Archive for samsara

Second-guessing sexpots in a hierarchy of modern needs

Posted in Beauty, Happiness, health, love, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Many who are obsessed with sex and sexual conquest will validate their own desires by rhetorically claiming that the engagement of numerous successful sexual exploits indicates they possess deeper survival instinct mechanisms, and therefore dominant, superior genes which will be likely extended to another generation.

Ha! Subtle theory. This is a very cynical view because it’s narrow-sighted, based exclusively in boring empirical analyses which assume that humans are moist automatons absent of free will or choice outside of physical drives. In fact, the cosmic view (not the same as ethical view) of sex-obsessed, narcissistic, quickie pick-up types is not far from the party-line agenda of “healthy skeptics” — or whatever other utterly annoying, arrogant label athiests and stage-magicians tend to throw around when describing why they don’t believe in things that are not physically visible and ripe for them to manipulate. (Here’s a hint as to why: stage magicians are so obsessed with manipulating other people because they themselves are deathly afraid of being manipulated. Hence they don’t believe in anything that cannot be “proven” empirically. Nice predictable, self-centered view of the universe you have there, assholes.)

But anyway — why is sexual desire (lust) the thing that yanks us back into samsaric existence over and over again? What is so great about it that it overrides other desires as the focus of our attention? Why are romantic prospects more interesting than career prospects, when we have no control over the former?

A quick hierarchy of the fundamental survival needs could go, in order of necessary (albeit situationally unrealistic) acquisition:

  1. rest or sleep (shelter)
  2. food (sustenance)
  3. physical dominance, or an acquired role in the social order
  4. sexual desire (procreation, in the case of heterosexuals)
  5. everything else (social acceptance, education, spirituality, etc.)

The first two definitely have to be satisfied before the third. The third is sort of a toss-up and could fit somewhere after sexual desire, within social acceptance, as a sort of novelty or luxury of life. In modern post-industrial, capitalist/socialist society our social role is a little more subtly defined than in, say, a tribe of hunter-gatherers, a caste-based system, or a feudal kingdom. For instance, in modern society, most people maintain shelter and food throughout their entire lives, even if they don’t work very hard. There is an infinite spread of wealth between the financially poorest and wealthiest, and there are certainly a number of homeless people, yet most have somewhere to crash and something to chow down on. The quality of luxury varies, but it’s rare that people just suddenly lose access to these basic needs (not to mention the strange preference some women have these days for skinny, weak, whiny, white guys). As I said, one can consider social identity to be a luxury outside that of “citizen”.

Of course, imprisonment is an interesting case. Prison fucks up the entire chain of priorities, because it enforces the shelter and food from above, limiting the freedoms of inmates’ survival instincts to the role of social and physical dominance. Even sexual roles are relegated almost exclusively to status games in prisons (although you could argue that sexual roles are always status games anyway). There seem to be similarities between active military service and certain brands of imprisonment actually.

Back to sex and why it’s important to us: sex is fun because it’s the ego’s ultimate feeling of power, importance, purpose, meaning. Ha! I think Freud wrote something about this. Sex is the ultimate trick of the universe — the illusory notion of self-importance. And of course, when you analyze it, and ask what makes sex, like anything, important or purposeful, you realize there is no purpose. It’s just like when you ask a girl why she loves to dance: “It’s just fun!”

So everything in existence is just fun for it’s own pleasurable amusement. And if you think about it, in society, the ultimate goal is simply procreation. Fulfilling other desires, like wealth, fame, status — these are all secondary or complementary to procreation. A lot of us will disagree with this, but it’s possible that those who choose not to procreate have qualms with the nature of the world or existence (I have one friend who thinks they are doing a better service to the world by not having kids and by allowing the world some extra space). They are a product of modern life, a luxury of modern society, though I would wager some people who choose not to procreate now would have done so in the past.

It’s common knowledge that men and women who dress in intentionally revealing clothing often suffer from insecurities about their own self-image and self-esteem in general. It’s also mentioned that men and women who have excessive sexual relationships suffer from devalued notions of self-worth (although folks like Ikkyu or Baudelaire or Austin Spare could hardly be considered guilty of such things, so it makes me wonder if some people aren’t just unemotional and have inflated self-worth and excessive boredom).

So my fundamental question: those who have the viable option to procreate or have sex, and instead opt not to — do they have the greatest self-love of all? What do you think?

Nothing

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.

Dogen said there’d be days like this…

Posted in Asceticism, Beauty, Buddhism, Cults, death, Monasticism, Mysticism, Religion, Ultimate Reality, Wizard Quotes with tags , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2008 by wizardsmoke

The flowers, although we love them
Fade and die;
The weeds, although we hate them
Grow and thrive

Dogen Zenji

As I said the other day, at the end of the path, religions are actually obscuring reality, or keeping us attached to the world of suffering. They become like fences in front of the final destination, fences which we can see through but are encouraged to climb over in order to reach paradise or whatever. Yet if we know what we’re doing, we can see reality without putting up a fence to climb.*

But really, I don’t think religions are so crazy. Because all cults are just manifestations of the desire for concrete meaning, the basic impulse for tangible deep understanding. This cyclical search for meaning is a fundamental, natural occurrence — which makes it some kind of mysterious truth or idea in of itself.

