Unscientific vaccine and mask mandates, banning early treatments, mandating harmful hospital treatments, and so on are good examples of the kinds of attachment or clinging that the Buddha warned against. Delusion is the result of clinging, followed by a cascade of bad karma and compounding delusion. This large societal example can be applied even to very small details of a single individual’s personal psychology or belief, and even to just an instant of that. ABN

When people lose touch with fundamental moral sensibilities, this happens

Karma is the direction and composition of your mind-stream. What you think or do today affects your mind-stream in everything thereafter. False excuses only despoil your mind-stream further. Only you can correct your mistakes. Only you can vow to never repeat them. Karma is not punishment or reward conferred by higher beings. Karma is what you do and think and 100% your responsibility. Properly understood, karma is a deeply liberating concept. ABN

“The bad decisions we made during this pandemic rank among the worst man-made death causes in the history of the US”

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link to original graph and text

I for one do not believe these mistakes were entirely innocent. I can relate to doctors in fields not closely related to covid being unwilling or unable to speak up. And I can relate to bureaucrats and political functionaries being afraid to speak up. Same for low-level hospital administrators, academics, and scientists. But people at or near the top of the food chain who banned early treatments, mandated vaccines, restricted hospital treatments, denied religious and other exemptions, wrote garbage “news” stories about all of this, you behaved very badly.

The Buddhist way out of this terrible karma you have incurred is: 1) publicly admit your mistakes; 2) apologize for your mistakes; 3) make amends for your mistakes as you are able and as are proportionate to the harm caused; 4) vow never to do anything like that again. Take your lumps, suffer for having violated your own conscience. Then, when all of this has been completed and you have done your best and your vow is strong, put it behind you and dwell on it no more. For many for whom the above is necessary, this period of remorse and self-examination should last at least a year or more. ABN

These videos may contain valuable instruction or confirmation for some Buddhists and FIML practitioners

There are other articles with similar videos in today’s Daily Mail. I watched three of the vids at the link and found they confirm the First Noble Truth in ways we can relate to today. They also show the value of having a stable ethical practice like the Noble Eightfold Path.

FIML practice can be described as a modern pair-work take on Buddhist mindfulness and concentration. FIML provides an objective way to clearly see yourself in real life while also helping your partner to do the same.

This world is rife with delusion. Many people lose their lives to it. Others crack up very badly. I make no judgement of anyone. Contemplating our own mistakes and excesses as well as those of others can be a sort of Buddhist Contemplation of the First Noble Truth, the truth of suffering. ABN

Consensus through Appeal to Embargo

…There exists a principle of philosophy that I observe, which falls along the lines of Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion, also known as the law of action-reaction. That is, unless one is very careful, an appeal to truth will almost always be accompanied by, at the very least, an implicit appeal to embargo​. Nihilism is the embargo, which comes commensurate with the ‘truth’ of not being able to measure outside the bounds of physical reality. Collectivism suffers the embargo which results from the ‘truth’ of a successful deployment of capital. Freedom suffers the embargo which arrives under the awesome specter of an impending cataclysm‘s ‘truth’.

When an advocate appeals to authority of truth, by means of enforcing an embargo of competing ideas – they are typically protecting a lie, or at least hyperbole. Even if that advocate is accidentally correct about their truth in the end, such mechanism still constitutes a lie because of the way in which the truth was enforced – by means of explicit or implicit false dichotomy, and enforcement of a false null hypothesis with no competing alternative idea. Accuracy in such a case, is a mere triviality.

link

Above is an excerpt from a worthy essay on bad science and erroneous exclusion of competing ideas. The essay is called Sciebam – Religion with P-Values. Throughout the essay the word religion is repeatedly used to represent a close-minded way of thinking. But that itself is a close-minded way of thinking about religion. ABN

Dramatis personae, dramatis spirituum, and Buddhist karma

Dramatis personae are actors in a drama, characters in a play, novel, or movie. Jung used the word persona to indicate our subjective and objective sense of our roles in life, how we behave in various situations. He defined personality (persona-ality) rather flamboyantly:

Personality is the supreme realization of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being. It is an act of courage flung in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, the most successful adaptation to the universal conditions of existence, coupled with the greatest possible freedom of self-determination. [C.G. Jung, “The Development of Personality,” 1932]

For my purpose today, Jung’s description of personality, though delightful, is a bit mundane. I want to introduce the idea that in addition to our mundane dramatis personae of this world, we also possess dramatis spirituum or spiritual personae.

