Mark Foote

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About Mark Foote

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  1. Haiku Chain

    Lots of paprika on deviled eggs--anchovies, Portuguese sherry
  2. Dreambliss, About Buddhism and God. There's a tale Gautama the Buddha tells in one of the sermons about a man seeking an answer to the question, "where is the end of suffering?". He goes to the realm of the gods, they tell him they can't answer that question and direct him to Brahma, the supreme god. Brahma replies to the question three times by declaring he's Brahma, the supreme god, and causing lightning bolts with thunder. When the question is repeated again, Brahma takes the man aside, and confesses he can't answer the question, the man will need to find Gautama the Shakyan (the Buddha) and ask him. That's about it for the Buddhist belief system, regarding gods and God. If you are interested in the original teaching, as an answer to the question of what is the Buddhist belief system (although it's not really the same thing), I recently completed a sketch of that. My sources are all in the first four collections of the Pali sermon volumes (I provide chapter and verse). These collections are considered the most historically accurate, and I only quote the man himself, not his disciples (their teachings I find have a slightly different flavor). Here's the first part of my sketch, and a link if you're interested: In that early record, Gautama is concerned with action, a certain kind of action: …I say that determinate thought is action. When one determines, one acts by deed, word, or thought. “When one determines”–when one makes up one’s mind, action takes place. Gautama taught the ceasing of action: And what… is the ceasing of action? That ceasing of action by body, speech, and mind, by which one contacts freedom,–that is called ‘the ceasing of action’.” Gautama taught that action ceases first with regard to speech, then with regard to the body, and finally with regard to the mind. He described the culmination of the process as follows... Mark
  3. Haiku Chain

    Jesus, this is hard! Learning to fly, ain't got wings summer, winter, fall
  4. Haiku Chain

    indigo at dawn penstemon on the hillside late spring on the lake Wild Penstemon; Clear Lake, California (photo by Kim Riley)
  5. Haiku Chain

    Go flippity flip It's just like thumpity thump In the deep blue sea
  6. I trust the first four collections of the Pali Canon, to be the closest we can come to the historical teachings. The author of the article above also cites Kevaddha Sutta, and says: "... the Buddha raises doubts about the efficacy of displaying superhuman powers to impress skeptical people. He then goes on to laud teaching of the dharma, apparently suggesting that it is the true miracle." The author goes on: "... the Kevaṭṭa sutta suggests that “magical powers” are ubiquitous, and thus their display does not necessarily prove the superiority or uniqueness of the Buddha and his message, as teaching the dharma seems to do." I'm aware that Gautama listed out 6 miracles, things like diving through solid earth and walking on water, but he never displayed any of that (to my knowledge) in the first four collections of the sermons. He does mention a practice for the development of psychic powers, to wit: So he abides fully conscious of what is behind and what is in front. As (he is conscious of what is) in front, so behind: as behind, so in front; as below, so above: as above, so below: as by day, so by night: as by night, so by day. Thus with wits alert, with wits unhampered, he cultivates his mind to brilliancy. (Sanyutta-Nikaya, text V 263, Pali Text Society volume 5 pg 235, ©Pali Text Society) I offer what he had to say about that practice, along with my best guess filling in the blanks, here:
  7. Haiku Chain

    tonsils in a knot? the rain in spain falls mainly on the plains, slowly
  8. Haiku Chain

    a bit of tongue fu Bruce Lee's got nothing on this tonsils in a knot
  9. I would take issue with this, from the above article: "In the oldest narratives of the life of the historical Buddha in Ancient India, such as are found in the Vinaya, there are many accounts of the Buddha manifesting miraculous and magical powers." The first four sermon collections in the Pali Canon I believe are considered to the most accurate representation of the historical teachings of Gautama the Shakyan. There we find: "It is because I perceive danger in the practice of mystic wonders, that I loathe, and abhor, and am ashamed thereof." (Digha Nikaya XI Kevaddha Sutta, Pali Text Society DN Vol I pg 278; online here: I believe Gautama said that the only miraculous power he exercised was the power to teach the dharma. The author of this article says that's so and it's in the Kevaddha Sutta, but I can't find it right now: Nevertheless, I'm pretty sure that in those first four books, there's an instance where Gautama asks Mogallana to stir things up a bit for the monks. Mogallana obliges by using his big toe to create an earthquake.
  10. Haiku Chain

    I'll have some tea, thanks --What's in this tea, jack rabbits?! rancid yak butter?
  11. Mahayana vs Theravada

    That's a good question, about why the teachings weren't written down during Gautama's time, or at least during the First Council when the texts of the first four sermon collections were established. I know that the custom was to pass teachings down orally. I believe one of the early requirements for becoming a member of the order was the memorization of at least one of the volumes of one of the collections. Also, there were members of the order who had that photographic memory for sound, like Gautama's companion Ananda. My understanding is that in Sri Lanka, where the teaching was taken by one of King Asoka's sons who had become a monk, there came a time when there appeared to be a danger of some of the volumes being lost. The decision was made to commit them to writing. That would have been around the start of the common era, so 0 C.E.. How strange it must have been, to be a monk and realize that the teaching was now available to everyone, without the need for monks. Sort of like the first bible printed in the vernacular, and the consequent lack of any need for an intermediary to know "the word of God". The first four collections in the Pali Suttas are considered to be the most historically accurate account of Gautama's teaching. I've read the Pali Text Society's editions, and I recommend them--the Pali Text Society finished translating the middle-length collection, the last of the collections in their translations, in 1957. I think theirs was the first complete translation of that collection. I think it would have been very difficult for anyone to have obtained an overview of Gautama's teaching in the days of the oral tradition, and difficult for anyone to have obtained such an overview after the teachings were written down unless they had all the volumes at hand to refer to and the time to study them. Not that the teaching itself is that difficult to summarize, but the key bits are scattered around in the collections, and I think they won't make a lot of sense without all of them together and a steady practice of seated meditation. It's no wonder that many of the "sermons" of later composition attributed to Gautama were dedicated to approaches other than the study of scriptures, or that the study of scriptures should come to be viewed as inferior to other methods in many traditions. It's a jungle, in those scriptures! Nevertheless, there is no other voice in the literature of the world like Gautama's (IMHO). p.s. Mahaparinibbanasutta apparently may have some later insertions, but for the most part it's Gautama, and it's a part of the Digha Nikaya Pali Sutta volumes.
  12. Haiku Chain

    lighting summer nights over the heartland rivers are you gone for good? Are you gone for good Maybe I'll plant some milkweed pray for forgiveness
  13. Just then, the phone rang... I have no doubt that a great deal can be transmitted without words. Everybody in the dojo of my first judo teacher learned how to do the sweep, because that was my first judo teacher's throw. He definitely taught it, along with all the other throws, but the fact that all of us learned it well enough to perform it in competition and students from other dojos did not, I think says something about the importance of what is transmitted outside of words. But here's a story, from the sermon of the "Great Decease" (Maha-Parinibbana). When Gautama died, Maha Kasyapa and a large group of monks were on the road some distance away. Maha Kasyapa encountered an ascetic holding a Mandarava flower, which had bloomed and fallen out of season--the ascetic related to Maha Kasyapa that the Gautamid had died, and the trees that bore the flower had all bloomed out of season. Maha Kasyapa proceeded to the town where Gautama's body was laid out on a pyre. The townspeople had been unable to get the pyre to light, but after Maha Kasyapa circumabulated the pyre a few times and collected the Gautamid's bowl and robe, they were able to light the pyre. And there you have it. Silent transmission on the occasion of Gautama's display of a flower, just like in the Zen case (but not quite). How you learn things like making rain, bounding in giant steps through the snow, answering the phone before it rings--for some of these things, I think the physical presence of the teacher is probably necessary (and the individual must have miraculous talent to begin with).
  14. You're right about that, Apech. I suppose ritual magic has always been tied to a notion of cause and effect, the manipulation of objects and the sacrifice of worldly goods or lives in order to produce a particular worldly reward. And the preservation of the civic and caste structure of the institution in power, through the inculcation of superstitious belief in the necessity of the performance of the ritual by a particular class of individual. But putting politics in America aside for the moment... ha ha. The notion of "making self-surrender the object of thought", and of states in which "determinate thought" in action of speech, body, and mind ceases, that I think is original in the teaching of the Gautamid. That such states would also be conducive to the performance of supernatural feats and healings, I have no doubt, and yet the channeling of spirits and special abilities seems to have been a talent beyond most monks/nuns, even those like Sariputta who were acknowledged to have mastered the discipline. It's amazing what normal lives some of the native healers have lived, while practicing miracles when called upon. Faith is a part of what they do, and initiation plays heavily in the transmission of some skills, but only gifted individuals actually succeed in receiving the transmission of healing arts and perhaps some abilities. Some Buddhist traditions lean heavily on transmission in the teaching, as well, but Gautama did not, so far as I can tell from the first four Nikayas. It's a peculiar mix, the traditions that claim to be Buddhist!
  15. Haiku Chain

    o firefly master, you who reigned over rivers, lighting summer nights