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Personal Notes
Latter Day Buddhism

Personal Notes
Brian William Drisko - drisko@trainweb.com


Words can never quite match reality, but they are one of the few tools available to us to try to convey ideas. Some of the words used here might be definited differently than what you will find in your other readings.

Awareness: You are aware now. You have always been and always will be aware. This might not be readily apparent right now but may become clear later. This is the basis to the fact that you are Buddha, have always been Buddha, and will always be Buddha.

Awakened: When you break through the delusion and realize what you are not. Or in other words, when you come to realize the vantage point which seems to be your only perspective of reality is only one of an infinite number of such vantage points that are you.

-- Brian William Drisko, 20-Jul-2008 0041


Existence really is a Matrix, but it is not evil.

The only point of escaping the bondage of the Matrix
is to experience less suffering from your vantage point.

-- Brian William Drisko, 06-Jul-2008 0940


You are all that and all that is you.
Your "vantage point" is the delusion.
You seem to experience existence from just one "vantage point",
but it is just in the nature of existence that this delusion is created.
Everything is always being experienced from all vantage points.

-- Brian William Drisko, 06-Jul-2008 0947


You do not get joy from what you do; You put joy into what you do.

-- Brian William Drisko, 17-Jun-2008 0000


We base our entire lives on the illusion of a separate individual "I" that does not even exist.

-- Brian William Drisko, 27-Jun-2008 0500


Experience is not what the mind makes of it.
For itself, the mind can put whatever interpretation on existence it trys.
This interpretation is what generates suffering.
Cease TRYING to think and you will cease generating the suffering.

-- Brian William Drisko, 27-Jun-2008 0400


Those who want to end it all have always been very close to understanding all this.
They see at some level that there is no individual separate "I" that needs to continue to exist.
They just miss the concept that if there is no "I" that needs to continue to exist,
then there is no purpose for generating suffering.

-- Brian William Drisko, 27-Jun-2008 0510


The Paradox: Once you awaken, you will realize you were always awake.

-- Brian William Drisko, 01-Jun-2008 0000


Awareness does not fix anything.
Awareness does not require that anything be fixed.
Awareness just increases the flexibility of what is experienced.

-- Brian William Drisko, 25-Jun-2008 1800


Search the depths of the universe.
Search the depths of the atom.
Search the depths of time, past and future.
The limits of scientific inquiry only show
What Our Separate "I" does not want to accept:
That Our Separate "I" is just an illusion of
Our Particular Vantage Point of Existence.
Our Vantage Point is just one of an infinite number
of Fleeting Vantage Points in space and time
that are all One Existence.

-- Brian William Drisko, 13-Jul-2008 0830


Delusion is the context in which we live. You can not escape from it.

But awakening to the delusion gives you the power to cease experiencing unnecessary suffering.

-- Brian William Drisko, 03-Jul-2008 1300


That you are a single vantage point and not all vantage points is your delusion.

-- Brian William Drisko, 06-Jul-2008 1542


I don't mind what happens.

-- Brian William Drisko, 01-Jun-2008 0000


Our Experience

Little search lights in the dark;
Only see, hear, smell, touch so far into the here and now;
Reference our database of the limited past;
Guess at limited future possibilities.

-- Brian William Drisko, 01-Jun-2008 0000


Plants thrive or wither based on reality, not on what they think about reality;
nor on what you think about them.

Rathen than trying to prove that plants have consciousness similar to humans in some way,
you may move closer to awakening by examining how humans have a consciousness
similar to plants in some way.

Plants seem to accept reality as it is and are thus peaceful without suffering.

Plants sense around them differently; But all is existence sensing itself.

-- Brian William Drisko, 21-Apr-2008 0000


I am awakened. You are awakened too, but you just haven't realized it yet.
However, that I am awakened, I often forget!

