Why go Vegan

Every one of us lives our lives in a tunnel constructed by our own personal philosophy. We perceive and think inside this tunnel, and we act and do things which we believe will help us stay inside the tunnel. The tunnel is safe. We already know what’s inside and we mistakenly believe that at some point, we will reach the end of it and things will change. On most days we live under the illusion that this is the point of life, to reach the end of the tunnel. Most of time we do not realize the tunnel exists.

The only thing which can alter the width of our perceptions and thinking, that is to say the width of the tunnel itself, is a shift in consciousness. At some point we have to wake up to the fact that we are indeed inside the tunnel, and that all our modes of thinking are made to serve this illusion that our own personal tunnel is the right one.

Because we live inside this tunnel every day, we walk around hypnotized by our minds. We stay trapped inside a narrow space which the mind has itself devised.

We rarely consider another point of view or empathize with another person unless their experience is similar or is a part of our own tunnel. For instance, if our mother has not died, we will say ‘sorry for your loss’, but will never truly understand the pain and what it is like to be inside that other tunnel.

We rarely consider another, conflicting point of view. Most of the time we desire only to see and hear a reflection of our own existing philosophy about what is life and what it is not.

We connect with those who have similar tunnels, and usually reject those who do not. We look for ourselves in others.

But what happens when we turn this tunnel in on itself? What happens when the tunnel and the narrow views it projects upon the world are turned upon the tunnel itself?

For a while and for most, nothing happens. This was also true in my case. It took me more than 4 years for my first real awakeningexperience to occur. There are many facets of my Self which were subtly and less subtly influenced upon, but one thought became quite clear and suddenly illuminated.
I could no longer justify or approve of eating animals.

The hypocrisy of my own self appalled me to such a degree, that it produced a reaction of immense dissatisfaction in my own doing.

Since I was a kid I loved animals. There was never any one animal which I would dislike or didn’t find fascinating in some way. And yet, all of this love and care dissipated at lunch time. An animal became food, and over the years I often justified this behavior as something a superior species does. It dominates. It dominate things around it and bends it to its will for survival. At that age my mind never considered the fact that, although I knew animals felt and wished to live, the meat on my plate was once an animal which too wished to live and experienced emotions.

Often I would hear the argument of, ‘pigs are ok dogs are not’. Meaning that a dog is not okay to eat because he is a companion, not food, and pigs are bred to be eaten.

But why make this comparison in the first place? It became clear to me that we think ourselves as a superior being. Instead I ask you this, why is it okay to eat a pig and not a human?

Think about it and consider the emotions it produces inside you when you read this question. Why is it not okay to eat a human? 
Why don’t you feel the same emotion and repulsion when you consider devouring a pig’s life as you would a human's? Why it is okay to eat its life? That is what happens. You do not just devour the meat, you devour its life, because first you have to kill end end that life. You know eating a person would be wrong because you see people acting and feeling every day. You see them living, and are disgusted not by the meat of a human.

This is a very important point to realize.

Everything you experience comes from Self. It cannot come from any other dimension. It doesn’t come from somewhere up above, it doesn’t come from left or right. Stimuli come from directions perhaps, but your experience of these stimuli come from an inner dimension that is You.

The disgust you feel is not at the prospect of human meat, but of the idea of You yourself eating that meat.

You feel and know in your gut that it is wrong. Not because human meat itself would be wrong, human meat by itself is after all just meat. Instead you see the ACT of eating that meat as revolting.

So why don’t we feel the same towards eating the flesh of animals?

The question to why ties into much the same process as early age indoctrination by religion. Any religion, when preached to a child at an early enough age, will incorporate itself into the tunnel of that child in some way. Because we often equate the tunnel of our perceptions as Us, that is to say we see the tunnel as Me and not as our Perceptions of Me, we later and throughout life live under the illusion that such and such religion is not a part of our perception, but that it is Me. A belief becomes You as you believe it to be You.

In the same manner, we are systematically systematized every day by our parents and those around us every time they put meat on our plates and advertise it everywhere.

Each and every time you feed meat to your child, and each moment you put it on his plate to eat, you create their philosophy. You create their tunnel vision of animals being foodstuff. And so meat becomes only meat and not a dead animal. The meat ceases to be a being that was no less a part of this world than the human that is now eating it.

We may think we bred that animal to be eaten and therefore its purpose is to be consumed. And yet that is not its nature. The purpose of being consumed was determined for it by man. And yet purpose is not nature.

When looking at an animal, we know and can immediately perceive that there is something which animates it. Something which makes the animal experience the world around it in its own tunnel. Something which makes it respond with emotions and fears just as a human does. Something which we call life, yet do not really know what it is or how it works. We can measure it, we can sense it. And we call it life. But the world life does not explain what it is, its just a word. And yet we sense that this thing, this life, is the animal’s nature. That it wants to live and be alive. Even if it doesn’t realize itself with the complex mind of a human, it still wants to be itself. 

Does this desire to live and be alive seem as trivial as the man given purpose it has received, which is to be eaten?

I think not. 

Yet still we consider ourselves superior to every animal. Because we can make cars, go to the Moon, or compose elaborate symphonies? We think ourselves superior and as the great inventors that progress the human race? Why should our nature be to progress ourselves only? If we are the only being on this world that can realize the whole world and its place in it, would it not make more sense that our intrinsic superiority is not that we can dominate other living beings, but co-exist in unity? When was the last time you personally invented something or done something for the benefit of mankind? Did you ever? Or do you go to a job every day, never feel truly free, accept your condition as a state of the world and do it every day without question, thinking you have no choice?

Now look at a bird. Is it truly inferior to you because it doesn’t have a job, doesn’t have an education, has not seen as much of the world as perhaps you have or experienced the depth of emotion? Or is it better because such things never even enter its field of concern? From the moment it woke up and till the last breath it will make it will live here and now, acting out precisely its nature.

In my personal view, the nature of man is the ability to become the very possibility which he sees and thinks of. Man can man a possibility into an actuality. That is a part of what makes us special, that is a part of our nature. Not our superiority.

Our nature is to wear masks. We do it every day. But it is our nature itself which wears them, yet they are not our nature. That which puts on the mask and realizes it exists is what is our nature.

And one of the most difficult masks to throw off is the mask of perceived superiority. Of being in some way better and thus entitled.

This applies to being entitled to meat. Let me try and illustrate how ridiculous this entitlement actually is. In our tribal periods, it was usually the men which hunted. If you didn’t hunt and were a poor hunter, you didn’t get to eat the meat that was caught. Now meat grows on shelves in a store, according at least to our limited tunnel vision.

Why exactly are we entitled to that meat? Because we were born a human being? You personally did nothing to deserve that meat, it was showed into your face from an early age, just as it was into mine.

You never hunted a thing in your life. Most of us will probably NEVER hunt a thing in our lives, perhaps we’ll fish. But we won’t hunt. We are inept hunters. Whoever thinks this is not true should go try and hunt without a rifle or set traps.

And yet because of our perceived superiority we think it is okay to do nothing and simply pick up meat from a shelf, not giving any thought as to the processes of suffering which needed to occur for that meat to materialize.

No other animal destroys its environment in order to feed itself. It doesn’t do this because it lives in careful balance that is maintained by hunter/hunted and something we call Nature, or God, something that we again feel and see happening, yet have no idea where it comes from.

In our superiority complex we believe ourselves to be the ultimate hunter. That in itself should be a joke. Indeed, we are so superior over the rest of life on this planet that we create stages of breeding grounds where we subjugate animals to suffering and fear only to feed ourselves, when the consumption of meat to sustain ourselves isn’t even necessary for survival.

This was a realization which, for me personally, was very powerful. That I do not need meet to sustain myself and be happy. That no animal has to die for any of my meals and that no animal should suffer for me to live.

The first time I knew I do not wish to eat meat again I knew nothing about veganism. I stopped for my own selfish reasons.

Many thousands of years ago, the East discovered what we call science today. Only they called it yoga. In this yoga, they incorporated things which the science of the West is now discovering, for instance thatbreathing and the rate of it has an effect on emotions.

Breathing yoga became one of the main sciences of the East. One of the techniques in this science was called Pranayama. In this technique of breathing and its philosophy air contains prana, which is life force.

In our Western science we have contracted our own tunnel for this. For us this life force is a way of seeing air as a combination of different atoms and in turn molecules. In reality this doesn’t matter, since what happens when you breathe 'normal' air is the same if you call it prana or give it a molecular composition.

What is important, however, is that in Pranayama, they discovered stages of prana energy.

The first stage is to receive prana through breathing. This is considered the purest form a person can get prana.

The second stage is through eating plants. We know that plants contain mostly Carbohydrates, Protein and minerals. Since our bodies use carbohydrates as its main fuel, it makes sense that plants would be the next stage where humans receive life force.

The third stage is animal meat. Since animals themselves consume the first two stages of prana only, except of course meat-eating animals, they change these two stages of prana into a third stage, which they store in themselves FOR THEMSELVES. This stage is not meant to be eaten, as it continues the most impurities and the pranic energy is not easily accessible by the body. Most of this energy gets wasted when eaten. The difference between meat and vegetable protein in the science of yoga, is not only pranic, however. Animal protein and meat does not store only raw energy of prana, but also the energetic state of the animal. In our Western mode of thinking, these energetic states are stored amino-acids which occur in bodies when under the influence of fear, dread, pain, sadness and all of emotions which are produced by the suffering of a conscious being. So it is never only raw protein which is eated, but all the imprints in the form of hormones and acids that these emotions leave within the nervous system and thus meat.

After discovering this, it became clear to me that eating animals makes very little sense. It took some time for the childlike compassion to return. Not only towards animals which we view through our tunnel as being our pets, but especially towards those that we eat. Slowly meat was no longer what my parents thought me it was – food. But became the flesh of being that did not want to be eaten. It became a part of a being that lives just as much in this world as I do.

