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About Encephalon

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  1. Reading/Study as a practice

    Maybe Ken Wilber was quoting the Dalai Lama, or maybe they both came to this independantly, but they both say that reading is magnificent tool for eliminating doubt about the particulars of a chosen path. I know that I would have been spared years of unnecessary anxiety if I had actually had this info shoring up my practice.
  2. My Dhammapada practice

    This is going to be highly subjective, but I'll aspire to make sense. Beside the Vimalakirti Sutra, the how-to manual of spiritual practice for secular life, the Dhammapada is the closest thing to having a Buddha walking beside you 24/7, constantly guiding your actions. I keep a CD in the car and the Shambhala Pocket Edition on my person. My responses follow each entry.. 1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox. Yep, the first 55 years of my life pretty much corroborates this. 2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow. I'm a less-than-stellar Buddhist. And I use zen12 because I'm lazy to boot. But 10 years of brain entrainment tech has made me vastly happier and I can focus much better. 3. "He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me." Those who harbor such thoughts do not still their hatred. Hey listen, the 20th century was rough on humans. The amount of trauma we unleashed on each other will take a while to process, and some will never begin, being too wounded from the start. 4. "He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me." Those who do not harbor such thoughts still their hatred. I didn't get to deep forgiveness until I had a deep understanding of the cycle of trauma. I couldn't forgive what I didn't understand. We're all in this together and we will all be forgiving each other at the end of time. 5. Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal. True enough, but it's hard to let go of righteous anger. I'm surrounded by the new American fascists. But I really can't shoot them all; interdependence makes this impossible... and I don't have it in me right now. 6. There are those who do not realize that one day we all must die. But those who do realize this settle their quarrels. There are a handful of people I have treated badly, those who were on the receiving end of my passive-aggressive bullshit because I wasn't skilled enough to express my shades of discontent. If I am to be forgiven, I have to forgive everyone else, no exceptions. 7. Just as a storm throws down a weak tree, so does Mara overpower the man who lives for the pursuit of pleasures, who is uncontrolled in his senses, immoderate in eating, indolent, and dissipated. Well, age does help. I'm not the ravenous fool I once was. How much reefer and porn can you consume before you get indigestion? Take less, use less, need less, and show some class. Save your sugar for chocolate cheesecake. 8. Just as a storm cannot prevail against a rocky mountain, so Mara can never overpower the man who lives meditating on the impurities, who is controlled in his senses, moderate in eating, and filled with faith and earnest effort. For the first time in history, our future is up for grabs. We must be lean in body and mind lest we get rounded up by the purveyors of hate. 9. Whoever being depraved, devoid of self-control and truthfulness, should don the monk's yellow robe, he surely is not worthy of the robe. Oh, but it's so much fun acting like an enlightened being, right? Spiritual materialism is really vulgar... and there's always someone in the room who is more spiritually mature than you are, ready for the opportunity to reveal your quackery. At the very least, keep your lips from moving and you'll go to bed with less regret. 10. But whoever is purged of depravity, well-established in virtues and filled with self-control and truthfulness, he indeed is worthy of the yellow robe. For me, it's mostly been a struggle for emotional maturity. I know the Buddha said that we are all capable of becoming enlightened, but human beings are deeply deluded these days. Trauma and ever-present forms of propaganda are creating millions of depraved and wounded souls. I sometimes wonder if the amount of negative, unconscious conditioning can become so vast that there's truly no chance for some of us to wake up. Lot's of work ahead. More than we can imagine. Lot's of work. 11. Those who mistake the unessential to be essential and the essential to be unessential, dwelling in wrong thoughts, never arrive at the essential. Say YES to the ONE thing, NO to the millions of trivialities. Hard to do in a socio-economic systems that has basically replaced the pursuit of genuine happiness with the pursuit of cheap pleasure. It's the victory of dopamine over seratonin. May the gods render their assistance. That's enough to chew on for now. 12. Those who know the essential to be essential and the unessential to be unessential, dwelling in right thoughts, do arrive at the essential. 13. Just as rain breaks through an ill-thatched house, so passion penetrates an undeveloped mind. 14. Just as rain does not break through a well-thatched house, so passion never penetrates a well-developed mind. 15. The evil-doer grieves here and hereafter; he grieves in both the worlds. He laments and is afflicted, recollecting his own impure deeds. 16. The doer of good rejoices here and hereafter; he rejoices in both the worlds. He rejoices and exults, recollecting his own pure deeds. 17. The evil-doer suffers here and hereafter; he suffers in both the worlds. The thought, "Evil have I done," torments him, and he suffers even more when gone to realms of woe. 18. The doer of good delights here and hereafter; he delights in both the worlds. The thought, "Good have I done," delights him, and he delights even more when gone to realms of bliss. 19. Much though he recites the sacred texts, but acts not accordingly, that heedless man is like a cowherd who only counts the cows of others — he does not partake of the blessings of the holy life. 20. Little though he recites the sacred texts, but puts the Teaching into practice, forsaking lust, hatred, and delusion, with true wisdom and emancipated mind, clinging to nothing of this or any other world — he indeed partakes of the blessings of a holy life.
  3. Any interesting Health Hacks to share?

    I gave covid-19 to my family for Christmas and we've dropped meat consumption ever since. We just felt like eating lightly and mostly sleeping it off. We're basically on the "How Not to Die" eating plan, and the cookbook that goes with it is packed full of really good recipes. Going veg was the culmination of decades of aspiration. https://zen12.com/ is the third and final brain entrainment program I've tried and the results are exactly what the science promises if you use it consistently. I'm going into my tenth year and can't express the difference by any and all criteria. I never had much success maintaining buddhist meditation but this really worked. Of course, it is a passive exercise; you're not getting the practice of renunciation and discipline that comes with regular zazen. https://www.hypnosisdownloads.com/ fixes your shit. Period. 20-minute hypnosis sessions designed for virtually any area of your life you want to improve. I've used a couple dozen different recordings, everything from improving focus to discipline to will power. Check out the website and grow! Cold showers have already been mentioned. It's easier to begin in the summer, obviously. I'm a little over the top with it; I get into the shower stall, aim my face directly at the shower head, and reach down to yank the cold water on. There are many claims made about the health benefits but I mostly use it as training for becoming less reactive. Remaining motionless when the blast hits you is good training. It still doesn't stop me from yelling at the other morons on the freeway but it feels great after you dry off. I recently discovered Brain Elevate by NOW FOODS and find it the most cost-effective cognitive enhancement formula on the market. Of course, the cheapest is a cocktail of 100mg caffeine with 200mg theanine. But it's often necessary for caffeine users like me to flush it out before bed, and there ain't nothing better than Daily De-Caffeinate https://dailydecaffeinate.com/ Who has enough time to read everything you want to? Not me. I use this speedreading program, the best $80 investment I've ever made. It's really fun to use, just 15 minutes a day to triple your reading speed. https://www.7speedreading.com/
  4. Dhammapada and emotional immaturity

    As it is written in the Dhammapada - "To the extent that a fool knows his foolishness he may be deemed wise. A fool who considers himself wise in indeed a fool." I can only speak of the worthiness of the Buddhist path for myself. I don't think it addresses all concerns; Taoism and its focus on physical development appears to address the importance of body-mind fusion with greater focus. The clarity and simplicity of Buddhist psychology resonates with modern times, modern science, and is therefore indespensible for millions, and will remain so even for accomplished Buddhists, even enlightened ones. I can't speculate on a mental state entirely free of delusion. That is an accomplishment borne of a lifetime of cultivation, most likely in a supportive and dedicated environment if not a monastic one. I do believe that we can cultivate enlightened thought, conduct and speech without necessarily identifying every single one of our blind spots. If I can habituate to being reflective rather than reflexive I can still remain stable amid bouts of bewilderment.
  5. Dhammapada and emotional immaturity

