Friday, November 26, 2010

carl jung - modern man and his afflictions

Jung treated modern man with compassion, realizing that "he" was overstrained from his boundless activities. According to Jung, he suffers from the disease of knowing everything; there is nothing he cannot pigeonhole. He is "extraverted as hell" and shows a "remarkable lack of introspection". He thinks that the gods and demons have disappeared from Nature and does not notice that they keep him on the run; hence, his restlessness and need for alcohol and tranquilizers. Modern man believes that he can do as he pleases and is perturbed that inexplicable anxieties plague him. True to his rationalistic bias, he has tried all the usual remedies - diets, exercise programs, studying inspirational literature - and only reluctantly admits that he can't seem to find a way to live a meaningful life.

Extract from:
C G Jung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life at Amazon


Rationality has been won at the expense of vitality - Carl Jung

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

disenchantment - nibbida

"The knowledge and vision of things as they really are is the supporting condition for disenchantment": As the yogin contemplates the rise and fall of the five aggregates, his attention becomes riveted to the final phase of the process, their dissolution and passing away. This insight into the instability of the aggregates at the same time reveals their basic unreliability. Far from being the ground of satisfaction we unreflectively take them to be, conditioned things are seen to be fraught with peril when adhered to with craving and wrong views. The growing realization of this fundamental insecurity brings a marked transformation in the mind's orientation towards conditioned existence. Whereas previously the mind was drawn to the world by the lure of promised gratification, now, with the exposure of the underlying danger, it draws away in the direction of a disengagement. This inward turning away from the procession of formations is called nibbida. Though some times translated "disgust" or "aversion," the term suggests, not emotional repugnance, but a conscious act of detachment resulting from a profound noetic discovery. Nibbida signifies in short, the serene, dignified withdrawal from phenomena which supervenes when the illusion of their permanence, pleasure, and selfhood has been shattered by the light of correct knowledge and vision of things as they are. The commentaries explain nibbida as powerful insight (balava vipassana), an explanation consonant with the word's literal meaning of "finding out." It indicates the sequel to the discoveries unveiled by that contemplative process, the mind's appropriate response to the realizations thrust upon it by the growing experiences of insight. Buddhaghosa compares it to the revulsion a man would feel who, having grabbed bold of a snake in the belief it was a fish, would look at it closely and suddenly realize he was holding a snake.

As our rendering implies, disenchantment marks the dissipation of an "enchantment" or fascination with the kaleidoscopic pleasures of conditioned existence, whether in the form of sense enjoyments, emotions, or ideas. This fascination, resting upon the distorted apprehension of things as permanent, pleasurable, and self, is maintained at a deep unverbalized level by the hope of finding self identity in the conditioned. As the enchanted mind presses forward seeking explicit confirmation of the innate sense of selfhood, everything encountered is evaluated in terms of the notions "mine," "I," and "my self," the principal appropriative and identificatory devices with which the inherent sense of personal selfhood works. These three notions, imputed to phenomena on account of ignorance, are in actuality conceptual fabrications woven by craving, conceit, and speculation, respectively. The insight into impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness cuts the ground out from underneath this threefold fabrication, reversing the mode in which phenomena can be viewed. Whereas before the development of insight the aggregates were regarded as being "mine," "I," and "self," now, when illuminated with the light of insight knowledge, they are seen in the opposite way as "not-mine," "not I," and "not self." Since the fascination with phenomenal existence is sustained by the assumption of underlying selfhood, the dispelling of this illusion through the penetration of the three marks brings about a de-identification with the aggregates and an end to their spell of enchantment. In place of the fascination and attraction a profound experience of estrangement sets in, engendered by the perception of selfessness in all conditioned being. The suttas present this sequence thus:

Material form, monks, is impermanent, suffering, and non-self. Feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness are impermanent, suffering, and not-self. What is impermanent, suffering and non-self, that should be seen with correct wisdom as it really is: "This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self." So seeing, the instructed noble disciple becomes disenchanted with material form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with mental formations, and disenchanted with consciousness.

— SN 22.15-17

Bhikkhu Bodhi

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The taste of freedom

Bhikkhu Bodhi

The solution to this seeming paradox lies in the distinction between two kinds of freedom — between freedom as license and freedom as spiritual autonomy. Contemporary man, for the most part, identifies freedom with license. For him, freedom means the license to pursue undisturbed his impulses, passions and whims. To be free, he believes, he must be at liberty to do whatever he wants, to say whatever he wants and to think whatever he wants. Every restriction laid upon this license he sees as an encroachment upon his freedom; hence a practical regimen calling for restraint of deed, word, and thought, for discipline and self-control, strikes him as a form of bondage. But the freedom spoken of in the Buddha's Teaching is not the same as license. The freedom to which the Buddha points is spiritual freedom — an inward autonomy of the mind which follows upon the destruction of the defilements, manifests itself in an emancipation from the mold of impulsive and compulsive patterns of behavior, and culminates in final deliverance from samsara, the round of repeated birth and death.

In contrast to license, spiritual freedom cannot be acquired by external means. It can only be attained inwardly, through a course of training requiring the renunciation of passion and impulse in the interest of a higher end. The spiritual autonomy that emerges from this struggle is the ultimate triumph over all confinement and self-limitation; but the victory can never be achieved without conforming to the requirements of the contest — requirements that include restraint, control, discipline and, as the final price, the surrender of self-assertive desire.

