Mark Foote

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About Mark Foote

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  1. Dharma in the time of COVID

    As I understand it, karma is the consequence of the intention there was in an action. Doesn't so much matter whether the intention was good or bad, just that there was intention. If there is no intention, then there is no karma. Where there have been deeds, Ananda, personal weal and woe arise in consequence of the will there was in the deeds. Where there has been speech–where there has been thought, personal weal and woe arise in consequence of the will there was in the speech–in the thought. Either we of ourselves, Ananda, plan those planned deeds conditioned by ignorance, whence so caused arises personal weal and woe, or others plan those planned deeds that we do conditioned on ignorance, whence so conditioned arises personal weal and woe. Either they are done deliberately, or we do them unwittingly. Thence both ways arises personal weal and woe. So also is it where there has been speech, where there has been thought. Either we plan, speaking, thinking deliberately, or others plan, so that we speak, think unwittingly. Thence arises personal weal and woe. In these six cases ignorance is followed after. But from the utter fading away and cessation of ignorance, Ananda, those deeds are not, whence so conditioned arises personal weal and woe. Neither is that speech, nor that thought. As field they are not; as base they are not; as wherewithal they are not; as occasion they are not, that so conditioned there might arise personal weal and woe. (SN II text ii, 36 “Kindred Sayings on Cause” XII, 3, chapter 25, “Bhumija”; Pali Text Society SN Vol II pg. 31-32) A clockwork universe of cause and effect, until ignorance (and with it, willful or habitual activity of speech, body, and mind) ceases. Basically, we go in circles until the "unexpected happens and time unfolds", as here: "In work published last December in Physical Review A, Gisin and his collaborator Flavio Del Santo used intuitionist math to formulate an alternative version of classical mechanics, one that makes the same predictions as the standard equations but casts events as indeterministic — creating a picture of a universe where the unexpected happens and time unfolds." (https://www.quantamagazine.org/does-time-really-flow-new-clues-come-from-a-century-old-approach-to-math-20200407/) I would say we are only beginning to see the consequences of the ignorance and intentional actions of humankind. The only way out, as always, is to trust the force and take a shot.
  2. Haiku Chain

    seamlessly perfect the cat launches to the desk looks without seeing
  3. Haiku Chain

    to the precipice and back again, just a look spring snow, melting fast
  4. Mahayana vs Theravada

    I'm wondering whose instructions on meditation you were following? I think there are several different strands of Theravadin teachings circulating these days: Goenka's teachings Thai teachings, like those of Ajahn Chah Western teachings, like Jack Kornfield's at Spirit Rock Offshoots like Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) I think they all emphasize what is now called "bare attention", to one extent or another. It's true that Gautama emphasized self-reliance, but he also recommended a particular meditation as the means to that self-reliance: 33. "Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge. "And how, Ananda, is a bhikkhu an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge? 34. "When he dwells contemplating the body in the body, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world; when he dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, the mind in the mind, and mental objects in mental objects, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world, then, truly, he is an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; having the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge. (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/.../dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html) Turns out it was the expansion of the version of the practice given above that was described in Anapanasati Sutta that constituted Gautama's own way of living (not the one in Satipatthana Sutta). Even so, the practice is mostly obscured by the commentaries, as far as I can tell. Not a source of happiness, to try to do too much. I suppose that's why many Zen teachers just instruct their students to be aware of their breathing. Of course, the basis of Anapanasati Sutta is the distinction of the breath in and the breath out, with the accompanying awarenesses, in a cross-legged posture. Then there's this: "When you sit, the cushion sits with you. If you wear glasses, the glasses sit with you. Clothing sits with you. House sits with you. People who are moving around outside all sit with you. They don’t take the sitting posture!" (Kobun Chino Otogawa, http://www.jikoji.org/intro-aspects/ “Shikantaza”) One could say that Buddha and the bodhisattvas are moving around outside, and maybe that enables the experience of what is outside the boundaries of sense in the distinction of the breath in or the breath out (along with a feeling of compassion). I would guess that chanting is an excellent way to focus on the distinction of in-breathing and out-breathing, albeit somewhat unconsciously. Whatever works, but as you can tell I am looking for the science of why it works, to the extent possible.
  5. Mahayana vs Theravada

    lost a post, sorry about that. If anyone got emailed a copy of the full post, please forward it to me at [email protected] Thanks.
  6. Mahayana vs Theravada

    (wow, gremlins in the Dao Bums software! my apologies)
  7. Haiku Chain

    except maybe bolt the door, if grandma's coming where were we?--oh, yes!
  8. Mahayana vs Theravada