-- Brian William Drisko, 12-Feb-2008 1112

What we think of as the conscious "I" is not the whole of our being. We don't usually consider ourselves as having awakened unless the conscious "I" sees itself in a state of being awakened. But when you consider your whole being, it is always awakened. It always knows exactly what it is "supposed" to be doing in every moment of the here and now and just does it.

Your whole being goes about doing what it does all day without much thought as to why it is doing what it is doing. Your body breaths, your heart beats, you eat, and you sleep. You may even watch TV, listen to music, dance, socialize with friends and family, and much much more. You do almost all of this without thinking why you are doing it or why you should be doing it. Your whole being just does what it is suppose to do as part of existence without the need to give it much conscious thought. There is no need for your conscious "I" to awaken in order to play your role the way it is to be played. Your whole being is awakened to what it is to do. Though, to have your conscious "I" awaken to this state of affairs can be a spiritual and entertaining experience in itself!

-- Brian William Drisko, 12-Feb-2008 1126

Whatever game you are currently playing is perfectly fine,
but you can chose to play a different one if you want to.

-- Brian William Drisko, 12-Feb-2008 1210


Tibetan Buddhist master Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse in his book "What Makes You Not a Buddhist" expresses the essence of Buddhism in four simple points. He presents these to the reader as a set of challenges:

    Can you accept that:

  • all things are impermanent and that there is no essential substance or concept that is permanent?

  • all emotions bring pain and suffering and that there is no emotion that is purely pleasurable?

  • all phenomena are illusory and empty?

  • enlightenment is beyond concepts; that it's not a perfect blissful heaven, but instead a release from delusion?

According to Khyentse, only when you can answer these questions with an unequivocal "yes," can you truly consider yourself a Buddhist.

I can answer these questions with an unequivocal "yes," so I am a Buddhist according to Khyentse's definition. I don't care much for all the rituals, frills, pageantry, practices, and other beliefs that have been added to this essence of Buddhism as Buddhism has expanded into many cultures through the ages and incorporated aspects of other eastern religions. Thus, I came up with the terms "Latter Day Buddhism" and "Latter Day Buddhists," maybe somewhat tongue-in-cheek to differentiate the way I view Buddhism compared to the way most people look at Buddhism, especially from the outside. This may be vaguely analogous to how Mormons differentiate themselves from other Christians. I was tempted to use the term "Secular Buddhism," but many have used that term before me and it has always seemed somewhat redundant to me.

Before having learning anything about Buddhism, I came across 3 or the above 4 points on my own starting when I was in my teenage years. There are two areas of study that always interested me ever since I was a small child. I felt that these two areas of study would reveal the meaning of life and what I should do with my life. These two areas are science and religion.

Actually, I didn't see these as two different areas of study. I just thought of them as two paths that would help me to discover the meaning of existence. Until I got older, I had no idea that science and religion had been a single field of study for many years, right up to the modern era. That is when science started rushing ahead of most religions and providing answers about the universe that were in direct conflict with the teachings of many religions. That is when science and religion diverged and became two separate fields of study. No wonder I was so confused as a child when I found these two paths providing conflicting information! The first conflict that I ran into was in my early years in Junior High School trying to reconcile the church's teachings about Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden and the school's teachings about dinosaurs and evolution. One said the universe was 6,000 years old and the other said it was billions of years old, and that was only the beginning of the conflicting teachings that I was receiving from religion and science!

Eventually, I was able to figure out what was purely narrative and what was closer to fact. My independent studies took me much more into the realm of science than religion, but it was all to satisfy my quest to figure out the meaning of existence. I continued to learn more and more about cosmology on the large scale and quantum physics on the tiny scale.

As I began to understand how tiny we are compared to the vastness of the universe and how short our time is on this earth compared to eternity, I began to understand the illusion of our existence. Though so much seems to stay static during our lives, everything changes over time: the mountains, the planets, and even the stars and the galaxies. Everything is in a constant state of change no matter how static things may seem from our short time perspective. Through my own reflection on the universe, I realized that everything is an illusion and nothing is permanent. Thus, without any Buddhist studies, I discovered on my own that existence is illusory and empty and nothing is permanent.

