OBC Connect

A site for those with an interest in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, past or present, and related subjects.
 
HomeHome  CalendarCalendar  GalleryGallery  FAQFAQ  SearchSearch  RegisterRegister  Log in  

Share | 
 

 Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Ol'ga

avatar

Posts : 258
Join date : 2011-03-22
Age : 71
Location : Toronto

PostSubject: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:41 pm

Hello, friends,


I’ve posted a few posts already, not knowing about this
introduction ‘folder’. So, belatedly, here are some tidbits about me.
My name is Ol’ga F-H. I was ordained by Jiyu Kennett in
1971. I left the monastery in the fall of 1974. It was my own decision (Eko was sent to disuade me, and I was given the Founder's shrine to meditate in. I left after another three days anyway.) The
door shut fairly firmly behind me. Here is my story.



I was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, which makes me a
Slovak (not Czech). I left the country as a 21 year-old, after the USSR and
other Warsaw Pact countries invaded my homeland. I came to Canada as a refugee,
which means that there was no knowing I would ever see my family again (I did,
at some risk, in Hungary, after eight years). My family had been persecuted by the communist
regime (we were never told why), and my childhood was very much affected by it.
We were forced into an internal exile when I was six; we were still there when
my Dad died of cancer. I was thirteen and had been very close to him. He taught
me that God is intelligence. My Mother was a staunch Lutheran, and considered the teachings of love as the
essence of Christianity. As for the dogmas, she told me that we were given
intelligence to figure things out. I was never taught about the devil, or
eternal [banned term]. I was very serious about my confirmation. Still, when I was eighteen, I read Tom Paine’s Age of Reason,
and said good-bye to the Bible. In spite of it, I have very warm feelings
towards Christianity, its long tradition of devotion, and I very much feel for
the Christians who were severely persecuted under communism. I love all places
of worship and on our travels we have visited many of them.


Already in Slovakia I learned about yoga, and a bit about
the Eastern thought. On a rickety typewriter I coppied a Czech translation of the Bhagavadgita, and
it was one of the very few possessions I packed in my suitcase when crossing
the border to Austria in 1968. Shortly after I arrived in Canada, a friend gave
me a book on Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki. After that I read everything Zen I
could lay my hands on.


In 1970 I met Myozen, a South African girl, I believe the
first disciple of JR’s from her Japan days. She was in Toronto while waiting
for her US visa. I used to meditate with her and a small group early in the
mornings before going to work. It was such a happy time. In December 1970 I met Roshi (JR), and attended the freezing
retreat at the idyllic University-owned farm that Gensho mentioned in his
intro. I remember first meeting him there. He actually still had quite a good
head of hair then, ha ha. I had a
private talk with Roshi there and it was agreed that I would come to the
monastery together with Gensho next April. When I was about to travel, she
wrote to me that I was not to come because I was not ready yet. Then, a month
later, I was ready all of a sudden. I was given a flavour of what was to come, right at
the very beginning. Unfortunately, I did not learn anything from this. I was so
brainwashed from reading all the books about monks waiting on the temple steps
for days or weeks, showing their sincerity, that I just took it as something
truly Zen. Of course, as everybody, I read about all the hardships monks
underwent, as they were pushed to the limits of their endurance....and had a
kensho! Wow! So, naturally, I was ready for
anything.


I arrived at the Abbey with this oh-so-sincere,
unquestioning attitude. Perhaps I am being unfair to that kid I then was. I
really was sincere. I left behind the meagre security I had built in my new
country, gave away my possessions, and put yet another obstacle between my
family’s world and mine. I struck out really alone.


I arrived at Mt Shasta at night. I was picked up by Gensho;
arriving at the Abbey, we were joined by Bob (Bino), a very funny and
delightful Cockney. (I had a crush on him later, as I had on several monks
there. I was always in love with somebody or other – gosh, what else was there
to do?). As to Roshi, Bob then said that she was “scheming and plotting, plotting
and scheming”. I didn’t know then how very true that would prove to be.


Shortly after arrival I sowed my robes – rakksu and kesa by
hand - and was ordained in a ceremony together with Keitetsu. My name was
Chinso – a very beautiful name that once belonged to a certain no-nonsence
monk. My first job was that of a kitchen
assistant, and a cat-and-dog monk. I have gazillion memories of unnecessary
harsh criticisms, and one unfair beating ( Daiji, the then disciplinarian, made
it as soft as he possibly could. Perhaps he thought, too, that it was unfair.)
Being a serving monk, I went hungry many times - no time to eat at the table
(often nothing was left after the meal). The first three months I wept
non-stop. I was made feel a total failure, no matter how hard I tried. Then I
was moved to the laundry room, and was threatened with being “kicked out” if I
failed there, too. I didn’t fail, it seems, even though I had a non-functioning
washing machine (it had only one cycle, a slow spin), and similarly
non-functioning drier. I was responsible for all the monastery laundry, personal
and otherwise, including heavy bedspreads, constantly soiled by cats. There was
only very cold water, and I had permanent painful chilblains, even in the
middle of the summer. Still, this was my happiest time there! I had a lot to
do, the job was a challenge, I was alone, I could sing, and dance (had to, when
it got cold – the laundry was in an unheated garage). I saw people only during the
meals and tea, meditation, and classes. I also loved the wonderful tool-shed. And I loved to volunteer for the night fire-watch.



I remember one particular sesshin, when there was a heavy
construction nearby (building a highway) – tremendous noise, super-bright
lights. Generally we all had a very good sesshin that time. Do you remember?


I had to go back to Toronto twice to earn some money to pay
my room and board (it was $90 monthly, then). While in TO, I lead a very nice
group. What I taught was probably a mish-mash of some parroting of Roshi’s
wisdom, and some of mine, which was at least genuine. I am always ready to give
my two-pennies worth.


In due time I became a Chief Junior (to Gensho who was
getting his teacher’s certification). We used to have a ceremony in the Fudo
shrine, just three people. It was lovely. We go back a long way, Gensho.


There were many happy moments. For a while I was the
librarian. I divided the books into sections by subject: one was “Macabre,
etc”. Daily I had to clean the rug, where our dalmatian dog Sam threw up stuff from the compost heap. And I had to
carry the dog called Dog to the garage for the night. Roshi was kind to point
me out once, as she was strolling by with the gorgeous jiisharyo monks: “There
goes Ol’ga with her husband.” Roshi didn’t like young women very much...


You will be wondering why I left. It is hard to convey. I’ll
try. Roshi was an uncommonly perceptive woman. We used to watch the TV at her
house: she watched US. She saw me squirm when there was a scary scheme. She
knew about our weak areas and she magnified them. She knew where to twist the
knife. She said horrendous things behind
our backs. She was unjust and arbitrary. In my view, the teaching itself was
flawed. If that were sound we would all still be there.


Nonetheless, this is part of my life, and as such I embrace
it. Not long ago I had a dream: I was in some dirty storage building, and there in the corner I found a naked new-born baby girl, in a pile of rubish.
Her arms and legs were grown together into a bundle. I picked her up and tried
to keep her warm. I felt the deepest love for this child that I can possibly feel.


There is a lot of suffering in this world. How not to love
it? How not to love myself, how not to love you? And, perhaps, at least
tentatively, gingerly, why not to love that poor Roshi? What did she carry in
her poor heart? Who knows. May she find peace.


I think she became a lot worse in the years after I left.
Still, I don’t blame her totally, as I’ve said elsewhere. Perhaps under the
rubric of Zen Master I will give you some of my thoughts on the kensho lore, on
its over-ratedness, and on the misguided method of achieving it in the Zen
tradition. What happened to Buddha’s Middle Way? I somehow feel that I will not
make myself popular with my views. After all many of us are supposed to have a
kensho, and got Roshi's cherished validation for it. We even improved our rank
because of it. I should some time later write about the rank, too. That was another one of
Roshi’s mighty weapons, means of control. The rank was one of the most
corrosive, corrupting things to our conscience. We got bought, and it is not
good to get bought. But this also was not Roshi’s invention. I suspect we all longed for Roshi's approval. She said some good things about me, and they still give me that lovely warm feeling inside.



