Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Life on the Human Plane (video)

; Wisdom Quarterly
Surviving in the Stone Age, various species of hybrid "humans" (Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, Homo floresiensis, etc.) struggle forsaken by the "gods" (alien visitors) who genetically manipulated them in their image.

Life on the Human Plane is very misunderstood. Many of us take for granted that it means this -- the lives we currently live. It rarely means this. We live in a very privileged time that, for all its horrors and deprivations, has more information, more material sustenance, and more ease than at almost any time in history.
Of course, we are not at the apex, far from it. Past civilizations on Earth have been far more advanced, traveling the cosmos and living much longer lives. But with the cyclical decline of such periodic achievements, we fall into Ice Ages, decadence, war (started by the cunning few but supported by the fearful/hateful many), and famine.

Samsara (the "continued wandering on" through the Wheel of Life and Death) cycles through 31 very general planes of existence, only six of which normally are spoken of in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist art, which limits itself to the Sensual Sphere.

This series is an exploration of the revolutionary period of prehistory that began when humans abandoned a nomadic hunting and gathering existence they had known for millennia. In its place they took up a completely new way of life -- with advice from above (extraterrestrial and transdimensional visitors they depicted on cave drawings, massive stone monuments, and hieroglyphs).

Charlton Heston and Dr. Michael Cremo explore forbidden archeology

This decisive move to farming and herding, storing and rationing, and the establishing of permanent settlements plus the "discovery" of metals (information provided by the "others," whom we called "gods" for their advanced knowledge of our evolution and their own technological sophistication) set the stage for the arrival of the worlds first civilization.

Just as it has happened all around the world before, so it happens now. And it will happen again. As modern, educated, and rational actors, we scoff at the idea of "extraterrestrials," heavenly or traveling through space, which refer to the same place.

But if we view it in terms of a sophisticated metropolitan culture meeting a tribal jungle clan, we can begin to appreciate how it is that although we are the same, the more primitive might regard the more sophisticated as "gods."

Evolution? Creationism? Both are wrong, yet both have something important to say if we would set aside our biases and listen to the evidence. The "Human Plane" is not limited to Earth.

Opting out of Catholicism (NPR audio)

"A Quest for De-Baptism," NPR.org (Weekend Edition, Jan. 29, 2012); Wisdom Quarterly

(NPR) In France, an elderly man is fighting to make a formal break with the Catholic Church.

He's taken the church to court over its refusal to let him nullify his baptism, in a case that could have far-reaching effects.

Seventy-one-year-old Rene LeBouvier's parents and his brother are buried in a churchyard in the tiny village of Fleury in northwest France. He himself was baptized in the Romanesque stone church and attended mass here as a boy.

"The Voice of God is Government" (Bad Religion)

LeBouvier says this rural area is still conservative and very Catholic, but nothing like it used to be. Back then, he says, you couldn't even get credit at the bakery if you didn't go to mass every Sunday.

LeBouvier grew up in that world and says his mother once hoped he'd become a priest. But his views began to change in the 1970s, when he was introduced to free thinkers.

Biblical priests beat, molest, rape, and view of women (MORE)

"They sent me a copy of my records, and in the margins next to my name, they wrote that I had chosen to leave the church," he says.

As he didn't believe in God anymore, he thought it would be more honest to leave the church. So he wrote to his diocese and asked to be un-baptized.

Beautiful nuns (on stools) of a corrupt and patriarchal institution engaged in child molestation, cover ups, malfeasance, and worse (catherinemeyersartist.blogspot.com)

That was in the year 2000. A decade later, LeBouvier wanted to go further. In between were the pedophile scandals and the pope preaching against condoms in AIDS-racked Africa, a position that LeBouvier calls "criminal."

Again, he asked the church to strike him from baptismal records. When the priest told him it wasn't possible, he took the church to court.

() Protect Your Children Foundation looks at organized crime
schemes orchestrated by the Catholic Church: English, Spanish, Portuguese

Last October, a judge in Normandy ruled in his favor. The diocese has since appealed, and the case is pending.

