Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Life’

When you sit and meditate, given long enough, you get a lot of time for self evaluation and reflection. Some would even argue that is the whole point; where, as one of the many fringe benefits. Regardless, I had one of those moments the other day and now it’s stuck in my mind like a sliver I just can’t seem to pick or an itch that I just can’t seem to scratch.

The realization was a simple question and answer session. Why am I looking, trying so hard to find a brand of religion that I can call my own and agree with 100%? Why am I going to church again, when clearly my theology, if known to these people would set me apart from them as a heretic? Why am I looking for that perfect teacher, temple, religion, practice… so I can find a home and finally call myself a Zen Buddhist in the _____ tradition, or brand myself as a Vedantic, a Mahayana or Gnostic?

Is my motive to find “truth”, god, and enlightenment; or is it that other word previously mentioned in my jumble of thoughts: home? Home. What is my greater desire? Could it be that somewhere along the way my quest changed, or was this it from the very beginning; some primordial need that I was seeking to meet without even knowing it?

Maybe I want to “be” something because I want a religious home, a community of fellow believers to practice with and be a part of — friends, family, teachers, community support and a sense of belonging. Could it be that this natural instinct, something that goes so far back in our genes as pack animals, is so strong that I would even trade finding the truth to fulfill it?

If I found a community that accepted me in, would I not look over all kinds of flaws, short-comings, and differences to hold onto my new found family? Would I play the part of a good Christian, Buddhist or really anything to keep my friends and my newly found social structure of comfort? How long would it take before I even forgot that I didn’t fully agree with what I was being told, and fall into some self delusion?

I can even seen now how cults do so well in bringing people into the fold and how they get such a strong hold on their lives. Soon they are enveloped in it as a community; they find a new family, friends, social activities, a girlfriend, a teacher… everything they always wanted. Everything I want. Now that’s a scary thought.

It’s not easy, that feeling of never fitting in. It’s deep-seeded, and brings back painful memories from childhood that best be forgotten. And what would I give up in order to make that go away?

Now here is the painful truth. If someone were to come to me and offer me belonging; a mate, friends, a community, but their asking price was for me to give up truth… I would be tempted to take the offer.

Look deep inside yourself. Would you? Have you already? It is probably more common than we think.

Knowing this, having this realization, has actually helped me out a lot. I have to be careful in my actions and double check my actions. I had to stop and really decide, am I looking for truth or am I looking for a place to fit in?

I decide I wanted truth. I hope I find community, but I must remind myself what my decision, what the true cry, or at least the loudest cry of my heart is.

This is also a liberating realization, for without the pressure of needing to find that perfect religion I am now freer to take from and enjoy many of them as they come to me. Without having to define myself so specifically I no longer have to so limit and define god, spirit and enlightenment… who I supposed to be limitless anyway.

So what am I then? Nothing really. A seeker, a finder, a good man, and just another crazy mixed-up human being trying to figure this thing out, and trying to enjoy as much of the process as possible along the way.

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

Everyone is a Philosopher

Everyone is a philosopher, albeit some are doing quite poor in the endeavor. If you find the first line a bit hard to swallow, then maybe you can at least agree with me that everyone has their own personal philosophy of life; some guiding rules, preconceived notions or expectations that govern their actions, and reactions to things in life.

So, I guess that my stating that “Everyone has a philosophy” would be easier to agree with, but I am still of the opinion that we play a much more active role in it than that. Maybe we just like to feel like victims when our lives and actions are so out of control? If you own personal philosophy is in a mess, then I’d assume that it would be much nicer to be able to point the finger to another source to blame for its authorship.

About two weeks ago I was in conversation with a young professor, who was pretty adamant in their profession of disdain for all studies of philosophy or religion… especially my own. Their main argument was that it was a waste of time, that forming and shaping a own personal philosophy or belief system held no benefit, and that it just got in the way of their own ideal of just accepting everything as it comes without further thought or consideration.

Which is funny, because that is her philosophy; however unshaped or unrefined, but philosophy none the less.

But, if no matter what, you are going to live by some kind of philosophy of life, would you not want it to be the one of your conscious choice? A good one, well thought out, decided upon, and even one that is slightly above you for which to strive for?

If not, then your philosophy is going to be based one other things, such as:

  • How you were raised at home
  • Society, culture, and media
  • Purely reactionary, especially to traumatic events in your life

In the case of the lady I was speaking to, who held that she had no philosophy, her philosophy was shaped strongly instead by her family, upbringing, and traumas.

She stated that she was spoiled and bad with money, never denying herself any material item or worldly pleasure because her wealthy parents always got her what she desired without question. Her philosophy on marriage was based solely on that of her parents, and of her failed marriage in the past. Her concept of self worth was based on media, and her goals were based on what her peers around her accepted or condemned.

My point is, that if you do not control and shape your philosophy, it will not stop you from forming one… it will just simply be a very poor one.

Would you rather not take the rightful responsibility for it, and yourself, and choose how you would like it to be? Make it an educated, hopefully positive one, which guides and governs your life on a foreword path?

Maybe that takes the security blanket away of being able to say that you are selfish…because X happened to you, you steal because, you lie because, you are lazy because, you cheat because, because, because, because. But isn’t there liberation in becoming the master of oneself? And if you are going to have a philosophy regardless, why not take the time and effort to make it a good one?

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

So I just moved into a new neighborhood, its pretty nice; although I think life has a funny sense of humor because now, after writing that article about not killing cockroaches, it seems that I have found an apartment with them in it. But I am just keeping the place very clean, giving them little reason to be here, and I installed some of those electronic devices in my wall outlets that say they release high pitch sounds that make the little things look for a new home to dwell in. So far it is working very well, and I haven’t seen one in days.

Last night I had an interesting meeting with my next door neighbor — it was the first time we have met. It wasn’t a bad meeting or anything like that, in fact we got along quite well, but there was just something odd enough about the interaction that I thought I should document it.

I was coming home from a dinner meeting, and she was coming home from work. She introduced herself as my neighbor and we got to your basic, token, first meeting question and answer session. When she discovered I was not a total weirdo, about her age, and single… she invited me into her house so we could sit down and talk more.

In an shockingly short amount of time I was told that she was single, sexually active, and asked if I was into casual sex. I was a bit taken aback by this, but never lost my composure of anything like that. I just politely acted like I was dull to the fact that this was some kind of an advance and mentioned that as a “Spiritual” person I don’t let myself fall into irresponsible sexual behavior.

“What? You mean you are not saved? You are not Christian?” she said.

I then got a talking to about how I needed to get saved and be Christian like she is. When I mentioned that I was quite happy with my current religious situation, and obviously quite moral as well, she mentioned how maybe I was “too moral” and that her church is great because they don’t care at all about if the people going there are having sex, living together, drinking a lot, or anything like that. “You should try it,” she said.

I asked her if they were so open minded about that kind of stuff how the church treated gay people that wished to attend there… “Oh no,” she said “gay people can’t go there. That’s a sin.”

Now that’s interesting. I think the irony of that one escaped her.

I politely said “no”, to her offer(s), said that it was nice to meet her and excused myself since it was getting late and I still had a few things to do before bed. I don’t think that the conversation ended awkwardly or anything like that.

When I got home I started thinking about something that a pastor I know was telling me about his church a few months ago. It’s one of the fastest-growing in America, but some things about it were frustrating him; he was telling me about how just about every unmarried couple that he knows that goes to his church are having sex, and how most couples he is giving marriage counseling to are already living together and sleeping together.

He said it with a bit of surprise in his voice, and I asked him if he has considered WHY that is the way that the current situation is. His automatic response was simply that these people must be too caught up in the world, not close enough to Jesus, and they are the product of their MTV, Sex in the City, iphone environment.

Obviously, he hadn’t ever really thought about if maybe it was something that he or his church were doing wrong.

Now, I can’t speak for him or his church but should we not at the very least consider for a second if maybe it is something that “we” are doing wrong? Some point that “we” are missing?

These people… they are in your church, some of them have been for years. Are they not also a product of the environment of the church they are going to? Have you had so little impact on their lives that you can’t even consider church or your leadership a factor of influence on your churchgoers? Interesting.

And look at the statistics… you are saying that just about ALL, the overwhelming majority, of the people you are bringing up in your church are doing this, and you have not even stopped to consider for a second that MAYBE this has something to do with your church leadership or direction?

Or have you considered that maybe the same thing that is making your church so appealing that it is growing so fast is the same thing that is lessening its redeemable qualities? Sure you are growing, and you are popular, but at what cost?

The Dhammapada tells us that if the people in your care are screwing up, stop concentrating on their faults and start looking at your own faults, because as leaders after your correct your own, the other’s will naturally fall into line.

If there is disorder it normally flows from the top-down, and not the bottom-up.

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

e1242913021“Christian” is a social phenomena that has permeated every aspect of our Western culture, and I hold little doubt that as adamant as we Westerners tend to be about keeping the term tied to our identities, as best we can, there are similar modes of thought going on in other cultures clinging to their common, comfortable, and socially accepted titles of Buddhist, Islamic, or Jewish; while, in all truth they are walking in clearly different religious, social, or philosophical path.

I have even seen the opposite to be true, intellectuals who have been born and bred in the homes or classrooms of professors and great minds to be atheist, humanist, or at the very least practical agnostics; who, despite their social peer pressure to keep this intellectual title deep-down are very spiritual and have a secret faith in God, gods, or some kind of Universal Mind or consciousness.

I know a professor of computer science who is an adamant atheist, and practices a humanist Zen Buddhism that focuses on ethics, discipline and being at peace mentally in this life, but with no promise of nirvana nor enlightenment. That doesn’t surprise me that much and that holds no great contradiction.  However, what surprised me with him occurred one day while we were talking about our differing practices over some tea after meditation. I casually stated that I wasn’t Christian and I watched as his jaw dropped and an look of shock fell over his face. “What do you mean you are not Christian? I’m a Christian” he said.

Confused I got him to break down certain aspects of his belief system. He is atheist, Buddhist, does not believe in any kind of an afterlife, nor God the Father, and he believes that there was a Jesus but that he was just a man, not the Son of God, and that when he (Jesus) died he simply decayed and decomposed like the rest of us. And where exactly does the title “Christian” come into play?

His defense was that he agreed with the basic principles, ideals, morality, social constructs, and felt akin to the myths and inspirational stories that appeal to the better nature of us all that come from the Bible. And that as a Westerner he identifies with the label of Christian since this is a Christian nation and culture.

As a Bible scholar, though an non-believing one, I tried to explain the biblical criteria for calling yourself Christian, but that didn’t get me too far. Eventually I just dropped the subject, and went on to enjoying his great company and our friendship. I filed the conversation in the back of my brain to ponder upon a later date and went on with life. It wasn’t until the other week, where I was having a conversation with a sociology professor about gay rights that this past conversation was triggered back into play with some kind of clarity.

While discussing the gay rights movement we happened along the tangent of how difficult it is to “come out of the closet” as they say. The professor asserted that it is so counter culture to do so that one risks alienating themselves from everything they consider comforting. They risk losing identity as a straight “normal” person. They risk losing family, friends, their church, their social status… all kinds of things that we, as pack animals, tend to hold dear. It was then that the whole Christian thing made sense to me.

We hold onto the label for the same reasons. We do not want to risk the alienation or the discomfort or being different from the norm and the acceptable. Even mentally we can not escape the guilt and the oppression of feeling bad about ourselves for rejecting a Christ that we do not even really believe in. So instead we practice our New Age, Buddhism, Atheism, or other philosophy or religion and tag onto it the hyphenated “Christian” to form some kind of ease in our minds about the whole ordeal.

Please understand that this is not an attack against Christianity. To the contrary, it is out of a great respect and understanding of the religion that I defend its integrity in stating that I, and many who still cling to the term, are not Christian. Let those who are pure in their faith be free to practice without us others confusing people as to what the religion truly is, and let those who in their hearts want nothing to do with their God be free from the social shackles of thinking that they have to keep identifying with the religion.

Through my own personal studies I came to a very logical conclusion that there was never at any time a historical Christ figure that lived and died and rose again. However, even if you believe there was some kind of a man who was a great leader, sage, reincarnation of the Buddha, or prophet, but was not the Son of God, you still can’t fit your square peg into the clearly defined round hole of the Christian faith. Once I depersonalized my concept of “God” from the old, grey haired king sitting on his throne in heaven surrounded by his worshipping angles; into a broader, more universal concept of “energy” or an interconnectedness of all things… I left the fold. As soon as I opened up to the idea of their being many paths to experiencing and communing with this life force I immediately validated all religions and alienated myself from all of them at the same time – since just about all of them hold true the statement that they are the only path.

So I am nothing and I am everything, and I have to learn to be comfortable with and accept the fact that I just do not fit in quite well with my current society. It is unfamiliar, it is unsettling, disturbing at first… but it is also liberating!

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

cockroach-3I had an interesting day today, and in it, I got to practice some loving-kindness… although it was towards something I never tried it on before – cockroaches.

I guess I had better explain this some; you see, I volunteered today to do some charity work for the United Way, and they asked me and a group of others (that I did not know) to show up to this house and paint the inside of it. It seems that the place is home to a nice group of 3 older ladies, one of whom is bed-ridden, and it was in a bit of disrepair. Although, it seems the place was also home to many more beings than we were told.

The walls of the house were not really in need of painting, they were just caked with layer upon layer of roach droppings, and they were everywhere. I am talking broad daylight, and hundreds upon hundreds of the little buggers just hanging out I plain sight like they owned the place. It was very interesting to observe.

I noticed a few things though, and here are some of my observations…

Firstly, I had taken a vow to cause no harm to any sentient being, and for me that also includes insects. When I was younger a sight light what I saw today would have given me the willies, but today there was no apprehension or disgust to be found in me. I just saw all these roaches and knew that I was looking at another living thing, and it did not bother me at all. Not anymore. And, unlike the rest of the people in the room working with me, I had compassion on them. Yes, I felt sorry for the ladies living there, that they were in such a circumstance, but I also had compassion for the insects there.

Secondly, instead of swatting at and smashing and scurrying about the roaches so I could paint, I simply talked to them (yes I talked to them) or at other times just waited and thought kind words towards them, and asked them to move so I could paint… and they moved out of the way.

Thirdly, these ladies were not messy and their home was quite orderly and neat… other than the roaches and their droppings, and so I inquired into the matter a bit with them. You see, although they themselves are very clean and tidy people, the neighborhood that they live in has gone down-hill, turning from a once lovely little place and into the ghetto, and their neighbors do not share their particular views on hygiene and upkeep. So, if all the homes around them are inviting roaches… they get them too.

Finally, I could not help but wonder the whole time what good we were actually doing there. These ladies approached the charity looking for help and the solution they were given was that we would paint over all the roach droppings… but the roaches are still there. Nothing was done to actually solve the problem at hand. I immediately thought of tons of little proverbs and ways that this could be used as a life lesson, or a sermon about taking care of the real problem and not just ‘white washing the tombs” if you will. I considered many of my own areas in life that I need to deal where a lesson or analogy could also apply… and I found a few.

One of the volunteers was a pastor of a local church and asked the ladies when we were done if he could pray for them and they said yes. As he prayed for them and their health, in my head I offered up my own thoughts of loving kindness towards the roaches and wished them and the ladies happiness and that the roaches would leave and find a new home in which there was not this conflict between them and others; so that they may all be happy, healthy and at ease.

Nobody should have to live like that though, I know that these ladies deserve a clean, healthy environment and I wish them well. I am also grateful that I myself and in a safe and warm home today that I can enjoy.

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

street-fighter-4-01With this week being my birthday week, and after receiving an overwhelming amount of feedback telling me that I my affinity for sitting meditation will get me nowhere, and that I can “meditate” while doing all kinds of things; like, watching TV, or playing games… I decided to subject myself to a harsh, brutal even, highly advanced (don’t try this at home kids), Three Day Street Fighter IV Meditation Retreat!

The goal: To unlock my mind’s eye, or all 8 (9 including the end-boss Seth) hidden characters, whichever comes first… or die trying!

So, that is why I haven’t written anything for the past few days, and, now that it is over, I would like to share with you some of my personal notes on some of the amazing breakthroughs I made on this intensive, personal journey of mine.

Monday I awoke, mentally resolved and prepared to submit myself to three days of seclusion; trapped in my basement, doing nothing by playing Street Fighter IV… for enlightenment. Myself and my room, a.k.a. sacred space, must be prepared as well. I go over the checklist:

Big Buddha Statue – Check
Sandalwood Incense – Check
Candles – Check
PS3 – Check
Street Fighter IV Game – Check
Custom Arcade-Style Fighting Stick – Check
Zafu – Check
Comfy Pants – Check
Phone Off – Check
Coffee – Oops, I forgot to get a coffee!

What’s dorking it out in your basement, playing video games, without coffee? What is that you say, “Gamers drink Mountain Dew?” Pfft! That’s for kids. Besides, I hear that stuff makes your sperm count die. Not that I want to make a baby right now, but I would like to keep my options open you know.

I walk, slowly, mindfully to my car and take a deep breath in and then out, as I begin to ready myself for some mindful driving, or driving meditation. Driving meditation is a lot like walking meditation, in that you drive really, really, slow. You should not play any music, but instead listen to and be aware of the sounds that the car is making, and the world around you. Feel your hands on the wheel, your foot as it gently touched the pedals… keep your back straight… and don’t go over 10 MPH.

It took a very long time to get to Starbucks to get my coffee, but it was worth it. I never felt so alive and meditative while driving before. I did not know how people would react, with my driving down the roads at 10 MPH, holding up traffic, but everyone was so kind about it. Everyone was honking at me (to support me in my retreat I assume), and waving like crazy at me. It was wonderful. The best part was that I had to drive by an old-age home, and there were some elderly folks outside riding around on their little scooters; I think I really made their day because it was the first time they ever had to pass a car on their scooters because the car was too slow.

Now that my coffee is in hand, I drink it mindfully; I am mindful of the black coffee goodness dripping down my throat; I am mindful of the caffeine that it is putting, thankfully, into my system; I am mindful of the child labor and piss-poor working conditions of the people who picked these beans for me to enjoy; I am mindful of the tree that had to die so I can take home this paper cup, and the other tree that died so I can have this little “jacket”, sleeve thingy over the cup so it does not burn my hands; I am mindful that it has taken me so long to drink this coffee that it has now gone cold and I don’t even want to finish the rest of it. Mmmmm, coffee meditation!

Sufficiently caffeinated, I sit on the floor, on my zafu, and prepare myself for the unlocking. There are various guides and posts online about the proper way to unlock all the characters, but most of them are inaccurate, and overly complex. Here is the right way to do it:

Beat the game in arcade mode as C. Viper to unlock Cammy; as Ryu to unlock Sakura; as Sakura to unlock Dan; as Abel to unlock Fei Long; as M. Bison to unlock Rose; as Chun-Li to unlock Gen; now, beat the game with all the characters you unlocked already to unlock Akuma; then, beat it as Akuma to unlock the Gouken cut scene… after that, beat the game as someone you already beat the game with before but you can’t lose any rounds, have to get 2 perfects, and 3 ultra combo finishes; then, finally, beat the game with all 16 default characters to unlock Seth.

That’s about it. Oh, and the above works on any difficulty setting, so you could do it all on the easiest setting if you need to. However, I did not want to cheapen my meditation experience, so I opted to keep the game on the default setting of Medium. I mean, who ever gets enlightenment on the “Easy” level?

After a few hours of playing, or meditating, I manage to unlock a few characters, but my neck is getting sore from looking up at the TV and my legs are starting to cramp up… because I am sitting in the lotus position. I opt to sit on the couch instead so my neck can be in a more comfortable position, but I keep my back straight and my legs crossed. It takes me all day to unlock the first half of the characters, and my body is starting to really feel it. My legs are really sore, and my eyes feel like they are about to burn out from my skull. Video game meditation is rough, but the thought of how much merit I will gain by all this vigor and effort keeps me going!

I crawl to bed and decided to get some rest, it is time to call day one over. As I lay there in bed I come to realize that the theme song from the game that plays in the background of all the fights is stuck in my head – playing in an eternal loop that just won’t stop. Also, I seem to have a hard time shutting my eyes; for, when I do, all I see is flashes of colors, pulses of light, and fuzzy images from the game burned into my retina. Maybe this is one of those Jahna’s people were talking about? Is this what seeing auras is like?

Day two starts with my looking into the mirror and realizing that both my eyes are bloodshot, and it looks like I need a shave. No time for that now! I will take care of that after the retreat is over. I decided to stay on the couch today as well, in hopes that it may help my neck out some, but I still keep the lotus position as I play. By the end of day 2, I have unlocked all the hidden characters… except for Seth. I am saving that one for my final day of Street Fighter Meditation. I need to call it another day though; my legs are killing me, I have taken like 6 Excedrin because my head is killing me, and I feel exhausted.

That night, I found it impossible to get any sleep. I felt so high-strung from all the video game meditation that I could not seem to unwind. I thought that maybe I could do some sitting meditation to try to calm myself down so I could sleep, but whenever I closed my eyes all I could see was flashing colors and bits from the game playing in my head… oh, and that freaking theme song is still going and going and going… ringing in my ears. I swear, I don’t know how the Buddha and his monks did it.

Day three, I look in the mirror and think I look like some kind of hermit; or, some kind of speed-freak, meth-head, on crack… and that song is still in my head. Screw lotus position, today I am going to sit on the couch like a normal human being and unlock Seth as quick as I can. I am mentally and physically done with this thing.

In fact, screw Seth! I’m done. I am going to go take a shower, shave, clean my room, see what life is like outside (I hear the weather is beautiful out there), and start sitting meditation again.

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

santaRemember that day when your kid came home from first grade crying, because some other kid told them that there was no Santa Claus? Sorry about that; that kid was me. Look, it isn’t like you think; I wasn’t trying to be mean or anything. You see, my parents never told me that there was a Santa to begin with. My earliest Christmas memories was of them putting presents in front of me, saying, “Your Dad and I bought these for you because we love you,” and there was never any talk of fat men in red outfits, or reindeers that magically fly. When I was plopped in first grade, and Christmas time rolled around, I was taken aback by all the other kid’s talk about this Santa character. When I asked who he was, they told me that it was the person that gives us our presents; to this, I simply replied, “No it’s not. Our moms and dads buy us the gifts to be nice to us.” By the time I got home that day, there were already a slew of angry parents who had left some not-so-nice comments about me and my parent’s parenting skills on the phone. “What kind of a jerky kid are they raising? What kind of a parent doesn’t tell their kid there is a Santa? How are they going to correct this?” “Correct this,” my parents said, “you do know that there really isn’t a Santa right?”

Fast-forward a good decade or two, and here I find myself doing it all over again; although, this time it isn’t over a fat red men, no, this time it was over meditation in front of a bunch of Buddhists I was meeting for the first time. I was new to Buddhism, I haven’t been meditating long; I knew I liked to meditate, I had read the Dhammapada over a few times, and I had memorized the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path—besides that, I was as “green” as they come. Partway through the night the discussion in the Buddhist group turned to “Mindfulness”, which I thought to myself, was awesome, “I know this one”; since that was one of those 8 really important thingies that Buddha guy told us to do… The “Awesome 8”, as I like to call them! (No, I have never actually called them that.)

So, they started talking about the importance Mindfulness, how great it is, and then talked about how Mindfulness IS Meditation… I raised my hand and simply stated, “No it isn’t. I mean, the Buddha listed them as two different things on the Dharma Wheel… so how can they be the same thing?”

I mean, did the Buddha screw up here? Was Mindfulness so great that he wanted to slip in there twice, but under a different name? Did the Buddha have some kind of O.C.D. about even and odd numbers; so, once he ended at 7, he had to repeat one to make it a nice, even 8?

Some people got offended, others corrected me, and the general populous simply patted me on the head, and told me that I was too new at this to understand, and that they, having practiced longer, know what they are talking about. Now, I am not a cocky individual, so I took this advice to heart, and I spent the next while studying the Suttas, Sutras, and various other resources on how I could be so mistaken about Meditation. Now, I have to tell you… and I hate to say it… but the more I study, the more I see that I was right the first time. We all know the old saying, “From out of the mouths of babes…”, and well, maybe this was one of those cases. Maybe, being new to all this and simply taking the teaching of the Buddha for what they were, at face value, I had avoided all those years of rationalizing, explaining away, justification, watering-down, and intellectual re-writes that tend to come along the way.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am not belittling Mindfulness. How could I? I mean, it’s one of the Awesome 8! I could never say that Mindfulness in non-important, or, that it was some unnecessary part of “old-Buddhism” that can now be ignored or is supplemented by one of the other 7. I would never do that, but that is what others in this new Zen movement are doing to Meditation. They are belittling Meditation, kicking it right off the Wheel, and are making the claim that Mindfulness now is supplementing, or fulfilling the requirement for that part of the regiment. This not only, is bad Buddhism, but I also take to be quite offensive.

Think about it in a different context: Would we ever make the claim that Mindfulness fulfills/supplements Right Action? Shouldn’t we go and find all those Buddhists working out there to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and help the hopeless that all they really need to do is walk slow, eat slow, and be “present” more and they can really forget about all that Right Action stuff… I mean, that takes a lot of effort and work anyway, right? And who wants that.

Mindfulness is Meditation no more than Right Speech is Right View, or Right Intent is Right Action.

Now, Mindfulness IS great, in that it really does lead into and strengthen the rest of the practice (other 7), but. In doing so, it does not negate the need to still practice the others. If you are “mindful” then you are going to be more careful in how you speak to others; If you are “mindful” of what is going on around you in the world, you are going to eventually feel the need to act and do something to help out. Those are just a few examples, but I hope you get the idea; although, not to “diss” Mindfulness or anything, but really practicing ANY of the 7, or having an emphasis on one, should (if done properly) result in being drawn to and fulfilling the others. It is a wheel you know.

I think it is erroneous and dangerous to leave sitting Meditation out of the practice, and I do have to question what kind of Buddhism is really being practiced without it. This all came to a “head” the other day to me as I was reading through a new issue of a popular, international, Buddhist magazine; where, they featured an article on how Mindfulness and Meditation are the same thing, and how much easier it is to be “mindful” than to be bothered with all that sitting and concentrating.

The article points out that Meditation is just concentration and Mindfulness is concentrating… so really, being mindful is meditating. They then, also admit how they don’t like to do sitting meditation, that is cuts into their busy life schedule too much, and that it is too uncomfortable. However, Zen mindfulness is GREAT since they can be mindful easily. How easy? Well, they say that when they take a shower… they are mindful to turn the dial back to cold when finished, and that is Meditation. They even talk about playing pool with their friends all the time, and how they realized that it takes a lot of “concentration” to play pool… I mean, you have to focus and not get distracted by all the noises and people talking, and you have to think about your shot, and make the shot… heck, so playing pool is some deep-ass meditation! Who needs sitting meditation anyway?

Funny that with all their mindfulness they never became mindful of their time; never considering maybe waking up a bit earlier, not going out with the boys to play pool so much (if they can find the time for that but not meditating), and maybe cutting back some of the TV so they can “fit” meditation into their lives better.

You know, when you watch TV, you are concentrating on the pictures, words, AND you are sitting! So, TV meditation, oh I’m sorry, TV mindfulness, does wonders! I know people who watch TV for hours and hours at a time—I could never sit that long meditating the old-fashioned way. These guys are true masters. Have you ever seen them at work? Sometimes, they are so “deep” into their TV meditation, so single focused, that they can’t even hear you when you tell them to take the trash out, turn it down, or pick the kids up from school. I always thought this was just pathetic, but really… really, they are just deep in the Jahna’s of TV meditation. Once hitting the 4th Jahna of TV watching, all outside noises fade away, nothing exists besides you and your show, you are the show, and time seems to stop all together.

I never had this experience, but I do think I at least got the the 3rd Jahna of Video Game Playing Meditation once.

Look, just because concentration is involved in meditation, that does not mean that everything that involves concentration is meditation. Sitting is involved in mediation as well, but does that mean that all sitting is meditation? I am sitting right now, heck… my roommates have been sitting on their butts upstairs for the past 3 hours watching movies… are we meditating?

Anyway, let me wrap this up.

I love Mindfulness. I practice Zen. And, I think this modern tendency to make “mindful… fill in the blank” replace a daily meditation disciple is just stupid.

I love to meditate, but I can’t stay in that state forever. Sooner or later I have to “unplug” and enter back into the world. I have people I have to talk to, meetings, I got to eat, sleep, work or go to school. This is where Mindfulness comes into play with my Meditation. I can’t sit on my butt all day, all the time, being blissful while my responsibilities in life go undone and the world around me goes to hell. I have to unplug, and enter back into the world of sense-pleasures. In doing so, I have to now switch to Mindfulness to take what I have gained and learned through my meditation regiment with me as I move through the day. Mindfulness reminds me to keep my nose clean, not to stray from the path, not to do anything or put anything into my body that is going to take away from my practice or harm others… However, I have found that my level of mindfulness is directly in proportion to, and resulting from, my level of meditation… and not the other way around.

To be fair to those who disagree with me, I can understand why some people would give up on sitting meditation for something more appealing, and more instantly gratifying as being mindful. Why sit with your legs all folded up for hours and hours when you can just eat really slow or even practice hugging meditation? Yes, there is such a thing as Zen Hugging Meditation.

Besides, if you are of the Buddhist school that says that there is NO enlightenment, no real Nirvana, and that any and every satori experience, vision, or insight that you may think you have during sitting meditation is false; then, why even bother meditating? To what purpose? There is no enlightenment anyway so why go through all the trouble? For these people, who see the practice as good works, self discipline, and a positive philosophy of life only—there is no reason to bust their asses with meditation. That, I understand. I disagree with it, but I understand it. If that is where you are coming from, then enjoy that walk and watching flowers bloom. But! (Yes, there is a “but”) But please stop attacking and belittling sitting meditation in the process. It makes baby Buddha cry.

———————————————————————————————————————

For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »