Monday, August 31, 2009

I Get Ideas, Part II: Stanley Ho Appears Uninterested....

I still have yet to hear back from the biggest indigenous casino owner in Macau. I figured if Steve Wynn was elbowing his way into Macau, Mr. Ho might want to return the favor...


To Whom It May Concern:

Recently, as a result of a visit to Shenzhen's Minsk World [let it fully load; you won't be disappointed!], my colleagues and I became interested in pursuing a project in the United States. It seems to us that the only way we in the US could have a project along the lines of the Minsk theme park, that truly reflected American ingenuity, was to build a casino based on an aircraft carrier on The Strip in Las Vegas. It turns out that the recently decomissioned aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy may be available for this purpose . To make a casino and luxury hotel from the John F. Kennedy would certainly ensure the city's place as a premier tourist destination.

We believe that this carrier, sited on or near The Strip, would:
a) provide educational value as a testimony to American ingenuity
b) encourage patriotism in Americans
c) provide a venue for unique military entertainment
d) allow people to visit the world's only non-floating nautical casino

It would be the only casino in the world to be based on a ship that saw action in the Gulf War, as well as the only casino to have been christened by Jacqueline Kennedy.

We would like to know whether someone at SJM holdings could tell me if Mr. Stanley Ho was interested in such a venture; we would be very happy to collaborate with him on making this military themed casino a reality.

My colleagues inform me that it would also be the only casino on the strip capable of antisubmarine warfare.

To be continued...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I get ideas...

As I noted below, last Sunday I had the chance to visit Minsk World, a "military theme park."

While I get an aircraft carrier being open to visitors to build pride in the folks who put their lives on the line for the country, I still can't get over the schmaltziness of Minsk World.

I indeed respect the folks in the military who, despite the imperfection of American foreign policy vow to actually defend us with their lives.

But then again, I am a sucker for scheming a good practical joke, so please military folks, don't be offended by the following.

The tawdry schmaltz of Minsk World could only be exceeded in the United States in one place.

Las Vegas.

They've got a fake pyramid casino there.

They've got a fake Venice casino there.

They've even got a fake Eiffel Tower.

It occurred to some of my engineer friends (one of whom is a veteran) and myself that the one way we could beat Minsk world would be to locatre an aircraft carrier on The Strip and turn it into a casino.

But not just any aircraft carrier would do.

We would need the USS John F. Kennedy.

The USS John F. Kennedy weighs somewhere between 60,000 and 82000 tons, and is about as long as the Empire State building is tall, roughly, and about 19 stories tall.

It would be very difficult to get the USS. John F. Kennedy located on The Strip.

Here are the known alternatives:

  1. Build a new aircraft carrier looking like the John F. Kennedy on The Strip.


    • You avoid doing the other alternatives.

    • It fits right in with the rest of everything else in Vegas being fake

    • It probably won't be bulit to Milspec.


    • It's cheating.

    • It gets expensive if you want realism.

    • The builder of the original probably can't do it (since they're Northrup Grumman Newport News shipbuilders, based in Virginia.

  2. You can disassemble the JFK, and reconstruct it on The Strip.

    • You use the real thing.

    • You avoid transporting the JFK in once piece to Vegas.


    • Since the JFK is welded and riveted, you have to unweld and unrivet it to get it there.

      That almost certainly will compromise the structural integrity of the ship.

  3. You can dredge the Colorado River from its mouth in or near Baja, Mexico, to Lake Mead, and then find some fantastic way to get it from Lake Mead to The Strip.

  4. Pros:

    • It's the sort of thing we can complain about when speaking about Yankee imperialism.

    • It is a great public works project, rivaling the Panama Canal.


    • Well, isn't there a dam in the way? I thought there might be one there.

    • It costs lots of money to dredge several hundred miles of a river to make it deep enough and navigable enough for an aircraft carrier.

    • OK, suppose I can get it to Lake Mead, now how do I get it to The Strip?

More to come...

Travel Reading: "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power" by Jeff Sharlet

Being in China, with its own news and its own spin, and then going back to the US and seeing the same spin, but in a different direction, one can get rather cynical.