After my study of Zen, I did not want to touch anything of
that kind for quite a while. I figured, perhaps there is no ultimate liberating
answer? I have to accept such possibility, so that I can study FREELY what IS
there, rather than firm up my wishful thinking. Doubt is cleansing, and
absolutely necessary – for me, at least. It is my refuge, my quiet sanctuary,
my honest place.


Some thirty years ago I stumbled on Advaita Vedanta
(Sankara’s tradition). I have been studying with Swami Dayananda since then,
very seriously. I still go off on my own, though, for years at times. I feel that
my answer, if there is one, lies in that teaching. I consider myself a student,
rather than a trainee. If I am to ever be free, I should already be free,
should always have been free. But I have
to accept whatever obstacles that are there that obscure my vision so to speak,
simply because they are there. Acceptance of what IS is always a good start,
methinks. I have respect for what is, and then perhaps see how to proceed. But
I don’t believe that one can FORCE getting knowledge. That is why I am convinced
that pushing people the way Zen tradition does, is misguided and warped.
I feel I should also mention that one of the reasons why I left the monastery was that I missed the world, its colour and all. And the personal freedom. The monastery was too claustrophobic for me.
I am married to David, an Englishman, or rather, a Wiltshireman, my best friend, who gives me a lot of room. We don’t
have any children which was initially a great source of sorrow for me, but I
adjusted.
Back to top Go down
polly

avatar

Posts : 143
Join date : 2011-01-30
Age : 64
Location : Pacific Northwest

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Sun Mar 27, 2011 1:51 pm

Dear Ol'ga,

It was a delight to read your story and to get your take on Shasta. Equally I appreciated some of your insights, especially what you had to say about doubt. You sound like a wonderful woman, glad you are here, on the forum, on the planet.

Best regards,
Polly
Back to top Go down
Robert
Admin
avatar

Posts : 100
Join date : 2010-08-27
Age : 43
Location : Durham

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:44 pm

Dear Ol'ga,

Welcome to the forum. You certainly have a rich history, thank you for sharing some of it with us. I'd be interested to read more about your thoughts on rank and the kensho-lore and to reading your other contributions here too.

Best wishes,
Robert.
Back to top Go down
Howard

avatar

Posts : 554
Join date : 2010-06-27
Age : 62
Location : Vancouver

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:39 pm

Hey Ol'ga

Yeah the label of Zen hides a multitude of sins. I do think there are as many forms of Zen as there are Christian sects.

I sometimes wonder if the personality facters that attract one to Zen are the same ones that poorly suit one to become a spiritual teacher. I also wonder if the winowing out of any trainees who are prepared to question a Masters foolishness leave behind only the most compromised monks to fill the teachers shoes.

If this is true then the real Zen that I appreciate is found on a zafu far away from colourful robes and glorifyed lineages.

Wow! the hoops that I have to jump through to say that deep down, Zen is OK.

Thanks for sharing your memories of early Shasta days. It is amazing how much and how long many of us stayed with the program.

Cheers
Back to top Go down
http://hrmitchell54@yahoo.com
Ol'ga

avatar

Posts : 258
Join date : 2011-03-22
Age : 71
Location : Toronto

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:26 pm

Polly, thank you so much for what you've written. It warmed the cockles (what on earth is that anyway?) of my heart!. I was already thinking today that I went too much out on the limb, but you've proven me wrong, I needn't worry. I hate any kind of orthodoxy, which I think strangles life, and thought - how do I know I won't be an unwelcome outsider in this encounter?
I read your intro, and comments on kensho - I am so much of like mind. So if there is room for you here, there is also for me.
O.
Back to top Go down
Ol'ga

avatar

Posts : 258
Join date : 2011-03-22
Age : 71
Location : Toronto

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:31 pm

Friends,
the "banned term" in my Introduction was simply "the opposite of heaven". It should not be banned, since it is a technical term. It gave me quite a chuckle.
O.
Back to top Go down
mstrathern
Admin
avatar

Posts : 602
Join date : 2010-11-14
Age : 74
Location : Bedfordshire, UK

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:36 pm

Hi Ol'ga welcome to the forum. I remember our joint time at Shasta, particularly the noisy seshin which like you I found particularly good. I think the noise became a kind of background mantra. I must apologise for the beating you say I gave, even if I made it soft. I felt then that the stick should only be used on those who wanted it and found it helpful and then only sharp enough to relieve tension in the shoulder muscles or bring wandering attention back into focus.

I very much agree with your assessment of us all being bought by rank, the very antithesis of true spirituality; it just showed our pride and vanity. For some years I was an academic in a business school and remember once when a visiting professor entitled gave a lecture called 'Spirituality and leadership', I commented to a colleague who I new visited Throssel that I thought it was a hallmark of the holy ground that all were equal. I'm afraid I only got a slightly bemused but stony look. Ah well! it seems that things haven't changed that much.
Back to top Go down
Ol'ga

avatar

Posts : 258
Join date : 2011-03-22
Age : 71
Location : Toronto

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:54 am

Hi Mark,
I must say that, in my recollection, you were rather untouched by the aura of superiority/rank. You were so refreshingly normal, leaving your unfinished coffee mugs all over the monastery. I was wondering if you still practice Alice in wonderland method of fixing watches. My watch did work very well after your ministrations, for whole two days.
All in all, you made it more livable in that place.

I am now spending way too much time reading all the posts. I am rather shocked by what Roshi got up to but it is in no way worse than the naked and aggressive dishonesty of the old days. I just remembered how she told the lot of us (senior and junior) some extremely sensitive information about a couple some of us knew well here in Toronto. What a horrid thing to do.

She also undercut me in a similar fashion as you, albeit on a small scale. I was leading a group in Toronto before my last departure to Shasta, with the help of Catherine (Rikuko). Then, while I was in Shasta, I found out by chance (NOT from Roshi, she did not have the decency to at least tell me) that someone gave the use of a ramshackle house to the group. Roshi made Gensho the "President" and Lou (can't remember his ordination name) the Vice (who never had anything to do with the group, never even knew them). The group had somehow formed around me and, I think, found my classes meaningful. The members and me grew together, we cared about one another. After the shuffle, the group fell appart. I can't pretend I was surprised it did or, indeed, heartbroken, after such betrayal. There was no reason for this, no warning. Roshi did this kind of a thing regularly. If someone tells me that I should not have felt hurt because there is no self, I'll gladly box their non-existent self's ears. In their perpetual samadhi they won't feel it. I wonder how many see on a daily basis the fact of no-self. Who had the kensho, then? Whose training is it? I don't mean this as some kind of a clever 'gotcha' objection, but as a question that very naturally arises in my mind, and Zen does not address it.

I find the Vedantin concept of mithya individuality much more convincing than the no-self. The individual self exists but has no independent existence. The only real thing is vastu, caitanya, and that is what you are. Tat tvam asi. I can see this without twisting my mind into a pretzel. (ha ha, I do come up with some gems, Jesus!) At times, at least, I can see clearly who I am. Then it clouds over, partially, because that's where I'm at.

In Vedanta the knower/experiencer does not disappear. Even samadhi or kensho itself is still an experience - that is why one can remember and report on it. But the fact, nature of the knower is caitanya, awareness, which iluminates and sustains the world, and which does not exist in time, but sustains time itself. And that you are, otherwise you could not even be a knower, ever; knowledge would somehow happen away from you, and you would be as unknowing as a stone. It's beautiful and clear, and quite immediate. The understanding is quite 'homey', there is nothing mystical or particularly status-y about it. The fact that I am vastu is already complete, no more is indeed. My coming to understand it, immediately in my bones so to speak, is nice, but it does not add anything to me. And so any kind of a rank is quite laughable. Rank may be needed, at times, for practical, organizational purposes. But that is all, and there is no puff or fluff attached to it.

