Before continuing the exegesis of what is meant by monkey mind in Zen, and its intractable condition of being imbedded in what we are coining as the corollary, monkey body, let us consider a couple of comments contributed to the dialog by dear readers of this blog, earnest practitioners and students of Zen, followed by my comments in response:
I wonder if after repentance comes forgiveness? Sort of a Christian notion, except for Christians God forgives. I think I forgive myself and go on. I'm sure not going to ask if that (going on) is "ok" of anybody. Sincere repentance, then we go on. Another patch in the robe to remember not to do it again. I think I'm more patient with people for my practice, less judgemental about them and me. From what I read here, I'm inevitably going to disappoint myself, probably soon, so I'll have more practice in repentance and forgiveness, and going on. So what does Zen say about forgiveness, is it ok to forgive yourself?
I think forgiveness has a place in the Buddhist context, but it is not given the warm and fuzzy or near-magical powers attributed to it by other worldviews, philosophies and religions, reaching its apotheosis in the doctrine of the absolution of one's sins (by a priest) in the Catholic doctrine.In Zen, the effect of forgiving another for transgressions might amount to extracting oneself from the exacerbated karmic entanglement that ensues when one obsesses over the "somebody done me wrong" song. However, we would never arrogate to that act the power to absolve the offending person(s) of the karmic consequences of their actions, though we might intercede to mitigate the social and legal consequences (rejecting the injustice of humankind's "justice").

Many of us who have practiced Zen Buddhism beyond the point of all reason (right discipline—effort, mindfulness and meditation); and reached the turning point where one might reasonably expect to notice some significant changes in one's behavior and attitudes (right conduct—speech, action and livelihood); and perhaps overly hopefully, a profound degree of alteration in one's own attitude (right wisdom—view, and thought or understanding); suddenly come to the realization that any such expectations or aspirations have failed to materialize. We find ourselves falling back into the same compulsive and sometimes or somewhat destructive behavior patterns that were part of the complex of syndromes that drove us to seek out the practice in the first place.

This has come up often enough in my own experience and that of members of the Sangha of the Silent Thunder Order, going back literally over decades of dialog and correspondence, and more recently in email and dokusan, that I decided to attempt to address the phenomenon in a more comprehensive manner than usual.

The latest catchword in the Oprah-ized American self-improvement catechism is mindfulness. Thanks to recent publications such as The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, those who are investigating higher consciousness or exploring meditation, along with those who are exploiting that aspiration, are creating a virtual echo-chamber in which "mindfulness" is reverberating 24-7.

This remark, taken from the headlines and attributed to Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner (du jour), will surely be used as a political football in the upcoming (read ongoing) campaign for POTUS in 2012, at least as long as Mr. Romney stays in the race.

The statement can be, and thus will be, interpreted as reflective of as anti-populist a stance as one might imagine, in spite of its author's pose with tassled loafer on hay bale (this was Iowa after all). In the context of the recent Supreme Court ruling claiming that corporations may enjoy the benefits of persons (for example spending the corporation's capital assets to back any candidate corporate leadership wishes to support), it projects a more grim and triumphal tone.

Bucky, Zen & me

76_BuckyMe_copyI had the good fortune to meet R. Buckminster Fuller, to attend and listen to some of his lectures, and to be exposed to the thinking and teaching of this great, iconic American and mentor to my generation of design aspirants. Bucky’s life, philosophy and professional practice exhibited several parallels to Zen, from my perspective, and he anticipated much of the situation in which we now find ourselves, predicting many of the problems we are facing as a world-around society, and came up with solutions through a process he described as comprehensive anticipatory design science, anticipating burgeoning problems before it is too late. For example, he said, over fifty years ago, that the main problem would not be energy, but access to water.

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