From this discovery, I felt a great burden taken off of my shoulders. I knew there was no exit from the illusion, but as long as I knew that everything was illusory and empty, there was always a way to escape from the suffering that sometimes arises from just day to day living. However, this illusion is very strong and I often forget that I always have the keys with me that allow me to escape and witness the illusion from outside. As long as I remember that I have the keys, there is always an escape path from the delusion available.

This I all knew before I had learned anything about Buddhism.

I ran across Buddhism during my studies of quantum physics. Many of the books that I read about quantum physics mentioned how the Buddhist philosophy seems so in line with quantum behavior. That wet my appetite to read more about Buddhism. I found myself in agreement with those who wrote from what would be considered a more secular Buddhist viewpoint. I found the basic Buddhist philosophy fascinating. It was right in line with the way I had always viewed existence.

The one point that I did have to study a little more is the challenge where Khyentse asks: "Can you accept that all emotions bring pain and suffering and that there is no emotion that is purely pleasurable?" I didn't understand it at first, but after a bit more reading, I understood the concept and have no problem accepting that all emotions bring pain and suffering and no emotion is purely pleasurable.


Plants and rocks practice Buddhism quite well. All is Reality. All is Truth. Plants and rocks do not have a clouded view of Reality. They just are.

To be human is to strive. It is in our nature. It is what drives us to exist in every corner of the earth and will someday drive us to conquer other planets and other stars. It is the role that Reality has placed us into. The suffering and dissatisfaction will drive us on.

Those that awaken can step out of the suffering now. But not many will awaken. There is no need for many or even any to awaken. It is even counter to the role that we have been designed to play in Reality. But it doesn't matter.

You can awaken and still follow the body. The body has drives of its own. The Mind can observe and follow the body, or do something else.


No matter how powerful a computer man ever builds, it will never have self-awareness. Unless, that is, someone programs it so have self-awareness. Computers are powerful enough today to run that program.

No computer will ever try to save itself from harm. Unless, that is, someone programs it to save itself from harm. Computers are powerful enough today to run that program, if you give them the ability to save themselves from harm.

Having self-awareness or a survival instinct is not a matter of how powerful the computer is. There seems to be a consensus that the day will come that we will build a computer so powerful, that it will just wake up and be self aware with an instinct to protect itself.

I think this is a misunderstanding of the nature of self-awareness and self-identity. I don't think it has anything at all to do with the power of the computer. It just has to do with what the programming tells the computer to do. We run a program that tells us we are aware of ourselves and should keep ourselves from coming to harm. But, it is just a program that we run in our brains. Just because we run this program doesn't give it any meaning.

Having a desire to protect yourself from harm is a self-creating program. Evolution created organisms with a desire to survive and these organisms lived long enough to have offspring that also had the desire to survive. Thus, there are oganisms with the desire to survive. Even very small mamals, lizards and birds show a desire to survive. Thus, it doesn't seem to take much brain power to have a desire to preserve one's own life. No computer shows this desire, nor will any computer ever show this desire no matter how powerful, unless someone programs it to "have" this desire.

Not all organisms have this individual desire. For some, it is only important that their behavior help their colony to survive, as in ants and bees. They show no hesitancy to sacrifice their own lives for that of the colony. Plants show no behavior at all to prevent themselves or their species to survive. They just produce so many offspring that the shear number of offspring usually insure survival of the species no matter how many individual members are destroyed.

The amazing fact is not that a computer will never become self-aware. The amazing fact is that we live under the illusion that we are self-aware. In Reality, we are just running a program that tells us we are self-aware and must prevent ourselves from coming to harm.


Living organisms are an interesting current aspect of Reality. The universe didn't always have living organisms and the day will probably come when the universe will no longer have living organisms. But Reality will still be here, doing what it has always done. That Reality will one day be void of life is of no particular importance, just as it was of no particular importance before life entered the scene. If you consider time as part of Reality, then life will always be part of Reality because it has been part of Reality for some duration. But that is also of no particular importance. The existence of life in the universe for some particular duration of time is just one facet of Reality.


