Buddhist logic – a quick summary of its origins

Hello, there!

I’m back after taking a disappointing presidential election hiatus. Life always makes sure to supply us with the best material to practice Buddhist mind control techniques, doesn’t she?

So, now I’m going to share with you my readings about Buddhist logic. Nothing profound here, just trying to learn something from Buddhist logic.

As always, if you are a grammar police, you need a warrant to enter this blog.

I’m using TH. STACHERBATSKY’s Buddhist Logic volume 1.

Buddhist Logic

Is a system of logic and epistemology. The author focuses on India’ system from AD vi to vii centuries, with the works of Dignaga and Dharmakirty.

Path of Buddhist logic is from the rudimentary and particular, to the general and complex:

  • theory of sensation – provides evidence of reality of external world as cognized in sensations and images.
  • theory of coordination between external world and images and concepts we use to represent that world
  • theory of Judgment
  • theory of Inference
  • theory of syllogism
  • theory of art of philosophical disputation

Purpose of Buddhist Logic

It is not for salvation or religious purposes. It seeks to understand the Relation between moving reality and static thoughts (amazing discussion about this).

  • it keeps ‘original’ Buddhism
  • it repudiates non-logical entities
  • there is no god (rejects Buddha as a god), no soul, and no eternity
    – only transient flow of evanescent events, which end in quiescence of Nirvana
  • Reality is kinetic, stabilized in concepts and names

History of Buddhist logic

This is a very superficial summary. Three periods:

First period: Early Buddhism and Doctrine of defilement and purification

  • studied elements of human personality
    • moral analysis –
      • elements of personality
        • good and bad, purifying and defiling
      • salvation =
        • a state of absolute quiescence
        • ordinary life as misery and degradation
      • purifying elements –
        • moral forces that lead to quiescence
      • defiling elements –
        • lead and encourage turmoil in life

Features of first period:

  1. No-soul theory, no ego, or enduring personality
  2. No-matter theory, no substance; only separate elements
    1. the external world as the dependent part of personality, its sense-data
      1. physical elements as changing and impermanent as the mind is.
      2. external world as a flow of existential moments.
  3. A theory of Causation, of Depended Origination
    1. causal laws (as substitute for soul theory)
      1. explains illusion of stable material world
      2. substitute to principle of soul and matter
    2. dependently originating elements
      1. flow of evanescent elements, not ‘free’
        1. even if momentarily, each element appeared by conformity with causal laws
    3. retribution as moral causation – explains karma
  4. Synergies of cooperation
    1. elements of existence as energies
      1. mental elements are moral, immoral, or neutral
      2. elements of matter –appear to be matter
  5. Doctrine of salvation
    1. eternal quiescence of all life
      1. inactive condition of the universe =
        1. elements lose their energy
    2. analysis of elements and energies
      1. to investigate their activity and STOPPING that activity
        1. to reach Nirvana

After Asoka, te first period divided into 18 schools. The Vatsiputriyas accepted semi-real personality.

Second period: No-elements doctrine

Forsook idea of a Human Buddha

  1. replaced by Divine Buddha in Nirvana full of life
  2.  went from personal salvation to universal
  3. from radical pluralism, to radical monism

No-elements doctrine

  1. a real ultimate existence
    1. meaning there is a reality WITHOUT relations
      1. un-related and independent reality
      2. denied previous philosophy of inter-related elements
    2. unity of the universe
      1. the only reality is the Buddha
      2. there is no soul, no data of experience

Features of the second period:

  1. denied ultimate reality of elements because they are ‘related’
  2. no origination or causality
    1. they retained the old definition but gave it a different meaning. Previously, causality meant a functional interdependence  of every element upon all others, not as producing something new out of nothing.
      1. they accepted this but said it is ultimately unreal because it is interdependent.
    2. no interdependent origination
      1. interdependent, yes; origination, no.
      2. nothing disappears or starts
      3. no flashing into existence
      4. reality is unity – one motionless whole
  3. complete equipollency
    1. between empirical world and the Absolute
      1. between samsara and nirvana
    2. empirical world exists but it is not the ultimate reality
    3. real knowledge
      1. through mystic intuition
      2. not through logic

Third period:

Characteristics

  1. renewed interest in logic
    1. Asanga and Vasubandhu
  2. introspection is necessary
    1. ‘I think, therefore I am’ is true
    2. introspection is valid as source of knowledge
  3. idealist Buddhism
    1. all existence is mental
    2. external reality doesn’t support our ideas or representation of it
    3. there are DEGREES of reality (previously considered all unreal):
      1. relatively real = real
      2. absolutely illusory
      3. absolutely real = real
  4. store-house of consciousness
    1. dropped later as ‘soul’ in disguise.

