Thursday, July 31, 2014

What is "consciousness" in Buddhism?

Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Crystal Quintero (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly; Ven. Nyanatiloka Maha Thera, Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines (viññāna)
Buddhas of the past, sacred Dambulla cave, Sri Lanka (
How are living beings conscious? (WHP)
"Consciousness" is one of the Five Groups [that comprise] Existence (Five Aggregates of Clinging). It is one of the Four Nutriments. It is the third link of the causal chain on the arising of suffering called Dependent Origination. It is the fifth in the sixfold division of elements.

Viewed as one of the Five Aggregates [trillions of discrete phenomena lumped into five groups or categories], it is inseparably linked with the three other mental aggregates (feeling, perception, and formations) and furnishes the bare cognition of the object, while the other three contribute more specific functions.

Conscious awareness (
Its moral and karmic character, and its greater or lesser degree of intensity and clarity, are chiefly determined by the mental formations associated with it (particularly the most salient formation, "volition" or cetana, which determines if a karmic act is beneficial, unwholesome, or neutral).
Just like the other aggregates or "groups of existence," consciousness is not so much a thing as a flux (sotā, a "stream of consciousness") and does not constitute an abiding mind-substance. 

Free your mind. Rest will follow.
Nor is it in any way a transmigrating soul, entity, or abiding self, even though it is commonly regarded as such by ordinary uninstructed worldlings not yet freed of ignorance regarding existence. Arhats, the noble ones, who gain knowledge and vision recognize it for what it is and are freed of suffering, which is called enlightenment, the realization of nirvana, "the end of all suffering").

The Three Marks or Characteristics of Existence (the impermanent, unsatisfactory/disappointing/woeful, and impersonal nature of all conditioned phenomena) are frequently applied to consciousness in the texts (e.g., in the Anattalakkhana Sutra, S.XXII, 59).

The physical base of the "mind" is the heart (K)
The Buddha often stresses that "apart from conditions, there is no arising of consciousness" (MN 38). And all of these statements about its nature hold good for the entire range of consciousness -- be it "past, future, or presently arisen, gross or subtle, in oneself or another, that is, internal or external, inferior or lofty, far or near" (S. XXII, 59).
Six consciousnesses
The seven main chakras,energy centers, along the spine (Manifesto-Meditations)
According to the six senses it divides into six kinds: eye- (or visual), ear- (auditory), nose- (olfactory), tongue- (gustatory), body- (tangible), mind- (mental, intuitive, memory, psychic) consciousness. 
About the dependent origination or arising of these six kinds of consciousness, the Path of Purification (Vis.M. XV, 39) says: 
  • "Conditioned through the [sense base or sensitive portion within the] eye, the visible object, light, and attention, eye-consciousness arises.
  • Conditioned through the ear, the audible object, the ear-passage, and attention, ear-consciousness arises.
  • Conditioned, through the nose, the olfactive object, air, and attention, nose-consciousness arises.
  • Conditioned through the tongue, the gustative object, humidity, and attention, tongue-consciousness arises.
  • Conditioned through the body, bodily impression, the earth-element [the solid quality of materiality or rupa], and attention, body-consciousness arises.
  • Conditioned through the subconscious [or default, underlying] mind (bhavanga-mano [manas, mind]), the mind-object, and attention, mind-consciousness arises."
The Abhidharma literature distinguishes 89 classes of consciousness as being either karmically wholesome (skillful), unwholesome (unskillful), or neutral, and belonging either to the Sensual Sphere, the Fine-Material Sphere, or the Immaterial Sphere, or to supermundane consciousness. See Table I for the detailed classification.

Jewish voices for peace and Ralph Nader (video)

Ashley Wells, Sheldon S., CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly; Ralph Nader, Mitch Jeserich (, Berkeley); Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh (, July 31, 2014)
Why do you steal our homes, take our land, and kill us, even our babies? - I'dunno, it's my job. I was only following orders. Hey, why do wear that towel? (Corey Gil-Schuster/Ask-Project)
Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan
Amys_column_defaultThe Israeli assault on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip has entered its fourth week. Henry Siegman, a venerable dean of American Jewish thought and president of the U.S./Middle East Project, sat down for an interview with Democracy Now! An ordained rabbi, Siegman is the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress and former executive head of the Synagogue Council of America, two of the [three] major, mainstream Jewish organizations in the U.S. [The other being the ADL.] He says the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories must end [now]. LISTEN
Death toll tops 1300. "Enough blood has been spilled": Israel CONDEMNED for striking U.N. shelter with precision bomb (then trying to blame war crime on Hamas' homemade rockets)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has publicly condemned Israel for what he called its "outrageous" and "unjustifiable" shelling of a U.N. shelter in Gaza that killed 20 Palestinian civilians on Wednesday.

