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About Encephalon

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  1. A Heart Blown Open

    The biggest producer of Window Pane LSD goes on to become a Zen master and the 83rd Patriarch of the Rinzai Zen school of Buddhism. One of the best stories of modern enlightenment, of the integration of Eastern mystical wisdom with Western psychological insight, in years. Who is ready to wake up?
  2. A Heart Blown Open

    Has anyone else read this? The most important Buddhist work I've read in a decade. Cuts to the chase about unconscious conditioning and how to free ourselves from it.
  3. Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD)

    "Encephalon - I vaguely recall that you had opened your MCO with your neigong? So, did you maintain that after stopping your training after your child was born?" Well, time to atone for another delusion. Yes, I was making some great progress back then, but in all honesty, I couldn't complete the cycle from my upper spine to base of the skull without being quite stoned. So I must concede that, no, I likely didn't achieve a genuine MCO. But meridians in torso, upper and lower limbs were opening up nicely. On another note, I still read 365 Tao everyday, and yesterday seemed mighty pertinent to this post and to Water types in general - Depth Morning light illuminates the meditating wrestler. In his mind, even a wooden temple is washed away. Who can challenge an ocean's depth? There once was a wrestler who, in spite of his great physical stature, lost most of his matches. He consulted coach after coach, but no one could show him how to win. Although he lacked neither might nor skill, he did lack concentration and confidence. Finally, he went to consult a meditation master who agreed to help. "Your name means 'vast Ocean,'" observed the master. "Therefore, I will give you this meditation to practice." That night, the wrestler sat alone in the shrine and first visualized himself as waves. Gradually, the waves increased in size. Soon, he became a flood. then the flood became a deluge, and finally a tidal wave. In his mind, everything was swept before him: Even the gods on the alter and the timbers of the temple were consumed in his surge . Near dawn, the water settled into a vast and endless sea. That morning the master came to check on the wrestler's progress and was delighted. He knew that the wrestler would not lose again. For each of us, it is only depth of character that determines the profundity with which we face life. We can either add to our character each day, or we can fritter away our energies in distractions. Those who learn how to accumulate charcter each day achieve a depth that cannot be successfully opposed. (underlines added)
  4. Beginning a thread on Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD) has been a goal of mine for some time. It wasn’t my original plan to start it here in TDB, but it seems pertinent enough. The human journey is from ignorance to enlightenment, and bringing our hidden wounds into the light of consciousness is an essential first step. Because of a sequence of cathartic events between 2012 and 2017, events that aren’t necessary to detail here, I was finally compelled to seek out professional counseling at the end of 2017. It was a humorous beginning, which I took as a good omen. I instantly recognized my counselor as the “crazy lady” who used to live in the apartment next to us. We shared a laugh over the synchronicity of the event and plowed right in. I told her that I had long suspected the presence of deep and pernicious unconscious, negative conditioning that was holding me back from fully exploiting my personal potential. I described my tumultuous upbringing and the patterns of my adult life with candor and concision. At the end of the first session, she told me, in no uncertain terms, “You are deeply, deeply, deeply conditioned!” A triple deeply. I was pumped. It took no more than one or two sessions before she referred me to “The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma” by Bessel Van Der Kolk, the flagship work of this subject, and “…the most important series of breakthroughs in mental health in the last thirty years.” I devoured the book and quickly realized the relief that comes from finally being understood. I’ve lived most of my adult life as a self-help junkie with a self-destruction complex, an absurdly bewildering path that meanders back and forth between the passion for learning and the terror of being alive. I would have likely remained just a run-of-the-mill, dipshit underachiever had I not been born under conditions that many Dao Bums are probably familiar with. According to Chinese astrology, I’m a Metal Rat, an armored little fucker, first one off the ship and out the gate, along with not one but two Water elements in my chart (and no Earth element, a different sort of problem). Bruce Lee was fond of saying, “Be water, my friend,” but what he didn’t mention was that the emotion for Water is fear, and I got a double dose. I was terrified and helpless by the end of my first decade, hopelessly disempowered by the end of my second one. I remained in a state of learned pessimism and underachievement until the age of 57. While taking an online course in Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory a while back, I consulted the Enneagram for character typing and found myself a solid 5, the Investigator. I’ve always had an unquenchable curiosity but I learned that this comes from a desperate desire to make the world more comprehensible, and therefore less frightening. It was a sobering discovery, and although I’ve learned that curiosity, creativity, and spirituality are often the same process, the insight still stung a bit. What can I say? The human nervous system is profoundly vulnerable to conditioning, bad as well as good. My own dose of childhood trauma was greater than some, less than others – being stripped naked and whipped by an alcoholic was my own story – but the results were the same as detailed by van Deer Kolk; a bewildering assortment of dysfunctions, addictions, phobias, underachievement, an obscenely wilted identity crippled by self-hatred, the conviction of unworthiness and irreparability, and the daily, chronic stress of keeping other people from finding out. The psychological effort required to maintain an imposter identity is unsustainable and ultimately terminal by one means or another. The Water element goes EVERYWHERE. It leaves nothing uninvestigated, remains tireless in the pursuit of information, knowledge, wisdom. A consequence of this was that I found myself wandering from one adventure to the other, investigating as much as I could. My dysfunctional programming would inevitably see to it that I burned down just about every bridge I crossed. The trick for Water element types is to build up Waves of courage and strength, not just tiny brooks and streams. The goal of the Enneagram Investigator is competency, the acquisition of knowledge refined into skill. This has been my experience evaluating my own struggle with childhood trauma. Obviously, Bums of different character types will investigate their own history of trauma in their own way, but the symptoms of DTD are well established. Toward the healing of DTD, Bums are in for some good news; as the title of the book suggests, the Body Keeps the Score, and the body is the instrument of healing, which should come as no surprise to those of us who have pursued physical fitness and body-mind fusion with the passions of madmen. Yoga, chi kung, tai chi and martial arts are indicated in the healing response of a traumatized body and mind. The damage exists down deep; our burden is to reach down to the marrow and positively recondition our nervous system. But you all knew that already, right? I am personally happy to report that on some level, call it a higher self or just a deep but silenced intuition, I’ve stayed extremely healthy for the past forty years. I remained fucked up in the head but somehow managed, in spite of my worst instincts, to keep the carcass ready for the day that true healing could seize hold. My nei kung practice starting in 2009 was extraordinary, but once my child was born, it collapsed. I’m still in athletic shape for an old fucker (59) but I can’t wait to begin nei kung again soon. I also managed to get a decent education, not unusual for Enneagram Investigators or Water elements. I have absolutely no Earth element in my astrological chart, but I ended up with a graduate degree in geography, so I must have somehow plugged a hole or tended an imbalance without realizing it. I’ve just about fucked up everything I’ve ever done in my life but I just might be able to grow up before I grow old. I hope this inspires others to explore the role of DTD in their own lives and form meaningful bridges between their childhood wounds and their internal alchemy practices today. Chapter 10 in Van Der Kolks book is “Developmental Trauma: the Hidden Epidemic” is aptly titled. Many thanks to Taomeow for an astrological reading that has proven remarkably insightful over the last decade.
  5. Ten Years Later

    Heartened by all the welcoming energy. Good to see some Old Bums.
  6. Ten Years Later

    Thanks to Steve and everyone else. Good to touch base again. Not sure how to participate anymore so I'll just dip my toe in the wading pool to start.
  7. Ten Years Later

    I was an active member ten years ago, before I got married and had a child. I had more time for nei kung practice and forum participation back then, but I eventually stopped participating inTDB for a few reasons. #1, to the extent that I maintained animosity toward myself and was still subject to the power of my own negative, unconscious conditioning, I inevitably projected that animosity toward others, and had a well-earned reputation for being less than honorable when it came to voicing criticism of others and their ideas. If we remain true to our practice of awakening, the reality of interdependence begins to replace the delusion of an isolated self, and the very idea of attacking others in any way becomes untenable, even in the midst of strongly differing opinions. #2, It was not until 2015 that Developmental Trauma Disorder become recognized as a specific condition with the publishing of The Body Keeps the Score. And it wasn't until 2018 that I actually sought and received help for this. (It's possible a DTD thread could be valuable here.) #3, I was having multiple surgeries on my skeletal system back then, and was clearly acquiring a fondness for extra doses of Vicodin, not to mention plenty of weed. This practice is not helpful in the battle over delusion. I own all this and categorically apologize for the hostilities I unleashed in this forum. I was quite arrogant and haughty and justified my style under the guise of being intellectually rigorous. That being said, there were inherent conditions of TDB I could no longer tolerate. Foremost was the sheer volume of lunacy, anti-intellectualism, and magical thinking that prevailed during the era of 2009+/-. I did my best to cite references to support my claims, a practice which often elicited ridicule given my arrogant style, but I still maintain that intellectual honesty is the bedrock of a functioning inquiry. Even discussions of a spiritual nature require a basic respect for critical thinking and definition of terms, perhaps even more. I was taken aback by the volume of right-wing conjecture that was prevalent even then. My earliest posts were attacked and ridiculed through the looking glass of paleo-conservative ideology, void of of any meaningful substantiation. Almost everyone seems a little guilty of confirmation bias these days but the truth is available wherever it whenever it is respected. Ironically, I have actually become more conservative during this last decade, but my conviction has only grown that both Taoism and Buddhism recognize the interpenetration of all phenomena, ideas as well as the entire web of life, and that a sensible and sane politics that prioritizes happiness over the pursuit of pleasure is inconsistent with modern industrial consumer capitalism. So,yeah... ecology is real. And it's radical. I commend Sean for taking his recent actions. Our current leadership is taking cues from the ancient authoritarian playbook to obliterate reality by denying any objective truth, by slowly whittling away the belief that people can be certain of anything. They live beyond the bounds of reason and cannot be reasoned with, not in life, not in forums. Anicca, the Buddhist expression of impermanence of all things, remains the only solution.
  8. Heading toward Tibetan schools

    I think this is a good point and I think you've made it repeatedly over the years, but at the risk of sounding like I'm hairsplitting and over-intellectualizing, there is a nuanced difference between monastic training and "what Buddhism is really about," and I don't claim to have ultimate knowledge of either. What I do know is that the reality of interdependence and emptiness is extremely difficult to conceptualize, let alone experience as a daily waking reality, because our separateness as individuals exerts such a powerful hold on our imagination, and we end up creating reified "souls" that are eternal and "selves" that are separate. I guess I'm somewhere in the middle in here when it comes to intellectualism. It's critical that people get at least a conceptual model of interdependency and emptiness in order to develop the experiential side, and what I've seen in here doesn't often serve that goal; the conversation appears overly intellectual but is often full of obfuscation and misleading conjecture. Along side this hyperintellectualism is a form of anti-intellectualism that to me appears more like the posturing of pure laziness and an unwillingness to ferret out understanding from the texts. At some point on the path to enlightenment, scholarship and practice must intersect and I believe those who deny this are not getting the whole picture. I should point out that I never fully immersed myself in the threads of interdependence or emptiness because I found them unnecessarily impenetrable. I ask those of you who nailed the subject down to forgive me for not recognizing it; there was too much background interference. Thanks Jetsun for recommending "How to see yourself as you really are."
  9. Heading toward Tibetan schools

    I'm working on it. Thanks for mentioning this important fact. Here's the list of Tibetan schools in Los Angeles. One of the few advantages of living in this city.
  10. Probably a good idea not to read his stuff, unless you're goin to stick with his older stuff like "The Geography of Nowhere." I like his sense of humor but for less caustic expression you might consider his colleague Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute. I obviously disagree with the reviewers since I enjoy his works and have sound reason to support his basic themes. He's clearly angry about the mess we've got ourselves into since it was not only avoidable but a predictable consequence of creating a nation that can't live without sucking the global tit dry, but I reject the notion that he relishes the prospect of our country being reduced to cannabilistic hordes.
  11. There's no genre I enjoy more than good 'ol post-apocalyptic dystopias, so I was a little disappointed with "World Made by Hand." Kunstler has had a prolific career as a writer, and I think he got cocky and wrote this thing too fast. His "Geography of Nowhere" is required reading in geography, urban planning, ecology, and sustainability studies across the country. It would seem that several Bums suffer from a fairly significant dearth of ecological literacy, something I would have never suspected in a website inhabitated by self-identified Taoists, but oh well. GoN tells the tale of how and why America chose to construct its cities and transportation grids as if humans, nature, and energy didn't matter. Read this and discover why imbuing the planet with permanence is as illusory error as reifing the "self." You're in for a treat, Serene, with The Long Emergency. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyEGnMa9MyM&feature=related
  12. Kunstler's "The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century" goes in that direction. It's a detailed forecast of what would happen to the different sections of North America in the event of catastrophic disruptions in resource flows, i.e., no more cheap oil. Kunstler has been intimately involved with the work of the New Urbanism, the Post-Carbon Institute, and a constant presence in the field of academic geography and urban planning for decades. His strength is in detailing how we managed to get into the clusterfuck we're in, not necessarily designing detailed descriptions of how to get out of it, because let's face it, the vast majority still don't know where we came from, how we got here, or what the problem truly is, much less how to rectify it. For the few who "get it," those who understand the implications of a very plausible disruption of energy flows into our highly energy-dependent consumer culture, Kunstler has been addressing the same prescription that's being articulated by dozens of activist/theorists – prepare to organize culture on smaller scales; smaller farms, smaller homes, smaller financial networks, smaller communities, small enough to facilitate real cooperation. If such a blue print really existed, about 50 million Americans would jump at the opportunity and ask, Where do I sign? The great unwashed masses would remain utterly indifferent or clueless, while the paleoconservatives like JoeBlast and the rest of the crowd profiled in Kunstler's last essay, will continue to believe that suburban consumerism and "pro-growth" jingoism is the natural order of things and will return to America once the liberals are kicked out of office and we bomb the Middle East into submission and take Our Oil. You're not going to see people from the Right offering any viable solutions to the problems of perpetual consumer capitalism because they don't perceive that as a problem in need of a solution. Let's be clear; the only thing that separates modern American liberals from modern conservatives is a magic spigot of unexhaustible oil, undepletable topsoil, carbon-free emissions, and an extra continent or two.