress relief, and many people do it. Without the rest of the package, however, it tends to get tedious.

    Zen is a religion or a philosophy, depending upon the practitioner. Sitting in zazen will make you more conscious of the present and teach you to let go of distractions such as thoughts, feelings, and pain. It does not make them go away -- in fact, if you try to force thoughts away while sitting, you start down the nihilistic path. (Nihilism can be a dangerous error in all forms of Buddhism.) Instead, you allow thoughts and feelings to arise and depart, much like watching a wave break on the shore. Learning to do this takes years, during which time you've become more conscious of all of your aches, pains, noisy mind, fickle feelings, and reactiveness. This is where it gets tedious without the total package.

    You've probably heard the expression 'no self' in relation to Buddhism. Buddhism is not removing one's ego to result in 'no self' -- it is the idea that your 'self' is solely the result of many streams of cause and effect (also known as karma) at this present time. Buddhism teaches that there is nothing static about you -- all is dynamic. Practicing Buddhism means learning to let go of the illusion of a static self and focus in the present moment only.

    Other teachings, such as impermanence, deal with the unsatisfactoriness of life. Because everything is dynamic, nothing lasts and nothing remains the same. Suffering results when we think of something that is dynamic as static and grow attached to this concept -- whether that something causes pleasure or pain. All things arise and depart. Sitting in zazen teaches you how to approach this.

    There is much more to the total package; its basis is called 'the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path'. If you decide to learn more about it, you'll find that they are deeply interrelated with the concept of sitting in zazen, and it will explain much. The nice thing about Buddhism is that it can be practiced as a philosophy for those who aren't looking for a religion or who already have one -- it's become quite popular with both Christian and Jewish individuals. Catholics already have some integration of traditions in the works of Thomas Merton.

    On a different note, there was an article in the NYTimes (free registration) about the roots of Modern Buddhism -- the form that is popular in the West. Interesting read to see what the motivations were.

    "It remains to be seen if the human brain is powerful enough to solve the problems it has created." -- Dr. Richard Wallace
    Does anyone know if scientific research has been (3.00 / 3) (#54)
    by Big Sexxy Joe on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:09:48 PM EST

    done on this topic?

    I'm like Jesus, only better.
    Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
    Does anyone know if zen meditation has been (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by kholmes on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:20:20 AM EST

    done on scientific research?

    Seriously though, while the study of science has done great things for our society--I think, from my uninformed viewpoint, these other approaches are meant to find other great things. But if you believe that all truly great things come from science or that you at least need science to verify their greatness, then science has become your God and demands your worship.

    I'm probably being too harsh, because I can tell you are asking an honest question. And believe me, when I first heard about this zen stuff it sounded like mystic crap. But now its sounding somewhat intriguing.

    Consider this. Emotions come from the body, not the mind. How do I know this? Well, when I'm pissed off my heart starts pumping faster and tetosterone goes through my blood. When I'm in lust--well, we know that's from the body. So I suppose that the rest of the emotions come from the body as well.

    So imagine if you can separate the mind from the body, if even temporarily? Thats really what this is sounding like. While it may or may not be a condition of pure reason, it must be interesting to experience. And what he cautions about nihilism seems to fit my conjecture, since if you remove the mind entirely from the body, then your passions might be removed as well and from there, your reason for being. But it seems this Buddist culture has been doing this for a long time now and have had a good success rate. And conquering nihilism is definitely something that we have to worry about too--and no, science isn't going to save us there either.

    Okay...sorry about this whole rant based entirely on speculation. But I find the topic interesting and hope the other K5ers won't find the topic boring and say "wake me up when the next Iraq article hits the queue".

    If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
    [ Parent ]

    Emotion (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by zakalwe on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 07:34:47 AM EST

    But if you believe that all truly great things come from science or that you at least need science to verify their greatness, then science has become your God and demands your worship.
    I'd object to the second bit - Science (in the loosest sense of the word) should be used to verify the greatness, and veracity, of everything - though of course the simplest experiment here is to try it and see if it affects you. If such an experiment fails - you observe no change, and nothing such as you or the author describe then its perfectly right to reject it. The author claims benefits which are at least subjectively verifiable so I don't see anything wrong with applying science here.
    Consider this. Emotions come from the body, not the mind. How do I know this? Well, when I'm pissed off my heart starts pumping faster and tetosterone goes through my blood.
    Thats a bit of a dubious argument. When I solve a difficult math problem, seratonin goes through my blood, does that mean performing mathematics is from the body? In most respects science agrees with you - emotion is caused by glands secreting chemical messages, but I don't think you can just write it off as "comeing from" the body. In some cases, my mind may cause my body to tell my mind to get angry. Where the emotion comes from is not so clear cut.

    [ Parent ]
    Totally OT, but I've been meaning to ask (none / 0) (#104)
    by Edgy Loner on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:11:15 PM EST

    Use of weapons is pretty much my favorite novel and your handle intrigues me. So are you Zakalwe before or after the Staberinde? You know what I mean. Or am I supposed to guess?

    This is not my beautiful house.
    This is not my beautiful knife.
    [ Parent ]
    Heh (none / 0) (#169)
    by zakalwe on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 11:22:41 AM EST

    Actually, I chose the handle for the rather prosaic reason that Use of Weapons was the book I was reading at the time I signed up. It was only when I finished the book that I found how appropriate it was to use as a pseudonym.

    [ Parent ]
    You must unask the question (none / 0) (#95)
    by Pihkal on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:15:34 AM EST

    ...as ancient Buddhist masters would say.

    Your question presupposes the possible answers, and suggests that the mind and body are different things to begin with and therefore it is imaginable (if difficult) that they COULD be split. However, I think the mind-body dualism is false.

    As someone who has been bitten by the Zen bug (although I have not really taken up meditation yet) I am fascinated by it, but have also had difficulty reconciling some of its attitudes with my long ago-determined empiricist, agnostic viewpoint. Currently, I am reading a fascinating book, Zen and the Brain, by James Austin. He is both a neurology doctor and a longtime Rinzai Zen practioner. The book is 800 pages, has many footnotes, and is admittedly challenging for this CS guy who never took any neuroscience courses, but he attempts to summarize the scientific research on meditation as well as reveal how Zen and the brain affect each other.

    Anyway, I think we will eventually be able to make a synthesis between the brain and the "mind", eliminating the distinction, but that we are not there yet.

    "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
    -- Number 6
    [ Parent ]

    Research (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by radghast on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:08:33 AM EST

    There have been a number of studies. Here's a few that I had in my bookmarks:

  • Meditation mapped in monks (BBC)
  • Benefits of meditation (WebMD)
  • What Buddhists know about Science (Wired)
  • Meditation may cut stress, improve mental and physical health (Center for Advancement of Health)


  • By the way, many of the benefits gained through meditation can also be gained through prayer or other quiet, introspective means (painting, nature walks, etc.), according to other studies. However, I haven't seen any studies relating some of the stronger benefits (ex. anesthesia using Tong-len, mentioned in the Wired article) using methods other than meditation.

    "It remains to be seen if the human brain is powerful enough to solve the problems it has created." -- Dr. Richard Wallace
    [ Parent ]
    Your cups are too full (4.37 / 8) (#57)
    by genman on Mon Oct 28, 2002 at 11:58:34 PM EST

    A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's overfull! No more will go in!" the professor blurted.

    "You are like this cup," the master replied, "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup."

    Moments of Zen (4.33 / 3) (#58)
    by Juppon Gatana on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 12:21:37 AM EST

    I do not practice Zen meditation or philosophy, but I find it very interesting and may move into experimentation sometime soon.

    Something interesting that I've found in my own life is that reading brings me to the most zen-like state I normally encounter. I wouldn't be surprised if many others experience this as well, as I assume it is natural. I notice that during a good book I can become completely engrossed in a story, losing all sense of self, my surroundings, and any temporally extraneous stimulation. I then read solely for the act itself without anticipating or reflecting upon the story. It's almost a false Zen in that it, of course by Zen standards, is an illusion (perhaps within an illusion and so on), but I imagine the feeling of appreciation for the now with no concern for anything else is a strong facet of a Zen-led life.

    I find myself much more able to achieve a similar frame of mind while walking, particularly at night. I lived in Manhattan for 18 years prior to entering college, but I now live (for a few months at least) in rural Minnesota, and enjoy the nature out here greatly. As much as I love The City, not having filth and grit blown into your face when you go for a walk is a charming aspect of rural America. It leaves me a lot more open to think clearly, or not think at all. Analyzing it now, I think I revert more to the child's mind. Walking across campus at midnight, I usually look up and smile and allow myself simply to be happy. When I'm in the right state, I generally don't think, and I certainly don't worry about things in the future and past.

    - Juppon Gatana
    能ある鷹は爪を隠す。
    (Nou aru taka wa tsume wo kakusu.)
    What is a Zen state? (none / 0) (#116)
    by phliar on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:45:24 PM EST

    There is no altered mental state called Zen state. (Well, perhaps there is.) In any case, the purpose of zazen is not to reach some blissful state. If you sit, trying to attain some higher consciousness, your mind will be concentrating on that, holding on to it.

    Anyone here read Ethics for the New Millennium by the Dalai Lama? It has nothing to do with zazen. But it might be useful, or interesting. I don't think that I'm a better person for doing zazen, or even for practicing compassion as taught by the Dalai Lama. I am more mindful though.


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    I had a similar experience (5.00 / 2) (#183)
    by vsync on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 05:21:00 AM EST

    Once, at my Tedious Retail Job, I was sitting at one of the sales kiosks, which weren't supposed to be used for anything besides selling computers, but I guess it was a quiet enough day that even the managers didn't care.

    I was using PuTTY to get to my laptop, and I had Emacs running with some of the code I was working on. I got interested in one particular problem, and since I seemed to have a clear mental path on how to solve it, I kept working. Some time later, I went to stretch, and I blinked in surprise as I suddenly became aware that I had been unaware of where I was, how much time had passed, which screen and what type of screen I was sitting at, which operating system I was using, and even the existence of the window decorations.

    It was the most extreme form of tunnel vision I've ever experienced. I guess the more accurate term would be "focus", both in the literal visual sense and in the mental sense. It's the most productive time I can remember, and every time I've worked on a block of code for a significant period of time, I've had the benefit of a similar mindset, but never anywhere close to that degree.

    I can't help noticing that this type of focus, which proved extremely helpful in my coding (and also somewhat surreal) is explicitly denied in the corporate environment. The office, it seems, is all about being aware of the image you are presenting at all times, coworkers walking by and saying hi, and various meetings, phone calls, and other interruptions.

    I keep wanting to achieve that level of attention again, but I'm easily distractable and hard to settle down. (For example, I was planning to work on my server code right now.) I just got some candles and little rocks that I set up in a nice arrangement at home; I'm hoping it provides a more conducive environment for meditating and working on code. Maybe one of those little burbling water fountains too...

    --
    "The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."
    [ Parent ]

    Flow (none / 0) (#207)
    by drivers on Wed Nov 06, 2002 at 07:21:56 PM EST

    What you describe is called flow, at least by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who wrote a book about it.

    Here's a decent URL talking about it (incidentally I have a habit of posting what anyone could find using google... oh well) http://www.debateit.net/improvethought/flow1.htm

    [ Parent ]

    Family, religion, meditation (3.66 / 6) (#59)
    by Rademir on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:12:22 AM EST

    My dad was always totally down on religion while i was growing up, but i remember one time sitting in the back of the car trying to follow his instructions on how to meditate (yeah yeah, maybe he was just trying to keep the kid busy and quiet). He didn't practice it himself, but he occasionally said positive things about it.

    More recently, i went to a meditation training through dhamma.org (aka Goenka), a meditation school that originated in Myanmar, and started teaching to laypeople again only in the last century. A ten-day silent sit is the only way they'll let you start, and it's free. Afterward you may make a donation, in the spirit of offering it freely to others. Also, teachers and staff are all volunteers. I found this integrity very attractive.

    Philosophy-wise, there was more than i could have stomached when i was atheist, but it really wasn't that much, and it was presented clearly enough that it actually helped me to come up with my own explanations for why meditation works. They also stressed that the path to wisdom is through your own experience, not by just accepting ideas (so it must be true :). Practice, practice, practice.



