Sum Ergo Sum

Tag Archives: buddhism

That Unfolding

Someone asked me- “How do you act i everyday life after you’ve experienced the awakened state. How do others react to this“?

The seemingly cleaver reader will (like I would) wait for an answer that indicates a dualistic mind at work.
So let me begin with saying: There is no “me” that can choose to act in a certain way. Neither is there a “me” that have had the experience of “the awakened state”.
Mind games aside, here comes the answer:

It’s not that complicated really. If you are conditioned to be an actor playing a specific part in a specific play, you just play along.
The conditioning of this Me-actor  and this play happened, and continues to happen,  without me knowing it.
I did not choose that to happen. I was not aware of becoming an actor and I didn’t know the play was made up by the workings of human mind.
No one is controlling it. There is no author, no director. It just unfolds according to the given conditions.

The Director or Governing Laws of choise (God, Buddha, Brahman, Laws of the Universe, Randomness, Energy, The Divine Power etc) are themselves part of the play. They arise within the human mind.

They arise within the human mind” should also be added to the list above.
“”They arise within the human mind” should also be added to the list above.”  should also be added to the list above.
And the creating of external forces of creation thus grows ad infinitum.

Adding “And the creating of external forces of creation thus grows ad infinitum” makes the whole thing absurd.
When you realize that whatever your mind comes up with should be added to the list, there is laughter.
The play starts to become playful.

So the play is created within human mind because that is how the mind unfolds, how it works. But human mind is not all there is. Human mind is only part of what unfolds in the totality of ever ongoing creation.
Everything else is “What Is”.

What Is can only be understood by human mind.
But the understanding cannot be complete. Mind can only comprehend what happens on the staged reality created by itself. That is, the minds version of What Is.
Therefore, mind is always dealing with itself, without knowing what it does, without being mindful of itself.

The eye seeing everything but seeing itself.

The answer to the question is simply that I keep acting like before. I know my part and I know the play. It follows the rules of the dualistic mind.
It is about dividing, understanding, predicting, controling and achieving.
We all know the play, don’t we?
The difference now is that I know this is a play. I know my part is based on the basic premises of the play. I know these premises to be an artifact of the human mind. Nothing more, nothing less.
I also know that this knowledge, just like any knowledge the “I” can “have”, is part of the play.
It is in a sense artificial knowledge.

The concequence of this “knowing” is that I can play my part without being caught up in it, as if acting/action was all there is. When circumstances allowes for it, I can take my costume of and watch the play as a spectator. Relaxing in a comfortable seat, amused and amazed.

Just sitting
Just looking
Not acting

Gradually I have come to value this play for what it is. To become a true spectator made me uneasy for a while. I questioned the use of playing along. The acting suddenly seemed like “pretending” to be something I was not. The play seemed unreal.
Thankfully this play-aversion has lost it’s grip. The acting is not for real, nor is it un-real.
It seem like dividing What Is into play vs. reality is just another part of the play.
It seems like – since the human mind is also part of What Is – the undividable, the non-dual, can divide itself while still being whole. 

Not One
Not Two

All of this is of course not true, nor is it not-true.
This is not the way it works, still it works like this.
All of the above has unfolded within the play.
That is all there is.
That unfolding.


Missing The Point Happens

If you want to learn how to miss points in arguments I recommend this text. It’s an email-debate on trad- advaita vs neo- advaita.

As in any academic dispute there is a lot of “misunderstandings” and “not adressing the critique”. It seems like the more advanced the converstion, the more likely people are to make simple errors in communication. That’s wierd.

So the question is – can you communicate the idea of nondualism in a way that is non-dual without leaving the listener, with it’s dualistic mind, in the middle of nowhere?
The answer is of course “yes but no but yes but no but that’s beside the point”. So as always we’re left with a sense of confusion and wasted time.

I won’t waste your time with a lengthy rambling on this, so here’s a short one:
The brain uses about 90% of it’s capacity on internal affairs and maintenance. That’s why we have the misunderstanding that we only use 10% of our brain power. That’s BS because the brain needs to keep this 90/10 ratio to work properly. The 10% we have for actually communicating with the environment “outside” the brain (rest of our body and everything outside of the physical body) is ideally kept open and ready for action. That is what a zen no-mind is about. That is the state of a flexible mind open for interaction with the world at hand. That is what non-attachment is about, not messing up the flow of interaction between our mind and the environment. A relaxed and alert mind has it’s 10% ready so it can respond directly and efficiently to whatever shows up.

Any practice or non-practice that enhances this readiness is a good practice as far as I’m concerned. Any practice or non-practice that claim part of the 10% is not so good.
It’s not hard to see why almost every instruction or teaching emphazises “letting go” and “non-striving” in order to facilitate progress.
The difference I see between spiritual schools is basically different perspectives on how to communicate this important notion of “relaxing your mind”. Some do it by saying you will not be ready for nirvana in many lifetimes so just keep on practicing with no hope of awakening or liberation. Fine, so you can let go. Mission accomplished. Others say the practice is nothing but a way to let go of your striving and efforts to become enlightened and when you finally give up, the light bulb goes on. Then we have those who say there’s no need for practice at all so you can start your way to liberation by giving up right away.

What all of these seemingly different teachings point to is a way to keep the alotted 10% of our mind open and ready for communication and interaction with our internal and external environment. It’s being decribed as “spontaneous action”, “being integrated with wholeness” or “the end of suffering”.
Bottom line is – if you somehow (by means of any practice as well as no-practice) can avoid having a mind that is like a locked closet full of janitors, then you will be fully functional and able to respond properly whenever reality comes-a-knocking on your sense doors. That’s the state of bliss. On the other hand, if your mind is cluttered with concepts, planning, analysing, memories and interpretations, there will be stress building up because there’s a sens of missing something important i.e. what’s actually happening. So you lose control over the situation at hand which adds to the stress. As stress builds the 10% shrinks and the 90% expands in order to keep track of the mess. You then experience something like a “burn-out” or the feeling of “losing your mind”.

Now, whatever the teaching or non-teaching is made up of, the important thing is communicating in a way that counter this internal stress. Different people may need different messages to get there. Therefore it is perfectly ok to have different styles and approaches to this.

Jeeez, that was NOT a short post and it’s still very vague and…well, a sitting duck as far as misconceptions go.

I’ll go wash my bowl.

The Light of Enlightenment Explained

Given two theoretically “perfect” mirrors facing each other, the only thing reflected would be light. In the absence of friction or other interference, the light would travel infinitely and eternally. If one were able to look directly at this, one would literally just see light, as far as the eye could see. 

The above is from wiki.answers and I have not checked the scource or accuracy of this answer to the question – What does a mirror reflect facing a mirror? Given that this is a correct answer I play with the idea that this has something to say about enlightenment.

In meditation we practice looking into our minds with our minds. We have no other instrument at hand but ourselves, right. One could restate the assignment as – Trying (ooops) to have consciousness looking into itself. Now, it is proposed by J.R. Searle, and I agree on this, that consciousness is nothing but a reflection of more basic processes. It adds all available information as to “make sense of it”. In itself it is just a material based (as in the physical brain) event with the function of a mirror. It can reflect sensations like pain but also the occurence of memories and thoughts. This is not to be regarded as either “physical” or “psychological” because they are all physical as stated above. Usually we accept without hesitation the “physical” part while we seldom notice the “psychological” one. We are, so to speak, in our heads without knowing where we are.

