Youtube Channel: The Compassion Network

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10/26/2010

Are You Blind? Don't You See, Our Love is Oozing Over. . .

My parents often told us stories of how they fell in love.

They were both giddy upon first laying eyes on each other. My father was wearing a striking red and my mother was looking like Snow White. People often commented on how they seemed to have walked out of a Cinderella fairy tale.

My father revealed though, how nervous he was around my mother. He stuttered every time my mother took off her hat and showed off her shiny hair. “She takes my breath away!” He would mutter, “Mercy, mercy!”

Noticing this, my uncle, my father's older brother and my mother's boss, long engaged in sibling rivalry with my father, came to make the match so that he may have a sister-in-law on his side. A salesman, my uncle began to cast my mother in a dual mix of ethereal aura and sex appeal. My mother was marketed for her approachability, for her sway of the hips, for her sexy bare ankles and for the way she slowly disrobed to show hints of her oh-so-edible shoulders etc. My mother knowingly took full advantage of her femininity to get what she craved, sending compliments and messages to my father through go-betweens for instance.

So it is with the effort of my uncle and actually many aunties who made calculated use of feminine wildes that I got here.

Now how's that for a steamy boy meet girl story?

Okay, so maybe it's quite tame by today's standards, but I would still guess that certain thoughts and impressions are swimming in your mind right now.

This demonstrates the power of metaphors and how they too can be absorbed into the depth of our consciousness (the alaya), where free association leads to fantasies, innuendos and finally action.

As much as we ought to be grateful for our parents' love, a closer analysis of the kind of desire that led to our birth is not a pretty sight. I am not trying to be puritanical, but I do feel an urge to vomit thinking about the dripping blood, sperm and everything else that united my parents.

Conditional love is a form of craving that leads to attachment rather than liberation; that is my understanding now. I am grateful to be a nun who learned from a teacher who never used marriage, romantic relationships or parental relations metaphorically to encourage Harlequin novel scenes and family entanglements. Instead, he spoke openly about sexual ethics, thoughts and acts of erotic love around him and unconditional love. Compassion is not only for those we love but for those we do not as well. Attempting to love everyone as much as we love our spouse, parent or child is much needed in our increasingly hostile world of mistreatment of the other.

10/21/2010

Signs of Meditative Absorption

To test your progress in meditation and for scientific research into the effects of meditation, consider checking against these physical indicators:

1. Warmth. Heat and energetic pulsations felt in the body. Most easily felt in the palms and fingertips. The heat spreads to the rest of the body and makes the body softer and more comfortable.

2. Warmth and energetic pulsations reach the top of the head. Usually begins from the generator of this heat, the dantian (丹田), up the spine, the neck and finally the scalp.

Depending on your size, the dantian is two or three fingers below the navel and two or three fingers in, deeper into the stomach.

3. The gap between inhalation and exhalation becomes relatively long. Breathing stops for an extended period of time.

4. Pulse stops. The heart does not beat for an extended period of time.

5. Inner breathing begins. It feels like a circular wheel that turns in the cavity behind the dantian (丹田) and tucked close against the lower back.

6. Thoughts (even the most subtle at the said rate of approximately 999 thoughts per second) stop.

7. Insecurity about unable to reach this meditative state again dissipates.

These are physical indicators experienced during the early stages of meditation, compared to the long journey to awakening, that is. Training in developing mastery over physical and mental energy means that you may direct the energy, possibly toward physical healing. Perhaps science will someday prove whether there is any direct link between this type of meditative training and physical restoration.

10/20/2010

A Tautology of Buddhist Theology



A Buddhist can be a Theist.
A Buddhist can be an Atheist.
A Buddhist can be both an Atheist and a Theist.
A Buddhist can be neither an Atheist nor a Theist.




A Buddhist can be a Theist.
According to the Mahayana Buddhist cosmology, there are gods, including a God that has dominion over this particular universe.

The Pureland School of Buddhism in particular and many devotional aspects of Buddhism emphasize faith in omnipotent and omnipresent Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on high.

A Buddhist can be an Atheist.
Orthopraxic rather than orthodoxic, a Buddhist focuses on testing hypotheses in practice rather than adhering to a requisite system of belief.

