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Everything posted by tariki

  1. Just thought that I would post a short history of my time on Discussion Forums, now that I have in effect retired. It has been a personal journey and for me, fulfilling. I'm going back a few years to when I first got on the Internet. Maybe about twenty years ago. A whole new world, at least for me. What do you look at? Pondering, I remembered a Buddhist magazine, Tricycle and wondered if they had their own website. Sure enough, yes, and I found it and looked over a few articles and photos of various Buddhas and Buddhist wannabees sitting on cushions seeking to meditate their way to nirvana. Scrolling down the Home Page I spied the words "Bulletin Boards" and wondered what they were. Perhaps private ads along the lines of "Buddhist, GSOH, wishes to meet like minded for zafu sessions". But no. Investigating I saw that here we had a rich assortment of various people, with "screen names" such as Dharmakara, Lotus Flower and other such exotic titles, all raising questions, answering back and forth, and all sounding quite knowledgeable as far as Buddhism was concerned. For a couple of days I read a few of the threads and then the thought popped into my head..........I too could register, I too could assign myself a name, I too could join in the talk, actually express a point of view. Believe it or not this thought gave me the collywobbles. Did I have the nerve? Seriously, my hands shook and my heart thumped. Nearly fifty years old and the thought of expressing an opinion, even on the relative anonymity of the internet, filled me with apprehension. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. With trembling hands I registered. As a first swipe at the obvious conventions of the media, I gave myself the name of "Dookie", a name my daughter had often called me - I have no idea why. Then I had to decide upon my very first post. There was a deep discussion taking place between two suitably named worthies, posting back and forth on various points raised by the classic zen book "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki, a book they obviously relished and admired. Me, it was one of those books I had found it hard to get into and in fact never really got into it at all. To be frank, it had bored me rigid. Should I say this? Should I step in and have my say? I hesitated but then thought that if I feared to do so and held back, what was the point? So in I went, speaking my mind. I was totally ignored! The conversation carried on around my meagre and rather paltry post as if Dookie was non-existent. Perhaps the fate of so many in this world. But Dookie was made of sterner stuff; what does not destroy us makes us stronger says Nietzsche. Soon I was back on another thread and this time drew a response! Someone in cyberspace had actually read my words and seen fit to answer! Very soon, another thanked me for "making my day" and I have to admit, this almost reduced me to tears. The thought that words of mine had touched another's emotions. From then on there was no stopping me. An English teacher in the USA, in fact a published novelist, sent me an email and told me that I was one of her "favourite voices on the Boards", another asked me where did I get my wisdom from. I never associated myself with wisdom and told them so in one way or another. The fact is that for me it was a question of self confidence, self esteem. There is a thin dividing line between this and pride. I tried, and endeavour, not to cross it. Good to take to heart the words of Honen, one of the "fathers" of Pure Land Buddhism, who said:- "When a scholar is born they forget the Nembutsu". Everything that is truly of worth is a pure gift of Reality-as-is; given, not attained, realised, not earned or gained by merit. Anyway, eventually I learnt that Dookie was a word in the USA used by children for poo, a fact that threatened to tarnish my reputation just a little, not to mention forestall any suggestions of wisdom. But I soldiered on. The Bulletin Boards on Tricycle finally disintegrated, unmonitored they sunk under their own weight of spam, flaming, sledging and insults. So much for Buddhist ethics But I had the bit between my teeth. I registered again and again on various Boards. Christian, Secular, Atheist, Agnostic, Islamic, General, Ex-Christian, Inter-faith and various new Buddhist forums. Two hiccups when once I was censured for a "racist" post ( I had posted of my thinking that Wei Wu Wei was a "wizened little Chinaman" before finding out his true identity as the Irish Aristocrat Terence Gray) and then received a lifetimes ban on another when I crossed swords with the Administrator who took exception to my implying that a post of his was based upon gossip. But it has all been good for me. I have retired from all Boards now after perhaps 30,000 posts or so. In my time I have been called a hypocrite, a liar, the "voice of satan", even the Anti-Christ; I have been called wise and been called stupid. I have been known as Dookie, Tariki, Cobblers Apprentice and one or two other equally preposterous names, as the mood took me. Generally I have sought to be polite and truthful. We can only try. One of my fondest memories of meetings in cyberspace was various exchanges with a guy in Sri Lanka who had ambitions to become a Theravada bhikkhu (Buddhist monk) who eventually thanked me for extending his knowledge of the Buddhist Scriptures. My worst? Crossing swords with a member of a Fundamentalist Christian Sect whose bigotry, which he was totally oblivious to, was, to me, shocking. In the end, as the wag said, "There are only two types of people in the world, those who divide the world into two types of people and those who don't". There is great mileage in the zen advice that if we wish to know the truth then "cease to cherish opinions", simply because, as per the great parable of the raft, the Dharma is for "passing over, not for grasping". For me this has its echo in the Gospel advice not to judge others. From being afraid to say boo to a goose I will now say what I like, when I like. If not now then when? Anyway, I have cut and pasted this from my blog, and the full illustrated edition can be found by those who enjoy punishment, on:- http://mydookiepops.blogspot.co.uk Thank you
  2. Consciousness in insects