Many of the dead were children who were sleeping. The U.N. itself has not directly condemned Israel [how could it with the U.S. promoting and protecting Israel's war crimes?] But it admits that all available evidence points to Israel's responsibility for the terrorist act and crime against humanity.

It was the sixth time Israel had hit [targeted] a U.N. shelter since the Israeli offensive in Gaza began 24 days ago. The United Nations said it had given the coordinates of the shelter to the Israeli military 17 times prior to the attack. [They knew exactly where to aim or to definitively avoid aiming.] 
According to the United Nations, more than 240,000 Palestinians are now staying in U.N. shelters in Gaza. Another 200,000 Palestinians have been displaced and are staying with other overcrowded families without sufficient food or water. 

Democracy Now! is joined by Christopher Gunness, spokesperson for the the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. "UNRWA has reached a breaking point," Gunness says. "Eight of our staff have been killed. Our facilities are overwhelmed. Because of the continued displacement...we may soon find ourselves where there are tens of thousands of people in the streets of Gaza -- no food, no water, no shelter, no safety [suffering illegal collective punishment at the hands of Israel's military], frankly, after we’ve found that Israeli artillery is capable of hitting our shelters. And we’re saying: enough is enough."

The world's greatest MANTRA

Crystal Quintero, Seth Auberon, Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly
Daibutsu, or "Giant Buddha," of Japan (Paul & Shellie Davis/
Daibutsu (Marcus Antonius Braun/flickr)
According to Yogini Leith O'Leary, the greatest and most powerful mantra in the world is pronounced tan-kuu, two syllables holding the second syllable longer, which in Spanish is pronounced gracias.

As we began to chant, we started with OM, an acronym for "omniscient mind," which Leith pronounces AUM: three blended sounds that stand for everything we are Aware of, everything we are Unaware of, and everything, the MMM of the humming universe.
The Buddha did not make much of mantras. After all, he was making known a "Higher Teaching" (Abhi-dharma) toward complete liberation in a Vedic land consumed with empty ritual, sympathetic magic, and elitist temple priests (the Brahmins of Brahmanism).

Many centuries later, "Hinduism" (Indus river valley civilization -ism) was formed. By systematizing disparate Indian teachings into a coherent message, Sri Shankara created a "religion" born out of a spiritual culture. Then the clinging began as later came the warring over it by nationalistic Indians. Modi may remember them, as they are alive and well in his party.

But there were protective (paritta) chants and monastic sermon memorizations and recitals (bana). And with Mahayana, a popular blend of Hinduism and Buddhism, there were mantras, too. Tantra-yana, mantra-yana, but for all that complexity, Leith is right:

The best mantra is "thank-you" repeated as often as possible.

The Lessons of Gratitude

Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly; Ven. Thanissaro (Geoffrey DeGraff), Abbot of Wat Metta
Sometimes a smile is all the thanks we give, all the gratitude we show (
Gratitude (
The Buddha taught: "Two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful/thankful for a kindness done" (AN 2.118).
In saying that kind and grateful people are rare, the Buddha is not stating an obvious truth about the world. He is advising us to treasure these people when we find them and -- more importantly -- he shows how we can become them.
Kindness and gratitude are virtues we can certainly cultivate, but they must be cultivated together. Each needs the other to be genuine, which becomes obvious when we think about the three things most likely to make gratitude heartfelt:
  1. We've benefitted from another's actions.
  2. We trust the motives behind those actions.
  3. We sense the other person had to go out of his or her way to provide that benefit.
Points one and two are lessons that gratitude teaches to kindness: If we want to be genuinely kind, we have to be of actual benefit. No one wants to be the recipient of "help" that isn't actually helpful. And we have to provide that benefit in a way that shows respect and empathy for the other person's needs. No one likes to receive a gift given with calculating motives or in a disdainful way.
Points two and three are lessons that kindness teaches to gratitude. Only if we've been kind to another person are we likely to accept the idea that others can be kind to us. At the same time, if we've been kind to another person, we know the effort involved.