To see anyone as superior or inferior is a matter of looking through a tunnel which you yourself have constructed. Rather, all beings are simply victims of their own tunnels. They are hypnotized by their minds. They do not know because they were never shown, or don’t want to be shown. They stay in their tunnel because of the fear of what might happen to them if that tunnel expands. To them their philosophy by which they live is not only a philosophy, and their tunnel is not just a tunnel, but rather this tunnel is what they perceive as Me. And losing that Me/Self is terrifying, and you know it is terrifying for them even if they do not want to admit it. You know especially then.

But it is not. It remains terrifying only when you consider it in relation to past events. It stays terrifying only as long as you leave in the past and not as an expanding possibility.

This identity which we believe that we are is always constructed of past events. When you ask a person what he is doing, or what he has been doing, they will always answer in terms of the past. They will say what they have done at work, what they have done during the day. But realize that just as the illusion of the tunnel and its lie is that there is an end to which you must get, the self as a static form is just as much an illusion. Instead you are here, right now, and to expand your own tunnel is a choice you can make at any point, right now.

Just as much as you fear to do that, just as much as that scares you, or just as much as you are wrecked with uncertainty about what comes after such an expansion, the animal on your plate felt exactly the same before it died.

And while the animal had the choice in being subjugated to these emotions as the choice was taken from it, we do have the choice not to cause suffering, pain and ultimately death.

What is Self-Realization

I like to talk about enlightenment. And yet I find not many like to talk about it. The main reason seems that, when they do, they realize how far they are from an ideal of an enlightened person which they have in their minds. The act of speaking about it brings them face to face about their current state right now, and most are not content.

But what I find as well, is that most don't realize there's a very important aspect to enlightenment which most simply ignore. The aspect is called self-realization. You might think the two are one and the same thing, they are, yet require different things of the individual.

What most associate with enlightenment is struggle, and then sudden change in Seeing or to the nature of How we see.
What this means: a person remains in an unenlightened state until the point where he experiences a subjective, yet irreversibly strong personal realization. After this, the person is irrevocably altered. Because of the view most hold, you find it too laborsome to attempt a construction, or the walking of a path that would lead to this altering state of mind. And yet this view of enlightenment and what it is, or how it comes about, is so rooted in our Western idea of the act of Doing and why we Do something, that we have missed the point entirely.

In Zen, for instance, there is even a so called little Satori (Enlightenment) and big Satori, depending on who you ask. Some would say little Satori does not exist, because there is no small Satori.
When D.T. Suzuiki, for whom the experience of Satori was the center of Zen practice, was asked about Satori, he said it all should attain it if they wish to have a penetrating comprehension of Zen.
When Shunryu Suzuki, also one of the biggest bringers of Zen to the West, for whom Satori was not central to the experience, was asked why he doesn't talk about it, his wife famously yelled, "It's because he hasn't had it!" to which he laughingly replied, "Shhh! Don't tell them!"

Enlightenment and what it is, is very dependent on our perceptions of what we expect the process to be.

But while the conduct of an enlightened person is most likely the same, the way most people think about how Enlightenment happens is oddly skewed.

Why we look at it as something to reach, a goal, is synonymous to our mode of thinking.

We look at it the same way Westerners and Man in general looks at life and his achievements. We begin our journey through the "serious" part of life early. We are thought in grade school that we must work for a future goal. We are then thought in High school that we must work for a future goal. Some reach university where they must then work for a new future goal. And if we are lucky, we then arrive to a place for which we have worked for, and still we find another future goal to work for, but this time we create it ourselves. We do this naturally, because at this point, the program of working for a future goal has been ingrained into the mind. The mind simply continues what it knows. It does things the way it has always done them and functions in this mechanism because the specific patterns of Doing have been established. How else would a mind that functions in such a way view enlightenment, than as a future goal?

It will not view it the way it is. It will not view it as a process, a way of liberation. It will not view it as something which is happening right now, but as something which happens at some future date.

It will view it as a future goal, not as a happening in which the subject is immersed in at this very moment.

He will not have the chance to bask in his own enlightenment, because that will remain a future goal as long as the mind operates in this way. As long as the mind cannot be here, right now, there can be no enlightenment. Because instead of being here now, the mind stays in a kind of semi-enlightened state of "I know that I know. But what I would like to see is myself when I know that I know that I know." Which is, as you can see, a rather ridiculous state of mind!

The realization of the self as being here and now, even small glimpses of it, can perpetuate states of realizing that one is here, now. And that here is where life quivers in its ultimate sense. Here, now, is where realizing the self can bright forth Right Understanding, Right Action, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Thought,... What does this mean?

That Self-realization is the actualization of the enlightened state. Because enlightenment comes, and if one does not realize it in action, in conduct, speech, and becomes the outward expression of it, it will remain in the future. It will remain something which you will eventually do, eventually become, and eventually say.

But when that time comes, what other time will that be, than now?

Happiness and Desire

There is a kind of tradition in many of the world's religions, especially in the East, for one to undergo a process of letting go of all material possessions. For a Westerner this might seem odd, as one can hardly imagine what can be gained in living like a hermit. But there is a very strong philosophical and psychological purpose behind this practice.

This is not something one does on a whim, and is preferable for one to undergo an examination of the emotional states while the process of letting go is happening. This can be very interesting and can lead one to the realize that all psychical attachment is an attachment to the mind, and that the first attachment and the "last" attachment were the mind's inability to let go. Yet what is the purpose of knowing this?

We all heard of the sayings and beliefs that material things do not bring happiness. Yet still most feel and know that, should they have a bunch of money, they could do the things they've always wanted to do. They could get the things they want. On one end, one feels that material things are not the true source of happiness, yet he or she is compelled to gather things and objects despite this knowing. They in fact do seem to bring a sort of contentment. But where does it come from? Is one content to have the object itself? Not exactly.

The letting go of possessions serves a deeper meaning. With each thing you let go, you may come closer to realizing just what it is that makes you happy and content about possessing a thing in the first place.

This can go on for a while. You may end up being left with nothing, and still the lesson will not become clear to you.

Most who attempt this, the ultimate desire may be to reach a state of having no desire. A state where you wish to have no thing and are content with having no thing. Admittedly a state that his hard to reach for people who have been surrounded and submerged in a world of things and objects and the desire to have specific things and objects since first your realized that they exist. And yet the desire to reach this state is already desire. In a very real sense, one desires not to desire. But the practice of letting go can make you see something other that the very basic desire not to desire is already desire. In this letting go and giving away, you may realize that no thing will make you as happy as simply being here, now. Allow me to explain why this happens and what exactly this means.

Even after letting go of all the material things and being left with nothing, one is still faced with the very basic problem because of which he began this practice. The desire to be able to let go is still there. There are no material things left to give, and yet the mind still grasps at itself and its own ideas and knowledge.
Being left with nothing, one may realize the initial desire was not to give things way, but for something to happen in the mind. A shift, a realization. So the fundamental issue of desire remains: you want something specific. What that is you may not have been aware of when you began this.

The superficial mind is ruled by whims, wishes and emotional fulfillment, which can manifest in the need to possess a thing or person. This can become an intense desire too; I want that, I want her, I want him. Usually we want things now.
But what happens when one gets the object of desire?
The person is content, for the most part anyway. 
The trick which was done by the mind, however, was to make you believe happiness is in the thing which you possess. And yet contentment does not come from possessing the thing, but from being free of the desire to have it. You no longer have the desire for the object or subject because you now hold it, and so for a while you are free of craving and in a sense free from the mind.

The mind operates on a reward-based system. You want something, you get it, you are rewarded by feelings of contentment and a release of endorphins. And yet because the object and the subject are so intertwined, and you have just gotten the object, you do not realize the subject's contentment comes from emptiness, from absence of desire, and not from fulfillment of desire in the form of the thing or person. Instead it comes from a state of brief freedom.

The most basic analogy is the consuming of drugs. You may think that it is the reward system of the ego and the release of dopamine which is in itself the reward that makes the user crave and seek out these substances. But the mind is much more subtle than this. In the moment where the drug is consumed, or even before this, in the ritual of preparation, the mind already knows the object of desire is gained, and you are free of the desire which binds you to a certain substance or the use or abuse of it. You are in the moment, free of desire now.

You might, however, say that the object is happiness, for it can bring you joy not just when you get it, but later as well. But if one examines how long this "happiness" lasts, he or she is quickly confronted with the truth that contentment lasts for as long as there is the absence of desire. It lasted for as long as there was not any other desire to take its place. When the desire is gone and you are free from the mind's grasping, able to be in the moment, you are content.

This is not the euphoric state one feels in a dopamine rush, which is often confused with being happy, but a happiness one feels from contentment that stems from inner peace and stillness.

But this is still not the lesson letting go seeks to teach. What it does is very simple: Do not renounce the things of this world as if they are bad and controlling. Do not renounce your own desires for things and people, but realize that, just like the subject, the object and the desire for it, are impermanent. That they exist as a play which you are acting upon for a brief and very limited time, a play which you have been programmed to take as seriously as possible.

Today it would be rather silly for a material being to completely renounce the things of material, as one is also material. This kind of renouncement thus becomes almost a renouncement of the Self. And yet knowing this, the process of letting go, and the examination of the Self while letting go, can be very fruitful. 

Impermanence may teach you the ultimate truth of your own death. It is a grim lesson, perhaps, and most of us know it, but do not feel it. It can propel you to be here, now, and to see your own suffering not as true suffering, but a nuance of existence. Being here, being you, is, after all, the only thing you will ever truly possess. Everything else, and the thought that you possess anything else, will be an illusion.

Image by Jie He

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Oceanic Experience

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Buddha Nature

Buddha Nature

If it could be attained by reading, thinking, introspection, analyzing, arguing, dreaming or wise words, then why don't you have it already, since you have been immersed in these activities since birth?

Original Nature

Jie He

What is our original nature?