    Thormas, sorry, we are just talking past each other. The bottom line is "enlightenment", seeing. Classification, dissection, can follow, but first we must see. To classify, value, dissect, speak of higher and lower, as part of a pursuit of "understanding", this because it is "fun" to do so, is to miss the mark and merely to wander about to no purpose. How do we come to see? Ask me another. Do I see? Ask me another. Thanks, but that's it.
  3. Consciousness in insects

    Once we give some sort of "value" to the asking of questions we leave no-thing-ness behind. But is that "better" than equating ourselves with the situation of a fly or a spider? "Do not see yourself as better than others, nor as less than others, or the equal of others" ( Buddha )
  4. Consciousness in insects

    "Does a dog have Buddha nature?" Is maybe an "eastern response", at heart a question rather than an "answer". The stock "answer" is "Mu", or "nothingness ". To say either "yes" or "no" is to miss the point, or rather, is to enter the world of dualism. What is required is an "appropriate response", the teachings of a lifetime. So we can have ourselves as "special", something "worth the wait", made in the image of a prior creator, transcendent to ourselves, or we can truly ask the question "as if our hair is on fire" and express our own appropriate response. I was reading a novel by Charles Bukowski, "Pulp", where right at the beginning the main character, a Private Eye, sitting in his office, swats a fly, thus "taking it out of the game", his stance towards even himself, a man awaiting the moment he will be swatted away. Apparently Bukowski is admired for his "honesty". What is "honesty"? Does a dog - or even a spider - have Buddha nature?
  5. Evolution and God

    One was "The Quantum Astrologer's Handbook" by Michael Brook. Rather than write anything new about this book, I will regurgitate previous waffle as per my review on Amazon:- Entertaining Possibly this book could be described as whimsical. It seeks to combine the life of Jerome Cardano, a sixteenth century Italian polymath, with the latest understanding of quantum mechanics. Personally I was totally lost amid the quantum sections and reveled in the often lecherous life of Cardano, a man involved with probability theory as well as the Inquisition, who dabbled in medicine and astrology. A man of his age no less ( like all of us, as Michael Brooks suggests ). The word "probability" provides some sort of link between the biographical sections and those on quantum physics - Michael Brooks ends by calling us "travellers in the dark" , thus dealing at times only with probabilities. While we can say with some degree of statistical certainty that say, a set percentage of those in their nineties will die in any one year, it remains uncertain as to the fate of any particular nonagenarian. That I can understand. Large, predictable. Small, apparently random. After which I am lost. Extrapositional, entanglement, photons in two positions at once - and one or two algebraic equations did not help my understanding, particularly when a x b was, as far as the quantum world is concerned, definitely not the same as b x a. Still, fear not, we are all in "travellers in the dark". Mr Brooks in fact tells us that we are all left to our own interpretations and he implies - I think - this has a correspondence with the fact that any measurement at the quantum level effects the position of whatever is being measured. Something to do with a cat, but as I say, I was lost. The cat was either dead or alive. All is random? "Love has no why" says Meister Echart. The observer is king? What are the teachings of a lifetime? "An appropriate statement" says Yun-men. I see all this combined and inter-relational. Constantly entertaining. I read it in a couple of days and enjoyed it a lot. Thank you Another was a Graphic Guide, "Introducing Quantum Theory". Never actually reviewed this but I liked the pictures, especially the cat on the cover
  6. Evolution and God

