Why is this so difficult?
Why is this so difficult?
On the news there are a lot of stories about how refugees are fleeing their country. They risk death coming over the sea & are pouring into Europe. I think that things must be really bad in their home for them to do this. When you hear the countries mentioned you realize this is the fault of the West. I really dislike & resent how the politicians & the media try to portray immigrants as the enemy. I dislike the complete lack of compassion & acknowledgement that our invasions in the middle east are the cause of this mass desperate rush to get into our country. I dislike how the media plays on our selfishness to justify not helping these people. We in the West have yet to experience some of the extreme poverty & corporate military bullying that many of the world’s population know. The way Monsanto steals their money & their dignity with it’s GMO seeds. Leaving them dependant on them in order to eat. The way Western corporations grab land & create more poverty wherever they go, like leeches, they suck away the world’s wealth & keep it to themselves. Many poor people go hungry while our supermarkets throw away food. There’s more than enough food to feed the world yet so much goes to waste. The same can be said of money, there’s more than enough wealth for everyone, yet some people keep most of it to themselves. How can a country feel proud of itself if it closes it’s doors to refugees that need our help because of our corporate wars. If we don’t want to let these desperate helpless people into the UK we should at least be financially & physically supporting Italy & Greece. What a selfish nation we have become. Our government does not accept the consequences of it’s actions. They build walls around their hearts & plan to build them round our shores, then look the other way, pretend their foolish war never happened. What sort of cold hearted miserly place has Britain become?
Insight Meditation 10
I had a perplexing problem to try & grasp in my mind today. It could be seen as a spontaneous Zen koan because the answer isn’t clear & requires a lot of focus. It is not an easy thought to ignore, for me anyway it has scuppered my boat.
It goes something like this, I was listening to a podcast about dreams & the latest ideas in Neuro science as to what they may be. I have a very intense dream life, I find dreams have a deep impact on my waking life, the images & feelings stay with me through most of the day.
I heard a professor state that people who have brain damage to a certain area of the brain cannot dream anymore. They still have REM sleep, but no dreams. This made me feel afraid. The dream world is just a section of the brain, when that section of the brain is gone, the dreams are gone.
I then read an article which said that 98% of people feel empathy, but 2% don’t. Again due to problems with the area of the brain to do with empathy.
I guess a lot of this fits into impermanence.
Who am I? Am I really just a biological brain & nothing more?
The Buddha believed in reincarnation, but I don’t really believe in reincarnation. I would like to believe we have souls, a spirit, but there is no evidence to support this.
I feel depressed & confused.
What is the point of living if we are all going to die? All this searching for meaning when maybe there is none?
I feel like there’s something more, something beyond the material world; but that could just be my brain tricking me.
It is so hard to let go of this thought, because none of the answers I can come up with are satisfactory enough.
It really challenges me & has stopped me in my tracks.
What is the point in any of this if we cease to exist when we die?
Still difficult to concentrate at times, I meditate, & without really noticing I’m doing it, I will lose focus & instead of being mindful I think about the day’s events.
What has changed though recently, with practise, is my reaction to these thoughts. When I realize I’ve been sat there for ten minutes & haven’t been mindful. Instead of giving myself a hard time for messing up & losing focus, or feeling like a failure & wanting to give up. I just shrug my shoulders & let the thoughts occur without worrying about them, I don’t fight them or attach too much emotion or meaning to them, instead I try to understand what the root of them is, why those things happened. Then when I gain insight into the cause & effect, listening out for the echo to help me. (The echo being how the world around me responds & reflects my actions.) I think of ways I could have done things differently to get different echoes.
The idea being that each time I do this I am teaching myself how to react to life’s situations in the right way that doesn’t cause suffering either to myself or others. I believe that gradually over a period of time, this will change my behaviour & create a new habit which will allow me to think before I act.
At the time of any event, it is hard to gain the mindfulness needed to consider what the right action would be in that situation, it is often easier to reflect on it later. In a calm meditative state you can carefully consider the outcome of your choices, & how things could have been different based on your actions.
I meditated on Jesus teaching that the kingdom of heaven is within you & what that means.
Heaven is a difficult thing to imagine. Most of us think it will be a place full of things we like. But not everyone likes the same things, so one person’s idea of heaven could be another person’s idea of Hell.
