Archive for January, 2008

Isn’t it weird…

Posted in Buddhism, Christianity, Reality Bites, Religion with tags , , , , , on January 30, 2008 by wizardsmoke

…that westerners can be tricked into thinking Buddhism doesn’t function as a religion? As if it functioned differently from other religions? As if Buddhists were any less deluded than Christians on average? Well…. hmm….

I think there’s a lot to be had from studying Buddhist thought, but I think likewise is true of Western religious practices as well. Nobody has the humane syndrome consolidated under one roof, ya dig? Like, I don’t know if the Tibetan Buddhists have got such a leg up on Socrates in terms of actual understanding of reality. Or maybe Socrates was an asshole, we’ll never really know.

What I will admit, is that I think Buddhism has the firmest and clearest elucidation of the path to “stainless reality” over any other body of philosophy. And that the further developments of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy do even more of this, indicating the various stages and accomplishments of the bodhisattva. So it’s like a gauge by which one can measure themselves and other figures in terms of insight and accomplishment.

Still, I’m not a Buddhist. And I don’t bow down to nobody, unless they’re exploding with compassion and willpower, and even then I’d rather just hang out with them and try to get their positive traits to rub off on me. And those divine character traits are hard to catch; usually when you think you’re in the presence of one of those peeps it’s really ’cause you’re bewitched.

Just remember — if there’s a conscious judgment in your mind of someone’s quality, you in no position to decide! Spontaneity is the way to be!

Master of Reality

Posted in Buddhism, Occult, Reality Bites, Religion, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2008 by wizardsmoke

What may be news to you if you’ve been living under a rock for the last 3 incalculable eons, is that desire and willpower don’t mix well. When you have a one-pointed desire for something, your willpower will deprive you of accomplishing that goal. There’s actually a kind of cosmic law, a fundamental building block of all phenomena ensuring that obsessive, consciously entertained desires cannot be realized through blatant concentration or efforts.

You can certainly achieve your desires by measuring and mapping out which steps it will take to realize them, and fulfilling these steps one at a time (i.e. the Scientific Method). But this involves one-pointed concentration on the individual tasks themselves and following those tasks without entertaining the cumulative desire to be realized from them. That method is the example Thanissaro Bhikkhu is always using to describe the practice of the Buddhist path: it’s like driving a car to the mountains; you don’t keep your eyes on the mountains while you’re driving, you keep them on the road that takes you to the mountains. If you stare at the mountains, you’ll crash and never reach them.

There are the methods of autosuggestion to the subconscious, practiced widely in some magickal traditions. This is where the folklore of making wishes comes from. People in contemporary society seem to think those wishes upon birthday-cake-candles and coins-thrown-in-fountains are all nonsense or superstition, but they are legitimately wishes. There’s a pretty concise science to it all.

Still, a problem is that desires will fog up a person’s perception. And the less desires a being has, the stronger their overall perception of things. Desires work as powerful illusions. An individual under the influence of a desire will temporarily find everything else in one’s life to become less important. This is why in Buddhism or in any other religious path, a person lives a simplistic life with few desires. Because happiness comes from abiding in deep awareness of the nature of reality, which cannot happen while one is following a desire. In fact, achieving enlightenment is spurred initially by a strong desire for true happiness, but it has to be let go at some point because the desire is just an illusion that serves a temporary purpose for the mind.

Of course, unless one is a monastic, one is not simply going to give up sex, money or alcohol very easily. But it’s worth noting that these things do weaken the mind. And a weak mind is ripe to be plundered by those beings deeply enamored with emotions and deep urges, or the ability to manipulate the fabric of the desire realm.

For example, some people are skeptical of hypnotism, and if you really 100% can resist hypnosis it won’t work on you. But the problem is that most people eventually will just give in to the instructions of the hypnotist and follow the repetitive imagery or sound or whatever, simply because their minds are untrained, weak, easily bored and always looking for something to attach to. So when people get brainwashed or hypnotized or fooled by an illusion, it’s because they waver from their willpower to resist it for just one moment. This is enough to entrance a person. And this one moment is the one that matters; it’s the one where you make your stupidest mistakes.

In other words, the more desires you have, the less likely you are to see things coming your way. Or something.

Confucianism, Christianity and Buddhism all sort of function under a similar premise: they have a specific set of teachings one should carry out which will make everything else in the universe knowable. In other words, don’t wonder about all that other stuff (like what is the self or the “I”; what is the essence of sexual desire) if you really want to observe what the nature of everything is.

But you already knew that, right?

O! What a world!

Posted in Buddhism, martial arts, Reality Bites, Stayin' Alive with tags , , , , on January 23, 2008 by wizardsmoke

The world isn’t perfect. It’s samsara, baby. A one-way ticket past every station on the line and then some. If you want to get off, you have to really earn that freedom. I’ve heard someone wise say that the gods respect a quiet mind…

People are always out to get you, it’s true. You can’t trust ’em. But if you see everyone else as a threat or try to prey on them, you’re making the world worse. You’re a part of the problem.

You can trust some things: good, well-chosen friends and close family, plants and animals, upstanding courageous people. Oh, and karmic law. This isn’t grim either — it’s nice to have some things to depend on! Plants give without asking for any compensation, whereas animals live by basic instincts and have predictable emotions and loyalties. It’s humans who (in their current formation) have the ability to differentiate between virtuous and non-virtuous deeds, and whom often choose ignorance. This is why a wasted human life is such a miserable mistake.

Society seems like a vicious beast, out to crush you. Like a mob, it operates without compassion and has only eyes for a certain kind of result: society just pursues opportunities. But what are opportunities?

Society works this way because everyone is a part of it, and everyone needs to survive. If your subjugation is an opportunity for someone else in society to get ahead, an attempt will certainly be made to compromise your position. This is why careers in politics/organized crime are lunacy. You have to be a real sociopath to pursue those avenues, because they consist of stepping on everybody else whenever the opportunity arises, and constantly mingling with people who are in no way close to you. Everyone else in that business has the same strange dreams of commanding others. And while everyone needs to survive, a person doesn’t need much power or wealth to do so.

But I digress: society is out to get you because everyone in society is looking for opportunities to get ahead in society. This includes you, presumably. Remember that any time you present an opportunity for someone else to get ahead, they’ll take you up on it.

This is alluded to in the finer martial arts: a real martial artist doesn’t look for openings or opportunities in combat, but creates them by presenting illusory openings for the opponent/uke/duifeng to enter, thus temporarily (and naturally!) creating an opportunistic space to move into.

Living up to the Past

Posted in History, martial arts, Religion, Stayin' Alive with tags , , , , , , on January 22, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Let’s take a moment and ponder how traditions survive. Like ones started either in pre-historic or chaotic times: schools of philosophy, martial arts, religion, art or science. It is always amazing to us (or to me, at least) that various things have survived the ages.

I have two lines of thought in this area.

One – most of human culture did not or has not survived because it was destroyed or all its proponents were killed, died or failed to maintain their tradition. I mean that only a small fraction of humanity’s inventions and explorations have been passed on to us. Which brings us to my second point…

Two – traditions can only survive through exceptional diligence and perseverance.

Are the traditions passed on to us the best that humanity has had to offer? We know even from recent experience that the victors of war and political power, the dominating forces of the world, will write and thus censor records of events. However, there are many cases of traditions being passed on “underground”, in secret. Traditions which are thought to be extinct and still yet survive. What is interesting is the importance of historical documents. Historical documentation is the evidence used by third-person parties to recognize the tradition under examination. So without historical documentation from an “authoritative” source, traditions are not usually acknowledged by nations and cultural institutes. Documentation can be dated, a kind of time-stamp we can put on things, which can then hold up under scientific scrutiny.

Which leads us to recognize that gaining recognition of one’s tradition, while prestigious, is not the essential facet of it’s survival. Rather, survival has nothing to do with records, and more to do with day-to-day practice and repetition. Day-to-day practice is the key to mastery in any devotional art, and the real secret to passing on a tradition and lineage. Because here we can also see another similar idea: that each day is actually a generation, and a tradition only survives by being passed from generation to generation. In this sense, traditions are a vividly real link to our ancestors, of which one needs no outside verification. Survival is the message.

