Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sex, Teachers, and Conduct

In the midst of the recent teacher scandals within the Zen community and at Integral, I encountered a post that seemed to be a good, sober reflection on the interplay of authority, awakening, and conduct, and on why discussion of teacher conduct, or misconduct, seems so confused.  I suggest it as a grounded, calm discussion that illuminates various of the relevant considerations.

Here is the link.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

A meditation on 9/11 ten years later.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I had hoped that somehow, we as Americans would come to see how the terrorists had arrived at what seemed to me a skewed view of this country, and that we would come to see how much of what we had done in the world which seemed well-intentioned from our own socio-centric perspective made them feel that their own socio-centric perspective was threatened.  I hoped that as a consequence, there could be a reaching out over the violence.  But I was disappointed.

Hee Jin Kim writes of Dogen that one of his deepest, felt insights is that "Death is the ultimate companion of impermanence."  Comprehending our individual and collective responses to the 9/11 events, including the resultant intolerance and violence from all sides, requires that we remember that teaching.  It is the path through the events and the path to transcending the clash of perspectives that caused them.  Ten years later we have moved almost no distance toward bridging the gap of mutual cultural understanding that was at the root of 9/11, or the lack of individual self-understanding that is also at the root of our individual actions.  Mutual compassion can arise only when we realize our common fate as individuals and cultures, and then act to create "others" who are worthy of our understanding and compassion, rather than "others" who are the imputed source of our suffering.

I see no large solution to this lack, only the regular practice of meditative awareness, of introspection, and of manifesting in each of our lives the insight that we create the universe each moment, and the universe we create is a direct reflection of who we are in that moment.  There is the next moment.  We are free to change that universe and ourselves.  We have the responsibility to do so.  The consequences of not doing so are before our eyes today.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Political and cultural activism and Buddhist insight

I read a piece in Tricycle today that I though links the insights of East and West.  Well worth the read.

To me, an essential felt insight of meditative practice is that the subjective, phenomenological universe I inhabit is created by me, and it therefore is as I am.  That perspective gives me large freedom and large responsibility from and for my own suffering.  It is not caused by others.

This insight is valid, and it is partial.

This author does a nice job of shifting from the perspective of the psychological suffering of the individual to the perspective of the culture in which the individual is immersed.  Just as the individual co-creates his or her universe, the culture and the individual co-create each other.  This insight necessarily gives rise to a freedom to change the culture and a responsibility for the suffering the culture causes others.

From this larger perspective, it is very difficult to see how one can be a Buddhist and refrain from being culturally and politically active.