Mark Foote

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  1. Gospel of Thomas

    Seemingly related to: "... when you make the inner as the outer and the outer as the inner and the above as the below..." (The Gospel According to Thomas, coptic text established and translated by A. Guillaumont, H.-CH. Puech, G. Quispel, W. Till and Yassah ‘Abd Al Masih, pg 18-19 log. 22, ©1959 E. J. Brill) I still like what I wrote about that years ago: "where the location of consciousness in three dimensions seems clear with respect to the external objects of sense, the same clarity can be brought to the location of consciousness with respect to the internal objects of sense (including the sense-organs). Where the location of consciousness seems clear with respect to the internal objects of sense, the same clarity can be brought to the location of consciousness with regard to the external sense objects. In making the inner as the outer and then the outer as the inner, the generation of reciprocal activity through the place of occurrence of consciousness is brought forward. As the activity is relaxed, the reciprocal in lower body activity reaches the top of the head through the extensors." Maybe I have a bit more to say about that, I'm working on a post to my own "Zazen Notes" now.
  2. Gospel of Thomas

    "Wretched is the body which depends upon a body, and wretched is the soul which depends upon these two." (The Gospel According to Thomas, coptic text established and translated by A. Guillaumont, H.-CH. Puech, G. Quispel, W. Till and Yassah ‘Abd Al Masih, pg 47) "The body which depends upon a body", confusing to refer to this as "these two", but I can kind of see "the body" as one and that body which "the body" depends upon as a second. Apparently the point is that the soul need not depend on the body which depends on a body. Here's one I like, from "The Gospels of Mary" by Marvin Meyer (© 2004, pg 20): "I said to him, 'Master, how does a person see a vision, with the soul or with the spirit?' The saviour answered and said, 'A person sees neither with the soul nor with the spirit. The mind, which is between the two, sees the vision...'" But I digress (if you'd like more digression, try The Gospel of Mary and the Mesoamerican Sacrum Bone).
  3. Gospel of Thomas

    “It were better… if the untaught manyfolk approached this body, child of the four great elements, as the self rather than the mind. Why so? Seen is it… how this body, child of the four great elements, persists for a year, persists for two years, persists for three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty years, persists for forty, for fifty years, persists for a hundred years and even longer. But this… that we call thought, that we call mind, that we call consciousness, that arises as one thing, ceases as another, whether by night or by day.” (SN II 93-94, Pali Text Society II pg 66) Gautama the Shakyan, there, with another perspective, but hey--we're all "the untaught manyfolk".
  4. Gospel of Thomas

    (86) Jesus said: [The foxes] [have] the[ir holes] and the birds have [their] nest, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head and to rest. The Gospel According to Thomas, coptic text established and translated by A. Guillaumont, H.-CH. Puech, G. Quispel, W. Till and Yassah ‘Abd Al Masih, pg 47, ©1959 E. J. Brill) As "to lay his head and to rest", I find a resonance with the instruction from the Diamond Sutra that the woodcutter Huineng heard, that resulted in his awakening (and later becoming the 6th patriarch in the lineage of Zen in China): "Let the mind be present without an abode." (Translation Venerable Master Hsing Yun, from "The Rabbit's Horn: A Commentary on the Platform Sutra", Buddha's Light Publishing pg 60) As though to say, the Son of Man is tasked with letting the mind be present without an abode, unike the birds and beasts for whom such presence is a given.
  5. What is so "special" about full lotus?

    I continue to sit the 40 in the lotus, at least once a day, in spite of the extent of the stretch that I find myself in past 35. I'm looking for the activity of the sitting to be generated involuntarily out of the stretch of ligaments, in reciprocity for the most part, and I accept that the stretch that's involved is going to develop strength that has to do with balance that I may not have had before. That means sometimes the stretch is a lot, for a little bit of activity! Balance is going to open the ability to feel, through alignment of the spine and ease in the exits of the nerves from within the spine, so there's an evolution of stretch and activity, alignment and the ability to feel. Ligaments can generate activity in muscles to relieve the stretch of ligaments, and when the ligaments are in pairs on opposite sides of the body, relief of the stretch in ligaments on one side can develop stretch in the ligaments on the other side. The stretch and activity can bounce back and forth from one side to another, in a subtle way. That's what I mean by reciprocity, and the whole thing can be involuntary. I think of Dennis Merzel, who says he started out in half-lotus, then sat for a long time in full lotus, and now is sitting Burmese. I admire the way he has figured out what works for him and been willing to change. It's true that there are folks out there who damaged their knees with the lotus, presumably trying to force the activity of posture instead of allowing it to develop through the stretch of the bands and the sheets. If it's not possible to find a stretch, and there's only pain, there's no point in continuing in any given posture as far as I'm concerned.
  6. What Did The Buddha Actually Say

