Ignorance of distraction

The principal enemy of mindfulness – or of any meditative practice – is our deeply conditioned habit of being distracted by thoughts.

The problem is not thoughts themselves but the state of thinking without knowing that we are thinking.

In the beginning of one’s meditation practice, the difference between ordinary experience and what one comes to consider ‘mindfulness’ is not very clear, and it takes some training to distinguish between being lost in thought and seeing thoughts for what they are.

– Sam Harris, ‘Waking Up’

Retreat

No doubt there are many motives for retreating from the world, and some of them are psychologically unhealthy. In its wisest form, however, the exercise amounts to a very simple experiment. Here is its logic:

If there exists a source of psychological well-being that does not depend upon merely gratifying one’s desires, then it should be present even when all the usual sources of pleasure have been removed.

– Sam Harris

How completely and utterly normal it was to feel weird

Hundreds and hundreds of Telegraph readers wrote to me with their well wishes, but most importantly their stories. All of them were putting their hands up and saying “me too!” – if not OCD, then some other form of mental illness. I realised then how completely and utterly normal it was to feel weird.

7 Things the Buddha Never Said

To read the full article by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, please go here:

https://www.lionsroar.com/what-the-buddha-never-said/

  1. “Life is suffering.”
  2. “Past love is but a memory. Future love is but a dream. True love is in the here and now.”
  3. “There is no self.”
  4. “Everything is impermanent.”
  5. “Suffering comes from resisting change.”
  6. “If you want to see a person’s past actions, look at his present condition. If you want to see a person’s future condition, look at his present actions.”
  7. “A thousand candles can be lit by a single candle and yet not diminish the first candle’s light. Happiness is never diminished by being shared.”

At 60, the EU continues to inspire

People have short memories. Most people living in the 28 EU countries today take the peace they enjoy for granted. They forget that peace is not the natural state of affairs in Europe.

The Europeans had been at war with one another for centuries. We should never forget that World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945) both started in Europe.

It was by a miracle that, after World War II, we saw the emergence of a number of European visionaries who were determined to put a stop to the endless cycle of war in Europe.

In 1952, the two historic enemies, France and Germany, decided to establish the European Coal and Steel Community. The idea was to deprive themselves of the possession of the raw materials to make the implements of war.

The inspiration was to abolish war and promote peace by integrating their economies.

Guided by this inspiration, the economies of the 28 members became more deeply integrated into what we have today – a single market and production platform, with free mobility of labour and a common currency (for 19 of the 28 members) … …

The bottom line is this: Because of the EU, Europe has enjoyed 60 years of peace. This is unprecedented in European history. It is possible to say, with great confidence, that war between any two EU countries is unthinkable. It was therefore entirely appropriate for the Nobel Peace Prize to have been conferred on the EU in 2012.

Justified to demand for condemnation?

It happened in history class. Heraa Hashmi, a 19-year-old American Muslim student at the University of Colorado, was supposed to be discussing the Crusades with the man sitting next to her. Within a few minutes, however, he was crusading against Islam.

“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims,” Hashmi’s classmate told her. What’s more, he complained, not enough Muslims were making a stand against terrorism.

Hashmi was perplexed by this analysis. Muslims are constantly denouncing atrocities that have been committed in the name of Islam. Yet many people seem to think Muslims don’t condemn terrorism enough. So Hashmi decided to put the notion to the test. Using Google spreadsheets, she made a “712-page list of Muslims condemning things with sources”, which she tweeted. The list includes everything from acts of domestic violence to 9/11.

  • taken from an article in the Guardian

    ‘The 712-page Google doc that proves Muslims do condemn terrorism’

*

“I think we should take a step back and ask a different question, which is: ‘Is it justified to demand that Muslims condemn terrorism?’ Now that might sound a little radical even asking it. The reason I say that is this.

“Condoning the killing of civilians is, to me, about the most monstrous thing you can to do. And to be suspected of doing something so monstrous, simply because of your faith, seems very unfair.

“Now when you look at the majority of terrorist attacks in the United States, according to the FBI, the majority of domestic terror attacks are actually committed by white, male Christians.

“Now that’s just the facts. When those things occur, we don’t suspect other people who share their faith and ethnicity of condoning them. We assume that these things outrage them just as much as they do anyone else. And we have to afford this same assumption of innocence to Muslims.”

Who is the enemy?

Viewed objectively, enemies can only be of two kinds:

Either they are intrinsically hostile, in which case to resent their behavior is as absurd as to resent fire for being hot; or they are fundamentally well disposed but have momentarily succumbed to a crisis of defilement. Here, too, animosity is out of place: it is as foolish as resenting the sky when it is filled with smoke.

Besides, when someone hits me with a stick, I am not angry with the stick, but with the person beating me. By the same token, it is illogical for me to hate my enemies. They may wield their weapons, but they themselves are in the grip of their defilements.

It is therefore the emotion, of which they are the victim, that I should resent.

  • Shantideva in ‘The Way of the Bodhisattva’

Intuitive dualistic thinking

Some intuitions, however, resist being shifted. Among these is our conviction that there are only two states of being: awake or asleep, conscious or unconscious, alive or dead, soulful or material. Dennett believes that there is a spectrum, and that we can train ourselves to find the idea of that spectrum intuitive.

  • taken from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/27/daniel-dennetts-science-of-the-soul

 

How much of a table should we cut away before it isn’t a table anymore?