    Consciousness is our Oxygen Challenge


    TEN DAYS??? (none / 0) (#119)
    by bolthole on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:01:52 PM EST

    wow. did you do the ten? it wasnt clear

    and how/where do you sit? Do you get to sit in a different spot each day? What about meals, etc?

    [ Parent ]

    sitting (none / 0) (#128)
    by CodeBhikkhu on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:57:56 PM EST

    You generally sit in a meditation hall. You can sit wherever you want, but really if the spot bothers you, then your practice is flawed. They feed you three times a day, generally vegan meals. You meditate late, sleep, and then get up early. Generally they will alternate moving meditation with sitting meditation. [In my experience.]


    "A week long Dalai Lama Fantasy Camp where you get to run around in red robes and eat rice and chant mantras with the Twelfth son of the Lama himself wont teach you what zen is." -- skyhook
    [ Parent ]
    Sitting & eating with dhamma.org; prisons (4.00 / 2) (#178)
    by Rademir on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 06:13:14 PM EST

    did you do the ten?

    Yup. Mind you, i thought of leaving, more than once :), and afterward discovered that many others had the same thought -- in fact one guy left, then returned soon enough that they decided to let him back. And we all thought the others were having no difficulty. That's part of the beauty of the silence, which includes not just speaking but any significant interaction with others (beyond stuff like holding doors open). You get support from others even if they're a maelstrom inside too.

    and how/where do you sit? Do you get to sit in a different spot each day?

    We were in a small hall with about 50 people. The assistant teacher sat up front; the staff sat on his left or right, and the rest of us facing him, men on the left, women on the right (we slept and ate completely separately).

    We were assigned locations the first day and stayed in them. There was a wide assortment of cushions and so on, and even chairs for people for whom sitting on the floor was too much. This was in Oregon (northwest U.S.), i think they're a little more austere about it in south Asia but i haven't done a sit there yet.

    What about meals, etc?

    As CodeBikkhu wrote, vegan meals, but only two a day (plus fruit and tea around dinner time). Nothing amazing, but pretty good considering the staff is all volunteers -- who must have gone through the ten-day themselves, and sit when they're not making food and such.

    The building had originally been something else, and was added onto piecemeal, but i really liked it. They're raising funds to build a much larger and fancier building. Though i haven't sat in any of the existing big/fancy halls yet, i imagine that as long as i practice with dhamma.org i will generally seek out the newer, smaller, makeshift.

    Oh yeah, you may have heard of this school of vipassana meditation being taught in prisons, there's films about it happening in India (Doing Time, Doing Vipassana) and the U.S. (Changing From the Inside). They make the guards go through it first!


    Consciousness is our Oxygen Challenge


    [ Parent ]
    neat. peaceful (3.00 / 1) (#197)
    by bolthole on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 09:45:51 PM EST

    Thank you for replying. If you dont mind answering.. how did your thoughts go, from day to day? Was it
    first day: very busy thoughts
    second day.. mostly thought of cheeseburgers..
    ...

    :->

    What happens AFTER the 10 days?

    [ Parent ]

    Let me guess... (2.50 / 4) (#60)
    by Hired Goons on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:13:07 AM EST

    there is no spoon.
    You calling that feature a bug? THWAK
    That is because (5.00 / 2) (#67)
    by kholmes on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:00:44 AM EST

    I took your spoon.

    Now I am the master.

    If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
    [ Parent ]

    Only a... (5.00 / 1) (#77)
    by Rocky on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:22:45 AM EST

    ...master of evil, Darth!

    If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
    - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
    [ Parent ]
    I'll pass.... (1.90 / 10) (#61)
    by faustus on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 02:33:41 AM EST

    ...I'm not a fan of any cult, including this one. I have had first hand experiences with two horrible, and closely inter-related cults known as Scientology and libertarianism. Both of these "religions" were designed to squeeze money out of nerds with low self-esteems. They that found it comforting to follow a cult based on science fiction because it conveniently vindicated their long held beliefs that SF is the highest art form known to man, second only to their posters of Natalie Portman.

    Huh? (5.00 / 2) (#64)
    by hypno on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 04:17:44 AM EST

    Are you comparing a almost two thousand year old way of thinking with a pathetic, second-rate 20th century cult full of mentally deficient americans? Bzzt.

    [ Parent ]
    Older than that, actually (none / 0) (#149)
    by Pihkal on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 01:45:47 PM EST

    Just a side note. The most conservative and widely accepted date for the birth of Siddartha Gautama (Buddha) place him being born around 566 BC. A few Indian scholars maintain that Western scholars first investigating Buddhism made crucial mistakes in comparing timelines and identifying contemporaries, and so, misplaced the date of Buddha by 1200 years, which would mean he lived around 1750 BC. 6th century BCE is the more commonly accepted time frame, though. Regardless, Buddhism is more than 2500 years old at a minimum.

    "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
    -- Number 6
    [ Parent ]
    no money changing hands in most of zen (4.00 / 1) (#72)
    by boxed on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 06:40:52 AM EST

    Except maybe that the masters gets poor I guess...

    [ Parent ]
    Definition of a cult (3.66 / 3) (#76)
    by egeland on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:22:00 AM EST

    Since you obviously didn't have the 30 seconds it takes to look up the definition of a cult, allow me to provide it:
    1.  It uses psychological coercion to recruit, indoctrinate and retain its members
    2.  It forms an elitist totalitarian society
    3.  Its founder leader is self-appointed, dogmatic, messianic, not accountable and has charisma
    4.  It believes 'the end justifies the means' in order to solicit funds recruit people
    5.  Its wealth does not benefit its members or society
    This is from the website www.xenu.net which informs about the dangers of scientology.
    From what little I know about Zen, it fails to meet ANY of the criteria...

    --
    Some interesting quotes
    [ Parent ]
    Apple Computer (none / 0) (#202)
    by Scoo on Sun Nov 03, 2002 at 02:34:48 AM EST

    Hey, quit picking on Steve Jobs! ;)

    [ Parent ]
    Unless you consider... (4.66 / 3) (#82)
    by PixelPusher on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:50:22 AM EST

    All religions/philosophical movements cults, I don't think you're seeing the point here.  We're talking about a sect of Buddhism here.  You know, millions of followers, one of the world's major faiths?  Unless you'd consider Catholicism, Protestanism, or the Orthodox churches cults, I think you're missing the point...

    Nobody's asking for money.  The equipment you need to do this comes standard with the human body.

    Unless of course you want a cushion to sit on.  But barring a fiendish plot by the upholstering industry, I'm just not seeing it...

    [ Parent ]

    Buddhism as Religion (none / 0) (#112)
    by phliar on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:06:32 PM EST

    We're talking about a sect of Buddhism here. You know, millions of followers, one of the world's major faiths?
    First, I should say that there are three varieties of Buddhism: Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Although very similar in their ideals, they are very different in their practices: compare Tibetan Buddhism to Zen. (I don't even like to call Zen a branch of Buddhism; I think the only connection is historic. My opinion is worth exactly what you think it's worth, though.)

    Someone can certainly call Buddhism a sect, or cult, or whatever, and it could be a good debate; but I don't think the word faith fits. Gautama said "Here are four truths:" and talked about the existence of suffering; and then "Here are eight things you should do to ease your suffering." He stressed that he's just a guy, not a god; and that you just need to try the 8 ways and see if they work for you. These ways are also what you might call good advice: nothing about creeds that you MUST believe.


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    Looking back... (4.00 / 1) (#141)
    by PixelPusher on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 07:56:01 AM EST

    I was a little antsy when I wrote it using that word, but I went with it anyway because it doesn't amount to more than a semantic argument, really...

    One could take your counterpoint and turn it around too...  Gautama gave a set of ideals and beliefs to follow.  He never said one had to, but to follow his path, that's what you have to do.

    I'd see the faith in a system of belief as whatever the highest ideal is.  In most religions, that 'most high' is a supreme being.  In Buddhism, that most high (from what I've come to understand) is the attainment of enlightenment.  So the 'faith', as it were, must be in oneself.

    But it's really just semantics.  I see where you're coming from, so that's all that really matters...

    [ Parent ]

    Self (3.25 / 4) (#62)
    by bigchris on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 03:45:10 AM EST

    Selfishness diminishes; compassion and wisdom come. Zen is about having time for the self. By reaching the deepest part of you, you can notice what brings you happiness and unhappiness and change your way of looking at things. It will reveal what you are letting crowd your thoughts, how hungry you are, if you are sleepy, and other changes in your body, making you mindful of the self.

    How can selfishness diminish when you are focusing on only yourself?

    there is no self [nt] (none / 0) (#71)
    by boxed on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 06:39:42 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    there is no spoon [nt] (1.00 / 1) (#102)
    by justo on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 12:47:27 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    exactly [nt] (none / 0) (#105)
    by boxed on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 01:17:49 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    Not that strange (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by cyberdruid on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 07:16:29 AM EST

    Perhaps you'll find that when you try to focus on yourself and your own thoughts, there is really nothing there - and you cannot find the core that you always assumed was behind it all?

    David Hume, together with Kant the most prominent of the modern western philosophers, searched for the self and found nothing:
    For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception. When my perceptions are removed for any time, as by sound sleep, so long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist. And were all my perceptions removed by death, and could I neither think, nor feel, nor see, nor love, nor hate, after the dissolution of my body, I should be entirely annihilated, nor do I conceive what is further requisite to make me a perfect nonentity.
    (Treatise I:4:vi)

    To me this reads very much like eastern philosophy...

    [ Parent ]

    Focus (none / 0) (#81)
    by egeland on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:35:36 AM EST

    Indeed, when we focus PAST our conscious selves, we might gain the compassion for the needs of others the article implies?

    --
    Some interesting quotes
    [ Parent ]
    self (none / 0) (#92)
    by dirtmerchant on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:08:27 AM EST

    that is in fact a trap that would be easy to fall into. while the starting point of this focus is in fact the "self" all you are actually doing is blanking the mind of all desire. it is sad that what we most often consider "self" is actually "selfishness" (career, friends, posessions). by focusing on "self" or the the center of nothing that exists within us all, we eliminate the desire for all the extraneous.
    -- "The universe not only may be queerer than we think, but queerer than we can think" - JBS Haldane
    [ Parent ]
    for a serious reader only (4.16 / 6) (#65)
    by tealeaf on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 04:34:29 AM EST

    Suffering consciously strengthens resolve.

    Once you become resolute, barriers vanish.

    All the technique and skill in the world cannot explain this fact.  In the end, what you want is wisdom and not a mental skill.

    There is no shortcut.


    My biggest regret (4.00 / 2) (#70)
    by rasilon on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 06:08:14 AM EST

    Is that the one skill I posses but cannot teach is meditation. I can and have taught the ways of war, I've taught many recruits to their rifles and soldiers to use them better, but I cannot teach the ways of peace. The zen that can be spoken is not the true zen and at that point I'm stumped. I used to try, but I would invariably end up suggesting that they find a better teacher.

    Aikido (4.00 / 1) (#79)
    by egeland on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:27:36 AM EST

    You might find Aikido to your liking.
    It's a martial art which teaches you to be peaceful.
    (Unlike what Steven Seagal does in his movies - that's not aikido, that's movie-do)

    There's Aikido dojo everywhere, so ask around, watch/try a class or two. Enjoy!
    I have been doing it for about 5 years, and love it!


    --
    Some interesting quotes
    [ Parent ]

    Sit (4.00 / 1) (#127)
    by CodeBhikkhu on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:55:54 PM EST

    Sit with them. Wisdom comes through experience. You may not be able to teach them zen but maybe you have a little wisdom to impart. Teach them the way to sit and avoid the Maras. This in itself is a beginning.

    With metta,
    CodeBhikkhu


    "A week long Dalai Lama Fantasy Camp where you get to run around in red robes and eat rice and chant mantras with the Twelfth son of the Lama himself wont teach you what zen is." -- skyhook
    [ Parent ]
    for me... (4.00 / 4) (#73)
    by boxed on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 06:47:46 AM EST

    ...the most important thing has been the realization that zazen is just a way to recognize the now so that you can keep this state of mind at all times. I practically never do zazen anymore because I meditate while walking, sitting, sleeping, talking, working, fucking, sleeping. A cat always keeps the every day mind, it is only us humans that learn to be confused.

