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The Book of Life

Translation of the Facts Prevents Seeing

August 9th ~ A mind that gives an opinion about a fact is a narrow, limited, destructive mind. . . . You can translate the fact in one way, and I can translate it in another way.  The translation of the fact is a curse that prevents us from seeing the actual fact and doing something about the fact.  When you and I discuss our opinions about the fact, nothing is done about the fact; you can add perhaps more to the fact, see more nuances, implications, significance about the fact, and I may see less significance in the facts.  But the fact cannot be interpreted; I cannot offer an opinion about the fact.  It is so, and it is very difficult for a mind to accept the fact.  We are always translating, we are always giving different meanings to it, according to our prejudices, conditionings, hopes fears and all the rest of it.  If you and I could see the fact without offering an opinion, interpreting, giving a significance, then the fact becomes much more alive–not more alive–the fact is there alone, nothing else matters; then the fact has its own energy that drives you in the right direction.

November 29th, 2019 ~ Communication becomes a whole different experience when we stop interpreting our experience.  

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The Book of Life

There is Only One Fact: Impermanence

August 10th ~ We are trying to find out if there is, or is not, a permanent state–not what we would like, but the actual fact, the truth of the matter.  Everything about us, within as well as without–our relationships, our thoughts, our feelings–is impermanent, in a constant state of flux.  Being aware of this, the mind creates permanency, a perpetual state of peace, of love, of goodness, a security that neither time nor events can destroy; therefore it creates the soul, the Atman, and the visions of a permanent paradise.  But this permanency is born of impermanency, and so it has within it the seeds of the impermanent.  There is only one fact: impermanence.  

November 29th, 2019 ~ This reminds me of what Suzuki Roshi said: “I have come to believe in nothing.”  Zen starts out in saying everything is impermanent.  But ultimately, nothing is anything, including impermanence.  No thing exists, even impermanence.  This makes sense.  But can we see it?  

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The Book of Life

Hankering After the Unknowable

August 11th ~ You want me to tell you what reality is.  Can the indescribable be put into words?  Can you measure something immeasurable?  Can you catch the wind in your fist?  If you do, is that the wind?  If you measure that which is immeasurable, is that the real?  If you formulate it, is it the real?  Surely not, for the moment you describe something which is indescribable, it ceases to be the real.  The moment you translate the unknowable into the know, it ceases to be the unknowable.  Yet that is what we are hankering after.  All the time we want to know, because then we shall be able to continue, then we shall be able, we think, to capture ultimate happiness, permanency.  We want to know because we are not happy, because we are striving miserably, because we are worn out, degraded.  Yet instead of realizing the simple fact–that we are degraded, that we are dull, weary, in turmoil–we want to move away from what is the known into the unknown, which again becomes the known and therefore we can never find the real.  

November 28th, 2019 ~ Being okay with what is.

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The Book of Life

Is Suffering Merely a Word or an Actuality?

August 12th ~ Is suffering merely a word, or an actuality?  If it is an actuality and not just a word, then the word has no meaning now, so there is merely the feeling of intense pain.  With regard to what?  With regard to an image, to an experience, to something that you have or have not.  If you have it, you call it pleasure; if you haven’t it is pain.  Therefore pain, sorrow, is in relationship to something.  Is that something merely verbalization, or an actuality?–as fear cannot exist by itself but only in relationship to something: to an individual, to an incident, to a feeling.  Now you are fully aware of the suffering.  Is that suffering apart from you and therefore you are merely the observer who perceives the suffering, or is that suffering you?

November 26th, 2019 ~ Fear cannot exist by itself but only in relationship to something.  

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The Book of Life

You and Nothingness Are One

August 13th ~ You are nothing.  You may have your name and title, your property and bank account, you may have power and be famous; but in spite of all these safeguards, you are as nothing.  You may be totally unaware of this emptiness, this nothingness, or you may simply not want to be aware of it; but it is there, do what you will to avoid it.  You may try to escape from it in devious ways, through personal or collective violence, through individual or collective worship, through knowledge or amusement; but whether you are asleep or awake, it is always there.  you can come upon your relationship to this nothingness and its fear only by being choicelessly aware of the escapes.  You are not related to it as a separate, individual entity; you are not the observer watching it; without you , the thinker, the observer, it is not.  You and nothingness are one; you and nothingness are a joint phenomenon, not two separate processes.  If you, the thinker, are afraid of it and approach it as something contrary and opposed to you, then any action you may take towards it must inevitably lead to illusion and so to further conflict and misery.  When there is the discovery, the experiencing of that nothingness as you, then fear–which exists only when the thinker is separate from his thoughts and so tries to establish as relationship with them–completely drops away.

