Saturday, February 10, 2018

Bits and bobs.

I’m reading History of God, which has been very interesting. It’s kind of a comparative religion course by the great mind of Karen Armstrong. It’s includes Buddhism in it’s contemplation. I've been tempted to quote it many times. Some real fascinating stuff.

I can't get past the unmoved mover. This remote God doesn't get involved, it's hard to connect with it. When you take it into the trinity, there's a big question of whether Jesus was God or whether he was some sort of intermediary. My inclination is to think of Jesus saying he's the son of god, as saying we're all the son of god--which is not the doctrine.

The parallel between Theravada and Mahayana and Judaism and Christianity is interesting. Because the Jews were displaced so much, they had to get by without the temple. So they made everyone into a rabbi. In Theravada only the monks can go for it, but in Mahayana everyone can go for it, and doing good acts is quite good. There are many rules for the Jews, there are many rules for the monks. But there are broad principles in Christianity and the Mahayana.

I'm attracted to the do good Christianity, but as Karen Armstrong points out, it's a kind of minority of Christians who believe in that stuff. I still agree with the Buddha that getting all twisted up about God doesn't help one to move towards enlightenment. I still find the book interesting in terms of the history of religion. I need to know more about Christianity because it's used so much in literature and in America.

I've been thinking a lot about attention and control. It's hard to not control the breath when I'm paying attention to it. It take a fair amount of meditation to release the control and just watch. I parallel that to some parenting struggles.

A swell guy in the sangha passed away but he left us one of his play lists. I found it to be pretty good.

I got an interesting looking book called Find The Seeker that I'm slowly looking into.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Book of the year

Looking through my books and posts from last year, I didn't read any great books that were published in 2017, so I can't give out a best book of the year award. There are so many books that are out there free, so many talks that are free. I know the writers who teach the dharma and sell their books don't make a killing. I'm sure they fund their various philanthropies.

I did read Psychotherapy East and West, and that's an interesting book, but I guess I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who wasn't a Buddhist psychotherapist or liked Alan Watts. I like his writings and that is why I'm reading his collected letters. I find his rhetorical style interesting, I study him as a writer.

I'm reading books on love, like Big Love, but I don't know if you would call it Dharma. I do read books as Dharma whether they are or not, but that's a personal decision.

The books that might be under consideration, Sharon Salzberg and Robin Wright's Why Buddhism Is True, I didn't finish. Salzberg's book seemed like a repeat of a past one. And I don't need scientific confirmation that the Dharma is good for me. True for me is good enough.

I wanted to Mark Epstein's new one but that's published this year. I wouldn't mind taking a gander at Unsubscribe. And I wouldn't mind looking at The Lost Art of Good Conversation. There's a new translation of Milarepa's songs I wouldn't mind reading. And Joan Halifax's new book isn't out yet. The Best Buddhist Writing series ended in 2012. I am enjoying Meditation Saved My Life but that was published in 2016.

The above books haven't come to my library last time I checked. Anyone have any good book suggestions?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

spoiler alert

I've had glimpses of insight, a connection to everything, I've felt a weird kind of hallucinatory love. At the time, I didn't think much of it. I guess I've been trained to think peak experiences are distracting, not to be aimed for, just enjoy and then keep moving forward. I didn't even tell anyone when I was on retreat and I was the wind, the leaves, the trees, the roots, the ground, everything.

I go the other way with that now. I think I needed to take them more seriously. That I could descend into a negative place, and forget these things, was not good. I need to remember them, and act on them.

Spoiler alert! Do not read forward if you care about seeing Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams (Amazon Prime). It's kind of like Black Mirror (Netflix), they are episodic scifi, but just amazing.

The first episode is about going on a holiday. Some computer thingy reads your mind and sends you on a vacation. A woman who is leading a lovely life, goes on one out of stress. She ends up in a guilt fantasy--she can't believe her luck, so her holiday is a worse life, but she can get off on suffering for what she feels guilty about in real life. But in the course of things, it becomes confusing which is her real life. She imagines that the suffering life can't be her holiday and gets stuck in the suffering life.

I feel the same way about the spiritual life. It can't be as awesome as it seems. But it is. There's a phrase from the big book, "rocketing into a fourth dimension." I need to remember that. I don't need to choose the suffering life.