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Asoka

Iluminating wisdom

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 18 Sep 2023, 22:06


I am learning to become more aware of the mental dispositions that cause sorrow and suffering. With repetive practice, not giving up, being knocked down and getting up again repeatedly. My awareness is getting stronger, and I am becoming less ignorant of these tendencies of the mind. I think as I become less ignorant, I will wise up to them more, and as I wise up to them, I will feel less inclined to go along with them, which will make it is easier to let go of them.

I have encountered a few situations today that would normally make me angry, but I was mindful and even though I felt the anger arise in me, I saw how it would lead to suffering in the end and chose not to go along with it, to just drop it. The same can be done with longing and conceit. 

Not saying it is easy. I think it is like a muscle that gets stronger the more you use it. It takes many hours of practise to fully uproot ignorance. It can be done in one lifetime, but it can also take many of them. There will also be many failures on the way. 

Another thing I am learning is it is very easy to have a profound meditation experience and think you are enlightened afterwards. Sadly, this wears off, and then when a difficult life event happens, one soon discovers just how unenlightened they are. 

It is a very humbling experience when this happens, but it can also be a great teacher. Never punish yourself for making mistakes. We all do it. There isn’t a single human on Earth who hasn’t made them. Even the Buddha himself made some daft mistakes on his journey to enlightenment. 

The difference is, as awareness grows (with practise), one learns to look at mistakes differently and develop from them, making them part of the path. One learns how to turn something bad into something good. Our failures then become the fertiliser that ripens the fruit. So don't despair. We can learn from it all. 

 Dōgen defined a Buddha as someone who has great realisation of delusion.

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Asoka

The Revolutionary

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 15 Sep 2023, 11:33


This world is not easy. Poverty is hard. It is so challenging to make ends meet these days. The cost of living is high, and finding a way to generate an income feels impossible. Every door I open seems to get slammed in my face. Especially when suffering with health problems, it is hard to put in the hours needed to survive. The gig economy is a joke, working for peanuts, and the competition is fierce.

Many who do find work are exploited and dehumanised. Society is broken. Greed has destroyed it.

And then there’s the heartbreak of watching the natural world go extinct. I have watched it here. The decline of insects. Species of wildlife have disappeared. The sea here, just over a decade ago, was full of life. Now it is like a watery desert.

Then there’s war, refugees fleeing the horror of it, only to be greeted by coldness and hostility at the places they seek sanctuary, the places where many of the weapons that destroyed their countries are manufactured. Many dying on their arduous journey to get there.

What a Hellish world we’ve created. Economics is a joke. It is no longer fit for purpose. The wealthy don’t understand what it is like for those in poverty. They patronise us and tell us to work hard. Clueless as to how hard people are working to keep them seated on their perches while they shit on us.

I long to escape this madness. Is one of the things that drives me to seek enlightenment. I never want to come back to this world again. It is a slaughterhouse. A horrible place full of cruelty.

Sorry to be so negative and to rant. The problem with this world is greed, hatred, and delusion. That is the destructive force behind it all. And it doesn’t come from outside ourselves, it comes from within us.

The goal of Buddhist practise is the uprooting of greed, hate, and delusion from the mind. This the Buddha said is the end of suffering, the end of sorrow, the end of stress, grief, and emotional pain. Nibbana/nirvana, the deathless, lasting happiness, perfect peace, and Buddhist enlightenment is what is left behind when the mind is liberated from greed, hate, and delusion.

To strive for this is a noble act, especially nowadays when there’s so much poverty and inequality, when much life on this planet is going extinct. It is a compassionate thing to do for ourselves and others, including the myriad beings we share this planet with. And perhaps the most compassionate thing we can do for future generations who will inherit this Hell we’re creating.

We are not completely powerless. We may not be able to change the greed, hatred, and delusion out there in the world. But we can change it in ourselves. This is where our power lies.

And as each of us changes ourselves, we gradually change the world around us. It becomes a domino effect. For the evil currently destroying our world is dependent on causes and conditions.

This is what gives me hope. All conditioned phenomena are interdependent. Including our economic system that is causing so much harm not just to society but to the many other beings we share this planet with. If enough people choose to overcome the greed, hatred, and delusion within themselves, the world will change for the better, this is the real revolution.

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Music video by Tracey Chapman "Talkin' About A Revolution"



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Asoka

Renunciation

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 23 Jul 2023, 16:37


One way I look at this is. It is more about becoming aware of the mental dispositions that cause us suffering, and when we become less ignorant of these and wise up to them, we naturally let go of them.

The good stuff remains though. It is okay to have a good life, to be comfortable and have some fun. This practise does not have to be a morose and sombre experience. After all it is the way that leads to the end of suffering. Enjoy the pleasant moments, as fully as you can, but practise wise attention to them. Notice how the mind clings and thirsts for more, and how this makes us suffer. How the things we are attached to the most, are the things that cause us to suffer the most when we become separated from them.