November 25th, 2019 ~ It seems like most people don’t see this.  What I think about when “wealthy” people are brought up is that they don’t see this.  They are too busy making money, increasing their status and power, etc.  But you can’t take it with you.  More money and power may seem like it does it for them, but it doesn’t.  It is temporary.  K holds out the believe and hope that you will see it: There is no difference between you the thinker and the observed.  That you are nothingness.

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The Book of Life

How Do We End Fear

August 14th ~ We are discussing something that needs your attention, not your agreement or disagreement.  We are looking at life most rigorously, objectively, clearly–not according to your sentiment, your fancy, what you like or don’t like.  It’s what we like and don’t like that has created this misery.  All that we are saying is this: “How do we end fear?”  That’s one of our great problems, because if a human being can’t end it he lives in darkness everlastingly, not ever lastingly in the Christian sense but in the ordinary sense; one life is good enough.  For me, as a human being, there must be a way out and not by creating a hope in some future.  Can I as a human being end fear, totally; not little bits of it?  Probably you’ve never put this question to yourself, and probably you’ve not put the question because you don’t know how to get out of it.  But if you did put that question most seriously, with the intention of finding out not how to end it, but with the intention of finding out the nature and the structure of fear, the moment you have found out, fear itself comes to an end; you don’t have to do anything about it.

When we are aware of it and come into contact with it directly, the observer is the observed.  There is no difference between the observer and the thing observed.  When fear is observed without the observer, there is action, but not the action of the observer acting upon fear.

November 24th, 2019 ~ “One life is good enough”, K writes.  We are dealing with this life.  We don’t know about future lives.  This is interesting.  This is challenging.  We are always putting things off, including our emotions.  We are finding out the nature and the structure of fear.  Let’s get good at this.  Understanding our minds and how we work!

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The Book of Life

The Duality of Thinker and Thought

August 15th ~ As you watch anything–a tree, your wife, your children, your neighbor, the stars of a night, the light on the water, the bird in the sky, anything–there is always the observer–the censor, the thinker, the experiencer, the seeker–and the thing s/he is observing; the observer and the observed; the thinker and the thought.  So, there is always a division.  It is this division that is time.  That division is the very essence of conflict.  And when there is conflict, there is contradiction.  There is “the observer and the observed”–that is a contradiction; there is a separation.  And hence where there is contradiction, there is conflict.  And when there is conflict, there is always the urgency to get beyond it, to conquer it, to overcome it, to escape from it, to do something about it, and all that activity involves time . . . . As long as there is this division, time will go on, and time is sorrow.  

And a man or woman who will understand the end of sorrow must understand this, must find, must go beyond this duality between the thinker and the thought, the experience and the experienced.  That is, when there is a division between the observer and the observed, there is time, and therefore there is no ending of sorrow.  Then, what is one to do?  You understand the question?  I see within myself, the observer is always watching, judging, censoring, accepting, rejecting, disciplining, controlling, shaping.  That observer, that thinker, is the result of thought, obviously.  Thought is first; not the observer, not the thinker.  If there was no thinking at all, there would be no observer, no thinker; then there would only be complete, total attention.

November 23rd, 2019 ~ The last 3 sentences are interesting.  “That observer, that thinker, is the result of thought, obvisously.  Thought is first; not the observer, not the thinker.  If there was no thinking at all, there would be no observer, no thinker; then there would only be complete, total attention.”   Thought is first.  If there is no thought, there is no thinker.  Very fascinating.  

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The Book of Life

Thought Creates the Thinker

August 16th ~ Thought is verbalized sensation; thought is the response of memory, the word, the experience, the image.  Thought is transient, changing, impermanent, and it is seeking permanency.  So thought creates the thinker, who then becomes the permanent; he assumes the role of the censor, the guide, the controller, the molder of thought.  This illusory permanent entity is the product of thought, of the transient.  This entity is thought; without thought he is not.  The thinker is made up of qualities; his qualities cannot be separated from himself.  The controller is the controlled, he is merely playing a deceptive game with himself.  Till the false is seen as the false, truth is not.

November 23rd, 2019 ~ Are we making things to complicated for ourselves?  Seeing things as they are is our task.  Understanding things as they are.  However, we try to counter what is actually happening.  We think violent thoughts.  We try to, then, have peaceful thoughts.  We express our anger.  We take anger management classes.  We see violence in the world; we counter it by being more peaceful.  Seeing things as they are is not complicated, but it takes a tremendous amount of energy.  We are getting more and more intelligent in how we educate the young.  Will they be more and more conditioned?

