Although not a universal view it is an all too common perception of southerners in the USA. It is hard to understand how this kind of ignorance can prevail. It must come from an extreme self fixation not really permitting the perceiver to connect or empathize with the plight of another human. How do we promote a more realistic comprehensive perception and realisation.
A Ranchers Romantic Revisionism by Charles M Blo
Complete Transformation | April 22, 2014
If spirituality is only about self-transcendence—about seeing through the story of ‘me’ that we habitually inhabit—then it runs the risk of cutting us loose from that story so that we no longer take care of the human wounds of self and other. No matter how imaginary the self proves to be, we return to its world. If spiritual or transcendent insight doesn’t lead to healing and transformation in our actual daily lives, it is clearly incomplete.
—Henry Shukman, “Light and Dark”
Light and Dark by Henry Shukman from Tricycle
At 60 years of age I think that I am coming to have a more lucid idea of what I am and I am not. I see the limitations and imperfections that have ruled and wonder now if I can lay them aside. Maybe in the accepting and letting go I can unfold in a more compassionate light. One wonders if it all has been more a product of age rather than a result of meditation and contemplation.
I also enjoyed this article for entertainment value about Jeff bridges in Tricycyle. He seems to be an actor committed to practice.
Jeff Bridges Interview in Tricycle
I came across a few interesting articles in the New York Times today which I have included. Some of what was presented by these writers influenced my already leaning direction towards a pessimistic reality.
Abandon (Nearly) All Hope by Simon Critchley
Marx Rises Again by Mark Douthat
Capitalism and The Dalai Lama by Arthur C Brooks
THE TRUTH IS SIMPLE
I struggle to discover what I truly am in reality. As the title taken from Nisargadata suggests the truth is simple but humans take everything and make it into an untruth which is complicated. And I have become in part somewhat of an untruth.
I ask myself if in my search back to truth if my actions are a reacting to the untruth that is dominant in this life that we have created or if the problem is that I in fact can not be separate from it, its collective force bigger than me.
Sometimes I think that maybe I should relax into wearing the mask that most seem to wear and just take it all as a game. But the search that I am on and the contemplation that I am involved in constantly points me back to the truth.
All that I have become in my conditioning and every attempt to fit in under all that pressure to be something and to have has taken me from the truth. Underneath all of this and all the desire and fear there is something more simple and vital and loving and connected that is a more authentic light by what I seek.
It seems that I am being drawn into a way that I am left without all that I have known. I can’t seem to pretend that the world has not become a place that collectively is blinded by the pursuit of desire and the avoidance of fear. I see so lucidly a world where money seems to have replaced meaning for most. I don’t have the hope that helps me to engage in an optimistic way. But I can come to be in the world in a loving and compassionate way and if being in this way also involves this clear and lucid seeing of this kind than I welcome and invite this pessimism.
It is not that I don’t have faith in humanity to change it is that I do not have faith in the ego as it has been conditioned and there is no way for me to be gentle about that. So a lot of conclusions that we make about life that are concepts of the ego I do not identify with them as truth. I feel that as we come to touch our deepest self only than does the ego unfold naturally and authentically oriented to a way of truth. But I feel that collectively we are sleeping influenced by a dualism which for me is simply a disconnect from our core human essence and I realise that it will take a radical shift and possibly an extreme crisis before we can come to trust in something that is beyond the conditioned ego. It is only in trusting this that we can evolve. It can be a very difficult realisation to awaken in this way because it involves connecting with our sense of vulnerability and authentic acknowledgement of our limitations. We have to be able to come to see and understand how the conditioned ego veils us from these truths and perpetuates a duality in this way.
I can identify with what writers such as Krishnamurti, Osho, Jean Klein, Chogyam Trungpa, and Nisargadatta write about. They tell it like it is from their own perception and experience. The conditioned ego is manipulative and not to be trusted. It lurks in inaction and convention. There are many other writers that guide humans towards a more whole way; writer such as Joko Beck, Toni Packer, Rachel Carson, Pema Chodron.
I am not a believer of individual claims to know. I dont know what I am and doubt all that claim that they do but I know what I am not. Collectively I question why humankind puts so much faith in conventional and relative truths that inform their ways. Do we know that much more about our selves and our ways than when Europeans first came to North America with the righteous intent to exploit and manipulate? Why is it that we seem to have such faith in our cognitive capacity to know what is true considering that it is such a new development in terms of having evolved? Some would respond with what else do we have? But it is my sense that there is something deeper, that we are, that we have come not to include in our speculations and consideration and it may be that this is more of an objective influence in our attempts to understand than this other wisdom that we have been conditioned into.