Anyway, some obvious facts that have to be realized with the body in order to mean a thing:

  • what’s happening now telegraphs what is happening in the future
  • people die, get injured, and get sick every moment; eventually it will be your turn
  • the simplest things that we take for granted are also often the most mysterious things in life

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*Wizard Smoke assumes no responsibility whatsoever for potential spiritual damages incurred by his advice

Treading water…

Posted in Buddhism, death, love, Mysticism, Reality Bites, Religion, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2008 by wizardsmoke

You can cut up atoms and particles as much as you want, peer into black holes, and measure dark matter. But matter is just a changing frothy foam — the icing on the cake. It is not the end-game. It is just some ephemeral smoke rising off of the water. It’s not totally fake, but it’s not permanent and you can’t somehow empirically cut through it to find the underworld or the gods or the secret of existence. You have to see the bigger picture in the back of your mind and in your imagination.

But, if you don’t have the total ultimate big picture — if you haven’t completely obliterated the walls of perception, the fetters of becoming, and all conditioning — then you still have to live with pain and the uncertainty of a higher perspective that you can’t understand. There are still realms that you will encounter in which you will be a total n00b, a total clueless casualty.

For most of us stuck here on the human realm, what is more frightening than the deathless, the Bardo, the afterword to this mortal coil? It’s not necessarily frightening because of the pain (whether physical or emotional), nor because of fear of a divine punishment, nor because it’s going to be empty or non-existent or meaningless. It’s frightening because in our unfamiliarity, in our naivete, we’ll shirk and shrink and tense up violently and cause worse damage to ourselves than if we would just relax.

That’s what you learn over time from taking impacts: fighting, tumbling, crashing. You realize that the more you relax, the heavier the impact you can take without longterm or serious physical damage. Well, it’s the same with everything emotional/psychological, too.

Death? For most of us that’s worse than being thrown in the water without knowing how to swim. Which is what life is, right? Splashing around in this tight wet-suit, making things worse than they actually are, drowning because of our incompetence and inability to relax. I don’t know if I necessarily flock to religions, but I can certainly appreciate them. The samsaric ocean can be so intimidating.

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.

Steam of Consciousness

Posted in death, Doom and Evil, love, Reality Bites, Religion, Ultimate Reality, Uncategorized, World of Emotions with tags , , , on August 12, 2008 by wizardsmoke

It is so crazy that all these impulses firing off from the body 24-7 are just nature’s duality aiming to perpetuate itself. Every kind of love, just another little explosion that comes and goes. And your life: what is that? A bubble that passes without a divine purpose. But that’s not surprising or even that depressing, because the notion of a divine purpose is just another samsaric time-space construction of the human experience. The only divine purpose anyone should be looking for is an escape.

All those science-fiction/surrealist stories and movies that talk about aliens or the government or machines implanting memories and thoughts into people’s minds (basically a real phenomenon at this point), I wonder how different those plot ideas are from our day-to-day emotional attachments anyway? I mean, isn’t the spectrum of emotional change just a temporary flux in cosmic consciousness that we experience under the illusion of a personal identity? As we grow, we experience the growth and maturity of nature’s course and attach ourselves to it, but it’s really just par for the course in time-space.

Sunrise to sunset, life is just a play or a dance where each person gets no divine retribution for their suffering. We’re all responsible for ourselves ultimately and that’s what is so freaking sad, right? It would be easy if we could just put our hearts under lock-and-key and fumble after violent strength; but in a typical universal twist, you can’t hurt others without hurting yourself! So power isn’t a long-term solution.

The illusionary personal quality of emotions and the subsequent attachment to them is the cause for our beliefs in emotional truths and concrete purpose. The idea of a savior, messiah, prophet or whatever is a dramatic emotional yearning. Like emotions, this belief is a natural element that accompanies life as an individual creature. I guess you could call it hope. But I see hope a bit like life — it too must sparkle and fade. Hope mainly exists as a fantastic internal quality rather than as any reinforced experience in reality.

The problem I have with all these religious/cult-like claims of individuals being the one true leader, savior, godhead, prophet — or whatever, is that there is no final endgame result to the cosmic experience. Religious leaders have to peg themselves or their icons as the final truth to get people’s attention, but there is no final truth in the sense that most people think there is. The “final truth” usurps the vanity and tacky glory that humans attach themselves to.

Before one clearly sees beyond the individual body and emotional attachments, there is a fear that kicks in when one gets a brief glimpse of the objective, infinite nature of things. In fact, the identity’s suffering is something of a conundrum because it suffers for it’s identity. To relinquish the ego entirely also means not to exist individually, right? But it’s only painful because you exist individually. An individual is attached to their self, which is in itself a major source of suffering.

So the ego fights for itself desperately, like everything that exists argues for its own perpetuation and existence. Eventually, with practice/insight/maturity, some people learn to bypass or “hack” their egos and see the universe from a more complete picture. This is a different kind of… “escape” than a religious salvation that takes people to heaven (for ever and ever, amen) and without direct experience many people are skeptical of such insights.

But without these insights, if everything were doomed to pale and there were no way out, wouldn’t that mean we’re living in some kind of hell realm? I guess I see why religious folks have tried to paint a pretty picture beyond life. But without direct awareness of a primordial or deathless state, how are we to avoid skepticism of its existence?

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.

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