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Denis Wallez
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«Intentions do matter.»
«Intentions do matter.»

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F A B U L O U S !
~ Le mécanisme de l'inconscient (The mechanism of the unconscious) by Johann Gosselett ~
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08/02/2018
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Extend their own life by six months, or give the pill to a stranger, similar to them, for whom the pill would add an additional five years to their life?

Co-author Nina Strohminger at the University of Pennsylvania said that these findings were “probably the most bizarre and unexpected of her career“…

On one hand, this confirms what I've been regularly reminding people who idealise monastics a bit too easily, i.e. that people do not awaken merely by shaving their heads, or walking through the threshold of an institution… And, that's before even considering that many people who join the orders do not do so primarily for enlightenment, but because it's an acceptable and pleasant lifestyle to them.
It also confirms that clinging to "right views" as a dogma isn't freedom, isn't Liberation. It's once one engages with reality and embodies the teachings that it matters. Parroting about self-less-ness but then clinging to one's own existence isn't it.

On the other hand, the explanation given in the article is —I think— a bit short, and I'd propose another.

Buddhists tend to believe that human life is exceedingly rare and the sole realm in which cultivating the path is at all possible (conditions too harsh or too pleasant in other realms). The Chiggala sutta (SN 56.48) states that human rebirth is, assuming that this great earth were totally covered with water, as (un)likely as a blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, sticking its neck into the yoke with a single hole, thrown at random by a man and pushed around by the wind. And, likewise, it's a sheer coincidence that a Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, arises in the world. And that a doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world. So when these exceedingly rare circumstances are met in one's life, "your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"
I'd propose that the craving for longer life by the monastics is tied to a craving for enlightenment, and the conviction that this life is an exceedingly rare opportunity to attain it… hence a desire to maximise one's life's duration, to maximise one's chances.

But, of course, discerning another explanation / narrative / wrong view doesn't change the fact that such a craving for existence is among the "10 fetters", that it will actually prevent the awakening in this life, and that it will even send one down the hellish realms due to selfishness.


In Tibetan Buddhism, more advanced practitioners will gradually embody the bodhicitta doctrine… so the path itself is designed to help one go beyond such initial mis-appropriations of the rarity of human rebirth and of the opportunity to walk the path.

Other schools might rely on metta, for similar effects.

Appreciating an opportunity, trying to make the best of it, doesn't equate clinging to it. Producing the effort here & now, manifesting perseverance and diligence in the circumstances at hand here & now, isn't the same as fretting about being able to continue doing so in the future.

And all traditions state that dana or generosity is the first parami(ta) ! Giving the life-prolonging pill to others would in fact be the best and shortest bet towards Enlightenment! And yet people resist so much these teachings on generosity, giving, supporting others, etc! Monastics, like others, will so easily rationalise "I've given or renounced enough / so much already"…
The path is "clearly visible", but it's also "hard to see" for those who don't want to see (gplus.wallez.name/Sur3Q3p7xWs).


#Buddhism #Dharma
Buddhism has no specific guideline on supporting teachers, it simply asks for you to consider causality: if you want this living tradition to survive, how are you participating, in practical terms, to make this happen? Nice words, exposure or social media ‘+1’ might feel good, but they do not actually help with the basic necessities: koan.mu/donate.htm
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I'm wondering how long it will take for people to finally recognise that the "eightfold path" isn't the "onefold path" (i.e. limited to McMindfulness, and notably excluding the renunciation of wrong views, the cultivation of right views, the ethical side of the practice —in speech, body and thoughts!).

Guidance is available! Just stop believing that a regular meditative practice is enough to get "most benefits"… it's not. There are psychological aspects, there are ethical aspects, there are philosophical aspects to the path which work well in combination with meditation (both supporting a meditative practice and benefitting from it), but they need to be discussed, studied, engaged with, etc. The learning doesn't fall from sky!
Oh, and yes, sorry, generosity is the first parami(ta), the first perfectable quality… Meditating without e.g. cultivating generosity (towards its unconditioned form) will not spontaneously make you a better person! And no, you won't suddenly become more generous "later", when you "awaken": giving (money, time, skills, efforts, second chances…) is part of cultivating, understanding and embodying a constructive view on inter-dependence, a key aspect of causality and of the nature of reality. [And giving is so effective toward awakening that, if spiritual materialism is still affecting you then you can quite reliably see whatever you give as an "investment" in fact!]
But guidance is available! You do not have to re-invent the wheel, you don't have to meditate only to later get disheartened because it doesn't lead where you first believed it would lead to, you can get support to be on a constructive path early, you don't have to let the ego assume that you can sort it all out by yourself, that you don't need anyone else, bla bla… as if, for some reason, this study of the nature of reality that is the Dharma was different from all other studies, as if learning couldn't benefit from role models, guidance, feedback, exercises of progressive difficulty, etc.
There are many teachers, who embody various characteristics (more or less constructive, so apply wise discernment, keep your eyes open and stay safe!) and who cater for people in different circumstances.
Maybe I can help? http://en.dharma.house/samsara.htm

#Buddhism #meditation #Dharma
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Buddhism Through Its Scriptures (free course)
«
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Through a combination of carefully selected readings, both scriptural and informational, as well as exposure to various forms of Buddhist practice such as art, devotional acts, and literary works, you will learn how to interpret, reflect upon, and apply the teachings of the Buddha to your own life and deepen your understanding of Buddhism.

No previous knowledge of Buddhism or religious study required.
»
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Parfois les leçons d'éthique ne sont pas en classe de philosophie.

Une des plus belles leçons reçues d'un professeur de mathématiques fut en classe de 6ème/5ème (je crois).
Une camarade —Louise— venait de perdre sa mère récemment… et n'était évidemment pas en mesure d'étudier, de se concentrer, de préparer des "contrôles de connaissances". Mais le contrôle de maths était prévu, et n'allait pas être annulé.
Le jour du contrôle, l'enseignant —qui savait que je m'entendais bien avec Louise et que je me débrouillais en maths— me dit de m'assoir à côté de Louise… et de ne pas avoir peur de "me faire prendre" si elle trichait avec mon aide, i.e. si je l'aidais. Gros yeux écarquillés de ma part !

Ce jour-là, le contrôle de connaissances n'était plus une compétition, une éducation sans cœur à la loi du plus fort… mais une collaboration et un entrainement à la compassion, à l'entre-aide, au soutien à celui ou celle en difficulté.
Permettre de "tricher" devenait —pour un temps— "aider", "soutenir", "partager" i.e. des valeurs éthiques et humanistes ! La seule différence apparaît dès lors dans l'étiquette que l'on jette dessus… pour condamner, pour maintenir une société d'aggressions permanentes, pour former des petits soldats prêts au pire (notamment si leur supérieur le demande) juste pour maintenir une réputation, un statut social ou un train de vie… ou, au contraire, pour dépasser le "jeu à somme nulle" et viser un gagnant-gagnant, où la personne qui n'a pas de chance dans la vie n'a pas à internaliser qu'elle est personnellement, intrinsèquement "nulle", n'a pas à approprier un malheur comme un constituant majeur de son identité.

Cet épisode fut marquant tant il allait à contre-pied du système éducatif ordinaire, élitiste, écrasant celui ou celle qui n'a pas la chance d'avoir des parents éduqués, celui ou celle qui n'a pas compris "à la demande" / immédiatement, etc.
Parfois les leçons d'éthique ne sont pas en classe de philosophie. Et parfois soutenir les enfants à NE PAS se conformer bêtement au système est le plus beau cadeau qu'on puisse leur faire : questionner l'autorité et les habitudes est au cœur de ce qui nourrit l'être libre!

Il ne sert à rien d'orienter des étudiant·e·s dans des voies trop difficiles pour eux (à un instant donné), et l'évaluation peut donc jouer un rôle dans l'intérêt même des étudiant·e·s… mais il ne sert à rien non plus de condamner la malchance ou un faux pas, ou de tirer des conclusions définitives d'une difficulté temporaire. La patience est une vertu, la compréhension et l'aide désintéressée aussi.
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A practical illustration of non-dualism

Buddhism promotes non-dualism… not as 'the' sole truth, or the superior version of 'Truth', but as one of the "two truths" (or more), i.e. as a constructive perspective to consider although it doesn't capture all there is to consider.

Practical applications sometimes seem elusive though, so let's provide an example. Because to reduce the "truth in dhamma terms" to some kind of nice metaphysical theory about the nature of reality would be erroneous.


Dualism (as a flawed cognitive process) might often be found in how one responds to a partner stating e.g. "I'm not dragging my feet" (or any variation of I'm not…", really).

If one thinks in terms of propositional logic, then a double-negation changes nothing… i.e. "not (not A) = A".
Propositional logic is fundamentally dualistic: a statement is either true or false. [Whether it is true or false might be unknown, but 'knowledge' would necessarily mean establishing the statement as either true or false: there's no neither-true-nor-false, nor both-true-and-false. A statement might be undecidable, i.e. you cannot establish whether it's true or false. A statement might be ill-formed, ill-posed, without the possibility of a valid true/false determination. But everything stays in terms of true/false and one's ability to establish which side the the divide the statement falls.]
But if an ordinary being applies a double negation to the "I'm not dragging my feet" statement, then one is very likely to make a serious mistake.

For "I'm not dragging my feet" is likely to become "(not I) am not not-dragging my feet"… then "(not I) am dragging my feet"… then "you are dragging your feet", and at last be 'taken personally' and interpreted as an accusation one has to defend against.
The ego enters the scene, with its cohort of defensiveness, refusal to listen to the other even (s)he tries to clear up the confusion, etc. Communication gets harder, stress follows!

The belief in a self separate from others (a key aspect of what Buddhism calls 'ignorance') was at the root of the mistake: such a belief supports "not-I" = "other/you"… This is the existential version of dualism, "I ≠ not-I".

Non-dualism, in Buddhism, rejects various naïve definitions of "I" (cf. the anatta doctrine, or self-less-ness)… a rejection which then doesn't allow for such a simple "I ≠ not-I" either!

Once the "I" as an inherently separate entity is rejected, the perceived "I" is reduced to a mere convention, a label pushed onto a group of phenomena (dhamma) tightly entangled, a group in which processes evolve though, a group in which some processes cease, some processes arise… a group that changes too much to allow for a fixed identity to be validly established, but a group entangled enough to 'suggest' such an identity and thus to fool us.
There's no clear definition of what's "I" any more, it might even be a matter of perspective: "I" might identify with some traits —I'm great— in some context (in a good mood), and other traits —I'm useless— in some other context! There's no clear "in (me) vs. out (of me)" anymore, there's no clear "what's me" anymore… There might be representations, labels, narratives, but hopefully without the delusion of a solid ground supporting these.

Once this becomes clear, the benefit of non-dualism in the described example should appear relatively clearly. How does one respond to a partner stating "I'm not dragging my feet" ?

Even if one assumes this is equivalent to "not-I is dragging its feet", then "not-I" might simply point to a slightly different group of processes; it might for example be the same "I" except for having made a different choice in the recent past: same body, mostly same thoughts, a few different thoughts, a slightly different past = "not-I". In this way, it's possible to step away from black-and-white caricatures.

And it is likely to be exactly what the partner is pointing to: (s)he's point out that (s)he has made a choice (not to drag one's feet)… that (s)he has committed to the current course of actions… Maybe (s)he is clarifying this, because (s)he feels it's unclear to the listener [maybe for good reason, maybe the decision is very recent… or maybe because (s)he feels previous statements or behaviours were misinterpreted…].

Surely a clear statement of intent by someone should not automatically make the listener immediately feel attacked, criticised!
Taking things personally as a criticism is a sign of self-centredness, as if anything the other says is implicitly about the listener, as if everything is about the listener!
Building mental fabrications from any "I don't" into "but you do" is a clear sign of ignorance, and is supported at its root by (ignorant) 'dualism' and notably the belief in a self as an entity separate from other, non-self entities.

When you cultivate non-dualism, in the Buddhist sense —i.e. when you 'decompose' what previously seemed like integral entities into aggregates of processes (physical and mental),— you gain an ability to let go of defensiveness, you gain an ability to keep listening to what others say (instead of immediately rushing into commentaries and justifications), you gain an ability to constructively stay engaged; you see your safety (your cessation of stress) and that of others as a win-win collaborative game.

When you forget about the non-dualist truth, when you stick to the conventional truth alone (in which one person is 'distinct' from the next), you're likely to fall back into aversion and self-centredness, you're likely to see your safety as a win-loose battle against others, you stress and you cause stress to others.


There are very practical consequences to Buddhist non-dualism… because this non-dualism is not some kind of belief in "we're all part of God's plan", nor in "we're all just a sub-part of Brahma's consciousness".

Buddhist non-dualism is the courageous decomposition of mental fabrications (lazily projecting 'entities', because this seems convenient and energy-efficient to navigate the world) so that we don't get bound by caricatures, by naïveness, by stupidity, by abusive simplifications or generalisations… By decomposition, one sees components, but also how these come to be (perceived), how these are impermanent, conditioned, how these come to cease. Identity and therefore difference seem to vanish before our eyes, and yet it's not all the same, we just shifted the perception to another level instead of getting caught into a unique representation we'd then conveniently call "truth".
It's a perpetually re-engaged enquiry into what we perceive, so we don't get caught in karmic prejudices, habits or defensiveness, so we don't blind ourselves…

The Buddha said thus:
« Then, Malunkyaputta, with regard to phenomena to be seen, heard, sensed, or cognized: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Malunkyaputta, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress. »
— Malunkyaputta sutta (SN 35.95)


#Buddhism #Dharma
Buddhism has no specific guideline on supporting teachers, it simply asks for you to consider causality: if you want this living tradition to survive, how are you participating, in practical terms, to make this happen? Nice words, exposure or social media ‘+1’ might feel good, but they do not actually help with the basic necessities: koan.mu/donate.htm
Image © Pat Swyler, "two female sculptures with meditation poses"
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Specifically, the world’s billionaires – the richest 2,000 people on the planet – saw their wealth increase by a staggering $762 billion in just one year. That’s an average of $381 million apiece. If those billionaires had simply been content with staying at their 2016 wealth, and had given their one-year gains to the world’s poorest people instead, then extreme poverty would have been eradicated. Hell, they could have eradicated extreme poverty, at least in theory, by giving up just one seventh of their annual gains.
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