    Humans & Confusion (none / 0) (#96)
    by Rademir on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:31:28 AM EST

    A cat always keeps the every day mind, it is only us humans that learn to be confused."

    Yes! Further, Consciousness is our Oxygen challenge.

    We all stumble around in a poison of collective confusions we've developed over ~100,000 years. But consciousness doesn't have to produce (at least so many) illusions and attachments, just as billions of years ago oxygen did not have to be deadly to all life. That single-celled life evolved to harness the power of oxygen offers hope -- we can learn to get the power of consciousness, without the extreme tragedy all around us today.

    To get back on topic, meditation is one practice that clears individual confusion.



    [ Parent ]
    correct link (none / 0) (#97)
    by Rademir on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:51:31 AM EST

    Consciousness is our Oxygen challenge

    [ Parent ]
    How utterly disgusting. (1.66 / 9) (#78)
    by tkatchev on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:27:17 AM EST

    Thanks for demonstrating exactly what people mean when they speak of "the downfall of Western Civilization".

    Y'all disgust me.

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.

    Hmm (3.75 / 4) (#80)
    by egeland on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:32:03 AM EST

    So is your view that western society should close itself off from everything? Build a wall?

    Or do you like having the freedom to choose?

    Is it disgusting to you that people here are offered a view into something they might never have heard of?

    I certainly learnt from the article, even if I doubt I'll put the techniques into practice, and I hope you're open enough to respect others' views, too.


    --
    Some interesting quotes
    [ Parent ]

    No, actually, (1.88 / 9) (#85)
    by tkatchev on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:08:06 AM EST

    ...my view is that y'all permanently acephalic "members of society" should grow a brain and stop eating the sh-t that is fed to you.

    P.S. No, I am definitely not "open enough to respect others' views". I don't need to have an "open mind" to know when to avoid dangerous and stupid things and ideas.

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    Interesting (3.00 / 2) (#86)
    by egeland on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:20:49 AM EST

    I'm curious to know which part of the meditation process offends you so?

    Or is it the learning and personal growth which is the culprit?

    --
    Some interesting quotes
    [ Parent ]

    Yes. (2.40 / 5) (#91)
    by tkatchev on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:05:51 AM EST

    Indeed, you are correct: the so-called "learning" and "personal growth" offend me very much.


       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    How so? (3.66 / 3) (#123)
    by The Archpadre on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:26:49 PM EST

    Really, why is that offensive, and why do you view this as dangerous? Do you have some disagreement with a core Zen belief or is it something else?

    Or are you just trolling?
    __
    Where did my waffles go?


    [ Parent ]
    Whatever. (3.00 / 2) (#140)
    by tkatchev on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 06:56:07 AM EST

    It's obvious to anybody with half a brain, and anybody without half a brain is incapable of even receiving any arguments I might provide. In effect, this whole argument is pointless.

    Consider that a "zen koan", if you will.

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    I think... (2.00 / 2) (#151)
    by benson hedges on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 02:38:18 PM EST

    that you are not more than frustrated white trash that uses this discussion on something he does not, and will never understand, to express his disgust about everything unclear to his mind.

    what you cannot understand, you fear.
    what you fear, you hate.

    I would be actually sorry for you, if I would still trouble myself with such primitive feelings.
    --
    When all is One, all violence is masochism.
    [ Parent ]

    Oh yes, indeed. (none / 0) (#165)
    by tkatchev on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 02:55:24 AM EST

    "White trash", indeed. :))

    You're cute.

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    it's wonderful (none / 0) (#168)
    by amarodeeps on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 11:08:40 AM EST

    I think that one person was right about the zen koan aspect to your attitude...it rocks.

    tH@Nk5 d00d!!



    [ Parent ]
    oh well... (none / 0) (#198)
    by benson hedges on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 01:45:29 AM EST

    then yellow trash, or black trash, maybe even green or purple trash, I don't give two tugs of a dead dogs cock about that.

    as long as you use sfb-terms such as "western civilization" or think you're in charge to decide what's right, wrong, good and bad, you're way on top of the list of people I will shoot if they diagnose cancer on me.
    --
    When all is One, all violence is masochism.
    [ Parent ]

    disclaimer : (none / 0) (#199)
    by benson hedges on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 01:56:37 AM EST

    this is neither a death threat, nor a threat in general. if i ever develop cancer, I'll have other problems than running around killing people I hardly know. that was just my way of saying "methinks you suck" at 8 am after a sleepless night without coffee. just in case anyone gets offended. forgot i have to be more careful around us-americans, as you people tend to have no sense of non-pie-in-the-face humor whatsoever.

    aw damn. now was that racist? but then again, who cares. good night.
    --
    When all is One, all violence is masochism.
    [ Parent ]

    curious (3.33 / 3) (#90)
    by dirtmerchant on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:02:57 AM EST

    what part of this is dangerous in your mind?
    -- "The universe not only may be queerer than we think, but queerer than we can think" - JBS Haldane
    [ Parent ]
    How do you know what is stupid and dangerous? (2.00 / 2) (#107)
    by ethereal on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 02:54:48 PM EST

    Obviously your mind must have been open to receive that information at some point. So what caused you to close your mind? Is it possible that your bad choices, rather than some knowledge of the world, are what caused this change in you?

    Or were you born with all knowledge, fully formed, and thus immediately able to discern the stupid and dangerous? I'm open minded enough to consider for the moment whether you should be accorded Godhood for that, although I find the prospect pretty unlikely. Too bad you can't similarly consider it.

    --

    Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
    [ Parent ]

    fhotg says: (4.50 / 2) (#83)
    by fhotg on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:56:10 AM EST

    Better to meditate than to sit around and do nothing !
    ~~~
    Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

    hey! (none / 0) (#99)
    by Resident Geek on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:59:00 AM EST

    don't just do something--sit there!!

    --
    Fighting the War on the War On Drugs


    [ Parent ]
    interesting (4.00 / 2) (#93)
    by shrubbery on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:03:51 AM EST

    Alot of this sounds very, very close to the state achieved through hypnosis. In hypnosis, the body and mind is very relaxed but is still aware of its environments. Its also very volunitary as opposed to its common conception. I wouldn't be surprised if the practice of "self-hyponosis" and "meditation" are two names for basically the same thing.

    quite right (none / 0) (#100)
    by earlydaysofsin on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:59:20 AM EST

    As your probably aware all hypnosis is "self hypnosis" ... you cant really hypnotize some else you merely aid in their entering a hypnotic state ... ie its very difficult to force someone into a hypnotic state against their will ... it is possible though with the aid of drugs or if they are highly somnambulic The goal of this particular meditation seems to focus on keeping the conscious in present though, not in wandering through the subconscious ... the brain wave patterns are probably pretty similar though

    [ Parent ]
    I agree (4.00 / 1) (#145)
    by Wolf Keeper on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 10:59:42 AM EST

    I was in Catholic Christian seminary for 15 months, and we were together for an hour a few times a week for quiet meditative or contemplative prayer (the Catholics make distinctions between the two).  

    I found myself daydreaming more than anything, even after fifteen months.  That same was true for attempts at meditation I made while studying martial arts.

    A year or two after I quit seminary, I read two books on self -hypnosis.  It took me about two weeks to get that to 'work' for me.  Now I can enter a mildly hypnotic/meditative state instantly, although I haven't practiced enough to reach any deep trances (zazen).

    [ Parent ]

    Critics. (4.37 / 8) (#103)
    by watchmaker on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 12:55:20 PM EST

    About zen, or any other form of buddhist philosophy, everything I am about to say is true. Or maybe it's false. And every critic who criticized this as new age bullshit is absolutely right. Or perhaps wrong.

    It doesn't matter. And nobody here has grasped that.  

    What we're talking about here is a worldview. A set of explanations that a person uses to explain the way the world works.

    There are people that have the worldview that there is a mystical being sitting up in the clouds somewhere watching down benevolently. This being either sent a man named Jesus as his prophet. Or perhaps it was later a man named Mohammed. Or maybe there was no prophet at all.

    In my world view, that's wrong, because there is not a single shred of provable evidence that any of that is true. But guess what, it's just my personal world view. It's how I describe the world, how I make sense of how the world is put together.

    So, is Christianity a cult? The definition is too broad. Are the Presbyterians a cult? Not likely. I grew up in the Presbyterian church, and it's about as non cult like as you can imagine. Were the Branch Davidians of David Koresh a cult? Absolutely. He used Christian symbolism and mythology to draw his victims in closer.

    Is Buddhism a cult? Is Buddhism even a religion? According to Merriam Webster's dictionary, religion is, among other things...


    1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural

    And, just so we're clear, Supernatural is...

    1 : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil

    So, is Buddhism a religion? Well, just like our Christianity question above, it's too broad of a question.

    The Buddha was a man. A prince named Gautama Siddhartha. He wasn't a god, he wasn't a mystical being in the sense of the definition of the supernatural above. I don't know of a Buddhist belief structure that makes him anything other than a "Great man who changed the world around him." You could apply the same definition to Socrates, or Pasteur, or hell, even John Coletrane, that doesnt make them gods.

    So from that, no, Buddhism is not a religion.

    When Buddhist teachings began to spread to other parts of the world, it was retaught and assimilated into other world views. And so, you ended up with Tibetan Buddhism which believes in reincarnation. It's the Buddhist philosophies of non self, dukkha, the eightfold path, and the like, combined with the ancient Tibetan belief system of reincarnation. I'd call this a religion, because it passes the supernatural smell test. But in this case it's the reincarnation that is the religion. The fact that they use Buddhist meditation techniques has little to do with it.

    Are there true buddhist cults? Many believe that Soka Gakkai qualifies. I have no opinion, as I haven't read enough on both sides to make a clear judgement.

    I recently began exploring Theravada and Zen Buddhist literature. I highly recommend Thich Nhat Hanh's The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching or Steve Hagen's Buddhism: Plain and Simple. I have begun sitting in zazen recently. I have resisted joining a local center and finding a teacher because, well, despite all that I said above, I hate organized "religion", and it's been a struggle to overcome that and accept Buddhism. I have traded some emails with a local Theravada instructor, but haven't yet attended a gathering.

    So, does it work? Yes. I sit, rather non traditionally, cross legged on a couch, with the soles of both feet touching each other, knees out to the side. I have bad knees, and this is the only way I am comfortable.

    I close my eyes and breathe deeply and slowly, counting each breath, up to 100, and then backwards to zero. I pay attention to my breathing , or to the sound of the furnace, or the image of a swinging gate. Anything. Stray thoughts still arise, but I don't force them away. I acknowledge their existence and try to determine where they came from.

    When sports reporters interview American Football quarterbacks as rookies, the players often say something to the effect that they are improving because "The game is slowing down for me." That is, they are becoming more aware of their task, their role, the patterns of defenders on the field in front of them, and it's as if the world moves slower, they can better make quick decisions.

    That's EXACTLY how I feel after a successful session of sitting. I am so in tune with the world around me that it's as if it has slowed down.

    It's not mystical, it's not supernatural, Jebus isn't granting me strength, I haven't aligned my aura to my eleventh descending chakra with pyramids and crystals. I've used my own will power to increase the ability of my conscious brain to deal with the world around me.

    So, to those of you scoff, that's fine. You're right, and I'm wrong. Or is it the other way around?


    Cool. (4.33 / 3) (#109)
    by Fantastic Lad on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 03:24:26 PM EST

    Good stuff!

    I tend to agree. It seems to be really rare that somebody sees the path clear of,

    1) The stupidly massive over-importance placed on how the body is positioned. Even in the post above, the writer spent 90% of his time describing the physical bullshit and barely gave a nod towards the stuff that matters. --Even while saying that the physical is not important! Silly.

    2) The cult aspects: The aggrandizement of a hierarchical power structure, 'mandatory' donations (to avoid being frowned upon), and the discouragement of individual thought outside rigid parameters. --All to greater and lesser degrees.

    Very good. --I have not meditated in a long while, so I do not feel it is my place to offer advice, except to say that magic is simply knowledge which science hasn't followed yet.

    Take care!