But at least in the US you can readily find a book such as Jeff Sharlet's work on "The Family," which is readable, long (great for long flights from HK to SFO), and studded with footnotes, references, and so forth. The style of this book is restrained and sober; the only real quibble with the book is there is a bit of disjointedness between sections, that as a guy who writes mostly for business and technical applications I find, well, disjoint. Perhaps he's attempting a novelistic style of narrative, and perhaps getting to "business" about it might detract from the overall message.

The message written in this restrained and sober style is, however, quite shocking. It is nothing less than the fact that there has been a multifaceted attempt on the part of one particular cult to influence American domestic and foreign policy away from democratic rule and towards what can only be called despotism (and this cult is related to quite a few others, including but not limited to 12 Step Groups).

And a cult it is. Even some conservative Christians choke on their theology, which is basically an unslaked thirst for power hiding behind an amorphous Jesus.

This group is behind the National Prayer Breakfast, and recent (and historical) scandals "on C Street," . Mark Sanford the AWOL-for-an-Argentine-love-affair-but-it's-OK-because-God-loved-David South Carolina Governor hung with them.

But they are indisputably sinister aspects to them. The founder of the family was, for a time, a collaborator with the notorious Frank Buchman, who was the real spiritual father of 12 Step Groups, as well as an admirer of Hitler (no I am not making this up.) The founder of the Family, Abram Vereide, also infused his cult with a slavish subservience reminiscent of fascism, and, based on Sharlet's experience, those fascist tendencies persist to this day.

That such a group is so closely related to to so many at the levers of American power raises serious questions, including whether or not this group has been illegally lobbying at various times.

It is easy to criticize China for not having any Chinese versions of Jeff Sharlets.

But then again they don't have any quasi-secret cults trying to take over things. You kind of know who's running things in China.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What to do in Shenzhen: "Minsk World"

Shenzhen is a former fishing village that has grown so fast that 8 million people are living here, making stuff, and there isn't much here that's a natural attraction.

So the folks here invented some.

Among them is Minsk World, a "military theme park," as Wikipedia denotes it. Its centerpiece is an old rusting Russian aircraft carrier, The Minsk, as you would guess.

Crowds of people flock to it on nice days to take pictures of rusting military hardware...including those famous MiG jets. This stuff seems to date from the 1960s, and it's clearly not in great condition.

It's a real aircraft carrier, for sure, though there are numerous shops with military and Russian tchotchkes located within. For some reason they seem to think - perhaps rightfully so - that kids'll like toy planes made from what appear to be bullets.

Then there's the musical performances - kind of a military "It's a small world" kind of theme. Very strange. I'm sure Andrew Zimmern will visit soon enough. Here's their version of the musical British navy:

And yes, they have their version of the US marines:

I would like to meet the talent agent who staffed this.

Anyway, if you're ever here it's worth it just for the weirdness factor - it's a lot like Las Vegas, but in a Cantonese Russian military flavor.

As far as temples here go, there's only Hong Fa Si, but that's even more far out than Minsk World, and there are meetings to attend.

In Shenzhen

I've got to figure out how I can get some pictures uploaded here; my cell phone service is non-existent here (always seemed to be a problem with GSM in China, in my experience), but thankfully Wi-Fi sort of works.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Off to China for about a week...

Until I get back here, you can watch the townhall meeting I attended.

It doesn't embed, but I get to ask a question about 45 minutes into it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Been there, done that...

Not in the Vipassana tradition, but Robert Wright pretty much sums up what happens when you're focusing on awareness and non-attachment for a few days with others doing the same.

Everyone knows the boat is leaking, everyone knows the captain lied...

Glenn Greenwald's take on the health care debate is sobering, to say the least:

... In fact, it's so obviously true that no matter how dumb one might think Democrats are, they're certainly not so dumb that they failed to realize that the GOP was highly unlikely to help Obama pass health care reform no matter what the bill contained. From the start, it's been obvious to everyone -- the Obama White House and Senate Democrats included -- that the GOP would not help Obama pass health care reform. Why would the GOP want to help Obama achieve one of his most important and politically profitable goals? Of course they were going to try to sabotage the entire project and would oppose health care reform no matter what form it took. Everyone knew that from the start for exactly the reason that it was so obvious to Benen.

