Blog

Welcome to the Blog


METHODS TO MADNESS

METHODS TO MADNESS



If given a chance to live my life again, upon reviewing my life, there are some things I would choose to keep them some things I would choose to leave behind.


That is being human. Cultures and things inside those cultures like religions are all produced by human beings. Therefore you can say of cultures and things inside them like religions that there are some things you would choose to keep and some things you would choose to leave behind.


People like national leaders who are put in charge of cultures and religious teachers who are put in charge of those things inside of cultures called religions have a job to do and that is to perpetuate the way things are set up at that time. This is basically a political operation for both national leaders and religious teachers are politicians. That is because their job is to organize groups of independent people into a single social body. That means negotiating with individuals so they surrender their own liberty in exchange for the right to give the responsibility to decide on their conduct to a religion or a nationstate. In exchange people derive a sense of belonging and some degree of room and board and a police and a military to establish some security and social order for them to live in and defense from others without.


This political relationship between national leaders and cultures and religious teachers and religious institutions is all a product of our shared humanity.


But negotiation is by its nature a surrender of one's liberty in exchange for a payment from your society. And accepting that payment your obedience and expressed support is understood to be the deal of the deal.


Therefore when we look back at various cultures and religions in those cultures we are looking back at the deals people have made in the past and asking ourselves if we would make the same deal ourselves. Did what they get, in the end, seemed worth what they paid for it.


At this point it is good to point out that every religion makes mutually exclusive contradictory claims with all the other religions. They can't all be true. The only 2 alternatives left is that one of the most true and the rest of them is not true, or they are all false.


Because modernity is built on the notion that you can test an assertion about the physical universe by constructing a test to either demonstrate or fail to be able to that assertion’s falseness, our model called the standard theory of physics is a theory in which the various elements can include each other in the same picture and do not contradict themselves with the evidence of the world around them. This makes the scientific method and the physical model of the universe that we have based on it not only something that everyone can benefit from because it proves consistent and full of information we could use to understanding our universe and technology, but it doesn't put us in the quandary that religion does.


Religions are based on assertions about the universe they cannot be tested either piece by piece or as a whole. Religions are systems of ideas that are mutually exclusive to other religious systems. They are always internally inconsistent.


What can we do with religion?


Well we can look back at the past and see that acquiescence to one religion or another was necessary admission price to the security of society was going back to the era before written history began. Religions were a big bundle of assertions, not just about different ideas about gods and goddesses and different dimensions of heavens and hells. Religions included mythological and legendary stories that also carried information about how to organize social conduct as far as ethics and even carry out tasks like farming and animal husbandry and how to go about things through the year. In other words religions were like encyclopedias of what you needed to know, or in the case of what goes on after you die or in some other dimension, things you only think you need to know.


So religions aren't stupid or useless. Human beings are part of nature and nothing in nature survives if it doesn't have some utility or at least has the good quality of not bringing about a species extinction.


So you have to ask yourself what is it that a religion does that is worth doing?


I think that a form of cultural tradition that carries and mythology and legends that help us remember the difference between good and wicked conduct and supplies us with little models of what it's like to be human beings in human situations has a very, very useful and therefore necessary part of human culture.


Because I don't believe in an afterlife, (because there is no evidence of such), and I don't believe in supernatural beings or other dimensions, (because there is no evidence of such), I have little use for the kind of information that supposedly tells us what we think we need to know about gods and goddesses and other dimensions.


And I find the exhortations to save my soul or not make one God or another angry with me very hollow and so much hot air. Why am I so intransigent? Because all religions make mutually exclusive claims about such things and are internally inconsistent, none of them can claim to be the one that is true. And that only leaves “none of them is true“as the truth of the matter.


But I can entirely relate to the affection people feel for their own religions which is given them the language to both think about and express the meaningfulness but their lives and the world has for them. I can entirely relate to the affection people feel for religious celebrations which are official occasions in which instead of thinking about yourself you can think about your place in your community, and how valuable community and those shared moments of being part of a community are.


But that kind of appreciation, both a sense of ethics and conduct and a shared belongingness with other people are aesthetic experiences. That means that a sense of our place in the universe and our place in the community are like our taste in art or music. They are subjective forms of judgment mapped onto an infinite, impersonal machinery of the universe.


But now we come to the reason that I think we have to be very concerned about religion in our lives. The world and the universe is of itself an avalanche of amoral cause and effect played out through trillions of trillions of mechanical transactions all of them within the operation of the 4 basic natural forces of the universe and entropy and the various forms of higher order in molecular structure and carbon-based life form evolution.


Yes, it is a big impersonal machine. But that big impersonal machine has no sense of itself, it is not made of pieces that have a relationship to each other, so those pieces that don't exist can't have any meaning, because they're meeting would be created by the relationship. The universe is an infinite just what it is.


But it is also the truth that we experience ourselves as distinct from the universe and each other. We experience the universe as being built up of parts they can have a relationship to each other and therefore have meaning. Now I have to ask you an important question. Just because something has meaning to you but you alone, should you become upset and say that nothing has any meaning?


Of course not. If something has meaning to you it has meaning. It's truth comes from its establishment of a factual relationship between you and your own life. And because we are all human beings, it should come as no surprise that we all share in much of the meaningfulness of our lives. That's where community is just as real as the laws that govern the thermal nuclear fires at the heart of stars.


It is only the selfish, self-serving childish attitude that our meaning should be as important to other people as it is to us that makes us get upset about the fact that it is an impersonal universe and it has no sense of us is even existing.


Religion is the natural cultural institution of preserving social meaningfulness in an impersonal infinite universe.


It is as real as the taste of tears or blood.


Without our commitment to live up to the ethical importance of our experience of meaningfulness, we are just animals with a brain. A brain dedicated to make us dangerous with selfishness and technology.


Where ever you have a social face of humanity you also have a personal face of humanity.


The personal face of humanity is called spirituality.


Spirituality is a person's own commitment to pay attention to that interaction of self and life that has meaning. The stages that everyone goes through in life, birth, old age, sickness and death, these are all shared experiences and our commitment to understand our mutual experience using these as doors to open up our hearts to others is the ethical commitment of a spiritual living human being.


It is our job as social human beings to constantly put our personal experience of spirituality back into the community expression of religiosity to keep it alive and useful to the survival of the community.


In modern terms that means creating religious poetry and religious mythology like we would write hymns or Psalms as a vehicle to provide a platform of shared meaningfulness so that the culture and the religion of that culture is renewed and a living religion and culture.


But now we come in to confront the fact that we are all human.


As you recall nations and religions are administered by national leaders and religious teachers whose primary job is not spirituality, but politics.