This mundane world, in Buddhist terms is the relative world of transitory phenomena and suffering. In contrast, ultimate reality is the realm of enlightened Buddhas where all suffering is ended.

In Buddhism, the word karma can mean many things in English. It can mean action, habit, tendency, a type of attachment, entanglement, the movement of the mind-stream. In a basic sense, it may be helpful think of karma as often meaning habit. Good habits lead to good outcomes and bad habits lead to bad outcomes, though there are many mysterious exceptions to this simple rule as there are to all simple rules.

Karma can be seen as a burden and yet even the worst karma can end in the space of “a single thought.” If in a single thought you are able to see the fullness of your karmic habit, it can end in that very instant. See in a single thought how your anger makes everything worse and you may never have to control it again because it will never arise again. See in a single thought how alcohol is ruining everything and you may refrain from using it ever again.

Our dramatis spirituum are the ultimate actors that we most deeply are, the actors who remember our mind-streams, who are the forces that draw us toward enlightenment, who end bad karmic habits in the space of a single thought.

When we feel connected to someone, often that is a connection between our dramatis spirituum. It may be just beginning or it may have begun many lifetimes ago. A good simple illustration of this might be the way you remember some people from childhood with a pang of unrequited beauty, unrequited spiritual love. You may have known them only briefly but still think of them and have a strong sense that they may be thinking of you in a similar way. What you are sensing is a karmic connection of dramatis spirituum. This is the deep level many of us sense is where life really lives.

The dramatis spirituum connection you have with your parents or primary caregiver is more complex and filled with far more mundane connections. You may struggle with this connection for many lifetimes before it is resolved on the plane of conscious dramatis spirituum.

I tend to see a current of drama ever present in all things. This is their actions, habit, tendencies, karma, entanglements, desires, realizations, personae, spirituum, mind-stream, enlightenment.

The Five Skandhas

The Buddha’s explanation of the five skandhas is intended to help us understand the emptiness of the self. It is a short explanation aimed at his most intelligent students.

The Sanskrit word skandha means “heap” or “aggregate” in English. Sometimes the Buddha compared the skandhas to heaps of rice. They are the “heaps” of psycho-perceptual data that comprise the “contents” of our minds. The five skandhas are conditioned dharmas (literally, “conditioned things”), which is to say that they are impermanent and empty, and when improperly understood lead to delusive attachments characterized by greed, anger, and ignorance. The purpose of the Buddha’s five skandha explanation is to help us see through the skandhas, or disentangle ourselves from them. In some Buddhist texts the five skandhas are called the “five covers” because they cover our minds and prevent us from seeing deep levels of reality. In others they are called the “five yin (versus yang)” because they cloud the mind and hide the truth from us. I will discuss each of the five skandhas in the sections below.

1) The first skandha is form. Form, in this case, means anything that leads to, or is capable of leading to, the next skandha. Forms can be visual, auditory, or sensory. They can be dreams, memories, feelings, or moods. Forms are often described as being “obstructions” because, though they may lead to complex thought and activity, they are also hindrances to mental clarity since the activity they lead to is essentially delusive. It is important to remember that the five skandha explanation is an explanation of the deluded mind and its thought processes.

The Abhidharma-mahavibhasa Shastra categorizes the skandha of form into three types:

a) Visible forms with a referent in the outer world such as color, size, length, position, shape, and so on.

b) Invisible forms with a referent in the outer world that are associated with the other sensory organs such as sounds, smells, tastes, and the sensations arising from physical contact.

c) Invisible forms with no referent in the outer world such as dreams, memories, thoughts, feelings, and so on. Though a dream may be “visible” to the dreamer, it is called “invisible” here because no one else can see it. This last category of forms is associated with what the Buddha called “mental dharmas.”

2) The second skandha is sensation. Following the appearance of a form, the mind reacts to it with a sensation that is either positive, negative, or neutral. We either like it, don’t like it, or are neutral about it. Though it is possible to become conscious of this skandha, most of us most of the time are not.

