Zen Masters and Zen at War

(I will be forever grateful to Zen for what it has given me over the years but I learned to sift the wheat it offered from its chaff. The following article is part of the latter.)

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Unable to Tell Real from Unreal: Charles Bonnet Syndrome

The last moments happened in slow motion as the car collided in a sickening crunch. His head smashed into the windshield, fracturing the frontal bones above his eyes and the orbital plates protecting his optic nerves. He was comatose for two weeks until he woke up. When he did, he could not walk or talk. For Larry MacDonald that was just the beginning. When he opened his eyes he could not "distinguish what was real from what was fake." He looked at the doctors and nurses standing by his bed. Behind and next them stood football players while Hawaiian girls danced the hula, hips swaying gently.
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Determinism or Fate (Predeterminism) or Free Will?

The Terrorist, He's Watching

The bomb will go off in the bar at one twenty p.m.
Now it's only one sixteen p.m.
Some will still have time to get in,
some to get out.

The terrorist has already crossed to the other side of the street.
The distance protects him from any danger,
and what a sight for sore eyes:

A woman in a yellow jacket, she goes in.
A man in dark glasses, he comes out.

Guys in jeans, they are talking.
One seventeen and four seconds.
That shorter guy's really got it made; and gets on a scooter,
and that taller one, he goes in.

One seventeen and forty seconds.
That girl there, she's got a green ribbon in her hair.
Too bad that bus just cut her off.
One eighteen p.m.
The girl's not there any more.
Was she dumb enough to go in, or wasn't she?
That we'll see when they carry them out.

One nineteen p.m.
No one seems to be going in.
Instead, a fat baldy's coming out.
Like he's looking for something in his pockets and
at one nineteen and fifty seconds
he goes back for those lousy gloves of his.

It's one twenty p.m.
The time, how it drags.
Should be any moment now.
Not yet.
Yes, this is it.
The bomb, it goes off.

by Wislawa Szymborska
(Nobel Prize in Literature)


Poppa Neutrino: The Happiest Man In The World

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Poppa Neutrino was the free spirit (or lunatic according to some) who sailed across the Atlantic with his family on a raft made of trash scraps.

In his book The Happiest Man in the World, Alec Wilkinson chronicles the life of Poppa Neutrino. Poppa was then preparing for a solo journey across the Pacific. You can listen on NPR.

You can check out the DVD featured on the picture above at this site. Here are earlier links in Mind Shadows: Poppa Neutrino: "The road to the mystical is triadic. To get through the doorway is nomadic." and 72 Year Old To Cross The Pacific On A Raft of Scraps as well as another project by Poppa Neutrino

Below is a video of Poppa and other comments.

Poppa Neutrino, born William David Pearlman, was born in 1933 in Fresno, California and died in 2011 in New Orleans, of congestive heart failure.  Musician, raft builder and free spirit, he looked around, saw others slaving for dollars, chained to a mortgage, and eight work hours a day, and turned his back on all of it.  At his funeral a New Orleans Jazz band played.   Some seek a quantity of years, others the quality.  He had the quality.

If he was crazy then what about the social narrative on normalcy?  What about the rest of us who sacrifice the best years of our lives believing that narrative?


Steven Pinker on Free Will & The Fear of Determinism

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There was a young man who said "Damn!"
It grieves me to think that I am
Predestined to move
In a circumscribed groove:
In fact, not a bus, but a tram.

  • "One fear of determinism is a gaping existential anxiety: that deep down we are not in control of our own choices. All our brooding and agonizing over the right thing to do is pointless, it would seem, because everything has already been preordained by the state of our brains. If you suffer from this anxiety, I suggest the following experiment.
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    Non-Duality’s No-Self and Antonio Damasio

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    Non-Duality is the term for a view of the world as not two, nor one but undivided  and without a second—not the duality of a person and the world outside him or her, but instead a totality which is wholly subjective. Oneness, or unity, itself implies something outside, which is not the case and why those terms are not used instead. If there is one, there must be another. But with non-duality there is no second. The view derives from Eastern belief, principally Hindu advaita, which literally means without duality. It also finds support in Buddhism (Zen, for example, where form is emptiness and emptiness form as stated in the Heart Sutra).

