12.01.2014

Important.

I recently found this on a website.  The author is talking about the current state of polity in the USA.  He prefaces the following statements with the qualifying factor, "if I am right."  I believe the author is right.

1) The power of collective cultural processes to mold people's consciousness (thought and feeling) is enormous, and should be kept in mind as we consider what's happening in our country. (I find myself amazed at how fragile rationality turns out to be.)
2) It is of vital importance that we be alert not only to new things that arise, but also to dramatic shifts in the proportions of things, which can usher in major changes in a society using only old ingredients.


love always,
Samuel

2.25.2014

suns don't beam

What is a sunbeam?


love always,
Samuel

shh

I have a Nook and a reliable lap-top. I also have a cell phone. Recently, somebody gave me a tablet as a gift. I didn't think that I was going to use it much until I started to question my methods of study. I have a decent personal library. I do a lot of study with my library and my lap-top. Since I got my tablet, I have been thinking of using a very different form of study.

What I am wondering is if anybody else feels the same way. I have been reading through the Collected wotks of Korean Buddhism. During the course of reading only a few pages, a question inevitably arises and I go investigate it further on the 'net. When I find some resources, I then can study and formulate a better grasp of the material. This is not all that dissimilar from when I was in school and the instructor would give us a main text, lecture on it with discussion, assign us to research a topic and report what we find.

So, I guess it is not quite a new way to study, but a new place- on my tablet. What I am wondering is if anybody is interested in formng a study group.
Sorry that I had such a rambling roundabout way of saying it.

Essentially the study group would function much the same way my process was described above, with an emphasis on how you study. So instead of handing off one's conclusions found in the material, it would be encouraged to share notes, freewriting exercises, responses you get from your teacher when an inquiry concerning the materials is shared with them.

I feel that doing this sort of thing in a group setting would be wonderful.


love always,
Samuel

2.14.2014

Craving and Thirst

So, as I mentioned in some other posts, I have been thinking a bit about grasping and craving. On more than one instance I have heard that the word used in the scriptures could be described as "thirst." When I was in New Mexico, a couple of people I was having a chat with were talking about the need to stay hydrated in the high elevation and Summer heat. One person said something about how you should never be thirsty. Once you become thirsty, you're already dehydrated. When I first heard the idea that craving could be decribed as thirst, I couldn't really see it as a bad thing. However, when I heard somebody express the idea that thirst is already too late in terms of hydrating, I started to think about it in a different way. I came to realize that it's not necessarily the object of craving that is the problem. It is the craving itself that is the problem (or the symptom of another problem). I had to think about what that might look like. I had always tried to use the metaphor of holding a stick in one's hand when trying to describe craving as grasping. If you hold on to something without being mindful about it, you will be grasping it. Have you ever had that experience of feeling like you are still carrying something heavy after you have put it down? Maybe you had been carrying it for a while and then just sort of continued flexing those muscles after putting down the heavy load. Occasionally, I would still feel the grip of a hammer after work as though I were still holding onto the handle. I could never really make this metaphor work because it fails to describe what is wrong with grasping. However, this new metaphor of thirst works really well for me. In the same way that thirst is evidence that you may have forgotten to hydrate properly, grasping could be said to be a sympton of heedlessness in one's life.


love always,
Samuel

2.09.2014

imagine. constructive

Recently, I was watching The Simpsons and Lisa said something, followed by, "That's the Buddhist Satan." So, I looked it up and found that the word she used was "Namuche." After I looked up some information about Namuche I found that Namuche is associated with being the counterpart to Indra. Namuche described here as meaning "not letting go the waters."

Lately, I have been thinking a bit about the idea of grasping...

I understand that the name meaning of "of letting go the waters" might be a reference to a story involving Indra where Namuche plays the part of an evil-doer holding the rain from giving life. However, when I first read the name, I took the phrase to be much more metaphorical. Considering the saying, "you can never swim in the same river twice," one could reasonably draw the conclusion that the Buddhist Satan is that part of us that tries to swim in that river twice by not letting go the waters. To explain this point, I would like to give a slogan offered by Gil Fronsdal in one of his Dharma talks (in Three Parts), "nothing whatsoever is worth clinging to." Fronsdal does a wonderful job in this talk of talking about the Buddha's omniscience. He say's that this slogan is one of the common denominators of all things in the world. It seems to me that anybody who would seek to deny that denominator and "not let go the water" of the river of life would be trying to delude the world. Delusion, being the source of suffering, would seem to me to be the Hell being ruled by this "Buddhist Satan."

So, that's what I have to say about that.


love always,
Samuel

the fabulous forum

I think I am done with online forums. It's sort of funny that shortly after I wrote that, I went on a forum. I usually find myself going to forums to kill time. I do not find anything of quality to occupy my mind. I have gotten everything I ever need from a forum already. So I do not think I will be going on forums anymore.


love always,
Samuel


edit 2-10-2014:
Shortly after posting this I had a very important question I wanted to ask and thought that a forum I used to frequent would be the only place I could find a suitable answer, or at least be pointed in the right direction. Sure enough, I was dead wrong and not only did I not receive anything like a decent answer, but I was only given statements which do not facilitate any further constructive thought about the question I had. That is the last time I try to attend a discussion on any forum.

edit 2-11-2014
I am afraid that this might continue to be an ongoing discussion with myself. I went to the same discussion forum. I was sort of bored and wanted to see if the topic I posted had died where I left it and to do a little light reading of the new responses if there were any. To my unwarranted surprise, there were actually some really good responses there. This is the forum that I had previously started to rely on for the only source of discussions like this. So, like I said, my surprise at the good responses should really have not been present. However, it is plain to see that there are some people on that particular forum who simply don't know what they are talking about and are engaging in the sort of negativity that pervades much of online discourse. It has been my recent experience that this may still be a good source of discussion and I may therefore continue to attend it occasionally.

1.30.2014

STORIES

I know that people tell stories about the things that happen to them. About the things they do. This has been a part of my daily life for some time now. I have been considering it as a fact that creates my surroundings and interrupts the flow of reality. People say things about other things all the time. I always thought that this was a bad thing considering how important I believe it to be for us to engage in the true reality. Allowing stories to colour the information coming in is to alter reality in some way. Then when we start to engage the world around us, we may find that there is a disconnect due to the fact that our ideas of the world don't fit what is really happening because of the stories we have tried to paint over the real world.

As I said earlier, I never really gave these stories that much thought because I was under the impression that these stories couldn't possibly be so complicated that some aspect of true reality couldn't be found underneath them. I didn't think that so much paint could be laid over the truth so as to cover it forever. The idea that, no matter how much we scrape away our stories, we couldn't catch even a glimpse of reality seemed almost cruel and depressing. However, a few days ago I heard some pretty incredible stories being told. Entire lives were fabricated in an instant. These stories were being bought and sold with beliefs and strung out like a stock market ticker tape was this wildly extravagant representation of reality. I thought to myself, "The stories people tell CAN be complicated.". I sent myself a text saying just that and decided to write this blog about it.


love always,
Samuel

1.23.2014

a tablet

I received a tablet as a gift for Christmas last year. I am happy with this. However, I find it hard to write with the typing function.

Difficult it was at first maybe.
I was not accustomed to it.

Last night I sent a couple of emails with the tablet. In the process of doing so, I found myself slowing down and writing much more mindfully. I am not sure how a hindrance becomes a blessing and that is what has happened here. I am writing this st on the tablet and I find it to be a much more pleasant experience than writing on my laptop.


love always,
Samuel

11.01.2013

Aural Experiences

Lately, I have been making some fairly large audio tracks. These tracks are long-form, drifting compositions. They are meant to take the listener on a short journey over a long period of time. However, because these tracks are so long and because of the process I use to create them, it usually means that I have some fairly long breaks in my day, during which I have to find something to do for about ten minutes while my audio-editing software performs its various functions. I appreciate these breaks more than I dislike them. I am very thankful for such a slow, cerebral method of creating sounds.





love always,
Samuel

10.26.2013

nothing going on

My meditation practice has been lacking a lot lately. I am not going to let this "get" to me, however. I can remember other times when this was a problem and I would beat myself up a lot about it. When one takes a step back, it's not healthy to take two more steps back as a punishment. That's just silly. As for why I am not able to sit as much as I used to, it's really a combination of a few things. Firstly, I am living two states away from where I was just a few weeks ago. Secondly, I have been sort of falling off for a while now. So, I have to say that this break and my recognition of it is probably a really good thing for me. It's not as though I have become some kind of a loser over night and now I have woken up in a world where I'm just a pathetic shadow of my former self. I have come to a new place and I am proud of myself for seeing what has happened in the intervening time. That is not really something that is easy to do. A lot of people I know really let themselves go and don't really see what is happening. It's a good thing for me to be able to notice what is going on in my life. The most important thing is that I am not attaching more stuff on top of the reality. I'm not adding a bunch of useless fiction to the facts. It's not as though I am saying to myself, "I must have done something wrong somewhere along the way to be in the position I'm in now. Let's sit down and chase that story-line for a few hours or so."


love always,
Samuel