So nirvana, enlightenment or heaven isn’t a place, so much as a state of mind.
My brain is tired now, losing focus on what I’m writing about (: time for bed.
I have noticed in my Buddhist practise I will spontaneously break into prayer to God. This seems to be deeply ingrained in me. I thought about it for a while. Personally I reject a lot of the bible & dislike a lot of what is written in there, seeing it as manmade propaganda, but as Christianity is the main religion in the West & the one I grew up with, it is not so easy to escape it’s influence, as it is deeply embedded in our culture & consciousness. So instead of rejecting the predominant religion of the West & incorporating alien hard to understand ideas from another culture into my practise. It seems more natural to embrace the idea of being a Christian Buddhist. This isn’t as bizarre as it first sounds when you hear it. But rather than me writing a long boring essay about it on this blog – I’ll just post a link which describes what I’m talking about much better:
Difficult one again, I think it’s cause I let my practise slip for a bit, haven’t done any meditation for a while. I am not angry with myself or feel like giving up, or feel bothered by this, is no problem. I am feeling a stronger connection to a truth. Something which is not easy to describe, like a crab trying to describe to a fish what it is like to move about on land. No matter how well the crab describes it, the fish will never know unless it experiences it for itself.
The only way anyone can ever know the truth about God is to experience it for themself. It is a private encounter, which is a good thing, cause that way it remains wild & unconstrained & stops humans being dependant on organizations to tell them what to think or what to believe. Direct personal experience of the divine is an untamed power that can not be manipulated by those who crave power over others. It creates insights that cannot be approved or censored by authoritarian structures.
Religion Isn’t a set of rules or commandments. It Isn’t doctrine, it isn’t about elevating certain privileged people into places of authority because an impersonal God demands it.
Religion is not what the image conjures up in many of our minds when we see the word on a page.
Religion is old, it is a deeply ingrained urge within us, a natural drive. Where it came from cannot be adequately explained. It exists everywhere, in all cultures. I believe it existed before we began farming, it could be as old as language or maybe older, it is a mystery that hasn’t left humans & exists to this day, something within us that is as strong as ever.
I believe that despite authoritarian institutions being very large & still present in our modern world, there’s a revolution happening. I believe that humans are starting to claim back religion for themselves. More & more in modern society a person’s experience & perception of religion is no longer about what an institution dictates. Truth & insight is discovered through personal experience. How else are you ever going to know it? Religion isn’t something outside of you. Religion is about your own personal encounter with God, finding the kingdom of heaven within you.
Many who are institutionalised struggle to understand this, officials try to assert authority over that which doesn’t belong to them. The wild uncontrolled energy & spontaneity challenges them, makes them uncomfortable. It can be difficult to untrap yourself, frightening to let go of what you think you know, it’s easier to follow another than to discover & experience something for yourself. Or at least we are led to believe this through manipulation of fear.
I try to be gentle with myself. Something I learned tonight was about loving yourself. Not in an egoic way. Perhaps self acceptance is a better way to put it. It will be difficult to ever truly love others unless I love myself. This is not a selfish notion. The things that irritate me about others, may be things that irritate me about myrself.
I figure that if I don’t accept the difficult stuff inside myself, I will find it hard to accept that stuff in others. I think gentle self acceptance will cause that behaviour to be reflected in the way we interact with the other people in our life.
I still f#ck up, I think too much, I can say stupid sh#t, behave like a dick & I get really depressed about the world & feel a sense of despair which brings me to the brink; but each time I become mindful I regain focus & each time I regain focus whenever/wherever it happens – it is a success, a victory & thinking this gives me hope & sometimes just a little hope is enough for me to keep going & not give up.
I begin a meditative question answer session in my head.
What is God?
I don’t know, where did all this come from, why do electrons, particles exist, why isn’t there nothing? What was there before the Big Bang, why did life become so well organised & create a myriad complex designs? Is there an intelligence hard wired in every living thing that guides our evolution, something we aren’t conscious of, something deep & hidden from our conscious mind, the mystery of the unconscious.
What is good? For me it is compassion. When you feel compassion for another being.
Where does evil come from? I thought about this… I think maybe greed & that this greed is natural & can be observed in the wild.
Where does greed come from? I think maybe fear…
Where does fear come from? Possibly the intensity of self preservation, survival.
Which comes from the physical world.
What is the physical world?
The matter that came into being from the big bang, the uncarved block, the time when plurality became duality.
So is evil actually evil then? No, it came about from a brutal striving for survival in a reality where you felt constantly hungry & had to avoid being eaten by the many other organisms you find yourself living with who also feel the same brutal striving of survival.
So what is evil? It is difficult to answer this question, so I’ll just say what it is in my head. I think it is deliberately hurting others in order to gain something for yourself, whether that be amusement, self gratification, greed, it is making a choice to do evil with the knowledge it is evil & not caring about the suffering it may cause others.
Where does good come from?
How can good come from survival?
Life doesn’t like conflict much. Deep down all creatures would rather not feel afraid of one another & would rather work out a way to live in peace & share, because that makes everyone feel happier, because feeling constant fear, anxiety & paranoia makes life unpleasant.
Where does the notion of pleasant come from?
The brain releases endorphins to make us feel happier when we are kind to one another?
Why the heck would the brain do this, what benefit does this have for survival?
This maybe due to us humans being social animals, being part of a group meant better survival odds, & a group that gets on well with one another has a better chance of survival than one which is always fighting. So maybe our brains encourage kindness by releasing hormones that help us feel happier to reward us, as kindness is the one thing all animals respond well too, & creates friendship.
If this is the case, why are some of us not very nice? Especially if our brains release endorphins that make us feel better for being kind? Why are so many of us not kind?
It doesn’t make sense, is it a tragic flaw in nature? Cause I think any other animal, if they evolved as we have, would most likely behave the same way. It is a natural response to not want to share with other animals. Creatures in the wild will argue violently over food, & become possesive, particularly if food is scarce. When food is plentiful & there’s more than enough for everyone, animals will play & live happily alongside one another.
Maybe we should be using our amazing brains to create a solution which provides a plentiful state for every living being. Perhaps this is life’s plan all along. We are moving beyond survival of the fittest, away from that primordial state of self preservation. It is a slow process & we haven’t properly evolved from that cause part of our primordial DNA still runs strong in us.
Duality came out of the desire to create more life, in order to survive & overcome decay & death, life had to split itself up into many different parts in order to grow & continue, for a long time in the history of biology it was about finding the best design to survive & stay alive, as life continually fed off of itself in more & more complicated ways, creating complex eco-systems.
Life exists & flourishes through a process of continually absorbing itself & splitting to keep the original energy of that single celled organism who was our ancestor long ago in that primordial soup flowing. Each new organism no matter how big or small that comes into being has that same spark of life the very first living organism had. We know this, because all plants & animals can trace their DNA back to that first organism.
That part of our history is longer than human history. It is old, humans are the tip of the iceberg of something much older.
However, it is now important things change, humans have evolved to the point where this natural self preservation is harming life itself. Although maybe a better way to put it might be that self preservation needs to evolve into compassion. Life has a much better chance of survival, if it doesn’t blow itself into oblivion. And perhaps one way to prevent this would be to feel love, & to stop being afraid of one another.
This still doesn’t make much sense, there’s still a lot of stuff that happens in this world, which I find so disturbing it makes me retch. I don’t think I will find many answers for this just now, as I’m mentally shagged & also there’s some dark places, some rabbit holes I want nothing to do with, I sometimes wonder if there is a force opposite to life that is constantly trying to throw a spanner in the works, another unconscious intelligence responsible for things like viruses & messed up human behaviour. Like science says every reaction has an opposite & equal reaction. Or something like that… Losing the thread of this odd tapestry of words I’m trying to weave…
I did a lot of thinking during this meditation, I don’t see that as a problem though. Mindfullness helps me to appreciate thinking & the power of the mind, just as it helps me appreciate birdsong or the feeling of the wind.
Besides thinking comes from life, as we are from nature & nature is within us. Thought has achieved many great things, as well as many bad things, it has the potential to add a new chapter to the story of life & it doesn’t have to be a tragic one, will we shape the destiny of life, take it to new heights, colonize new worlds, or will we become a fossilized memory of a dark time in life’s history when it’s flame was nearly blown out?