Friday, April 22, 2011

Cat’s Cradle

Intellectual understanding cannot awaken you.
But, an intellectual misunderstanding can keep you from awakening.
P Bralley –or at least that seems my experience.

Was emailing a friend today, discussing a Scott Kiloby quote when I realized the above.
It is a belief.
One thing led to another through the day until I came upon the following:

Bokonon said to some of the mud, "Sit up!"
"See all I've made, the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars."
And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
Lucky me, lucky mud.
I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job Bokonon had done.

"Nice going, Bokonon. Nobody but you could have done it, I certainly couldn't have.
“I feel very unimportant compared to You.
“The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud that didn't even get to sit up “and look around. I got so much, and most mud got so little. Thank you for the honor!"

Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.
What memories for mud to have!
"What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!
“I loved everything I saw!
“Good night. Amen."

Hypertext to Wikipedia:
Bokononism is a religion invented by Kurt Vonnegut as a fictional religion practiced by many of the characters in his novel Cat's Cradle.
It is based on the concept of foma, which are defined as harmless untruths.
The primary tenet of Bokononism is to "Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy."

The foundation of Bokononism is that all religion, including Bokononism and all its texts, is formed entirely of lies; however, one who believes and adheres to these lies will at least have peace of mind, and perhaps live a good life.

Bokonon, a character in the novel, is the founder of the religion. He was born Lionel Boyd Johnson and attended the London School of Economics and Political Science, only for his education to be cut short by World War I.

"Bokonon" was the way the natives of San Lorenzo, the fictional Caribbean island-nation where the shipwrecked Johnson started his religion, pronounced his family name in their unique dialect of English…
Bokononism, encompasses concepts unique to the novel, with San Lorenzan names such as:
karass - a group of people who, often unknowingly, are working together to do God's will. The group can be thought of as the fingers that support a Cat's Cradle.
granfalloon - a false karass; i.e., a group of people who imagine they have a connection that does not really exist. An example is "Hoosiers"; Hoosiers are people from Indiana, and Hoosiers have no true spiritual destiny in common, so really share little more than a name.
wrang-wrang - Someone who steers a Bokononist away from a line of speculation by reducing that line, with the example of the wrang-wrang's own life, to an absurdity.
stuppa - a fogbound child (i.e. an idiot)
duffle - the destiny of thousands of people placed on one stuppa
Busy, busy, busy - words Bokononists whisper upon witnessing an example of how interconnected everything is
boko-maru - the supreme act of worship of the Bokononists, which is an intimate act consisting of prolonged physical contact between the naked soles of the feet of two persons.
Now I will destroy the whole world. - What a Bokononist says before committing suicide.

I never read Cat’s Cradle.
But this description somehow reminds me of nonduality and all the internet yah-dah, yah-dah.

Hypertext “an absurdity” (see wrang-wrang above):
Reductio ad absurdum (Latin: "reduction to the absurd") a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications logically to an absurd consequence…

The ontological argument for the existence of God, as it was originally stated by Anselm of Canterbury, is an example of reductio ad absurdum
OK the Archbishop of Canterbury got it wrong. I’m not too surprised.
Another example: a statement attributed to physicist Niels Bohr:
"The opposite of every great idea is another great idea."

Carl Sagan used a reductio ad absurdum argument to counter this claim.
If this statement is true, then it would qualify as a great idea.
But, if the statement itself is a great idea, its opposite
("It is not true that the opposite of every great idea is another great idea")
must also be a great idea.

The original statement is disproven because it leads to an absurd conclusion:
An idea can be great regardless of whether it is true or false.
And somewhere in my head a bell rang.

Hypertext me back.
FaceBook earlier in the day:

I cannot deny awareness, yet I cannot find it to exist in its own form either.
Though I need not come to any description, if I had to, it would be that the nature of reality and everything that appears is aware non-existence,
or non-existent awareness:
this description both confirms and denies reality which leaves the 'not-knowing'.
The eternal paradox is that there seems to be something, yet we cannot find anything.

True freedom, as such, is beyond needing either this, or that.
To be free from needing all kinds of ultimate truths, is the freedom that sets us free.
Being free, who cares about truth?

In my experience awareness cannot be found at all, because it doesn't exist as anything, not even as itself.
Only when I refer to a particular experience, does the experience pop up, but never am I actually recognizing awareness, just creating more subtle experiences.
Yet all of it seems to confirm empty, non-existent awareness to be aware and existing.
Bentinho Massaro (who I actually am fond of… but perhaps not today)

And 56 people of the karass click the thumbs up.
And 44 others click into the comments as if anything they could possibly say adds to the discussion!

Or, am I simply being “Crabby Patty” yet again?
Hey, my other post was going to be “Rage, Grief, Terror.”
This may be an improvement.
What a lucky mud I am!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Just Watch

I am beginning to love this guy.
And I've nothing more to say.

Or perhaps I could add - I am wrestling a bit with finding "Self" if everything is simply an appearance.
Like when I dismissed the Klein Bottle experience - just an experience.
But, I get the part of falling backwards: how that's true meditation and that happens in activity...
which brings me back to somehow we are already awake.
KNOW THAT!  thoroughly.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Face It

5th grade skit by Seeking Tao
5th grade skit, a photo by Seeking Tao on Flickr.

I sit here in this chair, and I am alone in the universe,
and I alone am the universe; outside of every system ever conceived.
How could this have ever occurred? …
Why do I look at the baby in the stroller across the room and only see myself? Not as a literal projection, but as something that is not separate from this organism.
I am not really sure why, or that it even matters.
I am keen to find out, however.

Takuin Minamoto, Emptiness and Levels of Consciousness

I think it started with FaceBook.

Carin, a childhood friend I’ve not seen in 40 years, posted a picture of David, just one of the people we went to high school with - David a year older, Class of 1967.
Now, there he was, 2011, smiling in a pink shirt, blond hair spiking just a bit.
God, he looked great!
And I thought, "David?" The name was so familiar, but I could hardly remember. What had he been like? - a nice guy, student council type.
And as I clicked to find out more there was one other photo: He and another handsome fellow, both in tuxes, silk vests, and boutonniere.
Underneath, a woman had commented, “I thought he was married to Philip.”

My god!
People in Decatur Illinois talking about gay marriage as if it were the most normal thing in the world?
I was deeply moved, because I know what that path was like from the clueless closet of MacArthur High School to 2011.
And now, I can count four of us as having made it. Who else? Who else shared that path?

That night I had a dream.
I was at David’s house, the lawn set out with white clothed tables awaiting the reception. As the guests arrived I was amazed to see all these old high school acquaintances.
Face after face.
It was delightful and heart rending. It was wonderful to see those who’d largely just meant pain.

Then I saw him, Carin’s father.
He was old. Not at all the robust beer drinking, cigarette puffing joker of my youth, but an old man with watery eyes. His name was Bill, but my folks had always called him Henry.
I went to him and we shared the softest kiss.
Then I stood back waiting for my hug. But, he was not about to reach out.
Puzzlement. Then he said, “If I were to hug you, I’d never let you go.”

With those words such love exploded. With a jolt I was awake.
Lying there in my bed I discovered I was crying.
I lay there for a moment trying to orient myself.
It was then I noticed there was this small burning pinhole of light right in the middle of my heart.
What a strange way for one’s heart to break.

I thought of Carin. I would write her in the morning and tell her, “I dreamed of your dad last night.”
A couple months ago via FaceBook she had told me, “He has his good days and his bad now.”
I thought of Carin’s mother, how when Pop died my mom had told me she had gotten a phone call: “Rusty, it’s Fuzzy.”
At first, that was all they’d needed to say. And I could hear exactly how Carin’s mom had sounded.
“Rusty, it’s Fuzzy.” …stop, beyond all words, just stop.

So, I’ve learned a strange thing from these FaceBook encounters, from these reunions with old friends and even with the ones I’d thought hadn’t really mattered.
They all mattered. Every single one.

They all matter because I have discovered that they no longer exist as separate entities.
Retreating into memory and mind they have become a part of me.
They constitute my Life.

I love them as myself.
I am so surprised to understand that.
I wish I’d known that all along.

What does it mean to believe in a perception?
It means that you are unconsciously assuming that the world you are perceiving is real....
it means you are assuming that whatever is perceived, is really there as something in and of itself; as having an independent nature; a solid existence...

When we realize this ...we stop solidifying our experience as being a single entity in a world full of other individual objects and people...
Whether you have your eyes open and believe you perceive 'external stimuli' or whether you have your eyes closed and experience your thoughts, emotions, or even meditational states ...
All is just that same perception of awareness. Just like the movie screen will always be the movie screen and the projection will always be the projection, regardless of what is shown.

Bentinho Massaro

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Being Who You Are is Freedom

Ben is growing on me.  His directness shatters so much that I often cannot stand to listen. But, that glass I hear breaking are my beliefs. And he also makes me feel a burst of happiness and leaves me with a grin.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Part 2 of the Download: Beliefs

Most of us feel pretty ordinary, and if we have this conscious or unconscious belief that enlightenment is rare—that it's for only very extraordinary people—it totally contradicts our experience because we're not extraordinary...  And so this idea, it is one of the, if not the most powerful impediment to awakening.
We have images of the awake being, and they are all sort of halo-enshrouded... And if they are doing anything in life they're always teaching, and they always have disciples....
It's very hard for our minds to get that enlightenment can look like your grandmother, or the grocer.
Enlightenment doesn't need to look in any way extraordinary.
Adyshanti, an interview

Early on I got from Adya that beliefs impede enlightenment.
I was stunned to consider that maybe my belief that enlightenment is rare was my major stumbling block.
So, I worked on letting that go.
Ha! I replaced it with another belief, “This is possible.”
Well... that’s a useful start.

Adya also stated that in the end we have to give up ALL beliefs, and the spiritual ones will be the hardest.
So, I have been watching my reaction this past year or more to the Neo-Advaita teaching which I interpreted as something along the lines, “You can be awake and still be a ‘jerk.’”

I really resist believing that!
If awakening doesn’t turn you into some reasonable version of a saint, or at least diminish your obnoxious traits – What’s the point?
I have little tolerance for the behaviour of the so called enlightened that erupt into the scandal.
I have little tolerance for my getting frustrated with my mother.
Surely we should be able to do better than that!

Or, so I believed.
And I wanted to believe.
What’s interesting to me now is discovering that that belief made me deaf to a really useful teaching:
Awareness is Already and Always there -
even when I am a jerk.

Adya has another teaching that I immediately liked:
Ask yourself, “How am I unenlightening myself?”

Well, I realized that the belief, “I’ll be enlightened when I’m always patient with my mother,” immediately becomes,
“Oh, look! I’m not enlightened.”
Or, “I had it and then I lost it.”
Right there the deed is done.
“I had it and then I lost it.”
Believe that! And you’ve just done it – unenlightened yourself by believing in a belief.
And what specifically was that belief? “Enlightenment means I’ll behave a certain way.”

Well, that’s no better than saying enlightenment is based upon behaviour.
And, I hope we can all agree that enlightenment depends upon consciousness: pure, eternal, awareness rather than any specific, fleeting, temporal behaviour.
Hey, even Jesus could throw a hissy fit – ask the money changers in the temple. He was sincerely angry.

Perhaps a better way to explain the difference that this makes is to share a few clips from Bentinho's online Journal:
Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:42 pm
Today was a funny day and interesting as well. I have felt some intense emotions and thoughts, something that I have not had to this degree in a while. It was mainly disappointment, followed by sadness, self-pity and anger (towards some colleague of mine). I was quite touched by it and while doing my work that morning all kinds of stories went through my mind continuously. I occasionally believed in them as well. I naturally recognized awareness too, but that did not stop the stories. And I dangled somewhere in between freedom and believing in these stories.
So it was quite a challenging situation in the sense of being not distracted by my intense emotions and stories. It went quite well just as it went and I did not force anything. I just let it run and be for most of the time.
After some hours I just could no longer belief in my thoughts, instead I naturally felt light and free from suffering.

I was shocked when I first read these words. I felt something burning inside.
For a moment it crossed my mind that “Bentinho’s not so enlightened” and then slowly came this great relief:
1) Finally, a teacher who is willing to share the moment to moment of what’s it like. Totally honest. And not much different from me.
2) There are times when things are intense. But, it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong!
It doesn’t mean that you are any less or more enlightened. Awareness is already and always there.

Notice that! Let the difficult emotions pull you deeper into your grounding in awareness.
Let the thoughts and feeling becomes pure energy and burn the dross away.

It’s Freedom In – Not Freedom From

I’m trying to catch up in my posting. I’m giving up trying to make the “days” here match day to day with what happened in Life.
I’m just going to post as quickly as I can.
So, here goes. Something I wrote down last weekend:

If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering…
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth.   I read this and it’s haunted me…

I don’t know how to even say it.
But, a thought crossed my mind and immediately I knew, “That’s it!”
So, I tried to repeat the words that had just floated by and they no longer quite made sense, like when you wake up from a dream and realized it’s actually illogical.
I tried again and failed.
And just like that the insight was gone.

But, let me try once more just to give you an idea:
Instead of evaluating my experience and thinking ‘that’s not enlightened’ all I have to really understand is that that experience (whatever it may be) is enlightened.

In some way it was for me a new take on the concept, “We are all already awake.”
We just don’t know it.
Suddenly, it seemed “Well just accept it!”
Don’t question, just relax, right now, right here “Just Like This” you are awake.

I found I didn’t want to accept that.
Wouldn’t that just be replacing one belief with another?
I’m not interested in deluding myself with the concept, “I am enlightened.”
Surely, something has to happen. Something has to “POP!”
Doesn’t it?

I hear my friend almost shouting in my head, “Look! There is no you!”
But, there is another way around.
And that’s to recognize that awareness (being awake) is indeed already there.
Awareness, always and already there - that is an accessible experience for me.
That’s what I find when I look inside to “see.”
There’s always something indefinable, yet there: “always and already.”
And Awareness is as good a word as any to describe it.

Years ago I heard Adya say this and all my mind could hear was the alliteration: “always and already.” I got all caught up in trying just to say it, as if a mind can be tongue tied and thus unable to get what the words actually mean.
But recently, as Bentinho Massaro used the phrase it suddenly made such sense.
It makes Awareness quite accessible and obvious.

It is always and already there prior to all experiences.
And so, of course… we are already awake.
Notice that!

I drive to work noticing. I walk the halls noticing.
And when I forget to notice because my head is filled with molecular genetic details, when I put the work aside, I notice that awareness had been there even then… like the love that never dies even when we are too busy to notice, feel, or say, “I love you.”

But still, it could be clearer. I am not all that awake.
I like Tolle’s criteria: acceptance, enjoyment, enthusiasm.
Anything less and I’m creating suffering for either myself or others.

I also like the discussion between Scott Kiloby and Bentinho regarding how people often think that enlightenment is being free from difficulties. They experience a moment of freedom from their troubles and think, “This is it.” And then they collapse back into challenges.

They say the collapsing back ceases when you realize it’s not “Freedom From” (all the ups and downs) but rather, “Freedom In.”
So, check out this audio file. Especially from ~38 minutes onward.
Go to the Kilologue Page, scroll down to the interview with Bentinho Massaro.

Awakening simply means to notice that a natural, unconditioned awakeness is always equally present. The repeated recognition of that, is the 'getting used to it' and the personality gradually starts to reflect a greater peace, openness, clarity, love, selflessness.
Bentinho Massaro