State Of The Ramble


Unlike Roark, with whom the author seemed to identify, Rand received all the benefits of an upper middle-class education, mooched off her relatives to set herself up in the United States, and enjoyed the support of a veritable army of influential conservative and libertarian intellectuals and elites who championed her work.

source

I am on day two of being sick.

It’s been a little odd since my current job doesn’t pay sick days. So at a job where I do have sick days, I’d be okay with being sick but since that isn’t so, I have  tremendous guilt over being sick and not going in to work.

This voice nags at me, it says “get the money get the money.

I respond “but I’m sick, what about my body?

And it goes “What about poverty? You don’t have a back-up plan do you? You’re poor!

Me: “WTF voice in the back of my head.

Is this what it means to have Catholic guilt? I wouldn’t know so I’m asking. I do have Father’s guilt though.

Father’s guilt is the idea that nothing you do is correct. Ever. If you are sick, you should’ve been sick differently or taken a bunch of drugs and gone to work anyway “cuz no one is going to take care of you” or some such “advice” like so.

Or if I did go to work, “you should’ve stayed home.” Yes my father is a ginormous tool. A ginormous, emotionally yo-yo of a tool, like any emotional unstable human. And he just happens (to like?) to use his position to inflict pain when he feels threatened. And the threats usually come whenever he feels his child is acting like an independent person. Sometimes I wonder if he has Borderline Personality Disorder.

But I still feel guilty for not working, even though being sick in the workplace is a crappy thing to do.

……….

“Live with integrity, respect the rights of other people, and follow your own bliss.” Nathaniel Branden

Speaking of crap, some crappy article on HuffPo about Ayn Rand taking Social Security and Medicare came out recently. I hate Ayn Rand, her absolutism is appalling to someone like me. I believe in balance. Balance is rarely absolute, it’s always a little of this and a little of that and so on and so on.

Absolutism is divisive, good and bad, right and wrong…feh.  And it requires a person to live in a type of certainty that can be inflexible in real world practice. There is right for now and wrong for then.  Right and wrong is something we need to constantly devote brain cycles to. Not just rely on the belief of one person. That one person can be wrong. Case in point, read about my father and my mother and anyone who lives on stereotypes, which are absolutes. For example, “if Eds talks like this then she must be some lefty liberal.” EHNT, WRONG ANSWER.

Same thing goes for stereotyping people who gossip. EHNT, WRONG ANSWER. You know who you are.

The funny thing was that Rand, when she knew that she would most likely have to take benefits, decided to soften her stance about taking benefits. Which is on par for the witch. (I’m talking about her falling out with Nathaniel Branden btw.) It’s the “I don’t need to be understanding until it works out to my favor.”  It’s “saving face.” The problem is, if you never got yourself in a corner like that in the first place, you may have never had to save face. But at the end of the day, it almost doesn’t matter. Telling a Rand lover that she has faults is like telling a child that wrestling is fake.

(And what was the political social reason behind Social Security and Medicare? Was it for the exact reason Ayn had to use the money? Hmmm hmmm? Anyhow.)

I stand by my statement “Ayn Rand is the McDonald’s of reasoning.” There are just better writers who talk about being an individual without demonizing other people or entities.

Her absolutism seems to inspire people to live by the sword.. wait I’ll let this Buddhist fable explain that statement and my dismay with Rand’s way of being.

The Cakkavatti Siihanaada Sutta describes a state in which the king ignores his religious advisers and does not give wealth to the poor. Poverty becomes widespread and, in its wake, follow theft, murder, immorality in various forms, and communal breakdown. The culmination is a “sword period” in which men and women look upon one another as animals and cut one another with swords. In this sutta, lack of compassion for the poor leads to the disintegration of society. Lack of social and economic justice leads to disaster. In contrast, the ideal Buddhist model for society, as deduced from the texts, would be one in which exploitation in any part of its structure is not tolerated. Such a society would be rooted in compassion. Compassion is its prerequisite.

That’s right. I got Buddha in my corner, can you argue with religious belief? No? Didn’t think so. SCK IT! (FYI, you can read the Cakkavatti Sutta on the Access To Insight website.) Ok ok in all seriousness, a Buddhist should not be divisive in their speech and telling someone to “suck it” is pretty divisive but still, “Dharma-gates are boundless, I vow to enter them.” I’m imperfect, I know that. I have a ton of gates I have to enter, correct speech is one of them.

