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Monday, July 17, 2017

Unscholarly Buddha's Four Noble Truths

Great spiritual masters like Buddha or Christ didn't write a prescription for elite scholars and bourgeois  Yet millions of pages fill interpretation of their work through the centuries. Followers struggle to understand and follow the paths pointed by the Buddha. Perhaps a better way to follow him is to use your heart and place yourself in his heart. Something happens when you do.

Become a privileged young man with all pleasures of a principality, castles and servants. Or become a privileged child today with no financial worries, a good job, seemingly good life. Then cast your heart onto billions who suffer. Do you feel their pain? That's the feeling that caused Buddha to abandon it all, like doctor without borders or volunteer workers in war torn parts of world even today. Just like you, Buddha searched for an explanation of why all this suffering in a world that is apparently protected by an almighty benevolent kind God. He followed priests and gurus, did penance, chanted hymns, performed yoga and rituals. Found no answer. Only when he gave up the prescribed contemporary methods and sat under the bodhi tree in resignation that truth dawned on him. This he summarised as four noble truths, not a Sanskrit or pali dissertation for a Ph.D in Asian and Buddhist studies but a compassionate sharing with rest of humanity as his suffering ended.

He didn't use big words to describe his findings. He told,
  1. The truth of suffering (dukkha)
  1. The truth of the cause of suffering (samudaya)
  1. The truth of the end of suffering (nirhodha)
  1. The truth of the path that frees us from suffering (magga)

These pali words are still in use where Buddha was born. They are simple words. All he meant by them is that indeed there is a cause of suffering that can be ended by following some simple techniques. 

All hell broke lose after, as gurus and priests then and now preach arduous and complex path to liberation, some suggesting an impossibility, only death can free you. So the wise ones, perhaps the same scholars who were writing texts for the priests and gurus got busy and wrote long elaborate Buddhism practices.

Just take the simpleton approach like Buddha. Be compassionate not scholarly. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

If You're Unhappy Clap Your Hands

I tweeted a while ago that if you're unhappy, you are making a mistake. Actually you are making two mistakes.

First is you are identifying a suffering emotion as being unhappy. Your mind is creating this feeling of unhappiness to protect you from further harm. Remember the prime objective of your brain and mind is to keep you happy, healthy, safe and at peace. Unfortunately it often acts without deep wisdom and makes mistakes. So these mistakes cause another suffering and then it acts again. This is life. And this is why Buddha said life is suffering.

Second, there is no one to be unhappy.

So, he prescribed something to end suffering. Mindfulness meditation to gain wisdom. A natural outcome of ultimate wisdom is compassion. Compassion for all and hence a wish to make everyone happy, safe, healthy and at peace. Without this, we are all unfulfilled.

So, anger is mind's way of releasing the body's frustration from being unable to achieve its perceived contentment. Sadness associated with a broken heart is mind's way of dealing with unfulfilled desires. Fear is false evidence appearing real as Hedderman says. Mind's action to prepare for a potential threat.

All of this is mind acting according to its plan to make you happy. It will keep making these mistakes until you eliminate its ignorance by gaining wisdom.

But this is still acting in the realm of the body. Brain, a body part acting to protect the rest of the body. An endless loop until full enlightenment or buddhahood.

What is enlightenment? A recognition that there is no one to be enlightened!

No one to be enlightened means no one to suffer or be unhappy.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Why do anything?

Sometimes in the midst of chaos and anxiety and activity and wellness programs and satsangs and sadhanaa, a question like this has to pop up. The mind wants to know why are we doing anything at all. Gita does have an answer. When Arjuna asked Krishna about inaction and action. Krishna replied that there is really no such thing as inaction. Sure, it may seem like you have solved your immediate problem of facing adversity and unpleasantness by withdrawing from the battlefield or picking up a good book and vegging out on the couch but that too is an action. Whatever it is that you are avoiding by ignoring never eally goes away.

 Like Buddha said, even if one person is unhappy in the world, that  will someday come to you or your progeny or what you call home. He went on to instruct his bhikkus that you must act to bring about enlightenment and happiness by ending suffering for all not just yourself. One enlightened being is a very temporary affair and no enlightenment at all.

You may go on further and ask but why even do that i.e. why seek end of suffering. Think deeply on this, even when you avoid trying to end suffering, you are actually trying to end suffering. Acting to end suffering is not an option, you are doing it even when you are not.

But "why do anything" is even a deeper question once you truly realise that you are not the body. Krishna taught another gita called the Uddhava Gita which is the next step, once you have transcended the mind and body. For then, there is truly nothing to do as all actions are in this realm of what Buddha called the conventional reality. However if you delude yourself into thinking that you have transcended the body mind, inaction will be premature and bring suffering. That is not nirvana.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Gems from Culadassa


Paraphrasing Culadassa(at 1:31 to the end. you tube clip}, Insanity is whenever you do not accept or rather reject what is at the present moment.Definition of insanity is to resist what is.

This summarises Gita's teaching on Karma very well. Your action at any moment is based on your mindfulness principles now. You have a vision now what is the right choice. When the future arrives you must accept what is. Any time you resist what is, you will gain insanity.

Doesn't mean you don't do the absolute best every moment what you think has to be done without resentment without prejudgment. We are born every moment. Live in that space.Outcome is what outcome was, you are just noticing it now.

Suffering and Empathy

Suffering is essential for awakening otherwise it is simply a theoretical or hypothetical exercise. How else could a Buddhist know what compassion is? Be mindful of compassion done to you, that is the best teacher and will linger in your mind longer than any theory or preaching.

Nirvana and Samsara

They are the same thing. Nirvana is to accept samsara completely, a radical acceptance. Yogi in a cave is waiting for completion of his knowing. Body and speech is in the market place but the mind of the Buddha is in nirvana.

Loving Kindness

Your ability to rejoice in other's happiness loosens the knots of craving and suffering.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Are you the body?

The first and toughest block on the path to liberation is the body. From the moment of birth, everything in the body is designed to establish itself as a separate, successful and protected unit. This is of course a throwback from the days as hunter gatherer when we neded protection against predators. Animals are gone but the threat is still encoded. We act 24/7 as the body with a name, owner of stuff, related to other bodies with a vague feeling that there is more.

Is there any direct evidence to support that you are the body? First, is there such a thing as a body? Well, there is flesh, there are bones, there is blood, there are limbs, there are glands, all conceptualized into a label called the body. Even the components are labels attached to cells, tissues and further down into molecules and atoms and so on.

There is another organ called the brain which receives inputs from five senses in form of electrical signals translating into images of vision, taste, smell etc. What makes the taste your taste and your palet? Look carefully and you will find just a signal and an idea rushing into calling it your taste. Stub your toe and first there is a signal which quickly become my hurt toe. Light signals become my vision by a complex software riding on your mental hardware which it labels as mind. First there are sensations and then there is ownership claim.

All sensations and thoughts exist already in a very quantum mechanical probabaility way. Certain signals from one of the five detectors prompts the mind to label it red or painful and then attach a tag of mine. Paul Hederman calls it selfing.

In reality there is no body just an idea claimed by an imaginary algorithm called the self created by the brain and mind.

It gets worse. Not only we walk around, thinking erroenously that we are the body but often we say this is my body. Now here we are really sending confusing and paradoxical messages to our mind, we are the body which owns a body. No wonder much our life is upside down.

Let's see if there is any reason to believe we own a body. The body which is a bunch of chemicals grew from a couple of complex molecules from our parents fed by natural stuff that came from earth, wind and sun. Did you actually do anything to acquire this body that you claim to be yours?

Hmmmmm !

Fear of death

Some suggest that all suffering results from this underlying fear, reaction to even a stubbed toe is manifestation of fear of death albeit...