This is why traditional religions have fought tooth and nail for the last 2000 years to allow the understandings of science and modernity has brought the world to displace them as the standard understanding of the universe shared by all people.


In other words, the first priority of those in power is to stay in power. And if that power is represented by a flag or a statue of a deity or a oath of allegiance or a series of spiritual assertions, then, by God, you don't change those because if you change those you diminish the imperative of their nature as being asserted to be law.


Oops.


And because we are human, for the last 2000 years, starting with such people as Lucretius and his “on the natural world” and the atheists of today, a very human resentment and resistance is been built up on the part of those representing a liberated knowledge of the universe, a knowledge that makes modern life possible yet a knowledge that is denied on every front by the most conservative and fundamentalist leaders of every religious sect.


From the persecution of Galileo to referendums in school districts across the United States to make “creationism” a dogma taught on an equal standing with a presentation of the theory of evolution, you have an ongoing struggle to keep the mutually exclusive and internally contradictory institutions of dogmatic religion in the position of determining what passes for the blessed view of the world in every one of our societies on this world.


And in response all of religious mythology of such is been dismissed as just so much poetry and puffed up neurotic hallucination.


This kind of predicament is very human.


The fact is that we must accept that religious mythology is the poetry of meaningfullness, and reestablish ourselves as the authors of our own spirituality and religious life by making such poetry a valued community activity, one that we know comes from ourselves, but it has its value in that it expresses the essence of what it is to beat us.


There has been traditions in China and among the Sufis to indulge the value of poetry to express spirituality on a par with anything that tradition is passed down in big difficult books.


Take a look at that.


Now if you look around this we can see that many computer games are starting to incorporate gods and demons from the comic book alternate universe and I cannot help but think of that as expressing a desire to start making the games we played meaningful again.


Take a look at that.


Look at the way we create an impromptu mythology of heroes and gods and goddesses of our pretty if vapid music and movie idols. Obviously the need to worship models of socially valuable behavior are there as part of us.


Take a look at that.


Every nationstate drums up the value of the immortal hero at battle, someone who is willing to be slain for the social good. But the thing is that once we have our important little wars we leave them behind us like a cat leaves a pile of vomit. We immediately rushed off to the next little war like a child after a butterfly. And how many speeches of “we will never forget this fallen hero?” Has this poor world had to suffer, even as that hero turns to dust and their name is forgotten as soon as the sports news is announced on the next day's newspaper or radio or TV.


I look around me and I can count 20 actual military battles where people died on both sides that the United States has engaged in since I was a child, and most people in public discourse only mention 3. I think that most soldiers die for nothing beyond the goodness of the heart with which they were able to give up their life thinking of others. Doesn't that thought sober you?


But we accept this process of war because it fits the mythology of a small group of people wandering in the desert, slaying dragons, struggling to find their way back to the garden of Eden.


Take a look at that.


How are we as a world going to “reclaim the means of production” our spirituality, in a fashion that we can overcome our own avalanche of industrialized inhumanity in consumerism and in perpetual war?


So when I look at my own religion, Buddhism, I look at it as a human invention, which is only appropriate, because I need a spiritual sense of my humanity.


2,441 Words by Leo Rivers, the garage house, Cottage Grove, Oregon, Sunday, April 21, 2013 12:15:39 PM














A CONCISE GUIDE TO RE-VISIONING THE MAHĀYĀNA

A CONCISE GUIDE TO RE-VISIONING THE MAHĀYĀNA

“*”  means Quick Start One Evening Survey


SHOP http://www.scribd.com/ and save!


Boucher, Daniel. Bodhisattvas of the forest and the formation of the Mahāyāna - A Study and Translation of the

Rā1ṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā-sūtra, Institute for the Study of Buddhist Traditions, 2008


Chang, Garma C. C., ed. A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras: Selections from the Maharatnakuta Sutra. annotated edition. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008.


* Drewes, David. Early Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism I: : Recent Scholarship & Early Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism II: New Perspectives, University of Manitoba, Religion Compass 3 (2009)


Harris Ian Charles.The Continuity Of Madhyamaka And Yogacara In Indian Mahayana Buddhism, E.J. Brill Leiden· New York· Kobenhavn Koln 1991


* Harrison, Paul. Who Gets to Ride in the Great Vehicle? Self-Image and Identity Among the Followers of the Early Mahāyāna, The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, Vol. 10, No. 1 1987


Nattier, Jan. Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path According to the Inquiry of Ugra (Ugrapariprccha). New edition. Univ of Hawaii Pr, 2005.




Pederson, K. Priscilla. Notes on the Ratnakūṭa Collection,Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1980, pp. 60-66 


Schopen, Gregory. The Mahâyâna and the Middle Period in Indian Buddhism Through a Chinese Looking-Glass, The Eastern Buddhist n.s. 32.2 (2000) 1–25.


* Silk, Jonathan A.. What, If Anything, Is Mahāyāna Buddhism? Problems Of Definitions And Classifications, NUMEN, Vol. 49, Brill NV, Leiden (2002) 


Walser, Joseph. Nāgārjuna in context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and early Indian culture, Columbia University Press, 2004


* Walser, Joseph. The Origin of the Term ‘Mahāyāna’ (The Great Vehicle) and its Relationship to the Āgamas, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1–2 2007 (2009)


Werner, Karel. On the Nature and Message of the Lotus Sūtra in the Light of Early Buddhism and Buddhist Scholarship: Towards the Beginnings of Mahāyāna, International Journal of Buddhist Thought & Culture September 2003, Vol. 3, pp. 13~34.


Compiled and © 2013 by Leo Rivers, www.madimi.com

Monday, March 18, 2013 1:30:40 PM


———

The Transcendental Atheist



All things in the Universe and

the Universe itself are

created in the womb of Nature and thus

are Natural things.


All angels and devils

are but our own echoes 

- and Heavens and Hells

are imagination as well.


Yet one can divine deep streams

in Dreams

and our ethical maps

of this Universe Machine

have true Real Meaning.


So be awakened -

life is brief and 

homes and friends are long

in making.


This Visit we have

is this Once and

if we are but Kind

- Amazing.



Leo Rivers, the garage house, CGOR, Monday, March 11, 2013 8:45:40 AM

INTRODUCING MYSELF AS A BUDDHIST AND AN ATHEIST


Who am I? I am a man who was born and has lived and will die rather sooner than later and then be forgotten forever. This doesn't mean that nothing I do counts because things I do contribute to the shared inheritance of the world I have shared with you. And this doesn't mean that no one will ever talk about me when I'm gone. But I'd rather not have to think about that too much.


I think of myself as a poet and a Buddhist and an atheist.


