Thursday, September 28, 2017

Buddhism - a Closer Look

     Xenophobia is usually a form of aversion, even hatred: "fear & distrust of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange." Less commonly, xenophobia is expressed in the form of clinging or greed: "an uncritical exaltation of another culture in which a culture is ascribed an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality." 
     We laugh at Homer Simpson when he says exactly how he feels: "I don't like him - he's different." But there's a little Homer in every one of us. We're far less evolved than we'd like to believe.
     From the start (~500BCE), Buddhism has sought the "middle-path" between extremes, and has seen aversion, greed, & delusion, as the basic causes of human suffering. Nevertheless, xenophobia remains a powerful primitive reaction, easily over-ruling higher forms of reason. "The world we experience comes as much, if not more, from the inside out as from the outside in." Anil Seth

     "Buddhism ... is not primarily a philosophy or description of reality. It is a pragmatic path whose goal is to lessen suffering and increase happiness." Melvin McLeod, Lion's Roar, November 2017

     The Buddha 
• denied being divine; 
• only claimed to have "awakened" by dropping greed, hatred & delusion; 
• for 40 years taught many to achieve the same awakening he had; 
taught people not to rely on him or anyone other than themselves to awaken; and 
taught that even his own teachings (later called "Buddhism") were like a raft to cross a river, a vehicle to be discarded after one has awakened.

     Like the Hippocratic Oath, the Buddha's primary interest was lessening suffering and increasing long-term happiness. So Buddhism has a lot in common with, and has often been compared to, a form of medicine or psychology.

     "Pragmatism considers thought an instrument or tool for prediction, problem solving and action, and rejects the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality. Pragmatists contend that most philosophical topics—such as the nature of knowledge, language, concepts, meaning, belief, and science—are all best viewed in terms of their practical uses and successes. The philosophy of pragmatism 'emphasizes the practical application of ideas by acting on them to actually test them in human experiences'. Pragmatism focuses on a 'changing universe rather than an unchanging one as the Idealists, Realists and Thomists had claimed'."

Lambert's of Taos, NM

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"Our Suffering" is the Very Material with which we Practice

     “The path of spiritual practice is often called purification of the heart. We don’t have a choice about what we purify – rather, what needs purifying shows up in our lives. The question is whether we can be mindful enough to be present to it. Sometimes the suffering and pain we internalize goes deep into the core of who we think we are – whether it is a thirteen-year-old boy’s feeling of hating how he looks, other judgments we make about ourselves, or the multitude of judgments the world can make about us.
     The practice of mindfulness invites us to see that we are so much more than who we think we are and our full and beautiful lives are so much more than just our suffering. Can we be present to all of that too?”

       Larry Yang. “Awakening Together. The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community.” Wisdom Publications, 2017.                        excerpt published in Lion’s Roar, November 2017

At a Store's Doorway, Taos NM