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 Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert

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Lise
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PostSubject: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:36 pm

Rev. Meian,

It was nice to hear in last Sunday's talk that you believe lay training is not second-rate to monastic life, but rather an alternate path to expressing a spiritual aspiration. Do other senior monks at Shasta Abbey agree, or do you think this concept needs time to gain wider acceptance in the community? Maybe they don't necessarily need to agree?

Regarding your comments about relationships in lay life, do you believe people may partner with someone, in the context of emotional love and connection, for reasons other than to get a benefit or gain, or fill a hole within one's self? Is it possible that people come together for reasons other than neediness and clinging? I wonder if you have ever experienced personal emotional love with someone, of the kind that is more like a gift or offering that each person makes to the other? The way you've described lay relationships is not what I know with my husband. I feel we were given a gift, in that we met at all, first thing, and our regard was mutual, second big gift, and then we felt we could be good helpmates and life partners to each other, third blessing from the universe. I think we each receive many things from the other, but I've not ever had a sense of being in the relationship with him because I wanted to supply deficiencies or extract some advantage.

I think being able to love someone, in a personal sense, really is a gift, and to be able to receive love back is the same. I believe some OBC monks may agree because I've heard them talk about it informally. Some had multiple marriages/relationships in the past, some had one very good marriage.

Do you think someone like Rev. Hubert might be willing sometime to share his thoughts on whether personal love, in lay life, is more characterized by clinging and neediness, or can it be something else, for some people?

Thank you for considering the questions.

Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:50 pm

Lise, thanks for asking the questions that plagued my 12 years as a follower of the OBC teachings. I also wonder about the role of Catholic priests. Although I'm not a Catholic, I wonder how a person who has dedicated his life to celebacy can counsel men and (especially) women on relationship issues. I wondered that many times at Shasta when I would bring my relationship problems to a monk for spiritual counseling. How could they know what I was talking about if they had renounced sexuality?

Your remarks about your marriage are lovely. I don't know what Rev. Meian said in her talk about marriage, but you described a loving relationship beautifully.

As an aside here, I used to bring relationship issues to Rev. Eko because he would do formal spiritual counseling with the people who came to his retreats. He always seemed uncomfortable, especially if my question involved sex. I always wondered if it was somehow inappropriate to ask a monk those questions. Now that we know what Eko was up to, I wonder about it even more.

There's a lot of "wondering" in this post, but isn't that what Zen is about -- not knowing?
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:28 am

Hi Carol, yes, "not knowing" is what all of this is about Smile

In R. Meian's talk she said that someone had asked her to talk about relationships, and she talked about this first in the context of how monks have relationships with each other, and then about lay relationships. She didn't mention marriage per se. What struck me about her comments was the absence of positive thoughts on lay relationships, so I was prompted to make this post and ask her directly. It's probably better to listen to her talk and form your own opinion, as I'm sure my comments won't relay what she said nor her intent.

I was listening for whether she would note any positive reasons why two people might explore/embrace/experience their love for each other, but it was all focused on a negative interpretation; that lay relationships are often driven by one person wanting and demanding something from the other, or needing to fill a lack within themselves. She described a kind of greediness in the sense of "I have to have this person, I can't live without them," etc. And she talked about it as though everyone is this way. It seems to me that her views and opinions of lay emotional relationships are very much skewed toward the negative and I think it is sad. I wonder if it's her own past experiences with personal love that caused this, or is it the effects of 30 years in the OBC?

About your spiritual counseling experience, I think some of the most senior monks probably do have a lot of trouble and always will, with non-celibates trying to talk to them about relationships and sex, esp. if they're still indentured to Kennett's views on that. Who knows with Eko - if he was already up to dickens with women at the time you received counseling, maybe his conscience was making him uncomfortable?

One other thing I noticed in Meian's talk was the repeated phrase "warm and sticky" when talking about lay relationships, and you could tell this was a derogatory reference. "People getting all warm and sticky with each other", I think is how she puts it. I suspect it doesn't overtly mean sex, but I think this is also a code phrase for that aspect of lay relationships. I believe "warm and sticky" has something to do with her views of sex, the body and possibly an underlying disgust or aversion to the idea of physical love. If I am wrong, I hope to be told so.