Because I am presenting myself as a Buddhist, it is only right that I tell you that I am a Buddhist and a little bit about what being a Buddhist is for me, which in essence is saying something about what kind of Buddhist I am.


But before any talk about spirituality I should introduce myself in my role as an atheist. If you want to hear a little bit about atheism discussed reasonably and from a positive point of view rather than one that is self identified as antagonistic to religion, I recommend a book called Atheism by Julian Baggini. It has a subtitle that reads “a brief insight”. This book was published by sterling publishing Company of New York in 2003 and revised some for 2009. There is a summary version of this book in paper back published by Oxford in its “a very short introduction” series with “a very short introduction” as a subtitle. It shares its text with the bigger book but lives up to its subtitle. And it shares its basic attitude of rationality and goodwill.


I have said all of that because you will not understand what kind of Buddhist I am unless you understand that I am an atheist and what kind of atheist I am. I do not believe in a God or gods or a heaven or hell or multiple lives. I do not believe there is an alternate universe or higher dimension full of those particular creatures we have become familiar with from religious scriptures which seemed chiefly to act out our good and bad psychic energies in a way that we can talk about them reasonably. And I think you both give at this point to see why I don't throw the baby weight with the bathwater when I talk about religion.


I am what the author of the book “atheism” would call a “naturalist”. I believe the entire mechanism and all the contents of the universe to be the outcome of what we can call natural processes. You can think of the universe that are merged as energy and matter in space over the horizon of our space time as being a vast blossom of cause-and-effect, in effect an avalanche of interactions in which, amazingly, order can increase and combinations of transactions can become chemical reactions and even living organisms and all that they can do. And I believe that it is a largely expanding and therefore cooling place in which someday all of the stars in space will evaporate their energy and everything will spread out as the universe expands infinitely into an even singular temperature near absolute 0. But that chilly day is 1 trillion years away. And after all, our universe now that is starting to speed up a little in its expansion with time, and spread out even more quickly than ever before in space, is itself about 13 billion years old. That means that the farthest stars we can see away or something less than 13 billion years old. In other words we are seeing them as they were 13 billion years ago. The closer the stars we are looking at are, the less time it is spent for light to reach our eyes, and we are seeing them as they were ever so much more recently.


So if I think the world is a vast mechanism of self evolving energy burning transactions, an avalanche where interesting things can happen as they are done and then undone, why have religion? Everything just is as it turned out to happen.


Well, we don't look at the universe as a global mind knowing the whole universe infinite in extent and in its details in one glance and the immediacy of the moment. That godlike view would belong to a God if I thought there was one. We are divided from the universe by our birth as an independent little entity, at least in our own fictional understanding of ourselves. And that perspective or point of view of us and then all of that creates a situation in which you can say one can take one view or another about how we should deal with all of that and vice versa. In other words we have a relationship to other people and the world around us, and that relationship is meaningful within the structure of the point of view we have about who we are and what the universe is.


That essentially aesthetic judgment is a fiction of our mind, an invention of our creativity, and subject to our subjectivity, but it is not to say it doesn't carry truth, important truth that it's worth knowing while you live in this world you share with others.


This map of meaningfulness that we lay on the machinery of the universe like the papier-mâché skin on a skeleton of a broad assortment Museum is our way of experiencing the meaningfulness of an impartial and disinterested universe and behaving in a meaningful way to other sentient creatures like ourselves that live embedded in their own spiderwebs of meaningfullness.


It is the way we embrace our humanity in a nonhuman infinity.


Now I have said that I think that all things in nature are the result of natural processes. There is one thing that stands apart from that. That is the presence of existence itself. The very fact that we exist experiencing all this as a collection of objects in interaction rather than one big universal sigh of energy with lumps in it flies in the face of thinking of the world as just a machine and nothing more.


We have the universe of the machine and then we have the daunting fact that it exists. The problem of existence standing outside of the explanation of a mechanism with parts which exhibit cause-and-effect is a finger-pointing directly at Buddhism.


In my view, the Buddha was a man who lived, had an important experience that he talked other people about, and he ate some bad food and died about 404 years before the common era, 2417 years ago years ago as of the time of this writing, early in the spring 2013.


I believe that he lived his life as a man and then was either buried or exposed to the elements to be dispersed by the birds. But with the birds in every direction the religion of Buddhism spread. Now for me Buddhism is a tradition of spirituality. That means it is a tradition of applying a map of meaningfulness to the universe that somehow ties the universe of brutal cause-and-effect together with the amazing fact that it exists at all. Somehow these 2 facts are like the mother and father of a child who walks in kindness.


Why would this be so? Because the Buddha asked why the world was so hard. Why is there suffering? Why is there sickness, why is there death? Why do we repeat the same mistakes over and over hoping that things will turn out better this time?


Because the Buddha was not looking for a God out there or a self in here, but was looking for a medicine for what was going on all around him, when he observed his own experience he found that instead of a hard object like a rock made of diamond at his core called the “self” he actually turned out to be composed of 5 dynamic constantly changing heaps of tiny elements. Each moment of perception contained form. Contains a judgment about whether that form was good or bad news for us or neutral. It also contains our habitual patterns of responding to that form. It contains our experience of that form as a perception and our consciousness of it. These 5 aggregates or what there really are when the illusion of there being a man or a woman there dissolves in meditation. Just as in a classical movie film there are 24 frames being shown on the screen in the theater every second, a series of still photographs going so fast we blur them into a motion picture, these 5 heaps of fundamental experience or blurred together in our minds which under the sway of our experience of a self and other relationship to the universe, imagines that there is a eternal substantial self there.


And looking out at the universe the Buddha saw that everything that he examined was like a cloud that came together due to past causes and present conditions. You planted seeds in the past and when the rainy season came the seeds sprouted and became plants. Past causes and present conditions.


And there was an ethical charge to all of these particles of form, valuation, habitual formation, perception and consciousness working together to experience a universe of cause-and-effect moving in time.


Well if the Buddha like an atheist saw the universe as being a mechanism that was a natural outcome of natural processes of cause-and-effect, why did he create a lineage of spirituality?


Why? Because he was looking for a medicine for the suffering that people experience in their lives because they are people. He determined that fundamentally we suffer because we cling to what is created by and then disassembled by change. Everything is in the state of change. Pretty girls with ripe breasts and limber legs and happy faces in just a few years soften and begin to melt like a candle placed too close to an open flame in a fireplace. Then when they look in the mirror see the same thing happen to them. We cannot cling to our youth, we cannot cling to the things we have struggled so hard for and maybe even have done terrible things for. Because when we take our last breath people come in from every direction and pickup what they want and walk away from us.