Spiritual freedom, as the opposite of this condition of bondage, must therefore mean freedom from lust, hatred, and delusion. When lust, hatred, and delusion are abandoned in a man, cut off at the root so that they no longer remain even in latent form, then a man finds for himself a seat of autonomy from which he can never be dethroned, a position of mastery from which he can never be shaken. Even though he be a mendicant gathering his alms from house to house, he is still a king; even though he be locked behind bars of steel, he is inwardly free. He is now sovereign over his own mind, and as such over the whole universe; for nothing in the universe can take from him that deliverance of heart which is his inalienable possession. He dwells in the world among the things of the world, yet stands in perfect poise above the world's ebb and flow. If pleasant objects come within range of his perception he does not yearn for them, if painful objects come into range he does not recoil from them. He looks upon both with equanimity and notes their rise and fall. Toward the pairs of opposites which keep the world in rotation he is without concern, the cycle of attraction and repulsion he has broken at its base. A lump of gold and a lump of clay are to his eyes the same; praise and scorn are to his ears empty sounds. He abides in the freedom he has won through long and disciplined effort. He is free from suffering, for with the defilements uprooted no more can sorrow or grief fall upon his heart; there remains only that perfect bliss unsullied by any trace of craving.

In its fullness, the freedom to which the Buddha points as the goal of His Teaching can only be enjoyed by him who has made the realization of the goal a matter of his own living experience. But just as salt lends its taste to whatever food it is used to season, so does the taste of freedom pervade the entire range of the Doctrine and Discipline proclaimed by the Buddha, its beginning, its middle, and its end. Whatever our degree of progress may be in the practice of the Dhamma, to that extent may the taste of freedom be enjoyed. It must always be borne in mind, however, that true freedom — the inward autonomy of the mind — does not descend as a gift of grace. It can only be won by the practice of the path to freedom, the Noble Eightfold Path.

Extract from Bhikkhu Bodhi's "The Taste of Freedom"

Full article at Access to Insight

Sunday, November 14, 2010

new studies on mindfulness

A 2007 study called "Mindfulness meditation reveals distinct neural modes of self-reference" by Norman Farb at the University of Toronto, along with six other scientists, broke new ground in our understanding of mindfulness from a neuroscience perspective.

Farb and his colleagues worked out a way to study how human beings experience their own moment-to-moment experience. They discovered that people have two distinct ways of interacting with the world, using two different sets of networks. One network for experiencing your experience involves what is called the "default network", which includes regions of the medial prefrontal cortex, along with memory regions such as the hippocampus. This network is called default because it becomes active when not much else is happening, and you think about yourself. If you are sitting on the edge of a jetty in summer, a nice breeze blowing in your hair and a cold beer in your hand, instead of taking in the beautiful day you might find yourself thinking about what to cook for dinner tonight, and whether you will make a mess of the meal to the amusement of your partner. This is your default network in action. It's the network involved in planning, daydreaming and ruminating.

This default network also become active when you think about yourself or other people, it holds together a "narrative". A narrative is a story line with characters interacting with each other over time. The brain holds vast stores of information about your own and other people's history. When the default network is active, you are thinking about your history and future and all the people you know, including yourself, and how this giant tapestry of information weaves together. In this way, in the Farb study they like to call the default network the ‘narrative' circuitry. (I like the ‘narrative circuit' term for every-day usage as it's easier to remember and a bit more elegant than ‘default' when talking about mindfulness.)

Continue reading at Psychology Today


In adverse situations,
even though you are surrounded by needles and medicines that will help you through the trials,
you are unaware of them.
In favourable circumstances,
all around you are swords and halberds which will whittle away your flesh and bones,
you do not know about them.

Those who grow up in a setting of riches and splendour are driven by greed like a raging fire.
Their power and influence blaze furiously everywhere.
If they cannot cultivate feelings that are a little cooler,
they might not burn others, but surely they will end up incinerating themselves.

Caigentan by Hong Zicheng
Translated by Robert Aitken with Daniel Kwok

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tibetan Buddhist nuns take a page from Catholics

By Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun November 6, 2010

Vancouver, Canada -- If there's a silver lining to the 50-year exile of Buddhists who've fled Tibet to escape Chinese rule, it may be the greater role and much improved quality of life that is evolving for women who devote their lives to their faith.

Even in the free Tibet, life for nuns was difficult, said Rinchen Khando Choegal, the sister-in-law of the Dalai Lama who served for 10 years as education minister in the Tibetan exile government and now devotes herself to an educational initiative for nuns. Most had little or no education before they took their vows, she said, and few, if any, formal learning opportunities once they joined.
And it was much worse for the 2,000 or so religious women who in recent decades have fled Tibet to work and study at the Dalai Lama's new home in Dharamsala, India, or the handful of other South Asian communities where about 140,000 exiled Tibetans congregate.

"Many had been imprisoned, and tortured in prison," Choegal said. "Their health was very poor. They were living in fear."

So her Nun's Project, started 23 years ago but becoming a full-time endeavour for her only for the last five, began with health and security. It then progressed, with considerable success, into education.

Her Nun's Project today involves about 700 women, roughly a third of the Tibetan nuns in exile. Those who've joined recently must be at least 17 years old and they come with basic education, which is provided to almost all Tibetan exile children by the government in exile. But her initial participants were as young as 13, and most had no education at all.

Continue reading at Buddhist Channel

Monday, November 08, 2010

Yogis of Tibet

A reader of this blog sent me this video link of which i am most pleased to share.

Since the invasion of Tibet over 50 years ago, China has systematically destroyed the Tibetan culture. One of the most profound losses is the tradition of the great master yogis. The entire system which supported these fascinating mind masters has been inexorably eliminated. In order to record these mystical practitioners for posterity, the filmmakers were given permission to film heretofore secret demonstrations and to conduct interviews on subject matter rarely discussed. This profound historical, spiritual and educational film will someday be the last remnant of these amazing practitioners.