A simple question, but one that tends to show up sooner or later in a person life. Why would anyone want to know this? What benefit could it serve?

Since this question often relates to meditation, and to know what is our original nature conceptually, we must explain some of the levels of being we go through in our daily life, and what exactly meditation will do to the psyche.

Meditation is a way of training conscious attention in turning inward and into the Self. This tends to be a very subtle process. Until it is not. Doing this, you venture deeper the more you practice, as the Self is the one place where no-one else can actively go, although others can point in different directions for you to go.

What you will discover at some point, is that you as a form that is consistent and true, does not exist. Instead of consistent and rigid, you will find the Self as fluid, a pattern. One pattern is strong; another pattern is weak. The more you perform a certain pattern, the more that pattern will become the idea of you, the Identity. The I entity.

When you go through the first layers, you will notice the superficial identity is largely based on others. 
Because Self cannot exist without the contrast of Other, it is natural for you to identify and build this Identity based on the reactions of others (mother, father, friends, relatives, people you don't know...). The strongest building block of social pattern (ego) is the perceived reaction - meaning the reaction you expect or wish to have from others. As a result, actions which involve and rely upon the feedback of Others have the most power to build superficial Identity.

The more these patterns become clear to you, the more you will wish to be mindful of them. 
There will be an inevitable wish for change, or alteration. Being mindful of pattern works the same way as looking into a mirror. One is bound to find imperfections and things to alter. 
This is the sphere where most of “you are not your body” comes from. It happens due to an inevitable sense of duality which arises when looks inward and a subconscious idea first emerges. You are watching these patterns, which means there must be a watcher, an I behind the patterns that is not the patterns. Then you go further and say this I is not the body either, but eternal and the same in all beings.

This is both true and false, as with being Mindful you will notice both of these and the level of truth of either depends largely on perception.

However, Mindfulness today has become a very "Westernized" concept. 
Today Mindfulness is acceptance through denial. That is, seeing oneself as doing specific things and having certain feelings, then accepting those feelings, but not allowing these momentary emotions to change your overall inner state or have an effect on it. At first this is impossible. The reason why is very simple. The Entity which does not wish to have a certain inner state already had it when he or she experienced it and decided he or she doesn’t want it. In a sense there is often no acceptance, only a pushing aside.
Accepting an inner state means feeling it completely. 
You can only perform an inner alchemy and freeing the emotion by accepting your emotion as it arises, as you can only transmute something you give attention to. By pushing attention aside, all you have done is looked the other way. Pointed the mirror elsewhere. Yet the state remains just as it is, right here.

As you do this and meditate, you begin to unravel feelings and emotions which seem to stir out of nowhere. 
They will continue to arise as long as you try and push them aside, instead of observing them and accepting them as being a part of your being - a part of your form and current state right now. 

Through acceptance you again start to notice other patterns in which you realize that these feelings are not the I that is watching. In this layer of pattern, you will learn firsthand about the nature of duality. A great doubt might stir in you, which for a while will dominate the psyche in a very direct sense. 
Since you will be actively splitting the mind into the watcher and the watched, for a a while not realizing they are the same process, you will notice a question showing up in your head: what then is me? 
This question is natural, as are the feelings associated with it. They are your chance to notice how you have created this - along with every other pattern - yourself; the pattern of there being two, of the one who is asking the question, and that which is being asked. That the two are not one and the same thing will seem normal in this state. That is, This body, and Not this body. Yet despite it seeming real, it is an illusion created by the Self by a certain kind of thinking and feeling. The realization of this will allow you to progress further, since before you truly realize this, you will always be pulled in two different directions of conceptual thinking created by superficial patterns. 
As a fun side-bump, the dissonance created fuels any resentment or anger entwined in the patterns you already have in your mind, and so all these emotions will increase in potency. And yet through this you will probably feel that you are actually "angry or irritated for no reason".

The more you do this, the deeper layers you will have to deal with. Deeper fears and deeper anxieties, but also deeper layers of bliss, as fear and anxiety cannot exist without its equally strong counterparts.

Through this, the process of going backwards in your experience of the Self will continue. Deeper layers of pattern and stronger emotional responses as the patterns are triggered by you poking at them. There cannot be a mind-pattern without an emotional component and a corresponding mental state, so experiences of strong emotion are normal

This eventually brings one before something our minds know and have drawn deeply symbolic representations of.

It is not a coincidence that the symbol for the flower of life is called a flower, and that it symbolizes complete unity. It is also not a coincidence that the symbol for the final crown chakra is an unfurling lotus, and that opening it requires one to let go of all attachment. But the most important letting go is not of material possessions, but mental ones. Especially of letting go of being attached to what we consider the positive emotion.

But what exactly does this mean and how does it relate to our Original nature?

Freud called this symbolism the want to return to the womb. In its true meaning it is not sexual. What awaits there and what the symbolic meaning of “return to the womb” means, is not something psychology discusses much, since the oceanic state is not what humans normally experience in everyday life.

It is that our Original nature is not that we are not our bodies, nor is it that we are a spirit. But that both of these concepts do not have any meaning besides in the mind. 

Both the concept of Spiritual and Physical are the same thing though different perception and different labels. 
Both words are man-made words, and both divide man’s original nature, which in neither body nor spirit, but simply is. 
The physical form is spirit, and spirit is the physical form. The body is alone the body, and spirit is alone the spirit, the experience of either still perception. 
You shift your point of view, and you are just a body. 
You shift your point of view, and you are a spirit. 
Both lines of thinking divide what is fundamentally one and the same thing given a different name and concept only after the experience of Oneness has already been experienced. So everything else was possibility, and remains possibility.
Because of this, everyone can have this experience, and everyone can be subject to this understanding, as the feeling of Oceanic arose before anything else ever did. 
Before someone told you what an arm is, or before you knew you liked Sally, there was the feeling of Oneness.

In our original nature, there was no concept of Me and Other, no concept of Spirit and Mind, or Spirit and Body, or Body and Mind, all were the other. All implied the other. All had the possibility of being either. 

What you in fact did in your original nature was float weightlessly, not aware of Self, yet having an experience of Self through having the experience of Other, yet not being aware of Other. You were not aware of the Self in the sense which you are now, and your Original nature was the experience of Self as the Other, and Other as the Self.

Spirituality can be another word for a way of Seeing into the Suchness of things, which does not necessarily mean seeing things as they are. It is why true seeing can only be known through experience.

You inevitably realize, when you are truly honest with yourself and what you are, is that Spirituality is a game just like any other. 
Just like consciousness plays at being a bird, a human, a tree or a rock, so too we play at being this, being that, instead of feeling that we are all of these things.

Why spirituality is the highest and potentially the most dangerous game, is the same reason every game is serious and potentially dangerous. Because it convinces you that it is not a game. By doing this, the game is successful in playing itself and continues to change its own rules until it again convinces itself (you) of its seriousness.

The way to figure out something is a game for sure is easy. The moment it manged to convince you that it's not a game, you can be damn sure that it is. Or to give a more graphic example. You know it is a game for sure when it convinces you to hold behind your own back a stick which dangles a carrot before your head, unaware that you are holding the stick yourself.

In this manner your original nature is always right there, although it is difficult to be it, as over it we all have layers of experience which are more immediate and have our notice. They are the dangling carrot fooling our presence that the carrot is all there is.

So how can I be this original nature now?

It is in practice. It was never anywhere else. If it could be attained any other way, by reading this text, thinking, introspection, analyzing or wise words, then why don't you have it already, since you have been immersed in these activities since birth?

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Not Zen

"To see the mind as it truly is, consider it like you would a tree. It grows and expands. Its roots go deep, hidden and out of reach, and to cast them out or truly examine them, you risk wounding the rest and must go beyond logic. The question is, are you willing to take the risk?" 
The Dreamer considers this for a while. His answer, however, comes with conviction. "I was made ready by this very world." 
His guide nods in understanding, smiles. 
The undergrowth bristles as their footfall passes. In silence, they walk between the trees and up the hill. Despite the slope, their breaths come easily, slowly. The rise is steep and obstacles many, but they press on, higher, slower with each step, until they settle on a steady and calm pace. Golden rays greet and stroke their faces. Light flickers between the autumn leaves. The winds are gentle as they lick the soil and awaken the greenery with movement, excite the smells of forest life. 
Atop the hill, a glade, caressed by the distant spirals of the sun. The divine engine fills the Dreamer with awe, furnace hot upon his face, infinitely moulding the Earth's flesh into an image, into life. He feels its pulse. His bare feet tingle. 
The two men stand there for a while, basking in the glory of a thing so mighty, so unattainable - like the true workings of the mind. 
The Dreamer gazes up the lone tree swimming in gold and watches as the sun and the tree suddenly become one. No end of one, no start of the other, but both admixed, like an alloy, embracing the light. His guide averts his eyes, looks at him, and the Dreamer knows what words shall follow, for he would ask the very same of the tree before him... 
"Do you ever sleep? Is the time between days sleep for you? Or as the season and its stillness takes you, is that sleep for you? Tell me, do you dream then? What do you dream about?" 
To this the guide plucks a small, white flower and hands it to the Dreamer. "What do you see?" the guide asks him. 
The Dreamer looks, perplexed, for he knows his teacher wants him to see more than the obvious. But instead of seeing what is truly there, the Dreamer's mind breaks through and depicts solely its sensual perceptions. 
"A flower, brightly coloured and scented," says the Dreamer. His guide looks at him. Wind rustles their robes in tune with the lush green beneath their feet. The tree above plays in the breeze, shading them. "Is that all you see?" 
The Dreamer looks again. Nods. "My eyes see what they see. Yet my mind tells me I should see more."
"It is not Mind that sees more, it is You. The flower is but an expression. Just like you. An expression of this world. Yet unlike you, it lets things be, it doesn't try and analyse why things are such, why the winds blows and the grass sways. All it ever wants to be and wishes to have, it already is and has." "But I have a mind," the Dreamer replies. "This flower has no mind. No mind to wonder, to ponder, to think and to feel." 
"It is the way of Zen. No mind. But a certain kind of emptiness that is as vast as anything that can be or is. A Mind that is ready. That is empty because it is ready. Even when such a task -- not to ponder -- seems impossible. Then, when there is no mind to dissect every nuance of the world, all that remains is the wonder, the experience, you are free to feel and to think, truly think. How your thoughts flow now is conditioned by your perceptions, by your feelings, by your life-patterns and choices. All of these things coalesce into what you think is the real you, what the real you feels it must maintain. To lose that means an annihilation of the You. You sustain that identity, instead of simply Being." 
"How can I be then? Happy? How can I be free?" 
"No man can remain in a constant state of happiness. It is impossible. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you will attain what you seek. A man can only stay calm, blissful. That, in itself, is the source of happiness. Serenity of thought brings happiness, a cantered mind brings happiness, and when these things are one motion, when you cease to search for your happiness and instead simply allow yourself to experience it, you will find yourself free. For you see, friend, true freedom is not without, it is within. You must first let go of your mind, accept and see all the patterns that control you, subdue and inflame you." His eyes water as the Dreamer sets his gaze upon the calm, understanding expression of his guide, bows low and says, "Teach me, master." 
"You must pass through the ultimate gate," the master says. "Enter a bastion guarded by your doubts, your fears, your perceptions, memories, false imprints, lies, illusion, guilt, shame and conditioned things. The gate has always been there and until you enter it and see that it's walls are transparent, it shall always remain there." 
Silence. Thoughts bend the Dreamer's mind. A wind waves the treeline for a moment, spinning sounds that drift, sing with simplicity. "What fire must I kindle?" the Dreamer asks. "What source must I tap into to become calm, serene, blissful, happy even?" 
The master smiles, walks the clearing's edge overlooking distant hills and forests... the Dreamer follows. 
"Analogies and riddles, questions and answers," his guide laughs. "You speak of kindled fires, yet, would you ask the same fire how it came to life? No. Its source is already manifest. It is present always, all it needs is patience and something that knows how to light a spark. A fire sparks and tree grows. Look! How tall that one is. How short that one is." 
Contradictions, the Dreamer thinks, always contradictions. The evening's calm swallows the skyline, colours turn vivid and the Dreamer's gaze lingers upon the transcendental beauty of the day. 
"Even as such a fire is lit," his guide continues, "The wood burns and the flame moves, yet it is really the mind that moves - interprets, gives the flame life. The spark you seek, the flame, it is your mind, but is not your Mind. The kindle sleeps within it. A bird nestles then leaves." 
"But what must I do?" The Dreamer pleads now. Straight answers continue to elude him and his mind reels for instruction, he feels its search - its quest to find words that would inflame his cognitive processes. But the master only smiles and, sensing his student's impatience, says, "Follow." They walk downhill, past trees both ancient and young, until at length, they reach an open grotto, lush and hidden, surrounded by trees overgrown with moss. A waterfall streams into the clearest azure. They halt a while, fill their lungs with moist air, and the master asks, "Where is the point where the falling water becomes the pond?"

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Materialism and Abstractionism

Jie He

What is meant in Zen when it's said it is not a religion, but a way of Seeing into one's own nature?

Most of us think the current state of our society and the individual self is a state of intense materialism. What that means is pretty obvious - we wish to acquire things of material nature. Items. Possessions. Money. People.

In this frantic search for substance, we forget that this is a trick performed on us by ourselves.

Since our birth, we have been brought up to differentiate between things that are Me and things that are Not Me.
This is a natural process -- a necessary product of the survival instinct. And so  as we become older, we begin to understand that things which are Not Me cannot possibility also be Me. And yet, despite seeing this duality of Me and Not Me with our own eyes, we are connected to a deeper understanding without our direct knowledge of it. 
This is evident in our acquisition of things to express the Self.
We buy and acquire things that are obviously outside of our bodies, yet are a means to express what is inside our bodies/minds and in this sense become an expression of the (perceived) Self.

The things we wanted have always been ideas in our minds. Ideas of what we want to be, think we are, or feel we should express. Upon possessing the thing which we desired, the thing remains that idea, meaning the thing is the expression of a thought, and because of this, we ultimately find the possession (the item) empty. 
The point where we do find it empty is irrelevant, we inevitably do. 
This shows itself as long as we fail in seeing into our own Nature. In this regard, everything which we acquire until the point where we see into our Nature, will eventually become of no value to us. 
The initial value came from the idea, from the abstract thought. This thought always fades, so the item's value shall also fade. There are things which may convince a human that he or she bought the item because it is his nature, and so the item is the expression of that nature. To an extent this is true.

Let's take music instruments as an example. 
You wish to express a certain inner state, an abstract, and thus acquire an instrument. An instrument in this case may be a pencil, and not necessarily a piano or guitar. You then perhaps progress in your understanding of that instrument and how it is played, then wish to acquire a better one to better express your own level of understanding of it. An instrument of greater value. Over time, you will integrate this instrument into your nature to a point where separation from playing will feel akin to losing a piece of your own self. Primarily what made you play was your nature to express something within you. This need for expression then became you as much as it already was you. So the instrument not only expressed your nature, but filled you with a belief that it is your nature.

However, what seeing into one's nature means is this: it must become evident  that the playing is your nature, the expression, not the instrument that is the means of expression

The expression itself is your nature, not the item with which it is being expressed. But because both arise mutually, the expression cannot be without the item and vice versa, and we are too often conflicted as to what is our nature instead of simply expressing it. However, new acquisitions of items will never be enough as long as one does not realize this. As each acquisition of a new instrument then becomes a wish-fulfillment of an ever-changing and inconstant nature of Self.

It was at first the abstract idea of what the thing represents that made one buy or claim it. And even at the point where we get the basic item of our desire, we sooner or later find that it does not express our being, our nature, and so we ultimately find it empty, and discard it, or replace it. That is because our own fundamental nature is empty and a series of abstractions.
Our minds and bodies remain an area of condensed experience, where our sense of I is always identified with past events, rather than with what actually is.
Even our system of normal, non-autistic memory functions as an abstract idea, meaning that whenever you have an experience, you always infinitely regress in its remembering. What that means is this: When you are part of an event which creates a complex system of remembrance and later recall this event, you will see parts of it. When you recall it the second time, your mind no longer recalls the first imprint of that memory, but recalls your most recent remembering of that event. This is the main reason for memory distortion and a good example of how in the end, all that remains is the abstract, emotional idea of that event, instead of concrete impressions.
Without realizing, we are with this acquire-discard-acquire-discard mechanism perfectly expressing our own transience. Only instead of realizing this transient nature, we wish to fill it and cover it up, creating a puzzling paradox; where one thing is both a perfect expression and a perfect mask to cover up the reason for the expression.

And so while superficially it may seem that we are Materialists, we are in fact Abstractionists. We never acquire a thing in order to have a thing, but to express an inner abstract idea of ourselves and represent/show it to the outside of us.

To give you an example from a Zen story.

In accordance with the advice of his master, Hui-neng lived a secluded life in the mountains. One day he thought that it was time for to go out in the world. He was now thirty-nine years old. He came to Fa-hsing temple in the province of Kuang, where a learned priest, Yin-tsung, was discoursing on the Nirvana Sutra. He saw some monks arguing on the fluttering pennant; one of them said, "The pennant is the inanimate object and it is the wind that makes it flap."
It was remarked by another monk that "Both the wind and pennant are inanimate things, and the flapping is an impossibility."
A third one protested, "The flapping is due to a certain combination of cause and condition"; while a fourth one proposed a theory, saying, "After all there is no flapping pennant, but it is the wind that is moving by itself."
The discussion grew quite animated when Hui-neng interrupted with the remark, "It is neither wind not pennant but your own mind that flaps."

And yet that brings another side of it.

When dealing with our nature, or trying to see into it, we are confronted with things. When trying to pierce those things with understanding as to why we wish those things, we are confronted with thoughts. When trying to pierce thoughts we are confronted with more thoughts, mostly about things and other Selves. So what is then our true nature?

The point of this article is to yarr you. To further create duality and divisions in your mind to prove a point of how, just like you have been doing differentiations since your birth, you played into the role of doing one now. Material and Abstract. Just as you were differentiating between things that are Mine and things Not Mine, or things Me and Not Me, you were playing into the dualistic nature of mind now, while in reality Things are Abstractions and Abstractions are Things.

The answer is too simple for many to grasp and explains too little to be of satisfaction to a mind used to placing a label on everything. To us a thing is rarely as it is. To us a thing is ugly, beautiful, cute, nice, blue, warm, etc.

To this end, the difference between Epistemological Nihilism and Buddhism portraits the same line of thinking of the difference between things and the idea of things, but have a different way of seeing into their Suchness. And in this seeing is the key. In the seeing into the nature of things and the Self. Because our own views and ideas split the mind, it is for us harder to understand the Suchness of Buddhism and easier to understand the suchness of Nihilism - a predominately Western idea of suchness.

With Nihilistic thought, things as objects are futile as everything will eventually fade and die. They suchness does not exist. It considers things such as colour and substance, and denies them of having substance, Metaphysical Nihilism states there may not be any real objects, and this comes close to what Buddhism is saying, but not really. With this thinking, Nihilism thereby perpetuates the duality where the mind is forever split in experience of flavour and of itself, yet denies it as having real substance outside the subjective, and so being ultimately empty. In this regard it splits the knower and the known. Splits the one who wishes to play from that which is being played.

In Buddhism, the thought that eventually everything will fade and die is essential not for one to realize that things are futile, but to realize futility lies in thinking there is anything else but this very moment. Now. It does not split the mind, because instead of denial, things are accepted as they come and as they go. They arise from abstraction to give the impression of material, and so become material as much as they had ever been an abstraction.

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