If she has not been in a loving partner relationship, I wonder if she knows that there is more than the "warm and sticky" part of being with someone. There's laughter, friendship, comfort and care-taking, sharing adventures and quiet joys together. Training together. It's actually an offering on many levels, and is so much more than clinging and neediness, or in the purely physical sense, wanting to hop all over each other like rabbits and go at it day and night. (But the right amount of that is pretty nice.)

Enough rambling, as Josh says.


Last edited by Lise on Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:21 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : more thoughts)
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:30 pm

Good comments, Lise. About "warm and sticky" -- that's an odd way to describe lay relationships. It sounds like it involves sex, although I suppose she means greedy and needy stuff in relationships. Greed and need are certainly there in many human relationships, and I don't think monks suddenly lose the greedy/needy business just because they are ordained.

But most troublesome about "warm and sticky" for me is that Koshin said more than once that monks think lay people have "sticky karma." I think he intended to mean that lay people aren't trained to let their karma go and that somehow we are more emotive than he would like. I think there's a term "labile" that the psychologists use (maybe the OBC psych folks can confirm this) that means highly emotive, moody.

Maybe this is what "sticky karms" means to Koshin. It sure has overtones of sexuality, though.

One of my quarrels with OBC teaching has always been that it seems to denigrate sexuality. It somehow gets tossed in with greed, hate, and delusion as something that lay people just can't shake. If only we lay people could go celibate like the monks, we might see how enlightened we are and that we don't need sex.

I just don't buy that. It seems to me that sex is a healthy part of many people's mental and spiritual well being. If one chooses to be celebate, great. But if chooses not to be celebate, that's good too.

I think this confusion comes up in the explanation of the precept "Do not sell the wine of delusion." Some monks have taught that this refers to indulging in "sexualaity." I never got that.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:32 pm







It gets tiring hearing of more Monks having to walk through lay treacle.


I get that some Monks might actually say that the path of the laity and the path of the monkhood are of equal spiritual standing but their actions say other wise. It's not that what they say is not true, it's just that there are assumptions on both sides that don't apply to the other.

Take the truths that they have discovered for their own Monk lives and see where it applies to lay life and where it doesn't. The fault we all must take some responsibility for is thinking that all that applies to them, should apply to the lay world.

If one wishes to be a monk in lay clothing then to just swallow their teachings wholesale without question is obviously the right path for you.

If one wishes to be the layman one actually is while transcending sufferings cause, then you'll have to experience that the lay treacle they rightfully fear has always been the completely perfect vehicle for a lay cruise down to the end of Buddhisms main street and back...
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:02 pm

Howard wrote:
If one wishes to be the layman one actually is while transcending sufferings cause, then you'll have to experience that the lay treacle they rightfully fear has always been the completely perfect vehicle for a lay cruise down to the end of Buddhisms main street and back...

Howard, this is very articulate, but strangely nonenigmatic - is everything OK? :-)
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:41 pm

Only those who smiled when Howard held the `cheesy` aloft, understand
the secret of the Enigmatic mind. ;-)
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sat Mar 16, 2013 10:16 pm

Ah! But was it a warm and sticky lay 'cheesy', or a cold and slippery monks 'cheesy'?
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sun Mar 17, 2013 2:53 am

You guys are so funny and really Dench. If you get that you are super-Dench. Keep at it boys.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sun Mar 17, 2013 2:02 pm

Howard wrote:

If one wishes to be the layman one actually is while
transcending sufferings cause, then you'll have to experience that the
lay treacle they rightfully fear has always been the completely perfect
vehicle for a lay cruise down to the end of Buddhisms main street and back

The words about the lay and monk practices being different, but equal, always seemed forced, rather than believed, egalitarianism. It's easy to understand why the "teacher" would feel superior to the student. And deep Buddhist roots in monasticism give some quarter to the notion that monks are approaching enlightenment (or whatever) more quickly, or are closer.

