Tuesday, January 25, 2011


With the loss this Saturday of my wife of 35 years I have been cut in half. I can not even feel the loss, I am just numb. Can half a person sit and find wisdom? I can now speak to some but have nothing to say to anyone. I do not dream.

This morning early in the hours of the day, I told myself I must finish what I have started. Her death was not about me, her life was not about me, she is the one who is taking the journey past knowing, not I. All this pain is mere self indulgence and ego.

All that I have chosen to accept, rebirth Karma and the words of the tathagata say I will dance this dance with her a million times and a million more, that we will spin off through eternity in different guises and different aspects sharing tears that will fill the oceans and joys that will light the sky’s of a million worlds.

How I would rather that the Christians were correct, that she resides in their heaven, and that once in a million eons the dammed are allowed out of hell for a short time, the so called Refrigerium. Then I could visit her and we could laugh for a while. But I think not.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


      Causality describes the relationship between causes and effects, is fundamental to all natural science, especially physics, and has an analog in logic. It is also studied from the perspectives of philosophy, computer science, and statistics. I think it is fair to say that the study of and analysis of Causality Is fundamental to our so called modern scientific world view. All of the so called Laws of Newtonian Physics were simply statements of material causality.
      We humans have always had a very practical interest in why things are occurring as they do. History has also shown that as a species we are simply unable to accept the idea that things “just happen” without an underlying explanation as to what caused these things to occur. This resistance to the “shit happens” world view has in fact served the human race well.
       Learning what has killed the sheep is an important step in protecting the herd. Was it wolves, bad clover or space aliens? If a sheep herder is to succeed he has to have an answer. Knowing what causes to things to happen has allowed us to survive and prosper. In cases where an obvious cause is not discovered, humans may attribute the events to miracles or to evil supernatural agencies. But the one thing we have always rejected is the idea that events are just random, that things occure without a cause. There is a learned preference for some alternative to saying that something occurred without there being a reason for it.
       I have found that in both Tibetan and Chan Buddhist teachings there is a very fundamental teaching as to what a student of Buddha must have as a mind set if he or she is to proceed successfully. In his book on the fundamentals of Buddhism Geshe Kelsang Gyatso states these clearly. In “Master HSU Yun’s discourse in the CH”AN HALL” Lu Kuan Yu quotes his master , Hsu Yun, ( Hsu Yun was perhaps the greatest Chan master of the last century) as stating these very same criteria that Gaytso avers as fundamental to Tibetan Buddhism.

As stated by Master hsu Yun the prerequisites to all Ch’an training are:

1. Firm Belief in the law of causality (i.e. Karma)

2. Strict observance of the rules of discipline ( i.e. The Ten Major Precepts)

3. Faith: The firm belief that the Buddha’s teachings are true, not false and that we all have the tathagata’s wisdom within us.

      These three basic mindsets that both these schools teach have become antithetical to modern Zen. Teachers like Brad Warner’s head would explode at the mere sounding of these teachings. In every modern so called book on Zen I see clearly the modern Deism and the new religion science’s worldview that disconnects spirit and matter. I don’t see these modern Zen teachings as Zen founded but rather a result of the now faltering “rationalistic” world view of the 19th and 20th centuries.
       Perhaps the least supported one of these mindsets in modern Zen is the very first one; a firm Belief in the law of causality (i.e. Karma). Despite the fact that causality is fundamental to all our so called modern sciences and despite the fact that virtually every social system presently in the world operates in the firm belief in causality modern western students of Buddha reject the very idea of spiritual causality. Even quantum theory has several theories of causality. So I must ask myself why so few modern students of Buddhism feel comfortable admitting to the idea of Karma.
       Modern quantum theory suggest that everything material is also mental and everything mental is also material that matter isn’t different from mind. That form is emptiness and emptiness is form. Why then should the law of causality not rule the entire spectrum of reality?
      I can only believe that as the world view of the last so called modern era crumbles this resistance to the nature of Karma will fall away.
       Maybe one day American Zen teachers will again feel entirely comfortable teaching the above three “prerequisites to all Ch’an training”.

Mind and Matter

      Back before westerners got involved in Buddhism there was no discussion about whether or not Buddhism was a religion. To the Buddhist in the east Buddhism was his religion and not a so called philosophy of natural law. All of these attempts to make Buddhism not a religion began when people simply couldn’t squeeze it  into the same mold as Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
       The very term “religion” in most Americans world view is simply another word for theism. As science and “enlightened” thinking progressed a new world view developed even among Christians that any idea of spiritual or mystical or magical beliefs was all to be labeled “superstition”. Physiologist in the west have even developed a clinical term for what these oh so rational scientists see as horribly irrational world views, they call it magical thinking.
       The Christians philosophers of the 17th century developed the idea they called Deism. A Deist typically rejects supernatural events such as prophecy and miracles, tending to assert that God (or "The Supreme Architect") has a plan for the universe that is not to be altered by intervention in the affairs of human life. That is to say they adopted Mechanistic thinking - the universe is a machinelike entity that God simply made wound up and sits back uninvolved and observes as it ticks away.
        As the new religion of Science took root in western thinking this idea of the Universe as a giant clock work mechanism was the underling view of the material world. In 1642, the year Galileo died, Isaac Newton was born. Newton was a mathematical genius whose laws of the physical universe became the handbook for Mechanistic thinking for centuries.
       The new religion science created a worldview that disconnects spirit and matter, in fact a world view that rejected the very idea of spirituality. Of course the problem was that we simply couldn’t escape our own awareness of spirituality. Philosophers and scientists and every kind of so called rational thinker have for the last two hundred years spent hours upon hours writing, arguing and “proving” that there is no such thing as spiritual matter or matters. The communist tried to stamp it out, burned murdered and savaged their own cultures relentlessly for a hundred years and still have been unable to convince the majority of humanity that they are nothing more than a temporary, meaningless assortment of organic sludge. Then of course the scientists delved deep enough into matter to discover the so called Quantum theory.
       A quantum system is represented mathematically by a wave function. What is so frustrating to the worldview that has developed over the last few centuries is that Quantum theory is generally regarded as one of the most successful scientific Theories ever formulated but its view of reality is much closer to the so called classical “mystical” worldview than modern scientists would allow. The standard interpretation of quantum theory implies that all the macroscopic objects we see around us exist in an objective, unambiguous state only when they are being measured or observed. This leads to the suggestion that  it is consciousness that collapses the wave function and thereby creates reality. In this view, a subatomic particle does not assume definite properties when it interacts with a measuring device, but only when the reading of the measuring device is registered in the mind of an observer.
          This was of course the bases of a major school of Buddhist philosophy, the mind only school, a thousand years before Newton was born. The similarity between these two theories of reality has caused great conflict in both science and Buddhism with each system of beliefs now frantically trying to integrate the other into itself.
            In considering all of the above, and yes Dorothy Zen is a Mind Only School, I have come across another issue that I would like to address in context with this sundering of spiritual and material in our world view: “Causality”. Causality then will be the subject of my next Blog.