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July 14, 2018

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Mindfulness will lead to the same result indirectly that carnal body and its experiences are trapping the consciousness/awareness/energy. This maturity will lead to withdrawal from harmful experiences that push the awareness in the cycle of dreams-sleep-wakefulness and seek the fourth state of consciousness/ super consciousness/ pure energy not mixed with matter.

A buddhist atheist - makes sense to me. I very much enjoy my mindfulness practice when I'm on my morning walk. Not thinking or doing Simran like I used to, which seems like some kind of mind control and doesn't work for me anyway.

Being very alert and aware and conscious as in using all my senses, feeling the sea breeze, hearing the waves, listening to the birds, being alert and aware of my body and my walking, watching with awareness other people walking with their dogs on the bush path near the sea.

Its the best feeling ever, sensing the world, much better than sitting still trying to control the mind. Its only a quick walk, about half an hour, and thats plenty for me. So rejuvenating.

Thanks Brian for this reminder of living mindfully. I'm going to practice it even more in my daily routine of life as well. I feel my spirit is uplifted when I am calm and aware and being the observer, observing myself.

"Mindfulness will not lead to the same result directly that carnal body and its inexperiences are trapping the subconsciousness/unawareness/energy. This immaturity will lead to withdrawal from pleasant experiences that pull the awareness in the cycle of dreams-sleep-wakefulness and reject the fourth state of unconsciousness/ supra consciousness/ impure energy not mixed with subatomic particles."

Vinny, I just made a few changes to your paragraph and it has exactly the same amount of value now as your original version does.


It's difficult to break past habits of believing that certain kinds of experiences are to be sought for in meditation, like a calm mind.

What Jen said!

I tried for years to calm the mind. Simran never smoothed out the ripples on the pond. Thoughts kept arising. Didn't matter how much suppressive fire simran laid down, they'd surface again.

Ishwar Puri clarifies that thinking is the heartbeat of the mind. It's 24x7 and operates in several channels. Other mindfulness advocates confirm this. The goal of simran, he continued, is to withdraw from the mind and its thoughts. You never overpower the mind. But, consciousness and where we put our attention
enable us to disengage and ultimately to move away.

I'm at the point where simran helps me partially withdraw from thought. Thoughts are still there but mindfulness de-fangs them a little and then simran occupies the mind to help blunt their force. Keep the devil busy. The windmills go on turning but you can enjoy the tulips a little. So mindfulness and simran are both, er, godsends :)

The author writes
"Mindfulness focuses entirely on the specific conditions of one’s day-to-day experience. It is not concerned with anything transcendent or divine. It serves as an antidote to theism, a cure for sentimental piety, a scalpel for excising the tumor of metaphysical belief."

I don't think a good Buddhist makes those distinctions. Because then you have another austen of belief: disbelief.

If, as they calm themselves, as they appreciate the peace around them, and within themselves, they don't reject their experience. Whatever it is. And they don't obsess on it. All is natural.

The author continues

" ...There is nothing so lowly or mundane that it is unworthy of being embraced by mindful attention. Mindfulness accepts as its focus of inquiry whatever arises in one’s field of awareness, no matter how disturbing or painful it might be.

One neither seeks nor expects to find some greater truth lurking behind the veil of appearances. What appears and how you respond to it: that alone is what matters."

This is correct, but neither do they reject what is brought before them. The Buddhist acknowledges fully awake their experience both in meditation within and the outer world of their daily experience. All is understood to be part of the whole and sacred thereby. They neither expect nor focus intensely on any distraction.

When they experience that flood of inner light and sound, as all advanced meditators do, and with it the waves of joy, they don't categorize that as spiritual or hallucination.

It is just part of their experience.

Typo
"I don't think a good Buddhist makes those distinctions. Because then you have another system of belief: disbelief."

Learn to enjoy the darkness.
Learn to gently let the mind calm down. That's what it really wants to do when you aren't being threatened, excited or angered.

When you are calm, your mind calms down. If you can appreciate a flower, then you aren't worrying about other things.

It's pretty simple.

And when you are in love, naturally all other thoughts disappear.

But this can't be dictated by the mind.

You can't set rules like that and expect to really appreciate things as they are without that layer of judgment that gets in the way of truly seeing things from a more objective, calmer, deeper level.

We see through the pond to the very bottom by nothing more than calming the surface. Undisturbed.

So find a compelling thought that you love. Find what is sacred to you. Find your bliss.

What you hold sacred automatically centers thought just contemplating it. Of course all creation is sacred. Every atom is holy.

But what is sacred to you? Find that. Calm your mind thereby.

Yes, I appreciated Stephen Batchelor's book 'Confession of a Buddhist Athiest. I'read his other books and particularly found 'After Buddhism' clarifying.
In the chapter entitled 'The Everyday Sublime' in 'After Buddhism' it opens with:- “Meditation originates and culminates in the everyday sublime. I have no interest in achieving states of sustained concentration in which the sensory richness of experience is replaced by pure introspective rapture. I have no interest in reciting mantras. Visualizing Buddhas or mandalas, gaining out-of-body experiences, reading other peoples thoughts, practising lucid dreaming, or channelling psychic energies through chakras, let alone letting my consciousness be absorbed in the transcendent perfection of the Unconditioned.”

And he continues:- “Meditation is embracing what is happening to this organism as it touches its environment in this moment. I do not reject the experience of the mystical. I reject the only the view that the mystical is concealed behind what is merely apparent, that it is anything other than what is occurring in time and space right now. The mystical does not transcend the world but saturates it. “The mystical is not how the world is,” noted Ludwig Wittgenstein in 1921, “but that it is.”

This resonated with me as I often wonder how we have taken the simplicity of life and complicated it with all our mind projected constructs, turning us away from the simplicity and wonder of 'just this'. I guess it may be to do with our basic insecurity where we search for something to give us meaning and purpose, something that tells us we are more than this brain/body organism that is born, lives and dies. Perhaps it is our fear of death, of not continuing that renders the 'everyday sublime' invisible to us.

Hi Turan
You quoted from After Buddhism:
" I do not reject the experience of the mystical. I reject the only the view that the mystical is concealed behind what is merely apparent, that it is anything other than what is occurring in time and space right now. The mystical does not transcend the world but saturates it. “The mystical is not how the world is,” noted Ludwig Wittgenstein in 1921, “but that it is.”"

I quite agree in the main.
But I think there are layers to this. The surface of the pond is beautiful, whether turbulent or like a sheet of glass reflecting a sunset.

And within that pond there are fish, and plants that in the right light, we see, and they are lovely.

Who says the surface is different from what's under it? They are different, but they are all part of the same pond.


The sky, whether grey, raining or sunny is beautiful.

Clouds are wonderful. But so is the sky beyond them.

And if you wait quietly, the stars come out!

Who would deny the beauty of the stars claiming clouds are real and stars are not?

There is a truth to accepting what we see.
And there is a truth to journeying far beyond.

Truth is not constrained to our current understanding.

Who would suggest as much?


Because it is all nature, it is all reality.

Let's not put spiritual experience in some arcane and distant place, behind a shield, and then say it doesn't exist.

It exists for those who experience it.

Should it be pursued?

Let's just pursue progress. Seeing more clearly, more calmly, from the highest ethic we can.

Let's just get beyond the angers and lusts that twist thoughts to see what is there without all that drama.

Why not?

Believe in progress.

But as the Tao says, "The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath our feet."

You don't need to even take a step. Just be there.

Then, steps happen naturally. You see something, then you step towards that.

And at each moment, enjoy the view. Enjoy the bliss of that peaceful darkness.
Enjoy the blazing light and sound.

Enjoy the flower.

Enjoy your friends.

I love a rainy day, probably much more than a sunny one.

No layers, that's just another concept.

No need to accept, it already is. Only a conceptual mind does 'accepting'.

Spiritual, non-spiritual - no difference, its just words - it's all one beyond the concept.

No need to believe in progress, it happens whether we believe or not.

Just allow the construct 'I' to take a backseat and life/reality appears.

Hi Turan
You wrote
"No need to believe in progress, it happens whether we believe or not.

Just allow the construct 'I' to take a backseat and life/reality appears."

If only..... But to the extent we can, we accept ourselves and others as they are, however unfolding that is.


Who (or what) is it that does the accepting Spence?

Once that is realised the rest is easy - no need for conceptual or poetical thinking and writing.

Hi Turan

You wrote
"Who (or what) is it that does the accepting Spence?"


Let me answer with two questions

You wrote
"Just allow the construct 'I' to take a backseat and life/reality appears."

Who is the one "allowing"?
And if "I" the construct is in the back seat, who or what is in the front seat?

"I" propose that claiming to eliminate "I" is just a ruse of "I".

And no where is this more apparent than when, claiming to know truth, someone who says they've put aside their "I" tells someone else that every thing they believe doesn't matter.

If there is no "I" where did judgment enter?

"Believe in progress."

No, thank you.

Hi Turan,

Wow, those two paragraphs you posted from Stephen Batchelor's book 'Confession of a Buddhist Athiest' chapter 'The Everyday Sublime' resonated with me so much especially “Meditation is embracing what is happening to this organism as it touches its environment in this moment. I do not reject the experience of the mystical. I reject the only the view that the mystical is concealed behind what is merely apparent, that it is anything other than what is occurring in time and space right now. The mystical does not transcend the world but saturates it."

As I was reading this I had a kind of visionary experience which was so momentarily visible and then gone again, my mind was saying What was that, Where is it, Where has it gone! Never experienced that before and this really convinced me that living moment to moment works, for me anyway.

Never liked meditating, which seemed like searching and striving, and I was always interested in the mystical, OBE's, visualisation, telepathy, lucid dreaming etc and my little vision said to me that this very life we are living in is the magical vision I was looking for! It was like a glimpse behind the curtain of illusion.

Yes, Turan its 'just this' and life is the 'everyday sublime'. Wow, I'm still on a high so now back to being calm and living 'moment by moment' :)

Cheers
Jen

As pointed out in S.B's 'Confessions' :- "Rather than regarding it [the self] as a fixed, non-contingent point around which everything else turned, he [Gotama] recognised that each self was a fluid, contingent process just like everything else."

No problem with the 'I' Spence, definitely needed and yes, everything can be a 'ruse' of the 'I'. The mind/self is definitely an evolutionary advantage when dealing with practical everyday situations but, probably out of fear of its inevitable demise and for its own security it can invent or adopt any belief or concept that appears to maintain its structure and continuity.

The point is, I gather, is to watch, to be aware of this 'I' as it arises and to see its automatic reactions to life. Perhaps this (as S.B. mentions) can enable us to live and respond in the world as it is and not through the abstractions of a constructed self and mind that has the habit of seeking security in all manner of metaphysical abstractions.

That is the 'self' 'taking a back seat' I mentioned. It generally feels like it is the 'controller' but its just a fraction of our existence. It's not a matter of belief it's simply realising that all the information we have accrued (the mind) gives rise to a 'self'. My' identity is a product of the time, place, culture and people we were born into. Being born into some other culture etc. creates a different 'self' – both equally impermanent and transitory.


Yes Jen. Happy that you see it.

Good for you, Jen!

I'm tempted, at this point, to request you to describe what it felt like. But what the heck, I won't! It's enough that you did apparently see something, realize something.

That's great for you, obviously. And that's great for the likes of me as well, in as much as it serves as inspiration that there well might be something out there, something bigger than the mundane everyday, or at least something bigger than what we generally imagine the mundane everyday to comprise of, that is sometimes accessible to us ordinary folks, and that someday may perhaps be accessible to me as well?

My best wishes to you!

We are ourselves ''god in human form.''
It is nice to realise that'' at times'

:)

Hi Appreciative Reader,

Thanks for the nice response. I agree we all can inspire one another, especially anything to take us out of the mundane, even if its wishful thinking, but then I think if we are looking for something else we may be lucky to manifest such. I'm rambling now lol.

Just wanted to say thanks :)

I think it is kind of ridiculous to tell people to throw out concepts. As Wikipedia explains, "concepts are mental representations, abstract objects or abilities that make up the fundamental building blocks of thoughts and beliefs. They play an important role in all aspects of cognition." In other words, it is impossible to think about something or talk about something without using concepts. And since the development of concepts starts very early in life, dismissing concepts that arise in the mind, without examining them, is just another way of avoiding ones self.

Joe, great points. Buddhism, as evidenced in the book quotes I shared, isn't opposed to concepts. They're just another thing to be mindful about, to be aware of. Like you said, concepts are a vital part of being human. Also, of being animal. Without concepts, we wouldn't have language, and without language, we wouldn't be the sort of intelligent animals that we are.

But concepts one can not see for oneselves, is not so good.

I have difficulties with the concept of chaurasi or transmigration,because..
It can be fear mongering and gives quilt.
I do’nt like that.

