I am going to move this to a new thread, cause the other one is becoming as wild and varied as a peyote experience ...
Edited Post by chicanobudista on 17 Mar 2008 01:58 pm
Jundo wrote:I would think that meditation on a mantra would tend to carry one away from just being present in the place where we are, although it might be very effective in inducing various intense states. For the same reason, we don't drop acid or peyote to meditate. In "Just Sitting", we are just in this world, in this life, which is ours ... even as we come to see that life/world in radically new ways. So, we just sit openly aware with our eyes not closed, right in the room where we sit.
... I do think Jundo raises a valid point in regards to what differentiates shikantaza or Buddhist meditation in general as opposed to the usage of psychotropic substances to understand "our reality". If you are subbed to e-sangha, you will notice once in a while someone inquiring about the relation between meditation, psychotropic substances, and Buddhism. As if by coincidence, after reading your exchange, I opened my "Discover" magazine and came upon this interview:
"The Discover Interview
by Jessica Ruvinsky"
[Discover Magazine - April 2008 - pg. 32]
Did you try ayahuasca?
Oh yes, many times.
What is it like?
You are flung into other levels of reality so visceral, so tangible, so all-enveloping, that they become your sense of the real world. And you suddenly realize that the relatively mundane realm of ordinary consciousness is a crude facsimile of what awaits in the psychotropic trance. This and other experiences in the presence of people taken by the spirit left me with visceral evidence that cultural beliefs can really make for different human beings, that there are other ways of knowing, other levels of intuition, that cannot necessarily be understood through the filter of Cartesian logic.
So drugs do for the Seona people what sciences does for us?
Not drugs. That's a pejorative notion in our society--cocaine, crack, crystal meth, whatever. These aren't drugs. These are sacred medicines. These are the facilitators. These are the avenues to the doorways of the gods.
IMHO, it does raise a valid question. Why do zazen? Why do shikantaza? Are there "better" ways? What differentiates what we do from what someone else does through peyote or ayahuasca.
Caveat: I do not condone nor advocate the usage of such substances. Just in case. :mrgreen:
%paz y justicia%
As a child of the seventies, and rather open to try things in moderation [although as the future father of a teenager, I deny it all ... I never inhaled], I see the value of some experience with psychotropic drugs and hallucinogens. However, only in moderation for a short period, not as a lifestyle ... and hopefully under well guided conditions.
It can teach quite a bit about perception, other ways of experiencing and knowing, other forms of "logic" than "Cartesian Logic, new ways of being, and how much our world is a creation of the brain. In other words, it is useful to unlock and open the "doors of perception" to new perspectives ... but I would not want to live there. I do not engage in such things now, and I do not feel the need.
So, how is Shikantaza different?
Well, first, we believe that this ordinary, day to day world is also mindblowing ... when we perceive it correctly. I do not need my cup of tea to float up into the air, turn into rainbow colors with fairy dust and leprecons dancing on the rim: Just this ordinary, warm cup of tea in my hands and on my lips is anything but ordinary ... and the only miracle I truly need. So, that is one reason that we keep our eyes open during Zazen ... we are always present and well grounded in this very place where we are (even as, of course, our mind expands to swallow the whole universe and our self too!!!).
Second (but not really apart from the first), some folks think that "cosmic wisdom" is only "true" if it looks like this ...
I believe that all drugs are doing is fooling the brain into stimulating and quieting certain regions that produce so-called psychedelic effects. The mentioned book "Zen and the Brain" talks about this. For example, certain visual and auditory centers are stimulated when taking Extasy, which thereby enhances the sound and experiece of music (and other things ... but it also fries part of the brain in the process). That's no more interesting to me than a short term visit to a movie or the circus ... don't want to live there. I tend to doubt that the experience of "seeing the face of god" is actually "seeing the face of god", and I tend to believe that it is just the brain being stimulated in certain regions that produce such a feeling ... Books like this discuss that process ...
http://www.amazon.com/Why-God-Wont-Go-A ... im_b_img_1
I mean, maybe we actually are seeing Don Juan and the Face of God ... I just tend to think it is more likely a wildly firing cascade of neurons.
But that being said, I consider myself a complete "mystic" (does that sound strange after what I said?), if by that one means living in this very world and feeling like wonders never cease ... that life is a theatre where the show is always changing --- sometimes comedy sometimes tears --- but never less than mindblowing ... that the simple cup of tea in my hand is more miraculous even without the leprecons! Why take an acid trip when I am living inside a trip ... why want to get on a flying saucer and visit other planets when this world, right here, remains unexplored? That is why our "Just Sitting" Practice keeps us "just sitting" in this place and time ... even as we expand beyond all place and time! You want a "trip", read a bit of Shobogenzo or the Lotus Sutra!
In fact, I often feel like I may be seeing the face of god just by looking at my child's face.At that time the bodhisattva-mahasattvas who had come from other lands, numerous as the sands of the eight Ganges, arose in the great assembly, and with folded hands saluted and spoke to the Buddha, saying: "World-honored One! If the Buddha will allow us, after his extinction, diligently and zealously to protect and keep, read and recite, copy and worship this sutra in this saha-world, we would preach it abroad in this land." Thereupon the Buddha addressed all the host of those bodhisattva-mahasattas: "Enough! My good sons! There is no need for you to protect and keep this sutra. Wherefore? Because in my saha-world there are in fact bodhisattva-mahasattvas [numerous] as the sands of sixty thousand Ganges; each one of these bodhisattvas has a retinue [numerous] as the sands of sixty thousand Ganges; these persons are able, after my extinction, to protect and keep, read and recite, and preach abroad this sutra."
When the Buddha had thus spoken, all the earth of the three-thousand-great-thousandfold land of the saha-world trembled and quaked, and from its midst there issued together innumerable thousand myriad kotis of bodhisattva-mahasattvas. All these bodhisattvas with their golden-hued bodies, thirty-two signs, and boundless radiance had all been dwelling in [infinite] space below this saha-world. All these bodhisattvas, hearing the voice of Shakyamuni Buddha preaching, sprang forth from below.
PS- I do think that technology, including many of the brain studies being done, will possibly find ways to recreate some of the experience of Zazen through drugs or mechanical devises. In fact, some of that may exist even now. If you want to relax, just drop a valium!! However, the fact of the matter is that our Soto Practice is much more than just the brain states that derive from Zazen. Those are just learning aids. The reason is that it is the whole philosophy of Buddhism and Zen (everything from "Goallessness" to "Mindfulness" to "Timelessness" to to everything else) that must be gradually incorporated into, and made the foundation of our lives.
In other words, anyone can drop a quick pill or find a little peace on a quiet beach ... but can you learn to find peace day by day, --anywhere-- in this crazy life? That takes real Practice!!