I'm not monk material; I'm not docile, gullible, or devoted to authority. I question nearly everything; I'm not moved by "faith;" I'm not persuaded by the authority of who said something. And I'm likely to be "disobedient" in searching for my own truth.

It seems that monkhood fits best those who need isolation from diversity and also the pressure of conformity to attempt a Buddhist life. That's OK. But the monk's environment is poor experience to guide lay members who choose the noisy, raucous, confusing conflicts of lay life. It has been a positive upper for me to find that Buddhism does well in the "unholy" cacophony, rampant diversity, and constant temptations of ordinary lay life. If the Buddhist boat will only float when anchored and supported in protected harbors, it is truly a useless vessel, unworthy of being called a ship.

To each is own. But it seems that to me that making Buddhism work in real life rather than the contrived environment of monastic life is the greater accomplishment. Biased by my own experience? Probably.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sun Mar 17, 2013 2:21 pm

Anybody know a `Layman` that`s " Transcended suffering`s cause" ?

just askin`.....
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sun Mar 17, 2013 6:47 pm

@ Stan Giko
Anybody know a `Layman` that`s " Transcended suffering`s cause" ?
just askin`.....


When contemplating the reality of suffering's cause, & shooting from the hip as usual, I think the word

Transcending refers to anyones journey with the 4 NT & the 8 FP,

whereas

Transcended refers to no separate identity left on that journey.

Whether speaking of Monks or Lay people, it's all still cheesy, Dench and a bit of a dutch oven.

.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:39 pm

How can there be any intrinsic difference between the laity and monks? To misquote Shakespear's Shylock:
Quote :
I am a layman. Hath not a layman eyes? hath not a layman hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a monk is?
And we can certainly see from present and past revelations that that the clergy and monks of all religions have the same appetites and desires as everyone else, and when they deny this in themselves then they are in danger of going awry and getting things twisted. The only real difference is that in theory monks have dedicated their lives to search for the truth. They are supported in this endeavor by the laity. It follows that it is not the the laity who are beholden to the monks and the clergy but quite the other way round; monks and the clergy are beholden to the laity for the support of their way of life. What monks and clergy owe to the laity for this support is, inevitably imperfectly, to dedicate their lives to their practice and to teaching. It is never to hold the laity in condescension. Any hint of condescension and they have gone wrong and are off on the path that leads to to all sorts of oppressive behavior. They have become 'pharisees'.
When you go to a doctor you don't believe they are a 'better person', you go because you hope that they will be able to treat your ailments because of better knowledge. And because a doctor is not a 'better person' there are strict rules and customs of behavior that they are required to follow. And it is similarly so with the clergy and monks of all stripes; we go to them for religious teaching and instruction on a subject they have studied. And we should, for similar reasons, expect and demand that they follow the required customs and rules of behavior. 'On the holy ground there are no superiors and all are equal.'
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:20 am

Mark; this is the issue.

And you, I believe, have nailed it.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:38 am

Mark,
I agree in principle with everything you said. There is just one point I would
like to add. There are no perfect monks..nor indeed perfect Laymen. Never
have been or will be. It`s easy to generalize in picking out the faults of one
group or the other and then saying the whole group is completely faulty.
Just a short step to the `us and them`. There is in truth No them...that is
pure duality. Christ had a good saying..."Hate the sin, not the sinner".
Not ALL monks have a "cold and slippery cheesy".