Sensations are generally categorized into two types:

a) Sensations of the body coming from the outside world through any of the sensory organs, such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and so on.

b) Sensations of the mind which may or may not come from the outside world. These include moods, feelings, memories, dreams, thoughts, ideas, and so on.

Both kinds of sensation are, of course, based on the prior appearance of a form. Greed and anger have their roots in the skandha of sensation, for if we enjoy a positive sensation we are liable to become greedy about it, while if we do not enjoy it, we are liable to become “angry” or irritable concerning it. The deep meaning of greed is “excessive attraction” to a sensation that we deem to be agreeable or positive, while the deep meaning of anger (or hatred) is “excessive aversion” to a sensation that we deem disagreeable or negative. Neutral sensations often are the result of our ignorance or lack of understanding, though as we progress in Buddhist practice they may be the result of wisdom.

Positive and negative sensations associated with the body are generally considered to be weaker than those associated with the mind, though both types of sensations often are interrelated. An example of this mixture and distinction might be a light slap in the face. While the physical sensation is only mildly unpleasant, the mental sensation will be quite strong in most cases. And yet both are interrelated.

3) The third skandha is perception. This skandha refers to the deepening of a sensation. It is the point where the mind begins to latch onto its sensations. At this point conscious recognition of form and sensation normally begins. It is possible to become conscious of the first and second skandhas as they are occurring, but most of us generally are not. During the skandha of perception we begin making conscious distinctions among things.

4) The fourth skandha is mental activity. This skandha refers to the complex mental activity that often follows upon the skandha of perception. Once we have identified (perceived) something, long trains of mental associations become active. Our bodies may also begin to move and behave during this skandha. For example, the simple perception of a travel poster may set in motion a great deal of mental activity. We may begin recalling an old trip or begin fantasizing about a new one. If we are photographers, we may admire the composition of the photo, step closer to it, make an effort to remember it, and so on. All of these behaviors belong to the skandha of mental activity.

5) The fifth skandha is individual consciousness. It is a product of the first four skandhas and is completely conditioned by them. This is what we normally, more or less, think of as being our “self.” The Buddha taught the five skandhas primarily to help us understand that this “self” or consciousness is empty since it is entirely based on the conditions found in the first four skandhas.

The Ekkotarika-agama explains this point very well. It says, “The Buddha said that the skandha of form is like foam, the skandha of sensation is like a bubble, the skandha of perception is like a wild horse, the skandha of mental activity is like a banana tree, and thus the skandha of individual consciousness is nothing more than an illusion.” The trunk of a banana tree is made of leaves curled together. From the outside, it may look substantial, but if we examine it closely we will find that one leaf pulls away from the next, leaving ultimately nothing behind. The trunk looks substantial, but in truth it is “empty.” In just this way, our individual consciousness may look substantial to us, but if we peel it apart, we find that there is no self within—it is empty.

How to Understand the Five Skandhas

Though most of us are not normally aware of the first two skandhas it is possible to become aware of them through meditation and mindfulness practices. Though it is easier to begin understanding the five skandhas by thinking of them as being separate and distinct, it is important to realize that any of the last four skandhas can give rise to the skandha of form. Mental activity itself, for example, can generate whole new trains of forms, sensations, and perceptions.

Another important thing to understand about the five skandhas is that our minds move very quickly from one to the next. The five skandhas produce a snow storm of impressions and mentation, upon which rests our unstable conscious world. When we become overly attached to this snow storm or to the consciousness built upon it, we generate the karma that ultimately fuels the five skandhas in the first place.

The Explanation of Mahayana Terms (en 1212) says that the skandhas can be understood as being either good, bad, or neutral. The goodness mentioned in this explanation should be understood as being a relative goodness that arises within the phenomenal world—though it is “good,” it is not the same as an enlightened vision that completely sees through the five skandhas. For this reason, we will use the word “positive” in place of “goodness” in this discussion. The Explanation says that positive activation of the five skandhas can be of three types: activation by a positive form, such as a Buddhist image; activation by skillful means, such as a desire to help someone; and activation within a pure-minded person. The Explanation says that the three bad or negative types of activation of the five skandhas result from: simple badness within them, as may have derived from low motives or moodiness; contaminations within them, such as selfishness during an act of kindness; and negativity that is simply the result of bad karma. The Explanation says that the three neutral types of activation are: formal activations that result from the performance of rituals; activations resulting from the practice of a skill; and neutral changes among the skandhas themselves.