Coming up: Reality and Knowledge

 

Posted in History of Buddhism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sean Penn: His Good Intentions Missed the Middle Path

I read Sean Penn’s article in the Rolling Stones Magazine. The man has courage, no doubt about it.  I wouldn’t trust that Chapo for all the $$$ in the world. As Sean said, there is a chance that a word be misunderstood and WHAM! there goes your head. So, why did he risk his life, reputation and wealth to do this interview?

Well, it seems he wants us to think about the other side of the drug war problem, the one el Chapo has nothing to do with. I’m cool with that; we need to think about that. The only problem I find with his goal is…he seems to have taken the other extreme view of the issue. I say he ‘seems’ because I don’t know what is in his head, and my opinion here is just that, an opinion based on what I understood from the article, and on my superficial perception of who Sean is, you know, based on the Hollywood mags articles. I do like him, I must say.

This is my issue with his article:

In trying to show that the drug problem is not a simplistic ‘the drug lord provides the drug that destroy our kids’, that there are many components to it, including political and financial forces from the US impinging on  Mexico’s national sovereignty, Mr. Penn romanticized el Chapo as a ‘hero’ of the poor. Sean’s effort to humanize el Chapo by giving him a voice to tell his side of the story of why he is such a badass felt, at least to me, like an act of compassion towards a guard torturing his victim on account that the guard could not find ‘better’ jobs: a misplaced and ineffective compassion, from the political point of view.

“The Buddhist Middle Path”, as I use it here, means not taking sides, pointing instead at the connections, the relations between the various parts forming the problem or issue. The moment one takes sides, one has to defend it at all cost, and it is very difficult to effectively defend someone whose successful business practices consist on beheading those who refuse to buy his products.

Options

Did he have any other options to make his point? What were his chances of getting the interview had he put all the blame on el Chapo for the drug problem? It is out of the question trying to trick el Chapo, softening him in the interview and screwing him in the article. No, he got the interview because his intentions were agreeable with el Chapo; and because ‘el boss’ made Sean sign the contract: you make me look good or your big head will grace the Hollywood sign.  I dare bet that Sean is NOT sleeping well these days.

The Denunciations Sean Wants to Make

As a Hispanic, I am aware that some people in Mexico defend el Chapo  because he ‘helps’ the community he controls. They perceive the Mexican government as more oppressive than the cartel, which makes the government truly worse  because a government is not supposed to oppress its people. The immorality of a government oppressing its people hurts the soul more than the oppression coming from people we know are barbarians. The expectations and trust are destroyed when the government screws up, leaving the people hopeless and at the mercy of criminals with power but accountability to no one.

But the ‘help’ el Chapo provides to ‘his’ people is…dirty, to say the least. That’s  NOT  the type of help people ought to be commending.

About the violence. El Chapo claimed that he uses violence because he is being provoked into using it, which is a laughable claim.  I don’t know what Sean thinks about that; I just hope he didn’t ‘buy it’, but because he is trying to make a point, that the violence comes also from a culture of violence promoted by the US policies for Mexico, he can’t question the the personal responsibility of the drug lord in that violence.

And no matter how much poverty el Chapo suffered in his childhood due to the crimes promoted by the US policies in Mexico, not every poor person chooses a life of criminality nor develops the most callous lack of compassion for human life as a way of coping with the past. Poverty is an excuse for violence by criminals. Criminal behavior is a choice, for  the poor person or for the corrupt elite who engage in it.

Who to Blame for the Drug Problem

El Chapo is not the cause of the drug problem, and even if he is killed, the problem will continue. In that he is right. Nor are governments the cause of the problem. The problem is with human choices and attitudes. Governments are formed by people, governments are not impersonal bodies. The solution to the drug problem is in considering why people value the things they do, like money and power, more than social well-being for all. We must hold our politicians personally  accountable for their crimes.

The middle path would entail for us personally to pause and consider this:

Why is it so difficult to see that, when the bank in which you make your financial transactions is laundering money to el Chapo and other cartels, you have no problem continuing doing your banking  business with that same bank?

The web of connections that form the social drug problem has many paths, but it all starts with ‘me’. We all are part of the problem, some with more weight than others. I think that’s what Sean Penn want us to consider.

What Did Sean Achieve?

Mr. Penn only achieved, in my view, to stir the wasps by taking the other extreme side of the issue, the side of el Chapo, justifying his ‘business’. In doing so, he forces people to focus on el Chapo’s bad deeds and blame only him, the individual, because there is no way most of the people is going to understand that governments, ours and global, are part of the drug problem. Most people trust their governments, they are unaware of the behind-the-curtain transactions between drug cartels and their governments (who remembers Contra-gate?) and they don’t want to see it! They will point only at cartel lords and defend their governments.

People will point at these drug lords beheading  people and hanging the heads in public to intimidate. We don’t see governments doing that (of course not, they show more finesse, they send others to do it and call it ‘war against terror’ in the nations we are occupying.) People see the government as something impersonal, and at the same time as a body representing  the people; the people are not going to blame themselves. It’s pure psychology.

The connections Sean tried to make between American policies on drugs and el Chapo got lost with the perception that he is not an impartial witness.

Sean’s Missed Middle Path

The middle path would have been for Mr. Penn to make a movie (his expertise) or a documentary and show in it the connections and relations he is trying to make in the article. The middle path entails not taking sides, but showing where the problem is: the drug problem encompasses every aspect of our social lives: government policies, personal choices, etc. I know, it’s hard not to take sides, but, when you have the means and the intellect, you can afford to try better. As an example, Sean Penn made, in my view, the best 9/11 short film I have seen: heartfelt and political without screaming it, and effective in delivering the message. He can still do something this good with the many facets of the drug problem.

Mr. Penn can do better next time. The conversation is not going the way he wanted.

He better hurry up before el Chapo changes his mind about him.

 

 

 

Posted in Buddhism in the Movies, Politics, Social Violence | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Self-less in Face Transplants and Buddhism

What do face transplantation, sex change (‘reassignment’) and mind uploading technology have in common with Buddhism?

The answer is the topic of this post, but first, and as a hint, let me get this out of my chest:

The most mind-boggling thought, to me, about our new millennium, is the possibility that Western capitalist  science and technology may end up being the system validating the Buddha’s conception of no-self (or selflessness).

The jaw-dropping technology of face transplantation (images below are shocking) presents us with the opportunity to test empirically, in a way never before possible, this conception of no-self, to explore and find answers to the question  What is the nature of the self? But that will happen only if we are interested in looking into it.

Organ transplantation generally should force us to confront questions about the nature of the self and about identity. [1]

That quote actually expresses the difference between technology and science: science asks what is the nature of it?,  technology only asks how do I do it and how much will I profit from it? In the technological field of face transplant (and in the ‘new science of mind uploading’) the human identity question, of the  nature of the ‘self’, has never been a priority or constraint (a point criticized in the article) despite having been there all along.

In 2001, hand transplant recipient Clint Hallam asked that his new hand be removed after failing to feel it was his own. [Idem]

They just ignore it. But this question of the nature of the self is a perennial one in philosophy, psychology and religion; is the question Trelkovsky (Roman Polanski) so painfully asked himself in the psychological thriller The Tenant:

At what precise moment does an individual stop being who he thinks he is? Cut off my arm. I say, ‘Me and my arm.’ You cut off my other arm. I say, ‘Me and my two arms.’ You take out my stomach, my kidneys, assuming that were possible… And I say, ‘Me and my intestines.’ And now, if you cut off my head… would I say, ‘Me and my head’ or ‘Me and my body’? What right has my head to call itself me? What right?

Unfortunately, that questions is an obstacle in the fields of medical and trans-human technologies. That’s why  I’m convinced that these are the times the Buddha was looking for; the time when all the conditions are in place for opening the discussing, at the scientific and public levels, about his conception of  no-self. The technology is opening the door for it, we just need to force it open a bit more; or let a different conception of selflessness, one lacking on ethics and based on profiteering, decide what to do with our minds and bodies in the near future.

The Old ‘Me’: Where did it go?

Up to now, humans thought that the self is contained in the body; in Christian faith, reincarnation means that, at death, you bring your old body with you to meet the Lord. Body and self are inseparable, in our human way of thinking. People even think that the physical material that forms the body, for example, the organs, is endowed with our personality and ‘self’, even the bodies of animals have this endowment, as seen in this example :

one person is quoted in a recent Swedish study as fearing he might start “grunting” if part of a pig was transplanted into him. [Idem]

But don’t you go on thinking that this is ‘ignorant’ people’s thinking. The tech giants (considered geniuses by many), who are spending theirs and our money on developing the technology of mind uploading, share the beliefs of that person in the example.

“In principle, once I replicate this piece of highly organized matter I should be able to get all the properties associated with it,” he said.” [2]

He was referring to copying ‘consciousness’ from a slice of a brain, literally. What follows are three more sophisticated expressions of the belief of body-self connection, by scientists:

As Dworkin20 has observed, not only do we “have bodies but … we are bodies”.

Faces help us understand who we are and where we come from. (Morris et al,6 p 333)

Our bodies and our persons are inextricably interconnected. [Justifying Surgery’s…]

I See My Self

But the experience of recipients of face transplants is telling a different story, which is that the self is not the body, that body and self are not so “inextricably interconnectedif any body (or face, in this case) will do as a container of the ‘self’.

Norris explained that the obliteration of a person’s social identity comes with the trauma that necessitated the transplant in the first place. After that, he said, any face that doesn’t provoke stares provides identity enough for a person to build on.

When he looks at his [new] face in the mirror, he said, “I see myself.[Idem]

facew

You can watch him at You Tube. It’s actually good. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHOeyNyvUMo

What they are telling us is that the cognitive process associates the body and face with the ‘self’; meaning that the ‘self’ projects itself into and then identifies with the body. Any face or body will do for that purpose.

face

He ‘sees’ himself in the new face. Is there a ‘self’ in that graft? What happened to the ‘self’ of the person who lived naturally with it before dying? Isn’t this idea of ‘self’ proven a fiction precisely by this technology?

And that is in accord with the Buddha’s Four Ways Of Conceiving, and his discussion of personality as “the Five Aggregates with Clinging”. In those two is the key to understanding the ‘self’ and ‘personality’. I will touch again on the Four Ways of Thinking, and apply it to the situation of face transplant recipients.

The Four Ways of Conceiving (Thinking)

Here, having perceived an object, let’s say ‘earth’ is the object, with his visual sense, he then conceives himself:

  1. As earth (identification with earth)
  2. In earth (inherence, himself in and as part of earth)
  3.  Apart from earth (contrast, not part, separated from earth)
  4. Earth as ‘to be mine‘ (appropriation)

These four ways of conceiving are the four ways a person relates to everything in life. You can test this yourself by observing yourself or others in any one particular moment, just for testing; catch yourself  reacting to an object or person and see how many of the four ways you used in the process of perceiving it instantly. It has to be like that because all experience is relational.

The new-face guy in this example used #1, #2, and #4 forms of relations: identification with the face, to adjust, to transplant, so-to-speak, his old ‘self’  to the new condition, himself as in the face, and the face as ‘his‘ face. Using the same quotes as above:

“I went from looking really, really disfigured to looking normal again. I was immediately connected to my face,” said Norris, now 41 and a student living in New Orleans with his girlfriend.

When he looks at his [new] face in the mirror, he said, “I see myself.” [Idem]

I discussed earlier the process of perception (cognition) in more detail.

Finally, I will paraphrase sutra 28 Simile of the Elephant Foot Print because it discusses the topic of ‘personality’ in an interesting way. It says:
1. material form with clinging
a) the four elements : earth, water, fire [heat] and air are all insentient, no-self. Our bodies are formed with all four, so, there is no self in the body. But we cling to it (to material form), attached to it by the three “obsessions” of personality: this is my self, this I am, this is mine.

When that material form changes and becomes otherwise (because that’s the nature of existence), a person’s consciousness becomes preoccupied with the change in the material form. From that arises mental states (cravings, greed for what was but is no more, etc.). This leads to anxiety and distress due to the material form not being able to sustain or carry the image of the self as it did before while he was clinging to it.

Conclusion

There’s a lot of controversy over the technology of face transplantation, mostly because those who have to look at the person with the new face are shaken, not only by the oddity of the face itself, but also by the question they are unable to  grasp at a conscious level: If I can’t see myself in my own old body, then who am I? Do I exist if my body changes so drastically that I  myself or others can’t recognize me?

I can’t opine about the choice those people have made; I’m not in their shoes and I consider I have no rights to question them. But I too get a bit of anxiety looking at them. The no-self conception is hard to swallow when confronted with something like that. We just grasp to anything and cling to anything to prevent losing ‘the self’. But the fear can be conquered and we can learn to live looking at things, including our ‘self’, as they really are.

penguins

We could learn a thing or two from their sense of identity.

Then there’s the question of the dead person donor. That one is a doozy.

Face transplant, sex change and trans-humanism are the three modern personal and social issues that will eventually push the discussion about the self to the forefront. If you are a Buddhist, this is the best time to brush off on the Buddha’s analysis of personality. Your help will be needed to stop these technocrats from distorting his conception of no-self. You can be sure they are studying it.

As always, I recommend reading directly from the Pali, particularly from The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya.

Footnotes

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2598231/
Justifying surgery’s last taboo: the ethics of face transplants
2. http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/09/30/brain/
The Human Upgrade Thought process: Building an artificial brain

Posted in Buddhism in the Movies, History of Buddhism, Mind Science, Politics, Sutras | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pleasure Of The Rockhold-Weidman Fight

The latest sports controversy “Should referee Herb Dean have stopped the Rockhold-Weidman fight sooner?”  is an opportunity to think about why we find beauty and pleasure on what is ugly and painful. The answer is in our faulty thinking (cognitive) process discussed here. The good news is that we can learn to find the errors in that process. In the meanwhile, we find pleasure in violence while feeling overwhelmed by it in our current society.

Many people find pleasure and even beauty in these legal and illegal ‘sporting’ fights, the excuse being that these are ‘for sport’ and the contenders are paid and do it on their own volition. There has always been a market for violence and deadly sports, there are always people  who find pleasure in seeing other humans and animals being destroyed and or harmed.

fight

For some reason, people exempt themselves from moral and ethical considerations when it comes to violence. We separate acts of violence in two categories: undeserved and for free, i.e., based on hatred and greed (wars, rape – mostly women and children, against people of all colors, based on religious affiliation or nationality…), and violence for fun. Funny thing is, sometimes the difference between one and the other is non-existent. 

For example, in old Italy, from going to the Coliseum to watch gladiators get at each other,  people then went there to watch Christians been fed to the lions alive. And, while in the old times people were abducted and forced to fight for their freedom, today they fight to escape poverty; although some are kidnapped too.

Today, many people run to the movies to enjoy the latest horror flicks depicting people, mostly women, being torture to death. But those stories are based on real crimes of violence against women, and give ideas for (would be) criminals. We are desensitized from that connection. On the other hand, raping is fun for the perpetrator, not for the victim, of course, especially if it is a child; but we forget that connection between violent crimes and the pleasures of violence. And then, there are the ‘snuff movies’.

Finally, in the movies, the only ones whose death is real, in front of the spectator’s eyes, are that of animals. We pay for fun, but the animal being killed in a scene is having none. You can search on the net movies where animals are killed for real.

The members of the KKK used to have fun ‘hunting’ for their victims,  animals and humans equally; I think they still do. At times of war, well, we saw American soldiers having fun killing from a distance a bunch of civilians (that’s the wiki leaks scandal some years ago).

Most American soldiers are not like that, and Americans are not the only ones who commit war crimes of course, but we are Americans; it is about our nation and people I’m talking about here. The point is that it happens constantly and for millenniums, and will continue to happen.

As long as we can’t see how justifying violence in our society (whether out of hatred and greed, or for satisfying violent desires and pleasures) is a result of faulty thinking process that results in pleasure-seeking behavior at the cost of other people’s lives, we won’t be able to solve ANY of the problems we identify in our society: not wars, not crime, not poverty, not violence against women, children and animals…

If a significant amount of people were to understand the correlation between sports violence, violence in society and our erroneous cognitive thinking, maybe they would act to ban these sports. That action would arise the willingness to think about how we accept violence under faulty reasoning, and maybe our society would start to become more humane, little by little.

You see, whether you forget it or refuse to believe it, in this existence EVERYTHING is interconnected, including violence for fun and out of hatred and greed.

That discussion about that fight at the beginning of this post, about whether it should have been stopped earlier,  the problem was not the referee.

Posted in Buddhism in the Movies, Politics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The MSM vs. Trump: The Un-American and Terrorist Arguments

I am NOT a republican and I am NOT a supporter of Donald Trump in any way.

But there are two points that interest me about how the media is dealing with the issues the Donald is bringing up in his most incompetent way of doing it: one, the way the term “terrorist” is being re-defined for us since 9/11; and two, how, in my view, our leaders and the MSM are stealthily leading us to accept limits on who can or can’t run for president based on the old un-American moral/political standards. WAIT! Don’t go away!

Don’t dismiss this yet!  It was on your fears of another 9/11 that the until-then-impossible-to happen happened: you let them bomb your moral values to smithereens and accepted torture as an open US policy, as discussed later. Now the sky is their limit to what they can get you to accept surreptitiously against your own interests.

As, I guess, we all know, the significance of 9/11 is in the fact that the attack happened at home, not on some far-away American embassy or war ship. Any changes you make on   your  way of thinking about issues of war and politics, and any changes to your laws based on fear of another 9/11,  will impact the rest of the relations, political and otherwise, of citizens among themselves and with their government here at home.

In my view, Trump is a useful fool for those trying to change our way of life, and I’m not referring to ISIS.The  time is ripe for the winds of fascism to blow your mind again. The shameful Un-American witch hunt episode is coming back.

The one thing we should all keep in mind is that, once we open a door in politics and law, we can’t close it again for many years ahead.

Who is a Terrorist? Please Do Clarify

OK, we all know Trump’s personality, but, putting that and all other negative feelings he arouses in many of us aside, take a moment to scrutinize his words.

What he said, why and when actually matters in this juncture of our political life. Interestingly enough, he made his statement about Muslims entering the US (in the words of the NY Times):

a day after President Obama gave a rare Oval Office address to discuss fears of terrorism after the attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino, Calif. — a speech Republicans criticized as insufficiently reassuring.

