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Archives => Mahayana => Topic started by: Anemephistus on September 22, 2017, 03:30:34 pm

Title: Thoughts from practice
Post by: Anemephistus on September 22, 2017, 03:30:34 pm


   I own none of these concepts, I did not create them and am not responsible for their creation. I am not a sage, a guru, a monk or a layperson. I have only once in my life spoken in person about clarifying my practice (other than my wife) until I recently joined this forum, the person I spoke to other than my wife was a Nun of the Mahayana tradition.

   I have given little regard to which schools translation of text I have read. I have not given much thought to the more metaphysical traits of the various schools. Though I recognize those wiser than myself could perhaps speak on the many dimensions, I cannot.  As the only Buddhist that I am aware of in my immediate area  The difference between the texts has been my only exposure to the differences between the schools. I have read many books and I practice very regularly but I cannot express a relative condition to others of the same faith because I have no basis to draw upon in which to do so.

   I wrote the following sentiments for two reasons and had not expressly intended for them to be placed in the open, but after consideration and reflection I have decided I may do so after I have them looked at by a few others who may be able to render some insight. 

   These were notes, points of conclusion I reached with regards to my meditative practice and were originally written in several files, I compiled them and placed then in an orderly fashion when a co-worker of mine  and I had a discussion and he decided that the conclusions I had arrived at were impossible. I told him that I could not explain in a single conversation why I thought the way that I did but that I would be happy to write it down for him. When he discovered the length he laughed and said that it was not that important to him. I smiled and sat it aside.  I told him that should his perspective ever change it would be there for him. I have since kept it up because it is a good reminder for when I need it and because I it gives me focus when I work on it.

   This was started at the first major set of conclusions I had come to following reading the Heart Sutra. It has been ongoing since and is still not complete. The assertive language is a result of being engaged in a debate that was two sided and while not adversarial, I spoke with more authority than I otherwise might in the company of those who may well be far more versed than myself in the topic, this was due to the nature of an interpersonal relationship with the specific person it was compiled for. As it continued I figured since I was talking to myself in a way, no one would mind. :)

   It has occurred to me this may be of interest here. I apologize again for the immodest length of the document, but I could not arrive at a reasonable way to convey my meaning in shorter verbiage without using the classic Buddhist terms which would have held no meaning for the person it was originally intended for and because I rarely remember them because I focus on the concepts but the words are just vehicles and I did not foresee sharing this with a group of others.  Therefore as a final note, I describe several concepts that could have otherwise been condensed had I chosen to use the Sandscrit terms, but I did not.

   The inner self, and it's nature separate of the ego and material reality do not seem to be a scientific matter. However the inner self is logically observable when attentive observance is actively and consistently engaged in. When our perception is focused on removing preconception and resides in a state of keeping the ultimate state of matter and energy in our perception, if we keep mindful of the inter arising circumstances of our own being and that of the circumstances of others, and we let our minds exist within the moment we are inhabiting. I believe we can make this our constant awareness and part of our nature through continued understanding, meditation and practice. We can be free of false understanding and able to work from within our true nature instead of suffering from being at odds with it and deluded in the sea of false notions we encounter and have endorsed by proxy of our circumstances.

   The foundation of a fully understood interconnected reality starts with a recognition of some basic principals. Those principals were neither developed by me nor is my knowledge about them unique in any way, the problem persists however that it requires effort to comprehend these things,we as a species try in part (some very hard others not at all) but fail to reach a critical mass of understanding before we fall away from our better natures, lose our progress to ever present distraction, and stop looking. The purpose of this document is to transfer to you a basic understanding of the underlying happiness derived from recognition of the ultimate state of reality around us through a vehicle of awareness and reflection. You have claimed that such a perception does not exist, I disagree and ask you to reconsider your stance.

   To be clear, the ultimate state of things I am referring to on a level of perceivable material recognition is a scientific matter, and is both explainable and generally recognized as correct. Which should be self evident as explained.

