Friday, August 26, 2005

Our mind and our perceptions

The mind can effect how we percieve this moment. Here is a personal story from my pre-zen days.

My eldest daughter was about eight at the time...we had a cat that had had kittens..we told here she could keep ONE...she selected the was cute....she had a kind heart and always was for the underdog...shortly after all the others had found a home the little
kitten sickened and died....she cried like only an eight year old girlcan when she is devastated. Circumstance required we go to off to an activity that was work for me and play for her. As soon as she was down to the sniffling phase we left home and headed off.....I could see
trouble coming as I saw a dead cat ahead on the road. My daughter said "look Dad there is a poor dead squirrel!"....on the return trip the dead animal was still a cat for me and a squirrel for her. It remained on the road for several was always a squirrel for her and a cat for
me...It was a life shaping experience for me....a direct point to the power of the mind to shape perception....for her it was just another poor dead among thousands she has seen.

From this moment forward I knew that what we perceive does often does not bear much relation to what is...especially if we come to it with unfinished business from the moments before. I worked with mentally ill people who had all kinds of what I thought of as misperceptions....they
just did not tally with consensus reality. From this moment forward I had a glimpse into the lying nature of perception....the power of the mind to shape the reality in which we live. I had some greater understanding of the effects of hallucinations and their effects on the
mental stability of an individual. I found a key that allowed me to talk to the mentally ill as if the voices (which for them were real) were in fact real for me too....and much progress was made....for both the patient and myself.

When I came to Zen, perhaps "only don't know" was easier for me....because I already understood that perceptions and the mind could lie so strongly we ourselves (the little voice in our head) would not even know about the lie. There is little faith in the words of a known
liar. I still did not know how to come to the moment without all the stuff I was dragging with me, and I still did not know how to live when we really don't know....but the first was already present when I came to sitting.

This is I suppose one of the reasons that "take care of this moment" is so important...even if it sounds so simple and responsible...finish your not try and short circuit those things that will not let your mind settle...let them come up and go...if
they do not go...take care of what ails you...get rid of all that baggage so you can come to the moment free of all that crap as soon possible.....until you can really are just stuck with the mind that is polluted by all that history of misperception. Trying to drive a
polluted mind into the moment by forcing it to focus on breathing or forcing it to gaze at your navel can only be momentarily successful. It is giving aspirin to a cancer patient. Sit..see what comes up and what goes away if you do not attend to it...if something keeps coming up....and you can't let go of it....then here is something that needs your attention....fix it..or fix your understanding of it....or let go of your knowing about it.....if it is doubted it will not have the power to force its way into your consciousness uninvited.

At the time of that drive I was sure that I was right.... it was a cat.....and that my daughter was wrong due to the fact that she could just not stand to see another dead cat at the time...these days I wonder which of us, if either, got the correct take on that drive to town.

Be Well


Monday, August 08, 2005

What about studying books for understanding?

If the goal is to be as open as possible to each moment, then understanding of any sort is a is of course a necessary evil...we have to have some little understanding of what is going on in order to function in our life.. I just to not believe catering to it or creating more understanding is the answer...I would prefer to see people deconstructing understanding. Dropping understanding as a goal, leaving the fine intellectual constructions (which by the way are all by their very nature false or at best only partially true)to cease building them and then to actively tear them down and leave all this as rubble not have understanding as a goal, but to understand that to live each moment is the goal, and understanding is in the way, we need some...but let us keep as little as might be necessary rather than fill our headsso our whole life is lived in some book or fantasy world we create.

The problem is in the givens.....given smaller government is better...why have social service?....I understand smaller government is usually better..but wait...the understanding blinds me to the needs of my fellow citizens and our responsibilities to them. Given we should not kill.....well we should be vegetarian...but what if someone has prepared a meal with meat?....should we let the already dead cow go to waste?....what amount of understanding is going to bring us to each varied moment in our lives with all our resource present? (in what ever condition they are in) ..I am sorry ....each thing we grasp limits us...let us just put down the givens and the shoulds and be where we are.

This being said...some understanding is necessary. If someone gets this idea then how does one go about getting the little understanding they need to get through this life?....the best way they can. Having a teacher is the best way. One should try and do that if they can. Second best is sitting with a group without a teacher and last of all if they have no way (and I mean really no way...not just an excuse for not doing it) then reading a book would be a distant third. I remember when someone wrote to me of the impossibility of finding a group or a teacher...first this had to become possible before they could do it..the understanding that no one was about
was keeping them from seeing the resources that they could bring to hand. The first two ways of gaining understanding will bring you into the reality of your life ..the third takes you out of it ....if one must study, study with your whole being what is there in front of you where as Tsugen Roshi told me .......your practice is. Everyone's practice is what is in front of them. This kind of study is more zen then any book review or book reading.

