A group gathers for the Course in Miracles. The afternoon has gone by. A couple stops by to tell they've self-published their art and words. Cigar smokers from Florida return for a warm weather visit and smoke on the patio.
In class last night we tried to focus on evidence, facts, and careful analysis. So many uninformed opinions about national election candidates. The perpetrators of ignorant slander consider the electorate stupid. We have to prove that premise false.
There is no help in
changing your environment.
The obstacle is the mind,
which must be overcome,
whether at home or in the forest.
If you can do it in the forest,
why not in the home?
why change the environment?
- Ramana Maharshi (d. 1950)
Mind, we think, is inside the brain laden with habit and craving. But mind, say some thinkers, is what is between us, not within us. Thus, to know our "right mind" is to know the right relationship between us. There are frightening men and women who think fear is the ticket to their ascendancy to high office. Fear is the nemesis of love. With fear, no love; with love, no fear. The men and women wanting our fear will not get our love; nor do they want our love. They want our fear packaged as gratitude. They want us grateful they own and invest our fear into their ambitious plans for the world.
Four Foundations of Mindfulness
“There is, monks, this one way to the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and distress, for the disappearance of pain and sadness, for the gaining of the right path, for the realization of Nibbana: --that is to say the four foundations of mindfulness.
“What are the four? Here, monks, a monk abides contemplating a body as body, ardent, clearly aware and mindful, having put aside hankering and fretting for the world; he abides contemplating feelings as feelings . . . he abides contemplating mind as mind . . . he abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects, ardent, clearly aware and mindful, having put aside hankering and fretting for the world.”
(--Mahasatipatthana Sutta: The Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, in Thus Have I Heard: The Long Discourses of the Buddha, translated by Maurice Walshe)
The saying should be changed: not 'mind over matter,' but rather, 'mind throughout, between, and beyond matter.' To know one's own mind is to extend out from enclosed spaces into open space of relational inquiry and analysis. We ask questions. We ponder responses. We intuit truth and actuate effort to do what needs to be done.
We need to think carefully. We need to be philosophers of rhetoric and opinion. Plato and Socrates are at hand to help us. Descartes and Rorty are ready. Wittgenstein and James are poised. Maseo Abe and Keiji Nishitani wait in empty silence for a voice asking them their way of viewing the complications of human thought and act.
I didn't understand a word at the Miracles gathering tonight. I was caught thinking about our failing economy and falling manners on political stumps. I do not find anything cute or sexy about demagoguery or dim-witted remarks. I'm old fashioned on this point. I feel candidates should run on their records and their honest plans to fix what needs fixing. We've had enough of character assassination and political chicanery.
Just in case, I'm listening for Celtic Canadian fiddles from a long distance away. It's Thanksgiving there Monday, Columbus Day here.
I might have to discover a new ground of gratefulness.