Level 2 Appreciation

We want the real rose. We want the one that dies. We want it because it dies, because it's fleeting, because it fades. It's this very quality that makes it precious. This is what we want, what each of us is: a living thing that dies.

-- See: Buddhism Plain and Simple
by Steve Hagen, 1997 Printing, pg 20, paragraph 3.


Is free will compatible with predetermination? Yes! Look at the simple nature of a coin toss. It is predetermined that the ratio of heads to tails will be quite close to 50/50 over many tosses. Yet the result of each toss is quite independent. How can adding many totally independent tosses together always produce close to a 50/50 result? It is just the nature of reality.

-- Brian William Drisko, ??-Dec-2007 ????


What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Not an answer, but comments: Words can be arranged in a manner that have an ambiguous meaning, or no clear meaning, or no meaning at all. Certainly the reverse is true: reality can often not be easily or succinctly expressed in words. This often leads to misunderstanding the true nature of reality including conflicting interpretations of reality. Most of reality can't be adequately and accurately represented in words at all. This can lead to conflicts that exist only in the symantics and not in reality at all.

-- Brian William Drisko, 12-Feb-2008 1106


It doesn't seem most people need the big picture. I've always needed the big picture. Most others seem to accept whatever big picture comes their way. I've needed a high degree of proof or comfort that this is the right picture. Even those that seek an alternative explanation of the big picture seem to accept a new one with a great deal of faith. I've always needed a high degree of scientific proof. Most people seem to function fine with just what they need to do day to day without a real need to see how it fits into the ultimate big picture.

It was like being on a train and not knowing where it is going. I felt the most important thing I could do was find out where the train was going and if I was on the right train. Until I figured out where it was going, it seemed best to just stay on the train while I tried to figure it out. Everyone else seemed to think the right thing to do was to stay on the train. So it seemed best that I should do the same while trying to find the answer. I was surprised to find out that nobody else seemed to know or care where it was going. Some thought they knew where it was going without questioning much whether what they were told was true or not. Whatever they had been told seemed a good enough answer for them. It didn't seem critically important to them to make sure they really knew where it was going. To me it seemed that the #1 priority for everyone should be to find out where the train was going, and then they could figure out what they should be doing.

Right from the beginning, I wanted to be the Puzzle Maker, not the Puzzle Player, the Game Maker, not the Game Player. I wanted to write the book, not read the book. I wanted to watch the play, not be on the stage. In terms of Eastern Philosophy, I wanted to "seek", not play "hide" in the game of "hide-and-seek." What does it all mean?

I could not understand how others could function without the purpose. But the answer was in the question. One doesn't need to understand the purpose to function.

-- Brian William Drisko, 27-Feb-2008 0000


When we are babies, we think, but we think without a language. Our brain is completely capable of thinking without language. If a human was never taught a language, they would still grow to be an adult, and still think, but without words. We don't need words to think. Actually, much thinking goes on in our mind without words. Words are just a tool that we learn to use for part of our thinking. Most of our thinking, however, is still the thinking that is done without words. But it seems like all our thinking is in words. That may be because the word thinking can only reflect on the word thinking. It is almost impossible for the word thinking to reflect on the non-word thinking for that can't be put into words! It is very likely that the non-word thinking is a far greater percentage of our thinking than word thinking. It is probably the most influencial aspect of "self." Word thinking might only represent a very small percentage of the processing capability of the mind. Our verbal stream of conscious may be just a tiny trickle of our total stream(s) of thought. This greatly limits our knowledge of our true nature. Being limited in words limits our ability to communicate with others as well as ourselves. Sort of the way we'd limit the power of our communication or even ability to think if we could only think and communicate in morse code! No wonder we have such a hard time often understanding ourselves. When a human starts to learn words, it doesn't abandon its ability to think without words. The human just adds that to its wordless thinking ability and begins to think in both words and without words.

