Sunday, December 23, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Prajna is, above all, a practical knowledge, which is emphasized by the pra-prefix (cognate to pro- in English), indicating a "moving towards". What sort of knowledge is this? Generally it involves a breakdown of the factors of sensation and experience. These factors came to be called dharmas, 'upholders', and were related to the sense of Dharma as 'Teaching, Norm, True Doctrine', in that they are the true factors revealed by proper analysis of the dynamics of mind and sensation. Analysis in Buddhism is always at least in part, self-analysis. One does not acquire knowledge or insight merely to know a fact, as if one were a disinterested or unaffected observer. Rather, one analyzes and strives to know in order to improve oneself, to better understand how one has become what one is at THIS moment, and how one can MOVE, CHANGE, in a manner that reduces and ultimately eliminates pernicious views and drives. One does this not only for one's own benefit, but in order to become more effective in assisting others to do likewise. The most potent and common description of what constitutes Awakening in the early literature is 'the destruction of the asavas', asavas being the deep-core, embodied, conditioned proclivities that bind one to the suffering of the rounds of samsara. Even as later Buddhists replaced the term asava with others (klesa, anusaya, vasana, etc), the general programme of rooting out and eliminating samskara remain central.
Dan Lusthaus, Buddhist Phenomenology
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Saturday, December 08, 2007
The Buddha offered an understanding of the actions that perpetuate the repetitive behavioural patterns called "samsara" that differed from contemporaneous Indian yogic traditions in several key respects. In the Buddhist view, what keeps beings trapped in these cyclic patterns is both the deep-seated but mistaken apprehension that we are (or have) an unchanging, independent, self-subsistent entity or "self" ("atman"), as well as the misguided activities motivated by attachment to such a self. Sentient beings are thought to consist of aggregations of ever-evolving physiological and psychological processes which arise and persist only as long as the causes and conditions that sustain them persist. Chief amongst these sustaining conditions are, paradoxically, the very ignorance of these basic facts of life, and the futile desires and activities to deny or overcome them through attempting to grasp onto something permanent.
Buddhist thought thoroughly critiques our attempts to attain permanence, independence and self-subsistence by identifying with transient, conditioned phenomena, whether material, psychological or conceptual. We impute intrinsic meaning and value onto these phenomena and imagine that their possession somehow augments our essential worth or well-being. These things possess a symbolic value above and beyond their physical existence. Enthralled by these enduring yet abstract objects, we create a life-world of seemingly solid, yet unavoidably mediated 'things'. Man, the symbol-making creature, constructs a world of his own in which to make his home.
But this is only half the picture. We also build up an image and an idea, a deep-seated attachment to, an equally symbolic sense of "self" which can experience and enjoy these apparently independent objects. We imaginatively create a locus of subjective experence, an enduring referent to the notions of self and "I" with which we can identify and hold as our own. Our entire world of experience is experienced in reference to this self-wrought "self", Man, the "self-making" creature, constructs the subject of his own experience which may dwell within his self-constructed home.
William Waldon, The Buddhist Unconscious - The alaya-vijnana in the context of Indian Buddhist thought
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Also see: Understanding our Mind by Thich Nhat Hanh@Amazon
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Friday, December 07, 2007
IN REALITY wisdom is love and love is wisdom, although in one person wisdom may be predominant and in another love. The cold-hearted man is never wise, nor is the really warm-hearted person foolish; yet both these qualities, love and wisdom, are distinct and separate, and it is possible that a person may be loving but lacking in wisdom. It may also happen that a person who is wise is lacking in love to some extent; but no one can be wise if love is absent from his heart, and no one will be truly loving if wisdom had not illuminated his heart, for love comes from wisdom and wisdom comes from love.
Hazrat Inayat Khan
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Thursday, December 06, 2007
Renunciation has an automatic action on the heart of man, an action which very few realize because very few arrive at that stage where they can renounce. By this action a spiritual spark is kindled in the soul; and when a person has arrived at that stage he has taken the first step on the path of spirituality. The spark produced by this action in the depths of the heart culminates in a flame, a torch in life; and this changes the whole outlook on life.
Only he whose heart is full of happiness after an act of renunciation should make a renunciation. This shows that renunciation is not something that can be learned or taught. It comes by itself as the soul develops, when the soul begins to see the true value of things. All that is valuable to others a seer begins to see differently. Thus the value of all the things that we consider precious or not precious, is according to the way we look at them. For one person the renunciation of a penny is too much; for another that of everything he possesses is nothing. It depends on how we look at things. One rises above all that one renounces in life. Man remains the slave of anything which he has not renounced; of that which he has renounced he becomes king. This whole world can become a kingdom to a person who has renounced it. Renunciation depends upon the evolution of the soul. One who has not evolved spiritually cannot really renounce. Toys so precious to children mean nothing to the grown-up; it is easy to renounce them; and so it is for those who develop spiritually; for them all things are easy to renounce.
Hazrat Inayat Khan
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Spiritual awareness and the quest for enlightenment do not arise spontaneously in harmony with our natural modes of world engagement, but require a turn "against the current", a break away from our instinctual urges for expansion and enjoyment, and the embarkation in a different direction. This break is precipitated by the encounter with suffering which tears us our of our BLIND ABSORPTION in the immediacy of temporal being and sets us in search of a way to its transcendence.
Picture by: John Kazanas@Flickr
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
A Message by George Carlin:
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...
Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.
Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Picture by miguel36@Flickr
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Our rush into hasty or habitual reactions after receiving the first few signals from our perceptions. But if we muster the restraining forces of mindfulness and pause for bare attention, the material and mental processes that form the objects of mind at the given moment will reveal themselves to us more fully and more truly.
No longer dragged at once into the whirlpool of self-reference, allowed to unfold themselves before the watchful eye of mindfulness, they will dissolve the diversity of their aspects and the wide net of their correlations and inter-connections.
Picture by sp clarke@Flickr