A Buddhist, particularly that of the Zen tradition, does not have to believe in any Buddha, Bodhisattva, god, godhead or anything divine.

A Buddhist can be both an Atheist and a Theist.
A Buddhist can have faith in a God or god-like being, in gods, or in the divine, any of which is the One within and without. Each and every being embodies the One and the One connects us all; to the point there is no more boundary between the self and the One.

The Mahayana Buddhist cosmology describes heavens where gods reside and hells for the fallen. Heaven or hell can be an experience afterlife as well as a present state of mind. In a mindstate of bliss, we are in heaven, here on earth. In a mindstate of torture, we are in hell.

A Buddhist can be neither an Atheist nor a Theist.
One just is. . .

So that reminds me, I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well, are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are your Christian or Buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, Me too! Are your Episcopalian or Baptist? He said, "Baptist!" I said, "Wow! Me too! Are your Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord? He said, Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are your Original Baptist Church of God or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off.

10/06/2010

The Underbelly of Enlightenment

“I have got a story the likes of which you have never heard…”

Until I read Eyes Wide Open by Mariana Caplan and Cave in the Snow by Vicki Mackenzie, I was completely ignorant of the pervasivenesss of the so-called “spiritual gossip”.

To Caplan, however, it is relatively common for her to hear about how “X” teacher manipulates his or her students into illicit relationships of all varieties, abusing their students on the physical, psychological/emotional, or spiritual level and further damage them with blame. She acknowledges the importance of life-threatening instances and that they do occur, but “most of the infringements are milder — and therefore less visible — including psychological, financial, and sexual coercion. Even more common is the phenomenon of spiritual mediocrity.”

I have stayed in monasteries where I am weighed over. How much am I worth? What jobs am I good for? Who are my family connections and how much money do they have? I have been threatened with having to pay for monastery stays in either menial labor or rent.

I recall both my teacher and His Holiness the Dalai Lama pleading that repeat offenders of the serious sort must be brought to light. I continue to wrestle over this, as there is a small voice in me that says wait until I have the opportunity to tell the story in total; meanwhile, adhere to the intent of the Bodhisattva Precepts and do my best to protect Buddhism and its serious aspirants.

I also recall that both my teacher and His Holiness the Dalai Lama never asked anybody to respect them. They only model respect for others so that their students would emulate in turn. Spiritual mediocrity is too often expressed in idiotic demands such as, “Show me respect, you underling! You are to be abused and ridiculed in this insular realm where I have more power! This form of obedience is very good for you (and certainly for me)!”

It is only too obvious, of course, that manipulative and sometimes more covert stances such as this only further make clear that these people must be so afraid of what little spiritual attainment they possess, to have to swagger about their only claim to hierarchical authority, “I am senior! I am your teacher! And that's an order, damn it!”

When there is a large enough number of such individuals gathered, groupthink spreads like an insidious virus. “A spiritual group makes subtle and unconscious agreements regarding the correct ways to think, talk, dress, and act. Shared intentions with respect to practice and protocol become invisible, and institutionalized agreements homogenize the group, offering a level of psychological safety that has little to do with the shared task of spiritual development. Individuals and groups infected with group mind reject individuals, attitudes, and circumstances that do not conform to the often unwritten rules of the group.” (Caplan, 2009)

There’s no group, no matter how developed, that does not embody some aspect of unhealthy cultic dynamics as part of its structure — and the denial of such dynamics, or lack of awareness of them, is one of the most common indicators of this disease.

The cure for this disease in the underbelly, then, is not in denying or defending. Instead, peace is made in acknowledging the gnawing games played, in offering an explanation, an expression of remorse and reparation, and in investing patience, open communication and large doses of the Dharma into long-term healing.

We'll know when we have touched enlightenment with these:

The 12 Symptoms of Inner Peace - by Saskia Davis

1. A tendency to think and act deliberately, rather than from fears based on past experiences.
2. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
3. A loss of interest in judging others.
4. A loss of interest in judging self.
5. A loss of interest in conflict.
6. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
7. A loss of ability to worry.
8. Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
9. Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
10. Frequent attacks of smiling through the heart.
11. Increased susceptibility to kindness offered, and the uncontrollable urge to reciprocate.
12. An increasing tendency to allow things to unfold , rather than resisting and manipulating.