How to Contemplate the Five Skandhas

The second noble truth of Buddhism is the cause of suffering. Generally, this cause is explained as clinging to a false self. By contemplating the five skandhas, we learn to understand both that the self is empty and why it is empty. This contemplation appeals to the rational mind for it allows us to use reason to convince ourselves that the “self” we call our own is, in truth, an illusion.

In contemplating the five skandhas we should be mindful that we begin to generate karma during the skandha of perception. At the same time, it is important to realize that the very forms we see and the sensations that result from them are heavily conditioned by our past actions, by the accumulation of karmic “seeds” or influences that are already stored in our minds. Two people may see exactly the same form, but have very different responses to it because their karma is not the same. Since their karma is different, their sensations and perceptions, and especially their mental activity and consciousness will be very different.

The Numerical Teachings of Great Ming Dynasty Tripitaka says (en 1213) that the most important way to understand the five skandhas is to realize that each of them is empty. As we become familiar with the five skandhas, we will find it easier to identify each one and contemplate its emptiness. We can think about them from first to last or from last to first.

If we choose to think of them from last to first, our contemplation will consist of a series of questions, whose answers should be considered deeply. We begin by asking ourselves what the skandha of individual consciousness is based upon. The answer is the roiling mentation of the skandha of mental activity. The skandha of mental activity becomes apparent as soon as we sit down to meditate. Having identified this skandha and appreciated its fundamental emptiness, we can ask ourselves what it is based upon. The answer is the skandha of perception. First the mind seizes one of its impressions (the skandha of perception), then a long train of thought and emotion follows (the skandha of mental activity). Having appreciated this process, we then ask ourselves what the skandha of perception is based upon. The answer is sensation—of the many forms and feelings passing through our minds, one of them gave rise to either a positive or negative sensation (neutral sensations are usually ignored by the mind). It is this sensation that led to the skandha of perception. If we can appreciate this, then we can ask what the skandha of sensation is based upon. The answer is form—either an outer or inner form. Were it not for this form, none of the other skandhas would have arisen.

If we choose to contemplate from the first skandha to the last, we may choose a form and then carefully watch how our minds process it. We will see that form leads to sensation, then to perception, then to mental activity, and lastly to individual consciousness—a state of mind deeply colored by the skandhas below it. Bear in mind that when the five skandhas are simply happening of themselves and no one is watching them, we are normally unconscious of the activity of the first two skandhas. Before most of us are even aware of what we are perceiving, we have begun to react to it. It requires some skill to see that forms give rise to positive, negative, or neutral sensations before they give rise to the skandha of perception, but this is the case in a normally active mind.

The quotation cited previously from the Ekkotarika-agama can also be used as a very fine contemplation. The agama said, “The Buddha said that the skandha of form is like foam, the skandha of sensation is like a bubble, the skandha of perception is like a wild horse, the skandha of mental activity is like a banana tree, and thus the skandha of individual consciousness is nothing more than an illusion.” The skandha of form is like foam in a stream—at any moment scores of forms contend for our attention. The skandha of sensation is like a bubble—suddenly we react to a single bubble within the foam. The skandha of perception is like a wild horse—we can never be sure which way our mind will turn at this point. The skandha of mental activity is like a banana tree—it consists of many things wrapped together. And thus, the skandha individual consciousness is empty, an illusion.

