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

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What do you look for in a Buddhist tradition? (…)

I look for perfection. Utter, complete, sublime perfection. (…)

I’ve spent more time hunting this exquisite Buddhism than actually practicing, which makes me about as far from awakened as possible. I am literally unenlightening myself.
»

LOL… as if the point was to join one form of establishment, or another!

Alternatively, one might contact a non-sectarian teacher (e.g. the teacher of +koan.無 or the teacher of +Dharma.house… Oops, sorry, that's the same guy) … and get 'answers' or 'tools' from many schools based on the questions at hand, rather than based on some prejudice that one school has the (necessarily 'right') answers for everything…

#Buddhism #Dharma
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« We’re using algorithms as crystal balls to make predictions on behalf of society, when we should be using them as a mirror to examine ourselves and our social systems more critically. Machine learning and data science can help us better understand and address the underlying causes of poverty and crime, as long as we stop using these tools to automate decision-making and reinscribe historical injustice. »

As long as AI is based on pattern-matching rather than causality, predicting with AI will equate perpetuating… and this includes perpetuating inequalities, injustices, biases, etc.
Judea Pearl, recipient of the Turing award, also pushes for causality into AI (https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-build-truly-intelligent-machines-teach-them-cause-and-effect-20180515/).
When we start accumulating evidence that the current system is flawed, maybe we should pause, instead of continuing the race toward flawed systems?

h/t +Mark Traphagen
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Non-duality is when you reach beyond… the mundane and the sublime.

The mundane and the sublime? The body and the mind?

Zen master Dōgen famously awoke by « dropping body and mind. »
It's been assumed by some that, since Dōgen practised calm-abiding meditation, « dropping body and mind » meant dramatically calming the activity of both the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system (respectively: body and mind). Maybe it's too 'mundane' an explanation?
He later wrote in the Genjokoan: « Those who regard the mundane as a hindrance to life and practice only understand that in the mundane nothing is sacred; what they have not yet understood is that in sacredness nothing is mundane. » (cf. also gplus.wallez.name/BFDc6d6skGG)

Mundane life is not just a distraction (gplus.wallez.name/EqYZgeWy52Y). Buddhas arise from the mundane: there's no need for a buddha if there's no sentient being struggling… Wisdom arises from discernment, dukkha arises from discernment: discernment is the root-cause of our troubles, and of the Liberation from these.

Here&now, in our 'mundane' small life, is where the cultivation of the 'sublime' takes place (gplus.wallez.name/iEYTjZpHa83).


#Mahayana #Buddhism #Dharma
Illustration: unattributed (sorry for that)
Call for donation? So I can keep supporting people without precondition? Well, even regular, interested readers routinely ignore such a call; maybe it appears to them as "both too much mundane and not enough sublime"? May practitioners see beyond the mundane / sublime; may they cease separating practicalities from practice!
Two good videos on Vimalakīrti sūtra : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dp6e6Lzhvc (2h39'52'') and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG3ScsVNPuo (2h51'30'').
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What's the point of adding a lamp where there's already light?

If you take bodhisattva vows (gplus.wallez.name/Asnsd7UxggZ), then the next step is not to go to a monastery, nor to become a renunciant, etc. That's a natural wish, and it may seem a logical continuation from the vow, but… that'd be like creating a new lamp where there's already light. What's the point?

Armed with bodhicitta (gplus.wallez.name/b78HsaBqyxw), stay in the world:

• see how "wishful thinking" never is true 'care' (for anyone: neither you, nor others); see how postponing engagement ("for a better, wiser engagement") is just postponing engagement while making excuses (gplus.wallez.name/WQb24yAL1zt) because there's no 'perfect' answer anyway (gplus.wallez.name/UnoFyYsg9n2); if you feel you're 'useless', you may well be onto something (gplus.wallez.name/SJEBPcoupP7);

• engage with businesses; make them ethical;

• engage with families; bring love, compassion, patience in; in fact, embody endless tolerance (gplus.wallez.name/TsjCwAtFWpJ);

• engage with the mess (gplus.wallez.name/L1ySPYygwr9); produce "right effort" in practice, i.e. reduce the unwholesome, increase the wholesome;