The Buddha believed in the simple psychology that if you are exposed again and again in meditation to recognizing the aggregate nature of your own body and your feelings and your thought processes and even the spiritual elements of your understanding, then you would come in time to be becalmed and like a stream whose waters are calm you would also be able to see clearly to the bottom, and seeing clearly you would understand the 4 Noble truths of Buddhism, that of the existence of suffering or insufficiency, that the cause of that is grasping at what cannot be held on to, but that there is a state of liberation from this grasping, a state of freedom obtained by living your life according to the noble eightfold path for which Buddhism is famous.


Because I believe the Buddha was a man, I have no trouble thinking that he may have begun a program that needed a little more work to become finished. And I think that in what we call Mahayana Buddhism the other shoe dropped. Now Mahayana Buddhism eventually divorced itself in a political way from traditional Buddhism and try to turned away both were presented into something that looked like 2 political parties with completely exclusive political platforms that kept them apart. And because people in those days where very few people were literate and the creation of literature was the privilege of the wealthy or the Royal, people in such days attributed their insights to gods or angels and the ability to scale to other dimensions as a way to compete for economic resources, without which their books would not be published nor would the houses be built to which people could come to listen to those books. They made idols of their masters, deifying them, and they worshipped their lineage by the ways they struggled with others to express their patriotism.


We should not judge them because we do the same thing today. We simply have different ways of expressing our fearfulness and our desire to have coercive power over others.


And, for me, Buddhism has invested 2400 years in developing techniques of liberating human beings in a single lifetime.


For me of lineage of spirituality is one in which one human being inherits a tradition of cultural learning built around mapping meaningfulness on the world and making one a harmonious un-self-centered actor who lives to benefit others and leave as few negative causes as seeds planted by their life to be harvested as landscapes of misfortune by future generations.


It is this very fact of existence and its being without any parts or any high or low or any kind of seam or boundary that astonishes us and is our reward for giving up clinging to that seething cloud of flies whose silhouette has always been a “self” to us.


Yet because the eminence of imminent transcendence is everywhere, and is never separated from you for a single 2nd or a single whisker even as you are deeply embedded in duality of me and other, somehow it can work as a tincture in your character anyway. Don't ask me.


But as a Buddhist this is where I pitch my tent. It is the eye of the storm of a suffering old man going very soon to death. And I go with no daydreams of an afterlife in heaven or hell or future incarnations. Because I'm a Mahayana Buddhist it is simply enough for me to know that someone will have to inherit the world in which I have planted the seeds of my deeds. It is for those people as unknown to me as, I will be unknown to them, that I live my life trying to cultivate meditation and transform my character by dancing around the strange attractor of liberation into Buddha wisdom.


Now I am displeased. 2417 words into this, my effort, (including these), at expressing Buddhism, and I am not sure I said what I needed to at all.



2417 words by Leo Rivers, the Garage House, Cottage Grove, Oregon, Saturday, March 2, 2013 9:19:49 PM


Baggini, Julian. Atheism. Sterling, 2009.


Baggini, Julian. Atheism  Atheism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, USA, 2003.

WHY WE BUY SO MUCH AND END UP WITH SO LITTLE


1895 words by Leo Rivers, the Garage House, Cottage Grove, Oregon, Saturday, February 16, 2013 11:00:32 PM



In a world where power comes from money you live in a money culture.


A money culture runs by transaction. Something of value passes from someone to someone else. In theory this is an exchange of one good for another good. But it doesn't work out like that.


If I want money from you I must have something that you want.


You can only want something if you have seen it. When you see something you are able to want it.


The commercial media, which is virtually all electronic communications by radio and television, has won the primary function because it is brought to you by corporations which are in business. And that is to move your money into their control. They want you to transfer your money to them.


How was this done? The commercial media carries advertisements for things that corporations the manufacturers goods and services. Those corporations hope you want what you see enough to give the money for them. When you see something in your environment, and television is everywhere in your environment both in TV and computer form, you can want it.


When you buy things that you see on TV or on your computer money is transferred to corporations that create goods and services. In turn corporations that create goods and services transfer money to the corporations that run commercial media.


But it is a simple formula. You can only want something that you have seen.


All commercial programming whether it is news broadcasting or sports or comedies or dramas on television or movies shown on television has only one purpose in the view of the Corporation that owns commercial media broadcasting. All programming exists only to draw your attention to the commercials. Why?


All commercial media broadcasting corporations are in business to make money. The only way they make money is by selling advertising. In other words, they don't care what it is you want to see, they just want to show you what ever it takes to get you to look at the TV so you also see the commercials and learn to want what is on the commercials.


I don't know how to make this clear or convincing enough. But a commercial media owned by a corporation is all about showing you things to buy. The only purpose programming serves is to make you look at the TV so you could want what you see there. The more popular the programming, the more money comes into the Corporation that owns the media that broadcasts it. Corporations of manufactured goods and services know that those programs that have the most people watching them are better locations for their commercials. The corporation that owns that media knows they can charge more for commercials on that programming because money comes into the corporations in direct proportion to people buying what they see.


And this brings us to the 1st real revelation and that is that, indeed, public culture is such that it learns to want whatever is shown on television or by product placement in movies. When we buy goods and services for our house or our kitchen we do so largely because we are spending our money created by our labor to buy things that we have been shown and taught to want. There is very little we own that we would've purchased had we not seen it on television or in a movie.


Our values are created around the things we are shown and convinced we should purchase.


Because most of what we buy is unnecessary, unlike the unprocessed staples of bread and fresh vegetables and shelter, there has to be a reason given us for wanting to buy such desirable consumer items.


The reason we are given is called “lifestyle”. We are to buy things to complete our lifestyle in the same way as we buy furniture to complete a house.


Lifestyle is another word for market share. In other words, certain products are marketed to certain audiences. By making the audiences aware of themselves as targets for sales persuasion a Corporation has to convince the buyer of their products that this is in their interest more than it is in someone else's interest.


This is done by appealing to people's fear and egotism.


Products are sold on the principle that without them you will be an insufficient person and a failure in your life.


Most personal-care products and fashion oriented clothing are purchased on the principle that people feel physically inadequate and want to look desirable in other people's eyes. In truth, people have to be taught that owning expensive products is the same thing as owning valuable products. But once they've learned that, they are easily convinced that not having them beings that their deficiencies as human beings will be all that people see when they look at them.


And when you are making someone feel better because you've already made them feel small you can then offer to make them feel like a superior person. Inadequacy and flattery go hand-in-hand like to thieves that work as pickpockets together, one bumps into you and says excuse me while the other stealthily remove your wallet.


You can only want what you have been shown. Major media corporations don't want you to see things that would make you not want their products.