It so happens that the republicans were not the only ones who found Obama’s speech “insufficiently reassuring”. Sure, they are politicians fighting for the presidency, which blunts their “criticism”, or it should have. But the MSM didn’t report on whether the rest of us, the citizens down here, felt reassured by Obama’ speech.

Trump, however, did something out of the norm, the MSM media norm, i.e.: he responded as citizens were reacting, and with a concrete proposal. I explain.

Trump said that his proposal was not meant to be permanent but “temporary” because, and this is key,:

Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” Mr. Trump wrote in a statement.

Trump addressed the elephant in the room: Obama’ speech failed to calm many citizens in any of the two-halves of our political circle (republicans or democrats) because there is no clarity about who is a terrorist. Trump has the same problem must citizens have: we can feel the problem of lack of clarity but it’s difficult to name it because it is covered with so much politics that it becomes invisible. The problem that even Trump couldn’t put the finger on is that the term “terrorist” is being manipulated, under cover of fear, to get you used to it being applied to yourselves, to Americans who dissent.

Obama started his speech denying that the San Bernardino incident was a terrorist attack by ISIS. He clarified later in the speech that it was a terrorist attack, but by Americans on Americans. That’s why his focus was on gun control and why it felt as a scolding of Americans for being racists. And Trump reacted to that, not consciously, of course, with his “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem…”, the problem of Are we being attack because we are at war or because we are disgruntled people? How do we tell the difference, do we have to wait months until the government makes a determination in each case? It’s just ridiculous.

Again, I’m not defending gun-toting racists, nor the right to carry an arsenal of weapons in your back pocket. Those are topics for a different post.

The point here is that this administration and the MSM know that the public is against the war in the Middle East and that the justification for it is, at best, confusing if not outright immoral. Yes, Obama’ speech didn’t clarify anything, it was a scolding of Americans for being intolerant. And that is what Trump was referring to, in his Trump-ist way: that the speech left us more confused with the way it played with the term ‘terrorist’. More on that later.

The Moral SWAT Team: You Can’t Run, You Are Un-American

What viable solutions has anyone, democrat or republican, presented against the Donald’s request for “clarification” on the issue of who really is our enemy here, who are the “terrorists” here: racists Americans or ISIS?  Nothing, except a cacophony of moral condemnation and this mantra:

“What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and, more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”

What does America stands for? That’s the ‘Un-American’ argument, a political argument covered in moral trappings. The idea of returning to the days of the un-American witch hunt should give pause to every American.

The democrats have taken a step towards reviving that Un-American argument, and that’s what make this thing weird:

“The fact is that what Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president, and for Republican candidates for president to stand by their pledge to support Mr. Trump, that in and of itself is disqualifying,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters at his daily briefing.

If you open that door again, you won’t be able to close this time.

The Lab Test

I propose that the MSM is taking a page from Mark Zuckerberg’s crass FB psy op on the American public, after all, the public clearly has no will to get angry when they are being openly manipulated.  This is how I see it.

As I said before, ever since 9/11, our political ‘leaders’ have been testing how far they can push the public to voluntarily rescind their rights and their moral beliefs in exchange for the promise of keeping them safe at home.

They have taken this nation far enough already.

First, Americans easily accepted Chenney’s open torture policy. Many of us have known for a long time that our government practices torture and trains other nations’ police to torture their own citizens, but all along it was been done in ‘secret’. Only those who wanted to know the truth knew it. For the rest, there was “You can’t handle the truth.” But Chenney went to Congress and openly and vehemently made the case for torturing as a policy to keep the Americans safe. The public heard ‘safe‘ and quickly, quietly and mindlessly consented to have their moral beliefs bombed out to smithereens.

Americans have also rescinded political rights. It was soon after 9/11 that our Congress, riding the wave of opportunity that is fear,  tested for the first time the public’s willingness to themselves be labeled by the government as ‘terrorist’.  The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006. was the first law, after 9/11, that labeled Americans dissenting at home as terrorists. You can read the interesting history behind that law here.

The point is that the fear of war-time terrorism, of being attack by foreigners with whom we are at war, was transformed into a political tool to limit your ability to dissent at home. And now, when the karma of our war policies come to manifest at home, our leaders focus on Americans as terrorists.

Today, Obama,  the MSM and both parties (in other words, the powers that be and they represent)  have joined in the task of convincing you that when they use the word ‘terrorist’ you should understand “you”.

And if you agree that X should not run for office because he or she is un-american, that will spread to the rest of society. If you behave in ways that anyone decide is unamerican, you are cooked.

This post will be revised for grammatical errors later.

Your comments are welcome.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Give Peace a Freaking Chance!

I won’t let it get lost in the war mentality sweeping the planet:

GIVE PEACE A FREAKING CHANCE!

Everybody is talking about ‘How to defeat ISIS?’, but all the answers are focused only on military response and  ‘strategies’. Lost is what ISIS has to do with 9/11, how we contributed to this problem, what to do with all the civilians in the Middle East escaping our military-might solutions? Does anyone cares that the cost of ‘defeating ISIS’ is leaving you in poverty, without quality of medical services, food and housing, education, etc? HAVE YOU LEARN NOTHING FROM THE VIETNAM WAR? Don’t you remember who benefits from these wars and how your ‘leaders’ have lied to you in every war instance since at least the Nam war? Why trillions of dollars go for armaments but funds are cut for  services for the soldiers returning home after having been lured with the hero myth?

WAKE UP! DEMAND DIPLOMATIC SOLUTIONS AND AN END TO   BOMBING CIVILIANS!

This is the result of a US bombing in Syria. Of course, we warned them to get out of the way of the bombs we dropped by surprise and mostly at night.

And here they are. But they just want to come here to America; that’s why they are refugees, free loaders. It has nothing to do with  our military solutions to the problem.

Picture1

Is this welfare for corporations? If you build it, you must find an opportunity to use it. Who do you think pay our cities to beat up anti-war people in rallies? Do you think Huntington Ingalss Industries want peace in the Middle East?

The US spends the most. Have we brought more stability on this planet with all that money? Were we the ones in more urgency to spend that money? Did we spend that money to bring peace or to bring more wars? Why do other nations with more instances of terrorism at home spend less than us? These are some of the questions you must ask.

Picture2

Training for war.

Picture3

Posted in Politics, Social Violence | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Thinking, Violence, and Wars: The Buddha’s Mind Power

Do you want to learn to control your mind, and avoid wars in the process? Check this out. It will teach you how to become less attached to things and to people who seem to have more control over your mind than you yourself.

There are 4 ways of thinking (conceiving)

Buddhists believe that thinking (conceiving) is always distortional thinking because the objects of perception can never be apprehended as they are, that our senses and cognitive process can only give us an ‘idea’ or approximation of the real thing.

Cognition is the process of thinking, something few of us pay attention to for more than a few seconds, or minutes at the most. If we were  more mindful of that process, many of our personal and social problems would be ameliorated in our life time.

The Buddha taught how to be less prone to harmful emotional reactions in our interactions with people, and less controlled by temptations to consume things we don’t need. The key is to understand and control your cognitive process.

Your comments are very much bien venidos. 

Process of cognition

In this teaching, the first sutra in the Pali Canon, the visual sense and earth (as the object of perception) are used as examples. One is supposed to apply the technique to each of the six senses (mind is considered a sense), the auditory, olfactory, etc.

Bare perception and Contact

The first step in the process is bare perception, expressed as “he perceives earth as earth”. It goes like this:

The object of perception (earth) and the visual organ (eye) meet: this is bare perception, no judgments of any kind are made at that specific moment of contact; the object is just a shape, so to speak. We distinguish features or qualities in the object only if it impresses some interest on our senses, otherwise, we ignore it. Think of all the things around you while you walk around your block but only a few of them call your attention, the rest is like not there.

From that contact of  the eye with the object, the person makes a mental  assertion, mostly at subconscious level, if the object stuck with the senses: ‘He perceives earth as earth‘,  and right there the illusion or distortion starts.

Me and my Object

Earth is a word, a conventional form in English to designate  something which actually can have different names, such as dirt, soil, mud, etc. Not only it has different names, ‘earth’ is not one thing in itself. No matter which name you apply to it, earth is composed of a mixture of things:  of minerals, organic matter, gases, liquids, and the countless living organisms that inhabit ‘earth’ but which we don’t see by bare sight. Language is key in our process of cognition; keep it in mind, because me mostly forget that fact.

But now that the object has been perceived, it has to be dealt with.

Establishing a relationship with the object: Perversion of Perception

That’s what existence in this planet is all about, a relation with everything at different levels. It could be at the immediate human level or at the micro or macro levels of existence. We relate to pets, government, react with emotions to the weather, relate to our books at home (we love them so much we collect them), we have trinkets on our dresser which we can’t throw away, even though we don’t need them, because we area emotionally attached to them, etc. As long as we are alive and conscious, we are constantly engaged in emotional relationships with objects around us (people are ‘objects’ too, in a way) and with mind-objects (mental representation of objects, ideas, past memories, etc.).

That relation is the conceiving in our cognitive process. The Buddha called it ‘perversion of perception’ because in that process the person gives to the object qualities and significance not contained in the object itself: what is impermanent (everything) becomes permanent, what is not self becomes a receptacle for the ‘self’, and what produces pain and instability becomes pleasurable and stable. It’s the subjective thinking. In that process, once we put the self in the object (project it to the object), we relate to it based on our  preferences, not on the object as it is, as discussed below.

These are the four ways of thinking, the ways we relate to the object, at a subconscious level, of course. The point is to bring it to the conscious more often. I give examples with the impact each type of thinking on us and society to stimulate you to bring your own examples.

  1. direct identification with the object = he conceives himself as ‘earth’.
people

Example of identification with the object, and don’t tell me is not a great example. Their distortion has proven costly to the rest of us. You may not believe corporations are people, but the owners do, and so did the SCOTUS.

2. inherence (in the object) = he conceives himself in earth.

Image result for upload your mind and live forever

Tech giants are so in love with their product (with themselves, by extension) that they just want to be one with it  pronto. Selfless and transcendence for them is being inside the Software and computer, literally.

3. contrast or derivation = himself apart or from earth.

In the good times, they used to be 'an item', they felt part of each other. Now they feel apart.

In the good times, these two were ‘an item’. Now they feel alienated from each other, apart, not belonging, sad and depressed.  Had they love each other without merging, the expectations and demands would have been less cumbersome.  Some people can manage better, of course.

4. appropriation = conceives earth  to be ‘mine‘.

house

You thought it was yours, until you missed that payment. Now it belongs to the bank. It was never yours while you owed the bank, but you forgot. You were proud of the house, your ego was involved in it.  Now you are definitely in pain, if not already evicted. Had you relate  to it based on the reality that it was not  yours, you would have not put so much emotional value into it knowing that it could be taken away by the REAL owner, and would have suffered less when unable to keep up with it. Just move on, don’t look back now. Next time don’t get emotionally attached to it.

escape

She’s not yours. By killing that guy for messing with your wife, you are just getting yourself a life time in prison. (You won’t believe the horrible images I saw of men punishing their women for cheating.) Relating to the objects in the ‘it’s mine’ mode can have devastating consequences for everyone involved and for innocent people around them. If you think about it at that moment, maybe you decide not to act on your attachment to the ‘object’.

The Buddha said that to avoid suffering in our daily interactions with people and things, we must remember this: it is not me, it is not mine, I’m not it,  it is not permanent. Don’t get attached mindlessly. Be aware of the emotion you are putting on the object.

For example, somebody intended to offend another person by calling him  a ‘pig’. The person then processes mentally the ‘you are a pig’ as ‘I heard the word pig being used to describe me‘. That guy is successful in his intent to hurt you only if you give value and credence to his judgment or verbal aggression. If you do, then you allowed your hearing sense, the one that made contact with the word ‘pig’ verbalized by the guy, to control your reaction to the object, ‘word pig‘, with intense ‘apart’; your ego-image is hurt and now you feel (as a reaction to contact) aversion and hate or shame. You want to distance yourself from the pain, but you think that the only way to do it is by attacking physically or verbally the guy who used it against you; or by going home feeling humiliated and offended and depressed.

I am not it, I am clearly not a pig. I’m reacting to the intent of the other person. Don’t let him manipulate your feelings. Ignore him, walk away with a smile; nothing infuriates more than being ignored. Don’t engage the person, don’t get attached to his words emotionally. Think which of the four ways of thinking you are using and walk away.

Try catching yourself mentally as you relate to objects and people during the day in any of these four types of relationships. You may discover something interesting about yourself.

The level of mind control you can develop by practicing this teaching will surprise you.   You can develop your mind on your own, no need for ‘updating’ or ‘upgrading’ your mind with computer parts as these futurists of ‘mind uploading science’ would have you.

Imagine that: we all develop this mental power and wars would disappear because we would not let others manipulate our emotions as if we were puppets. Instead of reacting with anger and resort to bombing everybody in a nation, we would remain calm and find solutions that don’t require changing our personality into a warmongering uncompassionate being. It would save money too.

Our political leaders are considering using the A bomb in Iran. More than ever we need to learn to control our emotions and thinking process, or we’ll see Hiroshima all over again, or even worse. This time we may not get away with it unscathed. Yes, we are being attacked, but we won’t get out of it by engaging in an endless war of bombing each other to oblivion.

Somebody has to get these politicians to sit and find political/diplomatic solutions. We must press them, but we can’t if we are entangled in the emotional responses. THINK!

The name of this sutra is The Root of All Things. I highly recommend this 109 pages discussion in  PDF by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

Posted in History of Buddhism, Mind Science, Politics, Social Violence | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments