1. image: Download

    Recently bought an inexpensive bridge camera, hoping to take photos of wild life. With a little patience I was able to zoom in on a local Kingfisher.

    Recently bought an inexpensive bridge camera, hoping to take photos of wild life. With a little patience I was able to zoom in on a local Kingfisher.

     
  2. Mushindo was the Buddhist karate style I learned. Very formal, rigid and requiring fitness. Internal Chinese martial arts, which are now more openly available, along with systems traditionally taught and practiced as dance such as Cossack fighting systems or African capoeira …

     
  3. image: Download

    Questions to consider …

Do Buddhists have a soul?
When the mind/body sleeps are you conscious? If not, just gossip and lack of technique.
When the mind/body rots to nothing do you expect to be conscious? Good luck with that.

What about rebirth?
What about superstition and ignorance? Attached to it? Why not aim for rebirth into a life we know?

But the Sutras?
But the bible! Grow up.

Does it matter?
Some like to suffer over what they don’t know.

What about karma?
Seems so fair, so balanced, so ordered.
Seems like the first Noble Truth - existence is unsatisfactory, implies causality is independent of our pattern seeking … or is there a mysterious mechanism ensuring a well balanced universe?

But the Buddha remembered his past lives.
Did he? Perhaps  as one would expect any well tutored/Hindu indoctrinated ego to manufacture?

The Buddha transcended lesser knowledge
He did? Did all of his reporting team and fan club?

But … Buddhists are vegetarian, meditate, believe in reincarnation etc.
All of them? 

Are you happy? Are you calm? Are you at peace?
If you could engage these qualities in yourself and others you would. To not do so would be crazy, selfish … even spiteful …

This is why the dharma is unravelled for you.
Are you fighting it? Are you frightened by it? 
Does it seem contrary, or weird? Perhaps so. Perhaps so what.

Sometimes a reflection must distort itself to show our real natures. To just repeat cliches and platitudes is often the most available but wisdom will not give you things to nod sagely at.

You will not sleep in the presence, you will be brought two levels beyond your comfort.

When you find peace and calm and sanity, what will you do?

Nothing to do?
Nowhere to go?

Please - be a Mensch, push a little more. Be kinder a little more urgently. I for one need all the help you can provide yourself with. 

Find out for yourself. 
The Buddha did.

    Questions to consider …

    Do Buddhists have a soul?
    When the mind/body sleeps are you conscious?
    If not, just gossip and lack of technique. When the mind/body rots to nothing do you expect to be conscious?

    Good luck with that.

    What about rebirth?
    What about superstition and ignorance? Attached to it? Why not aim for rebirth into a life we know?

    But the Sutras?
    But the bible! Grow up.

    Does it matter?
    Some like to suffer over what they don’t know.

    What about karma?
    Seems so fair, so balanced, so ordered.
    Seems like the first Noble Truth - existence is unsatisfactory, implies causality is independent of our pattern seeking … or is there a mysterious mechanism ensuring a well balanced universe?

    But the Buddha remembered his past lives.
    Did he? Perhaps as one would expect any well tutored/Hindu indoctrinated ego to manufacture?

    The Buddha transcended lesser knowledge
    He did? Did all of his reporting team and fan club?

    But … Buddhists are vegetarian, meditate, believe in reincarnation etc.
    All of them?

    Are you happy? Are you calm? Are you at peace? If you could engage these qualities in yourself and others you would. To not do so would be crazy, selfish … even spiteful … This is why the dharma is unravelled for you. Are you fighting it? Are you frightened by it? Does it seem contrary, or weird? Perhaps so. Perhaps so what. Sometimes a reflection must distort itself to show our real natures. To just repeat cliches and platitudes is often the most available but wisdom will not give you things to nod sagely at. You will not sleep in the presence, you will be brought two levels beyond your comfort. When you find peace and calm and sanity, what will you do? Nothing to do? Nowhere to go? Please - be a Mensch, push a little more. Be kinder a little more urgently. I for one need all the help you can provide yourself with.

    Find out for yourself.
    The Buddha did.

     
  4. Superficiality

As someone who has a talking meditation cushion, believes that a Buddha theme park is a good idea and has not read a dharma book in years, I know a thing or three about superficiality. Serious dharma students are easy to spot, they are joining or in the sangha, know dogma and sutra and are not swayed by the superficial. 