    “I know that while my father, the Sakyan, was ploughing, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, aloof from pleasures of the senses, aloof from unskilled states of mind, I entered on the first meditation, which is accompanied by initial thought and discursive thought, is born of aloofness, and is rapturous and joyful, and while abiding therein, I thought: ‘Now could this be a way to awakening?’ Then, following on my mindfulness, Aggivissana, there was the consciousness: This is itself the Way to awakening. This occurred to me, Aggivissana: ‘Now, am I afraid of that happiness which is happiness apart from sense-pleasures, apart from unskilled states of mind?’ This occurred to me...: I am not afraid of that happiness which is happiness apart from sense-pleasures, apart from unskilled states of mind.’” (MN 1 246-247, Pali Text Society Vol I pg 301) There are cessations associated with the four rupa jhanas: 1st) cessation of dis-ease 2nd) cessation of unhappiness 3rd) cessation of ease apart from equanimity (with respect to the multiplicity of the senses) 4th) cessation of happiness apart from equanimity (with respect to the multiplicity of the senses) What it means to me: My sitting is largely a matter of realizing a spontaneous breath in the midst of activity. I don't know about anybody else, but for me that requires a recognition that I am staying out of suffocation, while relinquishing control of the precariousness of posture. I know that the alignment of the spine affects my ability to feel. The spaces between the vertebrae allow the nerves that exit the spine to relay feeling from the various parts of the body to the brain, in a dynamic that changes as the alignment of the spine changes. The more I discover relaxation in the face of the suffocation response and calm in the face of the precariousness of posture, the more the things that come forward for me in sitting reflect a timely ability to feel. Lately I tend to emphasize the relaxation of activity when I experience discomfort, and the calming of the senses that coordinate the placement of awareness when I experience unhappiness. That I can experience ease and not experience happiness, I think is an oddity of human nature. (http://zenmudra.com/A-Natural-Mindfulness.pdf#page=15) More on "the senses that coordinate the placement of awareness": In modern neurobiology, there’s a recognition that dysfunction in any of the senses connected with balance (equalibrioception, proprioception, graviception, and oculoception) can result in an out-of-body experience, and that the precise nature of that out-of-body experience will depend on exactly which sense is dysfunctional. In some out-of-body experiences, the feeling of place associated with awareness occurs in two locations at once. Such a duality is a particular cause of distress to those who experience it, because the self is so closely identified with a singular feeling of place in awareness. Our most intimate feeling of self, then, is a coordination of particular senses that gives place to awareness, and like the involuntary activity in the body that comes forward as I relax through the suffocation response, the involuntary activity of the particular senses involved in the experience of place comes forward as I find calm in the face of precariousness. (Ibid)
  9. Haiku Chain

    run through the jungle head toward the river bend paddle out at dawn
  10. Mahayana vs Theravada

