Archive for nirvana

Everybody wants their cake

Posted in Buddhism, Christianity, Exercise, Happiness, health, New Age Baloney, Reality Bites, Religion, tai chi, taijiquan, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , on August 29, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Been reading a lot about Jodo Shu/Pure Land Buddhism lately. It sounds a lot like Christianity to me: everybody goes to paradise as long as they can faithfully recite Amida Buddha’s name out. Even the negative actions of a sinner cannot stop a true believer in Amida’s Pure Land from going there. Amida’s Pure Land is also locate in the west. Why the west? I couldn’t tell ya. Well, I do have my own speculations on the matter, but they’re worthless even to me, much less to you, lolz!

I gotta say, though, this whole deal of thinking heaven and paradise are somewhere else and you get to go there miraculously for being a good little lamb — I don’t believe it. Not because I don’t believe in paradise, but because I don’t think you’ll have to wait around to go there once you see it. When it happens, it happens, kapicz?

In fact, the whole problem of getting to paradise is a lot like the whole problem of learning to relax and issue power in Taijiquan. The only way we can issue power is by focusing on relaxation, so the only way we can go to paradise is to focus on… …. ….

Okay, I don’t really have much of a point here, but think about this! For some reason, everybody (and I’m not just generalizing) builds up chronic muscle tension in their back, hips and shoulders over time. This eventually leads to back problems and serious back pain, joint pain, etc. which further builds up depression, listlessness, and so on. But instead of getting up every morning and going through some half-hour routine to deal with this inevitable physical pain that accompanies existence, most people complain about it or want some easy solution later in life when it builds up and finally hits them. Which, again has some kind of analogy to yearning for paradise, though again I am slow and not quite getting to the …

Oh well. Paradise actually doesn’t exist, because if we conceptualize it in advance, it’s not paradise.


Posted in Beauty, Happiness, love, Reality Bites, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Each being has a fundamental impulse to have the world spinning beneath their feet, moving with their desires. But the world is spinning no matter what happens, for nobody in particular. The world spins because all it is doing, in a cosmic sense, is coming together and then coming apart — just like that. It’s really quite crazy that even the most phenomenal things are as simple as that. So no matter how slow we move, culture and the world hurdles forward, ever-changing. No time to think in this maelstrom! The more you think, the less you understand. And as you think less, as you go deeper into pure existence, experience, emotion, whatever it is that we all are going through — it starts to feel like your protective skin (both physically and mentally) has been ripped off. But then beneath that you find it’s so melancholy, warm, sad and beautiful.

I wonder if maybe this whole universe is a broad, shallow experience at the bottom, you know — because all phenomena are inherently empty of self, and furthermore, substance. But then, sometimes the most shallow or fleeting things are the most profoundly deep. To give a basic example: upon first glance, artists and creatively driven individuals seem to do a lot less for society than philanthropists or charitable organizations. But in truth, artists touch everyone on such a broad, sweeping, deep level, which further influences and inspires the way people live. In many similar cases, the more shallow something seems on the surface, the wider its grasp of influence.

And so it is with the universe, and all the fabrics of this existence. No matter how hard we try to absorb ourselves in our desires, in our passions, thirsts, needs, obsessions, loves and drives — they always go into overdrive, short-circuit, blow out, fail to satisfy. And so I have to ask, what happens if we short-circuit our samsaric experience? What if we wake up and realize nothing ever satisfies, ever? It seems like a major attachment to existence is the desire for satisfaction, or contentment. Which is an insanely selfish passion. What is existence like without passion, without individualism and human understanding? Whether or not it’s liberation, it seems to be beyond human understanding. Parinibbana, and so forth.

There are no cosmic guarantees to be handed down from above, but that is perhaps a good thing. Because it means that no one can give you orders, or the straight answer on how things are going to end up, or what you should do. You can’t just follow orders and be a disciple and expect to gain anything. You’ve gotta see it for yourself.