    -Fantastic Lad

    [ Parent ]

    getting comfortable (5.00 / 2) (#113)
    by Shpongle Spore on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:07:15 PM EST

    /1) The stupidly massive over-importance placed on how the body is positioned. Even in the post above, the writer spent 90% of his time describing the physical bullshit and barely gave a nod towards the stuff that matters. --Even while saying that the physical is not important! Silly. /

    Meditation involves sitting very still, possibly for a long time--something I don't think most people ever do in their ordinary lives. It's easy for find a position that's comfortable for a minute or two, but finding a position that will work for longer periods is hard, at least for me. You may scoff and say the physical part is too mundane and misses the real point, but it's entirely necessary; it's hard enough for a beginner to stay focused on meditation without the distraction of constantly changing positions, limbs falling asleep, back pain, etc.
    __
    I wish I was in Austin, at the Chili Parlor bar,
    drinking 'Mad Dog' margaritas and not caring where you are
    [ Parent ]

    Sitting around. . . (4.00 / 5) (#117)
    by Fantastic Lad on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 07:25:08 PM EST

    Here's the thing. . .

    In my own practices, I have found it extremely effective to lie down when meditating. What could be more comfortable than that? This is what my teacher promotes, and it is both extremely effective and really quite sensible. --If you want to dive into the mind, then why not let the body relax and be forgotten in the way it was designed to relax and be forgotten? Sleep and dream happen they way the do for a reason. How can sitting in a stiff and uncomfortable pose be an improvement? That's like re-inventing the wheel, and inserting a nice dose of old tyme Christian style self-flagellation in one blow! Why is it that people are so determined to make the path to enlightenment artificially painful and difficult? Doesn't the road provide enough challenges without adding such things?

    Anyway, I find it's really good to meditate in bed after you wake up. That way, you're already rested and probably won't fall asleep, plus you've been cycling your energy all night naturally, so you already start without the stress which can accrue during the day. You can drift for a couple of hours easily this way, since many people are already inclined to sleeping in. Very effective!

    I realize that there's a whole 'line up the chakras' thing, and perhaps there is something to that. However, I have tried to meditate while sitting but I found that it didn't change, (much less improve), the various powerful experiences which come with a good meditation, except that sitting was physically uncomfortable and far more distracting, --which is one of the only things I could think of which might make it beneficial; it trains one to ignore physical distraction. But for actual meditation purposes, it strikes me as largely unnecessary, and very possibly one of those negative artifacts which the 'dark side' likes to insert into culture in order to make things more difficult for seekers.

    --Of course, I am speaking as a Westerner with only a few short years of experience in these matters, but this is what I have observed. I wasn't trying to scoff. ('Scoff' is such a harsh word!) I was more just trying to disarm an idea I find questionable in a light way. If I really wanted to scoff, you'd know it! In any case, I didn't mean to be offensive. Whatever path you choose, I wish you all the best on it!

    The Bhudda, Christ, all those admirable guys, constantly tried to tell people that each soul must find its own unique path. Uniformitarianism and fascism are strikingly linked for a reason!

    -Fantastic Lad

    [ Parent ]

    Christ (4.00 / 2) (#122)
    by jjayson on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:53:31 PM EST

    The Bhudda, Christ, all those admirable guys, constantly tried to tell people that each soul must find its own unique path.

    Huh? When did Christ say that we all should find our own way?  He said that he was the only way.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]

    Hear-say. . . (2.33 / 3) (#132)
    by Fantastic Lad on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:23:16 AM EST

    Huh? When did Christ say that we all should find our own way? He said that he was the only way.

    Well, if you use a bible as your reference, you're not likely to find Christ voicing decent philosophies! The bible is a piece of mind-control supreme, written after the fact in order to distort and serve the ends of the 'dark side'. (And thus create hierarchical, pass the collection plate, it's evil to think for yourself, religious organizations. Any spiritual teacher/healer worth a second notice would spin in his grave!)

    To be honest, I'm simply reporting the words of channeled sources in regard to what Christ was like, as well as gnostic and various heretical stuff. All hear-say, to be certain, but then what can anybody do after rejecting the bible? I certainly wasn't around in his time, so maybe Christ was a really bad guy, -though I've seen little to support such a position.

    -Fantastic Lad

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Hear-say. . . (none / 0) (#142)
    by mrbo on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 08:34:37 AM EST

    Isn't the assumption of the bible as a reference fair enough? It was my understanding that the Bible as an entity was one of the few factors unifying Christian sects.

    Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but at the root of the two philosophical systems (Christianity and Buddhism) there is a fundamental difference. Christianity teaches salvation can only be achieved through a knowledge of God, whilst Buddhism teaches that understanding (similiar in tone to salvation) can only be achieved through a knowledge of yourself. To me, at least that suggests that Buddhism is more supportive of a personal path to ones enlightenment.

    Ofcourse I'm pretty areligious/aphilosophical (sure, thats a word) so this is all coming a bit of an angle.

    >>
    The above comment is entirely my own opinion, and as such is completely random.
    [ Parent ]

    Good question. (none / 0) (#156)
    by Fantastic Lad on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 04:12:35 PM EST

    Isn't the assumption of the bible as a reference fair enough? It was my understanding that the Bible as an entity was one of the few factors unifying Christian sects.

    Sure, but one should ask, WHO was doing the unifying and for WHAT purpose. --Here's a quote:

    The great Jewish scholar, Rashi de Troyes, (1040-1105), makes the astonishingly frank statement that the Genesis narrative, going back to the creation of the world, was written to justify what we might now call genocide. The Bible contains endless accounts of this activity, against the Canaanites, Hittites, Moabites, Midianites, among many others. The "chosen people" were instructed to kill everyone they could get their hands on, saving only virgins who they were supposed to take as slaves and rape as often as they liked.
    One school of thought explains that Christianity during the time of the Roman empire was used specifically as a tool to control the masses. Machiavelli (The Prince) explained the principal like this,
    "When a new leader comes to power, he should be quick to suppress opposition with complete ruthlessness - cut it off quickly and cleanly. The new ruler should then seek out and cultivate the minority groups that were oppressed under the preceding administration to use them as a foundation of support."
    In 1995, Helen Ellerbe read a letter from Pope John Paul II. It had been written "confidentially" to a group of cardinals, but was later leaked to the press. It said, in part:

    "How can one remain silent about the many forms of violence perpetrated in the name of the faith - wars of religion, tribunals of the Inquisition and other forms of violations of the rights of persons?"

    Ms. Ellerbe then decided to prepare a short history of the "dark side" of Christianity. In her book, she writes:

    "Christianity owes its large membership to the political maneuvering of orthodox Christians. They succeeded in turning Christianity from an abhorred minor cult into the official religion of the Roman Empire. Their goal was to create what Bishop Irenaeus called 'the catholic church dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth.' To that end, they used nearly any means. They revised Christian writings and adapted their principles to make Christianity more acceptable. They pandered to Roman authorities. They incorporated elements of paganism. Orthodox Christianity appealed to the government, not as a religion that would encourage enlightenment or spirituality, but rather as one that would bring order and conformity to the faltering empire. The Roman government in turn granted orthodox Christians unprecedented privilege, enabling the Christian church to become the very sort of authoritarian power Jesus had purportedly resisted!" --Ellerbe
    Rather Machiavellian-sounding, no?

    There is a fair amount of research which strongly suggests that the texts which make up both the old and new testaments were heavily altered, cherry picked, borrowed from other religions, or just plain made up in order to manipulate populations. This has NOTHING to do with what Christ taught.

    I tend to give this kind of research far more credence than I do the monotheistic "Obey or Suffer!" nonsense presented by the monotheistic centralized religious institutions! As such, I seek to separate religious dogma of any system from its core elements. --The core element of Christianity being, Christ. So when I talk about Christ, I do so without all the mountains of extra 'add-ons' which greedy and dangerous people have attached to his name.

    As for your second question, about the differences between Christianity and Buddhism. . .

    Christ was a spiritual healer/teacher as was Buddha. They were both very powerful, both very much plugged into the Universal consciousness and as such, they were both channeling the same knowledge and teaching the same universal truths!.

    -Fantastic Lad

    [ Parent ]

    join them (4.00 / 1) (#190)
    by majik on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 03:44:09 PM EST

    perhaps you could reconcile this difference with a brief epiphany... you are god. understand yourself and you understand god.
    Funky fried chickens - they're what's for dinner
    [ Parent ]
    Channeled Jesus? (none / 0) (#147)
    by jjayson on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:59:41 PM EST

    I know many people who channel Jesus daily, in prayer. They all say that you are wrong on what Jesus taught. Nice try to prop up your worship of sticks and rocks, though.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    And with that attitude you are trying to teach..? (none / 0) (#157)
    by Fantastic Lad on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 04:27:15 PM EST

    A long, long way to go before a Jedi you will be. Hrm!

    But seriously. . .

    You are making some broad assumptions here. I don't worship anything. People certainly can contact Christ in meditative prayer, from what I understand. Though I don't know if he answers in words and definitions.

    There is actually a lot of really interesting reading one can do on this subject. I'd steer clear of the bible, however! (I responded to a poster on this same thread regarding why.)

    Anyway, here's an example of some channeled material of the sort I'm talking about. This particular stretch comes from one of the more fascinating sources, (Laura Knight). Of course, as with all such material, absorb at your own risk:

    Q: (L) Is there any special power or advantage in praying in the name of Jesus?
    A: Yes.
    Q: (L) Well, if he didn't die and release his spirit or spiritual archetype into the earth plane magnetic field as some people conjecture, how is this power conferred?
    A: Prayers go to him.
    Q: (L) And what does he do when he hears the prayers?
    A: Determines their necessity against background of individual soul development.
    Q: (L) You say that when a person prays to Jesus that he makes some sort of a decision, is that correct?
    A: Yes.
    Q: (L) Well, how can he do that when millions of people are praying to him simultaneously?
    A: Soul division.
    Q: (L) What do you mean by soul division?
    A: Self explanatory.
    Q: (L) Do you mean soul division as in cellular meiosis where a cell splits and replicates itself?
    A: No.
    Q: (L) Does Jesus' soul divide?
    A: Yes.
    Q: (L) How many times does it divide?
    A: Endlessly as a projection of consciousness.
    Q: (L) And what happens to this piece of soul that is divided or projected?
    A: Is not a piece of a soul.
    Q: (L) What is it?
    A: It is a replication.
    Q: (L) Is each replication exactly identical to the original?
    A: Yes. And no.
    Q: (L) In what way is the replicated soul different from the original?
    A: Not able to give individual attention.
    Q: (L) Are any of us able to replicate in this manner if we so desire?
    A: Could if in same circumstance. The way the process works is thus: When Jesus left the earth plane, he went into another dimension or density of reality, whereupon all "rules" regarding the awareness of time and space are entirely different from the way they are perceived in your reality. A "Time warp cocoon," if you will. At this point in space time his soul which was/is still in the physical realm, was placed in a state of something akin to suspended animation and a sort of advanced form of unconsciousness. From that point to the present his soul has been replicated from a state of this unconsciousness in order that all who call upon him or need to be with him or need to speak to him can do so on an individual basis. His soul can be replicated ad infinitum--as many times as needed. The replication process produces a state of hyper- consciousness in each and every version of the soul consciousness.
    Q: (L) So, you are saying that Jesus is in a state of actual physical suspended animation, voluntarily, in another plane of existence, having chosen to give up his life on this plane in order to continuously generate replications of his soul pattern for other people to call upon for assistance? A sort of "template generator?"
    A: Yes. Precisely.
    Q: (L) If one calls upon him more than once, does one get a double dose?
    A: Define.
    Q: (L) If one repeatedly calls upon Jesus does one get repeated replications or additional strength, power or whatever?
    A: No. Once one has truly made the connection, that's all that's needed.
    Q: (L) This is an interesting concept. Has any other soul volunteered to perform this work?
    A: Yes. 12 at the present "time."
    Q: (L) Can you name any of the others?
    A: Buddha. Moses. Shintanhilmoon. Nagaillikiga. Others; Varying degrees; Jesus is the strongest currently.
    What odd ideas, no? Though, I find after several years of reading and researching from a variety of separate sources, that such ideas hold a great deal of validty for me these days.