The human brain is a parallel processor. There is no single center of consciousness. That is an illusion. There are many thoughts going on in your brain all the time in parallel. Most of them, maybe all but one line of them are non-verbal.

-- Brian William Drisko, 27-Feb-2008 0000


I am a Zen practitioner.

How do you do that?

I don't know. But you know how to do that as well as I do.

You also practice Zen, but just don't know it yet. All is a part of Zen. Nobody and nothing need to understand they are Zen to be part of it.

-- Brian William Drisko, 27-Feb-2008 0000


To know that the universe is a great drama being played, I don't see as a conflict with any religion or belief system. If you want to believe more than that, it is OK with me. But for the first time in my life, just knowing that much is enough for me.

For the first time in my life, I feel at peace with the meaning of existence and don't feel that I have to seek further.

We are like the phantoms projected onto the silver screen at a movie theater. The audience is just me, the Universal Self. There are no good roles or bad roles, no good performances or bad performances. Just my performance for my self. Like singing in the shower.

-- Brian William Drisko, 27-Feb-2008 1100


Thoughts are like raindrops. Many come, some at once, some one after another. But they all go; none stay. If you think you are your thoughts, where have you gone? Are you not still here?

-- Brian William Drisko, 25-Feb-2008 1115


We are only on stage for ourselves. Any grade we give ourselves is totally valid. Or we can just audit the performance without providing a grade.

You can not avoid making mistakes by being self-conscious.

-- Brian William Drisko, 25-Feb-2008 1130


Improvisational Drama:

-- Why am I acting my part this way at this time in these circumstances?

-- In the role that I am playing as you, why did I act my part in that way?

-- Brian William Drisko, 29-Mar-2008 0939


Comfort with Change:
--Everything is fluid.
--Need to be comfortable with the constant fluidity.

-- Brian William Drisko, 29-Mar-2008 0940


The adoption experience is the opposite of creating stability and permanence; Is this something that can be accepted and be helpful to a child?

There is no permanence or stability for anyone. The impact of this hits adopted children earlier than most when they are least psychologically equiped to handle it. This alters the way they view and handle life from infancy.

Most people take an entire lifetime and then some to be comfortable with the idea that everything is change and that there is no stability or permanence. An infant given up for adoption has to face and deal with this fact right from the relinquishment.

-- Brian William Drisko, 29-Mar-2008 0944


Avatar - We play our role in this universe of improvisational drama.

The User and the Avatar are not separate. There is no duality. There are not even separate Users. Behind all Avatars there is just the undivided User playing all of them. But inside the playing field of the universe, each Avatar does not have access to the internal data of each other.

Take a computer game for an example. As a User, I may be playing two different Avatars. One of my Avatars may be holding a sword. Even though I am the same user playing the two separate Avatars, my other Avatar can make no use of the sword at all. The only way my other Avatar can have use of the sword is if my Avator with the sword walks over to the other Avatar and hands the sword to him.

In a similar way, my greater self as the User of all Avatars may have perceptions from the viewpoints of all the Avatars in the playing filed of the Universe. But each of my Avatars will have no knowledge of the perception of another Avatar unless one Avatar describes his perception to the other. Yet, my greater self always has all the perceptions of all the Avatars that I am playing all the time. Even though my greater self and all my Avatars are one and the same, no duality, they can not share their experiences with one another within the playing field of the universe of improvised drama.

-- Brian William Drisko, 04-Apr-2008 2134


All Life Forms Are Genetically Programmed To:

1) Obtain Nourishment
2) Reproduce

Species wide for animals:
3) Keep species alive

Some animals:
4) Keep individual alive

-- Brian William Drisko, 04-Apr-2008 0000


I am a portal of existence; As far as you are concerned, I am one of the ways you use to interact with the universe, and visa versa.

-- Brian William Drisko, 18-Mar-2008 2216


Thoughts are no different than sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures or temperatures. Think of their similarity to dreams in the way they arise without effort. Do general thoughts arise in any different manner than seemingly difficult to control or satisfy desires, such as for food, drink or sex? Who or what is the receptor that receives these things (experiences these things) as they arise, including thoughts as they arise?

-- Brian William Drisko, 19-Jul-2008 1130


A leaf is just one of many thousands of similar vantage points for a tree.
The tree is the receptor or awareness of all, not the leaf.
But when you point to the leaf you are pointing to the tree.
Just like when you point to my toe you are pointing at me.

-- Brian William Drisko, 19-Jul-2008 1145


Here & Now:

Seeing
Hearing
Smelling
Tasting

Feeling
Temperaturing

Thoughting
Dreaming

Thirsting
Hungering
Tiring

Pasting
Futuring

Most suffering can be eliminating by "understanding" the relative unimportance of pasting and futuring.

-- Brian William Drisko, 16-Jul-2008 1030


Key Words:

conceptual thought
consciousness
awareness: always present
awakened: when a vantage point breaks through the delusion and realizes what it is not.
mind
brain
vantage point / receptor
advaita
natural state
perception vs. conception
meditation

-- Brian William Drisko, 19-Jul-2008 0000


Why "Non-Duality" Rather Than "Oneness"?

You will often hear these terms used interchangeably, but there is actually a subtle difference. Those who view existence as "One" and those who view existence as "Non-Dual" are usually very similar in their views and interactions with existence. If you take the line of reasoning that we should not have a "belief" in anything unless there is incontrovertible evidence for it, then you will have the "Non-Duality" view rather than the "Oneness" view. If you examine existence carefully, you will find that there is no evidence of permanently "separate things". Actually, if you examine things even more carefully you will find that there really aren't even "temporary" separate things. But that takes a bit more careful examination to see (Are sand castles separate from the sand on the beach? Are waves separate from the water of the ocean?). So for now, just try to see if you know of any two things that will be permanently separate things for all eternity. There is no evidence that existence is "Dual". Hence, the nature of existence is viewed to be "Non-Duality". However, by the same token, it can not be proven that existence is all one thing. It seems logical to assume that if there is no proof that there are separate things that existence must be all one thing. But lack of evidence is not proof that all of existence is one thing. The "Non-Duality" view does not claim that all is one. It just states that we have no evidence that there are permanently separate things; that there is no proof existence is "Dual". If you believe that all of existence is "Oneness", then you are believing in the flip side of the coin for which there is also no evidence. But the bottom line is that both views accept that there is no evidence of separate things. From both views, all of existence is treated as oneness since no separateness can be found in anything that is ever encountered. Thus, even those of the "Non-Duality" view will often slip into talking about "Oneness".

-- Brian William Drisko, 01-Aug-2008 1130


You can never get it,
but you can make peace with your seeking.

-- Brian William Drisko, 16-Julr-2008 1700


Awareness rode the dinosaurs for millions of years.
Now it rides us.

-- Brian William Drisko, 17-Julr-2008 0930


You are already awake.
You just don't notice it.

-- Brian William Drisko, 17-Julr-2008 0945


There really is a "me",
but it isn't what you think it is.
It certainly isn't who you really are.

"Me" is a mental construct,
a pseudo character, an actor.

You have probably always sensed this at some level,
like you were not real,
like you have always been putting on a performance for someone.

That someone is awareness.
The awareness is who you really are.

But you don't need to put on a particular performance for awareness.

Awareness is "entertained" by any and all performances equally,
good or bad, happy or sad.

Awareness is "entertained" by whatever you do,
whatever you say, whatever you think, whatever you dream,
whatever you imagine.

-- Brian William Drisko, 23-Julr-2008 0005


The Gateless Gate

Once you go through the gate,
you will find there was no gate to go through,
and no You to go through the gate.

-- Brian William Drisko, 01-Sep-2008 1549
























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