Wishful Warrior

Posted in Buddhism, Fighting, martial arts, Mysticism, Reality Bites, Religion, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2008 by wizardsmoke

This whole ideal of Budo, that martial arts practice brings enlightenment — what is it referring to? What is enlightenment via martial arts? Well, provided it actually exists I’ll say it could be one of three things:

  1. Achievement of an adept, deeply intuitive level of martial skill in which one’s psyche has assimilated into the nature of physical combat and such movements (the complete naturalization of one’s being with one’s practice)
  2. Deep awareness of what the martial arts actually are and overcoming any romantic delusions about them, as well as transcending the notion of fear, especially with regards to physical threats
  3. Total, full-blown Nirvana/Nibbana, in which all ignorance and illusion is dispelled

Number one, if I were to dissect that, I’d say it could refer to any practice in which one completely dedicates themselves. Like that tacky book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” — practicing one thing can lead to a deeper awareness of everything. Practicing a musical instrument one’s whole life leads to a complete intuitive awareness of the music, which transcends any technical knowledge — just look at the training regimen of Indian classical musicians or Japanese Bunraku puppeteers. It’s nothing new — way old Chinese and Greek philosophy.

In such cases it seems like the individual becomes a holy patron of the tradition or idea in question; one becomes like a god of music, war, love, etc. through diligent one-pointed mastery of the subject. Many adept martial artists then fall into the camp of simply being elite killing machines. Is this enlightened? Not in any traditional religious sense. Ha! But what does that mean? Not much.

As for possibility number two, I am reminded of William Blake’s famous phrase: “the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” Or as Spare would say, by exhausting our desire or obsession with something we come to realize what it actually means to us. After years of practice, one learns how important or useless the martial arts they practice actually are. And in realizing the ultimate potential or value of something, it becomes easier or natural to relinquish.

But here the situation can only apply to people who are initially obsessed with violence or fear violence. They’re people who want to be involved in it or get over their fear of it. In the modern population, the majority of people don’t care enough about violence to pursue martial arts. Almost everyone would be going against their natural tendencies or interests, even though violence is always floating around in our heads; (like sex) we know it’s not functional to obsess over it.

And also, it seems like a cop-out to say a person is enlightened because they’re so good at inflicting violence that they no longer perceive it as a threat from others. This is more like an arms race or a typical tough-guy routine. It’s easy not to fight when no one else stands a chance against you.

In the last scenario, which just generalizes that full-blown enlightenment is achieved through martial arts, I would say it is a questionable association because so many terrible people have become efficient martial artists and did not achieve enlightenment, while a lot of people have become enlightened who never had anything to do with martial arts or violence. If people become enlightened through the martial arts, it’s possible that they were going to become so anyway and they happened to spend their time doing these things.

Man, I’m asking a lot of dumb questions here. Basically, most martial artists are not any more enlightened (in the cosmic sense) than anyone else. Martial artists are just on top of some of the subtlest aspects of the physical and athletic experience.

More to come…

(Twitter Smoke?)

Posted in death, love, Philosophy, sex, sex and violence, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Time for a (tiny!) new post. Which means WS is going to write about one of two things:

  1. Love (sex)
  2. Death (violence)

Or maybe both. Because all existence is an obsessive dance with this pair. They’re the fundamental principles upon which all drama, all stories, all existence is based. It’s not a huge shocker, so I don’t think it’s worth consciously thinking about or worrying about too much. But it is certainly interesting. How perverse that I would find these concepts almost more alluring than the subjects they point to, eh?

Yeah, sometimes I worry I’ll get to the point where I find sex and violence so boring that I’ll simply forget to exist.

House of pain

Posted in Beauty, Buddhism, death, Doom and Evil, Fighting, Happiness, Reality Bites, sex, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , on August 16, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I actually find the writing aspect of this whole “blog” thing to be monotonous and unsuccessful. No matter how fast I write, it’s never fast enough. Just like everything else, it in itself can’t actually satisfy me or communicate anything properly. I always want more, more, more! ‘Spose I’m just another human who wants to bite off more than he can chew. But maybe that’s the wrong phrasing, as even eating is such a dreadful bore!