The attempt to attract GOP support was the pretext which Democrats used to compromise continuously and water down the bill. But -- given the impossibility of achieving that goal -- isn't it fairly obvious that a desire for GOP support wasn't really the reason the Democrats were constantly watering down their own bill? Given the White House's central role in negotiating a secret deal with the pharmaceutical industry, its betrayal of Obama's clear promise to conduct negotiations out in the open (on C-SPAN no less), Rahm's protection of Blue Dogs and accompanying attacks on progressives, and the complete lack of any pressure exerted on allegedly obstructionists "centrists," it seems rather clear that the bill has been watered down, and the "public option" jettisoned, because that's the bill they want -- this was the plan all along.

The Obama White House isn't sitting impotently by while Democratic Senators shove a bad bill down its throat. This is the bill because this is the bill which Democratic leaders are happy to have. It's the bill they believe in. As important, by giving the insurance and pharmaceutical industries most everything they want, it ensures that the GOP doesn't become the repository for the largesse of those industries (and, converesly, that the Democratic Party retains that status).

This is how things always work. The industry interests which own and control our government always get their way. When is the last time they didn't? The "public option" was something that was designed to excite and placate progressives (who gave up from the start on a single-payer approach) -- and the vast, vast majority of progressives (all but the most loyal Obama supporters) who are invested in this issue have been emphatic about how central a public option is to their support for health care reform. But it seems clear that the White House and key Democrats were always planning on negotiating it away in exchange for industry support. Isn't that how it always works in Washington? No matter how many Democrats are elected, no matter which party controls the levers of government, the same set of narrow monied interests and right-wing values dictate outcomes, even if it means running roughshod over the interests of ordinary citizens (securing lower costs and expanding coverage) and/or what large majorities want.

NAFTA was supposed to work that way. How'd that work out for everyone?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finding: The brain helps maintain a stress-cycle

It's not for nothing that people get stuck:

Reporting earlier this summer in the journal Science, Nuno Sousa of the Life and Health Sciences Research Institute at the University of Minho in Portugal and his colleagues described experiments in which chronically stressed rats lost their elastic rat cunning and instead fell back on familiar routines and rote responses, like compulsively pressing a bar for food pellets they had no intention of eating.

Moreover, the rats’ behavioral perturbations were reflected by a pair of complementary changes in their underlying neural circuitry. On the one hand, regions of the brain associated with executive decision-making and goal-directed behaviors had shriveled, while, conversely, brain sectors linked to habit formation had bloomed.

In other words, the rodents were now cognitively predisposed to keep doing the same things over and over, to run laps in the same dead-ended rat race rather than seek a pipeline to greener sewers. “Behaviors become habitual faster in stressed animals than in the controls, and worse, the stressed animals can’t shift back to goal-directed behaviors when that would be the better approach,” Dr. Sousa said. “I call this a vicious circle.”

At the very least, when one practices forms of mindfulness meditation, one gets the ability to "step out of the loop," and with practice, one remembers to be able to do this more and more.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

At the town hall: the decline of America?

It is a shame that there weren't more younger people there, but of those people that were there, they skewed older, and about 60% of them seemed skeptical of the plan.

Many were completely uninformed, repeating the worst nonsense they'd heard on talk radio.

People jeered when the moderator brought up the easily verified fact that people in industrialized countries have lower infant mortality and longer life spans than we do (in Canada, it's almost 1.5 years longer - and with our life span that is statistically significant, and no murder and violence do not account for such a disparity!)

And yes, the people peddling the offensive Nazi nonsense were there.

Update: I agree with Barney Frank. At least one somewhat distant relative of mine was killed by Nazis, and this comparison is indeed contemptible.

Health Care Reform is Necessary

And the Democrats weren't elected to maintain the status quo - which is making us all poorer.

On my upcoming China trip, a side trip to Guangzhou?

I'll be traveling to China at the end of the week (Shenzhen), a city with a not-too-distinct history. Shenzhen's main claim to fame is that it's across the border from Hong Kong, and it's a mecca of knock-off objects. But not really much to see. Maybe Hong Fa Si, but that's about it. And sometimes the local monks are said to behave in rather un-monk-like ways...

Since I'll be effectively incommunicado for the better part of a week - I'll be at a conference working insane hours, it won't be much of a problem.

Luckily, though, my schedule was inadvertently set up to have an extra day in China, and I realize that it's only about an hour to Guangzhou, where there's Guangxiao Temple (光孝寺). It's said to be a temple that Bodhidharma visited.

