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Understanding and Realisation

KeromeKerome Lovingness is the wayThe Continent Veteran

It seems to me that many Buddhists spend a lot of time trying to understand the Buddha by reading sutra’s. They learn Pali terms for different energies and emotions, to try to get closer to the original meaning of what was said 2,500 years ago. What they don’t realise is that that is a path to understanding realisation, rather than achieving it.

Ajahn Chah says that rather than burying your nose in books, one should study ones own heart. It is likely to get one closer, by growing ones connection to the heart and training you to look at it closely, but I think it is still a path of understanding.

Where do we go for a path of realisation? Well, the traditional Buddhist answer would be practice. But the last few days I have been looking at Douglas Harding and his headless way, and there are some interesting experiments on his website which confront us with the fact that our reality is not exactly as it at first appears.

The interviews on the website are worthwhile too, such gentle people and what a breath of freedom.

Bunks

Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Where do we go for a path of realisation?

    Everywhere and anywhere ...

    Once upon a dime, we breath our first absence of water. Life begats. Each of us listening becomes the first crier and the ever lasting end of daze.
    This is the story we know well. Our own that we listen to, see through and present to whoever circles our squaring.

    It may be the poetry of frogs
    https://zenawakened.com/on-red-thread-zen/

    It may be the garden of the cleared sky
    https://www.shambhala.com/christianitys-best-kept-secret-on-cynthia-bourgeault-and-the-cloud-of-unknowing/

    It may be a new age of presence and presents ...
    The never ending store of headings

    So in this sense, heart/centre of being/Mind/Path is avoided by going somewhere but found by being where we really are ...

  • Shoshin1Shoshin1 Veteran

    I remember reading about a Zen master who use to do the finger pointing experiment with his students...

    It's an interesting experience of form being emptiness and
    vice versa....

    I tried the finger pointing experiment and...

    Bunkslobster
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    If you want to know about being in the now, realisation and Empty Mind - watch a small child playing by themselves in a sandpit...

    lobsterBunks
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited April 24

    In a way, we are all like the children playing with our own sandcastles -building business empires, reputations, likes on Instagram etc. We must learn once in a while to be the observer rather than the active participant.

    At least that is the message that I get when I see the Tibetan monks destroy the intricate sand mandalas they carefully made over the weeks. No substance to be found in sand. Only in our minds are our "sandcastles" real.

    You don't have to actively destroy the sandcastles. It is in their nature to be destroyed when the conditions are not there and no condition lasts forever.

    "Just as when boys or girls are playing with little sandcastles:[4] as long as they are not free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, & craving for those little sand castles, that's how long they have fun with those sandcastles, enjoy them, treasure them, feel possessive of them. But when they become free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, & craving for those little sand castles, then they smash them, scatter them, demolish them with their hands or feet and make them unfit for play.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn23/sn23.002.than.html

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Observe/hear/feel/know … Nothing?

    or rather … empty!

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    I’ve been reading Douglas Harding’s book On having no head, and it’s interesting, he compares his experience of headlessness with realisations of Zen, he uses a lot of Zen quotes in the book.

    But he is very right when he observes that what we see is not really related to having two eyes and a face. The mind’s eye is a single large field of vision, you notice the influence of the eyes only when one of them is shut.

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    Harding’s realisation is about letting go of the body, or so it seems to me. What he found was “there was an emptiness above the body, instead of a head”, so both body and mind are gone, gone.

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran
    edited April 29

    There’s a very interesting set of experiments on the headless way website. One of them is called the bottom line, about how we experience the view out from our body. It shows that what we are has nothing to do with the body.


    The experiments

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    The Ernst Mach self-portrait that inspired Douglas Harding’s headless way:

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    It’s pretty interesting that when you consider what we look through, we are hardly aware of a pair of eyes. For the most part we see as if things are projected on a single canvas in the mind, half of which goes dark if we close one eye. Harding calls this the single eye.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    It shows that what we are has nothing to do with the body

    Does it?
    In fact without a body, existence isn't up to much.

    Choephalpegembara
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:

    It shows that what we are has nothing to do with the body

    Does it?
    In fact without a body, existence isn't up to much.

    How do you know? Have you tried being without a body?

    lobster
  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    @lobster said:

    It shows that what we are has nothing to do with the body

    Does it?
    In fact without a body, existence isn't up to much.

    How do you know? Have you tried being without a body?

    Has anyone?
    The body is the vehicle for realisation. We have everything we need.
    We are not “ souls” trapped in flesh.
    Body, mind, perceptions, cognitions etc all arise in mutual dependence.
    Light on this process is shed by Prajna..Sherab in Tibetan which is direct insight into the truth of Dharma. This is uncovered rather than manufactured and happens by various skillful means.

    lobsterShoshin1
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @Choephal said:
    We are not “ souls” trapped in flesh.

    I would like to believe you and the lama’s who you quote, but practical experience seems to imply otherwise. I’m not saying there is such a thing as a soul, but consciousness, memory and personality seem to persist after death. One could look at many NDEs, or my fathers experiences with my stepmother.

  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran
    edited May 3

    Consciousness, and memory certainly have temporary existence, as does personality. And consciousness gives rise to the next lifetime.
    It does not take a Lama though, to see that they do not add up to a permanent Atta..(soul). And Anatta ( literally “ no atta ) is as basic a Buddhist teaching as it gets..
    I don’t make this stuff up. It’s pretty basic Buddhadharma. 🙂

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    Well, even more basic is ehipassiko, come and see for yourself. I do perceive the spiritual in life, and have had a few experiences that indicate there is more than just the body.

