Friday, July 30, 2010

Watch this blog. LOTS of content coming soon

Thursday, July 22, 2010

On the road, in Buffalo

Saw Niagara Falls. It became very Corporate here since I was last here at the age of five or so. But evidently it's been corporate here for a while.

May the Grand Canyon avoidcthis fate.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not much activity here lately...

Except of course I keep going on with the Lankavatara sutra.

I'm on the verge of a "vacation" vacation.  In addition, I'm on to something at work, and it seems when creativity waxes in one place, it sometimes wanes in others.   The stuff I'm doing at work, of course I can't talk about, but trust me it's fascinating.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 3, Section LXXVIII

I continue to use the usual translation....and this post is my interpretation.  I'm no teacher; this is just my take on the whole thing is summarized:

Q:How, by whom, where, and wherefore does the theory of no-cause make its appearance?

A: When things (samskrita) are perceived as neither subject to causation nor above it, then the view maintained by the philosophers of birth and destruction is done away with.

Q: Is non-being no-birth? or does it look for causation? or is it a being's name without a [corresponding] reality? Pray tell me.

Q: Non-being is not no-birth, nor does it look for causation, nor is it a being's name, nor is it a name without a [corresponding] object.  Here is a reality which does not belong to the Sravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, nor to the philosophers; neither does it belong to the Bodhisattvas who have entered upon the seventh stage; this is what characterises no-birth....Nothing is born; being is not, non-being is not, nowhere is being-and-non-being; except that where there is a system, there is the rising of things and their dissolution.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Reason number 5,789 why I left the Catholic Church...

I must be the same as a pedophile priest!

VATICAN CITY — In its most significant revision to church law since a sex abuse crisis hit the United States a decade ago and roared back from remission in Europe this spring, the Vatican on Thursday issued new internal rules making it easier to discipline priests who have sexually abused minors.

But in a move that infuriated victims’ groups and put United States bishops on the defensive, it also codified “the attempted ordination of women” to the priesthood as one of the church’s most grave crimes, along with heresy, schism and pedophilia...

 The revision announced on Thursday codifies a 1997 ruling that made attempting to ordain women as priests a crime punishable with excommunication.
The Rev. Roy Bourgeois, an American priest with the Maryknoll religious order, said that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent him an excommunication letter within two months after he participated in a ceremony ordaining women, but that the Congregation had taken years while it considered the requests of bishops to defrock pedophiles.

“What I did, supporting the ordination of women, they saw as a serious crime,” Father Bourgeois said. “But priests who were abusing children, they did not see as a crime. What does that say?”

  Really, this religion has difficulties.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Meditation helps increase attention span!

Now what was I doing?

July 14, 2010
It's nearly impossible to pay attention to one thing for a long time. A new study looks at whether Buddhist meditation can improve a person's ability to be attentive and finds that meditation training helps people do better at focusing for a long time on a task that requires them to distinguish small differences between things they see.

The research was inspired by work on , who spend years training in meditation. "You wonder if the mental skills, the calmness, the peace that they express, if those things are a result of their very intensive training or if they were just very special people to begin with," says Katherine MacLean, who worked on the study as a graduate student at the University of California - Davis. Her co-advisor, Clifford Saron, did some research with monks decades ago and wanted to study meditation by putting volunteers through intensive training and seeing how it changes their mental abilities.
About 140 people applied to participate; they heard about it via word of mouth and advertisements in Buddhist-themed magazines. Sixty were selected for the study. A group of thirty people went on a meditation retreat while the second group waited their turn; that meant the second group served as a control for the first group. All of the participants had been on at least three five-to-ten day meditation retreats before, so they weren't new to the practice. They studied meditation for three months at a retreat in Colorado with B. Alan Wallace, one of the study's co-authors and a meditation teacher and Buddhist scholar...

The task lasted 30 minutes and was very demanding. "Because this task is so boring and yet is also very neutral, it's kind of a perfect index of ," says MacLean. "People may think meditation is something that makes you feel good and going on a meditation retreat is like going on vacation, and you get to be at peace with yourself. That's what people think until they try it. Then you realize how challenging it is to just sit and observe something without being distracted."

But then you knew that, didn't you?

Some days I just don't want to survey the Buddhist blogosphere...

Because every so often it looks like "more of the same."

And not only that, I still have ridiculous business at work...I'll be taking a vacation (!) soon, to New York. Hopefully I can blog while I'm there...but I may have to be content to blog from my iPhone...we'll see...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 3, Section LXXVII

I'm using the usual translation....and this post is my interpretation of the above section.  Read at your own risk or benefit.

"[W]hen it is understood that there is nothing in the world but what is seen of the Mind itself, discrimination no more rises, and one is thus established in his own abode which is the realm of no-work."

Your mileage may vary slightly with respect to my condensation here. Or not.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Enough about the Dalai Lama for a while...

I had a significant back-and-forth with Kyle here.   If people don't want to question their beliefs, well, that's eventually their issue, so long as it's not immediately creating more difficulty around the world.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Why would anyone associate themselves with the Huffington Post?

Unless of course, you're New Age Woo-filled.  But where do they find people like Michael Bernard Beckwith?

There is an inner impulsion within the human being...

I guess an "impulsion" is to be distinguised from an impulse...and "inner" is supposed to differentiate from those impulsions which are outer impulsions within the human being...

For even when we have succeeded in meeting many or most of our outer goals there remains an awareness of an illusive "something," an emptiness that is yet unfilled. 
 Well, yes there is this issue with attachments...

According to both ancient and contemporary spiritual traditions, there is a passageway into an extended awareness of our true nature, that aspect of ourselves that can be accessed when our preoccupations of the conscious mind are quieted. As we enter through this passageway, we lift the veil that hides the inner paradise in which we truly live, move, and have our being.  

Well, it depends on the tradition.  We Zennists would say there's no path, and that our true nature is right here, and its every bit paradise as Wal-Mart.  Or Tahiti.

When we consider current scientific studies of the brain relative to the field of quantum consciousness, the evolutionary possibilities for the individual and our global family are limitless. 

So Mr. Beckwith is another guy trying to sell you something.... and yet again he's one of those guys that thinks if he drops words like "evolutionary" and "quantum" he's sounding both knowledgeable and "enlightened" or something like that.

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 3, Section LXXVI

I'm using the usual translation....and as usual, I'm not authorized to say a word by a teacher;  my words and comments  are mine.

There's a lot in this section,  and I've just got enough time to scrape the surface here...

The Tathagata is not a non-entity; nor is he to be conceived as all things are, as neither born nor disappearing; nor is he to look around for causation [in order to appear before others]; nor is he without signification; so the Buddha  refers to him as unborn.

The Buddha  comes...

...within the range of hearing of ignorant people, in this world of patience, under many names, amounting to a hundred thousand times three asamkhyeyas, and they address me by these names not knowing that they are all other names of the Tathagata. Of these, Mahamati, some recognise me as the Tathagata, some as the Self-existent One, some as Leader, as Vinayaka (Remover), as Parinayaka (Guide), as Buddha, as Rishi (Ascetic), as Bull-king, as Brahma, as Vishnu, as Isvara, as Original Source (pradhana), as Kapila, as Bhutanta (End of Reality), as Arishta, as Nemina, as Soma (moon), as the Sun, as Rama, as Vyasa, as Suka, as Indra, as Balin, as Varuna, as is known to some; while others recognise me as One who is never born and never passes away, as Emptiness, as Suchness, as Truth, as Reality, as Limit of Reality, as the Dharmadhatu, as Nirvana, as the Eternal, as Sameness, as Non-duality, as the Undying, as the Formless, as Causation, as the Doctrine of Buddha-cause, as Emancipation, as the Truth of the Path, as the All-Knower, as the Victor, as the Will-made Mind. Mahamati, thus in full possession of one hundred thousand times three asamkhyeyas of appellations, neither more nor less, in this world and in other worlds, I am known to the peoples, like the moon in water which is neither in it nor out of it. 

That part  parallels a part of the Lotus Sutra, about the expediency of Avolokitesvara.

The other big point about this section is the simple dictum "not to become attached to the words of the canonical texts."  Yet this is meant in the same way as non-attachment in general: not to become attached to the repudiation of the canonical texts nor attached to the meaning of the canonical texts.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Still Adjusting, Working

Bad jet lag combined with a cold picked up somewhere is slowing me down a bit.

So go listen to Genjo Marinello's talk "Kanchiketsu."  If you haven't heard this, he addresses, in the context of koan Case 21 in the Mumonkan, the recent re-airing of the Edo Shimano issue. 

Sunday, July 04, 2010


I'm now back home.  I realize I often get to visit civilized cool places that many people never see.  I generally never actually experience them either, as I am generally busy in meetings most of the time I am in these places.  Or perhaps it's better to say that I do experience the places, as I am working there as so many others do.

I did however, get a little bit of time to reconnoiter Dreseden...

It's an odd place, at least in the "Old Town" (Altstadt)  I was in.  The Altstadt of course isn't old at all; there is  no old part of Dresden..  This is because in the Second World War, planners in Defense Departments commissioned engineers to draw up plans and calculations about how to create a firestorm.  The calculations were evidently correct...

In case you didn't know what a firestorm is, here's Wikipedia's entry on the subject:

A firestorm is a conflagration which attains such intensity that it creates and sustains its own wind system. It is most commonly a natural phenomenon, created during some of the largest bushfires, forest fires, and wildfires. The Black Saturday bushfires, the Great Peshtigo Fire and the Ash Wednesday fires are examples of firestorms. Firestorms can also be deliberate effects of targeted explosives such as occurred as a result of the aerial bombings of Dresden, Hamburg, Stalingrad, Tokyo, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and The Blitz during World War II....

A firestorm is created as a result of the stack effect as the heat of the original fire draws in more and more of the surrounding air. This draft can be quickly increased if a low level jet stream exists over or near the fire. As the updraft mushrooms, strong gusty winds develop around the fire, directed inward. This would seem to prevent the firestorm from spreading on the wind, but the tremendous turbulence also created causes the strong surface inflow winds to change direction erratically. This wind shear is capable of producing small tornado- or dust devil-like circulations called fire whirls which can also dart around erratically, damage or destroy houses and buildings, and quickly spread the fire to areas outside the central area of the fire. A firestorm may also develop into a mesocyclone and induce true tornadoes [1]. Probably, this is true for the Peshtigo Fire.[2]

The greater draft of a firestorm draws in greater quantities of oxygen which significantly increases combustion, thereby also substantially increasing the production of heat. The intense heat of a firestorm manifests largely as radiated heat (infrared radiation) which ignites flammable material at a distance ahead of the fire itself.

As in Munich, but much more recently (after reunification) the Germans rebuilt part of the town along the lines of the way the original city stood.  Because of the recentness of the restoration, as well as the fact that Dresden, unlike Munich experienced a firestorm,  the overall feeling I felt here is one of strangeness and disorientation.  Dresden's "old" buildings are signifiers of buildings that no longer exist - because of this the whole city shouts out that it was the object of a firestorm more directly than Tokyo, which was largely rebuilt from the ground up after the war.  In Tokyo, with some small exceptions (such as Asakusa and the Diet) there is no "old" city visible; the aftermath of Tokyo's firestorm and surrender has rendered it relatively new, if somewhat staid relative to Osaka (or perhaps it was always that way).
But Dresden is different.

In Dresden one cannot help but feel unsettled.   The very existence of the rebuilt buildings points to the horible karma that this city experienced; you cannot look at Altstadt without thinking of the firestorm.  Even in the rebuilt part of Altstadt "history" ends with the Kaiser.  The nature of the look of the town does not do anything but point to its horrors.

Or perhaps  that was simply me.  Dresden sits in the former East Germany; it is near the Czech Republic and Poland.   I am of mixed Polish, German and Slovak descent; significantly more than Munich or for some reason Berlin, it seems like the people around here resemble distant relatives of me.

Here is part of where Slavs and Germans mixed.  This area was evidently at one time settled by Slavs, and then by Germans.  Today there is a Sorbian Slavic minority in this general region; in the church in Dresden there is a poster commemorating one Alois Andritzki, who was apparently murdered by the Nazis for suggesting that perhaps it wasn't a great idea to be subjugating non-Germans.  Sorbs, according to Hitler  were just Germans who just happened to speak a Slavic language, and had Slavic customs.  After the war the Sorbian people haven't had much prominence on the world stage; whatever national aspirations these people have haven't had the press that other national movements have.

As for today,  Wikipedia notes:

After the unification of Germany on 3 October 1990, Lusatians made efforts to create an autonomous administrative unit; however Helmut Kohl’s government did not agree to it. After 1989 the Sorbian movement revived, however it still encounters many obstacles. Although Germany supports national minorities, Sorbs claim that their aspirations are not sufficiently fulfilled. The desire to unite Lusatia into one country has not been taken into consideration. Upper Lusatia still belongs to Saxony and Lower Lusatia to Brandenburg. Liquidations of Sorbian schools, even in areas mostly populated by Sorbs, still happen, under the pretext of financial difficulties or demolition of whole villages to create lignite quarries.

Today (2008) Sorbian institutions serving 60,000 Sorb people supposedly receive less money for preservation of their culture than one German theater's yearly budget in Berlin[3], an annual state grant of 15.6 million Euro by the Federal and the Saxon governments[4]. Faced with growing threat of cultural extincton the Domowina issued a memorandum in March 2008 [5] and called for "help and protection against the growing threat of their cultural extinction, since an ongoing conflict between the German government, Saxony and Brandenburg about the financial distribution of help blocks the financing of almost all Sorbian institutions". The memorandum also demands a reorganisation of competence by ceding responsibility from the Länder to the federal government and an expanded legal status. The call has been issued to all governments and heads of state of the European Union[6].

May peace prevail on earth.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Still in Germany...Dresden...just rather busy...

I'm in Dresden Germany, on business. As for the city, its karma shows all over the place.  I'll have more to say and post when I get back.

But right now, I'm still very busy with work practice.