It's interesting to see what's going on with physics these days because they're starting to come out with stuff that sounds remarkably like Buddhism and even more specifically like the ancient Hindu Vedas. Physics isn't necessarily saying the exact same thing but I think eventually it will merge.
The obvious example would be Jesus. Jesus is an object of fascination for me. He's an interesting historical character because we don't know much about him. He seems to be a guy who was in touch with something deeper than most people around him were and someone who was very concerned with trying to communicate that.
Now however, we have contraception and it's mostly reliable so you can have sex without that happening. So then you start vilifying the act of sex itself. I don't think Buddhism has ever done that necessarily, or at least I'm not aware of Buddhism taking the stance that Christianity often has which says that sex itself is a kind of evil act, which is a really weird idea.
Godzilla also represents the fear of nuclear annihilation, which was something that was big in my mind at the time. It was something that the people of this forthcoming generation haven't had to live with, but people around my age grew up with the idea that we could all be blown up at any minute. That's also what got me into hardcore music.
At times, Zen does get into some Buddhist Cosmology. Nishijima Roshi, my main teacher would talk about that and almost every time immediately say that it was only one way of looking at it. Whenever addressing realms of Heaven or Hell, he'd also address that it was just a psychological state.
Much of the hatred and fear of sexuality found in religions stems from the idea that sex is a thing of the body and that the body must be denied so that the spirit may be elevated. In Buddhism there is no notion that the body is made of inferior matter while the spirit flies free within.
Sanity and enlightenment...I've been reading a new book Dogen's Genjo Koan: Three Commentaries, and it contains a commentary on Genjo Koan by Shunryu Suzuki, the author who wrote Zen Mind, Beginners Mind. He doesn't mention sanity at all but I think that one possible definition of enlightenment would be a kind of profound sanity, where being insane is no longer an option.
There's also something that is often mistaken for enlightenment which is a kind of insanity. Often, people will have some kind of weird experience which is quite abnormal and think, "Oh my God, that's it, I understand everything" because they start seeing things in a very weird way and think that's how enlightened people see things as well.
True nonattachment is understanding that you are fundamentally attached to everything and, through that understanding, dropping your attachment to the view that you are detached from that which you encounter. At the same time, real nonattachment means not clinging to things or people. It means dropping the idea that if you don't have this or if you can't get that, your life will be a catastrophe.
Buddhism doesn't promise to fulfill our desires. Instead it says, 'You feel unfulfilled? That's okay. That's normal. Everybody feels unfulfilled. You will always feel unfulfilled. There is no problem with feeling unfulfilled. In fact, if you learn to see it the right way, that very lack of fulfillment is the greatest thing you can ever experience.' This is the realistic outlook.
There are many diamonds in the world and if you lose your favorite, you can work hard, earn a lot of money and get another one to replace it. But the moments of your life aren't like that. Once they're gone, they'll never return. Each and every one is the most precious thing in existence. You can never meaningfully compare one moment with any other. You can never meaningfully compare your life with anyone else's. No matter how rich someone else may be, no matter how happy they look, no matter how enlightened they seem, they can never be you.... Read more »
Well it's always been an interesting area for me. In referencing something I just reread from Dogen it says, "Enlightenment doesn't break the person anymore than the reflection breaks the water" and Suzuki in his commentary is saying you don't lose your personality once you acquire some sort of Buddhist understanding.
They really make sex into such a horrible thing and how terrible anything related to sex is, but isn't that why we're all here? We wouldn't be here at all if two people in our past hadn't been horny for each other, that's how it works. So we can't continue unless people keep being horny for each other, that's just the way it is.
There's also an aspect which I tried to express yesterday by saying the same "something" that looks out through Curlys eyes is also the same exact thing which looks out of Moe's eyes, and that's harder for people to grasp. So the thing is, you have to find a way to ultimately embrace both sides or else you can't function. If you only embrace the side of pure oneness then you end up sort of spacing out and sitting under a blanket.
A lot of seriously insane people have managed to acquire huge followings based on the idea that their insanity is a kind of enlightenment. An obvious example would be Charles Manson or Shoko Asahara who is the person responsible for the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway.
So that's Godzilla, he's ultimately going to get you regardless of what you do. Maybe the people who made the American Godzilla film were scared of that. They didn't want him to represent that, to represent something we couldn't deal with because, "We're American's, we can deal with anything".
One of the things I regret about not putting in that book or I think it's there but I didn't really elaborate on it, is contraception. I came across someone who articulated very clearly that one of the things which makes our approach to Buddhist practice in regards to sex different these days than it was in Buddhist times, is the simple existence of reliable contraception, which is a no brainer but I missed really addressing it in the book.
As you're implying, there's a new technology that can look even deeper into that brick and we can start getting into a level where it breaks down so that the brick isn't even there, but obviously it is because Moe can hit Curly on the head with it. It's quite bizarre and all relative.