    So much to say, but let me start by acknowledging that I'm not drawn to mantra repetition myself, and I can't comment on its efficacy, so far as inducing happiness. I'll take your word for that. First, may I offer a set of notes on the Pali Suttas--talking here about the first four Nikayas, as the fifth is apparently of later composition and may not accurately represent the teachings of Gautama: http://zenmudra.com/Making Sense of the Pali Sutta--the Wheel of the Sayings.pdf Second, regarding the origin of what came to be known as Mahayana Buddhism, I rely on A. K. Warder's "Indian Buddhism": "We seem led to the conclusion that the two parties (the Sthaviravada and the Mahasamgha) were less far apart than at first sight they appear to be, except on the first ground (the five grounds: 1) that an arhant can be seduced by another person; 2) that an arhant may be ignorant of some matters; 3) that an arhant may be in doubt; 4) that an arhant may receive information [be instructed by] another person; 5) that one may enter the Way as the result of spoken words--both parties restricted 2-4 to dharma matters, so the answer was no, and although it's not clear to me from Warder's expansion it would appear the answer to 5 was also no for both parties). The Sthaviravada were categorical that an arhant was by nature beyond the reach of any possible seduction; the Mahasamgha allowed an arhant to be seduced in a dream. Between these two opinions no compromise could be found, despite all the Buddha's injunctions (in the Vinaya) on the reconciliation of dissident views. .... No compromise having been reached, the two parties separated and became two schools of Buddhism. ... (The Mahasamgha) ... having relaxed or at least not made more stringent the conditions for an arhant, found it desirable to make a clear distinction in the case of Buddha; he was a being of quite a different nature, far above other human beings or perhaps not really a human being at all. They thus began that transformation of the Buddha, and his doctrine, which led step by step to the Mahayana, from the humanism of the original Tripitaka to the supernaturalism of most of the Mahayana sutras." (pg 217-218) Third, as to the teaching in the first four Nikayas, having once read all the volumes, it's possible to piece together the core of the teaching. Of course it has to do with suffering, but here's a declension of the origin of suffering that makes more sense to me than most, provided the description of "birth, decay and death, grief, lamenting, suffering, sorrow, and despair" is understood to be "in short, the five groups of grasping" (AN I 176, Pali Text Society Vol I pg 160): "That which we will…, and that which we intend to do and that wherewithal we are occupied:–this becomes an object for the persistance of consciousness. The object being there, there comes to be a station of consciousness. Consciousness being stationed and growing, rebirth of renewed existance takes place in the future, and here from birth, decay, and death, grief, lamenting, suffering, sorrow, and despair come to pass. Such is the uprising of this mass of ill. Even if we do not will, or intend to do, and yet are occupied with something, this too becomes an object for the persistance of consciousness… whence birth… takes place. But if we neither will, nor intend to do, nor are occupied about something, there is no becoming of an object for the persistance of consciousness. The object being absent, there comes to be no station of consciousness. Consciousness not being stationed and growing, no rebirth of renewed existence takes place in the future, and herefrom birth, decay-and-death, grief, lamenting, suffering, sorrow and despair cease. Such is the ceasing of this entire mass of ill." (SN II 65 “Kindred Sayings on Cause” XII, 4, chapter 38 “Will”, Pali Text Society vol. 2 pg 45) The teaching is about the cessation of intentional or volitive activity, and Gautama taught that this occurs gradually as the meditative states unfold. In particular and necessary to the mindfulness he described as his "way of living" (SN V 320-322, Pali Text Society SN V pg 285) was the cessation of action of the body in the fourth of the rupa jhanas, and the "survey sign" of the concentration (ok, that would be my opinion, but it's very true--as my father used to say). How is it possible, to sit and relinquish willful activity in the body? What's it like when action of the body takes place involuntarily, as though a part of the movement of breath? Here's Kobun Chino Otogawa (who came from Eiheiji to help Shunryu Suzuki found Tassajara Monastery): It’s impossible to teach the meaning of sitting. You won’t believe it. Not because I say something wrong, but until you experience it and confirm it by yourself, you cannot believe it. (“Embracing Mind”, edited by Cosgrove & Hall, pg 48) And that would be why it's hard to make sense out of Gautama's teachings, but you know there's this: “…What do you think about this, reverend Jain: Is King Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha, without moving his body, without uttering a word, able to stay experiencing nothing but happiness for seven nights and days?” “No, your reverence.” … “But I, reverend Jain, am able, without moving my body, without uttering a word, to stay experiencing nothing but happiness for one night and day. I, reverend Jain, am able, without moving my body, without uttering a word, to stay experiencing nothing but happiness for two nights and days, for three, four, five, six, for seven nights and days.” (“Cujadukkhakkhandhasutta”, MN I 94, Pali Text Society Vol I pg 123-124)
  11. Haiku Chain

    inked from head to tail black and yellow, nature's "stop" run through the jungle
  12. Haiku Chain

    To fight for status get involved and vote for it red, white, and purple
  13. Minor Death vs. Cessation

    Not sure if this is on topic or not, but... Zhaozhou asked Touzi, "How is it when a person who has died the great death has come to life?" Touzi said, "While you are not permitted to go by night, you must be there by dawn." Yuanwu remarks on this: People who have died the great death are all free of the BuddhaDharma, free from its principles and its abstruseness, free from gain and loss, right and wrong, merit and demerit; they have reached here and rest in this way. An ancient [Yunmen] made this remark: "On the level ground are innumerable dead people; those who can pass through the woods of thistles and thorns are passed masters." This can be attained only by going through that boundary. However, nowadays it is hard for people to reach this sort of field. If they have anything to rely on or any comprehension, they will have no approach .... It can be attained only after dying a great death one time and coming to life. Master Yongguang of Zhezhong [u. Setchii no Yoko Osho, Dharma-heir to Yunju Daoyong, J. Ungo Doyo, 835?-902] said, "If the sword of words misses the mark, you'll be tens of thousands of miles away from your native soil. For your agreement and acceptance, you just need to let go with the hands while hanging from a cliff. If you come to life after death, no one could deceive you. Who could conceal an extraordinary truth?" (From #78 in the "Notes" section of "Critical Sermons of the Zen Tradition: Hisamatsu's Talks on Linji", tr. and edited by Christoper Ives and Tokiwa Gishin; with the preface: Yuanwu makes this remark in his "Appraising and Singing" (Ch. pingchang, J. hyosho) after the forty-first case of the Biyan-lu
  14. Haiku Chain

    The stakes were quite high, and lives were lost--even now, there's no time to lose
  15. Haiku Chain

    the sound of music outside my door, a concert the mocking bird sings