Anyway, I am happy that you are married, Mark, and are blessed with two sons, and all those people are very existent indeed.
Love, O.
Back to top Go down
Kozan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 670
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 67
Location : Sonoma County CA

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:26 am

Ol'ga,

you wrote:

"In Vedanta the knower/experiencer does not disappear. Even samadhi or kensho itself is still an experience - that is why one can remember and report on it. But the fact, nature of the knower is caitanya, awareness, which iluminates and sustains the world, and which does not exist in time, but sustains time itself. And that you are, otherwise you could not even be a knower, ever; knowledge would somehow happen away from you, and you would be as unknowing as a stone. It's beautiful and clear, and quite immediate."

(The emphasis in red is my addition.)

Bingo! Nicely stated!

Awareness is the "knower" and that which is known. That which is Awareness itself is the very core of being--and the source of existence. Awareness is eternal, empty, infinite, immaculate--unfolding as space-time-energy-mass itself.

Welcome again (after my earlier welcome on another thread). And (as before) so good to see you here!

Kozan
Back to top Go down
Ol'ga

avatar

Posts : 258
Join date : 2011-03-22
Age : 71
Location : Toronto

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:56 am

Kozan,
Yes, awareness - it's the very awareness that is present when you taste an apple; or when there is no object present. Because awareness never sleeps, in Sanskrit, it is the alupta drk.
I have to go about my duties now, but it is great to talk to you, Kozan, after all those years.
Ol'ga
Back to top Go down
mokuan



Posts : 265
Join date : 2010-08-29
Location : West Linn, Oregon

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:46 pm

Dear Ol'ga and Kozan and all Wise Beings here,

How is it that awareness is eternal?

I find myself thinking of life as if it were a light bulb. There is the form and shape of the bulb; there's the filament conduit for electricity, but the bulb needs an external connection to produce light. If there is no connection to an electrical source or the bulb is spent, what you have is useless. There is no eternity in there at all. Likewise, if we are dead and our own internal electrical pathways ceased, how is there eternity there? Isn't awareness just a temporal thing like life itself?

Great teachers I thank you for your great compassion
mokuan
Back to top Go down
polly

avatar

Posts : 143
Join date : 2011-01-30
Age : 64
Location : Pacific Northwest

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:53 pm

This not-very-wise person thinks that when our bulb is spent, our electricity joins and adds to itself all of The Electricity so that we are full and conversely utterly empty (as a non-unit or busted bulb) and we "have it all". I believe that includes awareness. I'm not sure if there is more than awareness. Oh. What am I thinking? Of course there is more than awareness! There is love. Mercy. Joy. Who knows what all! It's full up and whole with stuff, good stuff, eternally. That's what I think. I only know one thing for sure and that is that we are all an absolutely necessary part of that whole, now and forever. That's my life raft, my joy and my walking stick. That's what I trust.

My dog is dieing and it is very important to me to affirm this just now. His bulb is flickering and it has to be okay with me for him to die. I don't have to like it but I can't stay in the catastrophic state of mind I have been for the past week while I watched him dwindle. I have to trust that he is safe.


Last edited by polly on Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:53 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
Howard

avatar

Posts : 554
Join date : 2010-06-27
Age : 62
Location : Vancouver

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:15 am

Hello Mokuan

An interesting proposition. Allow me to present a different zafus view of awareness and eternity.

The most common problem with the examination of awareness comes from our own position in it all. We can say that we know that we are just temporary will-o wists but I have to doubt the depth of that understanding when the arguments presented with it stand on a belief that is ego centred enough to present awareness as being dependant on our relationship to it.

I would submit that awareness is eternal because it is not dependant on this bag of skin and bones. Awareness is little more than experiencing the truth beyond the veil of our own egos making. Awareness is the transcendence of the illusory nature of our imagined separation from everything.

We can only use the word useless or see eternity as something more substantial than our mayfly lives by dividing existence up between self and other. Only the ego has the hubris to see our existence as something that can create an awareness that always was, is and will be.


Well that's my two cents worth for tonight and oh yeah, since we are dabbeling near the issues of marking time...Happy birthdays to the two birthday girls above.
Cheers all.


Last edited by Howard on Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:06 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
http://hrmitchell54@yahoo.com
Kozan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 670
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 67
Location : Sonoma County CA

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:42 am

Ahh, Mokuan, you have just asked what in my opinion, is the central question of all spiritual teaching, practice, and experience!

For multiple reasons, we tend to associate our own awareness itself--that which is aware of our thoughts, feelings, intuitions, and perceptions--with our physical body and mind. Our mainstream culture, and scientific reductionism (not to be confused with science itself) condition us to believe, or to at least assume, that our awareness is only the result of a biological process.

Many of the spiritual/mystical traditions, including Buddhism, maintain (using a variety of different words and concepts) that, that which is our awareness itself, is (metaphorically) like a mirror, which reflects all thoughts, feelings, intuitions, and perceptions.

And, that the 'mirror' of awareness simultaneously transcends existence, and is the source of existence, the source of the fabric of physical existence itself--(to utilize the framework of physics) the field of space-time-energy-mass--which gives rise to the universe itself, in all of its diversity.

Buddhism (and many other spiritual traditions) specifically identifies That Which Is (or more precisely, that which transcends both existence and non existence...) as empty. This would be impossible to perceive (as Ol'ga notes) unless this emptiness were also awareness itself! In a complimentary sense, modern physics points out that 'solid' matter is actually 99.9999% 'empty' space (at the level of the atom).

The transcendent ground of that which is awareness itself, the source of existence itself, goes by many names (to put it mildly). I won't attempt to repeat them here, since I don't particularly resonate with most of them. (Words, in general, tend to turn That Which Is into an object, or worse, a deity, which is to say, into duality).

So, Mokuan, back to your analogy and question. RMJK used to use the light bulb analogy for life, and I think it is a fairly good one. In the anology, the light bulb is physical existence, and the electricity is Awareness itself, and also the transcendent source of existence. Light bulbs burn out. Physics (specifically the Laws of Thermodynamics) tell us that energy itself, though constantly changing in form and density, cannot be created or destroyed.

The essence of the koan, of what I think of as our existential crisis, leads our own awareness to identify with the 'light bulb' of our own mind-body, and to forget that it is Awareness itself--unborn and undying.

Spiritual practice (in my opinion) is therefore, necessarily, simply a process of allowing awareness to heal back, to relax back, into Awareness itself.

The greatest tragedy of religion (IMO) is the all too common misunderstanding that spiritual practice requires an assault on the ego (which, after all, has no real existence!), and therefore becomes instead, an assault on the 'light bulb' of our own awareness-mind-body!

Again, Mokuan, coming back to your question: light bulbs come and go, but the electricity of that which is (the ground of our own) Awareness itself, is eternal.

Mokuan, thank you once again for putting your finger on the very crux of the matter!