   Material reality is comprised of atoms at the smallest relevant level to this explanation, all things and phenomenon that are available through sensory understanding and measurement remain bound to a number of variables, laws, and perceptions and most are bound at more than one of these points.  As humans we are given a chance to have majority control over only one of these, perception, and that control is a momentous undertaking, the other variables are adjustable to a degree but require understanding about what limits we are also bound to by means of our outer nature. Knowledge and perception with understanding create a better view of what we have available to work with at our inner (core) being, but since almost all of our attention is directed outward for the purpose of survival via instinct it's best to start there, looking outward in order to see within.   

   It is theorized that Humans invented spoken language but regardless of this assertion it's modality is important to recognize. We also definitely know that there was a time before the written word. As we grow in objective understanding and move into the future as a civilization we have transferred many ideas along the written and spoken (modality) path to future generations. This is literally a method of conceptual time travel when viewed through a supra ordinary lens. We can see what others were thinking and, more recently with cameras and video, doing in the past.


   College students study Ancient Greek philosophers through roughly two-to-four-thousand-year-old thoughts that have been recorded. These concepts from the past are used to challenge the minds of modern students. While scholarly activities in this specific regard are often controlled and predictable, more ideas have been held onto by civilizations for just as long by common people and handed down through various forms of communication. These create civil dispositions and cultural awareness' that within their confined groups appear as truth to those who encounter them.
   What kind of ideas? Ideas in the context I am using the term in, take the form of dispositions and attitudes towards objective (sensory derived) reality in addition to the form of conceptual arrangements and preconceptions derived from experiences. They are the thoughts that we have, whether directly based on something else and directly derivative, or taking the form of a consideration about circumstances or arrangements seeming to be (but almost never truly) unique to us, they also take the form of reaction to various stimuli though this is not necessarily exclusively separate from the other forms.
   Put more simply: Every reaction we have the time to consider (and some we don't) we feel, think and see through a perception brought into being by the notions and derivative effects of those who came before us that we ourselves put into place through the process of development within our circumstances. We are literally standing on a foundation of assumptions and notions that do not necessarily represent truth in a form that engages reality as it can be observed to be true through science, contemplation and teachings that deliver real wisdom. 
   To see this I invite a thought experiment (or meditation) that is based in absolute terms. Lets start with the material senses
From The Zen Buddhism Site “The Lions Roar”:

   If you are a Buddhist Zen master, you will clearly see that there is a cloud floating in the sheet of paper. Without the cloud, there is no rain; without rain, there are no trees; without trees, there is no paper. If you look even closer, you will see the paper mill and the logger, and the logger’s daily bread. You will see the sunshine that nourishes wheat for the bread, and the sun that holds the world in perfect orbit. The cloud and the paper “inter-are.” [1]. 

   We should expand on this in a less poetic way. The concept is “inter-being” Every material object is made of the same elements, nothing but the basic elements are stable, and even they degrade or change in the hearts of stars across the cosmos [2] Look at a table, it is made of wood? You cannot see the light it took to create the table, the minerals the tree took in, the rain that fell on that tree. You cannot see the imaginations of men and women across time as they considered the inventions that lead to all of the material handling that went into the creation of the table, you cannot see what the loggers who cut it down ate that fueled them...The arising of the object before you was all dependent on these things, it is the direct result of everything in the universe if you look long enough each step branches out nearly does everything else, there is nothing that can be observed with the five senses that can be found to be “separate” when looked at this way.

    In the end the only thing about what is before us that makes what we are looking at a “table” is what we are adding by perceiving it as a table. We learned young that it was a table, when we ate as children we sat at one, and people called it a table, our mind was trained over time to see what we were taught about it's nature and we based most of what we knew about it on how we used it. Then as distraction and survival took over we were not challenged to look back at it and evaluate what it really is. There is nothing that is is inherently “table ish” about it, it has no inherent “table-ness”. Its nature separate of our perception is not that of a table. Everything “table” is coming from us as we use our senses, in other words: We are the table, what is truly before us is just part of everything else.