Yeah, even eating occurs to me as another thing I just have to do which I’d rather not do (almost all the way up there with excreting waste). Like everything else, it seems really wonderful at first (consuming the food, when you’re hungry) but then becomes uninteresting, and even painful, as you continue doing it. How depressing that is! It reminds me that all things are like that: sex, violence, eating, excreting, using ‘n abusing, music, art, movies, vacations, work, friends, countries, money, blogs, sleep, reading, etcetera ad infinitum. They’re all satisfying, temporarily, only in contrast to these other things that also eventually become tiresome chores.

But surely we all know why all the things we do are unsatisfying. It’s because they’re all conditioned phenomena. They’re all doomed to die and fail. Isn’t death just total failure? Totally unimaginative (in)activity? Fortunately it makes life look sorta beautiful, because if animals just walked around and shat everywhere and ate food and fought amongst themselves for all eternity, this would be a purely hellish existence. At certain times, death is a blessing.

It seems like everything is manifestation of desire — of violence. That epic drive to soar: that’s violence. It’s in each and every one of us. Not that the desire itself is inherently bad, but typically we point our desire at a stupid target that doesn’t yield permanent results. And to get the results of your desire, you have to make sacrifices. Sacrificing good things to get a stupid desire (like a lousy spouse, a high-paying job, a higher position in the cult) is really just sad — IMHO, LOL!

The quest(ion) then, is this: can the “epic drive”, the fundamental “violent desire” that causes the universe to exist via some sort of sexual and explosive penetration — can this drive be used to cut the fabric itself? And if it can, what the hell was the point of creating the fabric in the first place? Probably no real reason, since everything that exists is arguing (aggressively) for its own existence. Just more explosive violence.

I think when you realize this conundrum, you understand the whole “samsara is actually nirvana” thing they always chant in describing the Buddha’s enlightenment.

Non-becoming Hell!

Posted in Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Monasticism, Mysticism, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Relationships, Religion, sex, society with tags , , , , , , on March 22, 2008 by wizardsmoke

The other day my friend made a comment saying that, “non-becoming” or – getting to a point where one no longer is bound by desires, sounds hellish and terrible. He said that it’s a place where one is no longer even human. This is like the “Joseph Campbell view” of the goal of eastern religious practice, that it aspires to disappear into nothingness and bleakness. That instead we have some kind of divine being or presence, that our desires and emotional wants are our own and are worth treasuring. (Don’t mind me putting words in JC’s mouth)

It’s hard to give up sex, because it’s a major impulse. It’s the desire. It’s the cup of life, you might say. It gets me going, but I feel pretty lousy after it.* It’s the same way I feel about drugs, actually. I like them and it, but my brain gets all foggy afterwards. Once in a while I can handle it, but too many times and my mind just slumps and goes dark. And when the mind is dark, it attaches to things that appear in it. Emotions, thoughts, situations, they all become far too potent and influential upon the individual. One then becomes an easily manipulated specimen — a demographic of interest in the web of the illusionist.

People are too interested in pursuing themselves. Of course, I’m all about pushing myself to the limit too, exploring my potentials. But a lot of people are just interested in the difference between them and all other things. They spend their lives analyzing and obsessing over just that — the inherent differences that exist between them and all else in this existence made of dualities. They’re the scientists of the spiritual world – trying to push everything they perceive into a categorization and thus robbing such things of their potency.

But back to non-becoming: it is simply undefinable within conditioned reality. I can’t even say it’s better than conditioned reality, because it’s just unconditioned. It’s a constant blank slate of opportunity. Beings can exist without taking form, without attaching themselves to thought patterns or desires. I do get confused when people are uninterested by this simply because everything conditioned seems so inherently boring and unsatisfying! The only way it could appear to be satisfying would be if one actually was enthused and excited by the idea of a self separate from other things. Except, oh snap! that describes everybody.

