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The Reality Of Our Natures And The Nature Of Our Realities The Reality Of Our Natures And The Nature Of Our Realities - TROONATNOOR
The Zen master will teach us to be a gold sun in a clear blue sky. Zen teaches us to disregard the 'noise and clouds' of our worries, fears, ambitions, and desires as distractions. This of course is a valuable meditation, which can free us from excessive worries and dis-stress, and allow us to concentrate on the most important epiphenomena of our lives. It is also an essential tool of the philosopher, that of philosophical indifference.
However, should we view life itself, then, as a mere distraction, an obstacle to a higher form of existence? Should we be indifferent to life itself? This view would lead us to dismiss the quest to eliminate earthly Suffering. Suffering would be defined as a mere product of attachment to transient, impermanent things. According to such 'wisdom', we can only transcend suffering, by becoming indifferent to both it and pleasure. This approach would define the quest for optimalizing our life here and now as counter-productive. It is a rejection of life, rather than an affirmation.
It is similar in its effects to the Judeo-Christian 'vale of tears' definition of the world. This 'wisdom' directs us to focus on 'spiritual' goals, rather than on this world. It defines the pursuit of worldly pleasure as evil, even sinful. The goal of such 'spirituality' is to attain 'salvation' from this world.
It is clear that most religious dogma, practice, ritual, and corporate organization has nothing to do with the prophets. Neither Jesus nor Buddha would be pleased with what has become of their moral philosophy. None of the paraphernalia of Buddhism and Christianity have 'moral'-philosophical underpinnings. They are merely politically motivated to appeal to humankind's love of ritual, and our superstitious nature. I can't see how anyone could consider Moses a prophet. If Moses was a prophet, then so was Adolf Hitler.
However we should be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Meditation, for instance, brings us to concentrate on the present, to actually experience the present. All too often we are looking back in anger, or regret, or longing, or overwhelmed by anticipation or fear of the future, and fail to experience the present.
When it comes to babies, even Moses and Hitler had some insights and good ideas. Discarding eugenics just because Hitler adopted race-based criteria for his eugenics would be the equivalent of discarding Moses commandment against murder (of course defined very narrowly re: don't kill fellow Jews, but anyone else is fair game for murder, enslavement and rape) simply because Moses was a genocidal national Zionist. In any case, the disparagement of eugenics due to its Nazi associations is disingenuous. People who argue something disingenuously, remember, do not believe what they are arguing, but are merely using the argument as an instrumental means to their ends. Anti-eugenicists set up the Nazi's as their 'straw man'.
Of course we are historical entities. Our experience of the present is made up of an anticipation of the future and a reflection on the past. This is what gives us our sense of continuity of personality, of self, and our main source of meaning. Of course memory and anticipation are double edged swords. Often we wish we could forget, and escape our anxiety for the future. Of course positive memories and positive expectations for the future enrich our lives, and provide the hope and motivation to overcome daily challenges.
Spiritual teachings seek a focus on the moment to 'free' us from this association with the physical, and the 'attachment' to it. By existing in the moment, we escape our 'self'. The 'illusion' of self is constructed of memories and aspirations. The attachment to the self is constructed of desires. The illusion of things as enduring and real is constructed. When we live in the moment, without memories or 'projections' into the future, we are left with the real substance of existence, which is epi-phenomenal. This is the true spiritual aim of meditation.
However if you wish to optimalize your life experience, and not simply 'escape' from its suffering, which is a product of attachment to impermanent, insecure things, then meditation, and focusing more on the present, can enrich the present by allowing us to more fully experience it, to nurture and live the moments of our lives.
By focusing on our present experience we are less likely to make absent minded mistakes, and to miss the opportunities for positive life experiences that continually emerge around us.
We must constantly remind ourselves of the difference between being there, and really being there. It was only after being a tourist in other countries that I started actually seeing how interesting my own 'home' actually was. Being a tourist can remind us to look, to be here, to be more aware of our surroundings. As we drive everywhere by the same routes, focused on where we are going, and hopefully on the traffic conditions, we fail to notice where we are.
I had had low self-esteem and was pretty low generally as a child. I looked mostly at the ground in front of me. I did find money, but I missed a lot. I didn't even notice the huge oil refinery stacks not far from where I had lived in Rosehill until I came back from overseas as a young adult. In Seven Hills, where we had moved to during my high school years, I had failed to notice how mountainous and often scenic the landscape was. I had described it as pretty flat to relations in Germany! I hadn't noticed how steep some of the terrain was in Parramatta, until I noticed one stormy afternoon, while waiting to pick up a friend, Paula, from Harris Park. The Great Western Highway at Parramatta climbs up pretty mountainous terrain. I had always wanted to see such terrain. I got to see it in Bali, and South Korea, but had failed to notice how mountainous parts of Sydney were, and Parramatta, and even Blacktown.
When we are 'tourists' we have our 'tourist-eyes' turned on. We are looking to be impressed, and are not disappointed. When we are 'over there' we are aware. We are switched on for all manner of wonderful, novel, interesting, charming, 'authentic', even 'extraordinary' experiences. We define home as mundane, and fail to look, or are too busy looking at the traffic conditions. Friends come to visit and tell us how beautiful everything is where we live.
Walk or ride a bike somewhere you normally drive, and take a look around. When you are waiting in line or at a traffic light, expect to find something interesting, and look around you and you probably will. Don't define the everyday as not worthy of your attention. You are doing it and yourself a real violence. Drive, or preferably walk or ride, a different way to work or shopping every day. 'Discover' your local neighborhood. I found Lamas, and amazing gardens, and unexpected vistas, and creeks, and birds, and flower gardens, and wonderful trees. I bet you will too.
Sadly most of us, most of the time, are rushing off to some experience we are anticipating, either looking forward to or dreading. We are too rushed to take a look around and experience our own, everyday world. The little things can be quite charming and extraordinary, if we let them be, if we are open to the possibility. We miss out on a lot by living in the past and future. We miss out on most of the 'now'.
As part of our optimalisation of our life experiences we must learn to accept suffering as part and parcel of this life, without going to the extremes of defining it as a virtue and 'glorifying it', or living in denial of technical or mystical 'fixes'. There is no ultimate security. The things you love most dearly can be taken away from you at any moment. We must learn to cherish our loved ones and not take them for granted. Alternatively we must be careful not to end up avoiding real intimacy for fear of having to one day part from loved ones. We must learn to master the art of moderation, and optimalisation. We must learn to balance upon the golden mean.
Some people might still consider myths and illusions of gods, and eternal 'after-lives' as a psychological necessity to 'coping' with the fundamentally insecure nature of our existence, and with the predictable loss of our loved ones. However we should be careful that the same dogma that may serve us well, does not end up our cruel and arbitrary master. The same dogma that provides us with a sense of security, can also enslave us, and prolong our suffering pointlessly when our 'impermanence' manifests itself.
Our traditional 'dogmas' have done more harm than good. We must seek to rid ourselves of the dirty 'bathwater', whilst saving the baby. We must optimalize our dogma. We must be careful though, not to open any Pandora's Box. We must not allow clever politicians and priests to play upon people's fears and insecurities to further their own political ambitions for power and privilege.
Ideally we would come to accept our 'impermanence', and find meaning in lives and relationships that were intrinsically satisfying and rewarding. Most likely it is merely our 'personalities' that are impermanent, and it is only our 'ego' that fears annihilation. Most likely we are 'eternal' forms of awareness. And if we are not, then death can hold no fear for us, as it we will not experience it. Only dying can hold fear for us. However we have the means to make dying a painless, dignified, even 'welcome' experience. If we need a dogma to comfort us in our grief and insecurity, then there are much more 'humane' alternatives to the biblical and 'karmic' dogmas which have produced so much misery, and which have been so 'counter-productive' in terms of our optimalisation of our life experience.
The same 'spiritual philosophy' must...