Major media corporations in their news broadcasting naturally will not advertise that major corporations are paying for corrupt governments and other nations to get access to their labor and natural resources. They would not want to rest on the valid argument that using the American military to intimidate other nations and using America's wealth to corrupt and control other nations does indeed make for a better more gratuitous lifestyle for Americans. Most major corporations would think that people might balk at doing a harsh things to get their nice things. Deep down people will wink at those realities, but not if you rub it in their face by talking about that on news programs.


The truth is the American military works to benefit the American body politic and the American body politic is the vast corporate interests that fund both political parties as well as the news media through which they communicate to us.


It's not a plot. It is simply human nature to prefer to produce goods and services, even in their newsrooms, that encourage an environment of enthusiasm for American power overseas and an exceptional level of lifestyle here in the United States of America. Both that military and that lifestyle funnel vast amount of money into corporations.


And corporations are probably correct when they say that all the good things of American life come from them or their efforts. But that word good things actually refers to more expensively priced goods and services as are provided by American corporations.


It's a kind of circular thinking that isn't lying and most people really do confuse consumer values with having a valuable life. The American citizens have allowed themselves to be redefined as American consumers in political speech and in news broadcast speech.


We cooperate, not at all passively, with our seduction because deep down inside we are insecure and want our egos to be puffed up. That's not a plot, that's just being human.


And when you look at the content of media broadcasting, it is not just the self modulation [self-censorship] of the news broadcasting or the way politics is explained to you, it is also your entertainment.


Part of being flattered for the American people is to be told they are virtuous and upright. It is not considered okay to be sexual or violent. It is entirely natural for people to sometimes get out of hand or want some sexual activity. And it is entirely human for people to like to watch other people brawl and copulate, but it wouldn't flatter us to be more honest about this.


This is why when guns are fired on television there are very seldom close-up shots of people crying on the ground with blood pumping out of them and emptying their bladders. Guns are fired and people fall down. You see enjoying seeing the bullets go through people with guts coming out would be too much of an admission that enjoying some violence in your entertainment helps you blow off steam. If you read old mythologies or old Scriptures its full of sex and violence, people of always love that stuff, and they sat there listening with their children to it as well. And the kids loved it too.


But consider the female breast. In all respects it's one of the nicest things in nature. But it is still a breast. It is a circle with a dot in the middle. Women have fuller breasts than men, but simple line drawings of the men and women have circles with dots for both of them.


This is why women's nipples are taped on TV shows. By that I mean an ex-mate of electrical tape or Band-Aids is laid down on top of the nipple to flatten out in the brassiere, if they are wearing a brassiere. Because we are insincerely selling sex the way we are insincerely selling violence, women should have large breasts and wear tight clothes that reveal them, but nipples can't show.


In an odd way nipples are to fucking what gore and suffering is to violence.


But sex and violence draw your attention. And if your attention has been drawn to programming you will have your attention drawn to the commercials on that program.


So by getting rid of nipples and human suffering you can be both moral and upright on the one hand and get people's attention and hold it with sex and violence on the other.


And you know I think people know this. But I think they wink at it because they know that having sex and violence when it is obviously sex and violence means that you have to go out there and talk about it rather than pretend that's not the case.


But you can only want something that you are shown.


And you will only look at something if it draws your attention.


Sex and violence draws attention.


Having your attention they can show you something to buy.


And feeling bad about yourself or listening to flattery keeps you buying.


And nobody talking about this keeps it all going.


That is what American and global consumer culture is all about.


Television programming goes into kind of a horse race each broadcaster trying to show more sex and violence than the others so they get the most attention, but every so often in cycles it starts to become so obvious that people complain and they have to go back to being tame again.


And it starts all over.


You see people grow old and die in a short time. But corporations plan to live forever, and they plan to go on forever not looking at the consequences of this way of living on the future.


And no one's getting anything of real value.


When we are dead other people will take our toys and nobody will ever talk about us again.


BEING CLEAR ABOUT WHERE I STAND


By Leo Rivers


Because when you hear someone speak you hear it come from the lips of the person that you are imagining is speaking to you it is important at the outset for me to tell you who to envision is speaking. This will prevent you misunderstanding or, as Yul Brynner playing the man in black in “The Magnificent 7” said, “don't understand me so fast.”


The 1st thing that you must understand about my beliefs and convictions is that I believe that all human beings who have ever lived, male or female, have for at least the last hundred thousand years been men in women and children just as we know them today, with all of the physical attributes and speech and thoughts and hopes and fears and strengths and weaknesses that we understand from our own lives.


I do not believe and I am convinced that none of them have transformed into other life forms or deities or has succeeded in somehow divorcing themselves from the common lot of humanity which is birth, and therefore aging, sickness and death. I do believe that some have expanded their perspective by breaking the chains of egocentricity and obtaining a view that embraces our common humanity and is no longer defined by the ego’s self-centered melodramas regarding birth, and therefore aging, sickness and death. In other words, some men and women have fought for and won a little wisdom.


It is apparent to me that those men and women we often raise up on pillars and imagine to be deities residing beyond death in the heavens, when you actually read their words and scriptures and observe the deeds of these people in the legends passed out about them, are, at least the best of them, people who presented themselves as human beings who wanted to teach others how to tame their own passions, expand the horizons of their kindness, and make their strength the foundation for the gentleness they wanted to build with their lives. I can only think of the Jesus of Christian Bible stories and both the Buddha and the best of the male and female bodhisattvas following in his footsteps.


It is interesting that in these legends the sweetest of the Saints are represented as walking harmless to and unharmed by the beasts of the wilderness.


When we tame our ego it seems our animal nature presents a gentle aspect. Perhaps we flatter ourselves when we use the word “animal” as a term of denigration. No animal has ever threatened other forms of life or its home planet the way man has undeniably done. Even the lion that preys on the deer leaves its environment uninjured by its life on earth.


So I see the Buddha, the title given to Siddhartha Psalm 2400 years ago and the Jewish preacher Jesus as being human beings from the day they were born to the day 2400 years ago that the Buddha died of food poisoning and that day Jesus was put to death by the Romans of 1983 years ago.


There are lessons we can learn from them, both the way they live their lives and the things they are reported to said because of the fact that they were human beings like we are and therefore their experiences in their life are things that we share because we have those same experiences in our lives.


It would be useless to walk in the Buddhist footsteps if he was either a ghost that left no footsteps or unique among human beings and that he transformed in some way that we cannot and went to some heaven to far above us for us to reach.


Because of these beliefs I have to treat getting what I can from ancient Scriptures and traditional presentations of ancient religions in a way that Orthodox followers of those spiritual traditions in their presentations of the ancient Scriptures cannot identify with.


Ironically, to bring myself into a face-to-face relationship with the teachings and scriptures of the Buddha I have to break with tradition and treat him as another human being with whom I could have a meaningful personal conversation.