Howard,
Good to see that you`re fine and well. In top form it seems ! I can see from
your reply that you were`nt going to bite.
I liked your `dutch oven` analogy. liked it a lot Lol. It reminds me of the
multitudinous Buddhistic myths that abound. No mind, Ego death, the Now,
Transcendental states etc. It`s all living in the `dutch oven`.
I`m going to put that one in my little black book. right before the Emptiness
Enema. love it.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:32 pm

Stan, I thoroughliy agree with everything you said. However the point at which you can justifiably start to criticise an organisation rather than just an individual or individuals within it is a rather grey area. My own view is that the line has been crossed under two sets of circumstances in particular. Firstly if the leadership is known, or seriously reported or suspected to have transgressed or gone astray and is not held to account by the other members then there is a clear case to say that there are institutional failings and the organisation as well as the individuals are open to criticism. The other case is where an individual or individuals transgress or go astray and the organisation denies this, covers it up, or deals with it inadequately, especially if this is habitual. Portions of the Catholic Church are clear examples of this.
It becomes a bit problematic when arguing that the organisation or members should have known what was happening, but if they appear to have been turning a blind eye I think that the case becomes clear again. Again it is also more problematic when an individuals failings appear to be an outcome of, or exacerbated by, the very nature of the institution itself, i.e. the instutution itself is 'misconstructed' as I think some have argued was true in the Eko case.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:25 am

In the Shobogenzo, the chapter on SHUKKE, Leaving Home Life Behind, Dogen quotes from the 13th section of Nagarajuna's commentary on the Scripture of Great Wisdom. "The breaking of Precepts by one who has left home life behind is far better than the keeping of Precepts by one who has remained in home life, because others do not rid themselves of their delusions and spiritual suffering due to a lay person's keeping of the Precepts." Since this commentary seems to be a clear demonstration of the superiority of the monastic way it must surely exert a lot of influence on how all of the above is being dealt with
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:54 pm

breljo wrote:
In the Shobogenzo, the chapter on SHUKKE, Leaving Home Life Behind, Dogen quotes from the 13th section of Nagarajuna's commentary on the Scripture of Great Wisdom. "The breaking of Precepts by one who has left home life behind is far better than the keeping of Precepts by one who has remained in home life, because others do not rid themselves of their delusions and spiritual suffering due to a lay person's keeping of the Precepts."

Misbehaving monks will rationalize the harm they do with those words. And perhaps it will convince some who rely on "who" says something to look away while harm continues.The Catholic hierarchy who covered up and allowed continuation of pedophilia would be in complete agreement with Nagarajuna on this.

A rational person, not obsequious to authority, will readily see that the mal-influence and harm of misbehavior by those in leadership is
amplified by virtue of their position with presumed "holy" status.

A Buddhist monk who invoked his "30-year experience/training" as "authority" sometimes had considerable difficulty just behaving well -- the normal human kindness stuff -- reasonable equanimity when confronted with minor annoyances, etc. My private unvoiced internal observation was: "If this is what 30 years of practice brings, I'd best quit now. I'm doing much better on my own with almost no practice. I don't want to degenerate to that."

If you look at Buddhist basics, like the Eightfold Path, behavior IS enlightenment. It is lack of insight and delusion that keeps us misbehaving, breaking the precepts, being ugly human beings, etc.

If that's what N. said, or the Shobogenzo says, then without any compunction at all I simply disagree with it. I won't spend a minute's worth of meditation or reflection trying to rationalize that it is some deep truth, rather than the simple self-serving rationalization of priestly misbehavior it is.

breljo wrote:

Since
this commentary seems to be a clear demonstration of the superiority of
the monastic way it must surely exert a lot of influence on how all of
the above is being dealt with

I assume this is a bit or irony or sarcasm, but without tone of voice or other non-verbal cues, it's hard to tell.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:11 pm

Actually Jack, no irony or sarcasm intended, but unless I understand this all totally wrong, it seems to me that what Nagarajuna was trying to convey is that because of the anonymity of the lay practitioner, no matter how virtuous and saintly they may be, most often goes unnoticed, unobserved, whereas the much more official public act of becoming a monk, donning the robe, going out to teach, may become an inspiration and incentive for more people to look into the "Great Matter". Although it is true what you say that when such a one goes off the rails, acts in an unethical manner it also becomes magnified in a very public way, causing loss of hope, faith in those they have come to trust, and that this must be dealt with by those in charge in a serious manner, yet the many grey areas of human interaction may often interfere with all this. It is my belief that sooner or later all of us will in any case eventually come to learn the lessons we need according to whatever our karmic inheritance may be.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:36 am

breljoThanks for the clarification. It's a different (but interesting) take than what came to my mind.