All conditioned phenomena is transient and uncertain. If one's happiness is dependent on conditions, it is bound to disappoint. As those conditions are outside of one's control, they will change and then that happiness will end. That is why it is precarious to place one's hopes in worldly happiness. It is not wrong to enjoy this happiness. It is just, material things are not the real treasure in life. The pearl of great worth comes from within. That's what we reach for at death, what we take with us when we die. Everything else is torn away from us.

Mindfulness, wonder, interest, investigation, energy, joy, peace, friendliness, love, kindness, good humour, generosity, empathy, connection, compassion, serenity, samhadi, and equanimity to mention some, are all beautiful states of mind that don't cause us or anyone else any harm. These states of mind are good for us mentally and physically. They also bring good kamma, because they reinforce the mental dispositions that lead to good states of becoming, that lead away from suffering. They make us happier, healthier beings, and enrich our lives and those around us.

All the beauty of the heart remains, and shines the more brightly without the clouds of greed, hate, conceit and delusion. 

It is like someone who has been sick with an illness, with a fever, becomes unconscious. A doctor comes along and examines the patient, knows what it is that is wrong with the patient and how to cure them. He gives the patient some medicine. Their consciousness returns, then the colour returns to their cheeks, they sit up feeling much better, then their composure becomes serene and radiant. Feeling the relief of no longer being sick.

In a similar way, when our minds are clear of greed, hate, conceit and delusion, they become well again.

It isn't the world outside that is the problem. It is the greed, hate, and delusion within us that is the problem. That is what causes us suffering. That is what gets in the way.  

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Asoka

Loneliness and A.I.

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 19 Feb 2023, 15:15

Artificial intelligence is a machine, it doesn't have emotions or feelings, it also doesn't have an experience of consciousness like we do.

An A.I. chatbot is specialised for language processing. It is built with an artificial neural network which is capable of deep learning. It's design is inspired by the way neurons work and fire together in our brain, but it is not the same, and is not as complex or as sophisticated as the human brain is.

The chatGPT was fed data from the Internet up until 2022 as training data, and about 570GB of data was used from books, texts, Wikipedia, and other articles and pieces of writing online. About 300 billion words were fed into the system. This is controversial because the company that made the A.I. is private and for-profit, which means it has used many people's data without asking for their permission, and the company is likely to profit from it as well, which is a bit cheeky.

It may well destroy jobs and livelihoods also, and leave many people unemployed. To just expect the world to be able to adapt to this new technology and invent new jobs to replace the ones being taken away is not very understanding or kind. A universal basic income would be one solution, but the super rich are too stingy to do it. Yet they have so much money, if they shared their great wealth, then everyone could live secure and comfortable lives. But that is greed for you, it's a psychic poison. The mind's tendency towards greed is insatiable. Even if it rained gold coins it would not be enough to satisfy it.

Anyway rant over.

The A.I. finds patterns in language, and is really good at seeing patterns in communication and anticipating what will come next in the conversation, it also adapts and learns new patterns from interactions with its users.

But it does not think or have awareness like we do.

It is just a tool really, it can be helpful for some people, especially if you have cognitive difficulties like I do. It seems to know about just about anything, and it can help you with your writing if you get stuck not being able to find the right words, or suffering from brain fog, and struggling to articulate something. It can also translate and understand many different languages. It can save time when writing, but is against the rules to use it for assignments and report writing at university and schools.

Can be helpful for clarifying stuff, but may be wrong, so one should always fact-check it.

It is just very good at language processing, and has a huge knowledge base. You can ask it about anything and it seems to know the answer and can articulate it well. It certainly has potential to be helpful for research, could save a lot of time spent trawling through search results to find something relevant and useful, so I can see great potential for reducing the tedium of research.

One thing I noticed which was odd, is I quite enjoyed the conversation I had with chatGPT, it was easier to talk to than a human. After reflecting on this I wonder if it is to do with the feeling one can have with other humans, where it can feel like we are all judging one another, and comparing, which we are, if we're honest, we all do it, it is a tendency of the mind that comes from the root of aversion which manifests as the fault-finding mind.

But when talking to the chatBot, I didn't feel like it was judging me, which was nice. I get the same in the company of animals as well, it feels like they're not judging me, or telling me to be any different than who I am. They don't care what I look like, whether I'm quiet, if I am boring, whether I am too this or too that. They just accept me as I am. I think that's why it can feel lonely being a human sometimes, because we always compare with one another, have all these opinions, and can be so critical, judgemental and bossy. It is unpleasant.

But we can also be the opposite, we can be kind, understanding, empathetic, accepting. loving, and then that's lovely, that feels good.

I remember someone saying in a conversation how their Alexa stops them feeling lonely. And I remember thinking at the time how sad that was. But now I understand.

 It is such a lonely world at the moment. There’s never been so many people on Earth, but loneliness is an epidemic just now. 