Most of us are aware of how the outer is an expression of the inner. So of course does every salesman, con artist, Mara the Magnificent and the confused dharma clowns we often are ourselves.

How do we overcome the facade of cleverness, superficial knowledge, behaviour based dharma and empty dukkha?

For me it is to practice wrong speech that is rightable, being kind without due care, attention and hypocrisy and of course to sit on that cushion whatever the consequences.

    Superficiality

    As someone who has a talking meditation cushion, believes that a Buddha theme park is a good idea and has not read a dharma book in years, I know a thing or three about superficiality. Serious dharma students are easy to spot, they are joining or in the sangha, know dogma and sutra and are not swayed by the superficial.

    Most of us are aware of how the outer is an expression of the inner. So of course does every salesman, con artist, Mara the Magnificent and the confused dharma clowns we often are ourselves.

    How do we overcome the facade of cleverness, superficial knowledge, behaviour based dharma and empty dukkha?

    For me it is to practice wrong speech that is rightable, being kind without due care, attention and hypocrisy and of course to sit on that cushion whatever the consequences.

     
  5. image: Download

    My previous bike had a puncture. Good excuse to upgrade to an electric bike? I thought so.
The bike is made by Xiongying, I choose the white ‘e-bike’ as is printed on the frame. ‘Top gun’ is printed on the front forks. The bike seems solid, well built and certainly a lot better than a BSO (bike shaped object) that I had expected after reading about inexpensive Chinese bikes from cyclist forums cognesenti .
  Make sure you have allen screws, star screws and spanners to finish assembly. The wheels were inflated and back mudguard assembled. Most of the bike is done. Follow the assembly order in the manual but the info is sparse and good but not perfect Chinese pidgin English. Certainly understandable when combined with Youtube videos. For example when putting on the pedals it says add ‘axle grease’. What is that like, ‘Vin Deisel’? OK not available, oil lubricant will have to do.
  Strapped to the front wheel was what I guessed was a quick release system. Being a biking doofus searching for ‘bike front wheel assembly’ in Google gave me the right video help. It was a quick release system incidentally. 
  The bike pannier rack is BETTER and sturdier than in the current picture. Which is assembled at an angle and not right. So the design has been improved and ready assembled.
  The bike arrived without a battery E-rolling, asked me to check the single delivery box. Nope not there, so they sent me the battery by next day delivery. They are sparse but quick with their email responses.
   Having the ‘bicycle repair man’ skills of the average Ipad user, I needed three evenings for assembly. Most was done. Needed to put on the front wheel, front light, adjust the brakes etc. Thank ceiling cat for Youtube, those tutorials on brake adjustment might have literally saved my life. If you are a cyclist who maintains their bike it will be easy enough.
I have taken it for a ride twice now. Fun. A lot of fun. Going uphill, easy. Very comfortable. 
Very happy.

    My previous bike had a puncture. Good excuse to upgrade to an electric bike? I thought so.
    The bike is made by Xiongying, I choose the white ‘e-bike’ as is printed on the frame. ‘Top gun’ is printed on the front forks. The bike seems solid, well built and certainly a lot better than a BSO (bike shaped object) that I had expected after reading about inexpensive Chinese bikes from cyclist forums cognesenti .
    Make sure you have allen screws, star screws and spanners to finish assembly. The wheels were inflated and back mudguard assembled. Most of the bike is done. Follow the assembly order in the manual but the info is sparse and good but not perfect Chinese pidgin English. Certainly understandable when combined with Youtube videos. For example when putting on the pedals it says add ‘axle grease’. What is that like, ‘Vin Deisel’? OK not available, oil lubricant will have to do.
    Strapped to the front wheel was what I guessed was a quick release system. Being a biking doofus searching for ‘bike front wheel assembly’ in Google gave me the right video help. It was a quick release system incidentally.
    The bike pannier rack is BETTER and sturdier than in the current picture. Which is assembled at an angle and not right. So the design has been improved and ready assembled.
    The bike arrived without a battery E-rolling, asked me to check the single delivery box. Nope not there, so they sent me the battery by next day delivery. They are sparse but quick with their email responses.
    Having the ‘bicycle repair man’ skills of the average Ipad user, I needed three evenings for assembly. Most was done. Needed to put on the front wheel, front light, adjust the brakes etc. Thank ceiling cat for Youtube, those tutorials on brake adjustment might have literally saved my life. If you are a cyclist who maintains their bike it will be easy enough.
    I have taken it for a ride twice now. Fun. A lot of fun. Going uphill, easy. Very comfortable.
    Very happy.