Then again there's other temples in the city, evidently

Hopefully I'll be able to visit that temple unless there's typhoons, crises, or ridiculous amounts of work involved after my meeting.

Aren't there ethical considerations involved in anti-aging drugs?

It's one thing to restrict one's calories to live 30% longer, with the side effect of reduced fertility. But almost certainly the use of technology to increase age will be limited to certain demographics, to put it politely.

And not amazingly the Times can make it through the whole article without raising this point.

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 2, Section XX V

Still using this source, Suzuki's translation.

One thing I'll note here: there is within all the repetition, quite a bit of philosophical structure inherent in sutras such as the Lankavatara:

  • Assertions and refutations are not to be found in the Mind-only; the ignorant who understand not that the Mind is [seen in] the form of body, property, and abode, wander about with assertions and refutations.

  • This is evidently the case because since all phenomena lack an intrinsic essence (and "are/aren't that way" in a self-referential way)it's pointless to act as though they do. And thus acts of assertion and refutation concerning matters of "philosophy" (in its broadest sense - the love of wisdom) are reduced to acts of discrimination of a reality that is beyond discrimination.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A quick note about the sutra posts for folks new to this blog...

I realize that some folks who are coming here for the first time might not understand why I'm posting about the Lankavatara Sutra.


  • It's good to have read these things, and blogging about it helps instill a discipline to do so, especially if you're a Buddhist.

  • If you're a Zen Buddhist, you are practicing a "way outside the scriptures," but that "way" is "outside" mainly because the experience and activity is not covered in the scriptures, in at least somewhat the same way as a recipe does not substitute for the actual action of preparing (and eating) the dish prepared. Knowledge of the canon of Buddhist literature is useful to actually know what other practitioners have been saying and doing; but this is more in the order of the stare decisis of case law rather than some Platonic Ideal.

  • The sutras were written with certain literary techniques in mind, e.g., learning by repetition, and repetition with slight variations and giving of details, for some of the longer ones, and making nifty chants for the smaller ones. However, to a modern reader, this makes the text of the longer sutras seem overly dense and somewhat unwieldy. In most business communication one would never write this way and have a long happy career.

  • So a while back I realized that writing blog-post summaries of portions of the Buddhist canon might be useful to do, and started a series of blog-posts in this regard. It's helped me actually remember to carve out time to read this stuff.

  • It's also having the ancillary effect of helping to make my written prose more concise.

  • These are just my summaries and interpretations; they don't represent anyone's thinking, teaching, or authorization from anyone to anything like this. Your mileage will likely vary in quite a few places.

  • Evidently there are a continuing two-to-three dozen readers a day throughout the world who actually read my "PowerPoint ready summaries," based on Google Analytics. (Sometimes it's more than two or three dozen, especially when I comment on something on a much more trafficked site.) It's positively amazing how many folks from all over the world - with obvious exceptions like North Korea or Myanmar/Burma - actually get to this blog in the course of a month. And some of them stay & actually read posts too.

Hope that helps.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Well, I finally succumbed to tech attachment.... now if I can only get someone else to pay for it

It occurred to me that with mobile data growing at over 38% per year (yes, in the worst recession since the Great Depression!), and given my current work, it behooved me to actually, you know, know what end users do with this stuff, so that I can, uh, invent better stuff.


So I bought the iPhone 3Gs; after T-Mobile gave me a runaround trying to get them to honor a $50 coupon.

I churned 'em, and it felt good. Number portability... another progressive idea.

The new iPhone does cut and paste; and other things.

Sorry Google; I'd have gone for your product, but I already have iTunes, and your choice of carrier was kind of jerky about letting long time customers stay.

And (so far) it's slightly cheaper, although the fact that we can't do Skype or the "Chinese Skype" (which isn't Skype & I forgot its name) is sort of secondary.

I can blog anywhere. I think.

Unless there's flash animations everywhere.

Update: It's kind of dumb that iTunes doesn't have netshare (an app for accessing the internet from your PC through your iPhone). All 3G phones in Japan have had this feature for years.

There's evidently a way to do this with the WLAN connection but you have to unlock your phone.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I have a concern...

about the dead guy mentioned here being associated with people who are from recognized Buddhist lineages.