9:10 pm Eds

……….

Speaking of assumptions, which is what Rand did, my parents did, and people who live by stereotypes do. Why don’t people have assumptive fail-safes?

Just a little something in your mind that allows to be like “whoops I made a mistake” and you do no harm to yourself cuz you knew all along you could be wrong and the person who you were wrong about doesn’t become offended because they see that you know you made a mistake and they don’t have to fight with you over an assumption you made about them.

We can’t get rid of assumptions all the way because assumptions are what make relationships special. When our friends, parents, and significant others make the correct assumptions about us, we feel special and honored. (Like even when they are right about us having a shtfit over something silly.) When we/you/I assume correctly it’s like saying “you mean something to me.” Someone took the time to watch us and figure out something we may need or like or whatever.

But assuming is a double-edged sword, cuz when we do it wrong and especially do it wrong in a conflict, holy crap. So why don’t more people just have an assumptive fail-safe? It’s just a little mental space you devote to any ideal you have that says, “I think I am right, but I could be wrong. And I’m open to and okay with being wrong… if i am.”

But perhaps this simple concept requires too many resources like, time to think about issues thoughtfully, a deviation from a person’s routine which complicates simplicity, plus if this a social deviation we can cause anxiety for ourselves cuz we may no longer be considered normal.

……….

This has lead me to the Dunning–Kruger effect.

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to appreciate their mistakes.[1] The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their own abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to the situation in which less competent people rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence. Competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. “Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.”

Kruger and Dunning proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

  1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
  2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
  3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
  4. recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve.

Yup.

So concludes this State of the Ramble.

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What is Soto Zen?


From the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. ( Bolding is all me though)

What is Soto Zen? Soto Zen was developed in the ninth century by the Chinese Monks Tozan (Ch. Dongshan) and Sozan (Ch. Caoshan), the first syllables of their names making up the subsequent name of the school. It stressed doing meditation without a goal, as everyone is already inherently enlightened. Seated, silent meditation is an expression of this.

Soto Zen Buddhism is distinguished by its focus on the down-to-earth practice of “everyday zen.” It encourages awareness of the workings of one’s own mind as a means of living mindfully in all areas of daily life – at home, at work and in the community.

In his “Instructions for the Cook,” Dogen taught that cooking and caring for other people were as important as sitting zazen and chanting sutras.

Soto Zen is for those who want to practice Zen in everything they do. In coming face to face with their life in all its aspects, they come to know themselves and find their relationship to all other things. They learn to be truly here and to serve in all ways.

You can find a center near you, if you’re intrigued, on the Soto Zen Buddhist Association website.

What’s That Chant


Chanting is weird. Even weirder when it’s related to religion. However I am a true believer in that sometimes we must put aside our ideas and judgments, especially if those concepts keep us from seeing the big picture. And so I do the chant below when I go to lecture at Zen temple.

I am explaining this because of the post I had up that featured a video lecture  from San Francisco Zen Center. You can hear the crowd chant some thing. It’s this thing.

Once I read the words of the chant, I didn’t mind saying it so much. It’s not like it’s some devotion to the mystic law of life, so whateves.

In a nutshell, before lecture I vow to keep my mind open to the ideas that are being taught and to test them to see if they are truthful for me. There’s also a reminder that this can be a super-hard thing to do all the time so like try to be okay with not always succeeding.

After lecture,  there are many people with delusions and I will try to save them. There are so many delusions (see The Othello Error) but I’ll work to end them.  There are so many ideas in  Dharma that it’s crazy, but I’ll try to learn them all. And the last line…. Buddha is awesome, I’ll try to be awesome like him. At least that’s how I see the chants. You may see it differently and that’s okay too.

Before lecture:

Mujo jin jin mi myo no ho wa
Hayaku sen man go ni mo ai-o koto katashi
Ware ima ken-mon shi ju-ji suru koto o etari
Negawakuwa nyorai no shin-jitsu-gi o geshi tatematsuran

An unsurpassed, penetrating, and perfect Dharma
Is rarely met with, even in a hundred thousand million kalpas
Having it to see and listen to, to remember and accept
I vow to taste the truth of the Tathagata’s words

After lecture

May our intention equally extend
To every being and place
With the true merit of Buddha’s Way

Shu-jo mu-hen sei-gan-do
Bon-no mu-jin sei-gan-dan
Ho-mon mu-ryo sei-gan-gaku
Butsu-do mu-jo sei-gan-jo

Beings are numberless, I vow to save them
Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them
Dharma-gates are boundless, I vow to enter them
Buddha’s Way is unsurpassable, I vow to become it

Dharma Talk w/Q&A: Abbot Myogen Steve Stücky at SF Zen Center, Audio Only


Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

I found it!