"One can't be de-baptized," says Rev. Robert Kaslyn, dean of the School of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America. More

"Special K" for Depression (audio)

Jon Hamilton, NPR.org (Morning Edition, Jan. 30, 2012); Wisdom Quarterly
Chris Stephens, 28, who has been battling depression all of his life, plays with his dogs at home in Concord, Calif., on [Jan. 28, 2012]. After a dose of ketamine, Stephens says, "I actually wanted to do things. I wanted to live life" (Lianne Milton/NPR.org).

A [pharmaceutical anesthetic turned] club drug called "Special K" is generating a lot of buzz among researchers who study depression.

That's because "Special K," which is actually an FDA-approved anesthetic named ketamine, can relieve even suicidal depression in a matter of hours. And it works on many patients who haven't responded to current antidepressants like Prozac.

Those traditional drugs, which act on the brain's serotonin system, can take more than a month to kick in and don't work for up to 40 percent of people with major depression.

"We can take care of a migraine in hours," says Dr. Carlos Zarate, MD, a brain researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health who is studying ketamine. More

NeuroSoup on ketamine

Wisdom Quarterly (COMMENTARY)

Prozac, Zoloft, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, Valium, Paxil, Remeron, Gabapentin, Buspar, Depakote... -- are expensive and toxic drugs that actually work no better than placebos. (Placebos can work pretty well). They are tested on tortured animals and human guinea pigs because, as artificial toxins introduced into an organic system, they are expected to cause nausea, stomach lining bleeding, headaches, insomnia, suicidality, bizarre behavior, and negative sexual side effects.

Pharmaceuticals are not intended to "cure" depression, by their own labelling. They are meant to be expensive lifetime habits controlled by prescription and relied on like crutches. Actual cures (diet, allergen and sugar removal, avoiding excitotoxins, and artificial ingredients, binaural beats, meditation, or therapeutic use of DMT, mushrooms, super microdose LSD, iboga, etc.) are outlawed or restricted to research by pharmaceutical companies that are striving to develop synthetic chemical analogs for the next big thing to cash in on before mounting lawsuits force the FDA to realize that any synthetic product does more harm than good.

I'm struggling lately in my Dharma practice. I haven't meditated in months -- not because I don't want to, because I do, but because I just can't get myself to do it. A large part of it is my mental illness, which makes finding motivation extra challenging, especially when the heavy medicating drugs I have to take to prevent mania and psychotic episodes zap me further of the will to do much of anything (TheBuddhistBlog).

Better options to try are exercise, lifestyle changes (radical alterations that break the habits holding us in place), fasting, riluzole, a less potent ketamine, or scopolamine, which is used to prevent seasickness, according to Maura Furey (National Institute of Mental Health). There are many herbs as well as energetic medicine (such as Traditional Chinese Medicine), exploring recovery (uncovering molestation or childhood traumas that addictions or dysfunctional behavior often mask) because we either work it out or act it out.

() Dickon and Liz talk ketamine for 5 minutes.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Who will save Buddhists?

Dharma Quotes (flickr.com)
Thai Theravada Buddhist monks with mosquito nets (crots for outdoor meditation) focus on candles in front of reclining Buddha, a pose representing final nirvana.

No one saves us but ourselves
No one can and no one may
We ourselves must tread the path
Buddhas only point the way

() Our body's energy is changing. We can support it by accepting and loving it (Kiesha "Little Grandmother" Crowther in Slovenia (tribeofmanycolors.net).

40 ways to let go and feel less pain
Lori Deschene (TinyBuddha.com)
Eckhart Tolle [who will speak in Los Angeles at GATE 2 on Feb. 4, 2012] believes we create and maintain problems because they give us a sense of identity [ego, soul, self view]. Perhaps this explains why we often hold onto our pain far beyond its ability to serve us. We replay past mistakes over and over again in our head, allowing feelings of shame and regret to shape our actions in the present. We cling to frustration and worry about the future... More

Invisible War: Rape in the US military (video)

Democracy Now; Wisdom Quarterly
Occupy my bra? Police -- back from military service -- grope, brutalize, arrest, and violate protesters (Ben Ehrenreich/LAreviewofbooks.org).

On the heels of a new military survey that the number of reported violent sex crimes jumped 30 percent in 2011. Active-duty female soldiers ages 18 to 21 accounting for more than half of the victims.

Democracy Now speaks with Trina McDonald and Kori Cioca, two subjects of "The Invisible War,” a new documentary that examines the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military. It won the Audience Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

"Not only was I astounded by the numbers, but when I started talking to the women and men who had experienced this, I was just so devastated by their stories," says the film’s Academy Award-nominated director, Kirby Dick.

"These are women and men who are very idealistic. They joined the military because they wanted to serve their country. They were incredible soldiers. And then, when they were assaulted, they had the courage to come forward, even though many people advised them not to," Dick says.

The Breath's Counterpart Sign (video)

Stylized depiction of spectacular nimitta, which differ for all meditators (superconsciousness.com)

Reaching Right-Concentration
Kalyani Dev, Yogi Seven (Wisdom Quarterly)
One "goal" of meditation is absorption (jhana). This is a natural process that happens with consistent persistence -- without striving for a goal as such. As mind and body settle and attention remains exclusively on the breath all the time (even when not sitting), the mind does a miraculous thing. It produces a sign (nimitta) of the breath.

Alan Watts explains meditation at Minute 4:30 and summed up at Minute 5:00.

This is a light or discoloration or it might take any form seen with eyes closed. In time it is visible with eyes open. It is VITAL that one not at it or for it. It will come. One cannot force it or yearn for it or grasp at it without sending it away.

Attention remains near the nostrils, the gate the breath enters and exits. Light may come, but one does not move from this spot. Proceeding in this way, the sign will come under the nose and become what one is looking at.

The mind creates for itself a symbol or mental manifestation of the
breath made of light through the excitation of subatomic particles (known in Buddhism as kalapas). Everyone's sign is different. What, why, and how are not important. It is a remarkable achievement that is easily disturbed.

It is maintained or resuscitated by consistent application of the mind to the meditation object -- which always remains the breath: The sign takes over if and only when it becomes the breath.
If one wishes, when the counterpart sign is strong, one may merge with it, be "absorbed" by it, and this is the first jhana (zen, ch'an, dhyana).

The first four absorptions are what the Buddha defined as "right concentration" in the Noble Eightfold Path. The powers of serenity, concentration (mental purification), and focus one gains makes insight (vipassana) practice very fruitful very quickly. One is ready to establish the Four Foundations of Mindfulness that lead to enlightenment.


This is my Sketchbook Express attempt to capture a very rough outline of a developing nimitta (sign arising during meditation). This movie is compacted; many of the segments lack precision, a result of my lack of artistic ability and ignorance of Final Cut Express and Shake.

The Moon moves in lunar months, in phases of roughly 29.5 days. For example, a New Moon that appears on June 1 will range through a waxing Quarter Moon on June 9, Full Moon on June 15, waning Quarter Moon June 23, and return to New Moon by July 1.

In mythology, many references to the Full Moon may actually refer to a nimitta or meditation sign. For it is an interior vision of a moon-like sphere emerging from clouds. Clouds can refer to several such spheres, together forming a pearl like cluster. Perhaps this is what is meant by heaven's "pearly gate."

This image will at times appear with a flat base, as if it were appearing over a dark wall. At this time, it looks like a rising or Quarter Moon.

From the Tibetan Shangpa tradition of the Wisdom Dakini Niguma: "In particular, her special instructions included the Great Empowerment of Illusory Body, which she bestowed to him on the night of the fifteenth day of the fourth lunar month, by the light of the full moon."

Of the Life of Saint Brigit
"In the eighth day of the lunar month was she born. On the eighteenth did she take the veil on her head. On the twenty-eighth did she go to heaven. Together with the eight virgins was Brigit consecrated."

This nimitta gently arises [apparently] from nothing as a pulsating wisp, slowly building to its full "Moon-in-the-clouds" appearance on the back of subtle back and forth movements of spirit [breath and luminous life energy] within the meditator.

The eighth day for St. Brigit perhaps points to the rising Moon appearance, and the 18th of the month is presumably just after the sign is well established. One of the orbs will expand to form an organic tunnel, bright at the point opposite the viewer.

Also of interest is the widespread Western myth of werewolves, shape shifting human beings who transform into wild beasts when the Moon is full. This suggests that the appearance of the sign is not wholly dependent on the meditator being in a fully relaxed state of serenity, as is suggested by Theravada Buddhist meditation practices.

Alan Watts explains the Zen of Breathing, which is best left to its own natural flow and pattern uninterfered with during zazen (just sitting).

UFO evidence, contact: "Fastwalkers" (film)

This documentary features such expert researchers as Dr. Steven Greer, MD at the DisclosureProject.org.

() Dr. Greer's "Contact & Disclosure: The Final Sequence"
at the European Exopolitics Summit 2009 which triggered a debate
between him and Kerry Cassidy and Bill Ryan (projectcamelot.org).

First Contact Asia (Japanese government's UFO admission)

US astronaut's admission

Former astronaut and lunar explorer, one of only 12 people to have walked on the Moon, Dr. Edgar Mitchell is certain there are extraterrestrials among us. He is part of the Disclosure Process. The evidence goes much deeper than former government, military, and space industry whistle blowers.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why is rebirth not "reincarnation"?

Dharmacharis Seven and Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly

Buddhism and Rebirth
Why does Buddhism call it rebirth instead of "reincarnation"? Surely these are synonyms, that is, two words that mean the exact same thing.

Incarnation means "into flesh" (carne). Re means "again." So what "reincarnation" implies is that a permanent soul or a constant self is traveling from life to life, taking up bodies on various planes of existence.

This is exactly what the Buddha taught does NOT happen -- in an ultimate sense. This is, however, what APPEARS to happen in a conventional sense. Conventionally speaking, as we use words in normal everyday language, we can say: "I will be reborn." We never question this "I." We take it for granted that it is some permanent, pleasing, personal thing.

If we did question it and investigate it (with a mind purified by right concentration and mindfulness) we would soon realize that the "self" we cling to for an entire lifetime is actually falling away every single moment. It is not the same for two consecutive moments. It does not stand even for a single moment. (It is in this sense that the Buddha speaks of radical impermanence).

Just as its factors (because the "self" is a composite not a unit) arise, they are already turning then falling. A leaf sprouts, yellows, and drops. Even as it is going from green to yellow, it is ripening to brown in an unbroken process. This is impermanence.

We are born, immediately begin aging, and fall away -- and this obvious process hides a very unobvious fact: The same thing is happening every single moment. We will not die; we are already dying. Every moment is a rebirth, a rearising.

And successively in that same moment, there is a turning and a falling away. We are always being reborn. And just as above (in an ultimate sense at the level of particle physics as understood by quantum mechanics) so below (in a conventional or Newtonian sense at the level of everyday visible objects).

  • Physically (bodily) the Four Great Elements (Mahabhuta, dhatus, or material qualities of solidity, cohesion, temperature, support) are constituents that rise and fall in a way that only physicists can normally appreciate.
  • Psychologically (mentally) the four constituents of mind (or mental activities of sensation, perception, volition [etc.], and consciousness) rise even more quickly in a way that only successful meditators can normally appreciate.

But if one is to ever achieve enlightenment (bodhi), touch nirvana, and be liberated from all suffering, one must have insight (vipassana) into why this is not what was ever happening.

There was never a "self" continuously wandering on through the Wheel of Life and Death (samsara).

We, of course, cling to our notion of an ego or a ME without seeing the truth. But it is only the truth that can set one free. What is the truth?

There are Five (ever-changing) Aggregates. They are unsatisfactory and impersonal. They arise and pass away. All claims of a self, whether in one life or across countless lives, are spoken of in relation to these five:

  1. forms (subtle or gross bodies)
  2. feelings
  3. perceptions
  4. formations
  5. consciousness

We imagine ourselves as them, apart from them, as the owner of them, and so on. We take them for granted instead of investigating them and seeing them for what each really is.

Insight means seeing (with knowledge-and-vision) directly. This is an experience not a thought experiment. It is brought about by insight practices establishing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, which are 14 meditative exercises guaranteed to lead to enlightenment.

  • "Guaranteed"? In a remarkable statement, the Buddha concludes the Maha Satipatthana Sutra with the words: "Truly speaking, practitioners, for anyone who practices these four foundations of mindfulness in this manner for seven years then one of these two fruits may be expected: highest knowledge (full liberation) here and now or, if some remainder of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning (the third of four stages of enlightenment). O practitioners, let alone seven years! Should any person practice these [unbroken and without intermission] for six years... five years... four years... three years... two years... one year... seven months... six months... five months... four months... three months... two months... a month... half a month... let alone half a month! Should any person practice these four foundations of mindfulness in this manner for a week then one of these two fruits may be expected: highest knowledge here and now or, if some remainder of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning." Because of this it was said: "This is the direct way, practitioners, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and grief, for reaching the right path, for the attainment of nirvana, namely the four foundations of mindfulness."

How to reach enlightenment
How is it done? One first develops serenity to the point of absorption (jhana) or access-concentration. Based on that secure and stable platform, which brings out what the mind is really capable of, one then takes up each of these four "foundations" to break through to freedom from all suffering.

  1. mindful contemplation of body
  2. mindful contemplation of feelings
  3. mindful contemplation of consciousness
  4. mindful contemplation of mind objects

How long does it take? It takes a week, but it may take seven years or more. It all depends on consistent practice and karma (action).

Life after Life: The Scientific Study of Rebirth

Dr. Walter Semkiw, IISIS; Coast to Coast (Jan. 25, 2012) with interviewer George Noory
Segment begins at Minute 39:40. Become a Coast to Coast subscriber with access to archives dating back to 2004. Or listen FREE nightly on over 500 stations. Fair Use Notice.*

Buddhism came up on Coast to Coast radio. Dr. Walter Semkiw, MD is deeply involved in the scientific study of rebirth (calling it "reincarnation") and past lives following the pioneering work of Prof. Ian Stevenson at the University of Virginia School of Medicine via IISIS.net.

IISIS is a nonprofit dedicated to reincarnation research and the dissemination of the work of Dr. Stevenson, MD.

Return of the Revolutionaries (johnadams.net)

Dr. Stevenson spent 40 years traveling around the world, documenting children with spontaneous memories of previous lives. One of his case studies involved a girl named Uttara Huddar from central India, whose past life personality was a woman named Sharada. At times Sharada would take over Uttara's consciousness and speak a different language Uttara could not speak.

The phenomenon of speaking an unknown language is called xenoglossy. It was present in a number of Dr. Stevenson's cases, according to Dr. Semkiw, who falls back on his Buddhist understanding to make sense of the cases he investigates.

Another of Dr. Stevenson's intriguing findings was that if someone had a stab or bullet wound in a previous life, they might have an inexplicable scar or birthmark in the exact same spot at (re)birth.

Dr. Semkiw describes the fascinating case of a skeptical police captain named Robert Snow. He underwent a past life regression on a dare and uncovered startling memories of being a portrait painter in the 19th century. By coincidence, he ran across one of his past life paintings of a hunchback woman at an art gallery in New Orleans by the artist Carroll Beckwith.

Following forty years of scientific investigation by Dr. Stevenson, Dr. Semkiw has spent nearly a decade working with a spiritual entity channeled by Kevin Ryerson named Atun-Re, an ancient Egyptian priest.

Atun-Re confirms various reincarnation matches to him. These include: David Rittenhouse as Carl Sagan, Charles Thomson as Ralph Nader, Rev. William Walter as Neale Donald Walsch, and Laurel & Hardy as the Bacher Brothers.

Dr. Semkiw contends that in many cases of human reincarnation, the two parties share a strong resemblance in their facial features, personality, tendencies, and talents. According to Atun-Re, "The soul [the entity spoken of over numerous lives] projects an energy template or hologram into the developing body and...the physical body shapes around it."

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