    -Fantastic Lad

    [ Parent ]

    _ (none / 0) (#159)
    by jjayson on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 05:33:01 PM EST

    There is actually a lot of really interesting reading one can do on this subject. I'd steer clear of the bible, however! (I responded to a poster on this same thread regarding why.)
    I have read that comment and I find your thoughts pecualiar and without much merrit. We have found verses of the Bible written over  two thousand years ago and they are virtually identical. I don't know why you would believe your source, when virtually all biblical archeologists consider the new testament and old testament very valuable documents.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Peculiar and without much merit. . . (none / 0) (#162)
    by Fantastic Lad on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 06:50:44 PM EST

    I have read that comment and I find your thoughts pecualiar and without much merrit. We have found verses of the Bible written over two thousand years ago and they are virtually identical. I don't know why you would believe your source, when virtually all biblical archeologists consider the new testament and old testament very valuable documents.

    Sources, actually, as in plural. And the reason I find validity in that branch of thinking should have been made clear in that post. Perhaps you were not really trying to understand what I was describing because it was cutting into some sacred cows. . . (Don't feel bad though; sacred cows represent safety and as such can be very, very difficult to let go of. Most never manage it, but it is a requirement if you truly want to examine the world with unbiased honesty, which in turn is a requirement if you want to grow.)

    Now, as for biblical archaeologists. . .

    As I understand it, there is endless debate back and forth over how 'true' the bible is or is not. There isn't actually any broad concensus. --And further, among the debators are naturally people with their own highly charged sacred cows to defend. I am doubtful that there are very many who are mature and wise enough to be entirely objective as they dedicate their lives to the study of biblical archaeology. -Indeed, those who truly are objective in their studies, tend to turn up all kinds of fascinating oddities and inconsistencies which lead them away from the formalized church-sanctioned opinions. These are the people whose research I am reading from and most interested by.

    Simple logic and observation demonstrates time and time again that consolidated power centers use propaganda to ensure their continued power; such propaganda and biased ideas reaching through all forms of media and communication. I think it is rather unrealistic to assume that popular religious texts, particularly those which make up such an old and patchwork document as the bible, would not have fallen prey to the forces of political agenda, both inside and outside the church.

    I'm sure there were greedy, evil people in the church 2000 years ago as there are today. Priests rape children today, for goodness sake! The simple fact is that those most easily corrupted by power are often also those most attracted to it.

    -Fantastic Lad

    [ Parent ]

    I can't believe I bit. (5.00 / 1) (#177)
    by adequate nathan on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 04:38:58 PM EST

    I am doubtful that there are very many who are mature and wise enough to be entirely objective as they dedicate their lives to the study of biblical archaeology. -Indeed, those who truly are objective in their studies, tend to turn up all kinds of fascinating oddities and inconsistencies which lead them away from the formalized church-sanctioned opinions. These are the people whose research I am reading from and most interested by...

    No shit, Sherlock. Like the Jesus Seminar? If you even know what that is.

    Look, you are intellectually bankrupt. You have cited as evidence in this thread a spirit medium discussing Jesus's soul division and Jesus's incorporation into the Earth's magnetic field. And, in the next breath, called people crazy.

    I'm onto you, Mr. Ray. Don't fuck with me.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    Thank You. (none / 0) (#180)
    by jjayson on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 08:13:27 PM EST

    That was the best laugh I have had all week.
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    Wow! Time-cube guy! (none / 0) (#181)
    by Fantastic Lad on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 02:27:02 AM EST

    It's been years since I ran across his stuff. And yes, I would have to say that he's part of Sturgon's 90% (crap, that is). Trying to make sense of that guy's site (sight?) gave me a bit of a head-ache. He's one disturbed puppy. But, boy, if you have to be insane, then you could certainly do it with less style!

    No shit, Sherlock. Like the Jesus Seminar? If you even know what that is.

    Actually, I'd never come across that group before, and so I just spent some time going over their work. Cool stuff; I'll be going back to read more! But I don't quite see how this makes what I said wrong, or why it angered you. This group is obviously on the outside. They're declaring right up front that the Bible is not right! I bet most of the world's Christians would be most upset by this! These are exactly the kinds of people whose work fascinates me.

    --Of course, from the outset, they're shooting themselves in their feet. It's clear that they are following a pre-prescribed treatment of their subject; They appear to take the firm stance that magic does not exist. --A belief which is one of those nice & safe sacred cows I was mentioning earlier. When will people learn that magic and science are not at war? Magic is just an area of reality which has not yet been explored by science. (Though this state of affairs is certainly helped along by the current power structure!)

    Look, you are intellectually bankrupt. You have cited as evidence in this thread a spirit medium discussing Jesus's soul division and Jesus's incorporation into the Earth's magnetic field. And, in the next breath, called people crazy.

    Well actually, so far I've only called one person crazy, and that was in the first paragraph of this very post. --Seriously, are you guys even reading my responses, or am I wasting my time enitrely? It's very, very common among such closed minded people to only see what they wish to see.

    But anyway. . .

    Yes, I freely admit that some of the stuff I'm quoting is pretty out there for the average bear. But you appear to think that just because I was writing about ideas which don't fit with the government text books and television you were programmed with as kids, that any outside ideas are not just wrong, but I take it by your inference, actually 'Crazy'. Hm. Have you ever wondered, and I mean, even once, if the things you were told were true as children might have actually been false? Doesn't it worry you that nearly ALL kids from all cultures believe whole heartedly whatever they are fed while growing up? What makes you think you are special and immune? (In the West, there are two huge and powerful messages, both of which are lies; the lie of 'science', and the lie of Religion. And what a clever trap! The few which manage to break away from the mind control clamp of one, tend to flee right into the waiting arms of the other! An almost perfect set-up.)

    And don't 'Fuck with you'? Please.

    I find it thoroughly ridiculous that people with such edgy, mean and judgemental attitudes can at the same time think they have superior minds. -And my mystification in the case of the original poster goes double! I mean, the very person who posted the original essay about Zen Meditation is just a bundle of contradictions. He has an obvious self-consciousness about him which activates at the first sign of criticism. Petty and sharp. This guy is writing about Zen mediation? "Irony" anyone?

    Okay, okay. That's a low blow. I do realize that these types of people are on a gut level struggling to rationalize spirituality into convenient bite-sized pieces of 'science' fact. --So that they won't get an upset stomach while trying to digest ideas and practices which are entirely contrary to the current Western 'science' paradigm. At least they're trying, which means that they are aware of something beyond the corporate vision of the West. This by itself is an accomplishment. --The problem is that to make those bite-sized nuggets edible, they are fighting to adjust reality to one where Jesus was a trouble maker with good P.R., and Zen Meditation is mostly about how you cross your legs. I mean, sheesh! This is how rumors get started! This does nothing to undo the Big Lie. This is not about waking up, but about pulling the covers up more snuggly.

    Okay, then.

    -Fantastic Lad

    [ Parent ]

    Don't make sure assumptions. (none / 0) (#184)
    by jjayson on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 12:18:12 PM EST

    Stop spewing your self-righteous attitude around here. You slam on others for beliefs that they have, say that they fall into a trap of believing what they are told, then proclaim that you have the whole truth. You even think you have the truth about me.

    This group is obviously on the outside. They're declaring right up front that the Bible is not right! I bet most of the world's Christians would be most upset by this! These are exactly the kinds of people whose work fascinates me.
    You are not a seaker of truth. You seek what you want to believe if true. You look for views outside the fold and latch onto them, regardless of truth. You only seem to care about what they message is and to what extent it aids in your current world view. For you are just as bad as the people you criticize, except you learn the opposite direction.

    As for the Jesus Seminar people, I have read them and I have come to the conclusion that they often let their agenda get in the way, requiring more proof than what is required of historians. They seem to contradict themselves when it helps their position and hand wave it away. There are one or two that do good scholarly work and I just have a differing of opinion with them in how to view the evidence. lee_malatesta has read and studied even more of the group's work than I have and has come to a similar opinion, so I feel that I am on strong ground with my conclusion, as I trust lee.

    Yes, I freely admit that some of the stuff I'm quoting is pretty out there for the average bear. But you appear to think that just because I was writing about ideas which don't fit with the government text books and television you were programmed with as kids, that any outside ideas are not just wrong, but I take it by your inference, actually 'Crazy'.
    And you seem to think that just because the ideas you write about don't fit with that you learn in Sunday School that they are correct. On this ground, you cannot claim to hold a superior, or more correct, position.

    Have you ever wondered, and I mean, even once, if the things you were told were true as children might have actually been false? Doesn't it worry you that nearly ALL kids from all cultures believe whole heartedly whatever they are fed while growing up? What makes you think you are special and immune
    Yes, I have. I fought against what I was told all my life. When I was younger I never believed anybody and always required proof. I have gone through a handful or religions where I believed that they were all symbolic and all good paths to take. I was far more open-minded and questioning than you give me credit for. I was even a staunch atheist for a couple of years.

    Okay, okay. That's a low blow. I do realize that these types of people are on a gut level struggling to rationalize spirituality into convenient bite-sized pieces of 'science' fact. --So that they won't get an upset stomach while trying to digest ideas and practices which are entirely contrary to the current Western 'science' paradigm. At least they're trying, which means that they are aware of something beyond the corporate vision of the West.
    That was a low blow, and I won't even grace the previous paragraph with a response. However, how do you know my beliefs? I do believe that there is much beyond out corporeal bodies and that we do have a way to contact it. I just don't happen to believe that we do it as you do it. How is that so bad?

    The problem is that to make those bite-sized nuggets edible, they are fighting to adjust reality to one where Jesus was a trouble maker with good P.R., and Zen Meditation is mostly about how you cross your legs. I mean, sheesh! This is how rumors get started! This does nothing to undo the Big Lie. This is not about waking up, but about pulling the covers up more snuggly.
    Let's flip it. Why do you believe all that in vogue new agey tripe that you have been fed? How are you not a walking contradiction? Why is it so hard for you to believe in the one true God, and I am not talking about TBN's corportate God, but the living God that came to Earth to get us out of the mess we got ourselves into?

    A side not, about your misunderstanding of the Zen issue with posture. Every Zen student can tell you why posture is so important. My story even tells you why: because there isn't a difference between the body in the mind. When the body is in correct position, correct thought flows from it. So yes, zazen is about the position of the body, but it is also about the position of the mind, but that is just repetitive. Do that make sense to you?
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]

    Yep! (none / 0) (#195)
    by Fantastic Lad on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 09:12:19 PM EST

    Let's flip it. Why do you believe all that in vogue new agey tripe that you have been fed? How are you not a walking contradiction? Why is it so hard for you to believe in the one true God, and I am not talking about TBN's corportate God, but the living God that came to Earth to get us out of the mess we got ourselves into?

    But I AM a walking contradiction. That's why we're here; to learn how to exist with grace and power. The simple fact that any of us is here is that we're imperfect. Learn the lessons, move on. Class is still 'in'.

    So, let me apologize. I ruffled your feathers a little much there, though I still tend to think I've got a fairly good beed on things.

    In any case, rather than argue the nitty gritty and waste time that way, I'd like to briefly address the point about God coming here to save us.

    From all that I have read and learned from books and teachers and various experiences in the metaphysical, the description which I find best suits all I've seen and learned is that God is not a powerful being in the heavens who created us or who has any interest in saving us.

    I must reject that for a thousand reasons which I won't get into. Instead, I believe that God is All. God is infinite. Infinite! This means that we are contained within that infinity, that we are parts of it. The 'mess' which we got ourselves into, (were put into), is also part of God; part of the lesson.

    As for where the bible came from. . . I look at UFO's and abductions. I look at magic as it works. I look at channeled material, and the conclusion I draw is that God and all the promises of return and battle between good and evil, as depicted in the bible and in the archeological material 'proof', was very likely set up by alien forces who exist in a higher state where time is not experienced as we experience it. Time traveling aliens. (Yeah, I know, sounds nuts, but if you do enough searching. . .).

    The end result and goal, I feel, is to manufacture a situation on Earth where a massive killing of 6 billion and the resulting feeding on the flood of negative emotions will take place. Also, the God set-up as sold to us is possibly a device to place us at a disadvantage when the world ends in a few years time. --Or begins. (That is, when this part of space and time shifts into a higher version of reality.)

    Now THAT is some crazy stuff to digest, I know! But the problem is that it is actually supported by a variety of things; it is the one 'super string theory' which holds all of the various clues together. And it explains the actions of the power elite! (Underground shadow governments, indeed!) Part and parcel of this theory include the destruction of the semites, (arabs and jews), the arrival of devastating comet showers, and the destruction of the most recent incarnation of Atlantis, (the U.S.) as it attempts to take over the world. We're already seeing this stuff begin!

