New Buddhist Path - A New Buddhist Story to A Pivotal Stage - PP 86 - 104

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39271

    #31
    Originally posted by Jeremy
    Before we move on, I have a quick book plug for anyone who likes reading science and Buddhism...

    There's a great book by Bodhipaksa, "Living as a River" https://www.amazon.com/Living-as-Riv...rds=bodhipaksa, which is full of ideas from science to help us realise the non-separateness and impermanence of our selves. Bodhipaksa runs the http://fakebuddhaquotes.com/ and http://www.wildmind.org/ websites and before becoming a full time Buddhist, he qualified as a vet, so he's particularly good on things biological. The idea of the title is that we are literally rivers of water and other substances. To take one example from the book:

    Mostly it's much more gentle than this as it works through a series of traditional Buddhist reflections on the elements. In some countries you can get it second-hand for a few peanuts plus postage - highly recommended.

    Step lightly, stay free,
    Jeremy
    SatToday
    Thank you, Jeremy. I have just ordered it.

    Not even judging from its cover, while waiting I did just read the Introduction online ...



    There’s no borderline we can say for sure marks where the eddy stops and the river begins. The eddy cannot exist without the stream, and the stream itself is nothing more than a mass of eddies and other currents. I suggest that the self is like that too. We are not separate from the world around us; we instead exist as the sum total of our relationships with a vast web of interconnected processes. We are not physically separate, and we are not mentally separate, and realizing these facts is infinitely enriching.

    I’ll be suggesting that we embrace the fact that nothing permanent constitutes us. Each of us is an ever-moving flow of matter and consciousness. Just as an eddy can exist only because it’s continually changing, so too do our selves exist only because they are a process, and hence impermanent and contingent upon things that we take to be non-self. For example, we think of our bodies as being an important part of our identity, but 90 percent of the body’s cells are bacterial rather than human. Ninety percent of you is not you. In fact, when you look more closely you can see that your entire physical being is made of material that was, sometimes not long ago, not you. Every atom comprising your body is borrowed, and will be returned to the outside world. Some of it is returning this very moment. Physically, in fact, much of the external world around us is actually “us”—plants, animals, and even soil and rocks made from material that was formerly part of our bodies. Mentally, we are each “networked” to other minds through the action of mirror neurons, which allow us to share other people’s experiences. You could not in fact have a conscious self,
    in the sense that you have one now, without having encountered other conscious selves. Consciousness is something “caught.” In fact, there’s no such “thing” as consciousness. Consciousness is not an entity that sits within us, awaiting contact with the outside world; rather it’s a series of activities that arise in dependence upon contact with the world. The ultimate act of letting go is to abandon the delusion that consciousness and the world are separate things. The more we reflect, the more we can recognize that there is nothing permanent or separate in the body or mind that can constitute the very limited and limiting kind of self we commonly assume we have.

    ,,,

    On the spiritual side, I’ll borrow heavily from a reflective meditation practice from the Buddhist tradition: the Six Element Practice. In this practice, we reflect on what constitutes the body and the mind. We call to mind the solid matter (Earth), liquid (Water), energy (Fire), and gases (Air) that make up the body—as well as the form they comprise (Space), and notice how none of these is a static thing onto which we can hold, but instead is a process. We also notice that each element is “borrowed” from the outside world. With the sixth element, Consciousness, we note how our experiences—our sensations, feelings, emotions, and thoughts—continually arise and pass away, once again
    leaving us nothing we can identify as the basis of a permanent and separate self
    That is exactly right. However, I will make an observation some some writers on "non-self" from a South Asia perspective (Thich Nhat Hanh's writings sometimes seems to have this flavor as well) seem to describe the self as composites, often very material, while sometimes missing the Mahayana/Hua-yen/Zen sense of Emptiness as some great interflowing sacred Wholeness of the Dharmakaya Big "B" Buddha. I will be interested to how such is expressed in this care. For example, TNH's wonderful, famous expression of Emptiness ...

    If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are.

    "Interbeing" is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix "inter" with the verb "to be", we have a new verb, inter-be. Without a cloud, we cannot have paper, so we can say that the cloud and the sheet of paper inter-are.

    If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger's father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.
    Frankly, I find it a little cold and materialistic. He seems to emphasize the pieces, but not the Whole which dances each and all. It can be taken to mean that the "paper" symbolically holds the "sun" or the "woodcutter" rather than the above, real tangible mystical experience of all being connected and interflowing. That awe and sense of some greater whole is something which has been shared by many biologists, physicists and other scientists too, and I would not term merely a "religious" sense, Bohr, David Bohm and others. Edward Schrodinger, for one, wrote [in his My View of the World] ...

    “Hence this life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear: Tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as 'I am in the east and in the west, I am below and above, I am this whole world'.
    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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    • Jeremy

      #32
      Originally posted by Jundo
      Thank you, Jeremy. I have just ordered it.
      Cool - I think you'll like it

      Jeremy
      SatToday

      Comment

      • Risho
        Member
        • May 2010
        • 3179

        #33
        Thank you! just requested it from the library.

        Gassho,

        Risho
        Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

        Comment

        • Jeremy

          #34
          Originally posted by Risho
          Thank you! just requested it from the library.

          Gassho,

          Risho
          Hope you enjoy it - I'd be interested to hear what you make of it.

          Jeremy
          SatToday

          Comment

          • Hoseki
            Member
            • Jun 2015
            • 649

            #35
            Hi folks,

            So I can't say I've got all of the above the discussion. But I did want to comment on one of the things that I kept coming back to. So here is a hazy summary of the stuff I've been thinking about after I've read some of the discussion. It involves the relationship between multiplicity and unity.