    Whether that means that there is an ‘atta’, I would not care to guess. I always thought the Anatta teaching was aimed at Buddha’s contemporaries who associated a particular meaning with the atman. Either way, existence seems to persist.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    There are so many ways it could all work and so many ways to mistakenly interpret reality.

    I have always dreamt a lot. I have always remembered more of my dreams than I want to. One aspect of dreams that I have noticed is the meaninglessness of time. For all we know, we could live an infinite amount of lives in the span of time it takes for our loved ones to watch us take our last breath.

    It could be that we experience precisely what we have been conditioned to experience.

    Not knowing and non-attachment to these kinds of views is very freeing.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @David would you say these dreams are 'empty' or perhaps 'not knowing' is a form of 'nothing'?

    Are we ever free when existing in form? How is timeless related to eternity in a grain of being?

    “To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.”

    William Blake

    David
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited May 4

    @lobster said:
    @David would you say these dreams are 'empty' or perhaps 'not knowing' is a form of 'nothing'?

    Dreams are often meaningful, useful and educational but they can also be tiring and sometimes confounding. They can also be lucid which is neat but yes, I guess they're as empty as everything else but empty things are useful. One day I might get into a bit of Tibetan Dream Yoga and try to remember to meditate when I find myself in a lucid dream but I brought that theory up as an example of but one mirror in the proverbial hallway.

    I don't rightly know what you mean by "a form of nothing" but non-attachment to views helps us deal with the let down kind of feeling that can accompany a hole being poked in a belief.

    Are we ever free when existing in form?

    Free from what? To be free is to be free of something. To be free of everything would be to be free of the ability to experience. The free I mean is to be free of the burden of belief or the burden of being closed off to new information. Pretty much freedom from burdens in general. Keeping in mind the difference between a burden and a responsibility we choose to take on.

    How is timeless related to eternity in a grain of being?

    As mindfully as possible is my final answer.

    “To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.”

    William Blake

    "If you touch one thing with deep awareness, you touch everything. The same is true of time. When you touch one moment with deep awareness, you touch all moments."
    --Thich Nhat Hanh

    lobster
  • LionduckLionduck Veteran

    If by realization, you mean awakening of your Buddha nature or enlightenment, it can not be achieved by study or theory alone. It takes action. By applying the principles of Buddhiam in our daily life, we awaken the Buddha within, we bring forth the reaization that we are Buddha, we are each a Thus Come One. In awakening to that realization, not in our mind, but in our life, we fulfill the Buddha's vow to make everyone equal to him. For Buddha arises from the common man/woman. The trap of the Two Vehicles is in succumbing to the delusion that knowledge is enlightenment. Those in the Two Vehicles get caught up in the net of Learning and Self Realization as an end rather than a means. They mistakenly feel they have achieved what they have yet to attain.
    That is why the Buddha said the way to enlightenment is through faith (not blind faith, but Faith). Faith is no more nor less than action, living your life in accord with the principles of Buddhism.

    Peace to all

    lobsterDavid
  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran

    Looking back when I first joined New Buddhist I made an assumption that was premature. I assumed that it served as a means for those who had accepted the basic teachings of Buddhadharma and identified formally as students of Dharma.
    This was wrong.
    I don’t doubt that the forum serves a purpose for those who respect and admire Buddhadharma, but for many that stops short of Refuge. And that’s OK and legitimate.
    But it means for me either witnessing an endless circling of the airfield or engaging in endless firefighting. And life’s too short.
    So I will take my leave with genuine good wishes to all.
    🙂🙏🏻

    KeromelobsterShoshin1
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran
    edited May 4

    I just went and had a look at what @Brian’s mission statement for New Buddhist was, I am glad I hadn’t gotten the nature of the website all wrong! I’ve certainly asked enough beginners questions over the years, but I am not really a beginner anymore. I seem to have become a patchwork semi-Buddhist.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited May 4

    @Choephal said:
    Looking back when I first joined New Buddhist I made an assumption that was premature. I assumed that it served as a means for those who had accepted the basic teachings of Buddhadharma and identified formally as students of Dharma.
    This was wrong.
    I don’t doubt that the forum serves a purpose for those who respect and admire Buddhadharma, but for many that stops short of Refuge. And that’s OK and legitimate.
    But it means for me either witnessing an endless circling of the airfield or engaging in endless firefighting. And life’s too short.
    So I will take my leave with genuine good wishes to all.
    🙂🙏🏻

    I think it's good to remember that the site doesn't cater to any one interpretation of the Buddhadharma and so there will be a difference in views which in turn can lead to debate. Sometimes we even talk about Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and others while comparing them to the Buddhadharma. As long as we keep kinship forefront in our minds, a lot of good can, has and will come out of our exchanges here.

    It is nice for me because although I take refuge in the Plum Village tradition of Zen, I am nonsectarian at heart.

    lobsterhowKeromeShoshin1
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    So I will take my leave with genuine good wishes to all.

    Fare thee well
    https://englishhistory.net/byron/poems/fare-thee-well/

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    I very much like what @David says:
    Good intentional peeps are our kin …

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:
    I very much like what @David says:
    Good intentional peeps are our kin …

    Yes, I agree, it is not a bad summary. In the end a little wisdom and some compassion are real signs of kinship, more so than having officially done this or that.

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