    Anyway, that's where I'm coming from. Sorry again for treating you unfairly!

    -Fantastic Lad

    [ Parent ]

    the end times (or beginning) (none / 0) (#196)
    by jjayson on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 09:39:54 PM EST

    Also, the God set-up as sold to us is possibly a device to place us at a disadvantage when the world ends in a few years time. --Or begins. (That is, when this part of space and time shifts into a higher version of reality.)

    How long is a "few years" and when this doesn't happen will you listen to me more about Christianity then? If it does happen, then I will listen to you more. Okay?
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]

    It's a deal! (none / 0) (#201)
    by Fantastic Lad on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 06:32:15 AM EST

    And a few years is sometime between tomorrow morning and around 2012. (Time is acting strangely these days.) --And that's all assuming we don't get pummeled by asteroids or killed by our own governments first. That would suck.

    Whatever happens, take care and try to enjoy the show!

    -Fantastic Lad

    [ Parent ]

    so, to recap (none / 0) (#188)
    by adequate nathan on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 03:39:08 PM EST

    First, you wrote:

    Indeed, those who truly are objective in their studies, tend to turn up all kinds of fascinating oddities and inconsistencies which lead them away from the formalized church-sanctioned opinions. These are the people whose research I am reading from and most interested by...

    Then, you wrote that you'd never heard of the Jesus Seminar, probably the most famous Biblical textual research consortium now in existence. Whether one agrees with their findings (insofar as they have any official findings) is irrelevant, but any casual scholar of the Bible knows who they are and what methodology they use.

    In other words, you only read stuff you already agree with. You haven't made even a casual inquiry into the textual legitimacy of the Bible; what you've done is read some head shoppe books and regurgitated whatever they have to say about the issue. Your opinion is therefore even more worthless than the head shoppe books, most of which are at least original. So much for 'true objectivity.'

    Nothing more to see here. Thank you, come again.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    Okay. Last try. . . (none / 0) (#194)
    by Fantastic Lad on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 08:39:30 PM EST

    Then, you wrote that you'd never heard of the Jesus Seminar, probably the most famous Biblical textual research consortium now in existence.

    And you'll note that I freely admitted that I'd never heard of it. We all must learn on our own curves, and I am striving to do so all the time. I am certain that there are a vast number of cool and popular things that you are unfamiliar with, but I certainly would not criticize you for not knowing something in advance of learning it when you finally discover them. . ! (That would be petty and mean. . , but then we've covered that, haven't we?)

    In other words, you only read stuff you already agree with. You haven't made even a casual inquiry into the textual legitimacy of the Bible; what you've done is read some head shoppe books and regurgitated whatever they have to say about the issue. Your opinion is therefore even more worthless than the head shoppe books, most of which are at least original. So much for 'true objectivity.'

    Wrong-o Bong-o!

    I've read the Bible from cover to cover, and enjoyed the heck out of it. I've spent time in church when I was young. I've logged many hours with hard-core Christians, listening and hearing their views. I've seen a varity of 'history of the bible' documentaries. --And I've read a variety of books which examine the legitimacy of the bible, some in support and some not in support of the party line. I've heard a lot from that side of the fence, and I do find it fascinating. (Though not once did the subject of the 'Jesus Seminar' come up, which is why I was happy to hear about it now.)

    Nothing more to see here. Thank you, come again.

    One day, perhaps, you will be ready to see. Until, then, I'm gone. Take care, and good luck.

    -Fantastic Lad

    [ Parent ]

    whatever (none / 0) (#205)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 09:39:50 AM EST

    Bull sessions aren't research. You usually begin research by surveying the literature, and I don't mean the stuff in your local opium den.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    virtually? (none / 0) (#189)
    by majik on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 03:42:16 PM EST

    it is the word of god is it not? how can it be virtually identical?

    now let us take another approach. it is the word, written in another language. do you speak multiple languages? do you realize/understand that translations are not often correct? did you read the thousands of years old version for yourself? or did you blindly believe the word of another? faith is important. knowledge is power. how much power do you let others exert over you?
    Funky fried chickens - they're what's for dinner
    [ Parent ]

    Puzzled (5.00 / 1) (#174)
    by Canthros on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 04:06:40 PM EST

    Well, if you use a bible as your reference, you're not likely to find Christ voicing decent philosophies! The bible is a piece of mind-control supreme, written after the fact in order to distort and serve the ends of the 'dark side'.
    Are you cracked?

    --
    It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
    RyoCokey
    [ Parent ]
    does it really matter? (none / 0) (#187)
    by majik on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 03:32:59 PM EST

    do you know why you feel emptiness meditating like that? because you leave your mind and enter a body doing nothing. position is nothing. certainly a short rest postion makes it easier to relax and change your mindset, but really, everything, including mediation is what you make it to be. If you feel or are told and then believe you can only find peace while standing on your head with the bottoms of your feet touching, it will be so if your faith is strong enough.
    Funky fried chickens - they're what's for dinner
    [ Parent ]
    Buddha's divinity; Wikipedia's lacuna (5.00 / 2) (#120)
    by Rademir on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:28:47 PM EST

    The Buddha was a man. A prince named Gautama Siddhartha. He wasn't a god...
    Enjoyed your post. Just to be difficult, i thought i'd mention that among the incredible variety of Buddhist denominations some include god(s), and some include prayer to Buddha as a bodhisattva (enlightened teacher). It would surprise me if among all the people who call themselves Buddhist there are none who consider him a god, but it would certainly be a small minority.

    Side note: While digging around the Net, i was floored to discover that Wikipedia's Buddhism page didn't even mention meditation! (i put a mention in, but please go add more if you know what you're talking about)


    Consciousness is our Oxygen Challenge


    [ Parent ]
    True. (4.00 / 1) (#121)
    by watchmaker on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 08:51:15 PM EST

    I did think of the bodhisattva as I typed that paragraph, but I couldn't think of how to present the concept clearly in a comment that was only getting longer.

    My, admittely limited, understanding of the various bodhisattva is that they are ideals being worshipped, not actual mystical god-beings living somewhere on a cloud watching us. Each bodhisattva represents a specific facet of Buddhist life as embodied by a person when they were alive. I could, of course, be completely off base with this belief, though this is what I've worked out in the readings I've done. Perhaps it's my own atheist bias working against me. It's entirely possible that people do worship the bodhisattva as real continuing spirits in the supernatural sense.


    [ Parent ]

    Bodhisattvas; more variety in Buddhism (4.00 / 1) (#139)
    by Rademir on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 05:06:09 AM EST

    That sounds like what i've read of Mahayana Buddhism. One last bit about bodhisattvas that might help is that they're people who have achieved nirvana -- normally meaning they'd 'die' and not be re-born -- but have chosen to stick around to help the rest of us achieve enlightenment.

    Beside the variety of Buddhisms, i've begun to learn of significant class/caste differences. In buses & auto-rickshaws in Sri Lanka i've often seen sticker (or plastic statuette) rows of Hindu gods but with Buddha in the center. When i asked an "elite" friend whether Sri Lankan Buddhists prayed to Hindu gods at first she said no, then when i described my observations she was like oh yeah, lower caste/class people.


    Consciousness is our Oxygen Challenge


    [ Parent ]
    Buddha, Gods and Worship (4.00 / 1) (#152)
    by phliar on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 02:45:41 PM EST

    ...among the incredible variety of Buddhist denominations some include god(s), and some include prayer to Buddha as a bodhisattva (enlightened teacher).
    True. Tibetan Buddhism may come closest; or perhaps Buddhism as practiced in India. The Tibetans believe in reincarnation; some Indian Buddhists believe that the Bodhisattvas are reincarnations of Gautama. Just like with Unitarian-Universalist societies/churches, divinity is not a central tenet, but it is not excluded either; it is up to the person. (I, as an atheist and skeptic, feel perfectly at home in both UU and Buddhist gatherings.)


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    Funny thing that... (4.00 / 1) (#176)
    by Pihkal on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 04:10:40 PM EST

    One of the interesting things to me about Buddhist thought is how orthogonal it is compared to other religions when it comes to the existence of god(s). Buddhists don't engage in debates about the existence of god(s); it's besides the point for them. Arising in the context of early Hinduism, Buddha would have certainly lived in a culture where people prayed to gods regularly. What Buddha did was not shout "These are false gods!", but to calmly say, "Worshipping these gods will not give you peace. Only looking within yourself can do that." As such, the existence or nonexistence of these gods is just not relevant. I wouldn't disagree, though, that there are those who mistakenly worship Buddha as more than a man.

    "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
    -- Number 6
    [ Parent ]
    Confused soul (5.00 / 1) (#114)
    by Hoo00 on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 05:23:46 PM EST

    Zen makes me "a ghost in a shell" :). I am so focused in my mind (at lease i think i was) that i forgot about my body. Sometimes the sense is so strong that i am wondering what the heck is this life about attaching to this body and reacting to this world like that... If you believe in god, you still can go to heaven. At least you believe that you can, since i am a non-believer. An end in zen is to disappear from reality and be nothing (what else is there to support an alternative reality?). Perhaps one day when I am old, this would be a bliss, as the body is giving up anyway. There is not much of a difference. If wisdom is good sense and true understanding and stupidity is falsehood and misunderstood, then zen is nonsense and complete blank. Zen is a return to balance. You can be wise and still be misguided. I guess i need more of zen myself for saying such nonsense. Or am i having too much of nonsense?

    the point (4.00 / 1) (#124)
    by CodeBhikkhu on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:47:38 PM EST

    The point of practice is not to leave the body and enter the mind. The point is to leave the mind and enter the body. The point is to experience all things as they are, not to wallow in the mess of your mind. You realize, that is where all the problems come from. Wisdom is nothing without the balance of compassion. This is what practice teaches you. With metta, CodeBhikkhu
    "A week long Dalai Lama Fantasy Camp where you get to run around in red robes and eat rice and chant mantras with the Twelfth son of the Lama himself wont teach you what zen is." -- skyhook
    [ Parent ]
    nihilism is not zen (5.00 / 1) (#203)
    by tealeaf on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 12:27:44 AM EST

    The point is not to leave or enter anything.  The point is to become wise.  To become wise, it helps to have a better perception.  To have a better perception it helps to have a mind that doesn't lean this or that way too much.  The practice of zazen is to develop an attitude of mind that doesn't fixate (strongly prefer) on some things over some other things.  It means no fixation on the body and no fixation outside the body.  Let everything flow smoothly.  You don't cling and yet you don't separate.  You merge with all things without getting stuck in any one thing.

    In other words, like someone else said, you behave like a mirror: welcome nothing, reject nothing.

    Disclaimer: I don't practice zazen (don't believe in rituals, and I don't believe in skills).

    P.S.: If you have no destination, then you can't be misguided.  If you are traveling toward B while thinking you are traveling toward A, then you are misguided.  It is relative.  One can be misguided about material things, like the price of something, and yet not be misguided in spiritual matters.  And vice versa, one can be misguided spiritually and yet be very successful and clever with material things.  A very clever mind requires a strong attachment to things.  To retain cleverness and wisdom at the same time is hard (impossible?  questionable? etc.).

    [ Parent ]

    further reading (4.50 / 2) (#118)
    by deadkarma on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 07:36:29 PM EST

    If you want to understand Zen a little better, maybe this website will help:

    http://www.do-not-zzz.com

    Concentration (1.66 / 3) (#125)
    by shwag on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:51:30 PM EST

    I recommend this for the serious student. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0879800232/qid=1035946634/sr=8-1/r ef=sr_8_1/104-6152615-6378329?v=glance&n=507846 Concentration a Guide to Mental Mastery by Mouni Sadhu

    Concentration. (3.00 / 1) (#126)
    by shwag on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 09:53:09 PM EST

    I recommend this for the serious student.

    Amazon book link here.

    Concentration a Guide to Mental Mastery by Mouni Sadhu

    Introductory materials? (4.00 / 1) (#129)
    by htonl on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 10:15:49 PM EST

    Hey, nice article. Do you have any introductory type links to zen philosophy? Electronic or hardcopy materials are fine. I spent all quarter studying western modernity and I'm looking to break into some eastern philosophy to balance it out.