Like you, I'm a bit of an optimist -- at least on Fridays. Mankind will eventually find its way, though it seems unlikely at times, and though the future path seems to include so much unnecessary, avoidable misery for living beings.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:56 pm

Hi again, Jack

One day out of the week of being an optimist is better then none. I would appreciate if you could explain your understanding of all this, I may have to go back and reread the whole thing. Thanks
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:20 pm

Jacks quote.

Like you, I'm a bit of an optimist -- at least on Fridays. Mankind will eventually find its way, though it seems unlikely at times, and though the future path seems to include so much unnecessary, avoidable misery for living beings.

Depression alert!!

Jack! What way do you expect mankind to find?

Hhhmmmm. Have you ever read of a time when folks were not saying some version of that tired old homily. What you find as hopeful, to me, just sounds like an ego on autopilot about the denial of it's own insignificance.

Mankind seems to more accurately illustrate itself as a vehicle of endless blossoming Karmic inertia. Individuals can certainly choose their path but every example of good seems well matched by examples of it's opposite. Eons, as the traditional answer seem like pat excuses for subjects to difficult to accept.

Yes,Yes, this runs counter to some fundamental Buddhist expressions of the laws of existence but I certainly see no evidence of it's truth. So far, this law just seems like a Buddhist morsel created to convince a typically fearful ego that the identity diet that Buddhism offers, won't be so bad for it.

I think it's only our ego that balks at the concept that there is no real place for mankind to find because that answer really points out the illusory nature of it's own construction..

Mankind (and our identity with it) is really only a cyclical karmic ride where endless forms find expression in stepping on & off it.

Mankind will never find it's way (my favourite oxymoron) because the ugly truth is, ya can't find what you never lost.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:54 pm

I fear I cannot be as sanguine as Jack about the future path of mankind. Over 99.9% of the species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct. I fear that the cry, whether explicitly or implicitly made, of "This time its different" has the hollow ring that it had when it was uttered in the over 200 financial bubbles and and subsequent crashes studied by Rienhart and Rogoff in their excelent book of the same name.

The dinosaurs were dominant worldwide for 13 million years, we've been dominant worldwide for what 100 thousand years. And probably totally dominant more like 20 thousand. In that time we have managed to almost completely reshape the planet, and according to some authorities (like James Lovelock) have gone beyond the point of no return as far as climate change is concerned. And we can stay around for another 134 million years and outlast the dinosaurs?

Breljo's comments and references to Nagarjuna's Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra and the subsequent discussion are fascinating and I find I have a lot I would like to say (... now there's a surprise!!). I don't have time at the moment but expect a longer piece soon.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:12 am

Howard...O holder of the `cheesy`....

"Mankind will never find it's way (my favourite oxymoron) because the ugly truth is, ya can`t find what you never lost."



Holy macaroni ! That means that you can`t be other than what you are !
If you can`t be other than what you are, what`s the point of seeking ?
To be a seeker, you would need to see yourself as needy and incomplete, and
this is called Ignorance. Ignorance of our true nature.Our nature is something
we can`t lose. It can only be re discovered by the removal of Ignorance through discriminating our true nature from false,and unexamined notions.

What is `Mankind` anyway...ever seen a mankind ? If we think we are bodies
with Awareness, then there may be a mankind. One that will die out with the
death of the planet anyway...why worry ? or are we rather Awareness with a
body ? If this were the case, then everything is just an Object to Awareness.
We would be free of all objects including ourselves and would not be needy
and incomplete. So long as we are not confused about our true identity at all
times. This is possible as knowledge/understanding, is not memory based.
Some words from the Buddha....

