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Thread: Suffer a stroke - get enlightened

  1. #1

    Suffer a stroke - get enlightened

    An interesting article in the NYT about the woman in the TED video:


  2. #2

    Re: Suffer a stroke - get enlightened

    This is the video[/video]]

    My friends (the buddhist ones) saw it together. It raises a lot of questions amongst us among the right brain/left brain nd how meditation or zazen fits into it all as a tool for, i don't know - "enlightement"?

    It also raises questions about the "I", "me", "ego" as a construct humans use as tool in order to function, kind of like a software program gone fantastically wrong.



  3. #3

    Re: Suffer a stroke - get enlightened


    I might raise a small caution regarding the reporter's phrasing of the news article ... and I do not believe that Dr. Taylor is truly saying certain things, either in the talk or interview I watched ...

    Namely, I do not think that the goal of our Practice is to be swept up in "bliss bliss bliss" and "loss of the ego" through all time unending, untethered in silent euphoria (as the article puts it) never to return to shore. And I do not think that Dr. Taylor (or the Buddha, for that matter) is saying that we should remain in such states. If it were, I very much doubt that Dr. Taylor (or any of us) would be able to function at all in the complex ways that normal life requires, any more than if the stroke had left her body fully physically paralyzed in some way. It is much like a child's wish to live in a world where we can eat ice cream and candy all the time, morning to night ... well, the joy of eating constant sweets would soon rob us of the true richness of life, if not rob us of a healthy life itself. It is a false "bliss" if we do so, deprived of what it means to be human.

    To live life, we must do what Dr. Taylor had to do quite physically and mentally from her stroke, namely, come back to this daily life of emotions and thought and struggles and ups&downs. Yet we learn to experience these emotions, thoughts and struggles, ups&downs from a new vantage point ... seeing them from the perspective that is what Dr. Taylor describes as there too ... that "thoughts and struggles, ups&downs" are also "beyond thought, struggle, up or down". We can experience both at once (or, at least, learn to know that both "thoughts and struggles, ups&downs" and "no thought, struggle, up or down" are valid ways to see things even if not always experienced that way each moment of the day ... sometimes it still seems like just a struggle!). More than "losing the ego" and just staying put, it is more like dropping the ego, yet returning to the ego in order to function in life ... perhaps "seeing through the ego" even as we must live as ordinary human beings. That is more like eating bitter herbs and cold turkey sometimes ... ice cream other times ... and being able to taste the sweetness, health and life in both. That is very different from eating ice cream and cake morning till night.

    This is why no Zen teacher that I know truly thinks that a "Kensho" experience is more than a starting or reference point for getting on with life (it is not the end of the Practice itself). That is true even for those Zen teachers who run after "Kensho" ice cream ... even then, we must eat our vegetables and find the true richness there. In our Soto way we tend to say, "Sometimes, in our Zazen and in all of life, there will be ice cream, sometimes turnips, learn to see both and experience both with equanimity". We taste "ice cream" in our Shikantaza sometimes, but we know when to eat our veggies or push away from the table!

    One other point from the article: These types of experiences can be interpreted in many ways, and the human mind and words do a great injustice by rushing in with interpretations that limit these things. So, as the article seems to say, some folks might interpret what Dr. Taylor experienced as "the spirit" floating through a sea, or touching "God", or realizing "Nirvana" or, as Dogen might say, manifesting one's "Original Face". I would just say that we should not rush to stuff these experiences artificially into a word box or limiting categorization ... it is important to leave these things as what they are, largely beyond words. I think. I tend to trust, naively, in the reality that brought us this far in life, and which I believe we truly are.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - Some schools of Buddhism interpret the Buddha's words as meaning that bitter vegetables are "Suffering" and our goal is to get to a "Nirvana" dessert table beyond time, where we will never ever have to be reborn to eat again! I do not think that the Buddha's real intent.

  4. #4

    Re: Suffer a stroke - get enlightened

    Thanx Jundo.

    I have a few other questions so i'll post them in a new topic.

  5. #5

    Re: Suffer a stroke - get enlightened

    Quote Originally Posted by Aswini

    My friends (the buddhist ones) saw it together. It raises a lot of questions amongst us among the right brain/left brain nd how meditation or zazen fits into it all as a tool for, i don't know - "enlightement"?
    I've been re-reading Austin's Zen and the Brain lately - there are some things in it about the left/right brain and the corpus callosum (the separation between the hemispheres). If I find anything relative to this, I'll post it here.


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