The Soto shu does not give endless lectures on how to do zazen..a quick pointer and then you are stuck right there with a wall and a lot of time....eventually one does wake up to notice the time slowly passing..inside and outside.....the Soto Shu does not believe in giving you an understanding of what zazen is that you must later forget leaves you to build what ever understanding you need to get through the period of zazen......and hopefully there will less to tear later when one learns to be here now.

I am inclined to read...reading is a great pleasure that takes me is a great escape...I love it....but my goal is not to is to enter fully and go through since once I enter fully there is no real need to escape. Too many are looking for a cure for this moment....a fix for what ails them...but right here and right now life is being lived..the only life I have...I do not wish to miss a moment of it...good or bad, happy or sad.

I know people will read and people have a need to understand....perhaps when they sit long enough they will get that understanding is highly overrated. It is impossible for a finite conscious mind to grasp this infinite moment..we are blind and crippled..this is the reality of our lives....but even blind and crippled with no real understanding we can still grow and be life. We can even do it joyously and fully once we get that no real understanding is possible....when we give up trying to do the impossible...we are much less frustrated, angry and upset. When a terrorist bomb blows up and we get frightened and angry it is because
the bomb shattered our delusion that we understood the way London works..we lived in London....we got on the tube every morning and we came home on the tube at night..there were some frustrating things about it..but we knew how they worked and we knew what to expect...then BOOOM..our partial understanding is shattered and we are left with anger that this was not the way it was supposed to be today...but the reality is..this was the way it was going to be today....and it was only the comfort of our misunderstanding that was shattered for those of us not present for the attacks. We thought it could not happen here to day....When our partner leaves us because our understanding of our relationship did not include their understanding of our relationship our illusions are shattered our understanding f our relationship is shattered. There is no way for one person in a relationship to "understand" the whole relationship because they only have access to a part of the information...This is true for every where we are....Fear, anger, frustration....These things fade from our lives once the answer to why? becomes because this is what is.

Rather than study a book with your mind, study what is with all that you are.

Be Well


Friday, August 05, 2005

on anger and terrorism

S. wrote

>Fudo, I would also like to hear how you have been taught to deal
>with anger. It's something that has particularly hit me since the
>London bombs (even though I'm 200 miles from London). Lots of angry
>thoughts that I am ashamed of came to the surface -I never even >knew
>I harboured anger like that. The only way I could avoid them has >been
>not to listen to the news. I know, though, that avoiding these
>thoughts is not the answer - How does one actually get rid of them >so
>that they're not there to rise up again? I have tried to live a
>loving life, thinking the best of others, but sometimes it all >seems
>to break down and I find a dark and ugly underside to my character
>that I would like to be rid of. Any ideas?

Do not seek to be a not judge yourself against a standard of perfection......

Be what you are where you are is all you really can do. Sit with your angry perhaps racist not try and suppress with them.....look at them .....see what they are for what they are...... fear......are you afraid for yourself? for your loved ones? for your very culture?....good should be.....only from that fear that makes you angry can you really act to change the causal factors of the fear....Do you see a terrorist in every seat on the tube?....good ...there might be one....this is the reality of your is the reality of my life how do live when we are not assured of another moment of our life or the lives of our loved ones? We make sure we live each moment of the life we do have...the reality of all our lives is that we do not know whether there will be another breath or not. Being awake to that idea is not such a bad thing. Live each moment as if it is your last, speak to each person as if it is the last time you will see them, kiss your wife as if this is the last time you will have to do this and in a short time you will be thanking the terrorists for enriching your life. You are not a guaranteed number of days.....perhaps it is time you stopped acting like it....pretending there is no rush ..that it can be done tomorrow. If it is important to you you had better get about is the reality of your life. The terrorists remind us of our fear...they play upon our fear.......fix the fear...and there is nothing they can do to you. What are we afraid of?...we are afraid we will die with things left undone.....words left
unspoken......that our life will have counterd for nothing.....turn the terrorists act into a benefit for yourself and all those you touch...and you will horrify them beyond belief ......this is what will ultimately defeat the terrorists.......when we feed their children in genuine gratitude for their making our life and the lives of all those around better.

There is an old saying that your enemies are your best friends........ perhaps there might be some truth there.

Be Well