'Subhuti, what do you think? You should not say the Tathagata has this thought (in His mind): "I should liberate living beings." Subhuti, you should not think so. Why? Because there are really no living beings whom the Tathagata can liberate. If there were, the Tathagata would hold (the concept of) an ego, a personality, a being and a life. Subhuti, (when) the Tathagata speaks of an ego, there is in reality no ego, although common men think so. Subhuti, the Tathagata says common men are not, but are (expediently) called, common men.
So,.No common men, No Mankind apart from a mental formation in Awareness.
It seems otherwise for sure but, existence is not the same as Reality. Reality
is that which never changes.....Awareness.

So, I agree entirely with you Howard. Mankind "will never find it`s way".
What`s it got to do with who or what we really are ?

by the way, I like that `oxymoron` word...reminds me of the ox herding pics.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:15 am

Ah! Stan but in that case can you tell who is the ox and who the moron? Mmm... maybe that explains my problems.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:18 am

Hmmm. I'm an optimist, at most, 14% of the time, and I'm a flaming Pollyanna or Lebniz (See Voltaire's Candide)? (verbal clue -- a shrug)

I'm not a pessimist nor an optimist, actually. I'm an "I don't know, at least for sure." As James Ford put it in his recent Huffington Post essay, it's "I don't know all the way down."

One of the ego's most persistent characteristics is claiming to "know" things it does not, and, in fact, cannot. Pessimism and optimism are both claims that we "know" how things are going to turn out. And we don't know.

I was raised on the edge of apocalyptic evangelical fear about the end of the world, world domination of Catholicism or Communism, the Anti-Christ, etc. The world was a fearful place that was clearly doomed -- it was only a matter of when -- and that time seemed terribly close. There were signs everywhere of impending cataclysm.

I chose not to follow that fear or pessimism.

When it comes to predicting mankind's future, both science and religion have both been utterly certain, and certainly wrong. We as human beings are much more adaptable and unpredictable than science or religion can map.

Unwarranted certainty can get us into trouble, just as much as willful ignorance of possible consequences. Paul Erlich in the 70's was sure we'd be shivering in global freezing due to impending runaway pollution. Von Neumann emphatically urged Truman and Eisenhower to initiate a first-strike nuclear attack against Russian when its nuclear arsenal was small, because all out nuclear war was "inevitable," and game theory demonstrated the overwhelming merit of the attack. We muddled through MAD. We have global warming rather than global freezing.

Our conceptual models are very important for considering and analyzing potential outcomes, but they are fundamentally incapable of predicting actual ones. Probably the best book I've read recently which explores this (well- thought out, but perhaps too optimistic for me) is David Deutch's The Beginning of Infinity.

Even the Buddha wasn't a pessimist. Mankind had a way out of his predicament. But it wasn't easy, nor pain free, nor without more suffering. There was no claim about when.

I've got to stop to visit a friend in a nursing home. She will die sometime. But until she does, I urge her to live each day for what it is without trying to guess and worry about which day it will be.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:00 pm

Thank you Stan, for reminding me of
the less famous 10 oxymoron pictures.

These are not stories of pessimism, just the equinimity to best direct one's next step, unfettered by tribal allegiances , expectations or hope.

Perhaps that takes some unrestrained lovin of ones (not so ) inner Moron and Ox tail stew..
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:05 pm

Mark,

Not a very nice word really....`moron`. However, I`d have to say that the
one who thinks he`s a `doer`, is the so called moron. Doesn`t know that
he`s really just the observer of the doer and nothing more.
Fortunately in picture Nr 9, there is no ox nor herder. Both are returned to the
Source. The ox and herder were a story all along.
Separating the watcher from the doer brings home the bacon in the end.

Howard,

Yep, we`ve got to love that inner moron....warts and all. If "ya can`t find what
you never lost", then that moron must be perfect just as he is. Trying to be
more perfect is a major source of suffering..or stew.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:13 pm

The optimism - pessimism question is intriguing. I seem to remember reading in the positive psychology literature that studies showed that optimists are happier and live longer, but that pessimists are more often right!
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:17 pm

Lise, I have just listened to the talk, and my hearing of the talk seems similar to yours.

Monastic relationships are less "sticky" than monastic ones she says. Oh dear, unfortunate turn of phrase when consider how "sticky" her former boss Eko was in relationship. Do I smell the "stickyness" of Freudian-slip denial here? I would love to ask Meian's subconcious....hey tho,aren't we all rather sticky tho? I know I am. Ah, david, your listening to yourself, what a relief, thank you.

Is it just me that finds Meian's voice insincere?

Something she said that BUGS me is that practice is about trying to not be "sticky"or "clingy" in our relationships, to turn towards being good rather than being bad. For me this is antiquated Freudian thinking that the case of Marylin Munroe blew out of the water. no wonder poor Eko had to masterbate on the phone! (I still wonder how this was found out by others!!!!)

Here's the thing, you cannot go round your subconcious to enlightenment. you cannot turn your back on children inside to find out how to be loving.

Trying to not to be the "bad", the "stickiness", the "needy" is throwing away any chance of hearing what these parts of us are trying to say. What if these "parts" of us are children trying to tell their story, needing to be listened to, to be loved...

And after all, Love is listening, isn't it. And wisdom is understanding that the child's story will come out a bit jumbled, a bit "bad", a bit "sticky" to start with.

Monks are rather awful examples of spirituality at the moment in my view. A little more humility and honesty, and showing even a little bit more understanding of "clinging" than the old Freudian view of self would be a good place to start.

Talk all the spiritual mumbojumbo you like, beginners compassion class is learning to listen to the children inside ourselves.

So lets stop the pretence and the bull***t and start doing love for real.

am i getting through yet? Am I? Is there anybody else out there who's done beginners compassion class? I'd love to compare stickiness, clinginess and messes....
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:02 am

mstrathern wrote:
The optimism - pessimism question is intriguing. I seem to remember reading in the positive psychology literature that studies showed that optimists are happier and live longer, but that pessimists are more often right!

Viktor Frankl in his book In Search of Meaning said that both pessimists and optimists were likely to commit suicide in the concentration camps. The optimists died from crushing disappointment. The pessimists drowned in their self initiated despair.

A mantra of Zen and other sources is "Give up expectations." There is real world practical wisdom in that.

It's not so much that we can't predict some things reliably; when we throw a rock skyward, it will always return to the ground. We are neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the outcome. Our experience is a reliable indicator of outcomes.

In most of the important aspects of our life, things are not reliably predictable. But we want them to be. So we make shrewd guesses and then look to outcomes to confirm them. The difficulty is that our mind is not a disinterested observer, but both the creator and interpreter of the outcome. Most of us are entirely clueless about the fact that our mind creates a counterfeit reality which we then accept as authentic currency.This is the stuff of "positive thinking," affirmations, etc.

The real world impact of pessimism is that it is debilitating. Pessimists mostly don't even try or make an effort to remedy a situation because they are sure the outcomes are hopeless. And, sure enough, without effort they are.

The optimists at least try. But unless they are vulnerable to being crushed by disappointment. And they tend to gloss over difficulties that could and should be addressed before they begin their venture.

There is a middle ground which is neither hopeless nor hopeful. It is "right effort" if you want to use Buddhist phraseology. It recognizes noble effort for what it is, for having intrinsic value despite the outcome which cannot be reliably predicted. It is not crushed by disappointment, because it didn't know if the effort would succeed in the first place. And it doesn't wallow in inert passivity because it didn't want to risk failure, or because it presumed the future it imagined was a real one.

I've found this middle ground to be the key to my own practice. I do make a serious effort to deal with injustices, etc. But I don't have any illusion that if there is success, it will occur in the manner I've imagined. And it may fail; and mankind may perish from the earth after destroying it. But the effort to remedy it will still have been a noble effort and and aspiration consistent with the highest potential of existence as a human being. To me that the crux of the Four Noble Truths. They are an ennobling response to existence rather than an animalistic one.

I like this quote from Robert Kennedy. It's in approximate agreement with what I've tried to say.

Quote :
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

I don't know when the ripples of noble effort will converge, nor do I have a guarantee that they will. But they might, and if so, I will have lived a richer life than one destroyed with morbid pessimism and passivity.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:47 pm

The question for me of pessimism and optimism isn't so much about experiencing one or the other but is about the questionable worth of having the intent to be one or the other.. .

From the formal and active meditative perspective, pessimism & optimism are just more phenomena to not fiddle around with.

Each of us maintain an identity bubble to separate us from life's chaos. Preconceived and projected behavioural traits (such as pessimism & optimism) are the common bubble building materials of a worldly mind.
A spiritual mind however is not measured by the shape or size or decorations of the bubble, but by our efforts of allowing that bubble to fall away.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:51 pm

Hit the nail on the head again Howard (or was it the cheesy?)
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:55 am

Howard wrote:

Each of us maintain an identity bubble to separate us from life's chaos. Preconceived and projected behavioural traits (such as pessimism & optimism) are the common bubble building materials of a worldly mind.
A spiritual mind however is not measured by the shape or size or decorations of the bubble, but by our efforts of allowing that bubble to fall away.

I do not differentiate between a "wordly" mind and a "spiritual" one. Mind is both and not either. It just is. (How's that for a frothy head of Zen bubble-speak?)

The point I was attempting to make was different. Pessimism and optimism are more than feelings that bubble and dissipate, or even behavioral habits. They are a fundamental error about the certainty of anything -- including.anything Zen speak comes up with.

To quote Lao Tzu:

Quote :
To know that you do not know is the best. To pretend to know what you do not know is a disease.


Both pessimists and optimists are prophesying a future that is unpredictable, and pretending (via self-delusion or sometimes via "faith" -- perhaps even Buddhist "faith") they know. Perhaps it is more comfortable to pretend than to accept the discomfort of uncertainty

.
The disease of optimistic/pessimistic prophecy is a real world problem of religion, science, economics, politics and our search for meaning and happiness. (This thought is better sourced in the writings of scientists, economists, and psychologists than in religion or philosophy.)
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:10 am









Jacks quote
I do not differentiate between a "worldly" mind and a "spiritual" one. Mind is both and not either. It just is. (How's that for a frothy head of Zen bubble-speak?)

I was optimistic that our differences were just semantics until you said that pessimistic "It just is" thing.

Despite both of us slamming pessimism & optimism, this detour off the sticky abbot talk only arose when someone claimed to be this threads optimist and that mankind will probably eventually find it's way.

Anyway, until this diversion returns us to stickier origins..

I think differentiating between "worldly" mind and a "spiritual "one, is no different than discerning a "self oriented intent" from a "selfless one".


Just another jaunt through a moment of contemplation but without such discernment, can the 4NT & 8 FP really become either a personal understanding or even something beyond a theoretical teaching??
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey Dharma Talk of 10 March - questions for Meian Elbert   Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:48 am

Howard,

Though it may seem otherwise in the middle of occasional word jousting, I do appreciate the difference of perspective, and respect that your views are anchored in meditative practice and experience. I often gain another useful viewpoint to consider.

My own words about pessimism and optimism reflect my own experience. I've encountered many, including Buddhists, who wring their hands and prophesy disaster because of some issue that makes them anxious. And I've never argued successfully with a depressive who is utterly convinced the future can only be bleaker misery -- despite any evidence to the contrary that indicates the prognosis is flawed. The salient feature of both categories seems to be at least semi-delusional certainty that is unsupported by both fact and history.

Will mankind find his way? I don't know. I don't see any rational basis at the moment to answer that question in a rational way. We have muddled through somehow for the last 10,000 years or so. And though technology always promises to rescue us, we seem to also always find a means to use it for our collective hurt and misery. My guess is that we'll just keep muddling, and that we'll continue as a species for a while -- certainly well beyond my lifetime. If we survive as a species, we will have to modify our cultures and behaviors so they are less destructive -- a sort of finding our way because of necessity -- a condition of survival..

But I don't know. And I'm unconvinced that anyone else does either. And for me, it would be almost criminal negligence to "do nothing" to wholesomely influence the outcome because I was falsely sure we were inevitably doomed.
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