Sunday, May 30, 2010

"...but in this, that I had to deal with a being to whom I could not appeal in the name of anything high or low. ... There was nothing either above or below him, and I knew it. He had kicked himself loose of the earth. Confound the man! he had kicked the very earth to pieces." Marlow, describing Kurtz, in a passage near the end of the Heart of Darkness.

Will the true Buddhist path lead to such freedom on earth? Will the true Buddhist be free of constraints, guided by only his realizations?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Reading (again) “The Snow Leopard.”

Peter Matthiessen writes some beautiful passages about observing his son’s natural ease in the universe. His son is happy, carefree and without self-consciousness. To quote:

“The child was not observing; he was at rest in the very center of the universe, a part of things, unaware of endings and beginnings, still in unison with the primordial nature of creation …

As adults, I’m sure most of us have these fleeting moments of peace and clarity. But, these phantoms only occasionally penetrate through to our consciousness - as we grow, we necessarily put on what Matthiessen calls the “armor of ‘the I.’” We become individuals and inevitably lose this natural connection to the unified nature of things.

But why must this be lost? Well, it is quite simple isn’t it? We must separate ourselves from others, view the world as an arena of competition, because otherwise we would perish. We are bound to our earthly bodies, and these bodies suffer without food and shelter. By physical need, we must be hunters, gatherers and predators, protecting our subsistence against all others. And so, the ability to feel unified with all beings is lost. Our physical needs as human beings pull us away from our spiritual destiny.

Perhaps only in some utopian garden, where all our physical needs are provided for, and all competition banished, would it be possible to slowly regain access to the child’s perception of the universe.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I think my first knowledge of Basho came from "Caddyshack." Chevy Case, strolling around the putting green, quips: "'A flute with no holes, is not a flute. And a donut with no hole, is a Danish.' Funny guy."

But here is the real thing:

"In the cicada's cry,
No sign can foretell
How soon it must die."

Ah, the present moment.

Friday, May 12, 2006

You probably thought I would never post again!

Here is something to chew on:

"The Mind is like a painter who is able to paint all things, and the mind is like a slave who is ordered about and controlled by suffering and trouble. The mind is like a king who is able to do whatever he wants, and the mind is like a stupid thief who brings ruination onto himself."

It is entirely up to us, my friends, or, more precisely, to our minds. It is capable of all things. If there is a God, then this God is just an observer.

Friday, November 18, 2005

A thought-provoking review of the latest Thich Nhat Hanh book:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Now I think I speak for many of you buddhists out there when I say that we are in part attracted to the Buddhist philosphy because we don't have to ignore the discoveries of science when embracing its worldview. This review (from the NY Times Book Review) of the latest Dalai Lama work, "The Universe in a Single Atom," says a bit more about this:

"But this book offers something wiser: a compassionate and clearheaded account by a religious leader who not only respects science but, for the most part, embraces it. 'If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims,' he writes. No one who wants to understand the world 'can ignore the basic insights of theories as key as evolution, relativity and quantum mechanics.'

"That is an extraordinary concession compared with the Christian apologias that dominate conferences devoted to reconciling science and religion. The 'dialogues' implicitly begin with nonnegotiables - 'Given that Jesus died on the cross and was bodily resurrected into heaven ..' - then seek scientific justification for what is already assumed to be true."

But not so fast:

"But when it comes to questions about life and its origins, this would-be man of science begins to waiver. Though he professes to accept evolutionary theory, he recoils at one of its most basic tenets: that the mutations that provide the raw material for natural selection occur at random. Look deeply enough, he suggests, and the randomness will turn out to be complexity in disguise - 'hidden casuality,' -the Buddha's smile. There you have it, Eastern Religion's version of intelligent design."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

From a review of "The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus" in the local paper:

"The Gnostic gospels are sayings attributed to Jesus that are very different from those of the Jesus of the four Gospels in the Christian New Testament. ...
The Gnostic Jesus imparts knowledge so we might be enlightened. In these texts, Jesus imparts wisdom that is supposed to save us from ignorance. Ignorance of self is the real problem. The Gnostic Jesus teaches us that we have the divine within ourselves. We must learn to know ourselves, and this knowledge enlightens and saves us."

Intriguing to think of how Western development might have differed had the Gnostics not been so effectively suppressed. It would be heartening to see Gnostic philosophy gain some wider following; perhaps Christians could then become Buddhists without even knowing it!
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