    I always liked suzuki roshi's book (none / 0) (#130)
    by amarodeeps on Tue Oct 29, 2002 at 11:03:36 PM EST

    sorry about the ugly amazon link.

    [ Parent ]
    Another vote for Suzuki (none / 0) (#153)
    by phliar on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 02:52:52 PM EST

    I think Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is excellent. I like the books by Christmas Humphreys. Also The Zen Doctrine of No-Mind.


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    Thanks (none / 0) (#154)
    by htonl on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 03:15:45 PM EST

    Great, our school library has this and I checked it out this morning. It looks to be just what I'm interested in reading. Thanks again.

    [ Parent ]
    Excellent!! You're certainly welcome. (none / 0) (#166)
    by amarodeeps on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 10:48:08 AM EST

    Also might try 'Three Pillars of Zen,' which is more in the 'Rinzai' or 'Lin Chi' vein (this is one of the two different schools represented especially in the Japanese tradition, which I am most familiar with) but written by an American who studied with Japanese. Also, check out Seung Sahn, he's a Korean master with a nice style, you might like him too. And, one more American who I think highly of is Robert Aitken (Aitken Roshi). He has a real social conscience about the implications of Zen and making it not just a kind of loner practice (well, they all do, but he puts a special emphasis that I think is worthwhile).

    Note that this is all fairly recent, 'American' style Zen (you can see it has a heavy inheritance from Japan and Korea though). If you want some more historical basis for Zen, you might check out the Platform Sutra of Hui-neng, or check out Teaching's of Lin Chi. You could also try some of Dogen's stuff (he was responsible for the other school of thought that Suzuki Roshi comes out of, Soto), but I find it really difficulty.

    I realize it's a lot to toss at you, just trying to give you a list of stuff that I enjoyed and got something out of. Take it slow, in my experience it's not about what you've read but your practice, books can even get in the way. I survived a long time with just "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," that's a wonderful book. Best of luck!



    [ Parent ]
    no, sorry. (none / 0) (#146)
    by jjayson on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 12:55:28 PM EST

    I don't really follow Zen philosphy deeply or intentionally. I get my philosphy from the Bible =)
    _______
    Smile =)
    * bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
    <bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

    [ Parent ]
    alternative? (none / 0) (#186)
    by majik on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 03:27:43 PM EST

    try finding it within you.
    Funky fried chickens - they're what's for dinner
    [ Parent ]
    Books on Zen (4.00 / 1) (#148)
    by radghast on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 01:16:46 PM EST

    Here's a few I've read. They're very straightforward in their approach, and help you get the fundamentals down:

  • Being Zen: Bringing Meditation to Life
  • Nothing Special: Living Zen
  • Everyday Zen: Love and Work
  • Zen Meditation in Plain English


  • "It remains to be seen if the human brain is powerful enough to solve the problems it has created." -- Dr. Richard Wallace
    [ Parent ]
    good historical intro (none / 0) (#155)
    by Shpongle Spore on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 04:07:34 PM EST

    I really liked The Way of Zen by Alan Watts. It's a mostly historical look at Zen (i.e. no instructions on how to meditate) and its roots in Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist thinking.
    __
    I wish I was in Austin, at the Chili Parlor bar,
    drinking 'Mad Dog' margaritas and not caring where you are
    [ Parent ]
    This FREE e-book may act as a bridge from E 2 W... (none / 0) (#158)
    by chanio on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 04:38:35 PM EST

    You can freely try this E-book at http://bol.sourceforge.net/on-line/BookOfLife.php that although it's is not Zen, might work great as a bridge between the Oriental mind and ours Western one :) . It's from a contemporary Indian humanist thinker that sumarizes in a daily thought some aspects of meditation, enlightment and other topics in a simple way.
    I think that constant meditation while living works good for being aware of our reactions to simple subjects that we wouldn't imagine that are in our minds. The bottom line is knowing ourselves to improve. And to be more social, and closely related to our real feelings.
    There is a simple technique that I use when I am not able to relax:
    • I first observe what parts of my body are in tension.
    • Then I tense them to the limit.
    • And hold on until I get tired.
    • Afterwards, everything is relaxed!

    ________________
    Farenheit Binman:
    This worlds culture is throwing away-burning thousands of useful concepts because they don't fit in their commercial frame.
    My chance of becoming intelligent!
    [ Parent ]
    An important point. . . (3.80 / 5) (#160)
    by Fantastic Lad on Wed Oct 30, 2002 at 06:17:17 PM EST

    There is an element of Zen Buddhism which I consider perhaps to be one of the most important to consider when starting on this path. . .

    It was mentioned briefly by an earlier poster, but not in enough detail. I would like to clarify, if I may. . .

    One of the key features of this type of meditation is well advertised; to clear the mind, to become transparent, to forget the self.

    Students can take this in either a positive or a negative direction.

    I believe that, in the positive, (and that this was the original intent of the practice), is the effort to shut off what don Juan of the Carlos Castaneda books described as the internal dialogue.

    The internal dialogue was first described to a young Carlos. . .

    "You think and talk too much. You must stop talking to yourself."
    "What do you mean?"
    "You talk to yourself too much. You're not unique at that. Every one of us does that. We carry on an internal talk. Think about it. Whenever you are alone, what do you do?"
    "I talk to myself."
    "What do you talk to yourself about?"
    "I don't know; anything, I suppose."
    "I'll tell you what what we talk to ourselves about. We talk about our world. In fact we maintain our world with our internal talk."
    "How do we do that?"
    "Whenever we finish talking to ourselves the world is always as it should be. We renew it, we kindle it with life, we uphold it with our internal talk. Not only that, but we also choose our paths as we talk to ourselves. Thus we repeat the same choices over and over until the day we die, because we keep on repeating the same internal talk over and over until the day we die. A warrior is aware of this and strives to stop his talking. This is the last point you have to know if you want to live like a warrior."

    --Carlos Castaneda, A Separate Reality.

    And then several years later. . .
    I told don Juan that I had practiced the technique for years without noticing any change, but I had expected none anyway. One day, however, I had the shocking realization that I had just walked for about ten minutes without having said a single word to myself.

    I mentioned to don Juan that on that occasion I also became cognizent that stopping the internal dialogue involved more than merely curtailing the words I said to myself. My entire thought processes had stopped and I had felt I was practically suspended, floating. A sensation of panic had ensued from that awareness and I had to resume my internal dialogue as an antidote.

    "I've told you that the internal dialogue is what grounds us," don Juan said. "The world is such and such or so and so, only because we talk to ourselves about it being such and such or so and so."

    Don Juan explained that the passageway into the world of sorcery opens up after the warrior has learned to shut off the internal dialogue. "To change our idea of the world is the crux of sorcery," he said. "And stopping the internal dialogue is the only way to accomplish it. The rest is just padding.

    --Carlos Castaneda,Tales of Power

    It seems to me that the goal of Zen Buddhist meditation is the same as the Toltec practice of stopping the internal dialogue. From this point, full awareness can be reached.

    Now, this is the kind of thing that the power elite of the world, (governments and old-money families), find to be the stuff of nightmare; People rising up from their shackles through awareness? Oh my! In any case, I tend to believe that for these kinds of reasons, corruptions are introduced into spiritual practices in order to prevent and confuse people in their seeking. Christ's teachings were thoroughly distorted and sullied by the powers which shortly followed him. And I would be very surprised if the same is not true of Buddha and others.

    In the case of Zen meditation, I regularly see the following problem. . .

    To 'empty the mind', to 'forget the body', to 'vanish from the world,' can be twisted very easily to achieve a very unhealthy state. That of withdrawing. Souls can reach upwards or downwards. To reach upwards, means to continually question, explore, to accumulate knowledge and wisdom. To grow like this is to grow in a powerful, spiritual way, and stopping the internal dialogue in order to allow our description of the world to collapse and see directly the energy which makes up our reality can offer a huge leap forward in understanding everything, as it breaks us away from one perspective and allows many, many others. This is what is known as 'Seeing.' Any time our ability to see new things, or the same things in new ways, increases our knowledge and spirit likewise grow.

    However, some souls find the struggle of existence, (and indeed, eternal existence through many reincarnative lives), a tiresome and even horrifying concept. For these types of people, there is the strong desire to collapse the soul into lower and lower forms. Essentially, to crawl back into the womb and go back to sleep. To become, what is known in some circles, as primal matter. This is the only known way, (according to my knowledge, anyhow), in which a soul can truly be destroyed, and as such, it is fiercely sought after by those who find existence unbearable. (Though primarily this is done on a subconscious level, the decision perhaps having been made pre-incarnation where full access to one's total knowledge base from all lived lived is available.)

    The practice of emptying the mind and forgetting the body and the world through Zen meditation can just as easily facilitate this kind of regression of awareness; the undoing and giving up of knowledge, one's very spiritual essence.

    Now, the problem is that these two paths are rarely made explicit, and indeed, the 'fruits along the path' of each direction are often held up as high examples of what a seeker should strive for without making any differentiation at all between them. I remember reading with great distaste the story of the Zen 'master' who was so successful in his meditation that he wasted away and died. The point that I wanted to make with this post is that students could find benefit in distinguishing between these two paths.

    There is a great deal more one could discuss on this subject, but that's enough for now.

    -Fantastic Lad

    Bullshit or Enlightenment? (2.50 / 2) (#170)
    by Chasuk on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 12:00:57 PM EST

    It seems to me that the goal of Zen Buddhist meditation is... stopping the internal dialogue. From this point, full awareness can be reached.

    I would argue that stopping the internal dialogue is 1) impossible, and 2) in no way desirable.

    As far as I know, the only way that a living person can be said to have stopped his or her internal dialogue is to be comatose.

    An electroencephalograph is an amazing tool; it helped identify this particular bit of quackery long ago.

    Mere awareness isn't consciousness, but being aware that one is aware (consciousness) requires that an internal dialogue exists, and is ongoing.

    If mere awareness were a desirable state, than chickens experience what a Zen Master strives his or her entire life for, only the chicken achieves it straight out of the egg.

    To quote Carlos Castaneda is almost embarrassing. If you were a seeker of truth in the 1970s, whatever that nebulous term meant, you read Carlos. I read him, all of me friends read him, and most of us eventually realized that he was full of shit.

    Of course, I could be wrong. I'm 42 years old, and my children are beginning to leave the house. I am suffering terribly from the Empty Nest syndrome. I would give ANYTHING to repeat this particular cycle of life. The reincarnation that you write of is marvellous fantasy to lighten this period of darkness.

    I've been a seeker of truth for more than half of my lifetime, and I've investigated Zen Buddhism, Tarot, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Wicca, Scientology, Rosicrucians, Hinduism, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum (the list could stretch for paragraph after paragraph), and all of it fell to Sturgeon's Law.

    "Ninety percent of everything is crud."

    Increase that percentage a few notches, change the word "crud" to 'shit", and Sturgeon expressed my opinion exactly.

    No, I am not a cynic, but actually a realistic optimist.
    Neopets - the best free game on the Internet.
    [ Parent ]

    I think that you missunderstood the words (none / 0) (#171)
    by chanio on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 01:06:00 PM EST

    Yes, when I grow up, I understand the basics of life and I am able to link different concepts heard before because I find out that they mean the same.
    For example, if I study at the University I keep on learning a big number of formulas and theories that I'll be going to apply in my future career. But no one is supposed to remember every single word that was studied. Not even the lawers! What I remember is the idea that I got of it when I studied. Those are not words, not even an image. Those are the real concepts that are now living in our heads.
    The same happens with meditation. You must wipe out the words to get to the real concepts that really move your life.
    I think that you know that, don't you?
    ________________
    Farenheit Binman:
    This worlds culture is throwing away-burning thousands of useful concepts because they don't fit in their commercial frame.
    My chance of becoming intelligent!
    [ Parent ]
    Castaneda (none / 0) (#172)
    by Fantastic Lad on Thu Oct 31, 2002 at 01:40:25 PM EST

    Mere awareness isn't consciousness, but being aware that one is aware (consciousness) requires that an internal dialogue exists, and is ongoing.

    Says who?