• engage with crazy thoughts and with desires (that's just a sub-category of crazy thoughts); realise the folly, see it by yourself, renounce unwholesome thoughts not by force, not by conceited righteousness, but by merely losing interest in fallacies;

• you're your own refuge (gplus.wallez.name/8S8Av8M9msA), offer a refuge to others; create a lamp into the world (gplus.wallez.name/AmuTinzujq8);

• keep on doing what you do, while knowing full well this is futile. If you're falling but realise you're merely in a dream, is there an absolute need to wake up immediately? It's a dream, you cannot truly get hurt! So you can actually explore "falling further", that's OK! And yet, even in a dream, exploring with wholesome curiosity isn't leading to the same experience as exploring stupidly ;-) And waking up oneself and others from stupid dreams is a worthy task, even if there were just dreams, it's compassionate not to let dreamers experience nightmares;

• realise the interpenetration of all phenomena, thus the dependence of wisdom upon ignorance (gplus.wallez.name/RSEqmZacaJ6);

• realise nibbana within samsara (gplus.wallez.name/VnpBY9yvsCL), not outside of samsara ! Realise that nirvana is samsara, samsara is nirvana (gplus.wallez.name/XRJ24JdxHPa), and yet the Middle Way is not Oneness (gplus.wallez.name/NUvsRGF3EtJ). Realise that cyclical samsara is not so 'cyclical', in an impermanent reality (gplus.wallez.name/WCNkcftwdew).


What's the point of adding a lamp where there's already light?

Bring a new lamp where there's still some darkness to dispel!


#Buddhism #engagedBuddhism #Dharma
Illustration: Gilt-bronze multi-armed Avalokiteśvara, Ming Dynasty (China)
To walk a spiritual path alone goes with a high risk of falling prey to preconceived ideas, distortions, selfish biases, individual preferences and unexamined impulses. Conceited, unwholesome righteousness often arises from an initial desire to do "the right thing"… Guidance is available: contact me!
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: http://koan.mu/donate.htm
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The place of faith

Faith in Buddhism is often discerned from "blind faith"; it's usually described as "more like a form of trust. "

You can —and are even encouraged to— test the teachings; you shouldn't accept them based on the fallacy of authority (i.e. based on who said this-or-that), nor on the fallacy of popularity (i.e. based on how many believe this-or-that)… so the "faith" is based on a projection "it worked so far, so let's trust that it might be helpful again (in the situation at hand)."

And mindfulness is supposed to be the protector against blind faith: based on past experience, you trust that the Dharma will be useful… yet you keep monitoring the situation, you don't blind yourself vis-à-vis the consequences of what you do (should the Dharma not apply, at least not the Dharma-that-you-understood-so-far ;-) ).


There's one particular situation though, when faith plays a major role in the practice: "not having a (personal) agenda".

We cultivate relinquishing biases, personal preferences, selfish tendencies… And sometimes, we push far enough to seek the relinquishment of "personal agendas", the relinquishment of "goals". We attempt not to cling to the outcomes (expected or hoped for) of our best (unselfish) efforts.

At that point, we see that agendas and goals (i.e. a specific type of views) are a primary source of conflictual relationship with reality, a root-cause of "fighting for what we want" as opposed to "experiencing peace".


But how do you avoid creating a goal of "not to have goals"?

Faith!

You simply apply the teachings, the practice of relinquishing stuff. You don't aim for "not to have goals". You just relinquish goals as they appear; you don't relinquish them for something; nor do you relinquish them not to have them; perpetual relinquishment is just a practice you've learnt to "trust", to have "faith" into… a practice which so far has yielded wholesome results and therefore is worth trying ;-)

By relinquishing thus, you embody your wholesome karma leading you towards awakening, without even having to "aim" for awakening: nirvana is unconditioned, yet the attainment of nirvana is the result of causes and conditions… When you embody said causes, you don't need (on top) to "aim for" nirvana, you don't need extra intentionality to get there. That's why efforts and endurance are praised by the Buddha, in relation to the causes and the "factors" of awakening (not in relation to nirvana itself).

Hence you arrive at a situation where, with no personal agenda, you do what's called for by the situation at hand (which will notably take into account that all sentient beings seek to avoid suffering… that we're all connected… that phenomena arise and cease based on supportive conditions arising and ceasing…). You do so with application, wisdom, 'right effort' and 'right intention', and yet without selfish nor biased agenda. You do so without a goal, and even without the goal of not having goals.