Kind impulses often have to do battle with unkind impulses in the heart, so it is not always easy to be helpful. Sometimes it involves great sacrifice -- a sacrifice possible only when we trust the recipient will make good use of our help. So when we're on the receiving end of a sacrifice like that, we realize we've incurred a debt, an obligation to repay the other person's trust.
This is why the Buddha always discusses gratitude as a response to kindness. He does not equate it with appreciation in general. Gratitude is a special kind of appreciation, inspiring a more demanding response. The difference here is best illustrated by two passages in which the Buddha uses the image of carrying.
Sutra: Parable of the Raft
What is the "Parable of the Raft"?
The first passage concerns appreciation of a general sort: "Then the person, having gathered grass, twigs, branches, and leaves, having bound them together to make a raft, would cross over to the safety of the farther shore by depending on the raft, struggling, making an effort with hands and feet.

"Having crossed over to the farther shore, one might think, 'How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making an effort with my own hands and feet, I have crossed over to safety on the farther shore. So why don't I, having hoisted it on my head or carrying it on my back, go wherever I like?' What do you think, meditators? Would the person, in doing so, be doing what should be done with the raft?" -- "No, venerable sir."
"What should the person do in order to be doing what should be done with the raft? There is another case where the person, having crossed over to the farther shore, might think: 'How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making an effort with my own hands and feet, I have crossed over to the safety of the farther shore. Why don't I, having docked it on dry land or sunk it in water, go wherever I like?' In doing so, one would be doing what should be done with the raft" (MN 22).

Sutra: Who can repay parents?
Let me down, dummy! - But I'm repaying you!
The second passage concerns gratitude in particular: "I tell you, meditators, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Our mother and father.

"Even if we were to carry our mother on one shoulder and our father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, and rubbing their limbs, and even if they were to defecate and urinate right there [on our shoulders], we would not in that way ever repay our parents. Even if we were to establish our mother and father as rulers of the whole world, abounding in the seven treasures, we would not in that way repay our parents. Why is that? Mother and father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world.
"But anyone who rouses one's unbelieving mother and father, settles and establishes them in conviction (confidence, faith), rouses one's unvirtuous mother and father, settles and establishes them in virtue, rouses one's stingy mother and father, settles and establishes them in generosity, rouses one's foolish mother and father, settles and establishes them in wisdom -- to this extent one indeed repays one's mother and father" (AN 2.32).
In other words, as the first passage shows, it's fine to appreciate the benefits we've received from rafts and other things without feeling any need to repay them or cling to them. (In this parable the Buddha was referring to the Dharma as a "raft" or vehicle meant for crossing over not for clinging to). We take care of them simply because that enables us to benefit from them more. 
The same holds true for difficult people and situations that have forced us to develop strength of character. We can appreciate that we've learned persistence from dealing with... More

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Monkey Mind" in Meditation

Michael Carr; CC Liu, Pat Macpherson, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly (Wiki edit)
What's monkey mind? Hold on a second, I'll look on Wisdom Quarterly (Huffington Post).
Obsessed with sexy distractions (Uhohbro).
Monkey mind (or mind monkey) comes from the Chinese word xinyuan and the Sino-Japanese shin'en (心猿), literally, "heart-/mind-monkey").

It is a Buddhist term meaning "restless, unsettled, capricious, whimsical, fanciful, inconstant, confused, indecisive, uncontrollable." In addition to Buddhist writings -- including Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen (two Mahayana sects giving their pronunciations of the Pali term jhan'a and the Sanskrit dhyan'a), Consciousness-Only, Pure Land, and Shingon -- this "monkey mind" psychological metaphor was adopted in Taoism, Neo-Confucianism, poetry, drama, and literature.

"Mind-monkey" occurs in two reversible four-character idioms with yima or iba (意馬), literally, "thought-/will-horse," most frequently used in Chinese xinyuanyima (心猿意馬) and Japanese ibashin'en (意馬心猿).