The thought creates the thinker.  The mind is an amazing thing.  Obviously, it can do a lot.  It can be mis-used.  It can be trained incorrectly.  It is exciting to understand the mind.  Wouldn’t you agree?

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The Book of Life

A Wall of Impregnable Thought

August 17th ~ How can there be a fusion of the thinker with his thoughts?  Not through the action of will, nor through discipline, nor through any form of effort, control, or concentration, nor through any other means.  The use of a means implies an agent who is acting, does it not?  As long as there is an actor, there will be a division.  The fusion takes place only when the mind is utterly still without trying to be still.  There is this stillness, not when the thinker comes to an end, but only when thought itself has come to an end.  There must be freedom from the response of conditioning, which is thought.  Each problem is solved only when idea, conclusion, is not; conclusions, idea, thought, are the agitations of the mind.  How can there be understanding when the mind is agitated?  Earnestness must be tempered with the swift play of spontaneity.  You will find, if you have heard all that has been said, that truth will come in moments when you are not expecting it.  If I may say so, be open, sensitive, be fully aware of what is from moment to moment.  Don’t build around yourself a wall of impregnable thought.  The bliss of truth comes when the mind is not occupied with its own activities and struggles.

November 21st, 2019 ~ Tonight, at Middle Way Zen in Japantown in San Jose, we had our usual meditation and dharma talk.  Cornelia, the head Zen Priest, talked about Emptiness.  It was a follow up to the week before where Wes talked about a chapter called Emptiness in Zen Mind Beginners Mind.  Towards  the end of the questions and discussion period. I brought up Dependent Arising which is Form.  Because there is Emptiness, there is Form or Dependent Arising.  I mentioned I had read a description of Dependent Arising which helped explain it better to me.  “Phenomena arises dependent on Causes and Conditions.”  It was from The Dalai Lama’s How to Book: “How to See Yourself As You Really Are.”  It is translated by Jeffrey Hopkins.  Before, I was hung up on the word Dependent.  Things are dependent on other things.  When it is put in a sentence with the verb arises, it gives me a visual that phenomena or things arise dependent on other things i.e. causes and conditions.  There are many things involved which explains why there is emptiness of anything existing from its own side.  Plus, it is instantaneous.  And then it happens again.  And again. . . . I mentioned no wonder we can’t grasp it.  Just this.  During my brief offering, I blanked.  Or more to the point, I came to a point where I was through, at least for a brief moment.  It reminded me of a thought that perhaps this moment was emptiness.  I brought up my struggle between these ideas and Karma.  It’s a relief to believe in Karma.  But is Karma really real?  Do we just have this?  Krishnamurti says: “. . . . truth will come in moments when you are not expecting it.” I was looking for but I wasn’t expecting it.  Cornelia said what I said was interesting or funny, what she might have said.  When my mind went blank, when I had nothing to say at that moment, that was emptiness.  She mentioned that thoughts are ideas put into form.  So no thoughts equal emptiness.  However, even the thoughts are Empty.  Everything is Empty.

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The Book of Life

When the Observer Is the Observed

August 18th ~ Space is necessary.  Without space there is no freedom.  We are talking psychologically. . . . It is only when one is in contact, when there is no space between the observer and the observed that one is in total relationship–with a tree for instance.  One is not identified with the tree, the flower, a woman, a man, or whatever it is, but when there is this complete absence of space as the observer and the observed, then there is vast space.  In that space there is no conflict; in that space there is freedom.

Freedom is not a reaction.  you cannot say, “Well, I am free.”  The moment you say you are free you are not free, because you are conscious of yourself as being free from something, and therefore you have the same situation as an observer observing a tree.  He has created a space, and in that space he breeds conflict.  To understand this requires not intellectual agreement or disagreement, or saying, “I don’t understand,” but rather it requires coming directly into contact with what is.  It means seeing that all your actions, every moment of action is of the observer and the observed, and within that space there is pleasure, pain and suffering, the desire to fulfill, to become famous.  Within that space there is no contact with anything.  Contact, relationship has a quite different meaning when the observer is no longer apart from the observed.  There is this extraordinary space, and there is freedom.

November 20th, 2019 ~ When reading this, one can imagine the extraordinary space Krishnamurti is talking about.  It seems quite obvious when you think about it.  There is space all around us. In another example, K talks about how we don’t see the beauty in front of us: a tree, an animal, a partner.  Our minds are too busy.  These other, real things don’t hold our attention.  We are separate from them and hence feel very separate.  The Dalai Lama says those people who commit horrible acts feel extremely separate from society.  Technology causes us to feel separate.  Our minds are too overloaded and ironically don’t see the vast space around us.  We feel separate when we aren’t.  We just think we are.