Sri Nisargadatta writes in ” I am That ” that “Truth is simple and open to all. Why do we complicate it. Truth is loving and lovable. It includes all and accepts all, purifies all. It is untruth that is difficult and a source of trouble. It always wants, expects and demands. Being false it is empty always searching confirmation and reassurance. It is afraid of and avoids inquiry. It identifies with any support however weak and momentary. Whatever it gets it loses and asks for more. Therefore put no faith in the conscious. Nothing you can see feel think is so. Even sin virtue, merit demerit are not what they appear. usually the bad and the good are a matter of convention and custom and are shunned or welcomed according to how the words are used.”
I am finding that there can be great insight experienced in exploring what is truth and what is not. We assume truths in concepts that we have been taught and what we are told is truth but there is liberation to be discovered in coming to an understanding of these notions from our direct experience.
I came across this article The Science Delusion by Curtis White in Tricycle. He has written a book with the same title. It is obviously a take on Richard Dawkins book The God Delusion and addresses a certain sub set of scientific thinking. I found it to be very insightful. There is something lacking and prescribed in these approaches of the likes of Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens who entertain a very narrow perception of what rational thought is and how it is the only way to know fact and that it is ultimate and only way to reveal truth.
I am in agreement with White that some philosophers, scientists and academics in general come from a place where they are influenced by some real attachments to underlying assumptions about the rules and certain truths of their disciplines. Perhaps as part of the process of developing a deeper understanding of life should involve further examining the nature of thought and objectivity and ultimately the self. If it does not than their formulations will reflect this. Many scientists and philosophers have explored these questions at a deeper level but they always seem not to be of value for scientists such as the above mentioned and as a result of their limited perception they promote an understanding as they have that their form of science is the only way to the truth.
Curtis White explores this in more detail and coming from a more Buddhist perspective he has done the kind of examination that has explored the limitations of thinking. Not the end of thinking but a more creative and real, encompassing and alive way of examining and exploring life at he same time rational and reasonable.
In researching Curtis further I have discovered that he seems to be more than ready to explore openly criticism of his own book. And why should he take it personal. In exploring the limitations of thought we discover that even our own thinking that we have been so atached to all of our lives is not an expression of thst deeper truth of what we are.
I have never been so able to be intimate as I am coming to be. I finding that being truthful in terms of learning to be with what is as opposed to living a life in effort, moulding and forming myself into something. There is nothing authentic in this. In Joseph Goldsteins new book he talks about relative truths and ultimate truths. Relative truth involves the conventional world of self and object. A world of grasping on to relative truths veils us from ultimate truths. If we are able to look deeper to what we truly are we will see the illusive and disorienting impact of relative truth.
I think that our modern culture has embraced norms that aren’t even truthful on a relative level. It’s not so easy to know who someone is. Issues of individual rights, self promoting intent and privacy add to this veiling. In the end I think that deception to one self and others has a way of catching up with you. All that you are hiding from the world it ends up that you are hiding from yourself. And all this obsession with the relative interferes with the liberation that can be experienced from realising more ultimate truth.
So it seems to me that I am better off getting on with living in a most honest and authentic way accepting my own limitations, self-doubt and humanness. That is what the world will see in me at times if I am open and authentic. That self knowing and acceptance and exploration of what I am leads me to deeper more ultimate realisation and in turn way of relating to life.
I found the following David Brooks article in the New York Times to be an excellent article on suffering. There are a lot of layers to peel away before we can discover what we authentically are. I am not sure that this ever ends during one’s lifetime although I wouldn’t know because I am still peeling away layers of my personality and discovering more authentic parts of myself that I left behind at some point. These layers may have aided me in surviving in some ironic way: at the same time they covered over and hid what I truly am. But as I read in Nisgardattas book “I Am That” “A man willing to die for the truth will get it.”
What Suffering Does by David Brooks
As one who practices mindfulness I wonder at times if I should be playing a more active role in changing the world. There is a branch of Buddhism called Engaged Buddhism as well as Buddhist thinking that believes that there is a role for Self Immolation. I am still not sure of what is the best way although I think that self-immolation is out. My body seems to be disintegrating at quite a fine pace as it is.
I have for the most part over the years favored the approach that suggests that practice benefits others through the transformation of how we are in the world. If we are more accepting, more peaceful, less judgemental less selfish than the whole world is that much more loving and peaceful, that much less judgemental and selfish. Our mind-body being a resonating energy system of necessity where how we are affects everyone around us.
But it seems to me that there needs to be more of a focus on waking up and if I can be part of that in a mindful way then this seems to be a practical way of being as long as it is done without judgement. In the end I feel compelled to follow something other than my mind in choosing a way of being and I’ll do the best I can in being non judgemental.
Mindfulness. A practical Guide to awakening by Joseph Goldstein
I have included a review of Joseph Goldsteins new book here from Tricycle. over the years I have read a number of books by Joseph Goldstein and attended a number of retreats at the Centre in Barre that he had a role in creating. In purchasing the book I was thinking that after all these years someone like him probably has substantial insight into the practice of mindfulness and very early in the book I realised that I wont be disappointed. He addresses quite early some of these concerns that I raise.