Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Now how am I going to explain this to people," the Buddha said to himself, after Enlightenment, after achieving an understanding of everything through long pursuit of self-evident formulation.  "Should I bother;  is it possible?"  But Vishnu came to him and told him that he must teach his wisdom to humanity.  And so he began, though he failed with his very first subject.  He persisted, with stunning results.  But no wonder the years after the Buddha were open to other teachers, like the Jesus who taught the same wisdom in a way more accessible to other peoples.

How am I going to explain... the nature of love, of being, of why we are who we are, all the big questions, of what to do, generally answered, but in an entirely unconventional way.  Important work, so that the sick and the deluded don't take the helm and lead everyone else, like the herd of pigs led by demons.  How to clean the tarnished human psyche bright again so that individual people have something clear to relate to?  What is our inheritance in this human form that gives us our work to do in the world?  How to get around that nagging question, 'what gives you the right to think you know all these things, what credential do you have to present what you call truth,' that age-old question Dostoevsky snuck into The Brothers Karamazov with The Grand Inquisitor scene, the same question posed by Mara and his devils to the calm Buddha sitting under the fig tree, to which Buddha responds by touching the ground with his right hand, thereby to say, I have a right to this spot of Earth, as the Earth is with me.

How do you take the totality of experienced experience and all the things you feel in your own heart, how do you make sense of them, to make each parcel fit into a larger picture?  What do you have to go on?  How do you make yourself feel better about how you've engaged in the world, or are all such thoughts just an attempt to rationalize all the personal mistakes you have made?

'But what is a writer, or a thinker, or a Buddha anyway,' a bullying voice asks?  'Shouldn't you see it all as a matter of simply getting on with your life, growing up, making choices and then abiding by them, as we all must?   No more of this "I don't feel like it," because that is not an option, isn't it.'

To which the Buddha may have responded, by saying but there is for us a full life to lead as Buddhas, as people of a Sangha community, lay and cleric.   There simply are Buddhist facts of life, and people are different parts, different extents, differently capable of them.   And to line yourself up with them, in your own way, is to not buy into some illusion, not to throw yourself at something that looks attractive to the part of the mind that blows things up out of proportion.  Align yourself with the understanding of suffering and aging and dying that we all must go through.  As if we were born dead already, strange as that might seem.

"My particular thoughts are meant to serve as a raft, to cross the river and get to the other side, whatever that itself means, merely a metaphor."   Thus the development, appropriately, of the Zen style Buddhist thought.

My neighbor Madam Korbonski approved of my writing efforts, I don't know why exactly.  But she proclaimed, from reading my book, that I was, as if with certainty, a writer.  She told me she was reminded of the times when her husband engaged in writing down the histories of the Warsaw Underground with her help.  "Tadzio," she told me, more than once, "never go see a shrink.  Never."

Steadily doing yoga and meditating, yes, you improve your life, bit by bit.

Example:  The Buddhist receives quantum theory with a previous understanding of the atomic model as the very picture of the mind, the jumping proton energy of conscious thoughts zipping, as if to flee sometimes, from the quiet neutral center.  Atomic energy is the energy of thought, of thinking itself, of consciousness.  The Buddhist takes the science accomplished and uses it as a way to teach people how to engage in an intelligent life, rather than taking that science and exploiting it for practical uses and the bomb, as that would not be an appropriate way to use that energy.  To the Buddhist it would be wrong to take the energy of consciousness to craft out of it a kind of 'dumb beast' that has no mind.  Thus are nuclear bombs and power plants things we cannot always control, with very powerful consequences.  We are haunted now by what could happen, having created a force that cannot think, that has no conscious, no self-control, no self-question.

The same might be said of creating machines that are a model of the brain with all its circuitry, synapsis, cells.  The machine will think for us, but in a dumb unconscious way and we will take it as our equal for its powerful computations.  A brain with no guidance, no soul, no morality, no fine humanity to it, a brain that just talks a lot at us, ultimately disturbing us with its nonsense if we allow it to.  And look now at how susceptible to being disturbed we are because of some statistical calculation of a numerical interest in a "Britney Spears" statistically created persona (I mean, give her some credit for being a person, which is not easy.)  Our own minds we greatly abuse trying to keep up with the genie of the computer's ones and zeroes.  And if we were to say anything differing from the style of message that the computer imposes upon people by constantly asking us yes or no, salesman-like, we might run the risk of being perceived as weird;  who is the individual to differ with the great brain that has sorted everything out (fed by strictly economic thinking and the ends of business profit, and advertising in general.)  The brain machine itself will determine who is insignificant through its own logic.  Likes, dislikes.  The machine can not make the simplest of decisions, as a human being must, but it can express disembodied wills, desires and tastes and impose them through its majorities.

Wars are fought now over energy.  Hitler wanted oil to keep going, and so the advance that became the Battle of the Bulge.  Religious factions kill each other for it.  Nations go to military action over it, point fingers at each other, making up reasons.   And all the while there is the natural source of sunlight, measured out in the hours, staring us in the face.  But instead, we think we've mastered everything, though we did not create the world, but simply live in it, yes, live in it.  Take sweet sunlight, live naturally, the Buddhist would say.

And now are we seeing the beginning of wars over the computer brains we have created and trust with everything?

Yes, 'do something, do something.'  Most times it is simply better not to do anything, as then you are not reacting to something cooked up in your own mind, a perception not necessarily in keeping with reality.  Isn't enough to have human form and to have a beautiful mind?

"Does it seem that you are caught in a perpetual double bind, like, everywhere you go?  Yo do 'this' to please and satisfy one set of faction and need, but it leaves you agonized?  Is this familiar?  Or is it not the human condition in most areas?

"You take up a job to support your personal expression and the job turns out to be one of both good and evil.  You take up study of a substance that sustains a social life, but that substance also is one of both good and evil, good health and bad health.  And you found out that even the writing you took to be your work was also work of both good and evil, in many ways.

"So where do you put everything?  Where are the slots, the definable neat places for such things, 'that's over here, this goes over there?'  How do you escape the jumble of the mind to see clearly, to have an overview of where everyone is standing?  How to feel not the combination of good and bad in everything, but to find a good pure healthy thing that suits you?"

Duality, duality, duality.  Dualistic thinking.  Clear the mind.  Meditate.  Be thou a part of that which is.  Stop bleeding inside.

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