What people don't usually think about is how different the world was over 200 years ago from us today. From the ancient days of the earliest civilizations in the Tigris and Euphrates Valley of Mesopotamia and the great Nile Delta of Egypt up to 200 years ago the world was a world in which only a handful of elite rulers and their priesthood even had access to written texts and could read them. Only 1% of every population could read and talk about what they read and pass it on by making new writings and 99% of people lived the lives of agriculturalists in an oral tradition in which even the closest of neighboring valleys or the generations farther back than their grandparents were legends. Mirroring this only 10 or 15% of the people in civilizations like that lived in urban areas which had enough trade so some knowledge of the world outside was based on some something that approached rumor. The other 80 or 90% lived in little agricultural villages and valleys and never went more than 20 miles from home their whole lives. This is the way the world in general existed up until about 200 years ago. The great age of imperialism and conquest based cultures like ancient Rome, the Golden horde, Islam and then the British empires begin to establish a connectedness and a shared 2nd language and of course a money economy in trade but started to break down the isolation of the various diverse cultures of the world. By the time of the invention of the radio in the 1930s the world wars of the early 20th century the world became networked so that even ordinary people had some idea of the diversity of the world.


When you look at that huge period of time you are looking at a time in which books were few and cost a great deal of money because there were no printing presses and they had to be copied by hand. This laborious and time-consuming process was something that only a priesthood or a very rich prince could afford to subsidize. In turn this meant that of 100 opinions only one would somehow wend its way into the written form of a scroll or book.


This made a situation of intense competition to be represented in a spiritual traditions precious selection of books and ideas to pass down from generation to generation.


Unlike our own world where we can have our own book published and distributed on the Internet for free or if we have a little bit of money we can do a vanity pressing of 500 or maybe 1000 copies, in those days there was a ferocious competition for the ear of students and the kings that funded religious institutions like monasteries.


This meant that winning arguments carried on in the form of debates in front of princes or the monks living in a monastery settled the outcome of whose words were accepted as being authoritative and what religious texts were accepted and passed on.


Various religious teachers would come before a prince or king in those days and present their religion. The prince or king would in turn announce who they thought presented the best case and the winner would be gratified to see that their religion was chosen the religion of the kingdom, or at least got funded so that they would survive as a monastery and a viable religious tradition.


This also meant that winning the hearts of students or potential monks with such debates and arguments was vital because the more people that you had following you as a religious teacher the better having your monastery and tradition support the prince or king sounded to that prince or king. It was literally a matter of being able to deliver voter share to use a modern term to the leaders of the day.


And this led to the deification of the founders of religions and their famous teachers and the sanctification of their texts by attributing them to superhuman beings or heavenly located semi-deities. It simply sounded better in a debate to say that you got this book from an angel directly than to admit that you wrote it yourself.


And we mustn't judge them because there are 2 things that you have to keep in mind. We are human beings just as they are, so we must be careful about judging others for sins that we may equal with our sins if we just look in the mirror. And, when a religious person has a spiritual inspiration to write a Scripture, it is naturally to say “this was not the product of my ordinary self, this came from someplace better than me.” I am a poet, and I naturally feel that way about the creation of my better poems. They don't feel like they're coming for me when they're coming through me. And I do believe there such a thing as spiritual inspiration that is not simply the creation of our ego manipulated imagination.


So I am quite willing to see the founders of religions and the famous virtual teachers of them as ordinary human beings and their scriptures as being the products of other human beings yet going on to value the contents of those Scriptures on their own merits and raise them in my own esteem to the level of spirituality sanctified speech that deserves the respect of being the teacher of an honest heart.


And in closing this introduction to where I'm coming from, I want to say that for the last 200 years the displacement of traditional fossilized religious institutions by the Age of Reason and the Philosophy of Humanism has unfortunately allowed world culture to by default liberate itself into following the lowest common denominator of worldly behavior which is ego centered striving and greed and a willingness to dehumanize others and use coercion to build hollow hearted empires of militarism and corporatism united as one 2 headed demigod of earth.


I believe that we need each of us within our inherited spiritual traditions or those traditions to which we have converted to pick up and restore the tradition of creating scriptures which reflect our spirituality. Because they will be as they always have been the literary creations of human beings, we have to have the courage to both create such new literature based on the precedence of our traditional Scriptures and treat them with the seriousness that we judge and accept Scriptures that we have inherited as poetic rhapsodies from the past.


I think that Jews, Christians, the followers of Mohammed, the various worshipers of classical Hindu faith, and all other forms of religion need to renovate and restore the spirituality of their religious institutions by daring to create new poetry that voices their own ground of being as spoken for by people who live as children of the world it as it is today. We need a 5th book of the Torah. We need a new New Testament. Gabriel needs to speak again. The great goddess Kali and Shiva have more to say. The stars themselves lean forward from the heavens to hear what new words are blown about on the winds of our world!


How dare I suggest we create Scripture to revere out of our own worldly less than godlike hearts and minds? 1st of all, necessity. We must displace the lowest common denominator law of worldliness that only respects coercion and greed. And secondly, as I pointed out, this is always what we have done, there simply was social reasons we couldn't be more comfortable with accepting that's what we were doing. Doing so would simply be another way of saying that we have the courage of our convictions when we present our spiritual fictions. And after all fiction is the way we tell the truth about all that is too profound to be visible to the ordinary eyes of history. We have to dare to bring forth what is in us and be nakedly judged for Being Human.



2053 words by Leo Rivers, the Garage House, Cottage Grove, Oregon; Friday, January 11, 2013 10:57:06 PM

THE CORE MAHĀYĀNA BOOKSHELF

                THE CORE MAHĀYĀNA BOOKSHELF


If you would join the singular retinue of the Astasāhasrikā-Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra [The Perfection of Wisdom in 8000 Lines] and the Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra [Lotus Sūtra]

you must place before you in your mind the figure of the Buddha as pictured in a sūtra such as the Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra, because such an image is one of wisdom and compassion. Like the Buddha himself, such and image of the Buddha can serve as a refuge from endless worldly futility and is a pure land of peace and harmony. But that is not enough! You must also learn what

the Pratyutpanna-Samādhi-Sūtra [The Samadhi of being in the Presence of all the Buddhas] teaches us, how to experience all this in the way that the Buddha does - as a seamless, boundless fluorescence of emptiness in which his 32 major and 80 minor marks are recognized as each being a gate into an inner meaning which is a fruition one facet of our spiritual character as a bodhisattva

on the path of worldliness to the perfection of our humanity as described in the Daśabhūmika Sūtra’s [10 Stage Sūtra]* depiction of the 10 stages of the Path in the Bodhisattva Career of

such intrepid and intelligent people as has had their insight clarified by the challenges of the Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā [Diamond Sūtra] - and then gone on to embrace the profound depth of the nature of there being as actors seeking the fullness of their situation as human beings and benefactors by seeking the deep intent of the Buddha in the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra. [Sūtra Elucidating the Hidden Intent]

These texts are the relics of the Buddha, but in their form as your understanding of them, these texts are the sacred relics that you can place in the stupa created by your recollection of his form!


* A version of the Daśabhūmika Sūtra [10 Stage Sūtra] is found in Chapter 39 of the Avataṃsaka Sūtra.



Leo Rivers

The Gnostic Angels

The Gnostic Angels


1024 words by Leo Rivers



This is our situation. The universe is infinite avalanche of the consequences of previous actions. It has no center nor end nor motive nor awareness of its own fate or the fate of any of the little creatures within it. It is a great ceaselessly ongoing machinery like a locomotive ghost train rushing forward on the railroad tracks with no one in the engine or in any of the cars. It appears over the horizon when you wake up at birth and it disappears into the darkness of the other horizon at death.


Human beings are of Three Families or lineages in this universe - an I will borrow vocabulary from the Greek Gnostics for them.


  1. Hylic:         Of the Earth or “Worldly”, 
  2. Psychic:       Of the Heavens or “Religious”, 
  3. and Pneumatic: Of Transcendence, or “Un-Worldly”.


The way in which people traditionally have related to this impersonal universe is to harmonize their personal lives with the impersonal cosmos by making up stories based on their relationships to their parents and their cultural community and imposing these stories as frameowks of interpretation between themselves and the universe.  These Storys serve to to both explain what seems random or unjust and mediate their own feelings about these like a lawyer representing them in a Court in which they are a plaintiff and the Cosmos the defendant. The universe of course does not respond but, (any more than a huge multi-national corporation to a ting lawsuit brought against one of its subsideries in a small town).But it is invaulable to Human self-esteem that this dramatic conceit creates a map which locates both the impersonal universe and the individual person in the same Court of Law.


Some people do not question the map that they inherit. Nor do they question the right of the universe to be a runaway train. They seek only to use what understandings they have of the Wayas of the World to get ahead for advancing their own fictional drama with themselves as the Hero. These are the Hylic or material people. They actually live in a kind of liberation because they do not aggrevate the stress between an impersonal universe andsome fantasy where they matter to others. They take it as it comes. They can be very easy going, and enjoy life naturally. But they can also become amoral gangsters. They are the man-animals.


Now the next kind of people are the Psychics. They do believe in "Right and Wrong" and their right to enforce their schedule of Good anmd Evil on Others. They are capable of true Self-Sacrifice and works of great Good.  


They are Tribal. And they are patriotically committed to that Map they have inherited as their Birth Rite. 

In other words, they see good and evil, not in terms of their own satisfactions, they are not using the map just to get ahead themselves, but they see good and bad as being characteristic quantifiable units of measure and scale. Their notions of good and evil apply to a World bigger than their passions - or so they think/

Within the context of their belief in this map, they follow good and they strive for something higher than themselves. Yet in the imposing a system of good and bad on all people Psychics become Humanity's Despots. They are not gangsters at heart, but they can end up being gangsters for the sake of Good.

There is a 3rd kind of person. Such a person understands that the map is just a map, and is made up by men and women just as themselves, and such a map is a fiction that we use like a tool. 

These are the Pneumatics. They share with the Psychics the virtue of not being intentionally self-centered about using the map. 

They too want their imposed notion of good and bad to include all people equally. 

But they are different than the Psychics in that they know the map is fictional yet this knowledge does not defeat them. 

In practice this means that Pneumatics, in knowing that the Self is itself fictitious, (just a part of the larger fictitious map), know that there is no real advantage to becoming gangsters. 

Pneumatics, in knowing that the map nevertheless makes an equality in justice for all people in equalness, struggle to use that map, (even though they they know it is a fiction), as a tool to benefit beings. They do not become despots because they know it is a fictitious map, and they can live within the limitationsand limits of that knowing. In other words, Pneumatics are sensitive to knowing when not to push the map out of the territory of being a tool and into the territory of being a bludgeon.

All religious or ideological landscapes are Maps in this sense, and the people that follow them are generally Psychics. And of course amoral Hylics often choose to pretend to believe in the map so they can exploit religion and ideology the same way gangsters run confidence schemes and  pyramid schemes and blackmail in the economic world.


It is the most difficult thing to do, to be a Pneumatic. One is constantly struggling not to lose heart because, in your heart, you do not live sheltered inside a naïve belief in the map you follow. 

You know things don't have to turn out good in the end. 

You know the universe doesn't know about you.


But within the Pneumatics realm a mad idea takes place birth.


This is the idea that good and evil are not about calling one side the “good guys” and the other side “the bad guys”. The notion of good and evil detaches from the notion of tribalism and tribes in competition for resources and status.

There is no economic or social or egotistic payoff for this Pneumatics global notion of good for goods sake. It is irrational compared to all the previous kinds of map of the universe. But it is as beautiful as it is mad!


It is this mad notion of global good that makes the life of a person living on the Pneumatic level of gnosis bearable. It is the polestar that the Pneumatic has as their reward. If you can make "being good for goodness's sake", knowing that there is no self in person or in entity in this universe, a universe that is empty of seam or boundary, work for you - then you have obtained liberation. You are a Buddha. Or at least you have little dust remaining in your eyes.


This is The Path. To fully become a Human.




Leo Rivers, the garage house, Cottage Grove Oregon,Wednesday, October 31, 2012 7:27:01 AM




THE WAYS OF THE WORLD

Between the time of the retreat of the last Ice Age hundred thousand years ago and the invention of agriculture 12,000 years ago human beings were just as we are in our hearts that our brains as well as our bodies. In that time we learn to live together in groups that probably wandered in a yearly migration pattern following the seasonal provision of nature. Then with the invention of agriculture, we could increase in numbers limited only by our ability to farm. Our societies for the 1st time needed to grow bigger than clan and tribe to manage the complex seasonally determined cycle of planting and sowing and storing and distributing. This was a new world in which armies came into existence to serve the defense of 1 people against all others. And at the same time there came a division institutionalized between King who rules as a secular leader and high priest who ruled as a tribal leader in which a nation was an artificial tribe. The quid pro quo was essentially that the King was blessed by the high priest who gave him heaven's permission to rule the Nation the Way, God or gods ruled the cosmos. And every nation naturally believed that they were the best beloved of all of God's children and the only ones who are truly obedient and therefore favored and given permission to predate upon the others.


