"The Job Creators"

This line, title of a tune by Amos Lee, captures the element missing in most of current dialog regarding the economy and jobs. This so-called debate passes for serious discourse in the media, when it appears to be just another of the many creative forms of social engineering through propaganda, which has become ever more the new normal since the days of Nazi Germany. The person who knows "the price of everything and the value of nothing" is most likely to be the one touting values for everyone else to emulate.

These days, at least in the good old USA, we hear a lot of piffle about not taxing — or in any other way annoying — the "job creators." This is an obvious ploy to appeal not only to those who consider themselves to be in the rarified and saviour-like category of such creators (including those who give lip-service to the notion that only God can create anything of substance), but also to those who clearly do not create jobs, but would certainly be happy to have one. The latter, however, are just as much job creators, for the only reason they want a job is in order to have the wherewithal to purchase the necessities of life, and some luxuries. Which, of course, is what actually creates jobs.

While sorting through files in an attempt to organize important documents and records into a file for survivors, recommended as best practice for life's-end preparation in a newspaper article, I serendipitously came across some email messages from April of 1998 (slightly more than 20 years to the date of this writing!). They comprised an inquiry into Dzog Chen by one of my senior students at that time, and included a copy of Dzog Chen and Zen, published record of a 1981 lecture at UC Berkeley by Professor Namkai Norbu Rinpoche. Serendipitous because his life story was the subject of a film I recently co-hosted at the Plaza Cinema here in Atlanta, My Reincarnation. I have commented on the film in recent posts, and recommend it highly to anyone who is interested in Tibetan Buddhism in general. I chose to invert the title for this piece, as a point of emphasis.

After seeing the film, and discussing it at length with a couple of co-hosts from the Atlanta community of Dzogchen practitioners and followers of Norbu Rinpoche, my curiosity about Dzogchen was rekindled. I had read that Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk famous for interfaith dialog and social activism, investigated Dzogchen toward the end of his life. I am given to understand it to be the most direct of all Tibetan systems.

On or about my 60th birthday, when I first heard that the Taliban had destroyed the monumental Buddha statues at Bamiyan, my first thought was, “How ignorant!” Not in the sense of the kind of arrogant ignorance (or ignorant arrogance) that leads to religious prejudice, the mere preference for Islamic teachings over those of Buddhism. Not even the ignorance that leads to the interpretation of the statues as “graven images” of a God, apparently prohibited by Islamic teachings. Buddha is not a god, not even in Buddhism.

Taliban Destroy Buddha Image — 2001
The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th century monumental statues of standing buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, situated 230 km (140 mi) northwest of Kabul at an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,202 ft). Built in 507 AD, the larger in 554 AD, the statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art.

Beings are impermanent. Being is permanent. If we accept as conventional Buddhist wisdom that beings are without exception of the nature of impermanence (and its corollary, devoid of the transmigrating soul escape hatch), then we must accept that something (not some thing), some quality of existence of equal weight with impermanence, is of the nature of permanency. We have eliminated all beings from that consideration, so permanency cannot be conflated with a being as entity. It must be the state before the big bang, the empty kalpa. Which are simply big ideas we throw against the wall, hoping something sticks.  

Some would argue that we cannot really know that being is permanent, or whether it too arises with a big bang, for example. In which case, nothing would be before the bang. Which would raise the question, then, how did it come into being from non-being? It would constitute a reverse tautology, a logical self-contradiction, would it not, for what is, after all, a being to argue the reality of non-being. It would amount to, as Matsuoka Roshi mentions in passing, analyzing oneself out of existence. Or positing a notion of time in which for the time being, there is being; but at another time-being, there is, or was, no being. Or, further, to argue that there is a time in which there is no time.

This is the third—and hopefully last—installment of Monkey Mind—Monkey Body (MMMB). If there are any further comments calling for a response, we will publish an appendix to honor those. In the prior installment, one of the last things I mentioned is this issue of people publishing commentary about meditation who apparently have not done much. Let’s dispose of it early on, so we can get to some of the more interesting and germane aspects of the Zen monkey.

It is troubling to me when some leading lights in psychiatry publicly caution against practicing meditation without access to a therapist. It seems a bit self-serving, from the perspective of an admitted amateur. The concern, as I get it, is that individuals may confront negative emotions, suppressed memories, and aggravate latent impulses, which may lead to negative consequences. This may be a legitimate point, for fragile individuals, but I think not for the great majority.
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