But this goal of "not having goals" may regularly pop back in our heads, so what do we do?

We just apply to this goal what we do to other goals! We relinquish it, we let it go: we refocus on the situation at hand and what it calls for, and give no weight (no lust, no aversion; no chase, no denial) to the 'goal' we just relinquished… we 'just' focus on something else, more constructive.

Refocusing 'at will' is why meditation is part of the path: meditation is a training in vigilance and in pliancy, so we can detect quickly whenever we drift towards unwholesome thoughts (and words and acts), and so we can refocus the mind easily and quickly on more wholesome conducts.

"Not having goal" doesn't need to be a goal… no more than nirvana and peace need to be the direct object of efforts: "not having goals" is a consequence… a consequence of focusing on what matters, what's beyond our little selves and selfish agendas; just like the attainment of nirvana (or of peace) is a consequence, of focusing on appropriate engagement with reality as it is (or of renouncing fights, in particular fights in the name of peace!).

#Buddhism #Dharma
image: gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus
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: http://koan.mu/donate.htm
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Méditer, c'est notamment apprendre à rester concentré… donc à mieux conduire (en se concentrant sur la route, les autres, les conditions de circulation… pas bêtement sur sa respiration!)

Entendu à la radio, un message gouvernemental indiquant qu'à 80 km/h, le choc est "deux fois moins violent" qu'à 90 km/h.

1. la sécurité routière elle-même explique bien que l'énergie cinétique à 80 km/h est (80/90)^2 = 79% de l'énergie cinétique à 90 km/h. 21% de baisse, c'est bien, mais c'est très loin de 50%!!!!

2. pour essayer de s'en sortir, la sécurité routière explique que le 0 en énergie n'est pas à 0, mais à… 64 km/h (vitesse utilisée pour les crash-tests, où la survie devrait être assurée).
Ce faisant, c'est d'entrée de jeu une erreur méthodologique puisqu'on passe d'énergie à "survie/mortalité": on a changé la mesure… et dans la foulée, on va mélanger allègrement des statistiques qui n'ont que peu à voir, pour faire une petite cuisine de propagande!

Alors, vérifions… est-ce qu'un choc à 64 km/h est "violent" ? Avec cette définition de la sécurité routière, non, absolument pas ! Le crash-test donne une bonne chance de survie donc il n'y a aucune "violence"… Hmm… c'est intuitif comme définition, ça !

Puis, comme tout cela ne colle pas vraiment, on va rajouter des clauses du type "Il est évident que cet amoindrissement peut être influencé par d'autres facteurs : type de voiture, angle et point d'impact…"

Et puis, comme tout cela ne colle pas encore, on va aussi constater que "parfois une collision frontale ne se termine pas par la mort des occupants, probablement parce qu'un début de freinage avant le choc, a diminué la vitesse au moment de l'impact."
Ah ah ! Soudain, une bonne mesure à prendre, ce serait peut-être d'améliorer les freins… plutôt que de limiter la vitesse. Voire d'imposer un freinage d'urgence automatique en cas de détection de collision imminente… Comment ça, les voitures les plus récentes ont déjà de tels systèmes de détection frontale et de freinage d'urgence automatique ? Ah oui… Ce qu'il faudrait, d'après leur propre analyse, c'est surtout renouveler plus vite le parc de véhicules, pour des voitures avec freinage automatique d'urgence —et en profiter pour aussi pousser pour des voitures moins polluantes ?

En fait, on pourrait aussi remonter le "zéro" des crash-tests (actuellement à 64 km/h donc) à 80 km/h… Il faudrait des voitures mieux conçues pour absorber les chocs, de l'innovation quoi! Mais si on considère que le zéro est à 64 km/h parce que la déformation de la voiture permet de décélérer les passagers, alors une meilleure capacité de déformation est parfaitement recommendable…
Mais alors, là, d'après la sécurité routière et ses calculs au doigt mouillé, du coup, à 80 km/h, le choc deviendrait "infiniment" moins violent qu'à 90 km/h… autant dire qu'un choc à 80 km/h ne serait tout simplement pas violent ! Si on poussait le crash-test à 90 km/h, on n'aurait même pas besoin de changer la limitation de vitesse !

——

Dans la foulée, la même page d'informations de la sécurité routière explique bien qu'un des meilleurs espoirs pour réduire les morts collatéraux, c'est l'évitement… c-à-d. "serrer le plus possible à droite en mordant d'un mètre sur l'accotement, ce qui est possible si cet accotement est dérasé et un peu gravillonné, donc roulable."

Comme c'est bizarre, mais… je n'ai pas entendu le gouvernement annoncer un plan garantissant un accotement d'un mètre roulable de chaque côté, pour toutes les routes secondaires de France…

Et la dite page d'ajouter que le vrai problème, finalement, ce n'est pas tant la vitesse que les "distractions" du conducteur.
Donc, en fait, des cours de méditation, pour apprendre à rester concentré, à détecter vite quand l'attention change d'object, et à se recentrer sur la tâche en cours (conduire) pourraient avoir plus d'impact bénéfique que le passage à 80 km/h… mais bon, ne méditent que les gens qui sont motivés pour méditer. Et on n'a pas de radar pour détecter si les conducteurs sont concentrés, ou pas.

[http://www.securite-routiere-plus.com/pages/les-collisions-frontales-1.html]

——

Pour se détendre, on constatera aussi que le même site donne "Le principal danger sur toutes les routes bidirectionnelles est la collision frontale (plus de 600 morts par an), quelle que soit la qualité de l'aménagement. Un deuxième danger existe sur les routes bordées d'obstacles latéraux : arbres, poteaux, têtes de buses, parapets (plus de 800 morts par an)."

Moi, j'adore ! Le "principal" danger causerait 25% moins de morts que le "deuxième" danger. Il faut oser !

D'après certains politiques, « épargner 300 vies par an, ça n'a pas de prix ! » Cela justifierait de limiter la vitesse à 80 km/h…
Pourtant, en toute logique, il faudrait surtout commencer par les mesures passives alors… puisque supprimer les "obstacles latéraux" sauverait 800 vies (800, c'est bien mieux que 300 ! ça n'a pas de prix !!!).

[http://www.securite-routiere-plus.com/pages/abaissement-de-la-vitesse-a-80-km-h.html]
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Good intentions are no protection

One of the risks those on a spiritual path regularly need to tackle is… the hope that doing good, good intention, merit, etc, will somehow shield them from bad news or challenges… as if God (or the Universe or whatever) rewarded their good works by protecting them more than others.

Many spiritual people experience frustration when they try to help others and it doesn’t work (sometimes due to the active resistance of the very people they try to help!), and they wonder why a ‘pure’ intention (without hatred, with patience, etc.) doesn’t give better results.
The thing is, though, that such an intention does give better results (bringing positive energy always helps compared to negative energy)… but ‘better’ is far from ‘guaranteed’… and their brains crave for a ‘better’ or ‘best’ which is so good that it’s basically fail-proof… Better results don’t change the essential nature of things, though; in particular, it doesn’t allow to make the impermanent permanent, so their brains basically raise expectations to an unrealistic level, and thus set them up for disappointment.

Some bodhisattvas supposedly postpone their attainment of peace and bliss and whatever, for the sake of helping others attain it too. Thus, they basically choose to stay in samsara, in the realms of suffering, of anguish, of unsatisfactoriness, etc.
The sort of suffering they experience tends to arise from the frustration of not being able to help more or faster, of not finding the ‘right’ words all the time (not being ‘heard' by those the words are addressed to), etc.
The two Tara (white and green) are supposedly born from the tears of frustration of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of Compassion (who also has 11 heads and 1000 arms, as they split due to trying to 'reach out' more…).
The sort of suffering bodhisattvas experience tends to arise from the frustration that good intentions still do not allow them to force reality to comply with their wishes (no matter how good, benevolent or pure!).