ABN

UPDATE: FIML practice can be understood in terms of the five skandhas in this way: A FIML query begins at or interrupts the skandha of mental activity. Through training and prior agreement, partners learn to identify a fraught psychological response at the third skandha–perception–and thereby shift away from habitual mental activity to FIML mental activity. The FIML query at this points implicitly asks is my habitual perception based on fact? The FIML query should be made in as neutral a tone as possible to avoid influencing your partner. Your partner’s reply will either confirm or refute your habitual perception. FIML is a dynamic and very powerful form of mindfulness that allows partners to be much more objective about the granular workings of their minds. After hundreds of FIML queries, partners will establish a database of objective insight into their own (and each other’s) psychology that is much more accurate than what can be done alone or through general discussion with anyone. ABN

first posted NOVEMBER 2, 2021

The list of insiders suggesting imperceptible beings are all around us keeps growing

[Everything below is from this link. It’s a good overview and stimulating. Other worlds, realms, and dimensions of being are a normal part of Buddhist cosmology. ABN]

We can add Franc Milburn to the list of those hinting at the phenomenon being around us all the time, and that our reductive senses are limiting our ability to perceive it. When comparing his comments to others who have said similar things, I think it looks like a narrative is starting to be formed.

Franc Milburn

In the last 10 minutes of this interview on Darkness Radio, Milburn opines on the aspects of the phenomenon that the general public are going to have the hardest time accepting as reality.

I think now people can kind of get their head around it. Like, okay, we might not be alone in the universe. But they’re still kind of thinking in terms of ET, extraterrestrial, people visiting us in a kind of physical craft. I think what’s going to really blow people’s minds, and what they can’t get their head around, is the kind of wider, weird high strangeness as Dr. Jacques Vallee and Eric Davis have written about. The kind of high strangeness of the various phenomena. Things at the Skinwalker ranch like the poltergeist activity. You know, the cryptids. You know, the fact that all these things seem to have these disembodied voices. The fact that UAP and these kind of phenomena seem to happen in one area very close together, and seem to kind of be interconnected in some way, perhaps. You know, cattle mutilations.

That’s where I think it’s going to be problematic, for people to get their head around. The fact that the phonomena can exsanguinate cattle and zap dogs, and fill people with sort of an adrenal, kind of pheromonal fear. That it can control people’s minds. So those are things I think people are going to have a real big problem getting their heads around. The fact that there’s invisible entities that may have malign or benign intentions that are operating around us and you can’t see them. There’s a whole kind of different parallel world existence that kind of intersects with our own.

I think that is what people are going to have a very hard time getting their head around.

Franc then says Lue Elizondo’s comparison of our current understanding of the phenomenon to how we were scared of ”sea monsters” before we figured out they were just part of nature is an accurate way to frame this.

Continue reading “The list of insiders suggesting imperceptible beings are all around us keeps growing”

GERMANY: Faith in God waned during the pandemic

A new study done in Germany suggests that faith in god or ‘a higher power’ was greatly weakened by the pandemic. In a cross-sectional survey, Catholics and Protestants – the two largest religious denominations reported a precipitous drop in faith during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially around the second wave. 

The study used self-reported measures of wellbeing, and self-reported changes in faith to arrive at its conclusions. It found that wellbeing decreased significantly with the second wave of COVID-19, when stringent restrictions came into effect in the country. At the same time, stress caused by the pandemic and restrictions in daily life seem to have contributed to increased anxiety, insecurity, loneliness and financial woes.

link

I know one person whose faith and interest in Buddhism increased greatly due to the pandemic showing them very clearly the truth of the First and Second Noble Truths of Buddhism. It would not surprise me if there are many others. In Buddhism, this world is characterized by delusion, which has been glaringly apparent during covid. We make our ways out of this morass as individuals and with good friends we know well, not in large groups. ABN

The road to hell is NOT paved with good intentions. It is paved with maliciously using or perverting someone else’s good intentions

In my book, suasion that maliciously uses or perverts other people’s good moral intentions is among the worst moral acts you can do. It is not only evil in itself but also harms the conscience, morality, and clear thinking of the person so abused.

An example of this is the CDC telling people to get vaxxed “for others.” By appealing to our moral sense, they are maliciously using our good and morally-felt intentions to get us to override our reason, thus warping our consciences.

The road to heaven or enlightenment is paved with good intentions, no doubt about it. Good intentions arise from good thoughts and produce more good thoughts in self and other. Clearly, wisdom is also called for because this world is filled with people who will knowingly betray our trust, abuse our innocence, or maliciously use or pervert our good intentions.

I used the CDC example because it is current, but many other examples of this idea can be found. Understanding this is an important part of the line we all must eventually cross between innocence and wisdom. We have to know ourselves what is right and not be fooled by others who seek to use us for unwholesome ends.