Late night sky & patriarchs

Past midnight, pulling up to the gate after a teaching in Madison, getting out of the car to open the gate, my attention opened upward to the clear moonless sky with stars bright and beautiful. Breath paused for a moment. Smile of gratitude.

Off the highway and out of the car, more embodied again. Returning to our valley refuge each time, whether from a physical trip or the internet, I’m brought back to the immediacy of Nature as Dhamma.

I thought back to a comment from the evening about “patriarchal escapism.” What’s going on with the male monastics who use terms like ‘revulsion’ and seek escape from the living breathing sensate world? Can’t they find it in their hearts to care for this? I bet they do, so why can’t their doctrine admit it? What’s the mindset in there?

Such revulsion and vibhavatanha (craving for non-existence) has been confused by elaborations of ‘rebirth’ that came centuries after the Buddha. Rather than the early and simple “this life and the next,” a thread of the tradition bought into the cosmic vision of the late Upanishads. Misreading paticcasamuppada (dependent co-arising) they seek escape from embodied existence, or at least talk like it. Poor guys, the issue is egoistic existence, including the egos that want to escape.

As I climbed the hill after treating Tara’s eye, necessary before I could sleep, coyotes yipped and howled. I check the have-a-heart traps on the porch – no mice to release far from the cottage. It’s possible to live meaningfully today without seeking escape for tomorrow. With all not-self/void, who is there to escape anyway?

Pity the patriarchs.

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4 Responses to Late night sky & patriarchs

  1. dbanner says:

    So true! What could it be but ego that wants to escape? Being is quite happy loving what is.After all, what is… is what is happening and , as an out-picturing of one’s inner state, why not love it?(smile)

  2. santi says:

    Old Dhamma-buddy Viriya sends this passage from SN 35:207

    “Suppose, monks, that a sheaf of barley were thrown down at a large four-way intersection, and six men were to come along with flails in their hands. They would thrash the sheaf of barley with their six flails. Thus the sheaf of barley would be thoroughly thrashed with the six flails. Then a seventh man would come along with a flail in his hand. He would thrash the sheaf of barley with a seventh flail. Thus the sheaf of barley would be even more thoroughly thrashed with the seventh flail.

    “In the same way, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is thrashed in the eye by charming & pleasurable forms… thrashed in the ear by charming & pleasurable sounds… thrashed in the nose by charming & pleasurable aromas… thrashed in the tongue by charming & pleasurable flavors… thrashed in the body by charming & pleasurable tactile sensations… thrashed in the intellect by charming & pleasurable ideas. And if that uninstructed run-of-the-mill person forms intentions for the sake of further becoming in the future, then he — that foolish person — is even more thoroughly thrashed, just like the sheaf of barley thrashed with the seventh flail.

  3. santi says:

    Interesting passage, the one pointed to by Viriya (SN 35:207). The charming & pleasurable sense impacts thrash the typical Thickster (though not the noble ones). I suppose the compilers assumed we knew that the ugly and painful sense impacts thrash us even worse. Not exactly a ‘positive’ view of the sensible world as most of us experience it. Further on, the sutta implies the superiority of the devas’ “fivefold strings of heavenly sensuality,” or perhaps this is merely imagined by the bound and shackled prisoner. Who wouldn’t fantasize of some paradise when in such situation? Perhaps it also applies to those trapped in overly stressful jobs who fantasize about vacations.

    More significant, though, is getting thrashed more thoroughly by intentions that lead to construing, objectifying, and conceiving of ourselves in various ways, the bonds of Mara.

    So how do we respond to the beauties and uglinesses of this life? Do we conceive ourselves regarding them? Easy to do when perceiving ‘beauty’ and ‘ugliness’ there. Leaving ‘somebody’ here.

    The Middle Way is neither here, nor there, nor in between.

  4. dougmcgill says:

    Maybe the patriarchs think they are practicing lines from the Girimananda Sutta (and many others like)?

    “And what, ?nanda, is contemplation of impermanence in all formations?
    Here, ?nanda, a bhikkhu is horrified, humiliated, and disgusted by all formations. This, ?nanda, is called contemplation of impermanence in all formations.”

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