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Denis Wallez
Works at koan.mu
Attended International Buddhist College
Lives in Rhône-Alpes
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Denis Wallez

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Perseverance

   Perseverance is among the (six or ten) "Perfected Qualities." There shouldn't be a surprise once it is understood that 'good' intentions don't naïvely guaranty 'good' results, independently from the wider context (gplus.wallez.name/PHZNG4GzDrM): navigating though successive contexts, creatively engaging with each iteration, requires perseverance if one is to indeed influence the world into a wholesome direction.

   This is easily understood, but somehow people forget about it as regularly as clockwork!

   Imagine you're in a complex entanglement of unwholesome tendencies, and you take 20 years iterating through the various stages in order to improve the forthcoming unfolding of the situation.
   If after 20 years patiently trying to adapt, to respond, to engage, to create, you achieve the progress you were aiming for, then people (including yourself) will easily laud your perseverance.
   But, if after 20 years you conclude that you have no idea anymore on how to try differently, and that maybe you can still help indirectly but not so directly anymore, then people (including yourself) will easily comment on how you 'wasted' 20 years "for nothing".

   The reality though is that you might be 'right' to persevere as long as you creatively engage, as long as you have insights into how to try and improve the situation, as long as you 'see' a possible wholesome change… and it also  is right to accept that you're not God, that you cannot force an outcome onto the world by your sole will (independently from other inter-dependent wills), once you don't see any prospect of improvement.
   Perseverance is not stubbornness, people easily understand this, but most people judge « perseverance vs. stubbornness » based on time and outcome, rather than based on intention and potential.

   If your intention is wholesome and you see the potential for actualising it, you're into perseverance.
   If your intention is unwholesome (e.g. clinging, trying to force an outcome without taking other perspectives than yours into consideration, etc.), or if you cannot actually 'see' how the potential wished for could be realised, you're into stubbornness.
   This has nothing to do with the time spend so far (neither saying "it's too early to tell or to stop"  nor saying "it's too long since the work started").

   The Perfection of Perseverance requires the association of Perseverance and Wisdom. And Wisdom should certainly not deny the past, but it should base present decisions (decisions about the present) on the present situation, its present potentials and its present hindrances. A classical mistake when giving too much weight to the past is when one says "I tried this 'solution' before, there's no reason to try again"  while missing  that the situation has changed and that what prevented the 'solution' to yield the expected result the first time is no longer present (or is now 'moderated' by other factors having ceased or arisen).


   « How to know when too much time and energy has been invested in a particular cause? » is not a helpful question.
   It comes naturally to mind but it poses the question in erroneous terms, which can only lead to an 'answer' in erroneous terms.

   If you want to use time, there is a way, but it isn't a "make it or die trying": you can set deadlines for 'reviews'. 
   For example, you might set out to do your utmost  "for 2 years" to bring a wholesome momentum into the world. After 2 years, you 'review': you take the time to suspend the engagement, to take a step back and to see if there are lessons to be gained that you had not so much paid attention to [Be mindful that the lessons might  be about the past, and that they could have been useful if picked up at the time but not anymore… i.e. the lessons themselves might be outdated.]. This is about setting a timer to reflect, a mindfulness bell (as Thích Nhất Hạnh would call it), a point in time to ensure you don't keep pushing out of habit rather than out of choice.  As such, this is absolutely not  equivalent to a prejudice making "2 years" the deadline to "either succeed or stop": it's about being aware of how things unfold and about looking at the situation afresh (without biases, notably based on prior 'investment'), it's about adaptation and responsiveness, not about caricaturing a complex unfolding process by a black&white fixed photography.