    I suppose Christianity could be called "sin and the ending of sin", possibly the sunshine is in the ending. The "latest" is as I said, drawn from one or two excellent little books. Also included were cats ( either dead or alive ), things in two places at once, influence from a distance.........all under the proviso that if you think you understand it you don't understand it. Quite a helpful tip.
  7. Evolution and God

    The latest on "time" from the quantum world seems to suggest that our own default linear experience is not the final word. Apart from that, I'm back with "I teach this and this alone, suffering and the ending of suffering" ( Buddha ) Meanwhile there is speculation to while away the hours.
  8. Evolution and God

    Must admit I thought much the same when reading about "us" being "worth the wait".
  9. My experience was that there was (and is) no clarity. What is "scriptual" to one is "non-scriptual" to another. The arguments, claims, quotes and counter quotes of all the various believers have been, are, and will be, unending. Such is the Bible.
  10. Evolution and God

    As far as I am aware clicking the link given will allow you to access the video irrespective of whether or not you have a Facebook account. PS if not, you can google BBC Blue Planet 2 and select the "Fish that uses tools" video.
  11. Evolution and God

    https://www.facebook.com/BBCOne/videos/1647755921911486/ Just thought the above video link says much about your topic Paul.
  12. End Times?

    A few years ago I read a testimony from a guy who had been raised outside of the Christian tradition. He believed only in benign beings beyond his senses, beings who sought only his welfare. Such seemed healthy to me. Still does. Life affirming. Grace seems to be the fabric of reality, in which we live and move and have our being.
  13. End Times?

    There is a magazine in the UK, "Private Eye". Every edition features at least one "look-a-like", a double photo. This week it was the Rev Richard Cole, dressed up for "Strictly Come Dancing", and the British PM, Theresa May. Very similar, in fact, uncanny. Its a good game.
  14. Salvation for the Dead (A Practical Guide)

    Thank you. I would seek to emphasise reciprocation, a sharing, a recognition of our own darkness. Speaking in terms of those with faith and then the "faithless", the "saved" and the "lost", even the alive and the dead, is for me divisive. "Protecting oneself, one protects others Protecting others, one protects oneself" Again, I feel disturbed in being asked to offer up good works. But each to their own. Reciprocation is on-going, unending. As Thomas Merton said, we are already "one" yet do not see it. "We must be that which we already are".
  15. Christianity is not a religion.