            I have a pencil on my desk that I use to take notes when people call me. When the phone rings I look for the pencil, I see it, I pick it up and then I start writing. I don't think about the pencil directly but I'm sort of aware of it as a pencil and as a unity. Not as a sum of parts but a whole or unity. But when I'm writing and I notice I'm unable to mark on the paper I take another look at the pencil to see what's going on. When this happens I don't see the pencil as a unity I'm look at an aspect of the pencil, the tip. Is it sharp or dull? Is the lead broken? Is the pencil now in two parts? I now see the pencil as a multiplicity. Its no longer an elementary unit in this activity but the context or field of the new activity (investigating what's wrong with the pencil.) Perhaps we should say its not an element in the field of awareness but a set of related elements.

            If I'm in a philosophical mood I may ask what is the pencil composed of and I would say, wood, graphite, rubber, paint and some metal. When I do this I no longer see the unity of the pencil. If someone asked me what would be left to the pencil if I took away these parts I would say "nothing" or "I don't understand the question."

            I'm not sure how much of this is clear but depending on my perspective the pencil is both a multiplicity and a unity. I think both are true from a certain perspective. Is the wood the pencil? No not exactly but when its seen from the standpoint of a unity there is no wood just a pencil.

            Does this make sense? I think our understanding of the cosmos could be something like this. I can't remember who said this (Dogen maybe?) "I am not it but it is me" seems to fit the situation. As human beings we are always up to something but when we are sitting in completion there isn't anything to accomplish the analytic mode of being that we typically inhabit (i'm sure was/is useful for survival) can drop away and the unity of the cosmos can reveal itself.

            For what its worth I think I'm butchering early Heidegger here but I feel like there is something to this.

            What do you guys think?

            Gassho

            Sattoday
            Hoseki

            Comment

            • Jeremy

              #36
              Originally posted by Hoseki
              ...I have a pencil on my desk that I use to take notes when people call me. When the phone rings I look for the pencil, I see it, I pick it up and then I start writing. I don't think about the pencil directly but I'm sort of aware of it as a pencil and as a unity. Not as a sum of parts but a whole or unity. But when I'm writing and I notice I'm unable to mark on the paper I take another look at the pencil to see what's going on. When this happens I don't see the pencil as a unity I'm look at an aspect of the pencil, the tip. Is it sharp or dull? Is the lead broken? Is the pencil now in two parts? I now see the pencil as a multiplicity. Its no longer an elementary unit in this activity but the context or field of the new activity (investigating what's wrong with the pencil.) Perhaps we should say its not an element in the field of awareness but a set of related elements.

              If I'm in a philosophical mood I may ask what is the pencil composed of and I would say, wood, graphite, rubber, paint and some metal. When I do this I no longer see the unity of the pencil. If someone asked me what would be left to the pencil if I took away these parts I would say "nothing" or "I don't understand the question."

              ...

              For what its worth I think I'm butchering early Heidegger here but I feel like there is something to this.
              Hi Hoseki
              Thanks for the pointer to Heidegger. He's on the long list of people I want to read more of

              Your different ways of looking at a pencil sounds like Heidegger's distinction between 'ready-to-hand' (zuhanden) and 'present-at-hand' (vorhanden). 'Ready-to-hand' is the usual way we encounter things in the world - we see things with a view to their purpose and care about them in that we are in an interested relation to them - the pencil is a tool for writing or drawing. 'Present-at-hand' is more of an abstract presence - we are aware of an entity in and of itself. As you say, this is a more reflective or scientific way of looking at things.

              This is very interesting from the point of view of subject/object duality:

              For Heidegger, the present-at-hand way of seeing things only arises when the ready-to-hand modality breaks down, such as when the pencil's point breaks (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/h...er-aesthetics/): "in all such cases what Heidegger calls our ordinary, immediate 'hands-on' (zuhanden) way of coping with the world of our practical concerns undergoes a 'transformation' (Umschlag) in which we come to experience ourselves as isolated subjects standing reflectively before a world of external objects, which we thereby come to experience as standing over against us in the mode of something objectively 'on hand' (vorhanden) (BT 408-9/SZ 357-8).
              In other words, Heidegger does not deny the reality of the subject/object relation but, rather, points out that our experience of this subject/object relation derives from and so presupposes a more fundamental level of experience, a primordial modality of engaged existence in which self and world are united rather than divided."

              Step lightly, stay free,
              Jeremy
              SatToday
              Last edited by Guest; 04-23-2017, 05:47 PM.

              Comment

              • zeeman
                Member
                • Feb 2015
                • 2

                #37
                The monkey mind sees the four forces and eight particles as the building blocks of the entire universe. The original mind sees the entire universe. All arguments are words in the wind. No amount of thinking or talking will change what has already been changed in any way that brings understanding.

                Peace. Happiness.
                walked today
                z

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39271

                  #38
                  Originally posted by zeeman
                  The monkey mind sees the four forces and eight particles as the building blocks of the entire universe. The original mind sees the entire universe. All arguments are words in the wind. No amount of thinking or talking will change what has already been changed in any way that brings understanding.

                  Peace. Happiness.
                  walked today
                  z
                  Yes the monkey mind, "four forces and eight particles", gravity and the quark, every aaaman and every zeeman are all the entire universe, the entire universe fully held in each quark of zeeman. No amount of thinking and talking will change that fact.

                  Gassho, J

                  SatToday
                  Last edited by Jundo; 04-24-2017, 10:17 AM.
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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