     
  6. Whatever next?

    For as long as I can remember the presence or rather the certainty of a Deity seemed or felt self evident. I could understand most viewpoints. However a universe devoid of Deity seemed incomprehensible. However some people knew it to be true, were certain of it and therefore it was a valid perception I was not privy to. I had to kill God. Or rather kill the sense of Deity and embrace the Void.
    For some Buddhists atheism is their entry point into practice. It comes easily and rationally. My search began with Richard Dawkins and the vocal atheist education circuit. It was not difficult to find credence with their assertions which were mostly geared to fundamental and largely silly and superstitious literalism. I was already in agreement with most of what they said. How to go that further step? How to find the sense of God, the presence and find its arising and therefore nature?
    This is where the benefit of meditation practice comes in. What is the cause, where is the arising? Where is the sense of God coming from? Dependent on our understanding, we can experience it as self or as Self. In other words dependent on a relationship or arising in personal consciousness or an ‘arising’ independent of arising. Paradox is the nature of God. Talk about crucifixion!
    The most fundamental question was always, ‘how is the Presence different to the Absence’. Ultimately the Self has to express or find some attachment to the self. Only the highest mystical states involve the absence of the self. No worries for me then. If the self does not experience or attach, or rather is not allowed tenure, God begins to fade. So there it was, I experienced two years of atheism. Not a nice place. Not comforting but true.
    Now the question arises, ‘can God exist in His Absence’? This is so contrary to common sense it makes Shroedingers cat seem positively koanic. However I was able to introduce a Quantum God. Not there and present. Whatever next?

     
  7. Finding the Pratyekabuddhas

    The Pratyekabuddhas are a class of self realisers, independent arhats who become enlightened through their efforts, insights and life experiences. They may or more often do not have the setting to teach dharma in the normal overt Buddhist way. In other words they may express the dharma through another religion, which may be the source of their realization or just through their interactions or in their particular sphere of influence. Many classical Zen masters report insight gained by encounters with old women, who cut through their intellectual mind meanderings.
    Most of us have learned some initial dharma from a book or some other media. In a sense that is our first teacher. If we are fortunate we will find and make use of protective, informative and encouraging company. This takes a variety of forms; from companion books, to fellow practitioners, sangha, dharma teachers and in this mass communication age, online resources …
    If we are able, focussed and convinced, we practice. Meditation is often our most obvious practice and in this sense the cushion becomes our next teacher …
    In time we may recognise the need for specialised or intense advice and engage with those able to provide insight based on their experience and commitment. We may join a sangha, ask for a senior monk to be our teacher, ask to become a lamas student and so on.
    Slowly but surely the capacity to encourage, advise and support others arises, this is perhaps the most seductive level of insight. Some have the good sense not to offer teaching …
    If we gain the insight and stillness to look beyond the superficial we may become aware of the Pratyekabuddhas. They may appear completely ordinary, maybe a friend or neighbour if we are lucky. They may be an outsider, unconventional, even off putting in some way. Some may be religious, some are not.
    Practice stillness. Practice awareness. Pratyekabuddhas are about.

     
  8. The Evolutionary Component of Dharma,

    Before we had the benefits of science, sociology and so on, there existed other ways of understanding the world. These included the Buddhist methodology which drew on its Vedic and yogic cultural roots. For several hundred years before the influx and exodus along the silk root, a system of personal evolvement from suffering to greater clarity and insight was to be found amongst the sangha. In other areas, similar reflective methods were being used by shaman, priests and other early wisdom practitioners.
    Many mechanisms seemed only susceptible to internal enquiry. Superfluous, unskilful, redundant and often useless practices crept in. Human nature has the capacity to inflate the trivial, stimulating acceptable modes of behaviour and integrate them into its preferred models.
    Continually the excesses of a system have to be exposed, new insights added and old hallowed teachings allowed to return to the dusty recesses of ignorance. A strand of Dharma DNA to be awakened should the need arise.
    How many teachings are still locked into cultural modes that propagate indoctrination above comprehensive education? A dharma education is still a partial education, allowing a controlled way of thinking, if followed exclusively. Western culture too promotes an increasingly secular, economy driven indoctrination and will therefore produce a unique dharma based on its proclivities.
    What is perhaps interesting is wether the evolutionary nature dependent on biology is also capable of transcending or incorporating the biological drives? If so it would mean we can reconcile the biological drives and find a higher aspect of our being that exists in the transcendent. How will these two exist? Have they always done so? In other words have Buddhists been aware of the nature of our hindrances and negated them for greater insight and clarity, sometimes incorporating into a way of practice.
    Does modern Darwinian evolution not yet incorporate ideas that are now being explored in transhumanism and other efforts to improve the human experience. How far can we go with this? I would suggest that moving into a greater awareness of the tools and mechanisms that enable our development allows us to be both internal and external evolutionists. However this process is open to calls of throwing away the essential or engaging in useless activities without hope of resolution.
    In science the effects and benefits of meditation are being found but these are a side effect of the real aim of Dharma. The cessation of suffering through Nirvana. The means to explore this will perhaps be more readily available as we gain more direct plug-ins that register our changes in mind. The Buddhists can provide a means to divulge or share their insights to a critical scanning society but ultimately have no real requirement, unless the technology evolves to replicate and induce mind states that further the ends of enlightenment and metta.
    Perhaps other systems of traditional wisdom will offer more appropriate or useful potential insights to science. Perhaps too science is yet to find a model that can incorporate modes of thinking based outside of rational and logical thought. Intuition, paradox and other insights are often the way science evolves and it has done this to a great degree in its exploration of quantum mechanics. Maybe a new alignment is coming into being.

     
  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8aN9O73lgg&feature=share&list=PLC1ACAE80A1F84659

    Zen, the Ox and the cloth bag monk.
    After two weeks of intense practice, a Western Zen master explains the nature of enlightenment … using traditional Chan pictography …

    Moe: The deep fryer’s here! I got it used from the Army. You can flash-fry a buffalo in 40 seconds.
    Homer: Forty seconds?! But I want it now!
    The Simpsons

     
  10. Speech Rite

    In the spiritual realm, communication has many phases. This is ‘right speech’ or dharma on a variety of levels …
    Most of us are on the level of noise …

    1. Noise
    2. Questioning
    3. Resonance
    4. Silence/listening
    5. Advising
    6. Reflecting/revealing
    7. Empowering
    8. Mind to Mind

    1. Noise
    is what passes as communication in the mundane human realm. The more boisterous, stimulating, interactive and distracting the better. It is the Twitter, Facebook, partying, the gibbering, bubble gum of the jaw aching generation. ‘Hello world. Here I am look at me.’ It is often based on attention starvation.
    Another aspect of right speech is the phase of unloading. Many of us have nothing to say, too much to say or are unaware of what is really being said.
    In a sense we have to realise and explore both the nature of noise and silence and the many other forms of internal and external communication …

    2. Questioning
    is the first stage of dissatisfaction. In Buddhism it is the realisation of noise as inherently unsatisfactory and trying to find an internal or better more satisfying, real interaction.

    3. Resonance
    and harmonisation with mindful, useful, empowering, encouraging positive speech becomes a norm as we learn calm. The calming of the mind silences the jaw muscle, just as the recitation of mantra, placates the overactive mind chatter.

    4. Silence
    is in itself the communication of stillness. Saying little well, becomes better than a disconnected, wandering mouthful …
    Listening
    now is enabled, not just to our own chatter but to the value and potential within others speech. With the capacity to listen, comes the ability to discern what is ego mouthing and what is deep wisdom.

    5. Advising
    becomes possible with awareness of what we have heard and of its benefits. Quite naturally we develop the compassionate capacity to aid and advise others. We have found our voice. The voice of the experienced practitioner, practicing right speech, useful speech and enabling speech.

    6. Reflecting/revealing
    are the components revealing the essence or important aspects of communication by returning, in purer form its essence or essential nature.

    7. Empowering
    is the level of the teacher, able to say not what people want to hear, or reflect back what they have said but to say what they need to hear, in a way they can hear, digest and use.

    8. Mind to Mind,
    heart to heart, spiritual osmosis or wordless communication is the interaction, often devoid of words but based on the sharing of virtue, baraka or grace. This occurs independently of the nature of the interaction.