The "Monkey King" Sun Wukong in the Journey to the West personifies the mind-monkey. Note that much of the following summarizes Michael Carr ("'Mind-Monkey' Metaphors in Chinese and Japanese Dictionaries," International Journal of Lexicography 1993, 6.3:149-180). 

Linguistic and cultural background
Mind monkey piggy backs on horse idea (Tang Dynasty)
"Mind-monkey" (心猿) is an animal metaphor. Some figures of speech are cross-linguistically common, verging upon being linguistic universals.

Many languages use "monkey" or "ape" words to mean "mimic," for instance, Italian scimmiottare "to mock, to mimic" and scimmia "monkey, ape," Japanese sarumane (猿真似), literally, "monkey imitation," "copycat, superficial imitation," and the English monkey see, monkey do or to ape. Other animal metaphors have culture-specific meanings. Compare English chickenhearted as "cowardly, timid," "easily frightened" and Chinese jixin (雞心), literally, "chicken heart," "heart-shaped, cordate."
The four morphological elements of Chinese xinyuanyima or Japanese shin'en'iba are xin or shin (心) "heart, mind", yi or i (意) "thought," yuan or en (猿) "monkey," and ma or ba (馬) "horse."

The 心 "heart, mind" and 意 "idea, will"
Mr. Simian! - No, I just meant a pony ride on the "will horse," not us horsing around!
The psychological components of the "mind-monkey will-horse" metaphor are Chinese xin or Sino-Japanese shin or kokoro () "heart, mind, feelings, affections, center" and yi or i () "thought, idea, opinion, sentiment, will, wish, meaning."

This Chinese character 心 was graphically simplified from an original pictogram of a heart and 意 "thought, think" is an ideogram combining 心 under yin () "sound, tone, voice" denoting "sound in the mind, thought, idea."
In Chinese Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism, xin/shin (心) "heart, mind" generally translates Sanskrit citta "mind, process of mind, state of mind, consciousness" and yi/i (意) translates Sanskrit manas "the mental organ, deliberation."
Some Buddhist authors have used 心 and 意 interchangeably for "mind, cognition, thought." Compare these Digital Dictionary of Buddhism glosses:
  • 心 "Spirit, motive, sense. The mind as the seat of intelligence, mentality, idea. (Sanskrit citta)... Thought, intellect, feeling (Sanskrit mānasa)"
  • 意 "Thought, intellect (Sanskrit manas, Tibetan yid), the mind, (Sanskrit citta, Tibetan sems)."
For example, take the Buddhist word Chinese xin-yi-shi or Japanese shin-i-shiki (心意識), literally, "mind, thought, and cognition" that compounds three near-synonyms.
The Abhidharma theory uses this word as a general term for "mind, mentality." But Yogacara's theory of Eight Consciousnesses distinguishes xin/shin (心) "store consciousness," yi/i (意) "manas consciousness," and shi/shiki (識) "six object-contingent consciousnesses."
Xinyuanyima (心猿意馬), literally, "mind-monkey idea-horse," "distracted, indecisive, restless" is comparable with some other Chinese collocations:
  • xinmanyizu (心滿意足) "heart-full mind-complete," "perfectly content, fully satisfied."
  • xinhuiyilan (心灰意懶) "heart-ashes mind-sluggish," "disheartened, discouraged, hopeless" (or xinhuiyileng (心灰意冷) with leng "cold, frosty."
  • xinhuangyiluan (心慌意亂) "heart-flustered mind-disordered," "alarmed and hysterical, perturbed."
  • xinfanyiluan (心煩意亂) "heart-vexed mind-disordered," "terribly upset, confused and worried"...
"Mind-monkey" in English
Prozac (fluoride) calcifies the pineal gland
Monkey mind and mind monkey both occur in English usage, originally as translations of xinyuan or shin'en and later as culturally-independent images. Carr concludes:
Xinyuan-yima (心猿意馬) "monkey of the heart/mind and horse of the ideas/will" has been a successful metaphor. What began 1500 years ago as a Buddhist import evolved into a standard Chinese and Japanese literary phrase.
Rosenthal (1989:361) says a proverb's success "'depends on certain imponderables," particularly rhythm and phrasing. Of the two animals in this metaphor, the "monkey" phrase was stronger than the "horse" because xinyuan "mind-monkey" was occasionally used alone (e.g., Wuzhenpian) and it had more viable variants (e.g., qingyuan 情猿 "emotion-monkey" in Ci'en zhuan).
The "mental-monkey" choice of words aptly reflects restlessness, curiosity, and mimicry associated with this animal. Dudbridge (1970:168) explains how "the random, uncontrollable movements of the monkey symbolise the waywardness of the naive human mind before it achieves a composure which only Buddhist discipline can effect" (1993:166). More

    What is mind? What is consciousness?