    Ahh, let me count the ways As I mentioned before, intellectualizing Buddhism is common, partly because Buddhism is on one level a science of mind, or as the Dalai Lama said "Growth of the heart by way of the mind." Once you've studied it awhile, read a couple dozen books on it, maybe even out of a genuine curiosity about its breathtaking wisdom and insight, it can still be used to bolster one's own egocentrism, or what Chogyum Trungpa famously called spiritual materialism. I was once told that despite my half-assed emulation of Buddhist wisdom and practice in an effort to appear cool and spiritually erudite, almost everything that brings you closer to awakening can be recognized as worthy. I wrote about Buddhism in college, read dozens of books, attended lectures, facilitated Buddhist sobriety meetings, all under various forms of delusion, i.e, not truly aware of my conditioning, my blind spots. I was a pretty haughty jackass in TheDaoBums when I first joined, casting intellectual victories over others as evidence of my spiritual superiority. If anything has changed since then it is my deeper appreciation of my negative conditioning, the decades I spent in doubt about my own chances for awakening while simultaneously preening as a Buddhist scholar, and finally - FINALLY! - realizing that the wisest course of action one may take on the path is usually the compassionate one. There may be another thread in here - "Is it possible to act wisely without empathy?" As S.T. Coleridge once wrote, "Deep thinking is attainable only by a man of deep feeling." The essential link between wisdom and compassion took me decades to understand and act upon, but, like the numberless fools before me, dragged over hot coals by an untethered curiosity, I won't give up!
  6. I haven't been a very good Buddhist despite years of intellectualizing it and wearing it on my sleeve. I have abstained from referring to myself as a Buddhist - that much is true - and when pressed I've tried to be nuanced, that I follow a "path," without going into particulars. But now, after four years of delving into the nature of my own unconscious conditioning, with a specific dive into the waters of developmental trauma disorder, I have to come clean and acknowledge that the bonds of my own conditionality have been forged in brass. Childhood trauma gives birth to a number of malformations but emotional immaturity and learned pessimism seem to be two huge categories of syndromes that last for decades. I'm in that category. I can only thank my seemingly boundless curiosity for gathering some insight. Perhaps it's the saving grace of fools; they never give up. I've built a small private library of books on Asian Studies, but no single document or book has offered more inspiration and genuine, day-to-day, present-time guidance than the Dhammapada. I drive a lot so I keep this CD audio version in my car - https://www.amazon.com/Voice-Buddha-Dhammapada-Buddhist-Teachings/dp/B0007URYC0/ref=sr_1_10?dchild=1&keywords=dhammapada+cd&qid=1631823915&sr=8-10 I have come to treasure the Shambhala Pocket Classics version and keep it in my Jansport for everyday ventures - https://www.amazon.com/Dhammapada-Sayings-Buddha-Shambhala-Classics/dp/0877739668/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3OVH9HQAQTWW4&dchild=1&keywords=dhammapada+pocket+book&qid=1631823992&sprefix=dhammap%2Caps%2C230&sr=8-1 But I also really enjoy this translation from Thic Nhat Hanh and friends - https://www.amazon.com/Dhammapada-Ananda-Maitreya/dp/0938077872/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3OVH9HQAQTWW4&dchild=1&keywords=dhammapada+pocket+book&qid=1631825124&sprefix=dhammap%2Caps%2C230&sr=8-2 Ideally, we'd have an exalted, enlightened warrior-scholar to walk with throughout our waking days, offering us advice and wise counsel on how to live with dignity, wisdom, and compassion. In the absence of such entities, I've found the Dhammapada to deliver the goods in the most unadormed language. My greatest terror has always been to die an old fool having failed to plumb the depths of my conditioning and achieve emotional maturity. With the Dhammapada, and the work on DTD, there is hope for even the most conditioned dipshits among us.
  7. I'm 61 today. Please send money.

    Pertaining to aging and the sexual front - manage your testosterone levels! It can be done!
  8. I'm 61 today. Please send money.