    I've been a seeker of truth for more than half of my lifetime, and I've investigated Zen Buddhism, Tarot, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Wicca, Scientology, Rosicrucians, Hinduism, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum (the list could stretch for paragraph after paragraph), and all of it fell to Sturgeon's Law.

    "Ninety percent of everything is crud."

    I would actually estimate, particularly with New Age material, that the percentage of garbage is closer to 97%. Even Castaneda is, I believe, guilty of perpetrating a couple of false leads, but that leaves the question. . .

    What of the remaining 3%?

    If you have studied as much as you say, and if you still haven't found anything, then I might humbly submit that you don't want to find anything. I've seen people witness magic and then only a few days later, (and sometimes only a few hours later), erase it from their minds to carry on as though nothing out of the ordinary happened. This is the sign of somebody who is not ready to awaken. --And there isn't anything wrong with this!

    As for EEG machines. . .

    Yes, they are amazing devices, and they demonstrate a wide variety of amazing things, not the least of which being that the human mind is indeed expressed by electromagnetic fields. (ie., What the spiritual community calls Energy & Aura. Duh! Why do so few people grasp this?) But I seriously doubt that any experiment using an EEG machine could prove unilaterally that the stopping of the internal dialogue is impossible or quackery. --Particularly since a key element of any such experiment is by its very nature entirely unknowable; the veracity of the subject/s and what they say they are doing & experiencing.

    The simple fact that you are willing to discount Castaneda's accounts of the internal dialogue as 'quackery' based on such experiments is an important indicator of your willingness, (or unwillingness) to see, I think.

    If I may be so bold and if you are willing, I'll leave you with a homework project and a question: Do some research into the Alphabet Soup agencies and their affiliations. The CIA, FBI, etc. See if you can't determine whether or not they have deep ties and connections to the New Age community; whether they are involved in the dissemination and manipulation of members within that community. Do this, and see what you discover.

    Then ask yourself. . . "Why on Earth would they invest such effort and interest in affecting and influencing this community?"

    This might offer some insight, if you are willing to see.

    -Fantastic Lad

    [ Parent ]

    magic? (none / 0) (#185)
    by majik on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 03:26:18 PM EST

    interesting... what magic? what do you consider to be magic?
    Funky fried chickens - they're what's for dinner
    [ Parent ]
    magic. . . (none / 0) (#193)
    by Fantastic Lad on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 08:12:24 PM EST

    interesting... what magic? what do you consider to be magic?

    Magic is just a label. I use it in reference to any force which exists in, and which affects the world, but which science has not yet accepted into its inventory of 'real' things which might be considered and examined.

    In this case, by and large, when I say magic, I refer to energy or Chi/Qi. --The odd thing, is that only in certain areas of science are these forces ignored and/or actively denied. (Usually the public domain sciences, which tend to be limited/limiting for a variety of reasons.) While in other areas of science, (private, military, etc.), many of these forces have been not only recognized but also picked apart and are indeed used through technological solutions.

    Among the least controversial of examples, are things like EEG machines which measure the EM activity of the brain, and Acupuncture, which manipulates the micro-electrical currents in the body which have been found to activate and regulate healing; (a needle inserted at a meridian or junction point, and then set to lightly rotate will generate a micro current through this motion, which can send the desired signals to different parts of the body. Traditional Chinese medicine uses different concepts to describe what happens, but in any event, it works.)

    Some absolutely amazing and research has been done in this field by one Robert O. Becker who, through his more than seventy years, has remained a very well respected scientist despite his interest in electro-medicine. Among several books, you would do very well to read, "Cross Currents" in which he outlines in very clear terms the results of a life-time of research, which started simply enough in cancer research, by his wondering why salimanders never get cancer and why/how they can re-grow entire limbs. His step by step discoveries and contributions to medicine over his many years offer some of the most enlightening reading one might ever be presented with. Highly recommended; this book, perhaps unintentionally, makes the bridge between Western science and Eastern energy practices.

    But anyway. . .

    I also consider magic to be things like the oft derided Astrology, which if you find a decent reader, clearly works despite the very real examples of how people can fool themselves; when I am faced with somebody who attempts to 'debunk' astrology by explaining a method by which people can be easily tricked, I like to tell them the following; "But that's bad logic. That's exactly like using the old logical fallacy, 'All Cows are Animals, therefore, all Animals are Cows.' " (And then I'll sometimes add for effect depending on how stuffed and irritating the person is, "And here you are declaring yourself to be championing logic when clearly you are doing the opposite. I think you might be able to draw some valuable personal insights from this!").

    I also include among the umbrella of things magical, experiences achieved through meditation and dream.

    As for direct examples which I've seen. . . Things like long distance telepathy, guitar strings plucked from across a room. Anti-theft devices set off at a distance. I can see auras. I've had a teacher visit and teach fighting techniques during what I thought was a private dream, but which he then described to me in detail the following day in order to make a point about dream-walking. One of the more peculiar things my teacher did which established his validity for me was the following. . .

    I've experienced a strange and unnerving visual phenomenon since I was young. Periodically, at the center of my vision, I would see a small, pulsing crystalline kaleidescope of distortion. It would begin the size of a pea, and then grow, distorting my vision and making me feel queazy, until after an hour, it would entirely expand to fill my vision. At its center, a clear space would appear so that it was like a pulsing doughnut of distortion, like looking through broken glass. After an hour, it would pass beyond my peripheral vision and then it would be over. This would happen to me about once or twice every year, and it worried the heck out of me each time it did. I never consulted a doctor about it.

    Anyway, one day some time after meeting my teacher, I was walking to visit him when this weird phenomenon began out of the blue. By the time I arrived, it was the phenomenon was beginning to become very dis-orienting. When I arrived, I immediately asked him about it. "Can you see this?" I demanded, pointing to the space about a foot in front of my eyes where it looked like the phenomenon existed, while fighting the creeping nausea which always accompanies.

    He looked at me quizzically and then blinked. "Wow. That's really weird. One of your threads has somehow gotten itself knotted. Hold on. . ."

    He tugged the air about four feet to the right of my head. I didn't feel a thing, but then barely thirty seconds later, my vision cleared up entirely and I felt really good, as though I had just come into focus.

    Stuff like that and lots of it. Yes, much of what convinces me is personal and non-provable. --But that tends to be one of the curious things about some magic; which is both one of the largest stumbling blocks to people, and one of the most valuable aspects. With greater awareness, comes greater responsibility and more complex difficulties. Unless one is at a point in their learning where they can accept such things without detriment to their lives and their reincarnative 'mission,' (the stuff you have to learn and experience in this life), then it is not time to advance in this way. The natural road block of 'faith' is a good one, because it can only be properly crossed when the person chooses to do so, and people only choose to do so when their subconscious says it is okay.

    The Universe works the way it does for a reason, and I tend to believe that this is the place from which skeptics are coming, and why it is both futile and ill-advised to attempt to force my views upon them. However, I always make an effort for anybody who asks just in case they are ready, or so that they will have some background knowledge they can access when they do eventually become ready. Somebody did this for me when I was a kid, and it was most helpful later on! In any case, if somebody is not ready, then their natural defenses kick in, and there is no harm done. It used to frustrate me when people would blank out and actually not remember a convincing experience. I don't get frustrated anymore now that I understand the process a little better.

    -Fantastic Lad

    [ Parent ]

    ahem.. (none / 0) (#204)
    by Yeshi on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 08:41:28 AM EST

    Disclosing your Nyams (Tibetan for experiences) in a public places makes you "available" in Don Juan terms.

    This does create obstacles for you and potential readers. I hope you also can do purification and protection "magic" :)

    There is this fine line of wanting to help a friend that has stumbled somewhere along the road, and realy helping or not.

    Therefore, Zen teaches that non-conceptual things cannot be thought by (conceptual) words. When Buddha Sakyamuni passed the flower to his mage-follower Mahakasyapa (if i remember right the name) he understood without words, directly from mind-to-mind. From there stemmed the great school of Chaan which was the chinese pronouciation of Dhyana (the meditative absorption) - later Zen in Japan.

    Anyhows, see you in the "Canteen" (the place we meet between "missions". heh heh

    Love to all,
    Sarvamagalam
    (let everything be auspicious)

    [ Parent ]
    Speaking of Magic (none / 0) (#208)
    by Jymboyeee on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 04:40:07 AM EST

    This might seem a bit weird for you or may I say others who read this post. A very interesting thing happened to me tonight. While reading slashdot.org I came across a posting of yours (Fantastic Lad) on the anti-CSEA polling comments section. Your comments on the post of "Here's what to do. . ." were particularly striking. After reading your post I had feeling that I should try and find some more information about you. Out of curiosity, I plugged your handle "Fantastic Lad" into google and the first thing that came up was your numerous postings on this site. After reading several of your comments and postings here, there came a compelling urge to try and contact you (because you remind me of me so much (NOTE: I Have a girl of several years so this is not a pick-up, but a true intuitive feeling that over came me to contact you.) If this goes no where no sweat. If it does cool.

    [ Parent ]
    Don't diss the chicken... (none / 0) (#182)
    by Rock Joe on Fri Nov 01, 2002 at 03:03:35 AM EST

    If mere awareness were a desirable state, than chickens experience what a Zen Master strives his or her entire life for, only the chicken achieves it straight out of the egg.

    Who is to say that we're that much better off than a chicken? If there's one thing we can observe that a chicken posesses, it's inner peace. Inner peace is a good thing. Only a chicken has inner peace because he's too dumb to be bothered by anything. Humans lack inner peace because they are bothered by things that, in the end, don't really matter.

    I read some words of wisdom on this very site: "You don't see the world as it is. You see the world as you are". By that logic, the world of a chicken is extremely simple and straight forward. If the worst of your problems is running out of bird seed that's fed to you, the world is a pretty swingin' place. Lets forget the "being brutally slaughtered to feed humans" part. :o)

    Signatures are for losers!
    --Rock Joe
    [ Parent ]

    Maybe.... (none / 0) (#206)
    by Mach777 on Wed Nov 06, 2002 at 05:54:28 AM EST

    > "Ninety percent of everything is crud."
    > Increase that percentage a few notches, change
    > the word "crud" to 'shit", and Sturgeon
    > expressed my opinion exactly.

    If you want to change, you have to allow yourself
    to be changed. Or put the other way, changing your perception of reality can only be done by changing yourself.

    Metaphysical theories only get in the way. When
    you change, you will be changed, and your world will change.

    Most people don't want to change. They want their world to change, but don't realize that they have to change first.

    /Mach

    [ Parent ]

    Most elites stuck in cultural assumptions (4.00 / 1) (#200)
    by Rademir on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 02:12:32 AM EST

    Now, this is the kind of thing that the power elite of the world, (governments and old-money families), find to be the stuff of nightmare; People rising up from their shackles through awareness? Oh my! In any case, I tend to believe that for these kinds of reasons, corruptions are introduced into spiritual practices in order to prevent and confuse people in their seeking. Christ's teachings were thoroughly distorted and sullied by the powers which shortly followed him. And I would be very surprised if the same is not true of Buddha and others.

    I think you've pretty much nailed it here. The startling lack of mention of meditation on the Wikipedia Buddhism page is an excellent example of what you're talking about. Meditation is the practice that brought Gautama Siddharta to all his realizations. Although he did share his wisdom in words, his focus was on sharing his meditation practice. And yet today, in at least some Buddhist societies, meditation is largely seen as the province of monks and nuns, and a small minority of laypeople. The Buddha taught everyone.

    The only place i might differ with you is in how conscious elites are of what you're talking about. I'm sure a few are (without becoming self-aware enough to realize that they might enjoy life better if everyone was liberated), but my experience is that the vast majority are simply acting out the cultural assumptions that they grew up with. Those assumptions evolved naturally in competition among the cultures of different societies through the millenia. The societies with cultural traits that tended to corrupt genuine spiritual practices are the ones that survived and passed on those traits.

    We have not (as yet) developed a whole society based on individual and collective liberation, which could successfully resist domination without itself becoming domination-oriented. The massively successful nonviolent revolutions of the past century hold out a degree of hope that we may get there soon.

    If you've read this far, you might enjoy reading some of Walter Wink's stuff ().

    Consciousness is our Oxygen Challenge


    [ Parent ]
    Zazen: The Fundamental Meditation of Zen | 208 comments (168 topical, 40 editorial, 0 hidden)
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