Tuesday, March 02, 2021

4 bonds of fellowship

1. Giving.

2. Kind words.

3. Beneficial help.

4. Consistency. 

This is from the Hatthaka Sutta. Hatthaka, along with Citta, were among the foremost lay Dharma leaders. The Buddha meets him at Aggalava Shrine which is among the status unknown places the Buddha went.

He also had 8 astounding qualities: "Hatthaka of Alavi is endowed with conviction. He is virtuous. He has a sense of conscience. He has a sense of concern (for the results of unskillful actions). He is learned. He is generous. He is discerning. He is modest."

Because he was such a good guy, he had 500 disciplines in Buddhism as a lay teacher, during the Buddha's lifetime. 

Citta was pure even though leading a lay life, a wealthy merchant from Suvatthi. He had 500 disciples too. 

The female equivalents were Khujjuttara and Velukandakiya.

"Khujjuttara was a servant to one of the queens of King Udena of Kosambi named Samavati. Since the queen was unable to go listen to the Buddha, she sent Khujjuttarā who went instead and became so adept that she was able to memorize the teachings and teach the queen and her 500 ladies in waiting." 

"Queen Samavati and the queen's 500 ladies in waiting all obtained the fruit (Pali: phalla) of the first stage of Enlightenment"

Sunday, February 28, 2021


I watched part of Is There Magic In The Dharma? - Daniel Ingram and Dhammarato - Podcast of Guru Viking

What is the value of magic in the Dharma? They think it's obvious that there is magic, the question is what is the approach to magic? Ingram feels it's harmful when teachers deny magic for magical experience.

I believe in human experience. I knew a woman who thought an angel lifted her up when she fell, and carried her across the road. I believe that is her experience, without committing to something I don't know about. I'm not saying angels don't exist, because that's her experience. I've never experienced angels, but I don't want to limit myself to what I've experienced, because I haven't been to space, but I think it exists. 

What Ingram is good at is allowing in all kinds of experience people would say can't exist. I don't think I want to be a person that says, "no your experience is wrong." 

It's quite possible that you had a special mental state that is well known that would lead you to think you were abducted by aliens, but nobody saw that abduction, not even your husband in the bed next to you. There is a mental state where the mind gets paralyzed. This is an explanation for the experience that someone was abducted by aliens. Maybe. 

I'm an inclusive explanationist, I want to hear it all. That one explanation fits best doesn't mean I don't want to hear what other people think. Stated without the double negative, I'm interested in people's experience.

I'm kind of scared of Ingram, to be honest. While Daniel is a lineaged teacher in the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition, I'm not sure if breaking with the tradition is the right move, regarding saying one is enlightened. One thing for sure is that he's met a lot of people and explored the world in many interesting ways. Supposedly he's back of from the "I'm enlightened position" a little.

He likes the "and" instead of the "or". He's a great communicator and knows the counter arguments but listens to them anyway.

My thought is that the common setup of the typewriter is Qwerty. It is designed to actually slow you down, so the older typewriters don't jam up. Dvorak is designed to be the fastest. Is the mind like that? Can you develop too fast? Sangharakshita has talked about spiritual indigestion, too many rich teachings.

I also don't feel like he's embedded in a tradition, maybe because he's creating one, but while he's empowered to teach by Sayadaw, I'm not sure if he's in contact with anyone in that tradition, since he died in 1982. I just don't know.

What his not being traditional allows him to have conversations in an open source kind of way. I think there is a role for that kind of being in the Buddhist universe.

I like people that jam me up and make me confused. “Here is something I can study all my life, and never understand,” says one of the characters in Molloy by Beckett.

I would also add that the culture of not expressing intense experiences led me to not talk about or honor a deep experience I once had, and that was harmful to me in the sense that I didn't seek out the support I could have used to process and integrate it.


Huge difference in meaning in translation

I'm reading Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Connected Discourses, and in 16.10 the translation is "...women are foolish." I refuse to believe an enlightened being can categorize women in such a harmful way. I know I'm projecting my 2021 sensibilities onto a person who lived in 500 BCE. 

I checked out the Sujata translation (SN 16.10) and he says, "that woman is foolish." Whew. That feels better. I would even go further to say that she is acting foolish, without branding her as foolish. 

Our times are especially tuned to these issues. The Buddha of the first translation might say also that men are foolish until they are enlightened. Or humans are foolish. 

The woman in question was upset that Mahakassapa gave a talk instead of Ananda. Her name was Thullatissa, and in the next section (SN16.11) she "falls away from the holy life." It doesn't say why. Presumably she didn't leave because she didn't get to hear her favored speaker.

Wishing to hear Ananada speak instead of Mahakassapa implies she doesn't want to hear about the vinaya, and perhaps was struggling with the vinaya. The asceticism, or the social rules or the fact that women have more rules. Perhaps she did not want to pretend to be inferior to all male monks. Was she an early feminist? You could spin it off along that kind of story but that's reaching a bit. 

But just for a lark I took a look at the Eight Garudhammas. It turns out they are contested. Bhikkhu Analayo doesn't think they were in an earlier version.

Looking at the exact 8, I wonder what the manatta punishments. I can only find one place where they say that they lead to the 13 punishments, but doesn't say what those are, and I can't find out what those are. Instead of going into that, it seems better to just reject the whole idea of the Garudhammas.

Again, I'm just trying to make it make sense with my mind a quarter of a millennium later, and I'm not sure how useful that is. I'm not ordained in any tradition, so there is no point in listening to me, as I'm not certified as an expert. 

I explore these issues for my own part, and share them because I feel generosity is the giving of the self, in part, and I wish for all beings to become enlightened. The altruism in the spiritual path counteracts the spiritual individualism. 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Old Postcard


Flash the piker and other pop culture notes

Flash Gordon does things fast. So he could sit down and meditate for 5 minutes, and it would be like he meditated for 5 hours. Five hours a day and you'd be enlightened in a year. That he isn't enlightened means he's a piker. I'm going to write a story about the enlightenment of Flash Gordon, the first superhero Buddha.

Forever Peace

One of my favorite sci-fi novels is Forever Peace. The sequel to Forever War. Spoilers: People connect their minds together in a military squadron, but they can't connect together long because if they do, they end up getting enlightened because they share deeper and deeper insights until everyone is enlightened. In fact the first group to test the technology are enlightened and have to be sequesters off. 

But Little Dust

Jay Z is a feminist "Ladies is pimps too." He says he's adult he doesn't have chrome on his wheels. But what like is "dust off your shoulder" which is a Buddhist idea. The Buddha attained enlightenment after a 6 year struggle, after leaving his family and devoting his time to the project exclusively. When he became enlightened he despaired that he could teach this to anyone else. But he was urged by the local gods to teach others who had "but little dust". I read a memoir of someone who was in India on a kind of missionary work for the Buddha in the dalit community. It was called But Little Dust. While Jay-Z's "Dust off your shoulder" portrays the hip hop bravado, and is advocating just not getting upset so easily, I like to bring in anything that is Dharma adjacent. He's preaching equanimity. 

Quote from the Buddhavacana

"... I wield the various kinds of spiritual powers having; been one, I become many; having been many, I become one; I appear and vanish; I go unhindered through a wall, through a rampart, through a mountain as though I was in space; I dive in and out of the earth as though it were water without sinking, as though it were water; I walk on water without sinking in as though the water were the earth; seated cross legged, I traveled in space like a bird; with my hand I touched and stroked the moon and sun so powerful and mighty; I exercised mastery with the body as far as the brahma world." p. 673 Bodhi translation SN (SN 16.9 Sujato translation)

He goes through the jhanas before he hits this part, and you can read further powers like clairvoyance, and remembering past lives. 

Interesting that remembering past lives doesn't come until after reaching the highest states of meditation.

What seemed interesting to me is that he can see how we rush to pleasure and shrink away from pain, and the effect that has on people. The spiritual powers reinforce the teachings, don't get rid of the need for the same teachings. Even with all these powers, the spiritual program is in effect. Even if you become godlike, the teachings still apply.

The same human flaws of jealousy and greed affected the Greek gods, they did not really demonstrate transcendence or moral good, they were very human except with powers. You didn't pray to them to transcend humanity, you prayed to them to grant favors, consider you. The worst things happen sort of as an accident and as an afterthought of the Gods actions. The prayer was "Just make sure I'm not steamrolled in some God action that has nothing to do with me." 

It's like standing near a window and a stray bullet hits you. It's the karma of the people outside that you got caught in, you didn't do anything. They say Trump is responsible for 40% of the deaths by not doing anything, so 200+ people died because of Trump's karma.

I really like the image of flying like a bird. I've always been jealous of birds and dolphins, the way they move.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

walking meditation

I focus on the body in motion, as an object for the concentration exercise. If you move slowly, it's easier, but I was also walking for exercise. Added degree of difficulty the path was well trod on and there was lots of slipping and sliding. 

What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez quote:

"there are two kinds of people in the world: those who upon seeing someone else suffering think, That could happen to me, and those who think, That will never happen to me. The first kind of people help us to endure, the second kind make life hell."

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Metta meditation today

When I'm disciplined, I meditate before my daughter wakes. I stopped meditating for a while because I was sad a friend did not write me back. It's more than that, with the usual distractions and problems. I have been reading a lot lately and when I meditate, I don't want to read as much. I read slower. 

So my daughter was sitting pretty quietly, watching Noddy: Toyland Detective. So I went into my room and sat down at my shrine. I put the cushions into a comfortable position and started my insight timer. 

My daughter came in. Apparently her recent spate of feeling comfortable alone had ended. So I told her what I was doing. "I'm doing a metta meditation, universal loving kindness. In the first stage I cultivate metta towards myself, remembering happy times, and hoping for the conditions of feeling safe, loved, stimulated, all my emotional needs were met, I problem solve and communicate well, and I have insight into myself, circumstances, and remember the goals of Buddhism to be kinder and more mindful."

"In the second stage I think of my friend Cliff who is off boondocking in Arizona, running, eating vegan food, sleeping in his car, pooping in a hole he dug. I have had so many wilderness adventures with him, hiking, canoeing, driving, biking. I wish him well where he is. I hope he is happy in his heart of heart. What would block me from feeling metta towards Cliff?"

I go silent as my daughter uses my back to drape a small blanket over me, and she lays in the tent she has built. The cat, excited by the action, keeps head butting my hands. My daughter quietly mutters to herself. Then she decides to use the chair to make a fort, and then she lays down frustrated. The fort hasn't come out the way she wanted it to. It did not meet her expectations. She tells me she is sad. I ask her if she needs some help.

I tell her I wish her well, wish her happy in her heart of hearts, and she is a little touched by that and rubs my arm back and forth in a warm gesture. But she wants help making her fort. I try all I can to keep focused in metta, and move to the enemy, the person who irritates me, annoys me, disappoints me, and who is in conflict with me, expresses anger towards me, lets me know they are disappointed in me. 

But my daughter is ramping up to be more assertive. She wants help is making her unsad. I try a little longer but after committing to a 40 minute meditation, after 28 minutes I give up, and help her build a fort. But my back hurts so I go and lay down, and she comes with me to the room that has her show. I sit and write about my attempt to meditate. She is hungry, she wants some pasta with butter and salt. I go prepare it for her.

I was writing my second novel, a sort of sci-fi Buddhism thing that I enjoy, but I don't think would be too comercial, and family has not thought it so fantastic it needs to be published. I'll put it up when I have the trilogy finished. I'm halfway done with the 3rd one too. I was writing about meditating and wanted to meditate. When i have the urge to meditate, I follow that urge. So I gave it a try but the circumstances were not conducive. I'll get up early tomorrow before my daughter gets up.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Three simple lines by Natalie Goldberg


My father writes haiku and related forms, and I've read a little Basho, but never a whole book about the form. There's a kind of connection, as there always is in Japan with the poetry and Zen, a form a Buddhism.

Natalie Goldberg is the bard of Santa Fe, famous for writing one novel, and a zillion books on writing. I just learned she also was a student of Kataguri, and then later after finding out about sleeping with female disciples, another book, called The Great Failure. They need to update Wikipedia to add this book, Three Simple Lines, because I'm a quite enjoying it.

She travels a lot to Japan on a pilgrimage to the three main haiku poets Ginsberg said: Basho, Buson and Issa. Also Masaoka Shiki. Then she finds Chiyo-ni.