    From Eckhart, German Sermon 22:- Now listen carefully! I have often said, as great masters have said, that we should be so free of all things and all works, both inner and outer, that we become the place where God can act. But now we put it differently. If it is the case that someone is free of all creatures, of God and of themselves, if God finds a place to act in them, then we say: as long as this exists in someone, they have not yet reached the ultimate poverty. For God does not intend there to be a place in someone where he can act, but if there is to be true poverty of spirit, someone must be so free of God and all his works that if God wishes to act in the soul he must himself be the place in which he can act, and this he is certainly willing to be. For if God finds us this poor, then God performs his own active work and we passively receive God in ourselves and God becomes the place of his work in us since God works within himself. In this poverty, we attain again the eternal being which we once enjoyed, which is ours now and shall be for ever. There is a passage in St Paul which says: ‘All that I am I am by the grace of God’(1 Cor. 15: 10). But now my words seem to be above grace, above being, above knowledge and will, above all desire, and so how can St Paul’s words be true? It was necessary that God’s grace should be in him, since it was this that made perfect in him what was imperfect. When the grace came to an end and completed its work, then Paul remained what he was. The above is from Meister Eckhart's sermon on "True Poverty". It is obvious to me at least why he is seen as a "dharma brother" by many who follow the Buddha's path. I'm surrounded by grandchildren at the moment ( if just two can "surround", and recent botox injections for my bletharospasm have left me with misty moisty eyes, walking through water - quite nice at times, it takes the sharp edge off of the world) Anyway, words tend to divide and misguide. Theism, non-theism. Non dualism means "not two", not that "all is one". I've found that this can be said a thousand times without the difference being known, not least by myself.. Like a book on quantum physics I was reading recently, where ( apparently ) in the weird quantum world A x B gives a different answer to B x A. Algebra was never my strong point , but it seems to have something to do with reality if you tend towards a love of words and see them as definitive/fixed in any way. Reality as I see it is a constant becoming but at each and every moment we must needs make our "appropriate statement", which according to Yun-men is always the "teaching of a lifetime". So we ask God to rid us of God ( as Eckhart says ) This is the absolute poverty of spirit. But like the dharma as raft - for passing over not for grasping - we tend/can leap from the raft before we can swim. We can leave God behind before we are ready. "Gratitude is all a lie" says Saichi the Pure Lander. I still say "thank you" all the time. I sometimes wonder if I shall ever be ready. Anyway, back to trying to dress the kiddies.
  16. Christianity is not a religion.

    Perhaps it is better said that Buddhism is a non-theistic faith. As far as inter-connection being "obvious" it seems that the profound "connection" between the faith and lives of many who live the dharma and those who have chosen to follow Christ is often missed by those inclined towards Religion. But as you say, Christianity is indeed unique. All the major faiths are unique, just as each human being is unique. And many adherents of each never tire of pointing out the difference between their own Faith and "religion" as such. My own view would be that a "well defined structure" is a product of "religion" and therefore of belief. Not of faith. At least as I understand it.
  17. Christian Art