PS: Polly and Howard, you were both posting while I was still writing; well said!
Back to top Go down
Ol'ga

avatar

Posts : 258
Join date : 2011-03-22
Age : 71
Location : Toronto

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:45 am

Now my two cents' worth:
Eternal is not that which goes on and on. Eternal is that which is not in time. Time is in awareness, awareness is not in time, in fact it reveals time. I now know that it is 12:25, and am conscious of passage of time. (So is my hubby, and he'll say, 'you promised you won't stay up late, so what's your promise worth?).
So awareness does not come and go. It is time that 'flows', within time things are born, exist and pass away. All that within awareness.
But now consider this. Are you aware of various things, your body, the room around you, your thoughts, plans for tomorrow, regrets of yesterday, all those things? Yes, you're aware. Then, what is the nature of this 'you' who is aware of these things? Are you dumb, inert, you as a knower? Well, no, obviously. That knower must be of the same stuff as awareness, otherwise s/he wouldn't know anything. But awareness has no attributes (all attributes are within awareness, just as time is.) So, then, what is the difference between the awareness, the 'stuff' of you, the knower, and me, another knower? Can there be two awarenesses, if awareness has no attributes? How would you distinguish one awareness from another awareness?
Further, are you, the knower, awareness plus something? How would you mix awareness that has no attributes with something that does? Furthermore, if you indeed were awareness plus something else, that 'something else' would also have to be within awareness, as a known or knowable thing. That something would have to be an object of awareness then. Again, then, how would you mix awareness within which everything exists, with its object? So, I would say, the knower is really awareness, plus nothing else. But wait a minute. There IS something else. One knower is smart another dumb. There is the world, there are instances of cognition, that vary one from the other. Yes, but they are all transitory, and they don't affect awareness at all. They are not of the same 'degree' of reality as the attribute-free awareness, which reveals everything that is there. Look at this. It is not as though awareness becomes apple-like, say, during cognition of an apple. No, it is untouched. It reveals, but remains untouched.
What's more, it is in and through the object, too. Let's look at the apple again. Does the awareness stop before the apple, when you are aware of it? How would you know anything about it then? Oh, OK, it is in and through anything I am aware of. How about, if I am not aware of it? Is awareness in and through that, too? Well, the peculiar thing is that, for awareness to be in and through something (or the something's attribute, say, colour), that something must be somehow transparent to the awareness. It can't pose obstacles. Awareness is not a substance, obviously, it is akin to light (figuratively speaking only, as light is anyway electromagnetic wave/particle, which is matter by virtue of E=mc2). So how the heck does this awareness, attribute-free (immaculate, as Kozan would say) mix with that material apple? The only way it could be so is, that it is a trick, Maya. Somehow awareness, which is the only real thing that doesn't come and go, has 'within' it that creativity that 'whips-up' the world. It should not be possible...but it is, the evidence is all around us. Awareness as though creates this world, but is not in any way affected by it. The awareness acquires as-though status of a knower, known, and act of knowing, but is unmoved by any of it. The world, just as this creativity of Awareness, are all only as-though. Your thought, too belong to that. Your thoughts are part of that as-though world, your ignorance, your kensho. But NOT YOU! How do you know this magical awareness? Well, you do, because it is you. You, awareness, play the role of a knower, and then next minute you are a knower of something else. And none of it touches you. Doesn't it? How can you say that, O? I do change, as I come to know, experience, this, that and the other. Who is this I that changes, though? My emotions change, my outlook changes, maybe my status changes, if I earn a degree, say. But all that is WITHIN awareness, revealed by awareness. My essence, my true nature is awareness itself, otherwise I would not know any nmad thing. This is crucial to see. It is not as though I am here, and awareness is there somewhere. I can't even say that I am 'part' of awareness, because awareness does not have parts (parts are within awareness, as something potentially known). Since I find myself to be a knower, this shining wonder, I must be of that nature, that 'stuff' that awareness is, that very awareness that has no boundaries, that does not come and go, and that, somehow, wondrously whips up this world, makes this as-though (called mithya in Sanskrit) world, but is not in any way touched by it, changed (change is in time)...Wow! And that awareness is you. What more do you want?
It takes some little time to grasp this, and then more time to see how this makes ALL the difference. And then more and more time to make this really one's own so it becomes second nature. I am not there. I go all over. But while listening to my teacher (mostly at home from discs), it is pretty crystal-clear.
Now I really must go. I hope I didn't make too much of a hash of it. The essence of what I've written is as was shown to me. I've done oodles of thinking about this (it's great fun), and some reasoning ('unfolding') was born in this nut here.

I would only like to say one more thing, about 'ego'. I seldom ever use that word. It has several different meanings (misunderstanding of one's individuality, i.e. that I aam 'this much'); pride; vanity; greed; arrogance; insecurity. In reality all those things are born of one's ignorance of one's true nature, and no-one can be blamed for being born ignorant. So I wouldn't flagellate this ego all that much. I won't become any wiser through that. At Shasta we've done it enough to last us some life-times. Enough, don't you agree?
Hugz and all and good night,
Ol'ga
Back to top Go down
Lise
Admin
avatar

Posts : 1412
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:45 am

polly wrote:

My dog is dieing and it is very important to me to affirm this just now. His bulb is flickering and it has to be okay with me for him to die. I don't have to like it but I can't stay in the catastrophic state of mind I have been for the past week while I watched him dwindle. I have to trust that he is safe.

Oh, Polly. I'm so sorry. Sending love and peace to him and to you.

Lise
Back to top Go down
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net
mokuan



Posts : 265
Join date : 2010-08-29
Location : West Linn, Oregon

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:44 am

Thank you all for such amazing responses. Much to contemplate, much to understand.

My question stems from the loss of my Annie-dog on March 2. I had her for twelve years, and it's always been just the two of us. We were a pack of two.

Polly, my heart goes out to you. I know what you're going through. It's like sailing on a river tears. Will you tell me his name, and I will keep you both close in my heart.

Love,
mokuan
Back to top Go down
Ol'ga

avatar

Posts : 258
Join date : 2011-03-22
Age : 71
Location : Toronto

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:27 pm

[quote="Kozan"]

For multiple reasons, we tend to associate our own awareness itself--that which is aware of our thoughts, feelings, intuitions, and perceptions--with our physical body and mind. Our mainstream culture, and scientific reductionism (not to be confused with science itself) condition us to believe, or to at least assume, that our awareness is only the result of a biological process.

This is so true. Kozan, my heart leapt with joy when I read it. The scientific reductionism gives me hard time - one must refute it. If they were true, we would be just foam on the waves, like in Andersen's Mermaid.

...modern physics points out that 'solid' matter is actually 99.9999%
'empty' space (at the level of the atom).


This is, in fact not quite true. One must use terminology appropriate to the 'universe of discourse'. If we are talking about solids in everyday life (in macro world), then a chair is solid - I can sit on it.
Once we are in Eistein's world, or the micro-world of particles, then the words, such as 'space' and 'solid' have different meanings. The particles are not just small balls like very small potatoes. Electrons (and other leptons) behave as a wave under certain circs anyway. And the quarks that compose the atom's nucleus, though they have some mass much greater than the leptons, are still not just like little chunks of matter, inert and discrete. They exert forces, and I would say, where there are forces, fields, one really should not call it space, as we normally view it - empty receptacle for bundles of matter. After all, space is also a bit like toffy, it can be curved, and kinda bunched up.

Of course, in all fairness to you, Kozan, I don't actually know what you meant by 'space', but since you didn't qualify it, I thought i'd pipe in.

I must stress that I don't know all that much about Physics - am just very interested. Aside from that, I am probably just a bit swollen-headed, thinking I am the smartest gal on the block. We all derive some sense of worth from somewhere, to soothe our sense of bottomless incompetence elsewhere. (Our house is a mess, and David might just divorce me one of these days. Even a patient man can crack - and when they do crack, it goes a long way. So I have to watch it.)