When a tradition is placed under the ill-fated circumstances of being persecuted by the country’s law, the dedication to tradition is put to the test. Dedication to tradition is measured by what it means to its practitioners. Which is all that really matters in a modern age. Old traditions no longer are the same key to survival, but their importance or enjoyment can indeed be proportionate to the level of significance they held in securing the survival of human or cultural lineages. In this same line of thinking, modern laws erode cultural artifacts by making them expensive and no longer necessary for the same reasons.

Modern technology puts a new spin on these ideas. As culture becomes more expensive to maintain in our modern life, our awareness of our culture and ancestry depends more and more upon historical recognition. A smaller number of people to uphold traditions in their daily lives means cultural preservation relies upon historical evidence more than ever before. Also a product of the modern world, is the criteria by which traditions are preserved. One can suppose that quality overcomes quantity in the end, which is similar to wondering whether the warrior who survives in battle is necessarily the virtuous one.

The modern era has given birth to an extreme plethora of cultural variety. A higher ratio than ever before is probably junk, and at the same time our methods of data storage are more precarious. It is interesting to consider what a failure or major shift in modern technology would reveal about our traditions and cultural heritage. Because the most important traditions lay beneath the surface of the historical radar and always survive, held the most steadfast by the smallest, most dedicated groups.

Anxiety Attacks!

Posted in Reality Bites, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Life is in constant motion and if you want to stay in good mental health, you’ll stay in constant motion too.

What does it mean to stay in motion? I’m referring to the ability to constantly refresh the things one does. By refreshing and putting new (original) effort into each day, a person can fight off laziness and drop off the mental agony of restlessness. It seems sometimes like restlessness can build up energy to be exerted in our ambitions and activities, but ideally we keep ourselves moving in order to keep restlessness from overcoming us and creating great emotional misery. Energy coming from developed restlessness or anxiety tends to be a bit unbalanced and misplaced.

Following those impulses makes them more likely to keep appearing, and also influences one to keep doing things that make their neuroses stronger. Many times one thinks that following their impulses will satiate them and thus solve the problem for the moment. In that sense they are like sexual impulses. They are always strong, but each time they are followed they become easier to follow and the rest of the mind or will becomes correspondingly weaker as a result.

Everyone has their own definition of what it means to be productive. But some kinds of productivity rely on outside partnerships and influences to be fulfilled. I mean, if productivity in one’s life is merely being defined by social, material or financial gains, that productivity is limited and unstable. It is not a dependable source of personal satisfaction. By learning to leave behind anxiety, stress and restlessness, one learns to balance one’s life and intimately penetrate the concept of change. Change is interesting because ultimately nothing is changing when one is maintaining a sense of balance. One will appear differently throughout each “form”, but the root is always the same.

So one needs to be constantly “productive” or to be doing things that are fulfilling, however these fulfilling activities must periodically change in order to stay fresh and effective, and they must be activities that need not rely on other people — and also do not directly interfere with the lives (and desires) of others.

This is also part of the ability to see through illusions – constantly changing one’s habits and daily actions. Sometimes it is important to do the same thing every day, the same kind of practice. But at the same time, if these practices are not challenged or changed from time to time, they can become stale. And stale practices are a waste of time. A stale practice, like idle time and interactions, is like mold. It leads to nothing except self-indulgences and foolishness.

It is true that we sometimes like to rely on people for a dependable pattern (i.e. artists). However, it is important to keep changing or else one becomes something of a technician – one who is following a formula. For an unchanging person, the formula has become their life. A great artist is constantly reinventing themselves. Their source is always the same, but they always find new ways to surprise others and also create works which do not quickly betray their deepest integrity. But their change is also a result of evasion from the demon of despair, which arises as soon as one ceases to change. Then anxiety swells and one falls into an unbalanced indulgence of self. The external appearance of change is observed empirically by the world, but internally the changing artist is in most perfect balance with the world. But these people are rare and the world often mistakes who is of this caliber. It is almost impossible to categorize such people.

Those who are ahead of their time are forced because they intimately abide by a divine law of change which has shaped their life. All follow this law, but it is only intimately known by those who feel compelled to reinvention again and again and so become at ease within change. This is how the transmigration of life and death can be understood – by the mastery of infinite change and having the compulsion to do so.