Thursday, March 29, 2018

Where I'm at

Approaching art as though it's dharma is a way to incorporating... I want to say the spiritual life into the spiritual life. Perfection of wisdom moment.

Santa Clara Diet is about blood lust incorporated into the suburban lifestyle. She can't help herself, and they try to just brush it under the rug. Her husband cooperates to the best of his ability. Every day is a crisis of our desires and society's expectations.

Love, on Netflix, is about love and sex addiction. A woman who made poor romantic choices tries to pick a sensitive man, who is himself in need of assertiveness and insight. They try to grow up but it's also got a great sense of place about L.A.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is about abandoning everything to be connected to those you desire. She is smart and has willing accomplices. In the end she goes to jail after living in suburban L.A.

I tried to start reading Getting Off by Erica Garza. I've stalled even though it's a short book. This book is set in L.A.

I'm also reading A History of God which is in some ways an interesting history of human earth religion.

The movie version of Never Let Me Go is depressing, hard to finish. It's in a future world where people are grown specifically to donate organs.

The phrase "chasing the dragon" refers to trying to score drugs, addiction. Addiction is a matter of degrees. How impatient are your to fill up and empty out, the stomach, the bladder, the sink of dishes, the fridge of food?

Altered Carbon has been adapted by Netflix and is about how loving someone always makes a weakness, leads to exploitation, can be used against  you. That's a kind of man romance narrative, reluctant lover. Women throw themselves at him he never initiates. That's not how the world works, thus male romance. They call it tech noir.

Just enjoyed Fun House. It's an intense graphic novel about coming out, literature and self discovery. Now I'm reading First Landing. This is a good book on Mars. Mine is not so good. I wrote a Mars novel, and I've had my first reader read it. I'm going to be getting some feedback today hopefully. I like to think I'm perfectly OK with it sucking. But I think it's been read, so bravo for me. A novel written that is read by at least one is a success. Not sure how much I want to draft it. I could see drafting it the rest of my life, or just letting it go now. I already started on the second novel.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The opposite of Buddhism, still want to get rid of here

Sometimes thoughts are so vivid in my head, I can't shake them for a while. I always say when there's a train of thought coming through, step off the tracks and just let it go by.

A few times people have told me to take responsibility and then went on to say that they had no choice which undermines their point, which really confuses and befudles me. I know when I'm in the wrong I can't nit pick against someone's point, nobody cares, that's why I'm pointing out the contradiction in a blog post.

It would be better to say, "when you did what you had to do, I did what I had to do." That is deterministically consistent.

Or when, "when you made your poor choice, my choice was easy." That is free will consistent.

But to say "when you made your poor choice, I had to do what I had to do." Well, that's free will and determinism. Hey, maybe that's perfection of wisdom.

I'm pretty sure the Buddha would say the determinism versus free will debate won't get you enlightened and the Muslims would call it zanna. I know when I'm in the wrong it's not the time to point out that people are not consistent.

But still. Making a point needs to be clear and not distracting. Probably the least corrected situation is attacking someone in the wrong because nobody cares. "You're losing focus on how wrong you were." Another misdirection evoked by the way someone communicates then blamed on the person getting the heat. Piling on, blame the victim.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


There is a paradox in the seeking in the spiritual life. In the Buddhist tradition you look inwards, but to see guidance outside yourself, you can get support. We don't always assess things properly, don't necessarily see when we're snookered. You can get dramatic and say kill the Buddha. Being too self reliant, you might not hear the teachings that you need.

There's another paradox in syncretism. Do you seek the path that is pointed to by all the traditions? Is it fair to co-opt tricks and turns from traditions that have different goals? Is heaven and grace here and now a kind of enlightenment?

Find the Seeker takes a syncretic approach by looking at Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Stoicism, mystical and metaphysical poets, New Age gurus and Christianity. It has me asking these questions.

There is a part of me that wonders if Buddhism needs other ideas. I don't have a problem with people enjoying other traditions to enhance a Buddhist project. I don't have people who don't want to define things and put them in boxes. I don't have a problem with people enjoying traditions outside Buddhism. You own your path. I just wonder if I need anything else besides the Buddhist teachings. I certainly read other things, but it's just a matter of exposing myself. Perhaps I'm afraid it's not all contained in Buddhism. I want to make sure. Usually I find that I don't need anything besides Buddhism. I don't like it that I'm wary of some teachers, their reputation isn't that great. Perhaps some found good. I'm not against anyone finding good in a teacher. I sometimes wonder if some teachers just tried to churn out stuff to get a following or to maximize their sexual partners or to feel grand, but I didn't really know them, and I shouldn't comment not knowing. I can only go on what seems to me, and I try to have a sense of how well I know things. We have to be superficial because we can't be interested in everything. We have limits. Some books just somehow raise my hackles. Am I just too comfortable with my teacher? One talk I listened to discussed how you should absorb yourself in a tradition quite a while to give it a fair chance. Some people are more faithful and some people are more promiscuous with a tradition or traditions.

I feel like there is a saturation in spiritual books. We're chock a block with them. Some people are into The Secret. Or A Course Of Miracles. I've had lovely conversations based on these books though I have not read them myself. I like Marsha Linehan. There's an intersection between psychology and spirituality. I used to encourage people to explore their spiritual life.

I ask for people to send books to me, and then I get a big pile of books that I don't want to read once I read a few pages. Then I go months and months. I can't seem to control the flow of books, too much for a time, to little for a time. I haven't been reading as much as I used to. I gobbled up books there for a while and I've reread and reread quite a lot of books. Certainly I've missed a lot in gluttony and indigestion. Nowadays books tend to lose me in the introduction. I've been reading a lot of novels instead. I try to push nonfiction but it grates on me at times. You have to give library books back, even though modern apps allow for easy renewal. I've got a list of books I can get out of the library and continue to read. Every once in a while I pick up a book I was reading and finish it and wonder why I quit reading it. I must be currently in the process of reading about 40 books. I read a Mary Oliver poem almost every day.

I hate to sound like a psychoanalytic wonk but I like formulated experience, describing inner experience in it's rich flora and fauna. Sometimes I can't fall asleep because ideas are swooshing around my mind. I remember taking up 2 days contemplating an offense on a retreat. It's hard not to be precious and self obsessed examining your experience to try and transcend it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

More on violence and buddhism

NY Times had an interesting article, with an interesting quote: "There is a philosophically problematic presupposition that also figures into widespread surprise at the very idea of violence perpetrated by Buddhists -- that there is a straightforward relationship between beliefs people hold and the likelihood that they will behave in a corresponding way."

I'm guilty of violating my core beliefs, spectacularly so, but I do think there is a "straightforward relationship between beliefs people hold and the likelihood that they will behave in a corresponding way." It's called integrity. Unless you're on Arrested Development and part of the Bluth family, there is an expectation between words and actions. Maybe not if you're the president of the USA, and his staff, but for everyone else. (I never realized how much I expect from the president of the USA until a president seems so unpresidential--I often realize my beliefs after I have violated them. I need to be more proactive.)

The writers goes on to say that we are not transparent, we are opaque, and we never really know what we're going to do or for why.

The writers are Dan Arnold and Alicia Turner, and they go on to suggest that what ever people believe, the same wide range of human failings will always be present. A sort of conservation of failings belief? In dumping the metaphysic that people might be influenced by their beliefs, they seem wise and savvy, but do they create another unbelievable metaphysic?

I feel like the second I stepped into Buddhism, it was all about exemplifying and inhabiting a belief in doing well for others, and not just saying it. That's the whole point. Now, we're all in process and we're unlikely to be enlightened so there will be a gap between our aspirations and our behavior. I'd say "hate the sin but not the sinner", but we are what we do, so the sin is the sinner. We can see people for what they hope to be. The point is to be realistic that there will be a gap, but also not make that an "alli alli in come free".

I did like it that the article pointed out that the colonizers, the British, started splitting the country's groups by saying the Buddhists were peaceful, and that the Muslim and Hindu were not. There are peaceful strains in both those religions, they could have worked to unite, but as colonizers they were more about exploiting. So the idea that Buddhists are non-violent may have a history in colonialism.

But I still think we should be able to follow belief to action. I'm not willing to give that up.