Monday, December 16, 2013

All Civilizations (and Self) Must Fall (video)

Dhr. Seven and Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly
(B1) The seafaring Aegean civilization (a general term for the Bronze Age civilizations of Greece around the Aegean Sea, the Minoan, Mycenaean or Crete, the Cyclades, and the Greek mainland) destroyed ancient Egypt. Crete is associated with the Minoan civilization from the Early Bronze Age around 1200 BCE.

One facet of the universe, along with being ultimately impersonal and disappointing, is that it is impermanent. This radical flux, or constant state of change, leads to a wearing away of larger structures, such as entire human civilizations. They may last thousands of years, but that is of course only in the sense of continuity. They, in fact, do not last two consecutive days. This is the ever present change or flux the Buddha refers to as anicca. 

The ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations fused at Thonis-Heracleion (Hilti)
Insight into this is liberating when it leads to dispassion and letting go, accompanied by the realization that it is in a sense unreal as well. All formations (compounded things, composites, constructions, fabrications) are unreal. What is true for the micro is true for the macro. The Buddha focused on psychological phenomena, on what we regard as "self," those things we feel closest to and identify with. On a grander scale and much more obvious to our investigations is the fact that large things fall apart, dissolve, crumble away. If we cannot accept that this happens to the greatest of humans, the most glorious "gods" (brahmas and devas in space), the loftiest of plans, it will be very hard to accept the fact that -- and this is verifiable through vipassana -- it is true of I, me, and mine.

Monuments in Egypt are far older than ancient Egypt. They actually go back 10,000+ years, but to say so and show the evidence is to step into the realm of "forbidden" archeology.
(AW) "The True Story of Troy" documentary: It's the site of history's most legendary war and the Western world's oldest "adventure" story. According to myth it began with a rigged beauty contest and ended with a giant wooden Trojan horse unleashing utter destruction. Now archaeologists and literary detectives and military analysts are uncovering evidence suggesting the war was really waged. From archaeological trenches at ancient Troy and the citadel fortress of King Agamemnon from Homer to Hollywood, we search for Troy.
Khmer King Yayavarmann VII, Bayon temple, Angkor Wat, Cambodia (platonkohphoto/flickr)
End of Khmer Rouge (Hanumann/flickr)
When Buddhism ultimately says there is "no soul" (anatta) it is not aligning with materialistic science and its annihilationist view of the afterlife -- that we all die and it ends here in a pile of ashes. 

When Buddhism conventionally says there is a "soul" (atta), it is not aligning with Abrahamic religions and their eternalist view of the afterlife -- that we all die and it continues from here because an imperishable part of us goes on to one more rebirth in heaven or hell.

Who am I? Five Aggregates
Ultimately, that amalgamation of heaps of (1) form (the four primary material elements) and the four primary components of mentality), (2) feeling, (3) perception, (4) mental formations, and (5) consciousness we call body and mind, the "soul" or "self" is ultimately not what it seems.
Some of the treasures recovered from the Greco-Egyptian civilization (Franck Goddio)
These are opposite views, so how could the Buddha not side with either? That's a logical fallacy surely? It may seem like a paradox or sophistry. But we can rest assured that it is neither. When we realize for ourselves the reality we, too, can get to sounding like mystic or Zen koan writer. It really is not this way, and it really is not the other way either. Indeed, there is no self (ultimately speaking), and there are countless rebirths. We do not die at death...except that we are dying at every single moment, and physical death is one of those moments, too. There is continuity. But what "continues" or seems to continue is not the exact same thing, is not some imperishable "soul" as Hindus, Jains, and the Abrahamic faiths maintain. 

Khmer (Cambodian) Empire may have come to Olmec Mesoamerica

Buddha, Ladakh, Likir Gompa (Ifphotos/flickr)
Buddhism is unique in this assertion -- that there is no ego, no personality, nothing to cling to. Letting go is NOT possible by an act of will. Only liberating-insight can bring it about. Fortunately, it is also possible to gain an intellectual grasp of the Teaching, the Dharma, but a mere intellectual grasp will never do to reach enlightenment. 

We must know-and-see, that is, directly experience the truth. And the truth will set us free from the illusion we currently feel so utterly trapped by. Only insight into the truth can do it, and for mindfulness of body, sensations, mind, and phenomena to produce liberating-insight, we need a great deal of calm, serenity, tranquility.

If we are motivated by disappointment (dukkha), suffering, a strong desire to escape, this craving may do more to ultimately obstruct us just as it helped get us very far along the Path. We need not "want" the truth to be true. The truth is true regardless. And if the heart/mind is calm, absorbed, purified by concentration and applies these four kinds of intensive mindfulness, it will produce insight. One of the most amazing things the Buddha ever said occurs in the discourse on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. It ends with the Buddha guaranteeing that whosoever practices correctly according to these instructions for seven years...not even seven years but just seven days will surely break through to the truth, will surely gain at least one of the stages of enlightenment and thereby make an end to all suffering.

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