    Rideforever, I went through the sermon volumes (except the 5th, which is a later composition), and tried to get a cohesive (short) picture of the teachings, in 1995. I finally edited what I had, and put it up online a couple of years ago: or, as a PDF: Sense of the Pali Sutta--the Wheel of the Sayings.pdf I'm not sure Gautama's vision of the natural social order was any great shakes, and the thing I value most in his teaching was his response to the suicide of scores of his monks (Sanyutta Nikaya V Pali Text Society pg 285): he assembled the monks, and taught "the concentration on in-breathing and out-breathing" as a thing complete in itself (forget about striving for enlightenment), and a pleasant way of living, besides. More about that here, if you're interested: There's some of the best information I've found in the sermon volumes, but I agree you have to speed-read a lot to find it. The Gospel of Thomas is another of my favorites, as is Cheng Man-Ching's "Thirteen Chapters" on Tai Chi. Good luck! Mark Foote
  7. Haiku Chain

    I will mow them down but first, I will stand them up smooth shave every time
  8. Haiku Chain

    Equilibrium Senses in a tizzy, whoa As I am, I am
  9. Haiku Chain

    are our resources like a rattler in the sun? best to know enough
  10. Gospel of Thomas

    Cueball, with reference to "perfect wisdom"--to me, it's just another "completed infinity", as I write here: Gautama's use of the phrase was grounded in the palpable (at least some of the time): Whatever... is material shape, past, future or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, mean or excellent, or whatever is far or near, (a person), thinking of all this material shape as 'This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self', sees it thus as it really is by means of perfect wisdom. Whatever is feeling... perception... the habitual tendencies... whatever is consciousness, past, future, or present (that person), thinking of all this consciousness as 'This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self', sees it thus as it really is by means of perfect wisdom. (For one) knowing thus, seeing thus, there are no latent conceits that 'I am the doer, mine is the doer' in regard to this consciousness-informed body." MN III 18-19, Pali Text Society Vol. III pg 68. That to me is a good example of Gautama's emphasis on cessation, on surrendering action based on intent. This doesn't say that action ceases--as Kobun Otogawa once said, "sometimes zazen gets up and walks around." Eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge (of good and evil) is precisely acting through intent, for good or for evil, and Gautama is clear that either way results in ill. Something to think about, in a thread where we agree that the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas are a rare opportunity to hear the teaching--what is our intent, when we discuss their meaning? Are we trying to accomplish something, some perceived good?
  11. Gospel of Thomas

    I am coming at the teachings through the Pali Canon sermon volumes and some practice of martial arts, as well as works like "The Gospel of Thomas". I would say, however, that the lotus has been my main practice, even though I would not consider myself an adept by any means. The emphasis in Gautama's teachings in the Canon is on the surrender of self, and the cessation of habitual or voluntary activity, first in speech, then in inhalation and exhalation (the body), and then in perception and sensation (the heart-mind--the mind, he regarded as one of six senses). Like Jesus, Gautama sometimes spoke of himself in a kind of mystical sense, as "the Tathagata", or "thus-gone" one. Some of the cessations Gautama spoke of are: 1) discomfort (dis-ease); 2) unhappiness 3) ease apart from equanimity 4) happiness apart from equanimity These are the cessations of the four material meditative states, marked by equanimity with respect to the multiplicity of the senses. The cessation of happiness apart from equanimity is simultaneous with the cessation of habitual or volitive activity with respect to inhalation or exhalation. The four immaterial states are marked by equanimity with respect to the uniformity of the senses, and the cessation of habitual or volitive activity in perception and sensation follows the abandonment of that equanimity. Gautama surpassed his two teachers, in realizing the cessation of perception and sensation. I don't think you can actually identify the senses as something other than the body, and to experience equanimity with respect to the uniformity of the senses requires the cessation of habitual or volitive activity in inhalation and exhalation, so I'm not sure "transcend the body" is the way to express what transpires. Saying 84 that you quote reminds me of Gautama's ability to see past lives, and to know whether his disciples were once-returners or whatever at death. Apart from these abilities, Gautama performed no miracle but teaching, although some of his disciples did. I think it's questionable whether Jesus actually performed miracles or not--doesn't detract from what he had to say, for me. I find myself returning to what Gautama described as his way of living, both before and after enlightenment. You can read more about that here, if you like. It's been said that enlightenment is about something you lose--I don't know who said that, but I believe it. Jesus lost what was Jesus.
  12. Gospel of Thomas

