Monday, July 17, 2017

Refining Disenchantment

     A recent post concluded with: "We can prevent a great deal of unnecessary suffering by carefully observing how craving & aversion operate in our daily life, recognizing their arising early, ... and shifting attention from these towards matters that will actually benefit us."
     Easy to say, but how can we actually put this into practice? First of all, we need to become disenchanted with life as it is. For some, especially those who've had a challenging childhood, and are reasonably in touch with what's going on internally & around them, disenchantment can start early in life. For many, disenchantment hits like a sledgehammer on their deathbed. For others, disenchantment ensues from major trauma, shattering their illusion of control, self-concept & worldview all at once ("shipwreck")
     "Disenchanted" is an interesting word, implying that our default tendency is sleep- or trance-like. So wisdom traditions, especially Buddhism, teach that we need to wake up or else continue suffering needlessly over & over again. So like a gardener, if we don't like the crops we're producing, we have to re-assess & optimize our gardening procedures. As in gardening, we are to minimize & finally eliminate all that impedes healthy crop growth - in our case, evolution of consciousness.

      “In practical terms, cultivating (the perception of not delighting in the whole world) can be implemented through a willingness to let go and relinquish whatever one is accustomed to clinging to, in particular one’s opinions and preferences, judgments and views. In this way a refinement takes place compared to ... freedom from sensual desire through dispassion and freedom from ill will and harming through cessation. At the present juncture even the more subtle traces of unwholesomeness in the form of any type of clinging are being relinquished.” 
     Analayo. "Mindfully Facing Disease & Death: Compassionate Advice from Early Buddhist Texts.” Wisdom, 2016.

Morning Sea Fog at Conrad Beach, Nova Scotia

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Zen of Not Knowing

     "Beginner’s mind is Zen practice in action. It is the mind that is innocent of preconceptions and expectations, judgments and prejudices. Beginner’s mind is just present to explore and observe and see 'things as they are.' I think of beginner’s mind as the mind that faces life like a small child, full of curiosity and wonder and amazement. 'I wonder what this is? I wonder what that is? I wonder what this means?' Without approaching things with a fixed point of view or a prior judgment, just asking 'What is it?'"
       Zenkei Blanche Hartman. "Seeds for a Boundless Life: Zen Teachings from the Heart." Shambhala, 2015. 

Photograph by David A. Lovas

Monday, July 10, 2017

Transcending Extreme Views

     We live in a time of partisanship: bias, prejudice, one-sidedness, discrimination, favoritism, partiality, sectarianism, factionalism. Vicious reflex aversion or frenzied blind support for topics ranging from politics, economics, religion, sex, gender, even sports, is based NOT on careful analysis of evidence, BUT solely on identification with certain groups. If "one of us" is criticized, no matter how justly, we immediately react as if it were a life-threatening personal attack. Yet it's just our ego being criticized.
     There is a much more nuanced, wiser & healthier approach:

     “Sympathizing with (extreme ends of a) perspective is easy; walking the knife-edge between them is more difficult. Can we employ each viewpoint to interrogate the other, without accepting either perspective as absolute? Such an approach can be discomforting because it is so destabilizing: what remains of one’s own standpoint? This process invokes the understanding of Buddhist practice … which emphasizes the realization of ‘nondwelling mind”: a mind that does not identify with any particular forms, including thought-forms such as ideologies, whether religious or secular.”
        David R. Loy. “A New Buddhist Path. Enlightenment Evolution and Ethics in the Modern World.” Wisdom Publications, 2015.

Soccer Hooligans - Getty Images

Friday, July 7, 2017

What If?

     If creative imagination materialized continuously, in real-time, each piece of material could perceive only "self" - who or what they are. Might not myriad pieces of material mistakenly assume separate individual identities, forgetting their true identity, nature or origin?
     But what if the materials began to realize that their properties were impermanence, unsatisfactoriness & not-self?