#Buddhism   #Dharma  
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Wonderful! Thank you /^\
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July

15 posts in July, including 8 personal contributions:
Intentions do matter
  gplus.wallez.name/PHZNG4GzDrM
Rational kindness
  gplus.wallez.name/Nkr8fxGSLc4
Individualization
  gplus.wallez.name/6mLHavYk92y
GDP blindness
  gplus.wallez.name/2bCkqHtSLjh
graphical perspectives on individualisation
  gplus.wallez.name/gvxmgjiMRLB
rephrasing
  gplus.wallez.name/XRJ24JdxHPa
Materialistic habit
  gplus.wallez.name/bQtVMofWEWq
Right effort in cultivation: meditating beyond the first instructions
  gplus.wallez.name/P5K34cQ8Hig

   In July, contributions on g+ included not only this original content but also interactions and moderation in g+ communities, contributions in comment threads and the requested one-to-one guidances. All this was financially supported by 14 people; 288 people currently ask for notifications when original content is posted; thousands of views are accrued each day.


#Buddhism   #TableOfContents   #Fundraising          
Previous monthly summaries:
2015:
June            gplus.wallez.name/gLDL13xxPhq
May              gplus.wallez.name/hZTEGTSTgKu
April             gplus.wallez.name/1eb8svftDi5
March          gplus.wallez.name/4t2DUuQqBjn
February      gplus.wallez.name/5PQkQpTzFLX
January       gplus.wallez.name/DqD7tGQNiPX
2014:
December   gplus.wallez.name/JcnRXi3tQQb
November   gplus.wallez.name/gfa8qxgTXmJ
October       gplus.wallez.name/iFV6pCXSpQh
September  gplus.wallez.name/XrpFQuhkVFT
August         gplus.wallez.name/VgFp4GB2tYz
July              gplus.wallez.name/YpGzJBVZLtN
June             gplus.wallez.name/hhc68fbudLW
May              gplus.wallez.name/b4BSYUm5jX9
April              gplus.wallez.name/jmBn75acy1g
March          gplus.wallez.name/2KrNGuyH1L2
February     gplus.wallez.name/UKjAAPPTtik
(No monthly summary before this. Activity since November 2011)
Photo: Tibetan gilt bronze Buddha Shakyamuni, 18-19th c.
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Oh gosh, I am so behind on this months readings. Weekend homework. Thank you for all the teachings :)
I feel like I got released into the big world from here, from the palm of Buddha.......:)
Now I go dance with life more happily and joyfully. I wouldn't have done it without your listening ear and guiding me through life.
Thank you for giving the freedom to write under your posts for the last few years. It gave me the strength and confidence and I got to meet the most wonderful people here :)
What a great gift you have given to me. Thank you dear +Denis Wallez.
🙏
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Right effort in cultivation: meditating beyond the first instructions

   Recently, a student told me she was meditating with her eyes closed… so far so normal, but it sounded a bit too 'fixed', so I asked why. I was told that, as she mostly uses sound as an anchor for the time being, sight was a distracting phenomenon, sight carried the mind away and she would often lose the audible anchor.

   A core trait of meditation practice is to train us to re-center, to come back to an equanimous stance, free from tendencies, free from preferences and biases… so regularly drifting away is necessary for the training:  without drifting, there's no training in re-centering, in re-anchoring in reality, in stepping back from obsessive thoughts (too scattered or too focused)!


   If you find yourself incapable of catching the drift, incapable for very long periods of noticing it, then to train in easier conditions (e.g. with eyes closed) for a while  might prove useful: any training has to be possible, manageable… or it isn't training, it's just a trap for failure.

   But one should then be mindful not to get too comfortable with a practice that works "just fine": if you don't drift enough, there's not enough training anymore. There's certainly focus, but no learning, no insight…

   The Buddha described appropriate concentration as "neither too loose, nor too tight." Too much control isn't helping.