I'm not sure that Eastern culture does either, but I've never lived in India etc so I couldn't tell you. I can say we definitely don't. So people will sometimes come in contact with something strange and think, "Oh, it must be like this" and have a lot of fantasies about it, and somebody who sort of looks like our fantasy version of what enlightenment is can be very convincing in seeming like they've got something and then play that role.
There's fantasies about what heaven is like and who Satan is and why you shouldn't masturbate or why you should vote Republican. It's funny because it's an election year and their news broadcasts are constantly talking about "Vote Republican". I think that they think they're being subtle about it, but that's definitely not the case. So I'm like, "What does this have anything to do with the nice advice you were giving about how to live your life, how to get along with your spouse etc?"
If you come across an insane person who's talking gibberish, you can't make any sense of it at all and that would be one way that enlightenment is different. If you read Dogen, a lot of his stuff is very strange and is coming from a different place than what we're used to, but at the same time, it's not senseless ramblings and that's part of what attracted me to Dogen. I didn't get it, but it was sane. It's not some guy raving about UFO's or Moses living in his bathtub, it's was actually something sane that I just... Read more »
Since then, my approach to all things spiritual is rather cynical you could say. When somebody present something to me as spiritual, my first instinct is to be cynical and think, "oh yeah, one of those again." You see so much of it see in "spiritual culture" and people get very excited about it. It's all very "hoo haw."
I guess what attracted me about the philosophy aspect was that it was realistic. It didn't go off into the realm of imagination land, which I find a lot of religious teachings, actually almost every religious teaching does. I keep meaning to write this up as a blog post, but lately, while driving in my car I've been listening to a religious station that comes on out of Cleveland from the Moody Bible Institute.
I think a lot of people trying to follow Buddhism these days are getting confused about sex and they don't understand what's going on. They've been exposed to a contemporary Christian idea that sex itself is evil and bad, which I'm not so sure was Jesus' idea. For me, the Buddhist approach isn't that sex itself is evil or bad but that sex is neutral. It's the way you do it that can problematic.
Sometimes people pick up pet worries that they'll entertain themselves with and that was my big one. So as far as thinking about what that means, one of the definitions of insanity is that you lose your ability to communicate to anybody because your frames of reference have become so different from the rest of the world that you can't communicate anymore.
If you want to believe in reincarnation, you have to believe that this life, what you're living through right now, is the afterlife. You're missing out on the afterlife you looked forward to in your last existence by worrying about your next life. This is what happens after you die. Take a look.
I thought that deserved a book and feel like the door needs to be open so people can say, "Ok, here we go, let's deal with this" because we're not dealing with it. I'm waiting for somebody to write another book but it hasn't happened yet, though I guess mine's only been out for a year and a half.
So it's a dangerous thing and conversely, the other thing I mentioned in that post was that people see guys who are kind of in touch with that and become famous for it and then think maybe they can get in on it. Maybe they're not quite as cynical as that and there's some sincerity about them, but they don't really get it so they just imitate what they've seen from people who've done it before and of course you can make big money that way.
I think real enlightenment is total sanity, a kind of acceptance of what actually is. It does involve a kind of different way of looking at things. As I've done this Zen practice for years and years, I've acquired what I realize is an almost upside down view of life compared to what most people think, which is just what I used to think it was too. It's not really an insane view, at least I hope it's not.
I think it's part of my personality, to find sex really interesting. Not just in the puerile way of, "Oh I want to go and have some sex". It's fascinating, there's an entire realm of human activity that's important and literally vital to our survival and yet we've vilified it. That's one of the reasons that religious station is so fascinating to me.
In the Japanese movie's they're throwing everything they have at him, every missile, but he keeps coming, he can't be stopped and that represents death. There's nothing you can do to stop it, to keep yourself from dying. You can try every trick in the book and it still won't prevent it.
We always imagine that there's got to be somewhere else better than where we are right now; this is the Great Somewhere Else we all carry around in our heads. We believe Somewhere Else is out there for us if only we could find it. But there's no Somewhere Else. Everything is right here...Make this your paradise or make this your hell. The choice is entirely yours. Really.
Buddha was a responsible guy and believed in his monks being responsible, their responsibility would no longer be to their practice or to the sangha, but to their child because that's the only honest way to do it. You can't have it both ways. So anytime a monk would have sex, there was always that possibility and it was a very big deal.
Buddhists have a long-standing tradition of believing that at some level we always know what the best course of action is in any given situation. We just have to be quiet enough to let that course of action present itself to us. And we need the confidence to act when life shows us what we need to do.
Everything you have, whether it's money or stuff, is an obligation. It is as much your duty to care for and nurture any object you own as it would be if that object were your child. All possessions come with responsibilities. More possessions equals greater responsibility.
Jesus was probably a guy who thought, "This thing that I've discovered can save the world and everybody is miserable without it." So he was probably a very kind and giving person and thought he had to give it to people, even if it killed him. He had to make sure they got the message, and he paid the ultimate price as they say due to his insistence.
For a very long time science and philosophy were considered part of the same continuum and it was only within the last few hundred years they've been considered different areas of inquiry, and now we're starting to go back to the idea that maybe they aren't two separate realms of inquiry.