Spiritual people tend to accept that 'tainted' intentions do not allow them to force reality to comply with their wishes… but they still crave for ‘special' intentions ('good', 'pure', etc.) which would allow them to force reality to comply with them wishes. Reality doesn’t allow that.
When encountering difficulties, it's not rare that well-intentioned people think that they might need to ‘fix’ something, that doing their best to be a good (insert-appropriate-term) clearly wasn’t enough and that some flaw stayed and needs fixing.
From a Buddhist perspective, this is an unrealistic hope that once reaching a ‘good enough’, being a good (insert-appropriate-term) would make life safe —to the point of permanently safe.
People might have been a good (insert-appropriate-term), but this cannot make life safe; it probably made it ‘better’, they probably had some positive results, it wasn’t all for nothing, but the ‘prize' was (and is) in the journey they had (and have), not in some kind of warranty.

Which then leads to the ‘but then why does (whatever) no longer work?’.
Most probably know already that such a question isn’t really helpful… The very idea that there’d be a (true) ‘why’ is linked to the idea that there was something to fix which would have provided for the warranty craved for. There’s no such ‘why’.
And it doesn’t make life ‘bleak’, or efforts ‘pointless', it just implies that the reward is in the journey (even if it includes some sadness too along the way), the reward is not found in attaining some sort of perfectly-safe state.
At times, this seems discouraging… at other times, we find it easier to go back to the "it’s in the journey” perspective.


Reality doesn’t comply to our wishes, it’s just not what it does, and good intentions don’t offer a magical solution (to the unsatisfactoriness / dukkha arising from this fact).

#Buddhism #Dharma
illustration: white Tara
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: http://koan.mu/donate.htm
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The first quality to cultivate is not meditative!

Westerners love to think they can pick and choose… bad habit from unexamined consumerism! So of the eightfold path, they go straight to the 7th (mindfulness) and 8th (concentration) spokes; of the 6 paramita, they go straight for the 6th (wisdom). Bad habit of Western arrogance, mixed with the delusion that freedom lies in letting unexamined impulses/desires dictate one's next move/goal/practice!

And yet, the instructions are clear… and refraining from doing as one pleases is the beginning of a wider practice (much based on restraint)!


Generosity / dana is the first parami(ta) in Buddhism, both in Theravada and Mahayana schools.

And no excuse (most people invent some reason or another not to give) changes this fact.

The person typically praised in suttas and other texts is thus:
« Now, at that time, in Benares, a certain brahman of great wealth and resources was a well unto recluses and brahmans, indigents, tramps, wayfarers and beggars, gave away food, drink, clothes, lodging and other benefits. He ordered his life and gave, according to opportunity and as was fitting, to those coming and going, everything necessary for the road. »
— excerpt from book II, story 2, in Gehman, S: ``Stories of the departed'', in "Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon, volume IV", Pali Text Society (1942)

Such a praise includes the two key angles to consider in order to start / keep / maintain a constructive practice of dana / generosity.


The first angle is to remember (stay mindful) that, by taking care of oneself one helps others, and by taking care of others one takes cares of oneself… Giving so much that you will later require help from others is usually unwise: you're displacing a problem rather than reducing/solving it.

But giving little does count, generosity is not about excesses.
« Even when there's next to nothing, giving is good. » — SN 1.33


The second angle is to remember (stay mindful) that it's not about you!

« For generosity, nothing to do; other than stop fixating on one self. » —Milarepa, “song on the Six Perfections”

If you can give a lot but only a little is needed, just give a little (it's not about you shining!)… then help elsewhere with the rest! Wasting / splashing resources is not 'generosity'.

The mirror situation exists of course: give as much as you can (but still in accordance with 'first angle' above), and yes this requires effort and the said effort is indeed indicative of a genuine 'practice', of 'right effort'. Giving what you don't care about losing, what costs you nothing, is not yet 'generosity': it's not about you staying comfortable, and genuine practice is meant to shake one's attachments and fears (incl. the fear of missing)…

« having given the donation attentively, having given the donation with his own hand, having given the donation thoughtfully, having given the donation not as if he were throwing it away… » — DN 23



« If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving and sharing, they would not eat without have given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared, if there were someone to receive their gift. But because beings do not know, as I know, the results of giving and sharing, they eat without have given. The stain of miserliness overcomes their minds. » — Iti 26


#Buddhism #Dharma
cf. also dana sutta, on consequences attached to various intentions behind giving: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an07/an07.049.than.html
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: http://koan.mu/donate.htm
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