It is interesting that, although Buddhism has precepts about sex for monks and laypeople, in Asian societies like China and Japan, sex doesn’t carry such a stigma. People didn’t fall from Eden due to original sin and sex doesn’t carry a notion of guilt with its practice. You know, the whole shame versus guilt argument (I’m hoping other people have heard this and I didn’t make it up). Sex just gets in the way of social commitments sometimes. I have a theory that this is because Indo-Chinese societies are based upon deep commitments coming from traditional social hierarchies. In China and Japan, these relationships stem from Confucian ideals, which are rooted indirectly in morality, and are social obligations that keep society functioning smoothly.

Ah, hence my friend’s insistence that Confucianism is merely party-line propaganda. Fair enough, I suppose. I’ve heard the same things said of the Dao de Jing.


* Depends on whether it’s your “soul-mate” or not

…And It’s All Happening

Posted in Beauty, Happiness, love, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , on March 20, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Some of my earliest vivid experiences are of moments of samadhi-like clarity. Basically, up until a certain age (until whenever my sex drive kicked in) I would periodically stare at one thing in front of me or in my environment and just repeat to myself that it was real. This is all real. This is really happening. This life, right here. It’s happening. Right now. Bam!

Seems like such an obvious thing to do, right? If I concentrated hard enough I’d come to grips with that idea as an experience and not a speculation. It’s still a pretty incredible phenomenon to me now. Only now I recognize that it’s a practice in itself. It wasn’t until years later, after I had been done being a dumb-ass teen that I recognized this was a basic form of meditation concentration practice. You know, focusing on the single object to reveal the whole awareness around you, living here in the present moment.

And it isn’t just some meditation practice that brings this about. This is just being alive for real, in the moment. Everyone experiences it every so often, it’s just a matter of getting so you’re “in the zone” all the time. Like a mean jazz legend playing an instrument, every moment is free but also segueing into the next.

But it isn’t just being “in the zone” as far as getting into a rhythm. It’s when you see the pinnacle of perception, when you see the eye of the cosmos in something finite. It’s perceiving the timeless essence of the orgasm, or the climax of a musical piece, or the impeccable sensations of a masterfully and lovingly prepared cuisine. This is reality. But unfortunately these are the only times most people see reality. Ahh… so that’s why everyone’s addicted to sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll!

People have said, that when you get enlightened, everybody is enlightened with you. I mean, how could it be otherwise? You’re not some separate individual at that point. Whether you are or not in the conventional social sense is not the issue; an enlightened being sees the very border between self and not-self and can freely go between the two without association. No definitive limits!

When I was younger, I was a bad student. I had no interest in schoolwork, had a dysfunctional family, was angry, frustrated, ad infinitum. My youth was like a great exploitative coming-of-age film script. But the thing that always jerked me around even in my intoxicated emotional state was the idea that this is all actually happening. I think that’s the thing that was so crazy about doing psychedelic drugs at one point. It snapped me right back into that samadhi-like clarity of when I was a little kid!

Of course, the problem was that I had all these emotional impulses and issues by this point, so the state of deep awareness was no longer peaceful or useful. I actually got attached to it! But I got pretty pumped up all over again the way I did as a kid. It’s all happening. So, gradually stopped doing drugs and started taking up meditative practices and became really interested in religious philosophy.

What’s so amusing is that to people using drugs, anyone who goes straight and sober and lives for a new, “natural high,” seems absolutely nutty! But really, who is the most nuts? What about people who aren’t taking any kind of drug? There aren’t many people like that around. So many people don’t fess up and take responsibility for their spirit. So many just give up, become an evangelical/fundamental religious peon or get involved in a cult. It’s pretty hurtful to see.

The happiest, most heart-warming stories and ideas, aren’t they so sad? At the bottom don’t you want to cry? It’s only natural, because once you wake up and realize we’re all alive and this is really happening it totally melts your heart. It destroys the fabric of emotional complexity and hatred and anger and so on. It’s just really distressing that people live in absolute ignorance and hurt themselves constantly or aren’t strong enough to destroy their problems and their demons. When life is most real is when someone dies, or when your heart is broken or when you’re so happy you just want to hug sharks and jellyfish and don’t care if you get punched in the face.