    Beautiful Burl, love those old manuscripts.
  18. Yes, quite possible...........and I like to think so! Ah, that Derek............. On a more serious note, many Japanese thinkers appear to study the works of our Western philosophers - and some ask the question as to whether what they themselves have done (i.e. the Japanese) throughout their history is philosophy at all. All to do with the Kyoto School. All interesting stuff when I tire of Candy Crush Saga.
  19. I have retired somewhat from Discussion Forums. My days of crossing swords with various other worthies are over - or at least, I hope they are. Nevertheless, the impulse to post bits and pieces remains. So I gather together a few stray thoughts. One thing that I miss sometimes is a Book that holds all the answers, like a big thick Bible. It can be clutched and brings reassurance. Having moved towards Buddhism, although it obviously has its very own texts and Scriptures, it really has nothing like the Bible. Thinking about this, I wonder why, and the answer would seem to be that the forward progress of Buddhism has never involved an attempted gathering together of what could be called an Orthodoxy - as happened in the Christian West with Constantine. This seemed to lead to an orthodox Canon and a varied collection of books became the Bible. Then the mind games started and the varied collection became an orthodox theology which was denied at your peril. This particularly after the Reformation when the newly literate for whom the Word as "word" was all, and had lost all sight of the Word made flesh. And therefore a whole host of theologies vying with each other. And given the equation in some quarters between correct belief and eternal destiny, the arguments became fierce. And still are if you dip into certain Christian Forums. But getting back to what I miss. I sometimes yearn for a Buddhist Bible. A nice thick leather bound tome with lovely thin pages that brown at the edge and become gently ruffled with use. Containing all my favourites. maybe a few Buddhist creation myths at the front, then a few Hindu stories and such, followed by a life of the Buddha. Then the Dhammapada, selected suttras from the Pali Canon, then onto the Lotus Suttra, the Bodhicaryavatara, the Heart Sutra etc, then chuck in a few things like Chang Tzu and the Tao te Ching to stir it up a bit and give the "orthodox" of the future something to quibble and ruminate about. Which makes the point that struck me and perhaps caused this post. What would such a Buddhist Bible lead to? How would it eventually grab me? Would the instinctual doctrinaire of mind seek a "common thread" amid the chaos of the various books? Eventually, the "one and only Dharma" emerge from its pages? Soon, no doubt, a "Systematic Buddhology" as the basis for the salvation - or perhaps "enlightenment" - of all. Good grief! is what I say, even though at a certain level my heart yearns for certainty. Anyway, my mind wanders, and just to add here a stray thought that arose when I typed above about the Word made flesh. It jogged my mind of a few words of Wittgenstein that I recently copied to my Notebook, having read them ina book about the Tractacus........"The human body is the best picture of the human soul". Lovely words. Others may not think so, thinking perhaps that there is something more to see. Well, I have started a Blog on Google recently, which Is pointed to by the "Dookies Place" icon found on this Forum. I have come to love being just a little creative, being able to include pictures and just ramble and waffle as the mood takes me, rather like this. As a taster, here is an example (though you will have to go to the actual blog to see the pictures) There was once a little second hand bookshop in Maldon, just at the bottom of the High Street. I often took a trip on the bus and ended up browsing the shelves. Being interested in certain "eastern" ways I once spied a book called "Ask the Awakened" by Wei Wu Wei. The book was just a bit water stained but I snapped it up at a bargain price and proudly took it home. For quite a while I imagined Wei Wu Wei as an ancient wizened and crinkled hermit, perhaps living in a cave in the Himalaya's, breaking his fasting now and again to put pen to paper. Then I stumbled upon his amazing secret - he was in fact Terence Gray, Anglo-Irish, theatre producer and racehorse owner. Did this knowledge mean that the teaching and sayings of the "awakened" who had been "asked" was suspect? Or even, perhaps, was where East and West did in fact meet? It does seem to be a common practice for those who write so called "spiritual" books to give themselves screen names. Another instance - seeking out the authentic way of the Buddha I picked up a very weighty volume called "A Survey Of Buddhism" by one Sangharakshita. I read the whole thing, reassured by the name that here was the real McCoy, the Dharma as per an authentic easterner and practitioner. Alas, at a certain point I found that Sangharakshita had been born Dennis Lingwood, and hailed from Romford. So what is in a name? And does it matter? I prefer questions to answers, so make up your own mind. One of the very best books on Buddhism I have read is "The Vision of Dhamma", a collection of weighty essays by Nyanaponika Thera. Nyanaponika Thera? You've guessed it, he is (or was) Sigmund Feniger, a German born Jew. He took on the name Nyanaponika when he was ordained into the Therevada Buddhist Order, Thera meaning "Elder". Another of my favourite Buddhist writers is Stephen Batchelor and he breaks the mould. I sometimes wish he was called Dharmachata, or perhaps Po-Che or even the Venerable Jinmyo something or other. But he insists he is only Stephen Batchelor, which does not appear to effect the sale of his books. He actually spent much of his youth in the east, raised in Tibetan monasteries, but is now back "home" giving meditation retreats and featuring on various UTube videos. Obviously, as either "Dookie" or "Tariki" I seem to have fallen for the very same thing. Well, my apologies if all this seems just a little perverse. Maybe I have too much time on my hands. Thanks, Derek
  20. Thanks Joseph, I tend to read a lot but having said that certain words/expressions/ideas seem always with me, are always "speaking to me" and moulding my experience. One ever-present over the past ten years or do has been the words of the Pure Land myokonin Saichi, when he was asked if he recited the Nembutsu only when he thought about it, and what did he do when not thinking about it. "Yes, well, when I do not think of it, there is the 'Namu-amida-butsu' just the same." That simple answer of Saichi, his faith if you like, has deepened for me over the years. Its reality touches everything, whatever and however widely I read. "Namu Amida Butsu is blooming everywhere!" All the best to you and all
  21. Agnosticism