The dharma talk I wrote about attending in my last post “Understimulated” was actually already up. I just forgot that SF Zen Center was trying something different. Now you can watch lives streams of the talks given by teachers at the center. And this particular one even has the Q&A included. Q&A is normally done after all the talks given at the center. This Q&A is quite helpful if you find yourself still not quite getting the talk or maybe want more enlightenment about the talk.

This lecture “touches on letting go of certainties, doing nothing, listening to your body, self-fulfilling prophecies and more.” I hope you take out an hour or so of your evening or day to take a listen.

Oh yeah, skip ahead to 15:00 20:00 mins for the beginning of the talk.

Understimulated


1 year and 10 months.

That is the amount of time I have been unemployed. It hasn’t been a horrible unemployment, and it wasn’t even welcomed; but I did accept it.

I took the advice of a friend and decided to apply to a job that would add to my current package of job skills. I like to learn, thank goodness, but man. This is what I have to say about the new job, the mentality of writers is different then the mentalities of people who write to attain web rankings.

So now, all the time I would spend looking for jobs is available. I definitely feel like I should keep looking for work though, something about the economy. Something about the instability that is inherent all business now. And what I mean by that is, seems like most companies do no understand the idea of keeping an employee long-term or even the idea of creating long-term profits.

….

So with the time I do have, I’m a bit a twitter. In my time of unemployment, I’ve learned to manage my home to a point that most things remain stabilized: no crazy kitchen (but sometimes the bathroom), decent with being neat and putting stuff away, grocery shopping and cooking do happen. But after that, dunno.

I happen to be connected to a lot of people which opens me up to a lot of opportunities to party/socialize. Being unemployed gave me an opportunity to step back from this and realize that almost none of the things I did on a weekly basis were as filling as they used to be. So I started only going to things, most of time, that were fulfilling to me. What is/was really crazy is that when I go to really good events (and its not un-normal for me to go to at least 2-3 events in one night), where I’m connecting with people and laughing, and have a great time, I get social withdrawal. It’s super weird.

Super weird because of how used I am to being by myself and taking care of myself and entertaining myself. So it feels weird to be in a state where I want to be around others.

The past week I had such a weekend, however the day after my night of fun, I had a horrible withdrawal. What was different want that I was at an event that was so low-key and i became so irritated that I didn’t do/plan something different. Mad that I just fell into a habit that was comfortable but did not serve the need I had. (Although to be fair, I didn’t really know I had the need till it came raging out of me.)

It was odd, I imagine the irritation and atypical rage I felt is similar to when a junkie get drugs that aren’t as strong as she would like. Understimulated.

I imagine this is why i like to play with fire, no I’m not talking about the real thing, although I do play with that. I’m talking about other, fun, firery things.

….

In November, I was referenced in a Reddit thread. It was nice to get the traffic. I was tired of my largest traffic spike coming from a Kim Kardashian photoshop picture. Even better was the thread being about how men are kind of dicks when it comes to dating. Ok, specifically nice guys being dicks. But the whole putting a woman on a pedestal and then the whole being a douche when she doesn’t meet some magical standard you’ve set (and maybe you never told her about) has got to stop.

I’m glad when something I’ve done empowers someone else. For me it’s the the strongest reason for writing.

….

The past weekend I went back to (Soto) Zen Temple. A friend wanted to attend but was feeling a bit scared by the idea of going so I took accompanied him there. Stayed during the explanations about bowing and mundras, the questions about koans and sitting and what not, through the Saturday morning lecture and pushed him to stay for the question-and-answer section that happens after every lecture.

He loved it, it helped him, the answer-and-question after the lecture especially. I loved it because it helped him. And my hope is that the freedom inherent in practicing Soto Zen helps him focus on being more flexible in his life and Buddhist practice. I think sometimes people get really wrapped up in the ideas promoted with certain schools of Buddhism and just forget that not everything is applicable all the time, nor should it be.

Or in other words, “Not always so.”

I was going to post the lecture but it’s not up yet. It’s kind of a rambling lecture, but it touches on letting go of certainties, doing nothing, listening to your body, self-fulfilling prophecies and more.

Anyhow maybe I’ll listen to some of the other lectures and post them up as I see fit.

Hey I found the lecture!
–not yet edited

The Uses of Pleasure and Pain


Look at what the Buddha has to say about the tasks with regard to each of the noble truths. The task with regard to stress and suffering is to comprehend it. The task with regard to the path is to develop it, which means you want to develop that sense of ease, the sense of rapture that comes as the mind begins to settle down in concentration. What you’re doing is taking one of the aggregates — the aggregate of feeling — and instead of latching onto it or pushing it away, you learn how to use it as a tool.

When pain and stress and suffering come, you want to comprehend them. Comprehending pain and stress teaches you a lot about the mind. The Buddha never said that life is suffering. He just said there’s suffering in life, which is a very different teaching. As long as there’s going to be pain, as long as there’s going to be suffering, get the most use out of them. You find as you focus on pain — as you get to know it, get to comprehend it — that you learn all kinds of things about how the mind is working. In particular, you learn to see what it’s doing to take a physical pain and turn it into mental pain — or, if you’re starting with mental pain, to make it worse.

What we’re doing is taking one of the aggregates that we usually cling to… Clinging here doesn’t mean just holding on. It also means trying to push away, and pushing away is like pushing away a glob of tar. The more you push it away, the more you get stuck. So instead of clinging or pushing away, we try to learn how to use these aggregates as tools, in the same way you’d use tar to make asphalt for paving a road.

This is a common theme running throughout the Buddha’s teachings: Before you can let go of anything, you have to learn how to master it. Otherwise, you’re just holding on, pushing away, holding on, pushing away. And nothing comes from that except more stress, more suffering, more pain. This harms not only you but also the people around you. If you’re constantly feeling worn down by the pains and the inconveniences of life, you’ll find it hard to be kind to other people. In fact, most of the evil things people do in their lives come from their sense of being totally overwhelmed, feeling weak and trapped and then lashing out.

But if you give the mind the sense of strength and security that comes with knowing it has a center it can return to and gain nourishment from, it’s a gift not only to yourself but also to the people around you. It’s not a selfish practice.

Learn how not to hold onto feelings, grabbing hold of the pleasant ones, pushing the painful ones away. Instead, learn how to use them as tools. When they’re used as tools, they open things up in the mind. You understand where the mind is unskillful in how it manages its thinking, and you realize that you don’t have to be unskillful. There are better ways to think, better ways to manage the thought processes in the mind.

And a funny thing happens. As you master these processes, they bring you to a point where everything reaches equilibrium. That’s where you can really let go. You can even let go of your tools at that point because they’ve taken you where you want to go. From that point on, everything opens up to the Deathless.

But you can’t get there by pushing and pulling your way around. If the Deathless were something you could force your way into, everybody would have gone to nibbana a long time ago. It requires a lot of finesse, a lot of skill in how you deal with the mind, learning to recognize the time for analyzing issues of stress and suffering, and the time for letting the mind rest so it that it can gain strength and then go back to work.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Read this in its entirety here.

Buddha on Splitting Thinking


Before my self-awakening, when I was still just an unawakened Bodhisatta, the thought occurred to me: ‘Why don’t I keep dividing my thinking into two classes?’ So I made thinking imbued with sensuality, thinking imbued with ill will, & thinking imbued with violence one class, and thinking imbued with renunciation, thinking imbued with non-ill will, & thinking imbued with non-violence another class.

And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with sensuality arose. I discerned that ‘Thinking imbued with sensuality has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.’

As I noticed that it leads to my own affliction, it subsided. As I noticed that it leads to the affliction of others… to the affliction of both… it obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding, it subsided. Whenever thinking imbued with sensuality had arisen, I simply abandoned it, destroyed it, dispelled it, wiped it out of existence. (Similarly with thinking imbued with ill will & violence.)

Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with sensuality, abandoning thinking imbued with renunciation, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with sensuality. (Similarly with thinking imbued with ill will & violence.).

Gautama Buddha