Wednesday, July 21, 2021

What is Solarpunk?

     What is Solarpunk?

From the perspective of the early 21st century, things look pretty grim. A deadly cocktail of crises engulf the people of planet Earth and all other forms of biotic life which share it: a geopolitical crisis, an economic crisis, and a worsening ecological crisis due to global warming, which stems from a political-economic system that requires fossil fuels to power its technostructure.

Culture, having as it does a symbiotic relationship with material conditions, reflects a lot of these crises in fiction and the arts. The 2000s and 2010s were replete with apocalyptic imagery of a future ravaged by war, totalitarianism, runaway weapons technology, killer viruses, zombies, and environmental collapse. Not that such narratives are unneeded. At best, they can serve as a wake-up call for those caught up in the myth that we had reached the “end of history” with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the triumph of capitalism on a planetary scale. But if they remain the primary vision our globalised culture has of the potential future, they can end up reproducing the pervasive cynicism and despair which makes all crises seem inescapable. 

This is why solarpunk is of value.

Solarpunk is a Revolt of Hope Against Despair

Solarpunk is a rebellion against the structural pessimism in our late visions of how the future will be. Not to say it replaces pessimism with Pollyanna-ish optimism, but with a cautious hopefulness and a daring to tease out the positive potentials in bad situations. Hope that perhaps the grounds of an apocalypse (revelation) might also contain the seeds of something better; something more ecological, liberatory, egalitarian, and vibrant than what came before, if we work hard at cultivating those seeds.

Any tour of the geeky parts of the Internet will reveal an assortment of different traditions ending in the suffix “punk”: steampunk, dieselpunk, clockpunk, biopunk, cyberpunk, post-cyberpunk, and so on. All the many different punk science-fiction movements imagine how things could turn out if society and technology took a different turn. While steampunk imagines a past that might have been, based on Victorian-age technology, solarpunk imagines a future that could be, based on current-age technology. It anticipates the type alternative history science-fiction the people of the future might write about us if things turn out horribly. But more than just a new science-fiction or fantasy subgenre, it’s also practical vision for (maybe) bringing the things it imagines into being in the real world.

You may ask what exactly is meant to be “punk” about what a cynic might see as the lovechild of hippies and futurists. After all, isn’t punk meant to denote anger and rage at the “the system”, as well as black leather and spikey hair? Punk is more of an ethos than a specific set of signifiers, implying rebellion against, and negation of, the dominant paradigm and everything repressive about it. So in that sense, in a world being torn apart by a planetary system based on avarice and power-lust and ecocide, solarpunk might be the most “punk” movement of all.

Solarpunk is Eco-Speculation, in Both Fiction and Reality

Solarpunk is a (mostly) aesthetic-cultural and (sometimes) ethical-political tendency which attempts to negate the dominant idea which grips popular consciousness: that the future must be grim, or at least grim for the mass of people and nonhuman forms of life on the planet. Looking at the millennia-old rift between human society and the natural world, it sets as its ethical foundation the necessity of mending this rift, transforming our relation to the planet by transcending those social structures which lead to systemic ecocide.

It draws a lot from the philosophy of social ecology, which also focused on mending this rift by restructuring society to function more like ecology: non-hierarchical, cooperative, diverse, and seeking balance.

Solarpunk’s vision is of an ecological society beyond war, domination, and artificial scarcity; where everything is powered by green energy and a culture of hierarchy and exclusion has been replaced by a culture founded on radical inclusiveness, unity-in-diversity, free cooperation, participatory democracy, and personal self-realisation.

This would be a world of decentralised eco-cities, 3D printing, vertical farms, solar glass windows, wild or inventive forms of dress and design, and a vibrant cosmopolitan aesthetic; where technology is no longer used to exploit the natural world, but to automate away needless human labour and to help restore the damage the Oil Age has already done. Solarpunk desires societies of polycultural ethnic diversity and gender liberation, where each person is able to actualise themselves in societal environment of free experimentation and communal caring; and driven by an overriding ethos of compassionate rationalism, where science and reason are not seen as antithetical to imagination and spirituality, but as concepts which bring out the best in each other.

It attempts to bring such values in being in the here-and-now, prefiguring the world to be created, through science-fiction and fantasy literature, arts, fashion, filmmaking, music, games, and a set of ideas which inform political, economic, and ecological activism.

Solarpunk stories are likely to feature characters from (currently) oppressed or marginalised groups living more freely, equally, and inclusively than they are able to now; exploring an exotic world of body modification, gender and sexual discovery, new forms of technology – and dealing with conflicts from the remnants of the old world as well as the unique problems which are sure to arise in a very different social scene. Solarpunk arts are driven by mixtures of multimedia technology and more traditional handcrafts, blending such disparate things as anime, Art Nouveau, Afrofuturism, indigenous American designs, and Edwardian fashion into a stew of artistic cross-pollination. And all of the above try to take the existing aspects of our current world and repurpose them into something more liberatory, specialising in reframing, pastiche, and reimagining of existing characters, styles, and trends in a very different context. Blending the diverse aesthetic styles of several different cultures, solarpunk engenders a celebration of hybridity while still being sensitive to the problems of cultural appropriation – “taking” instead of “partaking” – from subordinate cultures by dominant cultures

Solarpunk is the Positive Articulation of a Better World

Not content to accept the dictates of a tomorrow ruled by authoritarian states, rapacious corporations, and a despoiled biosphere, solarpunk is an eco-futurist movement which tries to think our way out of catastrophe by imagining a future most people would actually like to live in, instead of ones we should be trying to avoid; a future characterised by a reconciliation between humanity and nature, where technology is utilised for human-centric and eco-centric ends, and where a society driven by hierarchy and competition has given way to one organised on the basis of freedom, equality, and cooperation. It’s purpose is to serve as a compelling counter-narrative to the material and ideational conditions which keep us trapped in an authoritarian and ecocidal world where, as Margaret Thatcher put it, “there is no alternative”.

There already exist bits and pieces of just such an alternative right now, if only their potentials were drawn out. Worker cooperatives, self-sufficient eco-communities, directly-democratic popular assemblies, voluntary federations of small polities, mutual aid networks, community land trusts; all of these could form, it utilised, a very different kind of political-economic structure than the one being pushed by neoliberal globalisation. Likewise, technologies such as solar and wind and wave energy, 3D printing, vertical farming, micro-manufacturing, free software, open-source hardware, and robotic machinery which can automate away human labour all serve to illustrate the possibilities of an ecological and decentralised technostructure where the means of production are under popular control, rather than used to enhance the profit and power of a ruling elite.

In politics, solarpunk belongs to the wider tradition of the decentralist left, associated with such thinkers and activists as Peter Kropotkin, William Morris, Emma Goldman, Lewis Mumford, Paul Goodman, E.F. Schumacher, and Murray Bookchin. It rejects the false choice between the Scylla of market capitalism and the Charybdis of state socialism, between rugged individualism and smothering collectivism, instead opting for a society which reconciles a healthy individuality with communal solidarity.

A solarpunk polity would replace centralised forms of state government with decentralised confederations of self-governing communities, each administering themselves through many forms of direct and participatory democracy, with countless kinds of horizontally-structured voluntary associations taking care of judicial, environmental, and societal issues in ways which seek to maximise both personal autonomy and social solidarity.

A solarpunk “economy of the commons” would dispense with both profiteering corporations and statist central planning in favour of worker-run cooperatives, collaborative exchange networks, common pool resources, and control of investment by local communities. The aim of the economy would be reoriented from production-for-exchange and industrial “growth” to production-for-use and increasing the bio-psycho-social well-being of people and planet. Production would be moved as close as is possible to the point of consumption, with the long term aim being a relative self-sufficiency in goods and manufacturing. Decentralist forms of eco-technology would be used to help make work more participatory and enjoyable – “artisan-ising” the productive process itself – as well as automate away dull, dirty, and dangerous forms of work wherever possible. After realising an appropriate degree of post-scarcity, local self-sufficiency, and labour automation, it may even be feasible to abolish money as an unneeded nuisance in the allocation of resources.

A solarpunk culture would strive to dissolve every form of social hierarchy and domination – whether based on class, race, gender, sexuality, ability, or species – dispersing the power some individuals or groups wield over others and thus increasing the aggregate freedom of all; empowering the disempowered and including the excluded. It is rooted in the legacy of such liberatory movements as anti-authoritarian socialism, feminism, racial justice, queer and trans liberation, disability struggles, animal liberation, and digital freedom projects.

Solarpunk is Practical Utopianism

As you can see, there have always been alternatives, conventional wisdom just dismisses them out of hand as “utopian”. But is utopianism really such a bad thing? In one way, yes. The word itself, coined by Thomas More, is a Latin pun which means both “no-place” (ou-topia) but also “good-place” (eu-topia); implying a place so good it couldn’t exist. Before and after More, there were attempts by outopian dreamers to craft perfect worlds in which no real problems existed, such projects also tended to be totalitarian and centrally planned societies with little personal freedom.

Yet there have also been attempts to craft future societies which weren’t flawless “end of history” scenarios, but that tried to eliminate the structural conditions which limited personal autonomy and enforced inequality upon people. Such eutopian visionaries mixed a spirit of hopefulness with an attitude of practicality, with one tempering the other. It is this latter tradition that solarpunk tries to take its cues from. So it is not utopian in the negative sense of wanting to design a “perfect” world without any problems – a outopia (no-place) – but it is utopian in imagining a better world which will inspire people to create it in reality – a eutopia (good-place).

So solarpunk is not utopian in the negative sense of wanting to design a “perfect” world without any problems – a outopia (no-place) – but it is utopian in imagining a better world which will inspire people to create it in reality – a eutopia (good-place). It sees utopia as a constant process of approximating an ideal, not reaching a light at the end of a tunnel. Solarpunk acknowledges that our utopia of social liberation and ecological stewardship may never be achieved 100%, but if we at least keep that vision in mind, throwing our efforts into making the world a bit better wherever we can, then at least every step we take towards achieving that utopia will be a step in the right direction. It will be progress, and, for those it positively impacts, liberation.

As Oscar Wilde once said, “A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of utopias.”


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Fruit Juices

 - A.B.C.
Apple Beetroot Carrot

- Heart Health
Orange Carrot Beetroot Ginger

- Classic
Apple Carrot Celery Beetroot Ginger

- Immune Boost
Orange Carrot Lemon Ginger Turmeric

- Tropical Detox
Pineapple Cucumber Apple Mint

- Hangover Cure
Apple Cucumber Celery Carrot Lemon Ginger

- Watermelon + Ginger

Monday, September 14, 2020

We're all Earth

If we care for our garden and let it grow and regenerate it will care for us. 🙂

What a wonderful world

Filled with such diversity of transforming interconnected lives.

Worth so much more than greed that kills

Bringing so many painful ills

Extinctions of our diverse family of life

Why transform life into death?

True wealth is health and life for all our family members

Not burnt black homeless dead extinct lost and remembered.


Everything is communicating in a huge interconnected network

Everything is communicating in a huge interconnected network

"Ever borrow something from a friend or neighbour? You gossip while there too, right? Perhaps even align yourselves against a common enemy. The “Wood wide web,” can do all of this for plants. Fungi are made up of tiny threads called mycelium. These travel underground, connecting the roots of different plants in an area, even different species, together, allowing them to communicate and so much more. Some researchers say the trees of the forest and the mushrooms we find growing next to them are so interconnected, that it is hard for them to see trees as individual entities any longer."

Merlin Sheldrake, Michael Pollan, Louie Schwartzberg: Entangled Life

Energy Power Electromagnetism Life

 These powers created with shared imaginations and ideas to create programs, systems, organisations, politics, networks and information communication create or destroy our world. 📷 Worth wondering about? ? 
⚡️⚡️Electricity does it all. ⚡️⚡️
Down to neurons in our brains and atoms.
⚡️Electricity. ⚡️+ 0 - 
Energy that always combines opposites with magnetism
to create all electromagnetic energy powers and life that exists. ?

Sunday, June 09, 2019


My modified version of the soup described in the video
(My changes are in italics)


    Baby carrots - 1 kg
    Red capsicums (bell peppers) - 4 large - 1kg
    Vegetable broth - 1 litre
    Celery - 1kg (1 bunch)
    Lemon juice - 2 large lemons
    Onion powder
    Coriander powder
    Bay Leaves - 4 large
    Brocolli - 5
    Green Beans - 1 kg
    Salt - 4 teaspoons
    White Pepper
    Olive Oil - 1 cup
    Garlic cloves - crushed and chopped - 3
    Beetroot - 1
    Turnip - 1
    Button Mushrooms - 200g
    Lime - 4

- Fill with Water



Boil for 1 hour

Can be stored in the fridge for around a week.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My Daughters and I

Love filled joy in this reconnection
Heart ripped apart and tears emerged
When heart and mind went to sad reflection
When daughters and father together were once merged

Time that can never be regained
Patience a virtue to endure
Through suffering and pain enflamed
Thinking of them daily without cure

Detachment impossibly engrained

Patient non-attachment seems like hell
When we meet again, I cannot tell
Accepting what I can't control

Life is suffering as I burn in hell

Tears come to quench fires of the soul
Yearning for wonderful reunition
As life's energy gets reignition
Once again a burning whole
Clarified fire enlivening soul


Michael Eckardt
20 May 2018

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Formidable Vegetable Sound System - Grow Do It

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Zen master explains why “positive thinking” is terrible advice

Have you ever been told to just “think positive” and your problems will go away?

Or that to achieve your goals in life, all you have to do is visualize it with positive intent?

It’s a philosophy that’s been popular for decades thanks to books like How to win Friends and Influence People and Think and Grow Rich.

But is it really helping us live more meaningful and fulfilling lives? Not exactly.

In fact, according to spiritual guru, Osho, it might just be one of the biggest “bullshit philosophies” there is.


Why “positive thinking” won’t help you out


When asked what he thinks of the “positive thinking” movement, Osho believes that it’s doing more harm than good. Why? Because it means we’re denying reality and being dishonest to ourselves:

    “The philosophy of positive thinking means being untruthful; it means being dishonest. It means seeing a certain thing and yet denying what you have seen; it means deceiving yourself and others.”

    “Positive thinking is the only bullshit philosophy that America has contributed to human thought – nothing else. Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, and the Christian priest, Vincent Peale – all these people have filled the whole American mind with this absolutely absurd idea of a positive philosophy.

    And it appeals particularly to mediocre minds…

    Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, has been sold in numbers just next to the Christian Bible. No other book has been able to reach that popularity.

    The Christian Bible should not be a competitor in fact, because it is more or less given free, forced on people. But Dale Carnegie’s book people have been purchasing; it has not been given to you free. And it has created a certain kind of ideology which has given birth to many books of a similar kind. But to me it is nauseating.

    … Dale Carnegie started this whole school of positive philosophy, positive thinking: Don’t see the negative part, don’t see the darker side. But by your not seeing it, do you think it disappears? You are just befooling yourself. You cannot change reality. The night will still be there; you can think that it is daytime for twenty-four hours, but by your thinking it, it is not going to be light twenty-four hours a day.

    The negative is as much part of life as the positive. They balance each other.”

He also used this opportunity to throw shade at the enormously popular book Think and Grow Rich:

    “About Napoleon Hill I remember… he himself was a poor man. That would have been enough proof to disprove his whole philosophy. He became rich by selling the book, Think and Grow Rich.

    But it was not positive thinking that was making him rich – it was fools around the world who were purchasing the book, it was his work, his labor, his effort. But in the very beginning days, when his book came out, he used to stand in bookstores to persuade people to purchase the book.

    And it happened that Henry Ford came in his latest model car and went into the bookshop to find something light to read. And Napoleon Hill did not want to miss this chance. He went forwards with his book and he said, “A great book has just been published – you will be happy with it. And it is not only a book, it is a sure method of success.”

    Henry Ford looked at the man and said, “Are you the writer of the book?”

    Napoleon Hill said proudly, “Yes, I am the writer of the book.” And he can be proud: that book he has written is a piece of art. And to create a piece of art out of crap is real mastery.

    Henry Ford, without touching the book, just asked one question, “Have you come in your own car or on the bus?”

    Napoleon Hill could not understand what he meant. He said, “Of course, I came on the bus.”

    Henry Ford said, ”Look outside. That is my private car, and I am Henry Ford. You are befooling others; you don’t have even a private car and you write a book called Think and Grow Rich! And I have grown rich without thinking, so I don’t want to bother with it. You think and grow rich! – and when you grow rich then you come to me. That will be the proof. The book is not the proof.”

    And it is said that Napoleon Hill never could gather up the courage to meet this old man, Henry Ford, again, even though he became a little richer. But compared to Henry Ford he was always a poor man and was bound to remain a poor man, always. But Henry Ford’s logic was clear.

    No. I do not believe in any philosophy of positive thinking.”


The half-truth is dangerous


Osho says that forcing yourself to think positive all the time is simply denying the reality of our lives, and it will eventually come around and bite us:

    “You ask me: Am I against positive philosophy? Yes, because I am also against negative philosophy.

    I have to be against both because both choose only half the fact, and both try to ignore the other half.

    And remember: a half-truth is far more dangerous than a whole lie, because the whole lie will be discovered by you sooner or later. How long can it remain undiscovered by you? A lie, of course, is a lie; it is just a palace made of playing cards – a little breeze and the whole palace disappears.

    But the half-truth is dangerous. You may never discover it, you may continue to think it is the whole truth. So the real problem is not the whole lie, the real problem is the half-truth pretending to be the whole truth; and that is what these people are doing.”


The negative ideas of your mind have to be released, not repressed


Osho goes onto say that it’s harmful to repress negative emotions:

    “The negative ideas of your mind have to be released, not repressed by positive ideas. You have to create a consciousness which is neither positive nor negative. That will be the pure consciousness.

    In that pure consciousness you will live the most natural and blissful life…

    You don’t like a person, you don’t like many things; you don’t like yourself, you don’t like the situation you are in. All this garbage goes on collecting in the unconscious, and on the surface a hypocrite is born, who says, “I love everybody, love is the key to blissfulness.” But you don’t see any bliss in that person’s life. He is holding the whole of hell within himself.

    He can deceive others, and if he goes on deceiving long enough, he can deceive himself too. But it won’t be a change. It is simply wasting life – which is immensely valuable because you cannot get it back.

    Positive thinking is simply the philosophy of hypocrisy – to give it the right name. When you are feeling like crying, it teaches you to sing. You can manage if you try, but those repressed tears will come out at some point, in some situation. There is a limitation to repression. And the song that you were singing was absolutely meaningless; you were not feeling it, it was not born out of your heart.”


Tuesday, May 23, 2017




Daleks don't sound like scary monsters when EXTERMINATE reversed, sounds like SCARY MONSTER. 😃

Thursday, May 11, 2017

BEES History of knowledge, traditions, symbols and their close relationship with us

History of knowledge, traditions, symbols
and their close relationship with us.


The Bee is dying and we are only now beginning to wake up and recognise its huge significance, not only to the global economy but to our very survival. However the importance of this sacred creature was not lost on ancient man, in fact, from prehistory to Egyptian times, it appears to have been viewed as the single most cherished god on the planet.


The Bee was held sacred in prehistory before undergoing a transformation into an icon of unparalleled adoration in the sophisticated civilisations of ancient Sumer and Egypt. How did it also became the inspiration for the first principals of the United States of America? Well, that’s another story altogether


Freemasonry, Napoleon and the wider esoteric community have all paid homage to the Bee, but that has not stopped it from dying. Albert Einstein forewarned that mankind will perish four years after the Bee does, and this puts us circa 2012; the end of days according to the Mayans. Does anybody care, and how has it come to this in first place?

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Leadership Qualities of Kings and Queens

Leadership Qualities of Kings and Queens

1-Lead ourselves before leading others, Discipline
2-Able to change dreams into reality
3-A leader takes the lead
4-Few leaders are born but many are self made
5-Looks for or creates opportunity
6-Positive, futuristic, energetic, active
7-Vision, goal
9-Willing to take responsibilities
10-All problems are challenges
11-Charismatic, popular
12-Good communication skills
13-Self Respect
14-Capacity to love others
15-Integrity and morality
16-Able to see things from others points of view
17-Mentally tough and rigid
18-Resilience and ability to fight
20-Patience, compassion, love, understanding and concern for others
21-Doesn't procrastinate



What's the purpose in trying to define or imagine a clear, visual idea of what is God if there's so many different IDEAs that can't be agreed upon still after all these years. The big undefinable God/Creator that's not worth killing each for in the name of these various imaginings of reality.
People die when IDEAS destroy ENERGY/POWER, money, economies.
The battle to drive our actions by influencing our ideas, beliefs, stories and imagination that drives us.
What seems most important in motivating a person?
These things that we kill and die for.
WHY do we believe what we believe?
Often discovering what is not true with mistakes
to discover what is true along the way.
We'll never be bored with so much to learn.


What matters most?




Which one doesn't belong in this group and why?

DEMOCRACY "Government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is retained and directly exercised by the people." [1913 Webster]

Being exercised by the PEOPLE that have money that buys food that the PEOPLE have become dependant upon and often going against the SUPREME POWER OF THE PEOPLE.

LIBERTY "The state of a free person; exemption from subjection to the will of another claiming ownership of the person or services; freedom; -- opposed to slavery, serfdom, bondage, or subjection." [1913 Webster]

FREEDOM "The state of being free; exemption from the power and control of another; liberty; independence." [1913 Webster]

INDEPENDENCE "The state or quality of being independent; freedom from dependence; exemption from reliance on, or control by, others; self-subsistence or maintenance; direction of one's own affairs without interference." [1913 Webster]

Weird While Wonderful World With Wonderful W

Weird While Wonderful World With Wonderful W

Why, What, When, Who, Wonder, Worry, Where Would We Wander Without W While Weekend Wondering With Weird Warriors, Warriors, Wanters, Waiters, Wonderer's, Wanders, Wizards, Warlocks, Witches, Wankers, Workers, Writers Writing Wearily While Watching Writing Wrap White With Words With Wisdom, Wit, Wonders, Worries, Wirelessly With WiFi While Wandering With WE While Working Wonders With Workstations Wine Whiskey Weed While Words Weave Within Wonderful Wanters With Wills Who Wish We Would Woneday Wonderfully Worldwide Waltz While Workings Wonders With WORDS With W.

Friday, May 23, 2014

12 Quick Ways to Build Self Esteem

12 Quick Ways to Build Self Esteem

Post written by Warren. Follow him on Twitter.

Unleash your inner self esteem.
Unleash your inner self esteem.
Self esteem is a tricky subject.
We often talk about how to instill self esteem in children, or whether someone we know has too little (or too much) self esteem.  But, we rarely evaluate our own levels.
Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid of what we’ll find.
If you stop to do a personal inventory, you may find that you lack the confidence you should have in yourself.  Of course, there are an unlimited number of factors that have gone into the development of your self esteem, dating all the way back to childhood.  That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t improve your own feelings of self worth.
After all, it’s hard for others to have confidence in us if we don’t first have it in ourselves.
Implementing these tactics in your daily life really can have a cumulative effect that will have you feeling more confidence.
  1. Set goals for yourself. It’s impossible to get anywhere if you don’t first know where you’re trying to go.  By setting goals for daily life, you are far more likely to get what you want.  As you reach these goals, your belief in your own abilities will grow, as will your list of personal successes.  Talk about a self-esteem booster!
  2. Acknowledge your own strengths. It’s not uncommon to get so caught up in the things we want to improve about ourselves that we simply forget about all of the great things that make us special.  Create a list of the things that you are good at and let yourself feel pride over your accomplishments.  Are you a great listener?  Do you have a good work ethic?  Do you keep your car clean?  Some of these things may seem small, but when you have a list of good qualities staring you in the face, it’s a lot easier to feel good about yourself.
  3. Avoid negativity. Many people spew negativity as a way to bolster their own lacking self esteem.  By avoiding others who do this, you will refrain from taking that negativity into your own life.  In addition, there is something empowering about “taking the high road.”  A great example of this comes from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements.  The first agreement is to “be impeccable with your word,” which means to speak the truth and avoid things like gossip and negativity.
  4. Get a makeover. While self esteem certainly shouldn’t be dependent upon looks or clothing, these things can be an influence.  Sometimes something as simple as a new hairstyle or an updated wardrobe can be the impetus to feeling better about yourself.
  5. Project confidence. Low self esteem can perpetuate itself, and one of the best ways to break the cycle is to remove outward signs of it.  When you meet with someone, offer a firm handshake, look him or her in the eye, and make yourself heard.  These things can all be difficult at first, because they take you out of your comfort zone, but as you recognize that others are treating you differently, you’ll begin to feel different.
  6. Give yourself a break. If you were dealing with a young child, you would give him or her a lot of leeway and would offer guidance and support to develop self esteem.  You deserve the same compassion.  Everyone makes mistakes, so allow them to be learning experiences and move forward.
  7. Check your posture. Just for a moment, lift your chin, push your shoulders back, and walk across the room.  Our emotions are connected to our physical bodies, and simply changing your posture can have a surprising effect on how you feel.
  8. Smile. Again, our physical bodies can have a major effect on our emotions.  Start by spending five minutes smiling for no good reason at all.  It may feel a little odd at first, but you will find that by the end of the five minutes, your mood will have lifted, and you will be smiling for real.
  9. Forget perfection. Striving to do your best is certainly a positive trait, but striving for perfection is setting yourself up for failure.  For most of us, our best will never be “perfect,” and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Instead, focus on giving your all, and you’ll be better able to enjoy the outcome instead of kicking yourself for not having attained the unattainable.
  10. Be grateful. Much has been said about the power of the “gratitude journal.”  Start a notebook or create a file that you use simply to write down the things in your life for which you are grateful.  They can be big things like health and family, or small things like fresh-squeezed orange juice with breakfast.  The idea is to start recognizing the positive things in your life in order to reshape how you think about yourself.
  11. Impress yourself. Think of something that you admire someone else for doing, and then do it yourself.  There are endless possibilities, of course, from taking a class to reading a certain book to doing volunteer work and beyond.  Choose something that will cause you to “stretch” yourself a little bit but that isn’t impossible so that you will be sure to experience the feeling that comes with success.
  12. Accept compliments. As you implement these ideas, it’s likely that people will notice and remark.  Getting a makeover, for example, is sure to elicit compliments from friends and coworkers.  Rather than just brushing these kinds words off, embrace them.  Smile and say “thank you.”  As you learn to accept compliments, you will realize that you are worthy of them.
Self esteem is not something that can be granted overnight, but there are many small steps that you can take quickly and easily to get you on the path to feeling more confident.  In most cases, building self esteem is a case of replacing negative images with positive ones, and each of the suggestions here helps you to do that in a small way.  When you add them together, however, you have the opportunity to change your outlook and your life.
Just remember this:

“I CAN is 100 times more important than IQ”
How do YOU not only build your self esteem, but maintain it?
I want to hear your thoughts.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin Posted on September 10, 2009


Monday, May 19, 2014

Are You Lacking Self-Discipline? - Part 1

A man does not live until he begins to discipline himself; he merely exists. Like an animal he gratifies his desires and pursues his inclinations just where they may lead him. He is happy as a beast is happy, because he is not conscious of what he is depriving himself; he suffers as the beast suffers, because he does not know the way out of suffering. He does not intelligently reflect upon life, and lives in a series of sensations, longings, and confused memories which are unrelated to any central idea or principle. A man whose inner life is so ungoverned and chaotic must necessarily manifest this confusion in the visible conditions of his outer life in the world; and though for a time, running with the stream of his desires, he may draw to himself a more or less large share of the outer necessities and comforts of life, he never achieves any real success nor accomplishes any real good, and sooner or later wordly failure and disaster are inevitable, as the direct result of the inward failure to properly adjust and regulate those mental forces which make the outer life.

Before a man accomplish anything of an enduring nature in the world he must first of all acquire some measure of success in the management of his own mind. This is as mathematical a truism as that two and two are four, for, "out of the heart are the issues of life." If a man cannot govern the forces within himself, he cannot hold a firm hand upon the outer activities which form his visible life. On the other hand, as a man succeeds, in governing himself he rises to higher and higher levels of power and usefulness and success in the world. The only difference between the life of the beast and that of the undisciplined man is that the man has a wider variety of desires, and experiences a greater intensity of suffering. It may be said of such a man that he is dead, being truly dead to self-control, chastity, fortitude, and all the nobler qualities which constitute life. In the consciousness of such a man the crucified Christ ies entombed, awaiting that resurrection which shall revivify the mortal sufferer, and wake him up to a knowledge of tha realities of his existence.

With the practice of self-discipline a man begins to live, for he then commences to rise above the inward confusion and to adjust his conduct to a steadfast centre within himself. He ceases to follow where inclination leads him, reins in the steed of his desires, and lives in accordance with the dictates of reason and wisdom. Hitherto his life has been without purpose or meaning, but now he begins to consciously mould his own destiny; he is "clothed and in his right mind."

In the process of self-discipline there are three stages namely;

1. Control

2. Purification

3. Relinquishment

A man begins to discipline himself by controlling those passions which have hitherto controlled him; he resists temptation and guards himself against all those tendencies to selfish gratifications which are so easy and natural, and which have formerly dominated him. He brings his appetite into subjection, and begins to eat as a reasonable and responsible being, practising moderation and thoughtfulness in the selection of his food, with the object of making his body a pure instrument through which he may live and act as becomes a man, and no longer degarding that body by pandering to gustatory pleasure. He puts a check upon his tongue, his temper, and, in fact, his every animal desire and tendency, and this he does by referring all his acts to a fixed centre within himself. It is a process of living from within outward, instead of, as formerly, from without inward. He conceives of an ideal, and, enshrining that ideal in the sacred recesses of his heart, he regulates his conduct in accordance with its exaction and demands.

There is a philosophical hypothesis that at the heart of every atom and every aggregation of atoms in the universe there is a motionless center which is the sustaining source of all the universal activities. Be this as it may, there is certainly in the heart of every man and woman a selfless centre without which the outer man could not be, and the ignoring of which leads to suffering and confusion. This selfless center which takes the form, in the mind, of an ideal of unselfishness and spotless purity, the attainment of which is desirable, is man's eternal refuge from the storms of passion and all the conflicting elements of his lower nature. It is the Rock of Ages, the Christ within, the divine and immortal in all men.

End of part 1. Part 2 coming soon...

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Friday, September 06, 2013

Confusion is the Mother of Wisdom

Confusion is the Mother of Wisdom

from a Dharma Assembly

by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi

So first of all, I would like to wish you all a Happy Prajnaparamita, Mother of Wisdom Day. What we are gathered here this morning to look into is this whole issue of confusion.
Moment after moment, thoughts and feeling arise, and they come and go. There are some thoughts that we feel pleased to welcome when they arrive. There are other thoughts that we simply do not want to have. And there is the fact that these thoughts are continually arising moment after moment after moment and filtering our view of our experience so that we continually fall into points of view that are very partial, very biased.
Some of the ways in which this bias arises we can describe as the three klesas: passion, aggression, and stupidity. So that there are things that we like and we tend to draw them towards us, thinking that somehow they will enrich us, somehow we can have something from them. Somehow, we have some kind of fundamental poverty, some fundamental lack that this thing, this object, this person, this event will fill. Finding that this isn't so, we continually grab. There are things that we feel threaten us, things that bother us, things that irritate us, that push at us, that impinge on us and so we have aggression. We set up a boundary, a territory, and then struggle to defend it continually. But the enemy is not only without, but within. And so the struggle goes on.
And then there is the klesa of stupidity. Finding that we can only maintain passion for so long, we can only maintain aggression for so long, for the most part we lapse into a kind of apathy in which we don't really see, we don't really hear. Most of the people that you meet you never look at in the eyes. Most of the people you listen to, you're spending most of that time waiting for them to shut up so that you can say something or just waiting for them to shut up and go away. So this is part of how our confusion manifests.
It also manifests much more deeply, much more subtly as "self and other", "this and that". It manifests even more subtly as what we believe to be a body, what we believe to be a mind, what we believe to be time and space. We have all kinds of beliefs, all kinds of conceptions, all kinds of points of view that we fall into that do not match our experience. And so we call this confusion, or we might call it dukkha; we might call it suffering.
Since there is so much attachment to our confusion, when we begin to practice and we begin to realize that there is a possibility of clarity, a possibility of wisdom, we want to release our attachment to confusion and we want to grab on to clarity. We want to hold on to clarity. But the whole source and root of confusion is attachment and to become attached to clarity, to become attached to wisdom, is simply confusion. It is in directly recognizing confusion as it arises that wisdom also arises. If we believe that wisdom or clarity is a state without confusion, at the moment that we are confused then wisdom is completely separate from us. At that moment being confused, wishing to be clear, wishing to have wisdom, we try to impose some state upon ourselves that is not present. And so we enter into conflict, we enter into struggle, because we are being far too simple-minded. We are being quite idiotic about the whole matter of practice. Or some moment of clarity arises and we congratulate ourselves. We start to compare it to our confusion and say "Oh this is so much better". But this state is not wisdom. This moment of clarity is perhaps a glimpse of what our experience is like when we are not hiding from it, when we are not falling into points of view. But as soon as there is the slightest measure of attachment, of identification with this state, then we have become confused, because this state will go, confusion will arise once more.
Now when you sit, you get lost in a thought and then you wake up and you come back and you might feel frustrated that you have continually become lost in thought or become localized or contracted around a sound or a pain in the knee, some sensation which is present. Or you are following the breath and there is this sense of being somebody who is following the breath which you sense as a kind of hesitation, which you sense as something that just is not necessary, some kind of holding and seeing this you become more and more frustrated because you want to let go of it, you want to do something that you might have heard of, like becoming one with the breath, and so the frustration builds. Perhaps at such a moment, what we can do is drop the image that we have at that moment of what we should be like and attend to how we are.
Instead of trying to "become one" with the breath, which is simply a conditional state of concentration in any case rather than a direct insight into the nature of our experience, and instead of berating ourselves for having been lost in a thought, perhaps we could recognize that at the moment that we notice that we are not mindful, mindfulness is present. Perhaps then we begin to allow ourselves some room, some space in which whatever is arising for us can arise. If there is enough space, then whatever arises will go. Quite simply, quite clearly it will self-liberate rather than our having to do something to liberate ourselves from it. The thought, the feeling, the conception will self-liberate.
Attention arises as what we are experiencing moment after moment, waking, sleeping, dreaming, the characteristic of all of our experiences is that they are annica, they are impermanent or even sunya - they are empty. This emptiness is like a blue sky. Whatever arises within the sky is part of the sky.
There have been some strong winds gusting down the streets, over the buildings, messing up your hair, making you drop your bag of groceries, then there was blue sky and now there are clouds, a gray sky; but all of these are sky. The clouds that are arising within the sky are the sky. They are hot and cold fronts mixing and moisture, the very moisture that makes the sky blue, gathers together and forms clouds. Clouds are not separate from the sky. Clouds are what the sky is doing. Whatever arises within awareness cannot actually obstruct awareness. It is simply how awareness is presenting itself in that moment.
Our awareness is always a Great Space or Daiku. Whatever arises in your life arises as your life. The people that you meet, the things that you do, arise within your experience. They are not outside of you. You might believe that your skin forms a kind of boundary between you and the world, but the skin is in fact simply another way of knowing the world. Do you feel the clothes on your back and on your legs? Do you feel the temperature of the room? This is what the skin does. It knows. It is aware and alive.
The more closely that we look into our experience, the more that "inside" and "outside" make no sense whatsoever. If inside and outside really define nothing, then we have no territory to defend. There is nothing that we need to conquer. There is nothing that we need to avoid. There is nothing that we need to be attached to. Whatever is arising within our life is arising as our life and this, of course, includes confusion. This, of course, includes our tendency to distance ourselves. It includes the boundaries that we set up. All of these boundaries, these thoughts, these experiences, these colours, these forms are the Activity of this Space.
Sometimes we can become so overcome by the Activity that we have no recognition of Space. Sometimes we can try to hold on to Space and treat it as if it were separate from the Activity, in which case we are attached to emptiness. We have some conception, some idea that has festered in our mind concerning our practice. Or perhaps we simply space out, perhaps we simply want to avoid experiences. But whatever is presenting itself the Activity of this Great Space, and both this Activity and Space arise within our knowing of them, so Knowing, Activity and Space are inseparable and they are how our lives present themselves.
Confusion is when we hold on to space and avoid activity or hold onto activity and avoid space. But whatever arises presents itself within Awareness and points directly to the fact that one is aware. Whatever one is aware of is not what Awareness in itself is. This Awareness, this Knowing, this Space, this Activity, the essence, the Heart of our experience, presents itself as experiences and yet it itself is not an experience, not a state. It, itself, can never become bound or defined. It can never be lost. It can never be found. Because it presents itself everywhere and is always unconditionally free; because it is no time, no place. It has no body, it has no mind, because it arises as all bodies, as all minds, as all times, as all places and yet it never moves.
Just as reflections arise within a mirror, the mirror is always standing free of what it's reflecting and yet intimate with each reflection. Each reflection arises on its very face. "So Awareness always stands unconditionally free as the heart of all experiences, as the heart of all worlds."1 This Awareness itself can never truly become confused because confusion arises within it.
Mindfulness is beginning to attend to our experience as it is rather than as we believe it to be. It means taking our beliefs and asking ourselves if they are true or not. Finding out whether they are true or not by examining them in the bright light of our direct experience of this moment of seeing and hearing, of touching and tasting, smelling, thinking and feeling. It is seeing the arising, dwelling and decaying of all of our experiences, penetrating into the impermanence and emptiness and openness and transparency of this activity of experiencing. Mindfulness is zazen; it is kinhin; but it is also sleeping, dreaming. All of our experiences must be penetrated so that we can realize all of these experiences to be the activity of this great space and activity and space to be simply Knowing. We can only do such a thing when we are completely open to our experiences. If we wish to avoid confusion, then certainly there is no room for such a deep inquiry, for such a thorough and penetrating questioning.
When confusion arises, at some point you know that you are confused. You become angry and at some point - usually very, very soon as the shoulders rise, as the belly clenches, as the sphincter tightens, as the chin moves forward, as the thoughts begin to push and the vision narrows - there is some recognition that there is anger present, that you are angry. And if you look at this moment of recognition, you realize that it itself is not angry, but we have everything all geared up. We are all ready to be angry now. We are convinced of the anger and so we follow it through.
But what would happen if we followed that simple moment of recognition, the moment that arises - without any judgment, without any blame, without any identification - but simply see clearly. This recognition is present in each state. When you start to argue with somebody, very soon you wish to stop it. Why don't you? You are afraid and all of a sudden you look at the fear and then you fall back into it. What if we simply stayed with that moment of recognition? You wake up from a thought and there is a recognition of your present situation. What if we were to stay with that? What if we were to renew that rather than falling into thinking about thinking? What if we were to allow our confusion to trigger wisdom, to allow our confusion to be an invitation to wisdom, if we were to allow confusion to transform itself into wisdom?
Perhaps we could have a discussion. Is there anything that anyone would like to ask or to say, any comments or questions? Have we all understood?
[Student]: No. How is it that we know things? We know lots of things. I know my phone number. I know it's sunny outside. I know how to move my fingers.
[Roshi]: Yes. Well, we know all kinds of things in many different ways. We have memory. We have thoughts. We have feelings. Everything that we experience is a kind of knowing. In practice we are not so much concerned with categorizing these different kinds of knowing as we are to recognize what the Knowing in Itself is. The Knowing is not knowledge - knowing your phone number, knowing your name. As I was mentioning in the beginning of my workshop yesterday, I have these here. This is... what is this?
[Student]: Beads.
[Roshi]: Right. So they are beads. The Japanese name for this is juzu. The Sanskrit is mala. We might think that it is a rosary or we might think that they are beads that are used in mindfulness practice. I might tell you that these are Tibetan beads. I might say that these are 150 years old. Some of that might be true. Some of it might not. You don't really know but that is information about this in any case.
Now the information of course is not what this is. This is this [clear sound as Roshi moves the beads across the lectern]. We are also seeing it. We can describe it. We can smell it and we can taste it. We can hear it. There are all kinds of things that we can know about this but what is it and what is it that knows it ? This is the concern within practice.
So. We do have such things as the Abhidhamma, which is a categorization of different states that arise, because in order for us to penetrate into what Knowing in Itself is, we have to know where we are going. You know, we have to know how to open the door, go down the hallway, so on and so forth. So, while we might have different names for different states and many subtle states that is not particularly what we are concerned with. We are concerned with recognizing first of all, all of our experience to be arising within Knowing, that the body itself is a way of knowing, that thinking is a way of knowing, seeing is a way of knowing. Our world is Knowing Itself, through this experiencing and so on, so that we start to realize that Knowing is not just one particular way of knowing about things.
Everything we experience is a way of knowing about things, even dreaming, even sleeping, and as we were mentioning, many other subtle states too. But in our practice of Zen, we really don't give a shit about any of those things. What we want to know is what is it that is experiencing it? What is it that is dreaming? We don't want to analyze dreams and interpret dreams and so on and so forth. There is room for that. That can be a worthwhile thing to do - scientific modes of knowing about things, questioning into things, finding out how things work. That is certainly worth doing but that is not what we do within practice. This is something else entirely.
What we want to know is what Knowing in Itself is, what knows what it is that we are experiencing moment after moment, after moment, after moment. We find that things like logic are not sufficient because it is always too partial. Like we can say, "Michael has red hair. Michael is a man. Anzan roshi is a man. Therefore Anzan roshi has red hair", and you know that is not true. The other thing is that we could say "Michael has red hair. Michael is a man". Define your terms. What is a man? Who is Michael? Really?
You know, logic tends to break down if we start to look at the whole context of what it is being referring to. Now logic is a very useful thing. It is a tool. But it is a very small way of knowing about anything. Poetry is a way of knowing about things and it is a very small way of knowing about things too.
In order to know what our experience is, we have to experience it. So first of all, we have to see how we become confused about our experience and clarify it, because that clarification of confusion is the deepening of wisdom and we use wisdom to penetrate into what it is that Knows.
So: we talk about mindfulness.
First of all, mindfulness is bringing ourselves back to this moment, finding out what our experience really is. So there is this sense of effort, bringing ourselves back. When that is more spontaneous - that is to say you don't have to bring yourself back, you are simply here - and when a thought arises you spontaneously recognize it as a thought, and we can call that just simply attention. It is not mere attention - that is to say the attention that gets lost in a thought or that identifies with this or that - it's just bare attention. When this is continuous, actually more radical ways of knowing things start to come into play more and more.
For example, when you get lost in a thought, you wake up and you come back to the breath... And then there is a sound. Attention moves to the sound, so you are attending to one thing and then to another thing and then to another thing. There is a succession of things that you are attending to and it is shifting. What is in these shifts? What are you aware of in between those things? When that begins to become clear to you, then this is attentiveness. When you can use that kind of mind to penetrate more thoroughly into your experience and that is more continuous, then we can call this "prajna", or "radical insight" or "wisdom". None of these things are states, trying to produce a particular state or trying to gather information about anything. It is simply attending more and more fully to our experience so that through this attention, though this attending, we can actually inquire into what attention in itself is, what Awareness in Itself is.
So is there anything else that anyone would like to talk about this morning? (By the way this juzu isn't 150 years old either. I just thought I would mention that.)
[Student]: Perhaps, Roshi, you can define for us what wisdom is. I think a lot of people have a lot of different ideas what wisdom is.
[Roshi]: Yes.
Well, usually we do think that wisdom means knowing something about something. This is knowledge, this is not wisdom.
We say the whole point of practice is Waking Up, it is wisdom. So if we believe that wisdom is a kind of knowledge, then we think that through penetrating some deep structure of mind, getting to some underlying strata of mind, you get fundamental information about the universe, you get the "Master Plan", you know, you get the little moral at the end of the story before you get to the end of the story so you have it all figured out, you know.
But information is only a description. Wisdom is not gathering information as we are mentioning. It is mindfulness developing into attention and then attentiveness and then radical insight. This term "radical insight" is a way of translating the term prajna. "Pra" means higher; "Jna" means "knowing". So it is a higher knowing, a knowing which has a very open vantage which can see everything clearly. It can see all of the details but fixates on none of them because it sees the details arising in their context. This is what we mean by wisdom. It is knowing what the body is, what the mind is, what experience is, where dreams come from, where they go, how it is that we see a wall, and what the wall is.
[Student]: At certain moments in my life I have had an intense intuitive feeling about something and at that point I have rejected it, subconsciously, I guess, denied it. Do you have any advice on how to detect when that happens and not allow it to happen?
[Roshi]: Well, again I think that is a matter of paying attention to what is going on.
First of all, we have attachments to certain ways of knowing about things because they usually work out for us - you know - that if we can name things and so on and so forth, keep them orderly and managed in a certain way, then that usually means that because we have managed things in a certain way, things are manageable for us. We can get up, we can go to work, and so on and so forth. But most of what we are knowing is in fact happening in what we could call an intuitive manner.
You walk into a restaurant and you pretty well know whether or not you are going to like it or not just at the moment of walking in. You know you don't really have to think about it or even look at the menu really. You sort of walk in, you get some sort of taste, some sort of flavour of what is going on. So the thing is that our first impression is often correct unless it is partial.
Now what can happen is, you see somebody and your first impression is based on some conditioning, some past pattern. They move in a particular way. They have a certain kind of voice, certain kind of smell and it reminds you of something in your past that you really liked. You had a lot of comfort from this particular kind of person or you loathed this kind of person because of something that they did to you. So that kind of first impression is always a narrowing. We always notice that our attention contracts when something of that nature happens. When we fall into that kind of first impression, everything narrows, becomes locked and frozen for a moment and then we start to think and figure it all out and we go "Well I don't like this person". The words actually come up.
In terms of that, what we are looking at is what we call the five skandhas - form, feeling, perception, formation, consciousness2 - which can be a way of talking about bodymind. Or it can be a way of talking about how our experience presents itself in that there is usually a first contact with something, it's "THAT" (subject/object/form). There is something there. Feeling, you start to try to figure it out and this is where we can have a moment of intuition and then perception: something starts to become clearer to us, the details start to become clear. Formation: this is where the patterning and conditioning is going to come in and then consciousness, where we think about it.
Now to use a kind of example of how this functions - and this is an example I often use because almost everyone has had something of this nature happen to them - you go upstairs, you walk into a room, you look and "Aghh", there is somebody there! You freeze and then you realize that it is a mirror. So what happens is you go into the room and there is freezing. Space itself freezes because there was something you didn't expect to be there and it is literally as if space crystallizes and freezes.
The space around the body becomes very hard and the body tenses and there is a moment of just almost blankness, which is sort of like taking a photograph of something. Click. Trying to hold on to it so that then you can figure what is in the photograph. There is this form. And then feeling. What is it? There is something there. You don't quite know what it is yet. there's just "Aghh"! There is something there.
And then perception - you start to go, "Oh it's about this tall, it's this, that, it has certain colours".
Then the fourth skandha begins to come in and you go "Oh, those details add up to something that looks like a human being" and then you start to check it out. "Is this person going to threaten me? Is it a friend? Is it a stranger? What is this person doing here?" And then you start to realize that it's your reflection and then consciousness: "Oh, it's a mirror. Oh." You know. So that moment of conditioning, which can often make us distrustful of intuition is recognizable because it happens as a contraction. Intuition, what we can call intuition, has a very open quality.
Now, one problem with an open quality is that we usually don't know what to do with it because we are used to having certain boundaries present. So when that open quality happens we try to fill it in some kind of way; we try to put in some kind of boundaries to it. And so while we have some first impression, which is very open, very clear, we put it to the side and then try to start figuring things out.
If we are paying attention to what our experience is like - and this is the thing, there is no simple trick that we can do - but if we allow ourselves to attend to what happens when we have a first impression or we have an intuition and we attend to what happens, not just in terms of what the thoughts are like but what our experience is like, what our seeing is like, what our hearing is like, what our posture is like, then we begin to recognize when certain patterns are being played out.
We start to recognize that say, when anger happens, as I was mentioning, there are a certain set of factors that gather. When sadness happens, there are other factors that happen: the posture becomes a certain way, the breath becomes a certain way.
Something happens to our vision and our eye gaze tends to be placed in a certain way. On and on and on and we begin to be able to recognize it in a very immediate manner which will then give us time to allow that open recognition to be present without covering it over. First of all we have to have time to do so, which means we have to be there when it actually happens.
When we sit, moment after moment, we are experiencing what our experience is and what it's like. We have no opportunity really to play it out, to sort of get up and act out our various states. Instead we begin to see how these states act themselves out subtly, perhaps in the set of the shoulders, perhaps in the lower back starting to cave in, perhaps in the vision starting to narrow. Perhaps we are watching the breath but watching it from a kind of a distance, you know, On and on and on and we begin to see these various states so thoroughly, so intimately, in such exquisite detail, that we have a lot of time then to begin to see what it is like when anger comes up, when fear comes up, when hope comes up, when confusion manifests in any of its myriad forms, we can be there when it happens and attend to it closely, clearly.
Is that any help at all?
Okay, is there anything anyone else would like to bring up?
[Student]: Can you talk about the Precepts?
[Roshi]: I can, but it is a rather vast topic. In fact, we are in process of preparing transcripts of some Talks that have been done on the Precepts. I believe when it is all complete, because there is also the Kyojukaimon and so on, it will probably be about 300 pages.
So briefly, the Precepts are not any set of moral codes or ethics. Precepts are "kai", which means something like "aspects" or "facets". They are aspects or facets of the mind of practice and of wisdom. They are something that formal students might commit themselves to at certain points as a way of deepening their practice, of committing themselves to their practice. And of allowing themselves the opportunity to see just how wisdom happens and how confusion happens, by consciously intending the Precepts moment after moment and exposing yourself to them so you can see that, say, slander is something that you are almost always doing; you know, you are slandering by not recognizing the truth of something, by saying only part of something, by being partial about something, on and on and on. So you begin to use that Precept as a way of understanding the various motivations and activities of self-image and attending to them because our experience itself is very vast and very open.
Any harmful state, any way in which we harm ourselves or others is based on a contraction. When we become angry, we narrow and we exclude most of our experience. When we are fearful we do the same kind of thing. All harmful states are contracted states. In order, as I mentioned, for there to be a contraction there has to be openness first. I can't make a fist without having had an open hand. So, while these harmful states, these ways in which we cause suffering for ourselves and others, tend to be almost second nature to us. They are not first nature. Our first nature is wisdom, is clarity, is compassion.
So the precepts are a statement of this. They say: "This is Buddha, this is Dharma, this is Sangha." They say: "Wrong action does not arise." It does not say: "Don't do bad things." It says "Wrong action does not arise. There is only the arising of benefit." In the recognition that there is Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, wrong action does not arise. There is no motivation for it. It simply doesn't come up.
[Student]: But it's there?
[Roshi]: What do you mean? What we mean is you are not producing wrong action
Student: [Inaudible]
[Roshi]: That's right. There is no killing first of all means that life does not kill. Life never kills. Everything dies but life never kills. Killing is when we distance ourselves from something. "Killing" is when we stand apart from something and use it as equipment, use it as something that we are simply trying to get something "from" or do something "to" without any recognition of the mutuality of what this thing, what this person, what this event is. So. Killing means "killing time", it means not being present. Killing means looking at a spider in your bathtub and going whump [pantomimes killing the spider] as if it didn't have right to be there - you know, as if it wasn't doing whatever it was doing in its own life. So when you see the spider, it means taking a piece of toilet paper or a piece of paper, sliding it underneath the spider and putting it outside the window. It also means that if there are roaches in your house and they are infecting the food so that you could get sick and you could spread the sickness to many other people and this sickness could go on and on. Therefore you call an exterminator and have the roaches killed. Because there is the recognition that death is part of life. Death is part of how life lives, but killing is when you create unnecessary death, when you create suffering.
Now, as we were saying, the motive to kill something is based on separation, based on "this" and "that", subject and object. If for you there is no subject or object, if for you there is no this and that, if for you in your experience there is really nothing that you can call a body, nothing you can call a mind, nothing that you can call a world because everything is what we can call Buddha or Awareness in Itself, then you have no motivation to kill. You can't separate yourself from anything and so you can't kill anything. You can't distance yourself in that kind of way.
So we say there is no killing for that kind of mind. So then that means we have to look at all the ways in which we do kill, all the ways in which we do produce wrong action. At that point we are saying there is no killing, perhaps in the sense that - I'd better not because it's bad, it causes suffering, it causes harm and I can recognize though that it's bad because it does not accord with the nature of reality. It is a refusal to recognize mutuality. It is a refusal to recognize the vast interdependence of everything which is and that everything which is arising within Awareness and that Awareness is presenting itself as each and every being, that that which is arising as you is arising as all beings. A refusal to recognize this is killing.
So we start to recognize that when we kill, kill time, kill whatever, there is a contraction present. There is an inability to experience our experience clearly and openly and so we open that. So this is a matter of working with killing or stealing or anything ofthis nature not from a purely moral stance or an ethical stance, but working with it directly within our experience. So having worked with it in that way quite thoroughly we see all the motivations for killing, say, or stealing or lying or sexual misconduct or slander or miserliness or anger, so on and so forth - the ways in which we defile our experience of the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha or Space, Activity and Knowing.
Seeing those, and having seen them so thoroughly, we can't convince ourselves of them anymore. Those motivations simply do not arise for us anymore. So that is another facet of understanding this Precept 'there is no killing.'
Then, though, if we penetrate yet further into what Awareness in Itself is and live as Awareness in Itself, then for us there is no killing because there is nothing to be killed;there is no one to kill; there is simply nothing. So how we are going to work with it is going to depend on the depth of our practice. Whether we formally take the Precepts or not, the issues that the Precepts speak of are fundamental issues for everyone who is alive and so certainly for everyone who is practicing. Receiving the Precepts also means not only committing oneself to that, but basically committing oneself to being responsible for one's life and being responsible for manifesting the Dharma.
So in that sense, receiving the precepts is also a matter of entering into the Lineage of the Transmission of the Teachings. Those people who have taken the responsibility of making sure that the Dharma is available for beings who choose it. And so when a lay person takes the Precepts, this is something like entering the Teacher's household or family rather than being just a kind of cousin or friend or something of that nature. You are starting to enter more closely into the Teacher's Lineage. Taking say, lay monk's vows or monk's vows is perhaps stepping a little bit closer. This doesn't mean that your practice is necessarily better than anyone else's, but that you are realizing just how vast, how deep practice is, and that you want to make sure that you can practice it and that other beings who wish to practice it, can. You are starting to take more responsibility for the Dharma being present.
Being a monk doesn't mean that your practice is better that a lay person's. It is just different because intimately involved in your practice is the responsibility for Dharma to be present for lay people to come and practice it. When we talk about entering into the Teacher's family in that way we are not talking about favorite sons and daughters or this or that but just, you know, people who sort of have to do the housework, you know, this kind of thing. So the Precepts are a very multileveled issue which is why, as I say, when we do have that publication on it which is called "Cutting the Cat into One", it will tend to be quite long or it will be published in several sections.
Is there anything else anyone would like to talk about at this time?
May I see the time? All right so if there is nothing else: up against the wall.
  • 1. A reference to the "Jijiyu Zanmai Doka", in Chanting Breath and Sound, Great Matter Publications.
  • 2. Soon after this, Roshi consulted the root meanings of the Sanskrit terms and revised his translation of these terms to: form, basic reactivity, symbolization, habitual patterning, and consciousness.