Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Fourfold Criterion Revisited (4): Not That

In contrast to the laws of the Universe, a human being like me can be unreal.

How is it that a human being becomes unreal. How can we begin to understand un-reality?

Here are four aspects of un-reality that I observe in myself:

(1) CARING = over-excitement of the fear reflexes, resulting in a temporary energy rush.

(2) LOSING THE HEAD = failure to integrate incoming sensory information, from within and without, into a meaningful whole; failure to filter out noise.

(3) DOING = directing my energy off to one side; hence losing the principle of antagonistic action in the middle way.

(4) KNOWING = undue certainty; reductionism; unreal confidence.

What does it mean to be a truly conscious upright being as Gautama was? What, ultimately, is the point: To be at the cutting edge of knowing, in some particular sphere, such as Buddhist philosophy, or Alexander teaching, or quantum physics? Or to be fully conscious of the much wider mystery?

In ‘My Credo,’ a speech given to the German League of Human Rights in Berlin in 1932, Albert Einstein is quoted as saying:

“The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavor in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is.”

I think that what Einstein is expressing here might be partial consciousness of the wider mystery. Whereas Gautama’s teaching of the middle way always wants to bring us back from partial consciousness.

The real point of Gautama’s sitting-zen, as I see it, is not to make ourselves real. It is rather to see through, No!, to spring the whole body free from, un-real tendencies -- including for example the tendency which is leading me to write this post, craning my neck towards the computer screen in a caring way, while outside the sun is shining on oblivious of me, and inside a black cushion sits vainly pushing up against thin air.


Blogger Mike Cross said...

To recap:

I tend to care. I tend to worry, about whether I am true or not, about money, about the future of my family and the planet. I tend to become heated, over-excited, angry. I tend to over-react suddenly.

I tend to lose my head. Failing to filter out extraneous sensory input (as when in a noisy supermarket), or to integrate vital sensory input (as when in a boat on a stormy ocean, or when intoxicated by wine), I lose a true sense of where I am and where I am going.

I tend to direct my energies one-sidedly, straying off the middle way. Rather than allowing all my joints to open up altogether, I tend only to be aware of the head-neck joints, then the hip joints, then the spine-rib joints, then the shoulder joints, then the sacro-iliac joints, and so on, one after another.

I tend to restrict myself to what I know, like a one-eyed monkey who knows a way to peel a banana.

To understand these tendencies, I have argued, it helps to understand how fundamental the vestibular system is.

In sitting-zen, whose essence is stillness, the possibility exists of the body liberating itself from these tendencies.

Monday, July 09, 2007  
Blogger Michael Kendo Tait said...

‘In contrast to the laws of the Universe, a human being like me can be unreal.
How is it that a human being becomes unreal. How can we begin to understand un-reality?’

A human being can never be unreal. It is impossible for a human being to be unreal. Opening in stillness cannot make a person more or less real. The profound and dynamic effect that sitting has is to awaken us to the fact that our experience is real, that we are already real, have been and will be forever real. So, how are we? What are we doing?

Rahulata said to Saghanandi ‘if the mind and body are free, there can be no entering and leaving.’ He speaks from the context of zazen – awakening has come from nowhere and is going nowhere. The truth is realised in one moment.

If we sit with your attaining idea of ‘realness’ – even subconsciously, we are just like bankers hoarding gold in underground bunkers. Giving everything away for nothing, our will and guts, our loves and hates, our deepest dreams – may truly send the head up and out, widen and lengthen the back, open the ribcage and send the knees out like roots into the earth, awakening the human being dynamically into action, into its real experience like a hawk falling after prey.

I can feel your practise thrumming in what you write but sometimes I feel you guard it so jealously that you build walls around yourself and brick that practise in. Snapped-shut like this, you’re prising open the door every day but perhaps there’s an easier way with the truth that gives itself away without a second thought. It would entail foregoing being a great master, foregoing the discovery of a great truth. I wish I could practise it.

It’s a rhetorical question, the question asked of experience by one human, sitting. Is there a way of unknowing…….unknowing?

Monday, July 09, 2007  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Gudo's philosophy of realism has passed in one line from Gudo to Eido to Kendo.

But Kendo hasn't understood one bloody word of what I have written about faulty sensory processing centred on the vestibular system. Not a bloody word.

Realism is just unreal.

You, MT, are not real.

Not real, means, in other words, full of shit.

Monday, July 09, 2007  

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