The occasional snippets of my wondering mind.
motivated by values. distracted by dreams.
hi. well, my name is andy. i'm 44 years young and over these years i have developed quite an eclectic, yet rooted approach to life.
eclectic in that i am always in search of new ideas, perspectives and ways of approaching this complex world.
rooted in that for me to take any of these new ideas seriously, they have to have certain criteria in common. in short, i try to take control of my mind and not the other way round (harder than it sounds) and try to infuse my life and thinking with the precepts put forward in the buddhist dhamma.
the main areas of interest for me are:-
buddhism, psychology, self-improvement, history, simplicity & internationalism.
i try to spend some of time:-
walking, jogging, meditating, cooking, reading
and i am, in brief:-
single, celibate, intellectual, green, a window cleaner & am to begin an open university course in the spring - the arts, past and present. this being the first module towards an open degree in the humnaities.
thanks for visiting and taking time to read a little about me. please do say hi and i will be happy to extend you the same courtesy.
As the stream flows it disturbs the stream-bed and becomes cloudy. If it is a calm stream, it picks up less sediment from the bed. If it is un-calm it collects a great deal of sediment and becomes thick with particles of kamma. If it is completely calm, it doesn’t pick up kamma but actually starts dropping sediment back onto the bed.
Eventually the stream becomes a river, or perhaps flows into a flood-plain or seperates into many smaller trickles. Whichever course it takes, it ceases to be. It is no longer a stream.
Now, if it was full of sediment, full of kamma, that kamma flows into the river. In this way, the kamma of the stream creates the quality of the river.
The stream is reborn as a river, or a flood-plain, or a trickle. nothing of the stream remains, but it’s kamma, it’s sediment, no resides in the river, in the flood-plain, or the trickle.
If there is a lot of sediment, the river is very cloudy. If less, it is clearer.
Now. If the stream is completely calm with no movement whatever, then all of the sediment, all of the kamma, has settled upon the bed. There is no flowing anymore. The flow has ceased. The cycle of samsara has been ceased. The stream now simply evaporates. The stream has escaped the confines of the channel.
I have spent much of the last week or two on a buddhist discussion group trying to learn more about the view of most people there that anatta is right-view and that it is worth studying.
I was very unsure and as time has gone on and I have read quite a bit elsewhere on the subject, I have concluded for myself that whilst anatta is correct in a conventional or conditioned sense, it is probably not a subject worth spending time on and indeed, from the point of view of developing in the dhamma, it could even be a damaging side road best left alone.
The more the conversation went on, the more I felt that others had actually created quite an attachment to the concept of anatta. This of course is completely contrary to the whole purpose of learning about it in order to deepen our practice.
I am very much an experiential student of the dhamma. Whilst it is very useful to have an outline of concepts before experiencing them for oneself, I think it can be counterproductive to spend too much time on them in contempation and/or discussion. The clear-sightedness with which we can experience panna can so quickly be muddied by then analysing and explainingit as in order to do so requires the use of words. words of course come fully loaded with conditions and so they almost infect the panna that we have experienced.
I much prefer the approach so often taken by The Buddha himself to simply outline the way to find panna for oneself and then to just allow the experience to educate us itself.
This group will differ from most in our concentration on one excerpt of text per week for the benefit of newer students of the dhamma.
In this way, it is hoped that a deeper understanding of the text may develop.
If you are a more experienced student, you would be very welcome indeed to join. By participating here, you would be performing a very meritous act of dana, helping others gain guidance to a greater understanding for themselves.
A passage from the Buddhist texts will be posted once a week.
Requestes for passages from the suttas and texts of any/all schools of Buddhism are always welcome. Please send requests directly to email@example.com.
In all cases, members are invited and encouraged to use the group to comment on the chosen passage and share their own experiences and observations as they relate to the text.
Members and students of all Buddhist schools and none are welcome to join and participate in our discussions. All members are automatically approved.
Sadly, observation of other Yahoo groups has led to the decision to moderate all comments posted to the forum.
Please rest assured that all posts that are ‘on topic’ will be approved and no bias will be used in this decision. The moderation is only there to prevent spam postings by those not interested in the discussion.
It is hoped that this group will be a welcome addition to the studies and practice of all who chose to use it and the scope of items offered here will be added to over time.
Why am I celibate?
As a traveller of the buddhist path, I have found great difficulty in reconciling my physical pleasure through sex (with another and/or alone) with my developing understanding of the dhamma and attachment. It also presented me with problems around whether I was really showing true compassion towards a partner by having sex with him.
Having spent the last few days on a kind ‘home retreat’, I have been clarifying ‘where I am’ now and why I am there. One of the main facets of my current lifestyle is the fact that I am celibate and having shared the following on another forum, I felt that different parts of the following may be of some help to others in some way.
Why am i celibate?
Well, the easy answer is that I want to deepen my practice of the dhamma. This is very true, but as most Buddhists will know, I had to arrive at the decision through honest appraisal.
Well, the journey began some 23 years ago, when, aged 21, I was raped by another guy. Now, I want to be clear that this DID NOT in anyway ‘lead’ to me being gay. I was at a party with my boyfriend, so was already fully aware of who I was. We argued and so he stormed off home and I spent the night at the hosts house, on the sofa.
In the middle of the night, he appeared in the dark and ‘did the deed’. Now it may sound pretty sad that a 21 year old guy was unable to stop this from happening. He wasn’t violent. Well, these days, thankfully, I think the acceptance and awareness of, not just the sexuality spectrum, but also young people have of themselves and what acceptable behaviour and boundaries are, has moved on massively since the early 80’s, which is when this happened. Back then, I had no idea what the ‘rules’ were for gay men. What was acceptable or not, etc, etc. All I had to go on were the false perceptions of society at large. Back then this was full of stereotypes and misinformation.
Anyway, I just froze. I didn’t even acknowledge that what had happened was rape for about 15 years. I broke up with my boyfriend, moved and went back into the closet for about 3 years. when I did once again emerge and started living my ‘gay life’, I was, little did I know, completed messed up about my identity.
At 21, I hadn’t really developed any kind of physical sexual fantasies. I don’t think this comes naturally to gay men (can’t speak for anyone else). They only develop, I think, through experiences, viewing porn, etc. This is perhaps why there tends to be a relatively high number of short lived younger/older relationships between gay men. The younger guys seeking ‘experiences’.
I think that gay guys are naturally of a certain temperement (masculine, feminine or versatile) but as to what that translates into physically is learnt.
Well, I now realise that my temperemant is of a more gentle, feminine hue and this has, indeed, been pointed out to me by a few true friends who have glimpsed the true person.
I however, thanks to the rape, developed an aversion to expressing this in any way intimately. The idea of being vulnerable to another guy was a big no-no, and as such I began to develop a more masculine persona, especially sexually.
I’ve always noticed that I need to create a kind of narrative in my head to have sex. It’s like I need a context to put it in, whereas I have also noticed that the majority of guys (at least those I have been with) only need to be touched to get hard. I always just thought that this was just part of ‘who I was’. now I think I can see the ‘why’ behind it.
Anyway, this ‘narrative’, even though it was only going on in my head, wasn’t always pleasant. Think along the lines of ‘take that’ rather than ‘I love you’. Because, as I now know, I was playing a part and not really being myself, this was the only way I could ‘get it up’.
I have never managed to overcome this and it is so engrained in my psyche that my only ‘true love’ (back in the late 90’s) ended up with a sexless relationship for over a year before it was just not enough for my partner. You see, because I loved him, I couldn’t reconcile my thoughts (however private) during sex with my true emotions about him.
So this, at last, brings me to my decision to be celibate.
Having experienced enough of the dhamma for myself to know it’s truth, for me, I find it impossible to entertain the idea of having sex with anyone, since the kamma I would be creating would be so intensely bad (through my thoughts, which is as potent a creator of kamma as any action or speech) that I couldn’t do it. The same holds true of any fantasyland I might go to to masturbate, so, that too must go.
Others have suggested that I could, over time, come to accept my more receptive nature and learn to find pleasure in letting the other guy take the more dominent role.
I have, however, caught a glimpse of how liberating it is without any attachment to sex, so I really don’t see that as an option worth pursuing. Why would I want to spend years, perhaps including long therapy sessions, changing one kind of attachment (in the Buddhist sense) for another when, in the end, I would still be left with a carnal/spiritual dilemma.
Phew…. That became quite an epic. Sorry I went on so long and if you have reached this far. It feels really good to have given all that some air, so thanks for reading it.
Meditation Needs Context
The practice of mindfulness-awareness meditation does not take place in a vacuum. It happens within a certain context and point of view. In the Buddhist tradition, meditation is often presented in the context of view, meditation, and action. Each of these three is essential, as a system of checks and balances. If we do not understand the view, the practice of meditation can be more of a trap than means of freeing ourselves from deception. Rather than loosening our ego-clinging, it could further perpetuate our ignorance and grasping. Rather than connecting us to our world, it could draw us away from it. Meditation in and of itself is no magical cure-all. Proper understanding and proper motivation are important. The view informs the practice.
- Judy Lief, “Is Meditation Enough?”
Read the entire article in the Tricycle Wisdom Collection
What is Emptiness?
Emptiness is a mode of perception, a way of looking at experience. It adds nothing to, and takes nothing away from, the raw data of physical and mental events. You look at events in the mind and the senses with no thought of whether there’s anything lying behind them. This mode is called emptiness because it is empty of the presuppositions we usually add to experience in order to make sense of it: the stories and worldviews we fashion to explain who we are and the world we live in. Although these stories and views have their uses, the Buddha found that the questions they raise—of our true identity and the reality of the world outside—pull attention away from a direct experience of how events influence one another in the immediate present. Thus they get in the way when we try to understand and solve the problem of suffering.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu, “What do Buddhists mean when they talk about emptiness?”
Read the entire article in the Tricycle Wisdom Collection