Jentil, in my view there are concepts that are used to think, talk about, understand and share experience. We are all hardwired for that. The question you are asking seems like this: do concepts that are based on other people's ideas or abstractions that lie outside of our direct experience have any value to us? Using your example, maybe they do, maybe they don't. If the idea itself produces fear and guilt I would say no it does not have value. However if the idea helps us become aware of intrinsic fear or guilt and motivates us to overcome that, and not create anymore of it, yes it does have value, If the idea evokes meaning in us, and inspires us to improve our life in some way, or explore what is possible in some way then I would say yes it does have value. Sometimes it is also helpful, I find, to ask myself whether something feels intuitively true, or it only something somebody has told me. When I get tangled up with the latter I feel disturbed. When I am aware of the former, it becomes simply an acceptance of reality. What I do with that is up to me.

Joe/Brain. Just read through the above comments again and cannot see any suggestions re 'telling people to throw out concepts'. Joe's points on the role of concepts are valid - although to conceive the assumption that comments suggested one should 'throw out concepts' is itself a thought, a concept that is unreal - and needing to be aware of.

Hi Joe,
Yes it is indeed what we do with the concept(s).
In that you are very right.

I don't like the fear..about this concept.
Others can maybe use it ..hopefully in the right way.

Experience informs thinking. Observation informs experience.

Without direct observation all that is left is conjecture.

This is an interesting blog entry and comments for me. It gets tedious (it really does.....but I assure you this is not ego or dishonesty, but rather an indicator of just how sad I can be! :) to say, but having spent what must be hundreds and hundreds of hours reading the most dry, repetitive, tedious Buddhist scriptures, both Pali (the Middle-Lenght Discourses etc) and Mahayanist (the various sutras etc), I feel somewhat entitled here to comment; what Stephen Bachelor (whose books I have not read, but only read quotes online and in podcasts) seems to be teaching is NOT "Buddhism" in very fundamental ways that he does not seem to be fully aware of, from my limited understanding of what he's saying. This article from the respected Buddhist author B Alan Wallace somewhat hints at what I'm saying, although I do not agree with all his sentiments entirely:

https://fpmt.org/mandala/archives/mandala-issues-for-2010/october/distorted-visions-of-buddhism-agnostic-and-atheist/

Quite frankly, I have no interest in pulling out various large books and seeking out quotes which extremely clearly do not accord with materialist or atheist views, and which clearly states these are "errors", and from which to base one's practice will not lead to what Buddha claimed was "Nirvana" (the base "view" which one practiced from is ESSENTIAL according to the Buddha, and he repeatedly, over & over again makes this clear. It is also interesting to note that nowadays many Buddhists, even traditionally renowned ones, hold views which Buddha repeatedly over and over again corrects as "errors of view", such as the view of "reincarnation", or "rebirth" more or less re-imagined as "reincarnation"; Buddha did NOT believe in such a thing and his rebirth is infinitely more subtle and sophisticated than that!).

I will instead speak from my personal point of view (interest) and experience. Turan posted this from Stephen's book: "In the chapter entitled 'The Everyday Sublime' in 'After Buddhism' it opens with:- “Meditation originates and culminates in the everyday sublime. I have no interest in achieving states of sustained concentration in which the sensory richness of experience is replaced by pure introspective rapture. I have no interest in reciting mantras. Visualizing Buddhas or mandalas, gaining out-of-body experiences, reading other peoples thoughts, practising lucid dreaming, or channelling psychic energies through chakras, let alone letting my consciousness be absorbed in the transcendent perfection of the Unconditioned.”"

Yes, it is good to have no "interest" in these things, these parlour tricks! Why should one be interested in these, unless they are serving some other purpose that Stephen doesn't understand or appreciate?

The historical Buddha cautions us, what must be hundreds of times (in the Pali middle-length discourses for eg.), that we should not meditate from a MATERIALIST or ATHEIST position; this will then CONDITION what we experience (as many sceptics here are happy to mention, RSSB meditators are conditioned to see the radiant form of their guru, so why not be conditioned from an a priori materialistic reductionist, atheist position? Are you exempt from the delusion of concepts? Have you a priori ascertained and understood the entire mystery of creation and consciousness? Do share, please?! :).

