Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate

Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate
by Brad Warner


Buddhist practice is difficult and takes a lot of time, effort, and energy. I know no one likes hearing that. There are no shortcuts. There are no easy ways to circumvent the pain and difficulty of practice...

There's a truckload of extremely good reasons why you don't want to rip open the doors of your subconscious too quickly. If you're not fully prepared for what's behind those doors, they're better left shut tight until such time that you are.

In a weird way we're always prepared for whatever we have to face. We just don't know it. We always have an intuitive sense of right action. But we're also very, very good at shouting so loudly over that sense that we may not be able to hear it when it functions. Zazen helps you learn to uncover the intuition you already have.

You'll never work out all the angles. You just have to make the best decision you possibly can, given what you have to work with at a particular juncture in your life.

Nothing ever lives up to your expectations, no matter what your expectations are. This doesn't mean you're never disappointed. But you know that disappointment is just the action of your brain readjusting itself to reality after discovering things are not the way you thought they were. The best course of action when encountering disappointment is to know you now understand the situation better than you did before when all you had to go on was your thoughts. There's no sense wallowing in sadness that you were mistaken. You are fortunate, in fact, because you're now better equipped to move forward realistically.

Our normal state at any given moment, sucky as it may be, is the best and most balanced we can achieve at that moment. Through meditative practice we can gradually improve this state...

The reason we avoid them (euphoria and bliss) is because they're just as unbalanced as our so-called normal states of mind. Euphoria is the other side of terror. True balance of body and mind is very comfortable and pleasant, but it's not euphoric or blissful.

It's also not your duty to keep everyone you meet satisfied. Most people are so thoroughly fucked they don't have the vaguest clue what they really need or even what they really want, and it's not your duty to provide them with what they think they want.

The weird thing about the (Buddhist) precepts is that after you do your practice for a while it becomes effortless to keep them. You simply don't want to abuse your body and brain anymore once you start seeing how nice it feels to keep things in balance. You keep the precepts not because you fear punishment from God or Buddha..., but because you want to. That's a far more powerful incentive.

Identity is a funny thing. We all think we have one. We have a driver's license to prove it! But in practice our identity changes all the time. Our true self and the things we do are exactly the same. We are a function of the universe.

The basis of Buddhist morality is reality itself. It is the order of the universe itself. It is the facts of life, which are facing us at every moment.

...your life still isn't really just yours alone. If I don't keep my body in reasonable shape in general I'm also impinging on others. I get pissed off way too easily because my body never feels right so I can't think straight. If I get angry or otherwise overemotional, it's never just my own affair. I spread that anger to others through my careless actions. When you're angry you are never, ever, every act reasonably. Never. If I get depressed I force others to deal with my black moods. If I get distracted I might run over somebody's kitty cat.

You're just like me, an asshole. Seriously. A complete asshole. You have no idea what you are or what you're supposed to be doing. Yet you run all over creation like it's some cheap-ass toy Santa gave you that you're now gonna break, and then cry until Santa gives you another one. 'Cuz there are a million of them all lined up on shelves at the store. The universe is yours, and all you want to do with it is write your name in spray paint on the wall. You're like a dog pissing on a fence. No one who sees the mark you left on the world could give a shit. You're just exactly like me.

...no amount of enlightenment will eliminate all stress and tension from your life. Things, once set into motion, need to play themselves out. The best you can do is learn how to add as little new garbage to the pile as possible.

Morality is a practical problem-a real problem. What to do here and now is the problem and the answer is contained in the situation itself.

To me, Zen is a search for truth through action. It is less a religion or even a philosophy than it is an attitude.

But sit quietly, and even a piece of gibbon's dung like you can see it. There's no one in the universe but you. You spread out all the way past the farthest galaxies, and that's just the beginning. Your thoughts are all stupid. Your perceptions are completely wrong. There's nowhere you can be but here. There's nothing you can know that's worth knowing. You have no future or past, and yet you'll always be here. And because of this you are God's eyes and ears on this world. You are God himself.

Religious people tell you that you shouldn't do stuff like that (staying out late, sleeping in till a million o'clock, getting drunk and stoned, chasing tail, and general carousing) because it is sinful and evil. Sin and evil don't enter into it. It's just a simple fact that if you want your brain and body to work the way they're meant to, you need to take good care of the machinery God gave you. No two ways about it.

Buddha didn't want to find something holy; he just wanted a life that wasn't a fucking drag all the time.

The (Buddhist) precepts guide us in our life. They have come from the experience of the truth in the past, so we can say they are based on reality. But our lives are tremendously complex and varied. If we try to apply the precepts too strictly, we may lose the freedom to act. We are living here and now so we must find rules that can be used here and now. We must find our precepts every moment. Reality is changeable so our rules must also be changeable. True rules must work in the real world. True precepts are changeable and at the same time unchangeable. This is the nature of Buddhist precepts. They help us live correctly. They provide a framework which is exact and rather narrow. And yet we are free to act in the moment by moment situations of our life.

The Middle Way was not some kind of spiritual path designed to make us all holy with shiny pink halos on our noggins. It was a way to live a life that wasn't a piece of shit. It was a way to find happiness and stability in an unhappy and unstable world. That's really all any of us are looking for, when it comes down to it.

You're not here just for yourself. You're here for everyone and everything you encounter. Your role is to do and say things that need to be done and said from your unique perspective. You need to be fully yourself.

Morality is an important part of finding real happiness because we are all interconnected. I can't be happy if I make the people around me miserable under the mistaken impression that their misery is not intimately connected with mine. So if I don't want to be miserable I need to behave morally toward everyone I encounter. It means being careful.

Doing and saying what needs doing and saying has to be handled carefully. But being careful and being timid are two very different things.

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