   This can be understood if you put back your practice into context. The goal is not  a 'perfect' meditation while you meditate. That's (relatively speaking) easy. The goal is to lead a wise life, as free from conditionings as possible, responding appropriately to the situation at hand rather than clinging to prejudices and preferences…
   This goal is embodied if you can  re-center to an equanimous stance, if you can  "step back" from the ordinary "me, myself and I", whenever  circumstances carry your mind away, whenever circumstances resonate with past experiences and blind you from what's new, whenever circumstances lead to cravings or aversions, whenever circumstances make you respond in automatic (without awareness, without choice, i.e. without freedom).
   This goal is not  about being fine and equanimous only when everything is fine and nothing is disturbing in the least. The goal is about wisely handling the variety of conditions and circumstances away from the meditation cushion and about unconditionally finding equanimity in the midst of life.
   So, when you can handle your training in controlled conditions, the cultivation is to be ramped up to a 'richer' set of circumstances.

   The goal of meditation is to see reality as it is. Calm and peace are side-effects of such a clarity, of such a lack of distortions, not the goal. To see reality as it is, one has to drop many ignorant views, which is achieved by study. Studying requires appropriate effort (not so much that it leads to burn out, but not so little that no progress is measured either and despondency takes root). The study may well be experiential and beyond usual labels/concepts, but meditation is not restful in and of itself: studying is work, is effort.

   Regularly push the limits of what you can handle!
   If your meditation is comfortable, a safe heaven, then it's a refuge, not a raft. At times, we need to rest and a refuge is a great place to do so, but the point remains to continue the journey once rested: use the raft from refuge to refuge, even if the raft shakes, even if the raft is uncomfortable, even if effort is required! For explorers, effort doesn't equate suffering: you can embody enthusiasm as a motivation, and effort as its manifestation! Enthusiasm is always a better motivation than fear or aversion to pain; and equanimity is not met by fleeing dukkha.
   Mindfulness includes mindfulness of how you feel about your practice, about your cultivation. If your current practice is challenging but doable, you're in a position to learn something (maybe not what is expected, but that's a different conversation). If your practice is too hard, too easy or too stable, then you're stuck… and adjusting (more or less temporarily) the practice is necessary.

   To make it harder, maybe keep the eyes open! Maybe meditate in public transport! See if you can still remain anchored (in breath, in audible context, in any visualisation you're cultivating, in any mantra…) when the environment gets richer, louder, busier.

   If the goal is about unconditionally finding equanimity in the midst of life, then it's not much a "specialised trade": it's not about being better and better in narrow, specific, well-controlled conditions. Shake the conditions a little, and more!
   And when it gets beyond your ability to re-connect with equanimity, pull back a little, and learn to deal with this… It's not about running before you know how to walk, don't let ambition blind you. When ready, try pushing again! Not too easy, not too hard!

   This is the practice: re-anchor in reality as often as you can, look at what needs to be done and let go of mental fabrications and other scheming as often as you can.
   The cushion is helpful at times, but it's not key: the study is of your mind and how it relates to the world (mostly clinging to one branch or the next, as if your life depended on it, even though you just caught the branch that presented itself, without much choice about it!). A cushion can do nothing for you; learn to see reality (beyond the immediate branch, appropriated as your 'own' and imagined in 'need' to be defended against others) and, for this, don't limit reality to a cushion!


#Buddhism   #meditation   #Dharma  
illustration: "Mystic Nostalgia" © Tiffani Gyatso
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Like lifting weights, if it gets too easy, you aren't making the kind pf progress you could.
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Materialistic habit

   Many have marvelled at the recent images of Pluto, but some interested in Buddhism have concluded that « if we can design and send scientific tools that send back pictures, pictures that we all share and comment on, then surely Pluto is real and 'objective', not just a 'subjective' dream… therefore karma isn't real. »
   This unfortunately is a misunderstanding of karma and of the nature of reality.

   While karma is 'individual', individuality itself merely is an appropriation mechanism (gplus.wallez.name/KZRPUvkHpLg), making some streams of consciousness 'mine'.
   To consider that interacting/interdependent streams of consciousness (e.g. sharing and discussing the 'same' Pluto) are contradictory with the individuality of karma is erroneous: karma is hard to track, its unfolding is hard to predict, precisely because of the multitude of interactions! However, no matter how complex the web of streams is, one can always pick a few streams and —quite arbitrarily— announce (and believe) "these are mine / these are me". It makes the 'self' an illusion, a sign of ignorance, but it doesn't contradict the individualisation of karma: it simply makes the individualisation a result of ignorance, a consequence of appropriating, of seeking a separate existence in the midst of a continuum. [It also makes Liberation possible, by ungrasping the cognitive error].

