Mar 22, 2012

Idealism and stages of the way

1. The baby idealist: the aesthete 

The baby idealist is enchanted with idealising the senses. They seek mind-altering experiences, take concepts to the extreme (since consciousness is one of the senses), and glory in their escape from the conventions, narrow-mindedness, and shabby materialism of the society in which they are always found.

An artist, completely inventing new values, and worshipping freedom from mediocrity's brain-dead relationship to the sensory world, this stage is characterised by heavenly highs, exploration of many kinds of trances (not necessarily those created by drugs), and by the confidence and world-conquering egotism of a hero.

This is the aesthetic stage, where perfection is sought in what is beautiful. The mind is seeking a "something" to satisfy a deep primitive feeling of finding "home".

 To avoid stagnating, the idealistic aesthete must guard from losing themselves in thinking infinite ideas about perfection, instead of realising their meaning. There are countless ideas: but do you want to be a mere puzzle-solver, instead of a genius? The old aesthete is one who was afraid of the consequences of dancing apart from the herd, and fell back into escapist pleasures in art, music, dance, drugs, literature, inventions, and science.

2. The youthful idealist: the discriminator 

If an aesthete loves conceptual coherence, then the teenage idealist is born, who loves true ideas. Now the mind seeks reason as the guiding light, and the stage of right discrimination has begun.

But love of reason takes great courage as well. Ordinarily, many people have a small degree of discrimination, but because they lack the courage to discriminate inwardly, all their judgments lack quality. They are loud-mouthed and opinionated, but have no rational consistency. They fail to find the great treasure of reasoning in solitude, and their discrimination is fruitless.

The stage of discrimination is a deeply disciplined, serious-minded, earnest invention of new values for oneself, and the consistent application of these values.

The discriminator's idealism is about truthfulness, in having a perfect conscience, in consistency of mind. Because of seeking to ground and reground themselves privately in reason, consequently, the suffering of introspection and self-examination is more easily born, and, also, because of this deeply inward and centralised character, they are able to transcend the fears of being mistreated by others, and misunderstood. So the discriminator is also characterised by a profound solitude.

 Yet the discriminator faces pitfalls. The very weakest cannot bear the demand of truth to empty themselves of egotism at the same time as being judged by the egotistical masses: they become hermits, monks, political activists, and fathers. Such as these have insufficient faith in reason, so crumble when under the egotistical pressures of their fear of others.

The mentally stronger, more internally collected, do not yet have a complete desire for perfect wisdom. They still hold some desire for recognition, for a reputation, for mental relief, for egotistical rewards, for a rare companion, and other psychological stimulation. Perfection is yet a long, long way off. So, they are not truly ready for spiritual trial, for absolute solitude over a lifetime, 24/7/265. Most of these rare individuals find ways to sabotage their spiritual goals in various ways, and fall back into subtle mental pleasures or coarser pursuits.

3. The empty idealist: the disciple 

The last stage of idealism, in which "something" is still sought, is extremely rare. Very few enter this, the longest and highest stage of idealism: that of discipline.

Knowing deeply the importance of reason as a corrective, and striving to correct all subtle delusions, such as the desire for recognition, for mental relief, for companions on the way, and for various psychological rewards or stimulations, the disciple is "locked-on" to the goal of perfection, guarding their mind minute-by-minute like a wound, from every falsehood.

This rarity seeks the goodness of emptiness, of non-attachment, of perfect wisdom. The more fully immersed in these attainments, the less capable of suffering and relapse into lower states. To achieve the highly conscious, perfectly logical mind of samadhi, there must be an absolute willingness to drop the desire for achievement of mindstates and states of perfection, instead seeking only Reality.

But very few can bear such boundlessness and selflessness, and the weak not only prolong this stage, but typically avoid it.

To be a disciple is to acknowledge the greatest war known to the human mind, where all the inherent cunning of one's mind is reinvented and reintensified, to prevent progress. The genius is the one with the greatest capacity for evil, because the greatest awareness; the genius is therefore the only one who is capable of being a disciple, and has the enlightened skill to combat each subtle lie, whether an entrenched cherished habit, or a newly developed version of old lies, with the means uniquely designed for each problem.

The genius as disciple has the will to love Reality and sacrifice themselves into emptiness and selflessness, over and again, no matter how difficult or tedious the process. The subtlest of errors now become the pitfalls of the disciple, including the desire for goodness or to achieve truthfulness. He transcends truthfulness not by being false or thoughtless, but by realising what truthfulness is; so his truthfulness is Reality which does not depart.


Mar 1, 2012

By Buddhadasa

Do work of all kinds with a mind that is void
And to the voidness surrender all of the fruits;
Eat the food of voidness as the holy ones do,
You'll have died to yourself from the very start.
There is no Buddhism; there is no Christianity; there is no Islam.
How can they be the same or in conflict when they don't even exist?
We can call it "Dhamma," we can call it "Truth," we can call it "God,"
"Tao," or whatever we like, but we shouldn't particularize that "Dhamma" or
that "Truth" as Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, Judaism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism,
or Islam,  for we can neither capture nor confine it with  labels or concepts.
Still, such divisions occur because people haven't yet realized this nameless
truth for themselves.
Tell a small child to take a bath and to wash with soap to get all the dirt off;
the little child will scrub only her belly.  She doesn't know to wash all over.
She will never think of washing behind her ears or between her toes or anywhere
like that. She merely scrubs and polishes her tummy vigorously. 
In this same way as the child, most of the adherents of Buddhism know only a few
things, such as how to take and how to get. Even while doing good, supporting the
temples and monks, and observing the precepts, their only objective is to get
something, they even want to get more in return than they gave. 
This must be spoken about very often in order to acquaint everyone with the heart  
of Buddhism: Non-Attachment.  Buddhism is about not trying to seize or grasp 
anything, to not cling or attach to anything, not even to the religion itself, 
until finally realizing that there is no Buddhism after all.  That means, 
if we speak directly, that there is no Buddha, no Dhamma, and no Sangha! voluntarily choose to live a plain and simple life, a pure life, in which one 
isn't led astray or intoxicated by anything.  On this level, there is still a sense 
of the "I" who is enjoying this mode of happiness, but it's a better, more developed 
"I." The next highest level of Dhamma is to not let any traces of the "I" to remain 
at all.  It's finished.  The mind no longer has the feeling of being "I," of being a 
self, and there is no way that suffering or dissatisfaction can happen, since there 
is no "I" to suffer.
....think like a criminal and one is instantly born as a criminal.  A few moments
later those thoughts disappear, one thinks like a normal human being again and is
born as a human being once more.  If a few moments later one has foolish thoughts,
right then one is born as a fool.  If one then thinks in an increasingly foolish
and dull manner, one will be born as an animal immediately. Whenever an attachment
is felt intensely--when it burns inside one with the heat of fire--one is born as
a demon in hell. Whenever one is so hungry and thirsty that one could never be
satiated, one is born as an insatiably hungry ghost.  When one is overly cautious
and timid without reason, one is born a cowardly titan.(*)  Thus, in a single day
one can be born any number of times in many different forms, since a birth takes
place each and every time there arises any form of attachment to the idea of being
something. Each conception of "I am," "I was," or "I will" is simultaneously a birth.
This is the meaning of "birth" in Dhamma language. Therefore, whenever one encounters
the word "birth," one must be very careful to understand its meaning in each particular
context.  [* Animals, demons, hungry ghosts (peta), and cowardly titans (asura) are the
inhabitants of the "lower realms" in traditional Buddhist cosmology.] 
Why talk about what happens once we're in the coffin?
Instead, please deal with this most urgent issue of ego-birth,
that is, don't get born and there will be no suffering.
....the Christians don't understand their own Bible, just as we Buddhists don't
understand the Tipitaka (Buddhist scriptures). Thus, whenever members of the
two meet, they end up arguing until they are blue in the face.  The quarrels
are simply unbelievable; they fight to the end.
The dualistic pairs are the basis of all attachment, so don't fall for their tricks.
Don't attach to any of them.
Get free of all such attachments and the mind will be void.  The mind will be
brilliantly intelligent, as clear and sharp as possible. 
Wherever and whenever we practice non-attachment, there and then is Dhamma practice.
When our work bears fruit in the form of money, fame, influence, status,
and so forth, we must give it all to voidness.  Don't be so stupid as to
cling to these things as "belonging to me"--"my money," "my success,"
"my talent," or "my" anything.
Most of us blindly cling to our successes and so our experiences of success
increase our selfish desires and defilements (kilesa). Let ourselves be careless
for only a moment and we will fall into pain immediately due to the weight of
attachments and anxieties.  In truth, this kind of mental or spiritual pain is
always happening.  Before long, if we aren't careful, the pain manifests itself 
physically in the body as well.  Some people have nervous breakdowns or
go insane, while others develop one of the numerous varieties of neuroses so
prevalent in the world today, even though they may be famous, knowledgable,
and wealthy.
This "I," this ego, is just a mental concept, a product of thought.  There is
nothing substantial or permanent upon which it's based. There is only an ever-
changing process flowing according to causes and conditions, but ignorance 
misconstrues this process to be a permanent entity, a "self," and an "ego."  
So don't let attached thoughts and feelings based on "I" and "mine" arise.  
All pains and problems will end right there and then, so that the body 
becomes insignificant, no longer a cause of worry.
We spend a lot of money trying to buy Nibbana, but the money just gets in the way.  
It's like investing money in order to win a palace in heaven; the two have nothing to do 
with each other.  In fact, they are incompatible.
If something is obtained for free, we ought to pass it on for free, too.
Don't be unwilling or reluctant.  Don't go taking advantage of people by
claiming favors or hinting that they'll benefit by helping one in such-and-such 
a way or implying that students owe a debt of gratitude to their  teachers.
But when lust, hatred, and delusion aren't present in our minds, we experience
a small degree of Nibbana, a brief taste or free sample of Nibbana.
How silly it's that the older a person gets, the more full of ego
 he or she becomes.  I beg your pardon for speaking so frankly, but 
some facts can't be ignored.  Why do people become more egoistic with age?
Because the older they get, the more accustomed they are to attachment; 
"I" and "mine" accumulate and pile up inside us as we age. Further, 
people have sons and daughters, so they puff themselves with ego 
and determine to lord it over their children.  "My son!  How could 
he do that without my permission!"  When they have grandchildren, 
they become even more puffed up and superior.  Thus, elderly people are 
more obsessed with "I" and "mine" than children are.  
Being a Buddhist in name alone doesn't mean anything and can't be depended upon.
In people language they say, "Don't waste the opportunity of having been born human 
and of having encountered Buddha-Dhamma."  If we speak in Dhamma language, however, 
we would have to say, "It's the end of everything.  There is nothing left to be 
a problem ever again."  Such a life can be called "eternal life," for there is 
no more birth, aging, illness, or death. 
Are you ready to die before dying?