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January 05, 2014


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However to seek after parapsychology or mere skandhic manipulation is in my opinion at best childish, and at worst a deadly trap. It is my view that all beings are endowed with the essence of pure consciousness, and it is from this source that all wisdom flows.

How do we know wisdom from ignorance in this exploration of consciousness and the gradual breaking down of the veil over material reality?

At the innermost nature of consciousness is what would be experienced as love and kindness, gentleness and a flexible, conflict - free state of being. This is not to define the absolute in limited terms but to address the question of whether or not the paranormal is conducive to spiritual development, or if it is merely of the worldly realm of delusion and attachment.

The childishness of wanting to obtain occult powers is evident in what is actually obtained. The seeking comes from a lack of moral purpose which should ever be guided toward the perfections, because this instills habits in alignment with spiritual growth. At worst the exploration of the occult without deep realization of this incumbency can lead to moral dissolution and disturbances of spirit which in my opinion are very real.

Where I feel buddhism must accept and support an understanding of the paranormal is that beings tend to develop their native faculties through the incarnations, and likewise garner more and more spiritual entities (devas or angels or guides or even buddhas) who are drawn not to skandhic manipulation but the ever growing effulgence of the purified consciousness. This is not cause and effect but one in the same with spiritual enlightenment.

It is commonly rejected by those who are not able to understand or by those convinced of the reality of the material world, brushed off as superstition, delusion, trickery or madness. There are plenty of such false paranormality, but for the seeker who develops deep subtlety of awareness the genuine wavering of the skandhic mirage can be worrisome, confusing, or entrancing. So I think it is important to recognize the validity of such experiences, even though they are not the goal of practice.

English language is one that differentiates between objective and subjective. Many of these texts are written in languages that do not make such distinctions. The higher jhanas basically come down to "I experienced this and therefore it must have some inherent existence". Another equally valid summary would be "I experienced this and it was an artefact of my brain".

I have no idea if the paranormal in the context of Zen has any inherent existence or not. I do know that beyond a certain point in this path it's possible to be aware of a wider range of mind-contents.

What you do with this is entirely up to the individual.

Down one path that might be called 'paranormal' is the premise "I have tapped into this whole other stranger world that somehow I'm now connected to". One effect of which is that the ego is now once more at the centre of some world and again feels special - but this new world is potentially much darker and much less healthy.

Down another path that might be called 'normal' is the premise "I'm now more aware of the weird shit that my brain can create and yes it's weird but it doesn't have to mean anything". Down this path the ego is in a different world but not at the center of it and not in control of it, it's a potentially less dark and more healthy world.

I'll reiterate I've no idea whether or not there is a paranormal world which can be discovered down this path. I do know that the brain can do lots of things and that what we normally call consciousness is only a small percentage of what might be called unconsciousness and that now this is reasonably well documented. We go through the world ignoring most of it in order to function. One side-effect of this is that when we do notice things they have more 'meaning'. What we don't always see is that we assign both the meaning and the correlation because it's happened perhaps below conscious awareness.

I do know that when I think "wiggle my fingers" they wiggle but when I think "make that trash can jump three feet in the air" nothing happens.

The brain does certain things automatically and sometimes too well. It joins the dots to create pictures that aren't real. It creates meaning where there is none. Orion's belt is nothing more than some stars that appear to form a line. The stars exist. Everything else is added by the human mind.

There are lots of books around in the pop-sci section of any bookshop that show how the brain creates meaning of the world and draws conclusions that are flawed. For example "Have a guess how old was Henry VIII when he died". The answer people give to that question will vary based on whether the previous question was "Think of a number between 1 and 40" or "Think of a number between 50 and 100". The first question biases the brain for the second question. It's measurable, it's unavoidable and we never see it ourselves.

If you live near a zendo now might be a good time to start attending and find someone ITRW who has more experience than you . ;-)

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