But what about me? How do I know I’m not just nuts? How do I know everyone doesn’t feel this way also? And so, life goes on. We all go about our business, feeling this or that way inside, and never share it explicitly. To open yourself up too much is to be fatally wounded. That’s why we aim to disappear completely. Nobody left to wound!

Scary business, those people who go all the way…

The Degenerate Age

Posted in Buddhism, Christianity, Doom and Evil, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Religion, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Have you noticed that philosophers, stoics, hermits, religious folks, true artists and so on always decry their own society as being a degenerate one? There is always this claim that some societies of yore were ideal, superior, and their cultures were richer. If you look into the philosophical canon, you’ll see this tendency starts with Plato (or Socrates) and Confucius–whom point to the courts of the philosopher kings of antiquity as the ideal societies of humanity. This grim critique continues on through to folks like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Heidegger–all of whom lament the impending industrial and capitalist drive thinning their European cultures and exponentially increasing the world population.

The spiritual movements of the late 19th century also saw this as important; the Blavatskys, Yeats and Crowleys of the world all used the gravitas and ethos of impending cultural, spiritual and environmental death to promote their works or groups. And even today, Buddhist lineages tell us we are living in the degenerate age, Christian fundamentalists insist the end of days are coming, and martial arts masters like Ueshiba and Hatsumi tell us we are living in “an era of blatancy” in which martial arts are more necessary than ever.

And honestly, you have to admit, that if you’re a remotely contemplative person, you have doubts about a positive future for mankind.

But why is that? Isn’t that really just some kind of personal spin? Some attachment that comes from a jaded search for purpose in one’s life, which relegates one to solitude? Because it seems to me, that in every single generation, there are a handful of individuals who lament the direction of the future; and instead of trying to harness its direction (a task which would take up all of one’s time for serious contemplation) they scorn the movement of mainstream culture and society.

To doubt society as a whole is easy; doubt is a potent altar to pray at. And even more so for anyone who studies liberal arts in colleges and so on. Those folks will find the main skills they’re learning are writing and how to critically analyze literature to form an argument. In other words, critical thinking. And critical thinking is certainly a helpful tool.

But a lot of people overdo it. A lot of people get attached to critical thought, or unknowingly enjoy it, hoard it, engross themselves in it. But it’s just a tool like anything else, and can easily overpower a person’s psyche. I’m not saying it’s bad to critically think things over, but it isn’t a recipe for any kind of happiness. And happiness isn’t a matter of being ignorant and blissful. It’s a matter of knowing what is worth critically analyzing, taming the mind and knowing when to stop analyzing things.

I think this is part of what makes people so damning of the society around them. Don’t get me wrong, I do think pop culture sucks and I actually think most new culture is boring or I can’t relate to it. And this is largely because everything is now a product being aimed at the lowest common denominator. But this is the direction of things. The blatancy society has built within its culture is due to humanity’s ignorant desires–the desperate search for power, stability and self-deification, the result of which is a rapidly approaching evolution into transhumanism. Everybody helped create and shared in this ignorance. After all, we’re all human too (for better or for worse).

Although society disappoints me, and I have trouble putting a whole lot of faith in other people, I am much more bothered by conditioned phenomena. Conditioned phenomena inherently sucks, and that’s why every modern era seems to be poor and shallow in comparison to some old zeitgeist; some past time and place which seems so romantic in the present.

Just for fun, here’s a little Kierkegaard (from Either/Or) on the subject:

Of all ridiculous things in the world what strikes me as the most ridiculous of all is being busy in the world, to be a man quick to his meals and quick to his work. So when, at the crucial moment, I see a fly settle on such a business man’s nose, or he is bespattered by a carriage which passes him by in even greater haste, or the drawbridge is raised, or a tile falls from the roof and strikes him dead, I laugh from the bottom of my heart. And who could help laughing? For what do they achieve, these busy botchers? Are they not like the housewife who, in confusion at the fire in her house, saved the fire-tongs? What else do they salvage from the great fire of life?

It’s not like I disagree with him: he’s right on the money. But I’m pretty convinced that unconditioned reality is where it’s at. So I don’t spend a whole lot of free time dwelling on how lousy conditioned reality is. It is a given, after all…