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 from the Guardian - using meditation to kill

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: from the Guardian - using meditation to kill    Fri Jul 05, 2013 11:30 pm

Tuesday 22 May 2012 - from the Guardian UK
Anders Behring Breivik used meditation to kill – he's not the first


The Norwegian mass murderer meditated to numb his emotions. The effect of any practice depends on our values
    Vishvapani Blomfield
 
Meditation makes you calmer and clearer and encourages empathy and kindness … right? Not if you are Anders Behring Breivik who has told psychiatrists that he used meditation to "numb the full spectrum of human emotion – happiness to sorrow, despair, hopelessness, and fear". He still practises it behind bars to deaden the impact of his actions.

Breivik uses meditation as a form of mind control – a way to focus the mind and exclude responses that get in his way. You could argue that he is meditating wrongly, but I think his testimony shows that the effect of any practice, meditation included, depends on the ends to which it is recruited. Breivik's aims were determined by his racist beliefs and meditation didn't challenge them.

We've been here before. Breivik likened himself to a Japanese banzai warrior seeking satori – Japanese Zen enlightenment – to harden his heart. Samurai, inspired by Zen teachings, often used meditation to develop their skills and overcome fear of death. Zen's long association with the samurai bushido ethos culminated, after the Meiji restoration of 1868, in the support of virtually the whole Zen establishment for the military expansion that culminated in the second world war. Japanese Buddhists rejoiced that the Pearl Harbor attacks had occurred on 8 December, the day when they mark the Buddha's enlightenment; and leaders insisted that fighting was a patriotic and a Buddhist duty.

Established religions commonly support a nation's war effort, but the Zen enthusiasm for Japanese militarism strayed so far from the Buddha's nonviolent teachings that it raises more fundamental questions. After the war a group of Japanese Zen scholar-priests (the Critical Buddhism school) investigated how their branch of a seemingly pacifist tradition had ended up affirming war. They concluded that Zen's reinterpretations of early Buddhism had obscured its fundamental tenets.

The first Buddhist precept is not killing living beings. As the Buddha says: "All men tremble at punishment, all men fear death; remembering that you are like them, do not kill" (Dhammapada 119). But Mahayana Buddhism, from which Zen evolved, teaches that all phenomena are mysterious and ungraspable – empty of any fixed essence. So what should we relate to everyday reality in which, the Buddha stressed, actions have consequences and ethical considerations apply? The various Mahayana schools have different answers, but Zen teaches that the ultimate perspective should inform everything.

That elevates a non-dual state of mind over ethical distinctions. The 17th-century master Takuan told his samurai students: "The uplifted sword has no will of its own, it is all of emptiness. The man who is about to be struck down is also of emptiness, and so is the one who wields the sword." Later, the self-sacrifice of kamikaze pilots was hailed as an expression of enlightenment.

Westerners learned of Zen's tarnished history through Brian Victoria's Zen at War (1997), but few western Zen practitioners have seriously re-evaluated their tradition. Many like Zen's anti-intellectualism, feeling that doctrines and ethical precepts smack of rigidity, dogma and rules. But the Buddha made right understanding the first item in his eightfold path because he knew that everyone is guided by a worldview and underlying beliefs. His teachings seek to reshape those views so they eliminate attachment and support liberation. Ultimately, that includes attachment to doctrines, but discarding them too soon means that pre-existing beliefs and prevailing opinion go unchallenged.

Zen's non-dual philosophy obscured Buddhism's ethical teachings; Breivik used meditation to serve the murderous objectives of his racist ideology. Meditation, or any other practice, is just a technique. Its effects, for good or ill, depend on the system of values that guide how a person uses it.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: from the Guardian - using meditation to kill    Sat Jul 06, 2013 12:36 pm

This meditation is a bit difficult and the heart sutra has no real meaning, so my next step is to drop my meditation practice as it leads nowhere, all my intention,even attentions, all my motives and views, aspirations and hopes.dreams plans, understanding, thoughts, pretentions of who I am,manipulations of my self and others especially my stupid view of how meditation can actually help me.It is an unusually nice warm day I think I'll give it all up  sit in my garden
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: from the Guardian - using meditation to kill    Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:12 am

Just another sensationalist heading to pad a slooow news day  
 
Anders Behring Breivik used meditation to kill – he's not the first

 
Meditation seems like a description today for how one deliberately effects one's mentality, whereas Zen meditation is really about how not to effect that mentality.
A practise that allows you to empathize with everything might be called Zen.
A practise which fosters a lack of empathy for others is the antithesis of Zen.
 