In meditation we address this by taking the observers perspective on thoughts. Our consciousness is therby made to observe our thoughts. Cool, but immediately we ask ourselves – who then is watching the observer? If we could answer that, next question woud be – who is observing the watcher observing our thoughts and so on ad infinitum. Where does this infinite regress come to an end. Where do we end up in our search for the Ultimate Observer or the Highest Consciousness?
I have no deeper knowledge of buddhist thinking since I’ve just started to practice/learn, but maybe we could name it The True Self or Your Original Face.
Well, if consciousness has the function of reflecting physical events while being a physical event in itself, it’s easy to conclude that we’re talking about a mirror reflecting a mirror. If so, then “Enlightenment” may be a very apt description of what happens when we finally get our mind to reflect itself “In the absence of friction or other interference”. Meditation practice is, in that perspective, a way of clearing the mirror from interference so it can produce an accurate image of itself. When it does, and it can easily do that if it wasn’t for the friction/stains of exernal events, then we have, tada, infinite light.
Since I made up this Theory of Consciousness on my way home from work, there might be a bit of fine tuning left to make it waterproof and ready for the Nobel Pize. Like finding out that this is an idea as old as it is buried or that my train of thought derailed off the bat or that the wiki.answer was from a witty porn surfer filling dead time between downloads.
One thing I’ll ask my wife is how One Mind can split into Two Mirrors.

If nothing else, it was fun making it up. I’m surprised by the effect a whole weekend of meditating seem to have on my little mirror. Feels like it’s dancing on the green grass after a long cold winter in Head Quarters.

Side note: The zen story on the mirror and the bohdi tree states that ther is no mirror since all is void, but I think that is getting the concept of “void” wrong. I read in some buddhist text that “void” is referring to how things are when stripped of all our mental projections. That should read “void in relation to how we normally percieve them” and not “void in themselves” because if they were, there would be no form. And there is form, right? And therefore, everything is at the same time just as we percive them and nothing like we percive them.

Tomorrow I will explain why, contrary to common belief, being absorbed in activities like gardening and cross words are the opposite to meditation, unless you’re already awake or at least getting out of bed. When awake, every action is per definition mindful as we all know.

The Crap Trap

This post started off as a comparison between two views on “freedom”, it’s implications and concequences. It ended in *drumroll* a Theory. Yes folks, the chatterbox is highly productive. So here we go:

Be as you are or Do what you want. There’s a profound difference between the two imperatives.

Buddhism in general says – Be As You Are! You are primordially free, perfect, compassionate and good. There’s no problem doing the right thing if you just get out of your way and follow the heart of your true self. It will guide you in every moment. If everyone let themselves Be As They Are, the world would be free from war, anxiety and aggression. Love would flow ceaselessly.

Liberalism in general says – Do What You Want! You are inherently rational and functional. It’s easy to do the right thing if you are not ruled or governed by authorities. If everyone was allowed to do what they want, the world would be free from war, anxiety and aggression. Recourses would flow ceaselessly and spread evenly for everyone’s happiness and prosperity.

There’s a noticeable overlap in reasoning and logic here. Both holds a bright and positive attitude regarding the basic human being.

Q: How come I see one as very on target and the other as totally off target?

A: To impose “freedom” on people that are, like the majority of us, locked up in our own prison of ego, prestige and fear is bound to fail. It is doing it all backwards so it leads to consequences that are the opposite of what you intended. Instead of cooperation and generosity you create a greenhouse for greed and hostility. Why on earth is there a bigger need for control and repression in a prison as compared to a Shambhala gathering? If every person on earth was indeed equal in “goodness”, then there would be no difference in need for control.

Wait a minute, am I saying that the notion of basic goodness or primordial compassion is wrong?

Not at all! But just as proposed in Buddhist teachings, that fundamental state is often covered behind what comes from environmental influence. We start off in a state of naturally following our heart and instinctively acting upon reality. To some extent that matures and develops over our first years so we can adapt this state of being and acting in an increasingly skillful manner. Throwing food on the floor is indeed a spontaneous act out of curiosity and/or integrity, i.e. I wonder how strawberry jam sounds falling on the floor or I do not want any more of this. To be curious and to have integrity is basically good, but the expression of this goodness should of course be modulated in  loving and kind relations with more skillful others, like your parent for example. This is a very simple description of the process that modifies the actual basic goodness we share. If the process is optimal, we’re allowed to keep the curiosity and integrity (in this case) intact and we learn how to express these qualities in a constructive way. All good.
But the process is seldom optimal as we all know. It can easily be interrupted or distorted. The other one is supposed to nurture and validate the basic goodness of the little one and in a skillful way. Not every parent or grown up relating to a little child manages that. A lot of us are not skillful in every situation, some are more like 50/50 and some are not skillful most of the time. It varies between people, so the quality of this process varies. In the end we are humans who express different levels of distorted goodness. A very few is not distorted at all. They have no need for meditation. A few others have cleared up their distortions  and by that uncovered their basic goodness. I suppose they are the Enlightened Ones. You and me, we’re working on it, right?

So back to the question of freedom and it’s consequences. The theory of liberalism is fundamentally flawed because it ignores all of the above. It postulates that we’re good/rational/generous/caring by nature and that’s it. Since war and criminality contradicts that view, liberals must adopt a cognitive ad-hoc crutch. That one being – people that are mean and greedy are inherently twisted and therefore exceptions to the rule. They are bad eggs in the basket of goodness so we’ll have to throw them out (or in). That logic clarifies that the liberal notion of basic goodness has strings attached to it. It should read – Everyone is basically good except for the ones who isn’t – which makes it a rather lame philosophy on human nature.

In this perspective the liberal freedom propagated is nothing more than a tool for sorting out who is good and who is bad. The good ones then take care of each other and the bad ones are locked up or left to their own devices. You can clearly hear this background music to almost any liberal proposition and suggestion on how to actually build a society.
When I hear liberals talk like they believed in everyone’s goodness, I always hear that distorted and annoying music, the cognitive and emotional dissonance of a maturing process gone bad. The more screwed up, the louder the noise.
Even so, I cannot help but sensing the little curious and compassionate child behind all that. Sometimes I’m struck by a kind of sadness when I encounter others so far from what they could be if uncovered. It feels like I’m talking to a pile of crap. In fact, I am talking to a pile of crap, but the one that lies squashed under it is totally ignorant to the situation. He/she is so used to it that what he/she “is” equals a pile of crap. I do believe that deep down under, there is a knowner. Somewhere inside there is a little shiny jewel of dignity, compassion and joy that wants to be truly free. Someone that clearly sees the difference between the liberal freedom of choosing phone company or residence, and the freedom of being allowed to follow your heart. No wonder such a person reacts with hostility and aggression towards others who have less crap to maintain when caring for themselves. No wonder such people are constantly advocating consumption of more crap as a way to grow because that is what they are. At least for as long as they themselves are ignorant to the fact that they are indeed Not.

Then again, how could they see that with the distorted mind-set they so openly display when talking about “freedom”?

They are stuck in the Crap Trap!

How full of shit am I then, and how stuck? Is it possible to uncover basic goodness from under such a shitty place?
I believe it is.
You see, the amount of crap is not the crucial factor. You can be covered under the Mother Mountain of Manure and still get out fairly clean and shining, and without much effort. All you have to do is facing the fact that You are covered up. That whatever is piled upon You is just a distortion of You. Do that and there’s no need even to shuffle the shit away, so it makes no difference how big or small the pile is. If size somehow  matters I guess it affects how difficult it becomes to realizing this “truth” about your Self. The bigger part crap of what you believe is You, the harder to discover what’s under. But again, if you see this then starting to act from your true Self will rid you of any cover, no matter the size. I guess that’s what some refer to as “awakening”. I might have missed the point there, but in any case it fits with the Gurus call “don’t try to be anything else than what you already are, but stop acting  in accordance with what you are NOT”.

I’m pretty much full of shit in this perspective, but I feel gradually less trapped by it. You will only remain stuck for as long as you don’t see the bigger picture. If you’re blind to this, every little piece of shit will stick to you like instant glue and you won’t even notice. That’s a bad place to be compared to being full of it and having an idea about how to clean up.

Trying meditation is, I believe, my way of doing this.

That’s it.

The Theory of the Crap Trap. No shit!

Recorded in one take. No proofreading. No overdubs.


Spacious again…