This essentially was an arms race of nation-building that his continued to this very day.


And today we have 7 billion people on earth rather than the 15 million that it is estimated we had on the planet when agriculture was truly instituted as a miracle of technological innovation...


It has only been in the last 300 years that the shock of there being a world full of nations and peoples was driven out of the cities and into the wilderness and disconnected peoples in every Valley and corner of the world. This was a shock because now people had in their face every day the fact that there was a great relativity of all gods and religions and ways of life in that there was no way to demonstrate 1 People or Way of life was more natural or blessed by heaven than any other. If you are living locally and never leave your home village to travel more than 20 miles in your whole life, even if the capital city of your nation is cosmopolitan and deals with traders from all the world, you and the other 99% of the human race live comfortably in local regions that are sealed off from the world in most dealings of day-to-day life and therefore the world becomes just a rumor.


Especially in the last 200 years with the invention of sailing ships and locomotives and that airplanes and that electronic modern communication systems like radio and TV, the reality of the fact that one's own religion and way of life is but one of many becomes a constant agitation and background noise in a world where traditional ways of life are collapsing like ice under the feet of people crossing over a dangerous lake in winter.


This new modernity has not displaced traditional ways of life which were really birth to death guidebooks to all of your relationships and the great events that happened between birth and death. Modernity liberated us from superstition with the age of reason and the subsequent age of humanism made possible by understanding the universality of human nature and the local nature of humanly constructed culture. But it also cut the tethers of reason from the traditional obedience to moral codes designed to keep small tribes and groups of people from tearing themselves to pieces.


A Buddhist text that I have been reading about the great pillars of Asoka, the Hindu king who united the Indian subcontinent about 300 BC. And in it the Buddhist writer notes that the traditional Buddhist toxic poisons of the motion, ignorance, hatred and compulsive desire actually formed the root emotions of the 3 great secular innovations of the 1800s and the modern era, in which he saw that hatred was the root emotion of communism, greed was the root of capitalism, and ignorance was the root of fascism.


It seems that the age of humanism was not able to successfully create an ideology of public secular relations that in a satisfying way replaced traditional morals. The freedom to make a global ideology of democracy and kindness was an opportunity that was bypassed in the liberated rush to follow our testosterone lower instincts to create a global culture of power for the sake of power and nations that saw themselves as gangs out for themselves.


And there is a reasonable total rejection of such a lowest common denominator created culture of modernity. And it is interesting that the fundamentalist reactions of all the religions are very similar in trying to get back to the ethical mores of local small groups that saw all others as existing only on the periphery of the world.


And I have for a long time wondered why of all the 3 religions of Abraham, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it seems that Christianity and Islam are the ones most traditionally given over to the excesses of fundamentalism and a rejection of rationalism and humanism and modernity.


I think I have finally found the reason that Judaism stands outside these 2 great faiths. You see, in Judaism to be a Jew you have to be born of a Jewish mother. Now the Jewish people are asymmetric race in no ways really distinguishable from the Arab peoples. But being “born into” your tribe acts as a kind of racial identity. But both Christianity and Islam are allegiance based religions that have cut themselves free of locality and people in a way that allows their religions to spread easily all over the world as a system of beliefs. But this untethering means that their system of tribal identification has to be allegiance to one's own traditional behavior. A Jew can be a nonbeliever and not keep kosher but remain a Jew. A follower of the religion of Islam or Christianity has only their rulebook as a form of identity.


I think this is why the Christian and Islamic fundamentalists seem to be so to like each other in their rejection of modernity.


Both cultures of Christianity and Islam have been great world religions and the leaders of true civilizations of unique cultures in the past but what we see today is not the height of Islam or Christian culture. What we see is a reversion to localized allegiances to a tribal defense of a medieval way of sealing oneself off from the world of modernity by a retrenchment in ancient standards of behaviors. This way of dealing with the world is one of rejecting the challenge of its presence.


It seems to me as a citizen of the United States who truly treasures the inheritance embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights of the age of reason and humanism that as soon as the pressure was off to survive after Britain lost the war of 1812, the United States was liberated from standing on their principles and allowed to transform American culture into the kind of thing that would be created by an uninhibited devouring of a great continent of natural resources and a developed industry without check that delivered us as a superpower at the end of World War II as a nation with the greatest technological and production base and natural resources in the world. But those advantages disappeared by the middle 1970s when we became a nation that played games with money to keep the pyramid scheme of consumer culture alive.


This is why I think to save modern culture we have to advance on 2 fronts, salvaging the spiritual core of our traditional religions and liberating them from the medieval cultural behaviors that were their context hundreds and hundreds of years ago on one hand, and on the other hand salvaging the true importance of humanism and the meaning of democracy in which the dignity and sovereignty of the individual trumps the arrogance and overweening presumption of the modern nationstate.


Leo Rivers, the garage house, cottage Grove, Oregon, Friday, October 12, 2012 5:39:46 PM


The Buddha Yoga MindeDness

Those who give privilege and precedents to the second turning of the wheel of the Buddha Dharma over the third turning of the wheel of the Buddha Dharma make three errors, one against the Dharma one against the Sangha and one against the Buddha.


The "sutra that the elucidates the deep meaning" is quite clear. There are five deep points regarding the ultimate nature. This is been pointed out by Asanga in his commentary on "the sutra that elucidates the deep meaning". But in brief, the ultimate nature is beyond dualism and argumentation. Therefore the argumentation of the dualistic thought of the second turning the wheel of Dharma which opposes the relative and absolute realities does not apply in the ultimate sense. This is a mis-use of the Dharma. 


 It is in error as regards the Sangha for there would be no meaning to "following the Buddhist footsteps" if the path did not apply to the goal. The distinction between the path in relative reality and the goal consummate reality is one that appears only to mind still lost of dualistic thought. Such a cutting loose of the fellowship of those who follow in the Buddha's footsteps from possibility of a path that accomplishes the goal is to make an arrogance against the Sangha. 


And it is a human error to always wish to elevate those we wish to follow to a level in which we no longer can follow them but simply obey them as if they were the Lord or a Deity. Who would judge a mere human being of not accomplishing the level of accomplishment of a God or even a King? But that is the disingenuous explanation. The Buddha was a man, and he made error as all people make error. He had to follow a path just as we do. If he was not human being we could not follow in his footsteps! Growth is the nature of the path and the Buddhist teachings themselves are a path in a traveling. So like all men and women have to go from one place to another, sometimes getting lost, sometimes coming back to the main path even Buddhism can stray and return to the Middle Way. 

Not being humble - that is a crime against the Buddha's intent. 


the layman leo 12:35 pm 08/26/2012 back yard



 © Leo Rivers 2013