    Lately I've been writing about two oddities of the human condition. The first, I learned of through this article online: The notion there is that there is an anxiety produced when the brain decides that I'm suffocating, although the exact conditions that trigger the suffocation response can be complex. I encounter this when I sit, and the effort for me is to relax. The second, I've known for some time, but the Tai Chi teacher Cheng Man-ching describes it well: Generally, ancient people referred to self-cultivation as cheng ching wei tso (straightening the clothes and sitting upright). The derivation of the word wei is difficult. Most people do not dare to interpret it as meaning ‘dangerous’. But I think the words wei tso contain the actual meaning of danger because the spine, like a string of pearls, has many sections ascending vertically. (Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan, by Professor Cheng Man Ch’ing, translated by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo and Martin Inn, pg 42, ©1985 by Juliana T. Cheng) And in fact, there is shearing force at the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae, because of the way the lower spine curves back toward the junction with the top of the sacrum. Again, there is an anxiety associated with the experience of the precariousness of being upright, and I find I have to calm myself in response. This is the poverty of the body, and yet, with relaxation and calm, a one-pointedness of heart-mind comes forward. The senses work together to provide a feeling of place associated with awareness, to make an eye in the place of an eye, a hand in the place of a hand, a foot in the place of a foot, and an image in the place of an image.
  13. Gospel of Thomas

    Here's verse 80 (from the Greek) again: 80) Jesus said, "Whoever has come to know the world has discovered the body, and whoever has discovered the body, of that one the world is not worthy." I wonder about the word translated as "reign" in verse 2. Ok, here are the two lines from the Coptic (Nag Hammadi manuscripts) instead of the Greek, using the source that Apech referred to in the very first post on this thread: 2) Jesus said, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All." 80) Jesus said, "He who has recognized the world has found the body, but he who has found the body is superior to the world." "Rule over the All" instead of "reign over all", is the part I'm interested in. In particular, "the All" sheds a little light on the kind of "all" over which the reigning or ruling is to take place--"the All" is more than the material, if I'm understanding correctly, whereas "reign over all" has a more material sound. As to the body, could he just be talking about the material body, complete with phlegm and bile and excrement? Like this: 29) Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth has made its home in this poverty."
  14. What is so "special" about full lotus?

    I think it can be hard to take a forum site like this seriously. I do, because it's been a big help to me, and there are people here who have contributed a lot to my understanding. Maybe some of us haven't had that experience. I just figure those who use a word like "wankers" are from somewhere in the commonwealth, and can't be held responsible for their provenciality (just kidding!). As has been said, life is much too important to take seriously...
  15. What is so "special" about full lotus?

    Just got up from 35 minutes, which was all the pretzel my afternoon belly wanted to do. I think the main thing about sitting the lotus is, when did you start. The guy who told me to take my time with the lotus was sitting the pose very early 'cause his father was a zen teacher in Japan--Kobun and his brothers were wrestling in the lotus when he was 7. I know he demonstrated getting into the pose without using his hands at least once. Ok, I'm never gonna be that flexible, I'm pretty sure, but I've learned a lot. Not a lot different from practicing the standing martial arts with the knees bent, I'm guessing. I heard somewhere that the only martial arts that are useful in the cage are the contact martial arts, principally boxing, judo, and jiu-jitsu (I guess Brazilian jiu-jitsu has more contact than the kind I studied for six months back in 1967). There's a video out there of some poor Aikido black belt instructor who took on a boxer. They stopped the fight after several punches in the face and head, delivered by the boxer. I am still inspired by Cheng Man-ching, and Bruce Lee made us all think anything's possible, but if it doesn't deliver some kind of happiness I'm afraid I can't get myself to do it. So far the lotus does that, but my practice is better on an empty stomach (first thing in the morning or before I retire in the evening). I like seeing people's pictures, here's yours truly: