Monthly Archives: September 2008

Knowing and thinking

Surely living as a human being, you need to know things. That is your consciousness. As you grow, your consciousness is growing, so you know things in this world. And you recognize things that are precious in this human life. For example, the love for your parents and wishing them to be always happy. This state of knowing is the form of human being. This is essence of living as a human being. Enlightened beings like Buddha certainly “Know” things.
However, this state of knowing is very limited compared to the absolute. It is impossible to know everything. But the absolute (often called indestructible being in Buddhism) is also you. Indeed, when we ask who is the person who is living the life and asking all these questions? It is the absolute being. When you are together with your absolute being, you don’t need to ask these questions. When you feel you don’t have to ask these questions, you will be with your absolute being. By not asking these questions, you can understand them in a way that is beyond words.

For the absolute being, there is no need to know. It is already connected to the world. It is already at peace. But for it to live as a human being in this world, there is responsibilities. A doctor cannot just say s/he loves the patient. S/he must have the skill to do the surgery when the patient needs it. Thus we have the saying that love is not enough when you are helpless. So there is the need to learn things, to know things as living as human being in our world. But again, this knowing is very limited.

Buddhism teaches us that everything is within us. The path of practice is to look inside of us. The most precious thing for each of us is that we have everything within us. Seeking truth outwards will lead us further away from the truth. Words are only used for convenience to point out the truth. If we just look closely at our own life, look inside, reflect on our experience, we can keep getting better on this path of practice. For me personally, I seek outwards from time to time when i don’t feel progress by just seeking inside, but I do it with the purpose of going back to the inside later. So I expose myself to the outside to get to know more of myself. Practically speaking, it is a very effective way of practice. Thus I try different things, learn about society, talk with all kinds of people. I guess this has something to do with right effort. After all, the objective world is myself. To know the objective world is to know myself.

So in a summary, our own bodies, our own lives, are the source of our practice. It is an unlimited source. Buddhism teaching, no matter how many words it was put into, is only to get you to take a look of that source yourself. So if you feel stuck and cannot progress, just look at your own life, or try more with your own life, you will be able to progress. You don’t need anyone else to tell you what is right, what is wrong. You will know that yourself. Indeed, Dharma is your best teacher.

So knowing and thinking are different. Knowing is a state that is not separated. It is still a connected state. Thinking, however, is a separated state. Here we want to differentiate the meaning of reasoning from thinking. We can use reasoning to refer to logical reasoning based on experience, and we confine thinking to the kind of thinking that just springs up by itself. In knowing, you just do things even before the concepts arise. So it is a state that is apart but not separated. In our daily life, when we are just doing things without getting caught up, we are in the state of knowing instead of thinking. We know and we are not separated. When you are very busy and can only sleep 2 or 3 hours a day, you try to do things without wasting energy in thinking, you are in a state of knowing without thinking. Such knowing is the same as not-knowing.

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Male/female and perfection

Male and female is a state of separation. It is our limitation. But there is also the state of unification. For example, when a couple is in true love. That state of unification is actually what Buddhism calls the true state of our nature. But you don’t have to have a partner to experience this state. Actually the experience people have when in true love is a realization that love is prevalent in everything they are dealing with the world.

So generally I would agree that sex is an important realm of experience. But it depends on whether you insist on it or not. If you insist that you have to have it, you will have gain and loss. It is probably true that for most people they insist on this, and practically speaking it might be easier for them if they can experience it. But we probably shouldn’t apply that to everyone.

This limitation is a manifestation of the absolute. For the absolute to have life, there is no other way.

People wonders what is love. Let me ask a kind of clique (but might still be helpful) question. Suppose you are going to leave the world tomorrow, what are you going to miss in this world? Maybe those things you will miss is your love?

This state of unification is also what we experience in sitting meditation. Generally It is easier to experience the absolute in the sitting meditation. That is why sitting still is very important. But after you stand up and engage in daily activities, there are a lot of forces acted upon you. These forces tend to separate things out. The stronger the force, the more difficult to keep connected. Desire is a kind of force that is acted upon us.

Being true male or female means to be in a state of apart but not separate.

I can talk more about this. But for now, I think this is enough. To help you dig deeper into this, let me ask you the following. Buddhism likes to talk about truth and illusion. So is male/female a truth or an illusion? Or how much is truth? How much is illusion?

Furthermore, male/female can be seen as one form of diversity. Male/female is a split out of the whole. Because of diversity, each of us is unique and is split out of the whole. So what we are saying above also applies to diversity. Thus our Self also embodies the limitation and absolute. And to understand the true self is also to understand the apart but not separate state.

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A list of modern Chinese writers

Now here is a list of modern Chinese writers that I have learned quite tremendously from:

Wang Xiaobo: ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Xiaobo ) He died in 1997, only about 45 years old. In my opinion, he is the greatest writer of modern Chinese. He has found the way to write beautifully with the plain Chinese. His novels read like poetry, and full of imagination. At the same time, because of his training in science (he is very fond of mathematics), his novel has a power that is rarely seen in other writers. I learned tremendously from him.

Li Ao: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Ao ) a writer in Taiwan. He was born and raised in mainland China and went to Taiwan with his father at the end of civil war in 1949. His writing has a strong flavor of traditional written Chinese, but still concise and beautiful. I like his personality very much. He is always very optimistic. And he is a very good practitioner in life and had been through many things in life. He devoted his whole life fighting for individual freedom of Chinese. He had sacrificed personally fighting for freedom of speech in Taiwan. (He was jailed for 10 years). He is a very good speaker. I am glad someone translated his speech in Beijing University: http://zonaeuropa.com/20050924_1.htm
In that speech, Li Ao tried very hard to convey to Chinese people the way to obtain their freedom. I highly recommend this speech.  Personally I believe he is the best example of living Buddhism in real world (although he never claimed himself as a Buddhist).

Lung Yingtai: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lung_Yingtai ). She is very honest with life and a ardent practitioners. Her way of looking at cultures (and how culture interacts with people) have a huge impact on me.

Steven N. S. Cheung: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_N.S._Cheung ) I learned a lot from him about  economics, especially classic economics. However, I think he has a too economic-centered view, and I don’t think you can explain human society with pure economics.

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Islands and Ocean

I feel our spiritual space or social space has been like islands in the past. People have a large range of spiritual needs. In the past, the resources or services to meet spiritual needs are very scarce. They are like islands. But we are going to see an explosion of social services/products to meet the full spectrum of people’s spiritual/social needs. They will be like the ocean. All these are powered by the web and social software. Web lowers the barrier for people to come together to provide various services to enrich people’s life. The world of our consciousness is more connected and fully expressed.

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Love is like rock under water

The barrier to seeing it is like water. When the water is high, you don’t see the rock. When the water is low, you perceive the rock. Rock is always there. Even when we don’t see it, it is still part of our feelings toward other people.

Kind of a random thought.

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Two different philosophies of life and society

In the east, the philosophy is how individuals can best utilize the resource of their own limited body. So it emphasizes how you can reach your best potential through training of your body and mind. It emphasizes the maximum use of the resource available and not to waste any. Thus even in a society of turmoil, you would be able to survive.

The western philosophy, however, tends to focus more on creating external resource outside of your body. Western cultures are obsessed with creating material wealth. So the west is more reliant on external resources and even there are a lot of waste, for them it is ok . For example, the invention of credit card is an financial resource you can fall back on. It gives you the security that when you run out of money you can borrow first and pay back later. This can be convenient in some life-saving situations. The west relies more on the law and enforcement of law as the external mechanism that can prevent the flaws of man from harming individuals, while the east more relies on the virtuousness of the people.

It is hard to say which one is better. But it would be nice if the two can be combined to remedy each other.

This is a random thought.

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I broke the record!

I break my record of maximum monthly posting on my blog today! It used to be 23. Now I have written 24 this month. Well, if we include this one, it is going to be 25! Cheer!

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