    I can say with great relief that life is so much better than the era of my first Daobums cycle back in 2009. Back then I had no idea about the genuine depths of my conditioning or the impact that childhood trauma would continue to have on my life. Learned pessimism is toxic on every level, by any criteria. I tried to fix myself with endless efforts at self-improvement, especially physical development, and I did manage to maintain superb physical health until my mental health could catch up. Somehow, despite learned pessimism, I trusted the wisdom of this basic strategy and it proved successful. My physical health still exceeds my mental health - I have forty years of self-destructive habits and emotionally immaturity that I'm trying to replace with more enlightened conduct - but my emotional life is starting to close the distance. I raise this point because I eventually realized I am in good company - upwards of half the population have failed to realize even a fraction of their potential because of negative conditioning. It is my sincere hope that I can help others avoid a forty-year learning curve and get to the heart of what it means to be unleashed from the bonds of conditionality. READ YOUR DHAMMAPADA! I intellectualized Buddhism, partly because Buddhism is particularly vulnerable to being intellectualized, but I'm glad I stuck with it and started to take the teachings seriously. There's a thread here on emotional maturity that's waiting to be started.
  9. I'm 61 today. Please send money.

  10. I"ve just completed another revolution around the sun but don't yet have $1 million in savings. Please help. Send cash. Or chocolate. Or bud. Yes, a metal shipping container full of bud. Thanks in advance.
  11. Chyawanprash

  12. The TM rabbit hole

    oh yeah... the most important part - the TM bureacracy exploited the members of the movement by convincing them to buy all of the supplements "necessary" for enlightenment. The members ofthe Movement worked for literally nothing as they kept the University running, while the upper echelons of the Movement bathed in conspicuous luxury. They told themselves that to be a positive force for good in the world they would have to become powerful financially in order to effect changes. How's that for a rationalization?
  13. The TM rabbit hole

    I bought my TM mantra back in the late 80s for $250 after spending a few years longing after it. I was the typical westerner who reacted affirmatively to the savvy marketing of TM that Maharishi was noted for, as he wanted to break open the western market. I practiced it for a few years, culminating in my eventual move to Fairfield, Iowa, home of Maharishi International University, MIU as it was known, ground zero for the TM movement in America. What appealed to me was the idea of getting an undergrad education, eating wholesome, organic food, and taking classes on the block system - one class at a time for 4-6 weeks, getting deeply immersed in the subject and then moving onto the next. Meditating with five hundred other people every day seemed like a unifying experience. I lasted six months. It was perhaps the biggest disappointment in my life at that time, to see such potential mired in so much human dysfunction, cult-like behavior, and magical thinking. The place had a huge block of students from the Eastern bloc, an area where TMers recruited aggressively. They had less than $35/mo of discetionary spending and despite getting an education many were profoundly confused and unhappy. I apparently got there after the real vitality had simmered off. Years earlier there was tremendous enthusiasm for the taking the core courses, with genuine scholars teaching classes that were always defined in terms of their expressions as underlying consciousness, i.e., becoming conscious mathematically, athletically, biologically, musically, etc. I loved the galvanizing model; it's what brought me out there in the first place. Their entire notion of enlightenment was untenable to me and thousands of others, I am sure. It's not simply removing stress, or burning off your stress that counts, although eliminating stress does occur on the path to higher consciousness. The most often asked question you got at MIU was "How long have you been meditating?" Ostensibly, one could calculate the arrival of enlightenment based on how long you've been reciting your mantra. Enlightenment is so much more than that. I moved back to the SF Bay Area, enrolled in my local community college, and took meditation instruction from the Berkeley Zen Center.
  14. USAF ends firing range near Buddhist Monastery

    The "unawareness" excuse gets regularly abused, but I could accept the explanation on face value from people who are truly incapable or merely unschooled in the practice of holding multiple viewpoints in mind, much less simultaneously. I'm reading "Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect" by David W. Orr and it's pretty clear that enlightened reasoning, particularly an ecological consciousness, is not only absent in the minds of some folks, but it's almost entirely missing from the American educational model, despite environmental science programs becoming more widespread. It's damned inconvenient too; as Aldo Leopold once wrote, "To live with an ecological education is to live in a world of wounds."