Sunday, January 30, 2005

Notes on Emptiness #2

Penny takes issue with the first paragraph of Cook that I quoted. She says the trouble with words is sometimes people use too many of them to say simply, "They (words) don't cut it...." In other words, Cook uses too many words to explain that words do not signify any truly existent phenomenon....

You see the dilemma. We only have words and concepts to explain what is beyond words and concepts. In Zen terms, we have the finger pointing at the moon, when what we want is the moon. The prudent response is perhaps a Zen silence. But silence is then anything but "empty". Rather, it is pregnant with questions.


Saturday, January 29, 2005

Notes on Emptiness #1

Forgive me for this long quotation, but at the moment it seems to me the clearest explanation of the Buddhist concept of emptiness that I've encountered. It's from a book called Hua-yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra by Francis H. Cook published way back in 1977. It was lent to me by my good friend Lynn. This is my second reading of it, and I'd like to copy the whole thing, which I may yet do!

From p.40-41: Cook has just finished explaining how emptiness itself must be recognized as empty.

The problem with words and concepts is that instead of understanding that they have a purely provisional status and a purely utilitarian value, human beings tend to believe that there is a really existing entity to which the word or concept corresponds. It is the fundamental teaching of Buddhism that there is only incessant change, or flux, and that there is no thing which undergoes the change.

There is a very great difference between this view and that which is commonly held; the former rests on the naive assumption that there is really an object (or complex of objects) which undergoes successive states -- ie. birth, subsistence and cessation -- but which itself is a real entity serving as the locus for the change, while the second view rests on the assumption that there is nothing but change, with no real, permanent locus for the change. The intricate fabric of being is thus not really being at all but a ceaseless becoming, pure flux. The change itself at any point comes about as a result of other events which act as the environment of the one point and condition it, causing it to assume a new, different, momentary form.

These conditioning events themselves have no more permanence and stability than the one point mentioned above, because they in turn are being conditioned by other events. The web of interconditionality is thus nearly infinite in scope. For this reason, there is no point anywhere which is exempt from this process of change, and nothing anywhere which lasts in one form for two moments in a row.

In the maze of interconditionality, to speak of real objects is a highly artificial process which is indebted to abstraction, and, according to adherents of the doctrine of emptiness, it is a futile process completely divorced from reality.


A key phrase here is the "assumption that there is really an object...which undergoes successive states...but which itself is a real entity serving as the locus for the change..." Cook calls this assuption naive. Damn, I don't like to be called naive. I think of impermanence -- change -- and that's exactly what I think of. My body, this body, yeah I know it changes from moment to moment. When I really pay attention to it I can sense the molecules gurgling away. But somehow I still think of it as the same body. My body. It's a body which is more or less rapidly decaying. But Cook says no. Emptiness says no. There is no body. There is nothing more than a vortex of change.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Cat Pome

Wanted:
muzzle for querulous cats
to prevent premature awakening
caused by yowling & yammering
for mushy breakfast

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Relativity of Time

Aha! I found the timestamp setting!

Meditation Files: #1

Meditation on the Continuity of Consciousness:

A guided meditation in which one is encouraged to follow the train of thought first from the present moment into the past...as far back as you're able to go. Then back to present moment and forward into the future. All the while looking for relationships between one thought moment and another.

How does one thought lead to another? What is the connection?

The meditation disturbed me. Why? Because it made me acutely aware of lack of mindfulness. Trying to follow the trail backwards, to even five minutes earlier, showed me how little I pay attention to the thoughts swirling around. I couldn't connect them, or even recall them. How did I get from eating supper to the meditation cushion? What went on in between? No idea.

It was possible to make general connections. Enough to take me back to early childhood. But I had to make big leaps. Within the parameters of the meditation, this is OK, because the point of it is to show that thoughts occur in an unbroken stream, one leading to the next, one thought moment actually the cause of the next....And if that's the case, what came before the first thought after conception? There must have been some consciousness before conception which gives rise to the next moment of consciousness after conception.

Same thing with the forward process. What occurs after the moment of death? If there is a thought at the moment of death, does this not act as the cause for the next "thought" after that moment?

My analysis is not very sophisticated, but I think I get the general idea. Mostly, however, I go back to my original disturbance. No awareness of the thoughts I'm having/following. Since, in a very real sense, everything comes from mind (thought) (eg. every invention starts with a mere idea, no physical substance at all), it is crucial to be mindful of the flow of thought and the direction it's taking you.

This is Snow Pome!

here is snow
snow way to scape it
snow thing to do bout it
but crawl into bed
let us snow when it's all over

Footnote: the blog posting page insists on setting the time 3 hours earlier than my local time.
I can't be bothered changing it anymore......

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Larry's altered ego, still in a state of grace

Strike 3

Things I Thought About Today:
  1. Lenny & Squiggy & Laverne & Shirley
  2. "Likes" and "Dislikes" have no substance beyond the letters that form their names.
  3. The beginning of a pome: Denial is hell -- a big no in the centre of yes
  4. I woke up this morning and did not say, "Today I will create a blog...."

Second Things First

OK, Larry now has a profile. I hope I'm showing my good side.

But meanwhile, let me be Frank. I really have nothing to say today. As far as I can tell. I'm only doing this because I have unstructured time on my hands. Which is usually an excuse for me to get into trouble.

And by the way, this is the second time I've had to type this out because this damn blogger nonsense is not especially accurate or efficient.

First things first

First -- figure out what the hell I'm doing with this thing......

Mental Blog Repair 1

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