    Just following this thread from afar. Just happen to be reading a book on how poetry can transform and there was a quote from the journals of Gerard Manley Hopkins, where he was describing, amongst other things, the drift of snow, shaped by the wind, and then observes "chance left free to act falls into an order as well as purpose". Just seemed appropriate, but who knows? One little note from the book I added to my Notebook....."A work of art is not a piece of fruit lifted from a tree branch; it is a ripening collaboration of artist, receiver, and world." (Jane Hirshfield, "Ten Windows")
  22. Some interesting reading in Bruce Springsteen's autobiography "Born to Run" about military "discrimination" and how it was used by those who were against becoming "cannon fodder" ( for Vietnam ) Some guys "starved themselves thin" while other "fed themselves fat", while some learnt tricks as far as demonstrating their mental inadequacies. The tricks worked at the "soft" draft centres like Newark and Jersey, while others found other centres less accommodating. Discrimination? Ok, I would not like a known drug dealer, or a known paedophile to come near my grandchildren. And I would like also to discriminate between my own discrimination and that of Donald Trump.
  23. Joseph, thanks for clarification. So there were 15,000 transgender military (give or take a few) in the Forces prior to the "ban" being lifted - assuming they have not all joined up since. The ban was lifted and now, as a consequence, having "outed" themselves, may have possibly created a "problem" of which Donald Trump may or may not have been informed about by the current crop of generals. So there we are. As Romansh implied, too many "may haves". Tweets have consequences, as does being economical with the truth. As far as my own view, all discrimination is wrong. But so what? The President of the United States evidently does not agree. Travel bans, walls, whatever.
  24. Donald Trump’s proposed ban on transgender service members is facing opposition from more than 50 retired generals and admirals who are warning that the discriminatory policy would degrade military readiness and harm morale. The top military officials said in a letter published Tuesday that transgender military members “must not be dismissed, deprived of medically necessary health care, or forced to compromise their integrity or hide their identity”. It comes less than a week after the president announced on Twitter that the government would not “accept or allow … transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military”. The statement – signed by 56 retired admirals and generals and released by the Palm Center, a San Francisco-based research institute – adds to the mounting pressure against Trump to back away from the policy, which has also faced resistance from US defense chiefs, LGBT rights groups and conservative politicians. “This proposed ban, if implemented, would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent......" The above, in heavy type, taken from an article in a UK Newspaper. I assume its report is true and not "fake news" (which seems to be the first accusation these days when anyone does nor wish to accept an unwanted fact........ ) Obviously,not having served myself, Mr Trump may well know more than I. Exactly what advice he receives from his current generals is again unknown to me. Given Mr Trumps appointment of a Climate Change sceptic, Scott Pruitt, as head of the EPA (When 97% of scientists are NOT sceptical of climate change!) perhaps indicates the level of advice Mr Trump seeks, that maybe he is inclined to hear only what he wishes to hear? (Another clue to this latter attitude being that of Mr Trump's is surely the merry-go-round of sackings, appointments and re-appointments of his staff which we seem to hear about so often)
  25. Well, in his Tweet ( apparently his chosen organ for announcements and whatever occupies his mind at any particular moment of time ) Donald Trump questioned the economic viability of supporting those in the US military who were "transgender". Apparently about 15,000 people. The tweet ( of no consequence ) led to a few articles in the UK press about the various contributions of such people in the past, in both the USA and Great Britain. Worth looking up. Off topic, but mentioning "Great Britain", we now get a transcript of an interview given by Donald Trump to the Wall Street Journal - at least a mode of communication one step up from tweets. "Don't hear the word Britain any more.Nope". Which reminded me that over here we don't hear the words "President of the United States" anymore, just "Trump". In my opinion he has demeaned that high office and turned the Presidency into a cheap soap opera. Blame the "media". No, I don't think so.