Instead, we must practice from a position of open-mindedness, no-concepts, an "I don't know" mindset.....even "I don't know" if materialism does explain the whole universe, creation and consciousness - even if this IS a "supernatural" belief itself with ZERO supporting evidence!" :)

And, from there, perhaps "achieving states of sustained concentration in which the sensory richness of experience is replaced by pure introspective rapture. I have no interest in reciting mantras. Visualizing Buddhas or mandalas, gaining out-of-body experiences, reading other peoples thoughts, practising lucid dreaming, or channelling psychic energies through chakras, let alone letting my consciousness be absorbed in the transcendent perfection of the Unconditioned.”

Will come naturally, spontaneously, even if we don't grasp or want or have "interest" in them?

Look at lucid dreaming........what is it? It is, quite simply, awareness during the natural sleep-dream cycle. Is Stephen, here, advocating mindlessness & forgetfulness during the sleep cycle? For every single one of us dreams at night, but we have no awareness, presence, clarity of mind during it......we have lost our mind-full-ness! What sort of mindfulness is this? :)

Interest in it or not, applied mindfulness will result in lucid dreams....and I suggest a whole heap of other "paranormal" or "supernatural" phenomena (words constricted by their vague & ambiguous definitions, really) that he also refers to in this quote.

But, perhaps you must not begin practice with a priori limitations on what is and isn't possible?

In regards these experiences, on a personal level.....I think a lot of people, perhaps, kid themselves. I would say this, forget the higher ecstasies, jhanas, "beyond mind" or whatever other "alleged" exalted states of mind.....they are literally indescribable, forget about them (if you're not inclined to put in effort to achieve them, ie. are not "interested" in them); let's stick to what is now a scientifically attested to phenomena (interestingly, the history of lucid dreaming is extremely indicative of the current materialist attitude to "mystical experiences". For decades scientists dismissed the centuries of "anecdotal" reports of lucid dreams, claiming them to be scientifically impossible, proposing all sorts of ridiculous theories to "explain it away", with the most common being they're just "imagining it" or "dreamt they dreamt they were lucid" etc. With the improvement in scientific measuring devices, in the late 70s (I think) lucid dreamers were able to signal their lucidity from within the dream state by making pre-agreed on eye signals. And the "impossibility" of all mainstream science fluttered away in an instant :).

In these lucid dreams, you can make love with the most beautiful partner/s of your dreams, indulge in sex beyond your wildest pleasure. And that's just the beginning. You can fly over majestic landscapes, feel the wind in your hair, visit planets and worlds of unimaginable beauty and wonder, meet powerful "inner gurus", feel bliss and ecstasy beyond any - without the slightest shadow of a doubt - ANY worldly pleasure or experience possible, because it is as if you're plugged into the very matrix of your emotions without the restrictions of matter (body, gravity etc).

Now I would rate these as the most basic of "inner" experiences......yet I suspect the vast majority of people would do almost anything to be able to have these kinds of experiences, if they were actually available to them in some sort of "certain" way. This is just my personal opinion, based on just observing people, and how easily they are swayed by materialistic & sensual pleasures, unable to resist even.

Unless you can resist, easily, the most tempting, exciting sexual fantasy in your imagination if it was offered to you on a plate (to put it crassly :), then it is not that you have gone "beyond" these states Stephen describes, but rather the sacrifice or challenge of "achieving" them is too difficult a course of life to take and one seeks instead to circumvent those desires.....and that is understandable. We each have to be honest to ourselves, and take that course of action and life-style that most makes us happy, for that is all that really matters.

Peace.

Thank you Manjit about what you post about karma/samsara etc in Buddhism.

Ok one can'' believe ''or'' know'' there is karma,or not,or not sure..
All possiblities..
My point is also in Santmat,..that the ''chaurasi ''or ''cicle of transmigration ''has too much accent.

I once said to Babaji that I do'nt want do things out of fear but out of love.
Babaji repeated that in morning satsang..( one should do out of love not fear) :)

Transmigration,chaurasi is very much empfasized in satsangs,especially morning satsang in Dera.
Then it goes about fear..So we need the Satguru to save us.I find that not a good starting-point.

When people come on the path to learn or out of..love, or belonging..learn to meditate in this way,with simran..
Is different then out of fear.
In my vieuw..imv and imo.

To know that I do not know..
Some things we know..,but do we understand??
Most things we do not understand at all.

Words are nice..absollutely..

and

Stillness is precious..also..

Love

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