    A central tenet of non-duality is that self—that which we call our self—does not exist. The evidence is offered by a methodology.
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    The Duel Over von Trautmansdorf's Moustache

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    “In Hamburg in 1834, a handsome young army officer named Baron von Trautmansdorf challenged a fellow officer, Baron von Ropp, to a duel. The precipitating offense was a poem that von Ropp had written and circulated among his friends about von Trautmansdorf's moustache, stating that it was thin and floppy and hinting that it might no be the only part of his physique to which those adjectives could be applied.
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    Here Lies The Heart: Mercedes de Acosta and Ramana Maharshi

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    Descended from the legendary Dukes of Alba, daughter in a wealthy Cuban family, Mercedes de Acosta was born in 1893 in New York, raised near Fifth Avenue, and had a beautiful sister Rita de Acosta who was a model for artists John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini. Married to painter Abram Poole, Mercedes was socialite, poet, playwright, Hollywood set and costume designer as well as script writer. She knew many of the greats of her day: Bessie Marbury, Rodin, Edith Wharton, Stravinsky, Sarah Bernhardt, Elenora Duse, Picasso, Cecil Beaton, Elsa Maxwell, and Krishnamurti. Near the end of her life, she met and befriended Andy Warhol, and introduced him to many of the people who would count in his career.

    Consuelo (Hatmaker) Sides, whose husband had been the World War I French flying ace Charles Nungesser, accompanied Mercedes on her passage to India. After arriving, de Acosta met former President Woodrow Wilson's daughter, Margaret, a devotee at Sri Aurobindo's ashram.
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    Robert Robinson: An African-American's 44 Years In The Soviet Union

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    Some years ago, I read Black On Red: My 44 Years Inside The Soviet Union, a book by Robert Robinson, An African-American who lived in Detroit during the Depression. I had to read it again, for it is about as gripping an autobiography as one can find. During 44 years in Soviet society, Robert Robinson found that the deepest discrimination was against blacks and orientals. In his book he notes that in the USA people may or may not condone institutional and racial discrimination but they do recognize that it exists. In the USSR, officially and socially, such discrimination did not occur. But it ran deep.
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    Blindsight: Graham Young Is Blind But Can See

    SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend What is consciousness? You may say that it is to be aware. But what does it mean to be consciously aware of something? I can type this paragraph while outside my window a bird chirps, shadows dapple the window ledge, and here, inside this room, my fingers move on the keyboard, music plays on the radio, and other events also happen as I focus only on these words. I stop for a moment, and there they are, all these other things. Then I return my attention to the computer screen. In a sense, I see but I don't see. I am aware but I am not aware. Things are part of conscious and, so to speak, they are not.

    Graham Young of Oxford, England is a case in point.
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    Julian Barbour: Killing Time

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    Time's Arrow and Entropy
    What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know. St. Augustine (354—430)

    Theologists could help support their theologies if they did more thinking about the problematic nature of time. Me at Mind Shadows (\infty\infty)

    According to the math of quantum physics, Time's Arrow can flow either direction, into the future, or into the past. Time is symmetrical. Why then do we experience time as asymmetrical? Our deaths lie ahead, not our births.

    Physicist Julian Barbour: Time and motion are illusions. They are put into the external world by our brains, but don't exist there.
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    Belief in No God Is Also Irrational

    SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend In Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Daniel Dennett hopes to break the spell--not of religious belief, but of the conviction that it is not a fit subject for scientific inquiry. Never the twain shall meet--this is a bad idea according to Dennett. Stephen Jay Gould wrote of "non-overlapping magisteria," of both science and religion as worthy of respect in their own rights, but unbridgeable, the one to the other.
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    Seeing Through Self: David Bohm & Krishnamurti's Ego

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    Quantum physicist David Bohm (1917-1992) was a protégé of J. Robert Oppenheimer and liked by Einstein. So impressed was Einstein, that he referred to Bohm as his successor. As for Bohm, he had deep interests outside science. This led to the day when Bohm met J. Krishnamurti and began studying under him until the two men had a falling-out.
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    He Wanted His Father's Body Back

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    The Date: September 1897

    Who: American Explorer Robert Peary, African-American Matthew Henson, the crew of the ship Hope and six Inuits, known then as Eskimos, including the 7-year-old boy Minik, and his father, Qisuk. During his several voyages to the Arctic, Peary's quest was to reach the North Pole.

    Years later Minik told a reporter from The World about the day he first spotted Peary's ship looming in the distance around Cape York: ''I had never seen anything bigger than my father's kayak. The big ship brought to our little village more white men than we had ever seen. I lived in a little igloo with my father. My mother was dead, and I had no brothers or sisters. And so I loved my dear father very much.''

    A 100 ton meteorite was on deck, brought back from the Arctic. During the  voyage, the Hope was tossed by fierce, wild seas, and the Inuit thought they had been cursed for allowing the meteorite to be removed from its native soil.  After anchoring in New York City they, dressed in sealskin coats trimmed with polar bear fur, suffered sweltering heat.
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