Saturday, March 15, 2008

Alaya, part II

Since Sacred Slut and Glamourpuss asked for more information, I'll add just a bit to the somewhat overblown description of a Buddhist meditation exercise posted previously. First, though, I'd like to add that I have no desire to convert or convince anybody that my way in the world is somewhat right. I'm quite aware that it's not for everybody, and I offer these ideas simply because they work for me, for the benefit of anyone who might be interested in such things.

Sacred Slut asks "what's the point", and then argues that Buddhism's attempt to "erase consciousness" is counterproductive.

Speaking for myself, the answer is that the point of such practice is to experience a different kind of consciousness in which there is genuine freedom. We're not trying to erase consciousness at all, but to find it. The frantic mental activity that is called consciousness in common vernacular is, for us, a rather hollow phenomenon. For myself, the practice is actually quite scientific, since I do nothing except follow the evidence of my own experience.

I practice because I'm happier and freer for it. I did not find this freedom in traditional scientific pursuit, though I did indeed try mightily for a long while. Science didn't make me happy. This does.

Glamourpuss then concurred with Sacred, at least partially, saying that she felt more akin to the practice of trantra than Buddhism.

This is fine. In reality, true tantra arose out of Hindu and Buddhist traditions, and all Buddhists would have genuine admiration for disciples of tantra.

While tantra today is sometimes criticized for a hedonistic practice, in truth the goal of all tantric practice is the pursuit of enlightenment in a single lifetime, rather than in repeated rebirths. So rather than avoid earthly, sensual experience, these energies are welcomed and harnessed in the hopes that new consciousness will be opened. Tantra is a perfectly viable spiritual practice.

True tantra welcomes all the pleasures (and pains) of life, knowing that they are natural and exist for a purpose. These are extremely powerful energies, though, and practitioners are always cautioned to be diligent. The goal isn't pleasure for its own sake, but pleasure as an energy of awakening.

By the way, Sacred Slut and Glamourpuss are extremly talented writers. You'd be well advised to check out their work. They are bookmarked in the list to the left.

7 comments:

sacred slut said...

Thanks for the follow up post. I realized later I should have written "self-consciousness" or "self-awareness" rather than consciousness.

I think I can sort of understand what you are driving at - after all, we humans spend a great deal of time trying other methods of avoiding that self-consciousness, such as drinking, drugs, gambling, shopping, etc. Too much self-consciousness can be burdensome, obviously. So your meditation practice is aimed at fostering more external awareness, is that right? And also a certain amount of objectivity?

I am just interested in what people get out of it, and what the philosophy behind this stuff is. Especially for a materialist.

Tantra sounds interesting, actually. I may need to check into that. ;)

AphroditeRising said...

I'm going to have to do some research about tantra...haven't done that one yet.

I'd be interested to hear anything you'd say about agnosticism, if you felt like it. I read up on it a bit, and found it resonating with some of my own beliefs. The whole consciousness aspect.

Thanks for the good information.

Glamourpuss said...

Aren't you a sweetie?

Nice summary of Tantra, too.

Puss

Brian said...

With all the discussion on atheist blogs about depression and the meaning up life lately, I've been wondering if there isn't the need for some sort of rational-based spirituality. I could never follow buddhism or taoism or some new-agey balderdash because they all seem to include beliefs which I find to be irrational (past lives, etc...). I remember trying to read the Tibetan Book of the Dead and thinking, "this stuff is just plain nuts". Yet, I find that there may be something missing in the typical atheist worldview.

I'm wondering if anyone here thinks that it is possible to have spirituality without a supernatural element? Maybe I'll post on this topic in the next little while after I've thought about it some more.

August said...

I must say I find the exercise intriguing.

As someone who is invariably tense, I often try as I walk the streets, to find a state of knowing things for what they are, without judgment. I've yet to try it whilst sitting. However, I'd do anything to have a moment's freedom from my overwrought mind.

Parenthetically, Brian brings up a very compelling question:

". . . is [it] possible to have spirituality without a supernatural element?"

I may need to meditate just to organise my keyed-up thoughts on the question.

August

Mercurious said...

Brian:

One important difference, for me anyway,was that Buddhism didn't REQUIRE that I believe in any kind of past-life bullshit. This was remarkably different from Christianity, which wants to throw you out of the club if you don't literally belief the nonsense.

Actually, Buddhists see the awareness of past lives as just a byproduct of practice, and encourage you to look beyond this to the real goal.

Lots of modern Buddhists construe this piece as a symbolic truth. Don't we all tend to relive the same problems, the same behaviors, over and over again? That's how I read the reincarnation piece. Enlightenment--delivery from this cyclical bondage--occurs when arrive at real freedom and no longer live in dreary cause-and-effect.

Your question is the key one for our age. I would argue that yes, it is possible to have a spirituality that is non-supernatural. A true spirituality, in fact, must be natural rather than supernatural.

sacred slut said...

Lots of modern Buddhists construe this piece as a symbolic truth. Don't we all tend to relive the same problems, the same behaviors, over and over again? That's how I read the reincarnation piece. Enlightenment--delivery from this cyclical bondage--occurs when arrive at real freedom and no longer live in dreary cause-and-effect.


I have NEVER read this. Never. Admittedly I haven't read anything about Buddhism for many years, and when I did read it, well, I believed in reincarnation myself, so...

This is a brilliant solution to the past life problem. I like it a lot. And it makes perfect sense in the real world.