Luv, Ol'ga
Back to top Go down
Ol'ga

avatar

Posts : 258
Join date : 2011-03-22
Age : 71
Location : Toronto

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Tue Mar 29, 2011 5:57 pm

Polly my friend, I am thinking of you, and will do some chanting for you - I find it helps.
I don't approve of death, or dying. I am not being facetious, these are serrious matters. But it's so hard, and one can't white-wash it, or wish it away. I hold you close, Polly, and your doggie. I hope it won't hurt too much.
Oli
Back to top Go down
polly

avatar

Posts : 143
Join date : 2011-01-30
Age : 64
Location : Pacific Northwest

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Tue Mar 29, 2011 6:36 pm

Thanks Ol'ga and Mokuan, and Lise,

Your prayers and chanting are deeply appreciated.
My dog's name is Yogi, a 90 lb black lab (a little lighter these days) full of leaping and prancing and bounding and stubborn as a mule. Some of the qualities I thought irritated me were the first things I missed when he got sick. He is resting now after a day at the doggy hospital and we are trying new treatment and having some hope.

Ol'ga, the way your mind works just trips me out. I love it.

Mokuan, I know you know all about this dog business and I have been struck by the similarity of our experience. I knew your thoughts were with Annie when you wrote your question. I still send my prayers to you and Annie with the lovely laughing face. I am unable to work with those big questions through reason so I have to work from faith. And trust. And when I can, from love.
Polly
Back to top Go down
Kozan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 670
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 67
Location : Sonoma County CA

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:45 am

Polly, my sympathy to you--and to Mokuan. Hugs all around!

Polly, I'm glad to hear that Yogi is still with you, and that there is reason for optimism!

Knowing that the essence of being, of all being, is awareness itself, makes the passing of a friend or family member easier in a very significant sense. You know that the essence of their being is unborn, and undying, by knowing it for yourself.

And yet, at the feeling level of being-in-existence, this knowing, however deep it may be, changes nothing (even when it changes everything!). At best--and amazingly--there can be a deep serenity in the midst of great grief.

I mention this because it is one of those unavoidable aspects of being in existence, of the existential dilema itself, and of its healing and transformation.

Accordingly, I would now like to shift this from the abstract to what for me is the personal.

My mother passed away in July of last year--and my father, a year earlier. They had both lived long and very, very, wonderful lives. I could say much more, but no matter how much, it would never be enough.

Their passing was not altogether unexpected; and I was not altogether unprepared.

Nevertheless, grief is, appropriately, just what it is. As Mokuan so insightfully and touchingly observed, "It's like sailing on a river of tears."

Of course, we expect to experience grief in the passing of family members and (human) friends.

At the end of this last year, about 4 months ago, my sister's dog, Cedar, a Golden Retriever, died. I had known Cedar for all of her 13 years.

I live in California, my sister and her family live in Illinois. Over the last 40 years I have only been able to visit once, or more recently, twice a year, usually for only a week or two at a time.

Nevertheless, without fail, Cedar would become wildly excited whenever I turned up. Her excitement would often begin even before my arrival at the house, when she saw me approach, from a distance, and even after a 12 month absence. Cedar's behavior was so untypical for her, and yet so consistent over the years, that my family invariably expressed good-natured astonishment and suprise every time.

It was no surprise to me, or to Cedar. We were good friends.

I think that heart to heart, awareness to awareness connections, between all beings, are like this.
Back to top Go down
Ol'ga

avatar

Posts : 258
Join date : 2011-03-22
Age : 71
Location : Toronto

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:15 pm

Friends,
Today, the 30th of March, is the eighteenth anniversary of my Mom's passing away, in 1993. Her birthday was on the 27th and that was when I last talked to her. She was not well, but there was no warning that the end was near. On the 30th morning I phoned her and my aunt Teta answered the phone. Mami had just dozed off; Teta could not wake her, and went to get help. I didn't suspect anything, and went back to my crossword puzzle. I got two words, "Mom" and "Risen". When I phoned again in a few minutes, I got Mami's neighbour, a doctor. She told me that Mami was gone. I screemed with pain. It was the greatest pain I know. Mami was only 78, and was supposed to live for ever. How could she die? She came with the world, she was already here when I was born; she was there for us when Dad died (my brother was 14, my sister 12; I was in between). I was very close to Mami. She had a wonderful mind, and integrity - a very honest person. And she was funny, capable and gave us a lot of room.
Sure she had flaws - at least as I saw it. I rebelled - had to establish myself somehow. But we were fast friends and had a lot of great time together. It took me a long time to grasp that she was gone.
Mami had been a great traveller, mainly hiking in the mountains. When she died I felt that she went on a really exciting journey. You remember the phenomenon in physics - we called it connected containers - a U-shaped tube: you pour water at one end, and it rises to the same level in both arms of the tube. That's how I saw her and me, vividly. We were totally connected, there was no obstacle, nothing intervening between us. We were one. But it still hurt terribly. I would get these attacks of sorrow - David would hold me, and I would gradually calm down.
Yes, Awareness...what I am now 'working on' is the understanding how Awareness is the woof and warp of the world, all of it, included my thoughts and all. Awareness, free of attributes, pure as it is, is still the content, fabric of the world that is nothing but attributes. My friend Martha once told me: you are, indeed, your mind, your body, but you are more than that. So I am my mind, then, with its emotions, sorrow, and no doubt, vanity... As they say, Awareness is immanent in the world while being transcendent. It's a big thing to understand. But it helps me to live my life truthfully and not pretend I know what I perhaps know but dimly. You know some say that the world is but an illusion, included our individuality. Well, just step on their toes, really hard, and see how much they'll see it as an illusion. I could never see how the world could be illusory. It makes so much more sense that it is, magically, in reality Awareness, which is Reality. The world, things in it, come and go, and they are all nothing but Awareness itself. My teacher says where Mithya is (the world, your mind, time, etc), that's precisely where Satyam (Truth, Reality), is. So one doesn't need to run away from life (thus forsaking your own seat...), but see it for what it is, the dance of Awareness itself, which is more than the dance. This is my meditation. I'm where I am at, and it will take me as long as it will, to see this clearly.
Ol'ga
Back to top Go down
Kozan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 670
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 67
Location : Sonoma County CA

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:58 pm

Ol'ga,

You wrote (starting with the first two lines quoting what I wrote):

...modern physics points out that 'solid' matter is actually 99.9999%
'empty' space (at the level of the atom).

This is, in fact not quite true. One must use terminology appropriate to the 'universe of discourse'. If we are talking about solids in everyday life (in macro world), then a chair is solid - I can sit on it.
Once we are in Eistein's world, or the micro-world of particles, then the words, such as 'space' and 'solid' have different meanings. The particles are not just small balls like very small potatoes. Electrons (and other leptons) behave as a wave under certain circs anyway. And the quarks that compose the atom's nucleus, though they have some mass much greater than the leptons, are still not just like little chunks of matter, inert and discrete. They exert forces, and I would say, where there are forces, fields, one really should not call it space, as we normally view it - empty receptacle for bundles of matter. After all, space is also a bit like toffy, it can be curved, and kinda bunched up.

Exactly right!

Within manifested physical existence--our universe--space is not empty at all. The hypothesis that I barely proposed, and did not describe, is that space-time-energy-mass arises through the differentiation, or unfolding, of the transcendent ground of Awareness itself. Space, time, energy, and mass, are not four different "things" at all, but four different aspects of what I too would call a single field--the fabric of existence. As you pointed out, Einstein demonstrated that the field of space-time has a structure that is curved, and which appears to increase in curvature in the presence of massive objects like stars and planets.

As you say, all subatomic particles, as well as photons of light, display the paradoxical contradiction of behaving as both waves and particles.

When physicists point out that "solid" matter is 99.9999% 'empty' space, what they mean is that it is empty of mass, which is concentrated in the protons and neutrons of the nucleous. The spatial volume of the atom is defined by its electron cloud, which has virtually no mass. The size of the nucleous is so tiny compared to the overall volume of the atom, that the atom is characterized as being 99.9999% empty. This is only an approximation. Some physicists believe it is, more accurately, an order of magnitude higher--at 99.99999% 'empty'! (This 'empty' space does not occur inbetween atoms or molecules, only within atoms). In this sense, I don't think that it is an exaggeration to say that the 'solid' chair that you are sitting on is mostly 'empty' space.

