Germany’s BILD APOLOGIZES: “FORGIVE US for this policy which, for a year and a half, has made you victims of violence, neglect, isolation, and loneliness.”

The editor-in-chief of Germany’s top newspaper Bild has apologized for the news outlet’s fear-driven coverage of COVID, specifically to children who were told “that they were going to murder their grandma.”

In a speech delivered to camera, Julian Reichelt said sorry for Bild’s coverage which was “like poison” and “made you feel like you were a mortal danger to society.”

Reichelt directed his main sentiment towards children who have been terrorized by fearmongering media coverage which has caused child depression and suicides to soar across the world

Editor-in-Chief of Germany’s Top Newspaper Apologizes For Fear-Driven COVID Coverage

It’s a good start, but everybody has been harmed by the fear-mongering and lies of most of the world’s covid response. In Buddhism, the basic steps in correcting a moral wrong are: 1) admit it fully to yourself; 2) apologize fully to all victims; 3) explain your actions but do not rationalize or excuse yourself; 4) make appropriate amends where possible; 5) when the former is complete and you have done all you can, move on; do not dwell on your mistake. It’s not enough to have a religious figure forgive you. You have to own up to it yourself. Only then will you clear the karma and free your mind from the burden. For those who wittingly or unwittingly contributed to the suffering of so many millions through insidious covid policies, this process may take years. The moral fault of misinforming others, medically failing to treat them, medically treating them wrongly, and more is truly grave. ABN

Hemaka’s Question

In the past, before hearing Gotama’s message,

when anyone explained ‘It is,’ ‘It will be,’

all that was hearsay, quotation marks.

All that promoted conjecture and gave me no pleasure.

Now, sage, teach me the Dhamma demolishing craving,

knowing which, living mindfully,

one would cross over beyond entanglement in the world.

The Buddha:

Here, Hemaka, with regard to things dear

—seen, heard, sensed, & cognized—

there is: the dispelling of passion & desire,

the unfallen, undying state of unbinding.

Those knowing this, mindful, fully unbound

in the here-&-now, are always calmed,

have crossed over beyond entanglement in the world.

link to original with notes

Udaya’s Questions

To the one in jhāna—

seated, dustless, passionless, his task done, effluent-free,

gone to the beyond of all phenomena—

I’ve come with a desire for a question.

Tell me the gnosis of emancipation, the breaking open of ignorance.

The Buddha:

The abandoning both of sensual desires, & of unhappiness,

the dispelling of sloth, the warding off of anxieties,

equanimity-&-mindfulness purified, with inspection of mental qualities swift in the forefront:

That I call the gnosis of emancipation, the breaking open of ignorance.

Udaya:

With what is the world fettered?

With what is it examined?

Through the abandoning of what is there said to be unbinding?

The Buddha:

With delight the world’s fettered.

With directed thought it’s examined.

Through the abandoning of craving is there said to be unbinding.

Udaya:

Living mindful in what way does one bring consciousness to a halt?

We’ve come to ask the Blessed One.

Let us hear your words.

The Buddha:

Not relishing feeling, inside or out:

One living mindful in this way brings consciousness to a halt.

link to original with notes

Todeyya’s Questions

Todeyya:

One in whom no sensualities dwell;

in whom no craving is found;

who has crossed over perplexity—his emancipation:

What is it like?

The Buddha:

One in whom no sensualities dwell;

in whom no craving is found;

who has crossed over perplexity—his emancipation

is not other than that.

Todeyya:

Is he without desire, or desiring?

Discerning or still acquiring discernment?

Describe the sage to me, Sakyan, All-around Eye,

so that I may recognize what he is like.

The Buddha:

He’s without desire, not desiring;

discerning, not still acquiring discernment.

Recognize the sage, Todeyya, as having nothing,

unentangled in sensuality & becoming.

link

Anopama, the Millionaire’s Daughter

Born in a high-ranking family
with much property, great wealth,
consummate in complexion & figure,
I was the daughter of Majjha, the treasurer.
Sons of kings sought for me,
sons of rich merchants
longed for me.
One of them sent my father a messenger,
saying, “Give me Anopama.
I will give in return
eight times her weight
in jewels & gold.”
But I, having seen
the One Self-awakened,
unsurpassed, excelling the world,
paid homage to his feet,
sat down to one side.
He, Gotama, from sympathy,
taught me the Dhamma.
And as I sat in that very seat,
I attained the third fruit
[of non-return.]
Then I cut off my hair,
and went forth into homelessness.
Today is the seventh day
since I made craving
wither away.

link to original

A signal-based model of psychology: part four

In the first three parts of A signal based model of psychology, we discussed micro, meso, and macro levels of human understanding and how paying attention to these levels can make human signaling easier to comprehend.

In this post I want to discuss how human signaling is normally managed and, knowing this, how we can better understand how it affects us.

In truth, there are countless possible interpretations for every moment of every day if we choose to notice them. In the material world of doing familiar things in familiar surroundings, we handle the abundance of possible interpretations by simply ignoring most of them. We put our minds on autopilot and do our tasks by accessing rote procedures and memories.

In social situations, though the stakes may be higher psychologically, we do much the same. Rather than wonder about the vast majority of communicative exchanges with others, we generally put our minds in social autopilot mode and interpret what we are hearing and perceiving according to fairly simple rules we have already established.

Continue reading “A signal-based model of psychology: part four”

Mittakali: No Time for Heedlessness

Going forth through conviction
from home into homelessness,
I wandered this place & that,
greedy for gain & offerings.
Missing out on the foremost goal,
I pursued a lowly one.
Under the sway of defilements
I surrendered the goal
of the contemplative life.

Then, sitting in my dwelling,
I suddenly came to my senses:
I’m following a miserable path.
I’m under the sway of
craving.
Next to nothing, my life —
crushed
by aging & illness.
Before the body breaks apart,
I have no time
for heedlessness.

After watching, as it actually was,
the rising & falling of aggregates,
I stood up with mind released,
the Awakened One’s bidding
done.

link

Papavagga: Evil

120. It may be ill with the doer of good as long as the good ripens not. But when it does ripen, then the doer of good sees (the pleasant results of) his good deeds.

121. Think not lightly of evil, saying, “It will not come to me.” Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the fool, gathering it little by little, fills himself with evil.

122. Think not lightly of good, saying, “It will not come to me.” Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.

123. Just as a trader with a small escort and great wealth would avoid a perilous route, or just as one desiring to live avoids poison, even so should one shun evil.

link

Papavagga: Evil

116. Hasten to do good; restrain your mind from evil. He who is slow in doing good, his mind delights in evil.

117. Should a person commit evil, let him not do it again and again. Let him not find pleasure therein, for painful is the accumulation of evil.

118. Should a person do good, let him do it again and again. Let him find pleasure therein, for blissful is the accumulation of good.

119. It may be well with the evil-doer as long as the evil ripens not. But when it does ripen, then the evil-doer sees (the painful results of) his evil deeds.

link

Vimala: The Former Courtesan

Intoxicated with my complexion figure, beauty, & fame;

haughty with youth, I despised other women.

Adorning this body embellished to delude foolish men, I stood at the door to the brothel: a hunter with snare laid out.

I showed off my ornaments, and revealed many a private part. I worked my manifold magic, laughing out loud at the crowd.

Today, wrapped in a double cloak, my head shaven, having wandered for alms, I sit at the foot of a tree and attain the state of no-thought. All ties — human & divine — have been cut. Having cast off all effluents, cooled am I, unbound.

link

Dantika and the Elephant

Coming out from my day’s abiding on Vulture Peak Mountain,

I saw on the bank of a river an elephant emerged from its plunge.

A man holding a hook requested: “Give me your foot.”

The elephant extended its foot. The man got up on the elephant.

Seeing what was untrained now tamed brought under human control, with that I centered my mind — why I’d gone to the woods in the first place.

source

Next-level metacognitive control

Experienced FIML practitioners enjoy levels of metacognitive control ordinary humans cannot even dream of.

This control comes after years of diligent FIML practice. It happens because the skills acquired through FIML combined with its metacognitive results allow practitioners to practice FIML on themselves.

FIML practice gradually removes virtually all communication error between partners. This error-removal process is ongoing because all living systems must continually remove waste and error to function optimally.

Successful FIML results in two major achievements:

  • very clear, optimally functioning cognition and metacognition
  • the skill-set needed to attain the above

When these achievements have been realized, FIML practitioners will find they are able to rather easily apply them to their own introspection, their own subjective states while alone.

Ordinary people cannot do this because they have not experienced the metacognitive states brought about by FIML nor have they acquired the skills to quickly remove error from their thoughts.

The FIML skills of quickly removing error from our thoughts cannot be acquired overnight. It must be built upon diligent practice and experience. You cannot imagine it into being.

Once these skills and experiences have become established in the mind as reliable functions, they can be applied to mental states while alone.

first posted DECEMBER 16, 2017

Lies and self-deception

Most Buddhist practitioners will immediately understand and agree with the results of a recent study that shows that people feel better when they tell fewer lies. The study (Telling fewer lies linked to better health and relationships.*) is modest but worth considering.

Notice that the improvements found in the study come from refraining from lying.

“We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health,” says lead author Anita Kelly. (Same link as above.)

A good deal of Buddhist practice involves refraining from unwholesome thoughts and behaviors and ultimately eliminating them. Refraining from lying, or “false speech,” is the fourth of the Five Precepts, which are the basis of Buddhist morality. Lies cloud the mind and hinder clear thinking.

Buddhist mindfulness gets us to slow down and question how sure we are of our thoughts, feelings, and judgements. It helps us refrain from willfully lying, and it  can help us refrain from unconsciously lying if we have the help of a trusted partner.

Another term for unconscious lying is self-deception. Self-deception may make us feel good for awhile in some circumstances, but in the long-run it is much the same as any other kind of lying. It’s not true. It constitutes inner false speech and causes serious intellectual and emotional contradictions that will almost certainly lead to wrong thoughts, behaviors, and interpretations.

Michael S. Gazzaniga in a recent online essay has this to say:

The view in neuroscience today is that consciousness does not constitute a single, generalized process. It involves a multitude of widely distributed specialized systems and disunited processes, the products of which are integrated by the interpreter module….Our conscious experience is assembled on the fly as our brains respond to constantly changing inputs, calculate potential courses of action, and execute responses like a streetwise kid. (Source) [original source missing. substitute source here]

It is our “interpreter module,” to use Gazzaniga’s words, that can and does unconsciously lie to us or allow us to engage in self-deception.

In the same essay, Gazzaniga also says:

In truth, when we set out to explain our actions, they are all post hoc explanations using post hoc observations with no access to nonconscious processing….The reality is, listening to people’s explanations of their actions is interesting—and in the case of politicians, entertaining—but often a waste of time. (Source: same as above)

FIML practice may not be capable of giving us access to “nonconscious processing,” but it will give us access to what is/was in our working memories while showing us that what we said or heard may have been vague, ambiguous, muddled, or wrong.

With the aid of a trusted partner, FIML helps us catch our minds on the fly. Partners are encouraged to refrain from long explanations and just stick to what they remember having been in their minds during the few seconds in question. This forestalls long, self-deceiving explanations.

Beginning FIML partners will likely be amazed at how often their interpretation of what their partner said is completely wrong.

FIML emphasizes using trivial incidents because partners will be much less likely to self-deceive when the incident is minor. A minor mistake is easier to change than a major one. If partners keep working with minor mistakes and clear them up as soon as they arise, how can major misunderstandings even develop?

In the future, we may have brain scans that can help us separate fact from fiction in our minds, but for now, I know of no better way to do it than with a trusted partner in FIML practice. Your partner will help you see the minutiae of your mind as it actually works and impacts them. This leads to a large reduction in lying and self-deception and an increase in feelings of well-being and mutual understanding.

first posted August 6, 2012

How to understand why Buddhist rebirth does not require a self or soul

The basic reason no self or soul is reborn is neither exists independently of the mental universe that gave rise to our illusion of selfhood.

The mental universe within which we all exist is dynamic and so are we. In Buddhist terms, this dynamism is action or karma.

Buddhism does not say we do not exists. It only says that our selves are empty, that they do not ultimately exist. When we die our karma, the mental activity of this life, reconstitutes as a new being ensconced within the larger mental universe.

No one explains this better in modern terms than Bernardo Kastrup. In his essay Making Sense of the Mental Universe, he does not write about rebirth but rather about the conditions of our existence within the mental universe.

Nonetheless, his explanation of a “mental universe” shows precisely how rebirth can occur without there being any soul or pudgala or anything else that flies from the body upon death to transmigrate to another one.

I highly recommend reading the essay linked above. I have no idea if Kastrup is a Buddhist thinker. It’s even better if he is not, if his thinking arrived independently at a place consonant with original Buddhist thought.

Most Buddhists know that even Buddhists have trouble understanding how someone can be reborn without having a soul, self, or pudgala. What did the Buddha even mean by that? I know more than one university professor of Buddhist studies who explains Buddhist rebirth by saying, there is no such thing and neither is there such a thing as karma.

Those professors explain away karma and rebirth by claiming those fundamentals of Buddhist thought are nothing more than the Buddha “using the concepts of his day” to teach his moral doctrines and what amounts to his “atheistic Stoic” philosophy.

I mean no disrespect for the professors. It is hard to understand how something can be reborn and yet be empty of any perduring self or soul.

The essay linked above provides an excellent explanation of how that happens. I strongly encourage Buddhists or people who teach Buddhism or are interested in it to read Kastrup’s essay when you are in a good mood and want to learn something new and really interesting.

This essay can give you another angle on Kastrup’s thinking: Matter is nothing more than the extrinsic appearance of inner experience.

And here are some of my comments on Kastrup’s essay Making Sense of the Mental Universe.

first posted APRIL 2, 2020

Free will and divine intervention

Action in the physical world is a smaller set of options than action within the mind.

Thus, the locus of free will is the mind not the body or its actions.

We always have many options in the mind. Many choices are available for what we choose to think or how we choose to frame something.

A related idea that is not necessarily part of the above is if God or Dharma Protectors or some other being in a higher realm wanted to influence us, they would be most likely to do so by influencing our minds.

This influence could be a subtle guiding of our thoughts, actual channeling of their thoughts, or even a vision when we are alone.

When we are alone because in those moments the influence will be primarily on our minds not our bodies. Our eyes may see and our ears hear, but if no one else is there the influence will ultimately occur in our minds and remain in our minds as memory.

When we are alone because if another person is present and they see or hear the same thing, the influence will impact the physical world to a much greater extent.

It will not be contained within one human mind. Two people will be astounded by it, talk about it, share it with others. This extends the influence well into physical reality causing it to have a much wider impact.

Visions influencing more than one person have happened, but these should not be the standard of proof that events of that type do happen.

Indeed, it makes sense to assume that interventions into human affairs from higher realms happen to individuals far more often than to pairs or groups of people.

This also makes sense from the point of view that the locus of free will is in the mind.

A higher being can influence the mind and the will in this way without causing major distortions in the physical world.

first posted as Free will: its locus is the mind on JUNE 8, 2017