Saturday, 16 July 2016

Interface

Individual consciousness is an interface between dynamic natural and social environments and unconscious biological and psychological processes. At the interface, external events meet incomprehensible motivations. We learn about current affairs from television and about mental processes through meditation. Many groups in different ways address the problems of self and society, respectively. I happen to think that the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives and the Socialist Workers Party get it right for their respective halves of the total picture. What matters is not that others agree with me - they don't - but that everyone makes their own assessment. Let's not sleep walk into oblivion but try to understand and respond to the problems.

Some Buddhists claim not just theory or doctrine but knowledge of postmortem mental states whereas scientific knowledge of brain states entails that they cause mental states. I accept scientific knowledge but am open to learning about meditative experience.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

An Apparent Contradiction

Zen monks look within, work on the self and practice acceptance whereas revolutionary socialists look without, act in society and practice resistance. These two ways of life are not only entirely dissimilar but also apparently contradictory. However, I believe that:

reality is one, therefore both "inner" and "outer";
both work on the self and action in society are necessary;
acceptance and resistance have to be two sides of a single coin.

We accept some aspects of reality but change others. Thus:

we accept that we need food but have changed the ways that we produce it;
we accept the law of gravity but have learned how to fly.

Inwardly, accept and let go of a personal past.
Politically, understand and resist current oppression.
We are Arjuna and the class struggle is the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

Friday, 12 February 2016

The Highest Synthesis

Indian Philosophy
Karma is action.

Patanjali
Yoga is meditation.

Krishna
Karma yoga synthesizes action with meditation.

The Buddha
Dhyana/Ch'an/Zen is meditation.
Buddhist "no soul" teaching is a middle way between materialism and soul pluralism.
Buddhist "emptiness" teaching is dialectical.
Buddhist precepts are a middle way between hedonism and asceticism.
Buddhist "working meditation" is karma yoga.
Ch'an Buddhism synthesizes Buddhism with Taoism.
Zen Buddhism synthesizes Ch'an Buddhism with Shinto nature mysticism.

Hegel
Dialectics is interaction between opposites;
                   thesis, antithesis and synthesis.

Marx
Scientific socialism synthesizes economics with socialism.
Dialectical materialism synthesizes dialectics with materialism.
Marxism synthesizes scientific socialism with dialectical materialism.
It is neither mechanical materialism nor utopian socialism.

Zen Marxism is:
karma yoga;
a modernized middle way;
a higher philosophical synthesis than Hegelian dialectical idealism.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

When Meditating

When meditating:

sit still;
accept what is;
do not add to it;
let go;
learn.

Metaphorically:

drain the inner swamp.

Be pure consciousness, not a motivated organism.

This accords with the Yoga Sutras:

Yoga is control of thoughts.
Then, man abides in his real nature.
Otherwise, he remains identified with thoughts.
They are controlled by practice and nonattachment.

NOTE: "...accept what is..." inwardly, not politically. Do not accept:

economic austerity;
public spending cuts;
racism;
immigration controls;
anti-union laws;
wars;
pollution;
poverty.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Agenda

I was brought up and educated by people who took for granted that I ought to conform, compete and succeed. I had no inclination to do any of that but it took me a long time to realize what I should have been doing instead. A better agenda would have been: change society and self. I had some idea of self-change but it was distorted by the religious indoctrination which was massively inconsistent: issues of religious belief and practice are ultimately serious but don't take them too seriously - unless you become a priest, in which case you are compartmentalized and pigeonholed for the rest of your life. We were told answers before we knew what the questions were.

Of course, in zazen, we do not act on the self to change it. We are merely aware of it. However, the transition from unawareness to awareness is itself a change. We do not try to change ourselves but do in fact change as a result of the practice. However, the change is usually gradual and not externally measurable. Merely to talk about it is to invite the reply that there is no discernible change and there is no need to deny that.

Meanwhile, acting collectively to change society is a matter of urgency. But we do this with others who agree that it is necessary. We do not argue with those who meditate that they should instead be changing society or vice versa. And it can take decades to realize this. But life was not designed for our convenience. It merely happened.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Stages Of Psychological And Social Development

Consciousness
animal
unrealized
realized

Inherited animal motivations, necessary for survival, impede realization of enlightenment unless they are understood and controlled.

Society
no surplus
a small surplus unequally distributed
a large surplus unequally distributed
a large surplus equally distributed

Inherited competitive accumulation, necessary when the surplus was small, prevents equal distribution of a now large surplus.

Both psychologically and socially, an earlier necessity becomes a later hindrance and generates an intermediate stage. Most human beings have unenlightened motivations but the potential for enlightenment. Society has continued poverty but the potential for global wealth.

The optimum state is realized individuals in an equal society.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Purpose Of Life?

What is the purpose of life?

Life was not designed but evolved so it has no purpose.


Is survival not its purpose?

It has no purpose. Some organisms survive longer than others because they are better able to survive in their environment but survival is not their purpose. All organisms die but death is not their purpose.


Why do conscious beings have purposes?

Organisms were naturally selected for sensitivity to environmental alterations.
Therefore, sensitivity quantitatively increased until it was qualitatively transformed into sensation.
Then, sensation was selected because pleasure and pain have survival value.
Therefore, survival and pleasure are purposes of conscious organisms but not of life.

So we have purposes although we do not exist to fulfill any purpose?

Yes.

What purposes should human beings pursue?

"And it harm no one, do what thou wilt."

But what needs to be done? (Lenin: What Is To Be Done?)

Self-conscious purposive individuals exist only in social relationships so the question, "What is to be done about human life?" divides into "What is to be done about consciousness?" and "What is to be done about society?"


Well, what is to be done about them, then?

Many answers are given but I think that the most helpful are Zen for consciousness and Marxism for society. Zen is practice of immediate awareness without a future goal whereas Marxist practice is purposive and aims to make itself redundant.

I am thinking of Rev W, a Zen monk, and Comrade M, a revolutionary socialist who left the organization because of problems last year. These men seem to have nothing in common and even to be opposites in many respects but both addressed the question, "What is to be done?" The logic of changing society is to change mental states and vice versa although those who approach the question from opposite ends rarely meet.