This is not to say there are not yogic practises within some other Buddhist schools that also share some horrific history and that actually do resemble Anders Breivik's practises of concentration control, but they were never mentioned in this story.
Josh would be the best one to address this though.
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PostSubject: Re: from the Guardian - using meditation to kill    Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:13 pm

Howard wrote:

A practise that allows you to empathize with everything might be called Zen.

 I would like for this statement to the Zen I've most often encountered, because I am strongly in agreement with that end as a wholesome fruit of practice. But I've found few Zen teachers who taught that and even fewer Zen followers who wanted that out of the Zen experience.  Most I've encountered have been looking for an enlightenment experience of some sort.

The ability to focus/concentrate one's attention and to act independently of feeling and the normal circus of thoughts crowding the mind is a common result of practicing meditation. Within Buddhism, one's acts are supposed to be constrained by the precepts or Eightfold Path. Without those constraints, a focused mind will improve a golf game or enhance the accuracy of a killer's striking dagger with equal efficacy.

There is a presumption that meditation will always lead to wholesome equanimity, peace, and tranquility. I'm not sure why that presumption is so strong, since it does not seem to have any significant basis in either fact or fundamental Buddhist teaching.

For me, the meditation has only been one part the Buddhist milieu that has had a wholesome influence. Among other things, deliberate effort to see things honestly as they are, but yet with compassion, has probably had as big an effect as meditation itself. Meditation in that context is more a complementary, rather than solo, practice.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: from the Guardian - using meditation to kill    Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:54 pm

I thought I would share the daily news UK today

Members of the General Synod unanimously back an apology for past child abuse after a series of cases involving senior clergy.

I would also like to point you in the direction of my new blog

Money Power and Kensho,

where my many supporters and I are trying to get organised religions and politics banned, on the basis that they seem to harm people
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: from the Guardian - using meditation to kill    Sun Jul 07, 2013 6:40 pm

Hey Jack
 I've found few Zen teachers who taught that and even fewer Zen followers who wanted that out of the Zen experience.  Most I've encountered have been looking for an enlightenment experience of some sort.
 
Agreed, but that doesn't make what they teach or what the followers are looking for,  Zen.

The ability to focus/concentrate one's attention and to act independently of feeling and the normal circus of
thoughts crowding the mind is a common result of practising meditation. Within Buddhism, one's acts are supposed to be constrained by the precepts or Eightfold Path. Without those constraints, a focused mind will improve a golf game or enhance the accuracy of a killer's striking dagger with equal efficacy.
 
Focus/ concentration and meditation are two separate phenomena in Zen. The former develops the ability to direct the mind while the latter is the letting go of our habitual intentions to play with our sense gate input. He may have been misusing a concentration exercise to hone a psychotic intent but I think that to actually enter into  Zen meditation would have been counter productive to his stated intent.
 and...
That which makes the  8 FP, Buddhist, is the "right or correct" that precedes each spoke. Without that, it's not even Buddhist.
 
There is a presumption that meditation will always lead to wholesome equanimity, peace, and tranquillity. I'm not sure why that presumption is so strong, since it does not seem to have any significant basis in either fact or fundamental Buddhist teaching.

While equanimity, peace and tranquillity maybe the natural fruit of Zen Meditation, striving for such states within meditation is a neurosis which will prevent such fruition. I do not think that presumption is at fault so much as the obstructing attachments to attaining such states. Zen meditation is simply one path towards the cessation of suffering (equanimity, peace & tranquillity) but the real question is whether the practitioner of Zen meditation is fiddling with any of their skandhas, or not.   
Buddhist teachings don't get anymore fundamental than that..
 
For me, the meditation has only been one part the Buddhist milieu that has had a wholesome influence. Among other things, deliberate effort to see things honestly as they are, but yet with compassion, has probably had as big an effect as meditation itself. Meditation in that context is more a complementary, rather than solo, practise.
 
We all have our own spiritual shoes to fill but I've found that all the potential fruits of a Buddhist meditation practise simply unfold according to the degree I am able to get myself out of their way just as they correspondingly fade according to the degree that I pander after habitual self construction.
Because of this I don't experience meditation as complementary or in anyway separate from compassion, love, empathy, sympathy and tenderness but is instead their actual manifestation.  Benevolence, however rarely visits but I suspect the frugality of my Scottish heritage might be partially responsible for that one.
Any tips there would be appreciated..
especially if they include instructions for getting my computer to keep a uniform font.
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