Monday, November 30, 2015



I just meditated with 2623 people, with Insight Timer. I have meditated 300 days with this device, which isn't so good because I've had it a while.  I just looked at my messages and a bunch of people thank me for meditating with them. I even know some of them. I have .2 meditation a day average, nothing to be proud of. This is the second time I meditated this month. I haven't been doing so good in my practice of meditation.

I used to meditate every day for 40 minutes for years and years. I took a wrong turn and it's amazing how that leads to others. Every choice matters so much, the things you do really are what you are. Your hopes and aspirations mean something too, but not quite as much if you don't act on them. Seeking integration is not such an easy thing. Binge watching Master of None till 2 in the morning, I distract myself, and fill my mind with another's art. That is a mixed bag. I whole heartedly endorse the project of getting back to primary experience, tuning in to what's going on, gaining insight into ourselves and the stories we generate.

I finished the text part of After Buddhism. (Here is a review with interesting comments.) Now it's translations and modernizations from the Pali Cannon. I'll take my time reading those. I quite enjoy Batchelor's synthesis of Buddhism and the current times. His problems are similar to my problems--how do you make it all make sense with what I  know from my times. I appreciate his efforts. Not sure if I can make a puja out of the text. Not sure if I want to go over his axioms of secular buddhism.

I continue to enjoy Nothing Holy about It: The Zen of Being Just Who You Are. I'm not always a fan of the Zen aesthetic and way of Buddhism, but Burkett seems like a solid guy, who tells things well. I read it aloud to my partner, and she is impressed at times. Last night, she was surprised at the abrupt end of a story, but that's what I mean by the Zen aesthetic. It tweaks your desire for the full narrative, instead jolting you into consciousness of your own mind. Not a bad project. It can feel put on at times, but not when a master practices it.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Just started reading After Buddhism

I'm not sure what I expected from Stephen Batchelor but After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age turns out to be a close reading of the Pali Cannon. It reminds me of Buddhist Saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values and Orientations. After the introductions, the first chapter is on Mahanama. Ever heard of him? I've always loved Batchelor's writings, and I can tell this is one of his best books. I'm only 10% in, but based on the first 10%, I have that feeling.

My reading of the Dharma can be superficial or profound, depending on my view. I can see why right view is such a crucial step on the path. I hope that I'm less superficial. That I'm not just reinforcing my own ego tendencies, but working to develop as an individual so I can tear the whole edifice down as I mature. Suggesting right view can be a little like proselytizing. I like the way AA does it, they just share their experience, strength and hope, they're not telling anyone else what to do. I call that the soft sell, where you don't feel the ego of the salesman, the message of the sale potential shines through. Here's what I've gotten from putting myself at the feet of the Buddha. And yet, it's not about blind obedience. Mahanama was too zealous, too blind a follower at the beginning.

There's also an interesting discussion of how a tree leans in a direction, that is connected a bit to stream entry. It points to the importance of an orientation. I think of the spiritual friend that just started bowing to the Buddha statue every time he passed it in his house.

In AA they talk about a power greater than ourselves that can restore us to sanity. I've never understood the concept of God, but conditionality is a power greater than me. I don't have the power to change this basic law. I sew the seed of doubt by imagining an uncaused event. I don't think that would disprove causality, not one anyway. There'd need to be a sort of consistent set of uncaused events, and that itself would probably be figured out as somehow caused. An uncaused event that had uncaused conditions to create it seems unlikely. More likely my doubt is based in pathological attachment issues. Nobody can be trusted, but causality isn't a somebody, it's what seems to be the way the world works. Miracles are just unlikely events that we can't see all the causes and conditions. My doubt can be turned to my understanding of causality, and opening to the wonder. I think in a way spirituality is at the heart of that, no matter how you answer the big questions. Batchelor defines religion as about life and death, and that is OK with me, because I live in this secular world that doubts the thin part of the wedge of hegemony, and the pedagogy of the oppressed. I understand my ability to not swallow the party line. And yet action needs a direction. I don't always face my suffering. I'm tempted to pontificate about others, but the other is me that I'm trying to fend off.

Noble friendship helps us along the way. Noble friendship with my better self as well. To open oneself up to the wonder is perhaps a quixotic task. You don't know if you're listening to the coconut headphones (cargo cults). Be an individual and follow me--that can be a paradox or a Steve Martin joke. Surely there are instincts and desires that are less than noble. Hearing both voice, your inner voice and the voice of the noble community and working to reconcile the two and not lose yourself hasn't always been easy for me.

Strive on my brothers and sisters.

Sunday, November 01, 2015


I'm really enjoying Nothing Holy about It: The Zen of Being Just Who You Are. Anandi thinks it's amazing. I've been reading it out loud to her. Some books the deep spirituality just seeps through the words. This is one of those books. I'm only 25 pages in but I highly recommend this book on what I've read so far. He was a student of Suzuki (Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind) and Katagiri. He started a project of trying to help the homeless in Minneapolis.

Watching the Star Trek: Voyager episode gave me lots of thoughts about avoiding reality, day dreams and having a vision. Reading Nothing Holy about It: The Zen of Being Just Who You AreBurkett talks about Man's Search for Meaning, and how people who could think about life after the camps were the ones who survived. I've also read Daydreaming : Unlock the Creative Power of Your Mind. The thing is to be mindful about what it is and not take it for what it's not. In the dream only the dream.


In the episode the doctor loses track of reality, and that is a problem. I think a lot about the reality principle in conflict with the pleasure (or avoidance of pain) principle. He's embarassed by his desire to be more regarded, loved, respected.