forgotten_aria: (buddha)
"The word puja means 'to please' and has the connotation to please through offerings and practice."

Basically it was a celebration of their guru.

This was my first time meeting anyone but my beginner class teacher and my fellow beginner class students. Everyone was of course kind and friendly. Once it started most of it was in Tibetian, but had English translations. At first, especially with the singing of the prayers and the drums and the bells, I felt like it's had crossed the line into too much ceremony. I felt like all those time I'd attended a church service for a chruch I had no connection to. The feeling of "rightness" had left. The bells and the drums and the singing were an interesting combination and I would love to read more about what each is trying to do. I almost felt like it was trying to occupy as much as the brain as possible by using language, sound and rhythm to occupy more brain processing.

But as things went along and the translations got closer to my personal feelings of wanting the world just to be a better happier place for everyone and that I want to develop compassion and patience, I started to feel a little more comfortable.

About halfway through I understood one bit of confusion. The description had said to bring an offering, so I brought two apples. I thought the offering was for the guru. However, after they had us dip our finger in a liquid and taste it and then take a morsel of something that tasted like beef jerky, but couldn't have been since buddists are against killing for meat, everyone opened up a paper bag. My neighbor, who was more experienced, opened on up for me and they passed out all the offerings to everyone. I missed the memo on "enough to share." It was kind of like a healthy halloween, with a bag of fruit, cookies and nuts to take home with you (not a place for someone with allergies.) They also poured out some lemonade (yes, the "drink the kool-aid" thought did cross my mind.) I think I understood the purpose this part of the puja. You had the happiness of giving the offerings, the pleasure of receiving the wide variety of tastes and flavors (especially to me, since it was completely unexpected to be receiving) and then you were supposed to put some of it back, after having a quick taste, so you got to give again freely.

We then switched to English and sped read the remaining prayers which were mostly dedication prayers.

I still have a lot of mixed feelings. I think when I understand the benefits of the cerimony it makes me better so after I get a chance to ask my beginner class's teacher about some of the things I might enjoy he whole thing more.

I then talked to someone for while about myself and what brought me to the center.

I had very blissful thoughts in the car as I drove eating the fruit and thinking about how lucky I am to have such bounty from a group of people who are dedicating their life to making the world a happier place. Somehow each bite was a reminder of generosity, rejoicing and happiness.

EDIT: it really was beef jerky.
forgotten_aria: (Default)
So I've continued to think on this, research it more. The arguments in documents seem to be not starting from the basic axioms somehow, so I continue to be confused. It's like they believe they know what consciousness is made of, kind of the same way most of use believe that matter is made of subatomic particles, even though most of us haven't ever done experiments to prove those particles exist. So I can kind of see an argument for consciousness being neither created nor destroyed in the same way when objects are created and destroyed, their subatomic particles are basically the same. But that doesn't explain why there can be one mind stream that is connected to this body that was always this mind stream and no one else's. I guess in my realm of understanding anything that has enough complexity to have memory, even if it's just cuts in a rock, also has enough complexity to not be made up of fundamental building blocks. Unless karma is more like the amplitude and frequency of light, where the information isn't transmitted as an alteration of the particle but as state and momentum of that particle. That actually starts to make a little more sense to me. Let's say that consciousness is just a spark, a life energy, then that energy, when it leaves the body upon death could be like a photon leaving an excited atom.

I feel like I understand photons just as poorly as I do consciousness.

This is not an answer, just more questions.

Reincarnation cannot be disproven either, however. This is what makes this tricky. They claim that one does not need faith for Buddhism, but I think we need faith for even science, because we cannot personally prove all the claims around us.

I'm still very confused and a bit frustrated this is preventing me from enjoying the happiness that I usually get from my Monday class. Many of the books I've read have stated it's much more important to want to cultivate compassion for all beings than in believing in reincarnation, so I should likely focus on that instead. Not believing is a non-virtue, but then so is killing anything, even insects, and I don't see myself stopping eating meat, not swatting mosquitos or not putting out ant-traps in my home any time soon.

EDIT: if we continue the light analogy, then at death the consciousness is spit out, say as x-rays, based on the conditions of that past light. If we then assume that a human life can't absorb the x-ray, then it will pass through the human life until it finds something made of "lead" which might be the animal of a body and is absorbed. This would allow for a single consciousness to travel without being so complex as to have a plan as to where it was going but still have the effects of karma guide where it ended up.

I like this model. I'm sure I still don't have it right, but it's a interesting model to think about.
forgotten_aria: (sunset)
So it's my 4 week of beginners classes on Tibetan buddhism and most, I'm very glad I'm going. It's giving me better outlook in a way that people have happily noticed. It's giving me, and, from what I can tell, them more happiness. Since this is a main goal, great!

But the thing I'm finding frustration is that, even though the ultimate goal is to make yourself a better person so you can create happiness for all beings, they seem to emphasis that before you can do that, you must believe in karmic law and reincarnation. They seem to feel logic support it, but that logic is still lost on me. The logic, as explained when I ask, seems circular. You suffer because karmic law says in past life you created a non-virtue and past lives must exist because without it karmic law can't make sense. I also find the motivation of creating virtue so that YOU personally won't be reincarnated as a lower being being rather self-centric. Now, they do believe that you should take care of yourself, so that might be a branch of that, but I feel like just wanting the world to be a better place should be motivation enough and that my motivation for believing the rest should be good enough and that I don't need "becoming an enlightened being in a future life" to be the only reason and motivation for trying to create more happiness in the world for myself and for others. That doesn't make logical sense to me. If I'm motivated to make the net happiness better, shouldn't that be enough of a place to start? I'm only frustrated because so much seems useful, but I feel like I'm not welcome to follow the path unless I change my beliefs for something that is proclaiming it is based on logic. I will continue to learn, since I'm still welcome to do that, and continue to cultivate my new outlook, since it is benefiting me, but I think I am not cut out to be a full Buddhist.

While struggling with this, some other thoughts come to mind. Our lack of memory of past lives is not evidence they do not exist, since most of us don't have memories before the age of 4 or so, which we have a lot of evidence we existed before our memories begin.
forgotten_aria: (sunset)
Tonight I want to the beginner class at the Kurukulla Center in Medford.

First the petty details, it's an easy drive with easy parking.

It was a beginners class so she spent a lot of times on things I knew and somethings that were already part of my thinking just because of my upbringing. She did teach many things, such as they view attachment as a negative thought and differentiate it from love. After asking my question, I think I understand now. It's kind of the whole thing that if you really love someone, you'll want what is best for them, including letting them leave, where as if you're attached to someone that might not be true. That's not how she explained it, but that's what I got from here explanation.

The things I loved, (and had missed at the Zen center,) was that under everything was a coat of logic and that debate is encouraged. Even, apparently, the Buddha said that one should take care in analyzing and thinking about his own teachings.

The other thing I loved is that the nun (apparently the accepted female name for monk) was so genuinely happy. She had a great smile and laugh, but wasn't constantly happy like someone forcing it. You could see the peace in her eyes. The people at the Zen center didn't seem happy.

I'm looking forward to the next class. Not that I learned a lot, but I was reminded of many important things and left with my day turned around.

They also have a free book section and a store. I bought a book cover and left a nice donation because I took several of the free books.

I hope that this is my first step towards a new chapter in my life.
forgotten_aria: (taiko reVision shime hamon)
I attened the Dharma talk at the Cambridge Zen Center to go check the place out. I will say I think Zen Buddhism is not for me.

They had me don a robe. I over heard someone say, jokingly, "Ah guest robes, you have to guess-t who wore them last."

I will say I enjoyed the 5 minute meditation and I hope to incorporate that into my daily life. The talk afterwards proved to me that I didn't understand the word Karma at all. The jist I got is it was a combintion of destiny mixed with your own personal tendencies to do certain things, which I suppose could be called destiny, but it didn't seem to divorce from the idea of free will. There was then a question and answer period at the end. After reading some of the literature on the way home, however, I feel like asking a question was a bad thing.

Here's why I didn't much like it. The literature talk about the quieting of thinking. Asking questions is thinking. Answering them is thinking. Thinking about how to better practice Zen is thinking, but you should ask your teachers how to better practice, or how else do you get better? I'd just spend 30 minutes listening to talking, thinking about stories and hearing the zen master answer the questions. Now I beleive that this duality, these contradictions, these paradoxes are part of the core of being zen. Being able to accept them for what they are and their ability to exists at the same time. But at some point it just starts to feel like a game of mau. Here, I have a poem from the literature to demonstrate my point:


Buddha said all things have Buddha-nature.
Jo-ju said the dog has no Buddha-nature.
Which one is correct?
If you open your mouth, you fall into hell.
Why?
KATZ!!!
Clouds float up to the sky;
rain falls down to the ground.


I will give you another poem from a non-zen master, "Once upon a time, three, three, three, three, three, three, WHOP!"

I think I get as much wisdom from both.

I think I still want to check out some other flavors of Buddhism, because I can still get something out of it. I just feel the Zen part might have gone a little far.

But... on the way home I did some thinking. One of answer to the question was about determination. (and infact my follow up question was about it too.)

This got me thinking about taiko. If I really wanted to be an ensemble member, would the fact that at this point I have about 1% chance of that happening stop me? The man who runs over and over into a wall may not be smart, but he's proven he is committed to getting through that wall. Determination is an echo of desire. So if I really want this, then I can't let anything, including being told my chances are almost nil, stop me from continuing to fight for it. Situations may change which will change my chances and maybe, just maybe, if I try to fight for it I might learn what I really want and do not want. My whole life I've been taught that if you hit the wall with your fist and the fist bleeds, then it's time to look for a softer wall, but maybe this time, it's time to keep hitting.

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