Couldn't they find a way to give this money to Robert Aitken, who'd be more deserving of this largesse?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 2, Section XX IV

Using the same source as usual...

  • Ignorance, deed, and desire keep consciousness and mental activities going.

  • Clinging to the external objects as real (having within themselves an unchanging essence) makes manifest the world of externalities.

  • "Habit energy" keeps the cycle of impermanence going.

  • The aggregates, desires, and modes of perception have a nature of false discrimination.

  • A Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva who "gets this" will be well on the way, and it's good to exercise one's self in this regard.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

If you're in the Portland - Vancouver Area next Tuesday

I'm speaking to you, folks, Buddhists in the Portland Area, about this:

The first of five in-person town hall meetings will be held near Vancouver, at 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Skyview High School Auditorium. Locations for the other four town halls are to be determined.

I won't be able to make the other town halls - I'll be on travel, but this is pretty much a duty for all well-meaning people.

This country needs health care better than it has now, it can get health care better than it has now, and we need to compassionately yet purposely address people disrupting attempts to actually have people helped.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 2, Section XX II & XXIII

Using the same source as usual...

  • Don't dis the Bodhisattva - related canonical texts and followers therein.
    (Yes, Zen is outside the canonical texts, but that doesn't mean one throws out the canonical texts.)

  • But even those who exhaust their merit finally enter Nirvana.

  • False discrimination consisst in attachment to names and attachment to objects. as realities in and of themselves as inner and external things.

  • Perfect knowledge is realized when one casts aside the discriminating notions of form, name, reality, and character. We should discipline ourselves in this

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Why do people avoid even obvious truths?

Ben Stein on why he was fired by the New York Times, cannot bring himself to talk about the real issue: Ben Stein was shilling for a bait-and-switch operation.

Stein says:

I had done a commercial for an Internet aggregating company called FreeScore. This commercial offered people a week of free access to their credit scores and then required them to pay for further such access.

This commercial was red meat for the Ben Stein haters left over from the Expelled days. They bombarded the Times with letters. They confused (or some of them seemingly confused ) FreeScore with other companies that did not have FreeScore's unblemished record with consumer protection agencies. (FreeScore has a perfect record.) They demanded of the high pooh-bahs at the Times that they fire me because of what they called a conflict of interest.

Here's a good overview of the bait-and-switch operation

How far has Ben Stein sunk? Far enough that I feel compelled to resuscitate the Ben Stein Watch, just to share this unfunny and positively harmful TV ad which is now being aired:

“I went to and found out my score for free”, says Ben, while an annoying squirrel holds up a sign with the word “FREE” in some horrible brush-script font.

A few points are worth noting here. First, the score itself is not very useful to consumers. What’s useful is the report — if there’s an error on the report, then the consumer can try to rectify it. Secondly, and much more importantly, if you want a free credit report, there’s only one place to go: That’s the place where the big three credit-rating agencies will give you a genuinely free copy of your credit report once a year, as required by federal law.

You won’t be surprised to hear that is not free: in order to get any information out of them at all, you have to authorize them to charge you a $29.95 monthly fee. They even extract a dollar out of you up front, just to make sure that money is there.

Me, I'd just keep quiet, or apologize publicly, but Stein evidently thinks that never backing down is somehow good for him.

Anyway, if you need to do this sort of thing do use

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 2, Section XX & XX1

As usual, I'm slowing going through the translation originally provided by Suzuki.

    There are 5 groups of people:
  • 1. People with insight from the initial stages of "Hinyana" - that of being hearers of the Dharma ("Śrāvaka-vehicle").
    2. People with insight from being independently awakened ("Pratyekabuddha-vehicle")
    3. People with insight from the Tathagata-vehicle
    4. People of indefinite character
    5. People for whom no insight is possible

  • The first group - the "hearers" - "do away with the rising of the passions, but not with the habit-energy," or seek Nirvana "within themselves." While they may have knowledge of Nirvana, as long as they "have no insight into the egolessness of things" and thus can't achieve emancipation themselves.

  • Hhowever, hearers who see into the egolessness of all things can settle into samadhi and attain the enlightenment of the Tathagata.

  • The independently awakened seem to seek to be not engaged with others the way people experience engagement in day-to-day life: "When the teaching to keep themselves away from social relations and entanglements, not to become attached to the external world and its manifold form, to perform miraculous powers by which they can divide their own body and appear double or perform the transformations, is disclosed to them, they are thereby entreated"

  • Those of the "Tathagata vehicle" have 1) an insight whereby one sees into the self-nature of things, which is no self-nature; (2) an insight which is the attainment of self-realisation; and (3) an insight into the immensity of the external Buddha-lands. When these three aspects are made known one after another and also when the inconceivable realm where body, property, and abode are seen to be the manifestation of Mind itself, a man will not be frightened, nor terrified, nor show any sign of fear; then such a one is to be known as of the group of people whose insight belongs to the Tathagata-vehicle.

This last bullet point, though repeated elsewhere in the text, is in effect a "test" of "enlightenment." It's not a woo-woo experience per se, and it's not something that can be be faked or that one can "flash upon as needed" as somebody said. While someone might have an experience, the point is actually to live there.

In Section XXI the Buddha summarizes XX himself:
130. The fruit of the Stream-entered [hearer], and that of the Once-to-come [independently awakened]; the fruit of the Not-to-come and Arhatship— all these are due to mental perturbation.

131. The triple vehicle, the one vehicle, and the no-vehicle, of these I talk, for the sake of the dull-witted, and [also] for the wise, solitude-loving ones.

132. The gate of highest reality has nothing to do with the two forms of thought-construction [subject and object]; Where the imageless stands, why should we establish the triple vehicles?

133. The Dhyānas, the immeasurables, and the no-form Samādhis, and the thought-cessation—all these are not at all found in Mind-only.

These are not at all found in Mind-only. All of the mental states associated with the practices of mediation are but a construction of the mind "not at all found in Mind-only."

That's one reason why one should not get too very much hung up over stray thoughts in mediation, I'd opine.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Karaniya Metta Sutta: Good Will" (Snp 1.8), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight


This is to be done by one skilled in aims who wants to break through to the state of peace: Be capable, upright, & straightforward, easy to instruct, gentle, & not conceited, content & easy to support, with few duties, living lightly, with peaceful faculties, masterful, modest, & no greed for supporters. Do not do the slightest thing that the wise would later censure. Think: Happy, at rest, may all beings be happy at heart. Whatever beings there may be, weak or strong, without exception, long, large, middling, short, subtle, blatant, seen & unseen, near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart. Let no one deceive another or despise anyone anywhere, or through anger or irritation wish for another to suffer. As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings. With good will for the entire cosmos, cultivate a limitless heart: Above, below, & all around, unobstructed, without enmity or hate. Whether standing, walking, sitting, or lying down, as long as one is alert, one should be resolved on this mindfulness. This is called a sublime abiding here & now. Not taken with views, but virtuous & consummate in vision, having subdued desire for sensual pleasures, one never again will lie in the womb.

For all beings, especially those in Myanmar/Burma.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 2, Section XIX

As usual from here...

Further, Mahāmati, according to the teaching of the Tathagatas of the past, present, and future, all things are unborn. Why? Because they have no [intrinsic] reality, being manifestations of Mind itself, and, Mahāmati, as they are not born of being and non-being, they are unborn. Mahāmati, all things are like the horns of the hare, horse, donkey, or camel, but the ignorant and simple-minded who are given up to their false and erroneous imaginations, discriminate things where they are not; therefore, all things are unborn. That all things are in their self-nature unborn, Mahāmati, belongs to the realm of self-realisation attained by noble wisdom, and does not belong essentially to the realm of dualistic discrimination cherished by the ignorant and simple-minded. The self-nature and the characteristic marks of body, property, and abode evolve when the Ālayavijñāna [store of conciousness/ideation] is conceived by the ignorant as grasping and grasped; and then they fall into a dualistic view of existence where they recognize its rise, abiding, and disappearance, cherishing the idea that all things are born and subject to discrimination as to being and non-being.

I added the word "intrinsic" here; as I think it clarifies things a bit.

Otherwise, I quoted this almost verbatim as it's somewhat self-explanatory.

The main thing is all the stuff you experience when you'd rather be doing something else is all Mind manifestations.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Sometimes, this is enough....

I can't believe that Seth MacFarlane would tie together such obscure things- well, obviously I can, but still...

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 2, Section XVII & Section XVIII

From here as usual.