    Amber Larson and Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly (COMMENTARY)
    No one has to lose his or her head wondering where "mind" is (MaretH/
    "God made Man, but he used a Monkey to do it. Apes in the plan, we're all here to prove it"
    The brain starts at the base of the spine
    Does Buddhism have an answer? The Dharmic religions are very interested in "mind," which is roughly the equivalent of heart, the seat of consciousness. We think the brain is the mind, but it is not. The base of physical base of consciousness was not spelled out by the Buddha precisely the way the other senses were. Buddhism acknowledges six senses, mind being the sixth.
    Mike, a living headless chicken (MTHC)
    But it is pretty certain, and individually verifiable, that the "mind door" is near the are of the physical heart not up in the head. If anyone considers the matter for a moment, it becomes obvious that the entire body is conscious -- informed by a gut feeling, a broken heart, a mild headache, a strange tingling feeling, and so on -- all playing a part in what we are conscious of at any moment and what we feel about it; "thought" is a minor part.

    A powerful placebo
    For example, few people have been told that there are many neurons -- "brain" cells -- in the lining of the gut and in the heart. But we walk around all "scientifically minded" thinking neurons are somehow exclusive to the brain, up in the head, limited to the cranium. Neurons, ganglia, axons, and all that hardware extends down the brainstem into the spine innervating every part of the conscious body. We don't need a brain to live; a brainstem is enough -- ask anyone with microencephaly. We sure do need a heart. Some cruel/greedy humans chop off the head of chickens to sell their bodies and are surprised that they live on. Ask Mike, you know, Mike the Headless Chicken.

    I'm not a monkey! My doctor takes them, too!
    We are all taught, mostly by long winded drug commercials that depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders are due to "imbalances" in our neurotransmitters (actually, that's at least as much of an effect as a cause in the feedback loop of the body), but what we are rarely if ever told is that most of these transmitters are in other parts of the body. Case in point, if one has a section of the colon removed for whatever reason, one is almost certain to come down with severe clinical depression. Yet, look how we treat our beautiful colons. Why would that be? It's the brain in the gut, the brain in the heart, the brain in the glands -- the rolled up gut, which is 23 feet long, has a lot of braincells.

    However, of all the sages of India and Vedic Indus Valley Civilization, no one went further in detailing the "mind," consciousness, software, mental processes, and mental concomitants (cittas and cetasikas) than the Buddha. It is what the entire Abhidharma (the "Higher or Ultimate Teachings") is about -- one third of the Dharma alongside the conventional sutras and the monastic disciplinary code.
    Mind is more complicated than a clock.
    So what is "monkey mind"? Try to meditate and you, too, will find out in about a minute. But, first of all, What is MIND?

    The individual (let's say the gandhabba or Sanskrit gandharva) is body and mind, the physical-psychological process of becoming, of phenomenal conditioned-existence, the world, the process of perception. The Buddha outlined this as a conglomeration of eight impersonal heaps called the Five Aggregates. (I thought you said eight? Yes, the first four are collapsed into one category simply called "form").

    "Mind" in Buddhism is defined as the remaining four categories: feelings, perceptions, formations, and consciousnesses (viññāna). All of these are plural because they are heaps, aggregates, countless discrete units within each category, always changing, always impersonal, always unsatisfactory.
    Clinging -- to ego, notions of self, soul, eternal existence, selfishness, possessions, likes and dislikes, strong preferences, sensual pleasures, and so on -- occurs because of this illusory separate "being" or personality which arises dependent on causes and conditions, nutriments. What are the causes and conditions? They are explained in the meditation on Dependent Origination as 12 causal links to be contemplated, penetrated, and experienced for liberation.