The reason that I love drawing attention to what science is discovering, is because it provides a kind of confirmation that the universe does everything with nothing, or no-thing. And it provides some degree of confirmation that the reality that mystics experience from the 'inside', is the same reality that scientists explore on the 'outside'. The methodologies are different, the realms of focus are different, the overarching reality is the same.

As a designer, and from observation of the way living organisms and ecosystems function, I would take it a step further. I would propose that existence functions to achieve an optimum, with a minimum, without waste, because it inherently functions in synergetic cooperation with itself at every level.

From atoms to ecosystems, existence functions to achieve success by accomplishing an optimum with a minimum. Again, as a designer, I would propose that to be genuinely successful, a dwelling and economic process must likewise accomplish an optimum with a minimum, without waste, through synergetic cooperation. Our current dwelling-economy does just the opposite--depleting resources, destroying habitat, extinguishing species, and precipitating global climate change--while providing egregious wealth for the few, and effective enslavement for the vast majority.

By being able to recognize the inseparable oneness, or non-duality, of the 'spiritual' and the 'material', it becomes easier, I think, to recognize that spiritual practice cannot be accomplished unless it encompassess the way we live, and our means of dwelling.

(As always, these thoughts are actually a rather condensed summary of what I am trying to convey. My apologies to all in advance for any confusion I may cause!)

PS: Ol'ga, I just saw your new post, as I was posting this. Beautifully expressed!
Back to top Go down
Nicky



Posts : 124
Join date : 2010-08-30
Age : 74
Location : norfolk uk

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:57 am

Kozan Ol'ga ,
Thank you - i seem to do a lot of thanking on this forum .

I'm fascinated by what you're saying but im not YET understanding it all .I was amazed at the overlap between my struggle - a happy one with a friend and his words ,and you two on this forum .
It's just that ive started a blog ( linked to my nicky loutit website) and immediately i entered into an argument about communication. He , my friend being the scientist - exploring from the outside and me - well not as grand as a mystic but wanting NEEDING TO EXPLORE FROM THE INSIDE . Your words help me with that exploration , and define his attitude , AND mine .
Well there's much more , but its all a ramble , glimpses , rich confusion , I'll reread your postings , and i love how things spread about .
Back to top Go down
http://www.Nickyloutit.co.uk
mstrathern
Admin
avatar

Posts : 602
Join date : 2010-11-14
Age : 74
Location : Bedfordshire, UK

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:51 pm

Kozan
I think you and Ol'ga tackle an important area of understanding, though here I rather disagree with you and side with Ol'ga's original statement when she says: "One must use terminology appropriate to the 'universe of discourse'". I fear that very few people, if any, have really managed to come to grips with the essential paradox of sentient awareness in a non-sentient physical universe. The difficulty of mind trying to explain mind. You would appear to be saying that the universe is some manifestation, some unfolding, of mind stuff, awareness. I would disagree with this and argue that it is the other way round. I find your view entirely too teleological. Yes, it is true that the universe of my experience has its being and ground in the nothingness of my awareness but I think that the being and ground of my awareness is in some magical and as yet inexplicable way conjured from that very actuality of the physical universe. I'm afraid this is all rather badly and clumsily put. The person who I found put it in some ways most clearly was Douglas Harding in his book 'The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth' (http://www.headless.org/hierarchy-intro.htm), though in all honesty I have to admit to being rather uncomfortable with this too and in fact uncomfortable with his approach to the whole matter. In the end of course this is all just about and about and does not help in practice/training, the return to the ground of the nothingness of our awareness. Any about and about is rather irrelevant when it comes to that, it is the difference between measuring the temperature of a cold bath with a thermometer, and jumping in. Though throughout the ages people have taken one form of about and about or another as being the only true way and fought and killed over it. Taking the finger for the moon, and then trying to chop off everybody else's pointing finger.
Back to top Go down
Kozan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 670
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 67
Location : Sonoma County CA

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:10 pm

Mark,

You raise some very important points here, thank you! I will take our discussion as an opportunity to try to clarify what I am attempting to say.

You wrote:
"You would appear to be saying that the universe is some manifestation, some unfolding, of mind stuff, awareness."

No. I am proposing that That Which is the ground of Awareness itself is unborn, undying, unconditioned. Simply another word for the moon of Zen. I consider 'mind', in any of its manifestations, to be part of manifested existence. The physical universe comes and goes. Our own awareness-mind-body-self comes and goes. And yet, that which is the very essence of awareness itself is, in my experience, prior to all coming and going. Your own "Original Face", before your parents were born.

You wrote:
"I find your view entirely too teleological."

The definition of teleology (for the benefit of other readers who may not be familiar with the term) centers around the proposal that nature, and existence itself, are directed by some kind of overall design or (especially) purpose. I do not subscribe to this belief. I do not believe that existence has a directed "purpose" established by a "creator".

What I am proposing is that manifested existence is only possible, because what it is, and the way it works, is inherent as potential within That which is the empty source of existence. And that the source of existence is not other than that which can be experienced as the ground of Awareness itself.

It seems to me that the value of making this simple connection is precisely that it can help cut through so much of the "about and about" that you refer to.

I think that Ol'ga expressed what I've been trying to say beautifully, when she wrote:

"As they say, Awareness is immanent in the world while being transcendent. It's a big thing to understand. But it helps me to live my life truthfully and not pretend I know what I perhaps know but dimly. You know some say that the world is but an illusion, included our individuality. Well, just step on their toes, really hard, and see how much they'll see it as an illusion. I could never see how the world could be illusory. It makes so much more sense that it is, magically, in reality Awareness, which is Reality. The world, things in it, come and go, and they are all nothing but Awareness itself."
Back to top Go down
Kozan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 670
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 67
Location : Sonoma County CA

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:19 pm

Nicky--thank you!!

I'm glad that our discussion is resonating--and spreading!

I've loved your website, and (of course) especially your art work, from the moment you introduced us to it.

I love your new blog just as much. I very much enjoy the synthesis of your primary visual art with your verbal confirmation, description, and reflection!
Back to top Go down
Nicky



Posts : 124
Join date : 2010-08-30
Age : 74
Location : norfolk uk

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:37 am

Kozan,
I'm glad you replied , i was beginning to feel uneasy , a bit silly with my ordinary response to you 3 weighty contributers . On the other hand i dont even WANT to completely understand such terms as teleology, i prefer my sort of non verbal mist , and yet too , its stimulating stuff. I have to find my own balance in it ALL . Here, this forum is one extreme , struggling with your words -thoughts- brains , and then my blog something far looser , and i'm so glad you've linked it up - makes me happy . both though is this other online world , how real is it ? whatever real means ...........I leave that to you lot .