   There's even more fundamental problem with the materialistic perspective though. It's the very assumption that it's the same  Pluto we're all sharing!
   Karma refers to (individual) tendencies, notably 'appropriative' tendencies: how  we appropriate, make some experiences 'ours' while being blind to others (or even denying them, making them "not ours"), etc. Nothing under the Sun tells you that my perception of Pluto is the same as yours… and therefore which 'objective' Pluto do we share?
   We're exchanging about a concept, but even this concept may be interpreted differently (not only because of varying degrees of knowledge but also because of varying interests: from the same knowledge at a given moment, one person might look forward the next developments in e.g. mineralogy while another person might lose interest because e.g. there's no sign of life).
   There's inter-dependence and we probably share more than a name ('Pluto')… but there's little 'objective' about it: the 'more' that we share is a lot more linked to the shared conversation we had through time, the "scientific consensus" we made, than to any essential trait we could pinpoint. And there's no warranty that we'll continue the conversation (precisely because our 'interests' might diverge). Maybe there's more than a shared conversation, but it's still impossible to find something that would be 'objective' without  mediation of the 'subjective' mind (gplus.wallez.name/j3k3QS2ELnY), something that would have an essence (not only have one, but have it perceived by all directly and without prejudices, preferences or personal biases).

   To make the point more intelligible, if need be, one might rely on more common experiences.
   Some people drive without fear at speeds that frighten others (be it because they know more —e.g. know the brakes are not designed for such extreme conditions— or because they know less —e.g. one fears to push the vehicle to its limits, limits that a very experienced professional driver might handle comfortably).
   Some people experience vertigo, others don't, in the 'same' context.
   Some people might find a house reassuring and cosy, others might feel the 'same' house 'haunted' and oppressive.
   The 'same', simple interaction (e.g. a hug) might be a blessing to someone in need of affective support, and a nightmare to someone who went through abuse.

   Sharing doesn't make the 'subjective' disappear: individual karma is even perfectly compatible with sharing the delusion of an objective world that one might define purely in materialistic terms (without realising that each one involved 'understands' —appropriates— the terms differently).


   The above is compatible with interpreting the Buddhist realms as psychological metaphors: realms are not separate from each others, all beings share the 'same' reality, the 'same' web of inter-dependences, but they appropriate it differently and what is perceived as nectar to those 'in' god's realms appear as poison to those 'in' hells.
   Sharing a reality doesn't mean this reality may be completely described purely in materialistic terms, and doesn't means its existence is 'objective.'
   It doesn't mean either that materialistic models are utterly useless or pointless: a simple model might be very useful, it might empower us to make predictions (up to a point, but enough to take responsibility and act) but utility doesn't imply the model is complete or even true (cf. Newtonian gravitation, which proved useful but very wrong outside a narrow range of conditions).
   Hence a Middle Way (neither essentialism nor nihilism…)!


#Buddhism   #Dharma  
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That makes perfect sense.  I don't believe Buddhist philosophy supports the denial of an objective reality per se. But it does seem to be saying that you cannot determine it absolutely, and that it's nature is often wrongly interpreted and appropriated, which leads to problems in dealing with life effectively or at least optimally. I remember hearing a saying that was something like "those who say what we experience in life is real are stupid, but those who say it is not real are even stupider!"  Maybe not the kindest expression, but it has slowly come to make sense to me over the years.  It seems to me to be about recognizing that provability is a context sensitive phenomena, expressed as an aid in keeping an open mind and avoiding certain pitfalls in understanding, such as excessive certainty.
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" One who is dependent has wavering. One who is independent has no wavering. There being no wavering, there is calm. There being calm, there is no yearning. There being no yearning, there is no coming or going. There being no coming or going, there is no passing away or arising. There being no passing away or arising, there is neither a here nor a there nor a between-the-two. This, just this, is the end of stress."