    Shut up, monkeys are cool! - the Beebs
    Traditionally, in Buddhist instruction, early teachers noted that just as a monkey going wild in a tree grasps one branch and before letting go of it is grasping at another so, too, the meditator barely gets done with one line of thought and s/he's onto another. This is called discursive thinking, a great impediment to calm and insight IF we identify with it. Just let it be. There is no reason to try to stop it; it is usually enough to detach enough by becoming an observer. It really is ridiculous and like a chattering, clambering, confused monkey, full of frenzy, restless, and craving constant stimulation and/or entertainment.

    Study: Why do men visit prostitutes?

    Why men use prostitutes: The reasons why many men pay for sex are revealed in the interviews that make up a major new piece of research.
    "I don't get anything out of sex with prostitutes except for a bad feeling," says Ben. An apparently average, thirtysomething, middle-class man, Ben had taken an extended lunchbreak from his job in advertising to talk about his experiences of buying sex. Shy and slightly nervous, he told me, "I am hoping that talking about it might help me work out why I do it."

    Julie Bindel
    I, too, was hoping to understand his motives better. Ben was one of 700 men interviewed for a major international research project seeking to uncover the reality about men who buy sex. The project spanned six countries. And of the 103 customers we spoke to in London -- where I was one of the researchers -- most were surprisingly keen to discuss their experiences.

    The men didn't fall into obvious stereotypes. They were aged between 18 and 70 years old; they were white, black, Asian, eastern European; most were employed, and many were ­educated beyond [high]school level. In the main they were presentable, polite, with average-to-good social skills. Many were husbands and boyfriends; just over half were either married or in a relationship with a woman.
    Man covering his face with his hands
    Science: 700 men were interviewed for the research project, which aimed to find out why men solicit and buy sex (Christina Griffiths/Getty Images/Flickr RM).
    Research published in 2005 found that the numbers of men who pay for sex had doubled in a decade. The ­authors attributed this rise to "a greater acceptability of commercial sexual contact," yet many of our ­interviewees told us that they felt ­intense guilt and shame about paying for sex.

    "I'm not satisfied in my mind" was how one described his feelings after paying for sex. Another told me that he felt "disappointed -- what a waste of money," "lonely still," and "guilty about my relationship with my wife." In fact, many of the men were a mass of contradictions. Despite finding their experiences "unfulfilling, empty, terrible," they continued to visit prostitutes.
    Prostitutes wait at a bar in a plush northern suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug 22, 2002
    Call to legalize World Cup sex trade
    I interviewed 12 of the men, and found it a fascinating experience. One told me about his experience of childhood cruelty and neglect and linked this to his inability to form close ­relationships with anyone, particularly women.

    Alex admitted sex with ­prostitutes made him feel empty, but he had no idea how to get to know women "through the usual routes." When I asked him about his feelings ­towards the women he buys he said that, on the one hand, he wants ­prostitutes to get to know and like him. On the other hand, he is "not under ­delusions" that the encounters are anything like a real relationship. More

    Israeli Jew spills truth about Israel (video)

    Wisdom Quarterly; Miko Peled speaks to Christians in U.S., Dec. 2012

    Palestinian boy tries to defend family from genocidal, invading Israeli militants (EOI).

    I'll gladly kill every last d*mn Palestinian
    Miko Peled was born into a famous and influential Israeli Jewish family in Jerusalem, who like others did his compulsory military service for Israel. His father was a prominent general in the Israeli Army exterminating Palestinians. Another relative of his was a close personal friend and schoolmate of right-wing extremist [and U.S.-groomed CIA operative] Bibi Netanyahu

    When Peled's famous niece was killed by desperate Palestinian suicide bombers, the family may have been expected to place the fault on Palestinians. But surprisingly they blamed the "State of Israel," which violently tortures, persecutes, and pulls every dirty trick of imperial rule to drive the indigenous people from their houses and homeland. The Palestinians are so mistreated that in their sadness and desperation they would take their own lives to strike back.

    I'm just following orders to attack Arabs.
    Through his father's deep knowledge of the Israeli military's terrorist tactics, together with his own research, Peled realized the myths Israelis are fed about their own special history. The stories they are told make no sense under closer examination. Peled ruins the myths surrounding the supposed birth of Israel and the destruction of Palestine. He delivers truth so damning that many Jews and rabid Israel supporters in the USA are not able to bear it. The truth must not be revealed because it would make Israel the war criminals, the propagandists, the invaders and occupiers in collusion with the West laboring under a false history shrouded in Christian distortions.

    Looks like a new Berlin Wall, but it's a "fence"
    He reveals such things as the fact that the original Jews expelled are not the ones claiming a "right of return," nor their descendants. He covers the double standard regarding the right of return, which is not allowed to apply to Palestinians, and dispels the myth that there has been a conflict for ages by producing proof that it was peaceful for all up until 1947, when Israel launched their illegal attacks heavily subsidized by the U.S. and UK.

    Miko Peled is right...He must be silenced!
    Peled is just one of the many modern-day Jews who refuse to be complicit in Israeli crimes against humanity. He has turned against Zionism and the State of Israel, and with the information he delivers in this astounding talk, it is easy to see why more and more Jews are rejecting Zionism and calling for the dismantling of Israel.

    It is a true eye-opener for anyone who has for too long been blinded by the disinformation reported without question by the mainstream U.S. media. Here the truth comes straight from the heartland where he has spent many years documenting the real story.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    What is Buddhist meditation?

    Amber Larson, Crystal Quintero (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly; Ven. Dhammika (
    "It doesn't matter who you used to be. What matters is who you become."
    Question:What is meditation?
    Answer:Meditation is a conscious effort to change how the mind works. The Pali word for "meditation" is bhavana, which means "to make grow" or "to develop." [Literally, it means "to bring into being, to make become."]

    Question:Is meditation important?
    Answer:Yes, it is. No matter how much we may wish to be good, if we cannot change the desires that make us act the way we do, change will be difficult. For example, a person may realize that s/he is impatient with a spouse and may promise, "From now on I am not going to be so impatient." But an hour later one may be shouting again simply because, not being aware of oneself, impatience has arisen without one knowing it. Meditation helps to develop the awareness and the energy needed to transform ingrained mental habit patterns.
    Question:I have heard that meditation can be dangerous. Is this true?
    Answer:To live, we need salt. But if we were to eat a kilogram of salt it would kill us. To live in the modern world we may need a car, but if we do not follow the traffic rules or if we drive while we are a little intoxicated, a car becomes a dangerous maiming machine. Meditation is like this, it is essential for our mental health and well-being, but if we practice in a foolish way, it amy cause problems. Some people have problems like depression, irrational fears (phobias), or schizophrenia, and they think meditation is an instant cure for all problems. So they start meditating, yet sometimes their problems get worse. If we have such problems, we may want to seek professional help or therapy and after we are better then take up meditation. Other people over reach; they take up meditation and instead of going gradually, step by step -- making the gradual progress the Buddha advised -- they meditate with too much energy, effort, and exertion for too long, and by going out of balance they are soon exhausted and discouraged.
    • [Siddhartha the severe ascetic failed until he relaxed effort to a point of balance utilizing the blissful meditative absorptions as the basis for temporary purification and the basis for cultivating insight or vipassana; trying to practice insight without a solid foundation of concentration is almost certain to fail and leave us disappointed and discouraged. Siddhartha succeeded, he later explained, with the paradoxical statement that he neither pushed forward nor stood still, that is, neither overexerted himself into a fruitless frenzy nor sank from lack of effort. The answer is balanced-effort, persistence, strong-soft (sthirasukha) cultivation.]
    As Siddhartha eventually realized, Too much exertion is as bad as not enough exertion.
    But perhaps most problems in meditation are caused by ''kangaroo meditation." [Most are actually caused by Monkey Mind, but the venerable is making another good point.] Some people go to one teacher and do that meditation technique for a while, then they read something in a book and decide to try this technique, then a week later a famous meditation teacher visits town so they decide to incorporate some of those ideas into their practice, and before long they are hopelessly confused.[Hopping around like a marsupial when it gets tough is no way to "meditate." Pick a technique, learn it well, practice it for long enough to see if it works.]

    Jumping like a kangaroo from one teacher to another or from one meditation technique to another is a mistake. But if we do not have any severe mental problem and we take up meditation and practice sensibly, it is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.
    Eventually the heart/mind purifies and one peacefully sees things as they really are -- including sensing many kinds of unseen beings who live alongside us and often impact humans mostly to our detriment.
    Question:How many types of meditation are there?
    Answer:The Buddha taught many different types of meditation, each designed to overcome a particular problem [he detected in the person he was instructing] or to develop a particular psychological state [hidden strength in the person]. But the two most common and useful types of meditation are "Mindfulness of Breathing" (anapana sati) and "Loving-Kindness Meditation" (metta). [The two broad classes of meditation are the cultivation of concentration and calm and the development of insight and wisdom, known as samatha and vipassana.]
    Question:If I wanted to practice Mindfulness of Breathing, how would I do it?
    Answer:Follows these easy steps known as the Four P's: place, posture, practice, and problems. 
    1. First, find a suitable place, perhaps a room that is not too noisy and where you are not likely to be disturbed.
    2. Second, sit in a comfortable posture. A good posture is to sit with your legs folded, a pillow under your buttocks, your back straight, the hands nestled in the lap and the eyes closed. Alternatively, you can sit in a chair as long as you keep your back straight. 
    3. Next comes the actual practice itself. As you sit quietly with your eyes closed you focus your attention on the in and out movement of the breath [just under the nostrils]. This can be done by counting the breaths or [alternatively being mindful of the grosser] rise and fall of the abdomen. 
    4. When this is done certain problems and difficulties will arise. You might experience irritating itches on the body or discomfort in the knees. If this happens, keep the body relaxed without moving. Keep focusing on the breath. You will probably have many intruding thoughts coming to mind and distracting your attention from the breath. The only way to deal with this normal occurrence is to patiently keep returning your attention to the breath. If you keep doing this, eventually thoughts will weaken, your concentration will become stronger, and you will have moments of deep mental calm and inner peace. [Remembering the breath, and bringing it back to mind, is said by some to be the definition of "mindfulness," known in Pali as sati and in Sanskrit as smirti.]
    Question:How long should I meditate for?
    Answer:It is good to do meditation for 15 minutes every day for a week and then extend the time by 5 minutes each week until you are meditating for 45 minutes. After a few weeks of regular daily meditation, you will start to notice that your concentration gets better, there are fewer distracting thoughts, and you have moments of real peace and stillness.
    Question:What about Loving Kindness Meditation? How is that practiced?
    Answer:Once you are familiar with Mindfulness of Breathing and are practicing it regularly, you can start practicing Loving Kindness Meditation. It should be done two or three times each week after you have done Mindfulness of Breathing.
    1. First, turn your attention to yourself and say to yourself words like, "May I be well and happy. May I be peaceful and calm. May I be protected. May my mind/heart be free of hatred. May my heart be filled with loving friendliness. May I be well and happy." 
    2. Then one by one you think of a loved and respected living person of the same sex (like a teacher), a neutral person, that is, someone you do not know and neither like nor dislike, and finally a disliked person, wishing each of them well as you do so.
    Question:What is the benefit of doing this type of meditation?
    Answer:If you do Loving Kindness Meditation regularly and with the right attitude, you will find very positive changes taking place within yourself. You will find that you are able to be more accepting and forgiving towards yourself. You will find that the feelings you have towards your loved ones will increase. You will find yourself making friends with people you used to be indifferent and uncaring towards, and you will find the ill-will or resentment you have towards some people will lessen and eventually be dissolved. Sometimes if you know of someone who is sick, unhappy, or encountering difficulties you can include them in your meditation, and very often you will find their situation improving. [These and the benefits the Buddha mentioned are more likely to result from practicing metta meditation to the point of absorption or jhana, a deep calm and concentration that brings about the benefits. It is not positive or wishful thinking, but an awakening of the heart/mind's latent powers to make our reality.]
    Question:How is that possible?
    Answer:The mind, when properly developed, is a very powerful instrument. If we can learn to focus our mental energy and project it towards others, it can have an effect upon them. You may have had an experience like this. Perhaps you are in a crowded room and you get this feeling that someone is watching you. You turn around and, sure enough, someone is staring. What has happened is that you have picked up that other person's mental energy. Loving Kindness Meditation is like this. We project positive mental energy towards others and it gradually transforms them.

    Question:Do I need a teacher to teach me meditation?
    Answer:A teacher is not absolutely necessary, but personal guidance from someone who is familiar with meditation is certainly helpful. Unfortunately, some monastics and laypeople set themselves up as meditation teachers and gurus when they simply do not know what they are doing. Search and pick a teacher who has a good reputation, a balanced personality, and who adheres closely to the Buddha's teachings. More