Archive for July, 2007

The question of continuity

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Life is short and then you die. Or do you. I must confess I don’t know whether you do or don’t. So these are merely my reflections, my own points of view and my beliefs. Don’t consider this any other way. What I will say in my own defense is that meditation does seem to provide a little bit of insight into the unknown.

Then on the other hand practices like Zen focus on the eternal now. The ever present present. Holding one’s awareness totally focused within the present moment releases us from the past and the future. Such a skill also releases us from our baggage, and from tension.

The Dalai Lama in a forward to The Tibetan Book of the Dead: First Complete Translation said

“…there are two concepts of a person. One is the temporary person or self, that is as we exist at the moment, and this is albelled on the basis of our coarse or gross physical body and conditioned mind, and, at the same time, there is a subtle person or self which is designated in dependence on the subtle body and subtle mind… These two intrexicably conjoined qualities are regarded, in Highest Yoga Tantra, as the ultimate nature of a person and are identified as buddha nature, the essential or actual nature of mind.”

The implication that continuity of consciousness lies within the buddha nature, what he later refers to as the “unconditioned mind”. You could easily draw the conclusion that this is the same as the “ever present” awareness.

This of course is an incredible simplification, but it strikes me that this practice of ours is also a practice in continuity of consciousness.

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Thoughts in Venice

Friday, July 27th, 2007

I went for a walk through Venice beach in L.A. today, if that’s what it’s called. I watched skateboarders for a bit, people lying on the beach sunbathing. The sun is much kinder here than in New Zealand.

Being in that environment I became aware of how many people were behaving in the context that other people would react to them, but then isn’t this true of humanity in general? Riding bikes newly manufactured but from designs of a century ago. Well groomed, well gymed, well toned.

And then there were a couple of large concrete cones just for graffiti, marked by a sign saying that it was for licensed city artists only. Ordinary taggers were not allowed. I wondered if the sign would stop them. It seems that graffiti has now become official art.

But there was unofficial graffiti in the skateboard area, tags at least, another phenomenon of marking territory, asserting identity. Feeling as if you matter and that others that mattered would notice.

The other day I came across an interesting thought around Pratyahara in ReligiousBook.Net. It asserted that

Pratyahara is the stage at which an adept learns how to control the “tentacles” of consciousness… Krishna was saying that one of the things that a man should learn is the ability to draw all his indriyas[tentacles] from the material world inwards, just like a tortoise retracts its paws and head into its shell. Then one should extend one’s indriyas into Divine eons in order to embrace God with them, to draw himself to Him and to merge with Him.

Being in a new environment has made me more aware of how we each extend the tentacles of our consciousness into the social world. And I’ve been wondering what the world would be like if we didn’t do that in the compulsive manner that we currently do.

Tentacles. What an interesting way of thinking about it.

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Instant Zen

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

I’ve been thinking of anchoring Koan practice for a while so I bought Instant Zen the other day and had a chance to read it on this flight.

What a very interesting adjunct to the Zen path. I especially liked the section that read

“Like an artist drawing all sorts of pictures, both pretty and ugly, the mind depicts forms, feelings, perceptions, abstract patterns, and consciousnesses; it depicts human societies and paradises. When it is drawing these pictures, it does not borrow the power of another; there is no discrimination between the artist and the artwork. It is because of not realizing this that you conceive various opinions, having views of yourself and views of other people, creating your own fair and foul.

So it is said, “An artist draws a picture of hell, with countless sorts of hideous forms. On setting aside the brush to look it over, it’s bone-chilling, really hair-raising.” But if you konw it’s a drawing what is there to fear?”

I landed this morning after the read and meditation and I’ve become aware of a subtler, but still gross I’m sure, controlling range of thought forms. This book is proving a nice adjunct to: What was my original nature before I was born?

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