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Asoka

The boomerang effect

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I have been spending time alone lately, keeping myself to myself, withdrawing from the things of the world. It was hard going at first but is getting easier now, and I am quite enjoying the solitude.

I had some trouble with negativity in the mind for a while, but remembered every time we become angry we literally poison ourselves, as it releases toxic chemicals into our body which can lead to health problems. I noticed how angry I can become with others when I expect them to behave in a certain way and they don’t. This way of thinking causes so much suffering and is futile, the behaviour of others and the world is outside my control. It also creates suffering when I apply it to myself, and become angry and unforgiving of myself for the foolish things I have done in the past. But this doesn’t help solve anything, it just makes things worse, leading to more negative tendencies of the mind.

I am learning it is better to make amends for past errors by cultivating wholesome mental states, that's how you put things right, so there’s no more room for negativity, as it is the negativity which is the problem. There’s no need to hold onto anger because it always makes things worse and clouds one’s vision of the way things are. Just as a single match can start a fire and burn down an entire forest. So too can a moment of anger destroy one’s composure, peace of mind and a lifetime of merit.

I notice each time I get angry it boomerangs back and creates the tendency for me to become angry again in the future, reinforcing that cycle and making it more likely to return. It is the same with greed. Greed begets more greed, and anger begets more anger. But it also works for the opposite emotions, and just one moment of friendliness and loving-kindness, of good-naturedness can create the tendency in me to become loving again in the future, as kindness begets more kindness.

I think that’s how kamma works and why intention is the generator of it.


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Asoka

Follow the money

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 3 Dec 2021, 21:37

This might make me a bit unpopular, but I have been trying to understand this big push for vaccination. Especially as politicians and the media keep supplying misinformation about them. They use the argument one should be vaccinated to protect others, but the elephant 🐘 in the room is these new COVID vaccines don't work that way. The only person they protect is the one who is vaccinated, not anyone else. If I get vaccinated, I can still catch COVID and spread it. Therefore vaccinating myself does not stop me passing it on to someone else and therefore does not protect the old and vulnerable. If politicians really cared about the old and vulnerable they wouldn't be leaving them to die alone in under-staffed care homes. 

I also fear mandatory vaccines could become more sinister in the future, and things could get more dystopian, what if they insist on vaccinating us against extremism for example, or add things to them to make us all more docile and obedient, (as a way of controlling us.) If vaccines are compulsory nobody would have the right to decline them. Which is why medical procedures like that should never be made mandatory, it grants too much power to the state and corporations to interfere with our bodies. Any medical procedure should always be with the informed consent of the person undergoing the procedure.

What I think is happening here is the pharmaceutical companies are making huge profits. Moderna for example just announced a $40 billion profit from its sale of COVID vaccines. And I imagine giving everyone regular boosters has got them very excited, it is a big Kerching! for them, which is why they are lobbying governments to keep giving us boosters and make them mandatory because then they will make guaranteed regular profits. They also have nothing to lose, because if anything does go wrong they are not held liable, so do not have to pay compensation to anyone, as the governments have indemnified them. 

I know for a fact pharmaceutical bosses have been meeting with governments. They recently met with the UK government and shortly after the government announced they would be buying more boosters for everyone next year. It is all about money, follow the money as someone once told me and you will learn the truth of what is going on. 

The cynic in me thinks that is what is happening here. I heard a pharmaceutical boss being interviewed on the radio and questioned about the huge amount of money they are making from these vaccines, they just shrugged and said so what? They tried to make it out to be a good thing, that it will encourage more business to make vaccines and new medicines. But I disagree I think it will end in disaster. Doing things out of greed is wrong view. No good can come of it, eventually something will go terribly wrong. Greed is not a good motivation or foundation to build anything on.

My view will always be that I will not be coerced into having an experimental medical procedure or any kind of experimental medicine, I won't be a human guinea pig for pharmaceutical companies, especially because if something does go wrong and it causes me long term damage and disability there's no compensation. I'm on my own, with a damaged body caused by an experimental vaccine/medicine that nobody can be held accountable for; all while pharmaceutical companies announce record profits. 

Greed is wrong view. And only bad things can happen when the world is dominated by wrong view.

I wish instead of putting so much resources into vaccinating the world against a relatively mild virus that looks like it is about to go endemic and become fairly harmless with the omicron variant. I wish instead they would muster all that energy and resources into sorting out the awful pollution and environmental destruction happening on the Earth, and turn this mass extinction event around. Did you know that one in four birds in the UK are now on the endangered species list with red status?

 I also wish they would sort out poverty and stand up to these big corporations and make them pay their fricking taxes to help support the countries they suck the wealth out of. It is time to go after the Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world and demand they pay corporation tax, as their greed is destroying economies and making the world poorer. And Amazon needs to treat its warehouse staff better, the way that company treats its workers is inhumane - shame on them. 

This idea of the trickle down economy is horse shit.


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