   We need labels to speak and to have coherent modality, imagine trying to talk about the table in terms of what it is without labeling it. This is the dual nature of these perceptions and concepts are the axiomatic foundations of a perspective based reality, on one hand these false notions are required in order to convey ideas, on the other hand they create labels that makes us instantly dismiss what is actually true about what we are seeing. So therefore a process of removing false perceptions is center to understanding true ones instead of just adding to the already complete mess of ordinary perception which is like a label making machine for us, disregarding much of what we can see to be true.

   I will write so much about communication because it is the basis for so much of our disposition. A wise teacher says something, it must be true, and a young fool? It must be false. We get an idea and we build on it with one another and inter-dependently we create huge dispositional structures using our communication as a tool. This practice has not always been beneficial to us, and it can make us resistant to what we need to be happy and healthy and safe.  We have, equal to our greatest material structures, created great mental structures in which we live and divide ourselves to the neighboring concepts. It takes a lot of practice to see them, and courage to decide to “walk down the block” of these things and decide right from wrong.

   These concepts...Like the table is made of constituent circumstances, elements, and arisen dependencies (like invention and circumstances that demand the table)many of our thoughts are built on inherited elements that are existent in the social codex [3]. They are built on the mental dispositions we are raised with, the genes we inherit that determine our hormonal balances, the social/mental constructs we inherit from those we are associated with and who we choose to identify with, and what metal nutriments [4] we choose to ingest with our understanding. To see this I invite another thought experiment or meditation prefaced by two very basic examples:

    Example 1: The color purple. Does a movie come to mind? Royalty? Several other possible references are plausible in the west but in Turkey it is the funerary color. If you wear it, you are in mourning. This is a cultural construct assigned to the sense of sight, and it operates as a vehicle to express what state the person wearing it is in. We have a similar tradition regarding the color black.

   Example 2: Neil Armstrong once gave a talk to a group of Japanese school children. He was relating the story of going to the moon in it was 1972 in Tokyo. he told them “Well I didn't find a man in the moon or any green cheese that's for sure!” The translator being aware of both cultures said to the children: “Well I didn't find any rabbits on the moon that's for sure!” [5] The translation was actually perfect. In the west we talk of a man on the moon or it being made of cheese, in the east they see a rabbit and have legends about it. The children would not have understood the reference to cheese, but they understood the meaning through the concept of a rabbit.

   The notions above are not subtle. They show social preconceptions that are instilled early as development occurs and are recognized by members of their respective cultures by the time adulthood sets in.

   For the thought experiment and meditation on the first example, how many other notions went into the tradition of purple being for mourning, or black for that matter, what were those notions based on? When observing the dispositions and concepts is it apparent that they are based on other thoughts and ideas that link together in the social/mental codex of the society they belong to? Are the thoughts not like the table; made of other ideas and thoughts from various initially invisible sources that we are not trained to see? How do we observe the foundations of the interconnected notions we have? 

   For the second example: The need for modality and communication is foundational to large organization of groups as well as the transmission of ideas from one conscious to another. The children understood the rabbit, would you? If this document were in Chinese would the example be the other way around? The foundation communication represents on a broad scale is responsible for almost all of material innovation, its effect is truly ubiquitous with human experience and has been since it's evolution/inception. What preconceptions do we posses that are not as simple as the rabbit and the cheese? Have we been believing in things and concepts that we inherited that do not represent our true nature or bring us joy and freedom? How easy would it be for us to mistake our ego for our true nature, being reassured of how correct we are because of social reassurances and assumed dispositions  while standing firm on false inherited mental constructs?

   The concepts driving communication are inherent to experience and even many animals posses traits that allow at least rudimentary communication. It is important to determine internally what our process of communication is. Do we feel emotion, form words, then speak? Do we have a concepts, voice it, observe others then decide how to feel?  What process underlies our communication, what exists pre-decision to communication for us and what do we choose most often to express on the logical, emotional, and ego-driven levels? How often when we communicate are we successful at transferring what we have in our conscious to to another mind, and what pre-conceptions do we rely on in order to do so?

   Our inherited dispositions from the various physical, social, and other derivative sources can bring us joy or they can undermine us. Before we speak we have a thought, that thought draws on our mental resources.  Those resources have been shaped by many factors and some of them are what we truly need and others are not. Without speaking, mentally ask yourself a question to which you know the answer. In what order do you become aware of the question and the answer, it is at the same time? At different times? Is the process you feel linear as though you are speaking, or jumbled?

   The inner-most state of the mind was there before the ideas we inherited from all sensory sources. We “knew nothing” at one point. If any person can be seen to have different dispositions from ours we must acknowledge that those dispositions (our and theirs) are not inherent in our nature. They were instead developed from interconnected thoughts, inherited dispositions, choices about what to believe we have made from what was available to consider to our mind at moments in the past, and our own genes and physical cerebro-chemical predispositions inherited or implanted through genes or physical reality. Our nature, as it can be perceived is truly a part of everything else.

   The ego based self  is a function of biological survival, it abounds in assurances that there is a self and that self is important and special and unique. In my experience through our culture there is little done to dissuade this idea. We all tell our children how special they are and begin teaching them about their “self” as soon as we can. If you have ever eaten a cheese burger, you cannot point right now at which part of you is the cheeseburger, you cannot exist without food, all of your physical nature is borrowed from other sources changed into the body you inhabit as a function of your DNA.  Do you remember the fist thing you ever learned, can you point at which lesson lead you to every decision you make each day?

   Thousands of things each day, maybe more, we decide based on our experiences with similar decisions in the past, we decide based on our mood and other mental formations, and we have our inherited dispositions, the teachings we have accepted, the people in our lives who we gave the authority to teach us and the great mental structures from society that also guide us.

   So if we do not own the foundation of our thoughts, and most of what we think is subject to an inter-dependent consciousness and inherited understanding about the various stimuli we encounter, and we are not inherently what we seem to be physically as we are made of other ingested materials and genetic legacy what good does this knowledge do us? I again invite a meditation or thought experiment:

   Since we are accustomed to thinking in the “self” centered sense  we are separate of everything around us. When we feel bad, we are alone. When we feel good, we are alone. When we think something, it is never enough that our thoughts exist, we must struggle always to convince others, or to find temporary satisfaction through our own thoughts. We spiral and stress and fight against forces which have greater momentum than we can see, because we do not detect the foundations of the thoughts we are struggling with, or our own foundations, propelling us in whatever direction we head without guidance or discipline we struggle.

   Ultimate truth as I understand it is separate from all of this. I did not precisely inherit this thought, it was as a result of meditation and focus. It is also not quite what I mean, but despite days of trying I cannot express it in a more succinct way. There is a non-formation which is perceivable, a point in meditative practice which thoughts do not rise and what is experienced is more like being outside of everything described above and looking at it objectively without judgment. It is easier to have compassion for our species when seen on a whole, I perceived the huge mental constructs of humanity and their momentum, I do not know them all, but they are all similar, it like forgiving someone who has been lied to for telling you the same lie, they do not know the truth. All living things are one thing,
   My experience tells me that this is because there is almost no truth contained within the greater codex of relative experience, it is all built up from other non-true things and is carried by a momentum from all of the inter connected things that have been described here and more.

   Stopping, finding where these things are attached and removing them, focusing on the inner most “self” as a greater part of all things and letting go of notions which give rise to unkind emotion, incorrect thoughts, and the many forms of suffering, we find that we are part of everything else, and extend our “being” into an infinite space which is quite and peaceful. I have not however found that I can maintain this state for any length of time. It takes focus and as daily life returns, it is hard to keep in focus.

Being free of the struggle
   The addition of concepts does not bring freedom. One does not free themselves from the strife of living with false notions by adding more false notions. We can take solace in notions we have but it will be temporary, we remember peace, but rarely is it with us in the state we are in as we struggle. I suffer from this, as do a great many others. It is forming internal tools through which we can remove false things that brings clarity. It is practicing these things everyday that brings ease to suffering, not waiting until we suffer to reach for them.


   This is what I have done

   First I focused on the nature of reality and how badly I was suffering. I recognized a primary cause with substance abuse and I resolved to find a solution. I looked for wisdom in order to overcome my difficulties.

   Second  I found two major sources, one from a person who is a member of an organization who has traditions which were specific to my problem, the second source was from Buddhism and is relevant to all suffering and it's alleviation.

   Third I set out to the Buddhist path, I chose it because it was more all inclusive and I tested each lesson it offered, the questioning, testing and considering took me just over a full year. It brought great ease to my pain. Though the road was tumultuous. The truth of the other, more specific path was with me often as well.

   Fourth, I developed a practice that requires I take time daily to reflect and study. I look for more information regularly but only after the new text has sunk in and been tested, meditated on and considered. There are facets of a few of the translations that I have not adopted.

   Fifth, I choose to keep several attachments which are dear to me for better or worse, I fail to keep up my practice, I fall away from it for awhile, I get stressed or self indulgent and I struggle again, I forget what know, and take time to wallow in self pity...then I recall that this is not getting me anywhere and I go back to number 4.

   The nature of everything is subject to scrutiny. These have been some of my determinations and how I reached them. I cannot say that you will agree, I again feel the need to specify the concepts presented here,  they do not belong to me, I am just relaying them in another way. I did not develop them, I am not a sage, a guru, a monk or a layperson. I am just another being, traveling down the path I have described.

[1] the The Fullness of Emptiness
by Thich Nhat Hanh| August 6, 2012
[2] See “Stellar nucleosynthesis”
noun, Physics, Astronomy.
1. The formation of new atomic nuclei by nuclear reactions, thought to occur in the interiors of stars and in the early stages of development of the universe.
Source see also “Stellar Nucleosynthesis”

[3] Reference APA (American Psycological Assosiation): “On the conflicts between biological and social evolution and between psychology and moral tradition.” :
Campbell, Donald T
   Notation about reference: The refernce provides recognition of underling evolutionary pricipals governing social eveolution regarding moral prinicipals and underlying phenomenon.

[4] There are four kinds of nutriments which enable living beings to grow and maintain life.
What are these four nutriments? The first is edible food, the second is the food of sense impressions, the third is the food of volition, and the fourth is the food of consciousness -Buddha 
[5] “Verbal Judo” George J. Thompson PhD

[6] a range of Sutras and translations, my Sanscrit is awful, and I cannot recall all of the names but they all have all been deeply involved.
Title: Re: Thoughts from practice
Post by: Samana Johann on September 22, 2017, 05:31:44 pm
The addition of concepts does not bring freedom. One does not free themselves from the strife of living with false notions by adding more false notions. We can take solace in notions we have but it will be temporary, we remember peace, but rarely is it with us in the state we are in as we struggle.
Title: Re: Thoughts from practice
Post by: ground on September 22, 2017, 10:27:47 pm
Obviously a very creative practice.  :teehee:

Title: Re: Thoughts from practice
Post by: Samana Johann on September 23, 2017, 08:52:19 am
The addition of concepts does not bring freedom. One does not free themselves from the strife of living with false notions by adding more false notions. We can take solace in notions we have but it will be temporary, we remember peace, but rarely is it with us in the state we are in as we struggle.

For example:

Obviously a very creative practice.  :teehee:
Title: Re: Thoughts from practice
Post by: Anemephistus on September 23, 2017, 12:32:13 pm
Obviously a very creative practice.  :teehee:

I think I was very direct in that none of the material was created by me. No, my practice is not creative. It is not the result of what I have made, it is the result of what others have done, and effort to apply it. Effort in order to remove false notions, not create new notions.

 I would say that all I have written I have experienced. If it has value to you that is good! If it doesn't that is fine too! I did not place it here to showcase it, but in the hope that others would point out what there is to seek further from it, many considerations are to be made when seeking the truth, and practical transmission of ideas would be appreciated.

It is good that it is not original, it feels very personal, but I am not accustomed to writing others of the same faith or similar, So I was uncertain how it might come across. 
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