By the way , Mark , Doulas Harding made me rage , sort of quelling .
Back to top Go down
http://www.Nickyloutit.co.uk
Ol'ga

avatar

Posts : 258
Join date : 2011-03-22
Age : 71
Location : Toronto

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:49 pm

Hi Nicky,
I don't know you but I think if we met we would hit it off. Easy.
I am not a weighty contributor actually.
I can still hear Roshi's voice, 'You clumsy oaf, Ol'ga.'
And when I fell down the escalator a few years ago, earning only spectacular bruises, a friend told me, 'Face it, Ol'ga, you'e a clutz.' So that's me.
I also have a mind trained in maths, which can think fairly well - I enjoy it tremendously....sometimes I fancy myself, because I have my own measure of vanity and exhibitionism.
But I also love art (am not bad for a diletante that I am, in oil painting), and music (principally classical and some genuine folk music). Classical music I share with my hubby, who knows it considerably better than me.
It is very important to me that all this is brought together, that there is no conflict. I can't manage conflict. It should all fit seamlessly, flow together.
I liked your 'i'm so glad you've linked it up'.
I had a peek at your website, and particulary liked very much your painting, The end at last - wrapped in home. Very very breatiful. Thank you, Nicky.
And then I liked what your husband wrote about your empathy, and your
feeling for the ploughed earth - how vulnerable it would be. I think
that through empathy we sense that there is no barrier, no separation, between us and
the world. It is empathy that gives birth to compassion. I guess one
can't be compassionate by precept; it's a discovery, and so a gift. No
credits given.
Human heart, mind is a wonder.
Ol'ga
Back to top Go down
Nicky



Posts : 124
Join date : 2010-08-30
Age : 74
Location : norfolk uk

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:22 am

Ol 'ga ,What a lovely posting , thank you.
And yes , and yes again , AND again - except for Oaf bit -
Back to top Go down
http://www.Nickyloutit.co.uk
Ol'ga

avatar

Posts : 258
Join date : 2011-03-22
Age : 71
Location : Toronto

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Mon Apr 04, 2011 4:32 pm

Mark and Kozan,

Mark to Kozan:
"I find your view entirely too teleological."

I'd say, what is wrong with teleological, gentlemen? Perhaps we're being too anxious to obey Occam's razor. I think that, yes, we humans do model the universe in our image, and purpose being our flesh and bones, we impute it to the universe. It is inescapable (and so bears watching) but, to a degree, is probably correct. Because we already FIND ourselves here, we did not one fine morning decide, "I want to exist" and bingo!, we popped into existence. So, somehow, the way we are, we belong here, we are not allien, and so we may in various ways be like the universe and v.v.

It is a valid question, 'Just how much we are LIKE the universe?'. Well, let me tell you. I don't know. Ha ha.

Still, we humans are not original. We don't invent atomic energy, etc. It's already here to be discovered. And so we didn't invent a thing called purpose. And meaning. Of course, I know, one could say, natural selection made us that way, so that we may be more successful in passing on our genes. But that does not explain anything, because a question arises, Why the necessity to pass on anything; why competition among living organisms, etc. (I find that 'natural selection' as THE mechanism of evolution pretends to obey Occam's razor, but in fact violates it. The violation consists in that word THE.)

Sometimes one might get too worried about how to solve these pesky riddles. My refuge is in the following Jewish joke. Jewish jokes (by the Jews) are the best in my estimation. I heard it in Slovak, and it works in that language (as well as in Czech) but does not translate well into English. David and I have been trying to render it in English for, oh, ten years, and have not found the right phrase.
I'll try to tell it to you, even though I'll have to kill the humour in it.

An old wise Rabbi, known for his wisdom all over the land, was dying. Around his bed stood his family and disciples, hanging onto his dying lips for those last words of wisdom. He lay there, with his eyes closed, and it appeared that he would leave this valley of tears without giving his last gift of wisdom. The room was deathly silent. Suddenly the Rabbi opened his eyes, and said, Vsetko je inac, and was gone.

Now, Vsetko je inac, literally means 'Everthing is otherwise'. But David tells me that this is not English and is not intelligible. We haven't found a way of paraphrasing it, while keeping the 'punch', the surprise, of those last words. The meaning of it is, more or less this: If you think it (whatever) is this way, it is not. If you then think, ah ha, it's the other way, well, it is not either. So, you conclude, it's neither this nor that. Well, it's not. Then you think, it's both. Nope. So you think, Oh, I won't bother, - well you can't not bother either.
David suggested "Things are not what they seem". But that is commonly known, and not interesting. No self-respecting dying Rabbi would say such trite words with his dying breath. No, this was a surprise, and it has great depth. And it's funny. This life - you have to laugh sometimes, it's so bizarre.

I have another refuge. I just think - I'm still here. That's one immutable fact. That one fact I cannot be mistaken about (Descartes) (by the way he gets constantly misquoted with his Cogito, because the context of his reasoning is not usually given).

I won't go into this too much. I come from a somewhat different neck of woods (Advaita Vedanta), and so my terminology differs from the Zen one. Possibly there are fundamental differences. There are tons of debates between Vedantins and Buddhists extant - I know them from the V. side. One possible difference, judging by our correspondence, seems to be concerning Awareness. You talk about the ground of Awareness; to me, Awareness IS the ground. Not Awareness as the 'mind stuff', rather the 'shine', the 'light' of all knowledge; that which makes knowledge knowledge. That which is present in all my thoughts, perception, memory etc, through which this world 'shines', is revealed; and that which I - you - in fact must be, otherwise knowledge would simply not take place.

I am not familiar with the book Mark mentioned. Obviously, the argument that awareness somehow evolved within the biological organism is, at first glance, worth considering. The problem I have with it is, that if this were indeed so, matter itself would have to be something radically different from what we think it is. I would consider that as a preliminary argument, but then, what IS that matter? What is its nature, then? We can't know. In fact the only 'awareness' I know is 'my' own. Even the fact that you are also an awareful being is an educated guess, an inference. It is possible that one day a robot will be constructed which will fool me into thinking it is awareful. You know, when Garry Kasparov (chess) played the Deep Blue (computer), he said that he sensed beginnings of intelligence there. But of course! It was the programmers' intelligence, evidenced in the algorithms, not any intelligence in the sequence of 1s and 0s.

Oh, regarding the teleological, and the creator. I'll just throw in this gauntlet. Does the idea of a Creator in fact imply duality? I'd say, not at all. We already have multiplicity in front of our noses. The important thing is, that you and I are not in reality two. And there can perfectly well be some God, who is also in reality you and me.
I talk too much. Don't encourage me, I can't resist. Those brilliant ideas exert such a pressure on my brain that it has already grown to twice its size.
The problem is who will do the dishes?
Yours always,
Ol'ga
Back to top Go down
mstrathern
Admin
avatar

Posts : 602
Join date : 2010-11-14
Age : 74
Location : Bedfordshire, UK

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:41 pm

Great argument Ol'ga but I would disagree with you on a couple of points. First that we did not 'invent' purpose and second that an evolved awareness implies 'something radically different from what we think it is'. I would argue that purpose did evolve and that also awareness is the product of evolution, I actually prefer the term consciousness coupled with attention, but let that rest. Why would it imply something radically different? The great magical steps for me are life and consciousness I am constantly dumbfounded at the thought of their arising 'accidentally' through a process of evolution. Like you I don't like natural selection as a term because it implies to much purpose to my ear. But we seem to be beginning to come to grips with life evolving from brute matter, so why not consciousness/awareness too evolving accidentally from the brute living? Not Occam's razor of course, but doesn't that just apply to the reasonableness of rational explanations not to dear old non-reasonable, non-rational reality. But I do lack knowledge and understanding of almost everything. I must also agree with you about my use of terms like 'ground of awareness', sloppy use of language on my part, sorry but I' lazy.

On another tack I love your rabbi's 'Vsetko je inac', 'Everything is otherwise' which seems perfectly good english to me. It reminds me of the Theravadin dictum 'Neti, neti', 'Not this, not his'. I also love and completely agree with your statement as to our profound lack of knowledge and understanding of the world around us and its mechanisms which f course maybe why you are completely right and I am completely wrong, are well, so it goes. But science has only just begun to scratch the surface, though scientists likes to think it has done much more. I think that it is sheer arrogance to think that we should be able to understand the universe; if an ant can't why should we be able to? A little more than the ant perhaps, we do have bigger brains, but also I fear bigger egos.

About Douglas Harding's stuff, I wouldn't necessarily bother with it. I find it mostly rather aggravating, perhaps not quite as annoying as Nicky does, but still not congenial to my mind. However his picture of the natural order of things with a particular and peculiar place for us as aware individuals does I think have the beginnings of something good.

Still it's way past my bedtime so I better sign off before I get into real trouble with my wife.
Back to top Go down
Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:38 pm

Hi everyone.
I've re-read your post on Apr.4th, the one which mentions the old Rabbi`s last words before his death. It reminded me of something I'm in the midst of learning. Your story of the Rabbi reminded me of the lyrics of a song writer, Joni Mitchell: "I`ve looked at things from both sides now, from up and down and still somehow, its life`s illusions I recall, I really don`t know clouds, at all." ( I think those are the lyrics but I may not be exact).

I don`t think our brains, being made up of matter, are able to comprehend the magnitude of the Universe, God, or anything beyond cause and effect we can see here in the material world. Maybe there`s such a thing as non-material world, something which propels life along, making change the only certainty. I`ve tried my whole life to understand what it is to exist, to strive and reach out, to grow. As someone once said, "Why is there something instead of nothing?" ( I guess one might say, "Nothing is some place where Something can Be.")

At 5 yrs. of age I began trying out different churches in the neighbourhood where I lived. ( I was within walking distance of a few different churches.) I did so independently of my family or anyone. I was an only child of two alcoholic parents so I could pretty much roam as much as I liked since supervision was sporatic in my home.

So all this time I`ve been trying to grasp the meaning of it all; I`m 58 yrs. old now. Finally I`ve come to the point where I know I know far less than I thought; my knowledge is like a grain of sand compared to what`s out there and within. So finally, humility replaces religious, intellectual and all other forms of pride.

The analogy of an ocean and us with our small pails on the beach,
- of our efforts at sandcastle building, attempting to put form to our thoughts, only to be washed away when the tide comes in- reminds me somehow of the old Rabbi`s words. I don`t know if my view sounds sensible to anyone else. It doesn`t matter. I thought I`d just throw in my 2 cents. By the way, I think building metaphoric sandcastles is a fine endeavor, one which can be fun despite the fact they don`t last forever. Does the child building the sandcastle even think about time while they are busy building? For me, awareness of being part of something larger than what I know, allows me to revel in timelessness at least some of the time. Thanks to zazen meditation and a host of teachers along the way!

We`re all part of a constantly changing world and who knows what`s next in our lives? We can offer compassion to one another and remind one another, we`re all in this together, ``this`` being our humanity. There`s some comfort in that, at least for me there is. The fact there`s even a shred of understanding I share with others, helps sustain me. I don`t ask for much anymore. Simple bows and gasshos say much. So bows and gassho, Sandra
Back to top Go down
Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:40 pm

Hi.
To correct myself, the lyrics are from Joni Mitchell's song, Both Sides Now, which probably everyone knows. I quoted them incorrectly so here's the correction:
"I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all."

These lyrics came to mind when I read in one of Olga's posts about the Rabbi's last words.

I feel awkward with my own words; it seems only poetry can come even close to doing justice to huge, deep, subjects. Please excuse all mistakes I make from this day onward! Very Happy Sandra
Back to top Go down
Ol'ga

avatar

Posts : 258
Join date : 2011-03-22
Age : 71
Location : Toronto

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:39 am

Mark,
First, it's good to have our spouses keep us in line. I guess. I constantly keep getting into deep trouble with David when I stay up too late. It's hard to resist - it's such a sweet time.

About the purpose business. Yes, it may have evolved. My point is that it would have to be already there, in its potentiality. I know that things do change in the universe - even such 'constants' as the speed of light are not all that absolute. But somehow, there is unity to this world - what is, cannot be alien. Of course, we do look at the world from within our human experience, and so we may forever have a certain unconscious bias, and so our conclusions may inescapably be skewed. If that is so, I'll give the problem to the horse, it's got a bigger head and can carry a bigger load (a Czech saying). There is not much I can do about it.
As to consciousness - I think you may have misread something in my previous posting;
if this were indeed so [i.e. if awareness evolved in living organism from matter, then] matter itself would have to be something
radically different from what we think it is.

Somehow matter would have to, within itself, carry the potential for consciousness, knowledge. I don't think we view matter, quarks et al that way.
Obviously, my brain has something to do with my being conscious of the world, whatever. But one can't really say that it is the brain that is conscious of itself..."I, a bunch of neurons...", "we, neurons, are having a kensho, or had a kensho yesterday..."
But your 'The great magical steps for me are life and consciousness I am
constantly dumbfounded at the thought of their arising 'accidentally'
through a process of evolution.'
is spot-on.
I would add that consciousness is transparent to us - we are aware of the world, (including our inner world, of the sense of our individuality, etc) but this very awareness is virtually invisible to us, normally. Still, when pointed out - isn't it just a fabulous thing? How "shoreless" it is, unhindered.


We may, in the end, agree to disagree on some of what we talked about. After all, I no longer consider myself a Buddhist. After my very traumatic experience in Shasta, in all those years, I did a fair deal of searching and thinking, and by now would have a few bones to pick with Buddhism, to the degree that I even think about it (as now, because of the forum).
Just today I read the discussions on kensho: first full kensho, and second and third, and maybe fourth, and "achievement" (oh God!). I just shake my head in total dismay. The self is supposed to be illusory but kenshos are real, man! And the hierarchy is even more real.
There is no achievement - we already are what we are; in my understanding, we are something so great that you can't measure that greatness. Yes, understanding definitely helps. But it's not an achievement. I come to understand something - the universe is so kind as to give me hints or guidance, and so I stop hitting my head against the wall. What an achievement!
Yes, I remember the 'neti neti'. It's used in Vedanta, too. 'Vsetko je inac' could be taken that way. To me, it rather describes the phenomenal world, where you can never arrive at a conclusive answer to anything. To go back to kenshos even in this context: human experience is so non-linear. How could one categorise it, put it in neat boxes, stages. And then have stages of sainthood, I guess. If I need to be a saint to be free, then I've had it! You mean I have to give up chocolate?
I can understand, one needs to be moderately disciplined to learn. But, wouldn't you say that learning happens when we are relaxed, at ease? Hardship may result in some very special, maybe profound, experiences. And then those experiences are interpreted according to one's belief system. I am coming perilously near some deep topics, and I don't know if I want to go there. So I'll leave it for now.

------------------------------
My longsuffering husband has had his fill of Shasta tales lately.
He feels that you may find the following innovatory remarks somewhat helpful.

As a poor country yokel from Wiltshire, I have never resisted the temptation to coin a phrase, so not to put too fine a point upon it, and so that fine words butter no parsnips, I feel you were all in a fine kettle of fish at Shasta Abbey, lock stock and barrel, but you should never have swallowed the whole thing, hook line and sinker, as the bishop said to the actress.
David.


------------------
Ol'ga
Back to top Go down
polly

avatar

Posts : 143
Join date : 2011-01-30
Age : 64
Location : Pacific Northwest

PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:06 am

Regarding "neti, neti", it has been my experience that I learn only when I am open, and I learn to the degree that I am open. The texture of my world changes when I am open and all sorts of things, not just kensho-type experiences can get in through my wilted filters. It has been a source of some interest that many on this forum will have reality be a certain way, and they are certain of it. But when I am open, new things get in. There is some statement in Buddhist literature that talks about "small doubt, small understanding, great doubt, great understanding." I would replace the concept of doubt with the concept of openness, which requires a lighter frame of heart. Maybe trust and love thrown in. I heard someone say (don't remember who) that we were invited to this party. We belong. I will trust that if nothing else. Who threw the party? And why? No idea. Can't wait to find out.
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




PostSubject: Re: Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies   

Back to top Go down
 
Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies
View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1
 Similar topics
-
» Ol'ga/Chinso's long introduction. Apologies
» GRACE E LONG
» Exoplanet characterization with long slit spectroscopy
» How long will I be on Optifast for?
» How long in hospital? How soon to go back to work?

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
OBC Connect :: OBC Connect :: Introductions-
Jump to: