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What brings the universe into being?

 
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25 June 2021 18:41
 
unsmoked - 25 June 2021 06:34 PM
EN - 25 June 2021 01:15 PM

It is one thing to free oneself from excess baggage, which can be done (to a degree, I think) through any one of several mental or psychological exercises.  But to go back to before you had any experiences is to go back to nothingness. I can’t see how that would be helpful.  But I’ll listen to what unsmoked says about his experiences.

I’m guessing that you and I have had similar ‘experiences’.  (along with others here).  U.K. used to be more of a monoculture with two major religions.  Catholics went to their own school, and in public school we started every day with the Lord’s Prayer spoken in unison with palms together in front of the chest.  This was followed with a story from the Bible.  Joseph and his coat of many colors, or Jesus baptized by John with the heavens opening and the spirit of the dove descending on him and God saying, “This is my son with whom I am well pleased.” 

This was followed by our learning to write the letters of the alphabet in a small tray of sand.  It was wartime and paper was very scarce so we each had a tray of sand on which we made the letters with our fingers.  The teacher came around to correct if needed.  She carried a small bag of sand to replenish the trays if needed.

As an adult in the U.S. I worked for a Christian international youth exchange under the auspices of the State Department.  I might have gotten the job because, as a kid, I came from another country so might have something in common with the German high school kids who were coming to go to school here and live for a year with an American Christian family.  At age 16 they wouldn’t have remembered the Hitler Youth, but some might have had older siblings who had been indoctrinated with Nazism.. Possibly the State Department thought that if kids were imbued with fascism it wasn’t who they really were and a year in America would show who else they might be?

In 1945, in Scotland, I watched Hitler Youth arriving in our town in their big gray army coats.  (Nazi insignia removed). They were POW’s - so many of them they had to ride on the roof of the cars.  Listening to adult conversation I learned that those kids were glad to be alive - many of their fathers, uncles, older brothers gone.  I heard my mother (an American) complaining bitterly,  “We don’t have enough to eat and now we have to feed them!”

Here’s another story about Hitler Youth after V-E Day.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Kao3t0NBMU

I do not doubt your bona fides as far as life experience is concerned. Tell me about your Zen experiences.

 
unsmoked
 
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unsmoked
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26 June 2021 11:06
 
EN - 25 June 2021 06:41 PM
unsmoked - 25 June 2021 06:34 PM
EN - 25 June 2021 01:15 PM

It is one thing to free oneself from excess baggage, which can be done (to a degree, I think) through any one of several mental or psychological exercises.  But to go back to before you had any experiences is to go back to nothingness. I can’t see how that would be helpful.  But I’ll listen to what unsmoked says about his experiences.

I’m guessing that you and I have had similar ‘experiences’.  (along with others here).  U.K. used to be more of a monoculture with two major religions.  Catholics went to their own school, and in public school we started every day with the Lord’s Prayer spoken in unison with palms together in front of the chest.  This was followed with a story from the Bible.  Joseph and his coat of many colors, or Jesus baptized by John with the heavens opening and the spirit of the dove descending on him and God saying, “This is my son with whom I am well pleased.” 

This was followed by our learning to write the letters of the alphabet in a small tray of sand.  It was wartime and paper was very scarce so we each had a tray of sand on which we made the letters with our fingers.  The teacher came around to correct if needed.  She carried a small bag of sand to replenish the trays if needed.

As an adult in the U.S. I worked for a Christian international youth exchange under the auspices of the State Department.  I might have gotten the job because, as a kid, I came from another country so might have something in common with the German high school kids who were coming to go to school here and live for a year with an American Christian family.  At age 16 they wouldn’t have remembered the Hitler Youth, but some might have had older siblings who had been indoctrinated with Nazism.. Possibly the State Department thought that if kids were imbued with fascism it wasn’t who they really were and a year in America would show who else they might be?

In 1945, in Scotland, I watched Hitler Youth arriving in our town in their big gray army coats.  (Nazi insignia removed). They were POW’s - so many of them they had to ride on the roof of the cars.  Listening to adult conversation I learned that those kids were glad to be alive - many of their fathers, uncles, older brothers gone.  I heard my mother (an American) complaining bitterly,  “We don’t have enough to eat and now we have to feed them!”

Here’s another story about Hitler Youth after V-E Day.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Kao3t0NBMU

It’s going to be 102 F today in the cool Pacific Northwest. 

I do not doubt your bona fides as far as life experience is concerned. Tell me about your Zen experiences.

I’ll sit in a cool place and answer that today.  In the meantime, would you agree that Hitler Youth don’t have to grow up to be Nazis?  If we’re not talking about brainwashing, or Mao style re-education, what is involved in finding out if we have a ‘true nature’, or ‘original nature’, or who we were before being brainwashed by parents and society? 

If you had been adopted at birth by Muslim foster parents and grew up studying the Koran and going to a mosque, and as a teen being indoctrinated by a radical cleric . . . is that really you?

https://www.amazon.com/Terrorist-Novel-John-Updike/dp/0345493915 

 

 
 
icehorse
 
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26 June 2021 15:40
 

unsmoked:

If you had been adopted at birth by Muslim foster parents and grew up studying the Koran and going to a mosque, and as a teen being indoctrinated by a radical cleric . . . is that really you?

And we veer right back into philosophy again smile    Like a gravity well, or what they call in modern movement science a “stable attractor”.

 
 
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26 June 2021 17:21
 
EN - 25 June 2021 06:41 PM

I do not doubt your bona fides as far as life experience is concerned. Tell me about your Zen experiences.

About the time Mt. St. Helens exploded I went to Japan for a year to learn about Zen and its influence on Japanese culture.  I think I had a culture visa that my host family had prevailed upon an important Zen abbot to sign.  I was awestruck flying over the Alaskan wilderness, the Kamchatka Peninsula, and then descending silently over tea plantations, tile roofed houses, dense forests with glimpses of red-painted torii and ancient temples, and then what looked like ten major cities all joined together at the hip.

It was hot and humid in Narita Airport and there were soldiers everywhere.  The local farmers were up in arms because the airport had been built on their rice fields.  A sweating soldier asked me sternly to open my suitcase.  I couldn’t get the key to work.  He watched me struggle for a while then demanded to see my visa.  Flipping the pages he softened and said something like, “Go!  Get out!”

The Shinkansen, New Trunk Line, the Bullet Train was air conditioned.  It left the station when the second hand said it would.  The acceleration pressed me against the back of my seat.  “Yokohama Desu!”  (“This is Yokohama!”)  What?  Already?  Pressed against the seat again as we left the station when the second hand said we would.

A girl came along the aisle pushing a cart filled with refreshments.  My host, on the seat beside me, was infuriating, trying without success to teach me how to greet the Zen master in her town.  All I wanted to do was marvel at the Shinkansen and look out the window at the towns, fields, and people whizzing by.  “Roshi does not speak English”, she was insisting.

A few days later I met Hiroko, my host’s 20-year-old daughter.  Her grandfather had been a prominent Zen master.  When I asked about him she replied simply, “He was a monster.”

My host asked Hiroko to introduce me to the local snack (pub) so I would know how to order a beer on a hot day.  Seated at the bar with our beers Hiroko pointed out the rows of whiskey bottles on a shelf, each with a customer’s name on it.  “You’ll have your own bottle,” she said, “and each time you order a whisky the bartender will know where the gaijin’s bottle is.  (the foreigner’s bottle).

It was a small provincial town, and although everyone learned English at school (their spelling and grammar are better than ours) they don’t know how to pronounce it and have no ideal what you’re saying. 

So Hiroko and I are in the pub nursing our Kirin lager and pushing a dish of raisin butter back and forth - a gift from the ‘master’ (owner of the pub) for the Zen foreigner.  (something Hiroko had explained to the bartender?)  Further down the bar an old man got up from his stool and came over, saying something which Hiroko translated.  “He was at Okinawa during the battle and was deathly afraid of Americans.  This is the closest he’s ever been to an American.  He says you look alright but your eyes are not human.  He wants to shake your hand and buy us a beer.  He wants to sing a song in your honor.”

The old man and I shook hands, the beer was ordered and he made his way unsteadily back to his drink.  After a long draught, he began to sing in a strong, karaoke-practiced voice.  Hiroko looked around.  Other patrons were ignoring him.  She leaned toward me and said in a low voice, “It’s a patriotic military song.  When he finishes don’t applaud.  Maybe a slow salute toward him.  You know, a lot of his buddies died there.”

I thought, ‘even if her grandfather was a monster, she has amazing tact.  Some years at Harvard’?

[ Edited: 26 June 2021 17:39 by unsmoked]
 
 
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26 June 2021 19:09
 

Thanks.  I’ve never been to Japan, other than to the Tokyo airport on my way to India. I would love to go before I die - since I can’t go after I die. Little experiences like the one you recounted are some of the better parts of life. Perhaps human experiences bring the universe into being.

 
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26 June 2021 19:16
 
unsmoked - 26 June 2021 11:06 AM

If you had been adopted at birth by Muslim foster parents and grew up studying the Koran and going to a mosque, and as a teen being indoctrinated by a radical cleric . . . is that really you?

I don’t know. I would have been totally different. That, I think, is my point. Who “I am” is not something that is known or experienced at birth. It develops over time, with each experience forming part of my mind. Perhaps there is some true “me”, but it is not known until the last chapters of the book. We may share some common traits of humanity, but other than consciousness itself, I don’t think that we can arrive at an inherent mind or true self.

 
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30 June 2021 10:51
 
EN - 26 June 2021 07:16 PM
unsmoked - 26 June 2021 11:06 AM

If you had been adopted at birth by Muslim foster parents and grew up studying the Koran and going to a mosque, and as a teen being indoctrinated by a radical cleric . . . is that really you?

I don’t know. I would have been totally different. That, I think, is my point. Who “I am” is not something that is known or experienced at birth. It develops over time, with each experience forming part of my mind. Perhaps there is some true “me”, but it is not known until the last chapters of the book. We may share some common traits of humanity, but other than consciousness itself, I don’t think that we can arrive at an inherent mind or true self.

I highlighted the last part of your last sentence.

 

 

 
 
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30 June 2021 12:16
 
unsmoked - 30 June 2021 10:51 AM
EN - 26 June 2021 07:16 PM
unsmoked - 26 June 2021 11:06 AM

If you had been adopted at birth by Muslim foster parents and grew up studying the Koran and going to a mosque, and as a teen being indoctrinated by a radical cleric . . . is that really you?

I don’t know. I would have been totally different. That, I think, is my point. Who “I am” is not something that is known or experienced at birth. It develops over time, with each experience forming part of my mind. Perhaps there is some true “me”, but it is not known until the last chapters of the book. We may share some common traits of humanity, but other than consciousness itself, I don’t think that we can arrive at an inherent mind or true self.

I highlighted the last part of your last sentence.

If we are talking about consciousness itself, then I suppose we could have a different conversation. Is it part of the fabric of the universe, like space and time?  Is everything in the universe “aware” at some level?

 
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30 June 2021 17:47
 
Cheshire Cat - 21 June 2021 06:43 PM

If you pay close attention to your thoughts, or meditate, it is the gaps of silence between the thoughts, ruminations, and churning passing emotions that are Buddha Mind.

It’s pretty simple, really; right there on the surface. It’s the silence between the noise.

But people rarely have moments of silence in their minds. We are in ceaseless monologue with ourselves. Who are we talking to?

It’s that silent observer, the aware space which contains the entire world, that Zen Buddhism is pointing to, as well as other religions and philosophies.

Paraphrasing Thoreau:  “Sometimes I think I could rest in the palm of God like a field stone and let it all go by like a torrent.”

 
 
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01 July 2021 04:22
 

So, is this the same as mindfulness?

 
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01 July 2021 16:51
 
EN - 01 July 2021 04:22 AM

So, is this the same as mindfulness?

quote:  “Zen meditation is similar to mindfulness in that it’s about focusing on the presence of mind. However, mindfulness focuses on a specific object, and Zen meditation involves a general awareness. ... Over time, they learn how to keep their minds from wandering and may even be able to tap into their unconscious minds.”  (end quote)

One ‘pitfall’ is that the self wants to get a handle on this and own it. (a perfected skill)  Thoreau’s ‘field stone resting in the palm of God’ is when the self is quiet. 

quote:  “Bring the ten thousand things to rest.  Let the mind rest at peace.”  (no one attempting to tap into their unconscious)

Is there a Christian equivalent?

 
 
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01 July 2021 16:54
 
unsmoked - 01 July 2021 04:51 PM
EN - 01 July 2021 04:22 AM

So, is this the same as mindfulness?


Is there a Christian equivalent?

“Peace that passes understanding”

“Take no thought for tomorrow” (focus on now)

 

 

 
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01 July 2021 17:13
 
EN - 01 July 2021 04:54 PM
unsmoked - 01 July 2021 04:51 PM
EN - 01 July 2021 04:22 AM

So, is this the same as mindfulness?


Is there a Christian equivalent?

“Peace that passes understanding”

“Take no thought for tomorrow” (focus on now)

“Peace that passes understanding.”  -  ‘If this could be put into words it would have been put into words a long time ago.’

 

 

 
 
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04 July 2021 09:42
 
EN - 30 June 2021 12:16 PM
unsmoked - 30 June 2021 10:51 AM
EN - 26 June 2021 07:16 PM
unsmoked - 26 June 2021 11:06 AM

If you had been adopted at birth by Muslim foster parents and grew up studying the Koran and going to a mosque, and as a teen being indoctrinated by a radical cleric . . . is that really you?

I don’t know. I would have been totally different. That, I think, is my point. Who “I am” is not something that is known or experienced at birth. It develops over time, with each experience forming part of my mind. Perhaps there is some true “me”, but it is not known until the last chapters of the book. We may share some common traits of humanity, but other than consciousness itself, I don’t think that we can arrive at an inherent mind or true self.

I highlighted the last part of your last sentence.

If we are talking about consciousness itself, then I suppose we could have a different conversation. Is it part of the fabric of the universe, like space and time?  Is everything in the universe “aware” at some level?

Zen master Fayan comments:  “The teaching of the mind ground is the basis of Zen study.  The mind ground is the great awareness of being as is.

(Fayan quoted from the book, ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom - translated and edited by Thomas Cleary)

https://www.amazon.com/Zen-Essence-Science-Shambhala-Editions/dp/1570625883

quote from a review:  “The readings contained in Zen Essence emphasize that the practice of Zen requires consciousness alone and does not depend on a background in Zen Buddhism and Asian culture. The true essence of Zen resides in the relationship between mind and culture, whatever that culture might be. This unique collection of writings creates a picture of Zen not as a religion or philosophy, but as a practical science of freedom.”

 
 
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04 July 2021 10:05
 

It will require culture to bring human mind into being. Culture provides the sensory input necessary for the brain to develop to the point where it can support mind.  From what I understand, mindfulness then seeks to remove the cultural baggage that comes from the brain- building process to focus on consciousness itself.  That can be a useful exercise.  The part of all this that I don’t agree with is that there is any such thing as inherent mind.  If you mean consciousness itself or awareness itself (Burt distinguishes between consciousness and self- consciousness), I can accept that. But it isn’t inherent in the sense of something we are born with. It comes from our interaction with the world.

 
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