Ud 8.4 - Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.8.04.than.html
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I'd say "conditioned differently" rather than "conditioned more", but overall yes.
An example in Buddhism relates to the jhanas. The highest jhana might be erroneously perceived as nirvana... But it isn't the same: the peace is conditioned (it exists only as long as the meditative state of concentration exists) in the former, while nirvana is unconditioned. And, of course, such confusion could be seen as a particularly painful one... even though it could only happen to very advanced meditators (capable of attaining the highest jhana, which is not a given for the common meditator!).
Another example is the dilemma of the bodhisattva: the more one perceives interdependence, the harder it seems to change anything significantly on one's own, to "make a difference", to help... Of course, the solution lies with leveraging the interdependence, with leading and inspiring many rather than acting on one's own, but the realisation remains a difficult moment for most and could be seen as "feeling more conditioned than when ignorance ruled." The twin realisation lies with seeing that previous lack of awareness of conditioning didn't mean the conditioning wasn't there...
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« The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking. »
The rich, diverse, free web that I loved — and spent years in an Iranian jail for — is dying. Why is nobody stopping it?
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The problem is always within us - we like the autolooping youtube, we prefer websites that scroll text ad infinitum, we like fake and superficial news from gossip websites.

No demand, no supply.

We can't reform society without reforming the individual. 
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Not really a "state of Zen"…
Zen teachings would crush the very idea of a 'state', to start with ;-)
 
This Device Can Zap Your Brain Into A State Of Zen. Is That A Good Thing?

The device did seem to work on some level. For 15 minutes, I experienced a light pressure on the side of my forehead while the electrodes delivered pulses. Toward the end of the session and for about an hour afterward, my brain was definitely down a notch. However, I wouldn't describe the feeling as zen so much as vaguely stoned. This is apparently not unusual, as one of the company's publicity reps, Mark de la Vina, told me that it makes a small percentage of users feel high. I felt a pleasant, light floatiness and noticed myself typing and speaking more slowly.

"We are still looking at the tip of the iceberg," Dr. Roi Cohen Kadosh, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at Oxford, said to HuffPost. "We still do not have good understanding of the potential side effects -- especially not the long-term effect of tDCS, and especially not for those that will be used at home for months."
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Hmmmm, Lots of issues here. What is wisdom.  Westerners who have a totally different definition of zen than Easterners; editors looking for clickbait; underpaid reporters needing a story to feed their family; someone selling devices wanting to sell as many as possible [I'm not saying they don't believe in it]; the original research on using low current/voltage electrical brain stimulation to fight untreatable depression; hackers with depression; hackers without depression thinking that if it makes sad people happy then will it make happy people ecstatic? 

Seems a bit like the Christian debate about emotions vs doing God's will.
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« We wouldn’t get on a plane if there was a 5% chance of the plane crashing, but we’re treating the climate with that same level of risk in a very offhand, complacent way. »
— Nick Robins

Full report available.
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Ask Google
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The time dimension is lacking in that diagram.
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From a cognitive multitude of selves, apprehending the middle way between nihilism and essentialism (although I previously explained why an "in between" doesn't inherently exist, gplus.wallez.name/K9PsvMRQhve: peace is found in stepping outside of the stream gplus.wallez.name/2V7f1nBTBq2, neither going with it nor going against it gplus.wallez.name/7S3j1FGP21p).

video 1h06'30'' + 45' Q&A

book at www.amazon.com/gp/product/0231137095/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0231137095&linkCode=as2&tag=koanmu03-20&linkId=BRV2O3SE4CQRCSOE

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Rephrasing

   Expedient means mostly are about rephrasing teachings endlessly, in order to make them intelligible to beings in an endless variety of conditions and circumstances.