Section XVII: Cause and effect, being intertwined, and existence and non-existence, being intertwined and densely related, and the non-independence of discrimination are characteristic of the eternal-unthinkable is the exalted condition of self-realisation and also of highest reality.

Section XVIII:
Further, Mahāmati, those who, afraid of sufferings arising from the discrimination of birth-and-death, seek for Nirvana, do not know that birth-and-death and Nirvana are not to be separated the one from the other; and, seeing that all things subject to discrimination have no reality, imagine that Nirvana consists in the future annihilation of the senses and their fields...

Therefore, Mahāmati, those who do not understand the teachings of the Tathagatas of the past, present, and future, concerning the external world, which is of Mind itself, cling to the notion that there is a world outside what is seen of the Mind and, Mahāmati, go on rolling themselves along the wheel of birth-and-death.

Go Read Norman Fischer in the NY Times Today


If you live long enough you will discover the great secret we all hate to admit: life is inherently tough. Difficult things happen. You lose your job or your money or your spouse. You get old, you get sick, you die You slog through your days beleaguered and reactive even when there are no noticeable disasters — a normal day has its many large and small annoyances, and the world, if you care to notice, and it is difficult not to, is burning...

Dogen writes, “For the time being the highest peak, for the time being the deepest ocean; for the time being a crazy mind, for the time being a Buddha body; for the time being a Zen Master, for the time being an ordinary person; for the time being earth and sky… Since there is nothing but this moment, ‘for the time being’ is all the time there is.”...

We want enjoyment, we want to avoid pain and discomfort. But it is impossible that things will always work out, impossible to avoid pain and discomfort. So to be happy, with a happiness that doesn’t blow away with every wind, we need to be able to make use of what happens to us — all of it — whether we find ourselves at the top of a mountain or at the bottom of the sea.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A bit of Zen absurdity...

There doesn't seem to be much "zen" in this.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Lankavatara Sutra, Chapter 2, Section XVI

Again, using this translation.

Is this a "Cool StateTM" or what?

Further again, Mahāmati, in the life of the Śrāvaka-vehicle ["Hearers-vehicle"], there are two aspects to be distinguished, namely, the excellent and exalted state of self-realisation, and the attachment to the notion of self-nature arising from discrimination. What is the excellent, exalted state of self-realisation belonging to the Śrāvakas? This is a state of mental concentration which is attained when one realises states of emptiness, egolessness, suffering, and impermanence, and the truth that is free from passions and is ever serene; when one annihilates notions belonging to the externality of things, such as the Skandhas, Dhātus [Elements], Āyatanas [Six senses or modes of perception and the six kinds of object they correspond to], individuality and generality; and when one has an insight into reality as it is. Entering upon this state of mental concentration the Śrāvakas will attain the blissful abode of exalted self-realisation in which there is the emancipation belonging to a Dhyāna, the path and fruit of a Samādhi, and the deliverance of a Samāpatti [where the body and mind abide in a state of tranquil composure], but in which there is as yet no discarding of habit-energy and no escape from the imperceivable transformation of death. This, Mahāmati, is the Śrāvaka's exalted state of self-realisation. Having attained this exalted and blissful condition of self-realisation as realised by the Śrāvakas, Mahāmati, the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva may not enjoy by himself the bliss of cessation, the bliss of Samāpatti, but should think compassionately of other beings and keep ever fresh his original vows. Mahāmati, in whatever exalted and blissful state of self-realisation the Bodhisattva may find himself, he should never exert himself in the exalted and blissful state of self-realisation as attained by the Śrāvakas.

(59) Mahāmati, what is meant by the attachment to the notion of self-nature arising from discrimination? This attachment takes place when a man, seeing that the elements and the qualities such as blue, yellow, warmth, humidity, motility, and rigidity, have never been created by a creator, yet clings to the notions of individuality and generality in accordance with the measures laid down in books of logic. Mahāmati, the Bodhisattva, knowing what this is, must abandon it. Conforming himself to the egolessness of things and holding back the wrong views regarding the egolessness of a person, the Bodhisattva should keep himself on the continuously-ascending journey along the stages. This is the Śrāvaka's attachment to the notion of self-nature arising from the discrimination of existence.

Well there may be a "Cool StateTM," but if one cultivates that state one is not helping other beings.