   When reading the attached quote, those who meditate might not easily agree that "it is easy to have calmness":  one quickly learns that the mind is restless and goes into many directions… The world's tendency doesn't appear to lean towards "calm", and the mind all too easily appropriates numberless stimuli  then gets carried away.
   According to the kalama sutta,  we shouldn't accept a quote based on the authority of the teacher: we might use it to reflect, to enquire, to question but not to blindly believe.
   This being said, it might  be easy to find calm in inactivity…  What is hard to find is inactivity itself, so maybe the quote is not so contradictory with the experience of meditation. 
   Inactivity… also known as 'extinguishing the fire', 'extinction', 'ceasing', 'cessation', etc! Does it ring a bell? The inactivity is not merely physical inactivity, it certainly covers the cessation of mental fabrications too.

   We could rewrite the quote to make it more 'classic' for students of Buddhism. For example,
"it is easy to have calmness in inactivity,
it is hard to have calmness in activity,
but calmness in activity is true calmness"
   might be rewritten as
it's easy to have peace in nirvana,
it's hard to have peace in samsara,
but peace in samsara is true nirvana.

   « Nirvana is samsara » is one of the key tenets of Zen… The tradition of Shunryu Suzuki isn't a major surprise then, is it? ;-)
   « Nirvana is peace » is the fourth "mark of existence"  (notably in Tibetan traditions), a characteristic added to the classical three: dukkha  (unsatisfactoriness), anicca  (impermanence), anatta  (selflessness).

#Buddhism #Dharma #quote  
 
"It is easy to have calmness in inactivity, it is hard to have calmness in activity, but calmness in activity is true calmness."

~ Shunryu Suzuki

Artwork by Narender Mehta
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“Everyone knows we need to have mud for lotuses to grow. The mud doesn’t smell so good, but the lotus flower smells very good. If you don’t have mud, the lotus won’t manifest. You can’t grow lotus flowers on marble. Without mud, there can be no lotus.”

“DID THE BUDDHA SUFFER
When I was a young monk, I believed that the Buddha didn’t suffer once he had become enlightened. Naively I asked myself, “What’s the use of becoming a Buddha if you continue to suffer?” The Buddha did suffer, because he had a body, feelings, and perceptions, like all of us. Sometimes he probably had a headache. Sometimes he suffered from rheumatism. If he happened to eat something not well cooked, then he had intestinal problems. So he suffered physically, and he suffered emotionally as well. When one of his beloved students died, he suffered. How can you not suffer when a dear friend has just died? The Buddha wasn’t a stone. He was a human being. But because he had a lot of insight, wisdom, and compassion, he knew how to suffer and so he suffered much less.


Excerpt From: Thich Nhat Hanh. “No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering.” 
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Graphical perspectives on "individualisation"
16'54'' video

   « if you want to live the American dream, go to Denmark »

   As recently argued in gplus.wallez.name/6mLHavYk92y, "reasonably equal chances of individual success" require a collective choice, a collective culture to not only allow but indeed support such chances.
   The American dream is not only  manifested at the individual level, it is a collective dream and it is also  measured at the collective level…
   A collective dream, a societal choice, requires collective agreement to bear the cost, most notably to refrain from the Law of the Strongest even when short-termism or selfishness would suggest otherwise.
   A naïve definition of freedom wouldn't suffice: social responsibility isn't the enemy of freedom, it is an enabler!

   In economic terms, the health of an economy relates to circulation  of money, not accumulation (not clinging).
   If you take money from everyone and don't redistribute it widely,  who will you take money from next?
   It might be noted that such a redistribution may be achieved via consumption by the rich, but only as much as said consumption allows to pay decent salaries to those providing goods and services (i.e. wealth is used as energy, not as power to enslave others) and as much as the rich 'consumed' all previous earnings by the time of one's death (or any wealth left over is given back to the wider society the individual was part of… as opposed to to the concept of inheritance assuming that the family of the rich is inherently separate from its context!).
   Short term and reasonable imbalance (e.g. earning a few times more than others, for the time of one  human life) is easily accommodated by the system, but orders of magnitude in inequality and inheritance create longer term issues that the system only solves via violence (from theft to revolutions). Those who squeeze others by greed only sow the seeds of a violence that will threaten them back. Those who 'privatise' (at a genetic/familial/dynastic level) a share of collective wealth only sow the same seeds. For a while, police states can —and do— contain such violence, but history tends to show that this is only a temporary solution.


   Just like we have climate change deniers, we have people who keep arguing for least-regulated "free markets", for unbridled competition, for unmoderated "reward for success" (never statistically 'adjusted' —or 'controlled'— by one's conditions, circumstances and sheer luck (at birth and later)), for individual  choices of generosity (rather than culture  of redistribution), for "more more more" at the individual level… as if these were the only approach for the pursuit of happiness.

   How many more studies which support the opposite conclusion do we need, for people to start seriously looking at the evidence?

   Moderation is not suppression (no more than equanimity is voluntary blindness): moderating capitalism doesn't equate communism. Drop the caricature and consider social responsibility as an enabler of success. When 0.3% of GDP would be enough over 15 years to end world hunger (gplus.wallez.name/2bCkqHtSLjh), it takes selfishness and strong biases to consider that redistributing 0.3% of GDP would equate communism.


#engagedBuddhism  
h/t +Debra Roberts h/t +Dave Bath 
We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.
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Hi Denis,
It may be a result of my spiritual tradition and my temperament, but I more often than not feel sorry for the people that my peers call rich, and when I assess my own financial power, I assess my own financial power compared to my own assessment of how financially powerful people in Africa are (rather than how financially powerful my work managers are) - and I feel grateful for my wealth, not guilty. The only time I seem to be very fleetingly personally moved by differences in financial power is when I walk though a district (it has to be "walking") and I see those with less financial power (perhaps credit rather than power) than I encumbered with more possessions than I (I feel a fleeting sense of "shame"), or if I imagine (I have never seen it except in movies) a person using their relative wealth to persuade/tempt one less wealthy to change their behaviour .... in order to become more wealthy, i.e. "I'll give you money if..."

However, in my own life I prove his point. I have no intention of moving to a "rich" neighbourhood. I prefer to be a rich fish in a poor pond, than a poor fish in a rich pond! But I suspect I am very rare in this. Most if not all my peers continuously seek to climb the ladder, or move from pond to pond of increasing material riches, thereby never feeling rich themselves, and thereby always feeling financially discontent? 

As an aside, I have observed that society seems to thrive on making the next generation financially richer. Is this because the older always want to be supported by the younger, and the older would feel ashamed to ask a financially or materially poorer generation to support them? A millionaire widow or widower asking for financial or material support (in order to "save" more money) from a pay-check to pay-check son or daughter would be highly embarrassing to the social system?

I cannot escape my background. I cannot help wanting graphical representations of data to include uncertainty or what the standard deviation is in these types of data is, or even a school-boy "goodness of fit" in these fits. Some of the fits are far better than others. I guess the speaker has to speak to an audience as diverse as the data! A result of educational inequality!? :-)
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For the time being, my g+ posts are voluntarily limited to Buddhism (as an Eastern mix of philosophy and psychology, not so much as a religion). However, in relation to Buddhism, nothing is considered off-limits!
My primary take on Buddhism is «Might as well be happy, since we're here!» The secondary take addresses how we can cease dissatisfaction in practical terms (considering that mundane life is not an obstacle to the dharma).

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I am not a big fan of clinging, and so I quite naturally reject "clinging to traditional translations because they're classical." This includes the usual translation of the four noble truths (classic presentation): cf. the four tasks of the noble one, cf. life is pleasurable and ordinary minds can't get enough of it, cf. "on clinging to a particular translation of the 'four noble truths'."

Finally, if you wonder about who granted me my 'authority' as a teacher, or as a priest, or where I learnt, or who certified or confirmed whatever attainment… I don't tell! However, my reasons are openly communicated; so you're free to make your own choices.
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