Saturday, May 05, 2012

Crazy Train

First off, tonight May 5, 2012, Zero Defex is playing at the Stone Tavern, 110 E. Main St, Kent, Ohio. There are six bands on the bill and the show starts at nine pm. So go!

Anonymous in the comments section of my previous post said:
The serious question then - does being enlightened give you any insight - from a theoretical perspective, not how to fix it - or what mental illness is? Or more broadly, do eastern spiritual leaders have something to say about this more than similar edicts about booze or sex?

This is a very good question. It's also an important one because a lot of people assume that an "enlightened" eastern spiritual master does have that kind of insight and are willing to follow their advise on the subject.

I can't answer for all spiritual masters. And I don't want to get into what it might mean to "master" any given form of spirituality. Nor do I even want to poke at what the term "enlightened" means right now. But still, I can answer for myself based on my experience. And I honestly feel that my experience is universal for others in my position.

Anyway. What insight do I have into what mental illness is?

I feel like I understand what that thing we label "mental illness" is in ways that neither I nor anyone else could possibly understand without decades of meditation. But that doesn't mean I know how to treat it or cure it or even deal with it when it confronts me on the street. That is an entirely different sort of problem.

One thing I understand is that the condition we call "normal" also probably ought to be labeled "mental illness." And I expect that in the future this will become clear. People will look back at us in the early 21st century and marvel at the fact that almost the entire world was what they will call "mentally ill." Though perhaps their term for it will be different.

I feel that when we call someone "mentally ill" all we're really saying most of the time is that the person in question is unable to function in what we call "normal society." Of course there are different degrees of this. If a person's inability to function creates a danger to society, society has a right and duty to protect itself from that person. If that person isn't dangerous but is unable to look after himself, that's another matter. There are millions of degrees to the problem of mental illness. But at its core it's still the same problem.

One important thing to bear in mind is that none of us can deal with "normal society" all the time. I know I sure can't. Some people solve this problem by inventing sub-societies that protect them from the larger society, yet still manage to function with it. A monastery would be an example of one such place. It's a place of shelter from the wider more pervasive mental illness, a place one hopes is a bit less mentally ill. But even the best of these still have their own sorts of dysfunctions.

When I was at Tassajara last year there was one day when I simply had to hide in my room for about 24 hours because I could not deal with the relatively sane sub-society I had voluntarily committed myself to. I told people I was sick. But I wasn't. This sort of thing happens all the time. Nearly everyone who goes to a monastery — even a good one  — has this happen at some point.

The easy answer that Anonymous is looking for is that all mental illness comes from a mistaken identification of the ego as one's true and fundamental self. But that's such a cliché I wonder if it has any value at all anymore. Be that as it may, it's true that nearly everyone identifies her ego as her true self. But I think most people, whether they know it or not, have some basic intuition that this is not really the way it is. To the extent that they can put this false sense of identity aside, they can function with others and form a reasonable society.

An insight into the deeper origin of mental illness doesn't help a person be able to treat mental illness. This is because even if I understand that you are stuck in believing that your ego-structure is really you, I do not know the details of the stories that you tell yourself and I do not know the extent to which you are prepared to go to defend the false reality you believe in. Some people will kill to defend theirs. I like to stay well clear of those people.

One may, in fact, believe in their own ego-self so deeply that their belief has caused the very chemical structure of their brain and body to be altered to the extent that it's impossible to function in "normal" society without the help of chemicals. It may go so deep that one seems to have been born with this condition. Or that one seems to have had events in one's past that forced this upon the person. This doesn't mean their past is unreal nor the bad things that were done to them were unreal in the conventional sense.

Remember you're reading the words of a Buddhist who believes that even normal conventional notions of what constitutes reality are false. That's an important point. It's the position a lot of the supposedly more enlightened spiritual masters often are too "enlightened" to really understand or convey clearly.

And I am using the word "belief" in a way most people don't. There are aspects of life that are related to what we commonly call "belief" or "habit" that go much much deeper than the way we usually think belief and habit operate.

Also, we all have the same problem. The habit of falsely identifying with the ego self doesn't simply vanish just because you've noticed you're doing it. Noticing this habit is just the first step. But since most people don't even get to this first step, it's a significant one.

So yes, from a theoretical perspective many eastern spiritual masters or leaders or whatever may have some insight into the origin of mental illness. But merely explaining what that insight is may be deeply problematic. Because even mental health professionals are mentally ill in the sense that they are what we falsely call "normal." They're not, by and large, ready to even understand what these eastern spiritual guys are talking about, let alone put it into practice. They haven't done enough meditation to be able to grasp what's being talked about.

But that's OK. It's their job to try and deal with the concrete problems of mental illness. It's just that when these folks talk about mindfulness or even meditation many of them don't really get what they're dealing with. For one thing, they tend to seriously underestimate the real power of this stuff. They often seem to think it's just a way to make you calm down a little.










Here's a photo to show you what I had to deal with while writing this. Crum knows he's being obnoxiously cute. I'm sure of it.

108 comments:

Anonymous said...

!!!! 1 !!!!

I AM NUTS!

Anonymous said...

perhaps you should be institutionalized?

Anonymous said...

Did you ever meet Adam "MCA" Yauch a fellow Buddhist bass player punk rocker? RIP

john e mumbles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Manny Furious said...

"I do not know the extent to which you are prepared to go to defend the false reality you believe in."

Whether you realize it or not, you touch on a couple of issues that deal with why I don't think mental illness is a "disease," per se. One, mental illness is diagnosed on behaviors and what is acceptable or "normal" behavior is always changing. Less than 50 years ago homosexuality was still a diagnosis in the DSM, for example. That quote, above, however, touches on another issue, and it's that the most mentally ill live in created realities. On a simplistic level, we can say that we all live in a reality we create for ourselves. Our mind discerns what it wants to and runs with it. This is part of why meditation helps. It helps to not diagnose the things happening around me.

On a deeper level, though, we can see that the false realities are almost exclusively more dramatic than the reality in which the person lives, and that person almost always plays a central role in that drama. When a person hears voices, it's usually not telling them to go buy a bag of doritos or go randomly do cartwheels in a gym. The voices are usually creating a reality in which the ego that hears them has become more important and/or more powerful than he/she is in "reality" at that moment, i.e. to attack someone, or that there are people out "to get" that person (the former deals with power, the latter deals with importance).

To me this suggests that severe mental illness seems to happen to those who have difficulty coping with their perceived lack of importance in the world. Schizophrenia tends to happen to creative types and highly intelligent people as well as people who come from prominent families. Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder tend to afflict people like housewives and those who come from impoverished backgrounds. OCD occurs within those who are insecure.

The point is that each disorder has a tendency to attract a specific type of personality (or vice-versa), suggesting that these disorders are ways of coping for those personality types.

Maybe I come off as smug or uncompassionate. I'm really not. I think people who are struggling deserve all the support they need. And, in many ways, I think pumping full of chemicals and in many ways dehumanizing them is a pretty discompassionate way of dealing with the issue.

Mysterion said...

"Normal" is a statistical label. By definition, 68% of any population is "normal." Thus, at a large mental facility, 68% of the patients are "normal" patients.

The "normal" Zen Master knows as much about mental illness as s/he knows about investing in stocks, betting on horses, or racing sailboats.

"Normal" psychologists with limited meditation experience know as much about Zen as they do about investing in stocks, betting on horses, or racing sailboats.

However, you will find a psychologist that knows about racing sailboats if you look long enough. Therefore, it IS possible to find a "Zen Master" that knows about the psychology and the physiology of mental illness - but - that would not be the "normal" case.

Cheers,

Chas

Yes, I happen to have a friend who IS a statistician. (And I have other friends who are 'Zen Masters'... a.k.a. masters of nothing)

MORE

Danny said...

Hi Brad,

do you breath slowly and deeply (abdominally) during zazen?

I don't mean if you do so by intention but if you check while sitting for half an hour, do you do so?

Thank you,

Danny

Anonymous said...

you are patient ^

Brad Warner said...

Danny said:

Do you breath slowly and deeply (abdominally) during zazen?

I've been thinking about this. I'd have to say that I do, although I don't make any specific effort to do so. It just kind of happens. I think it's an effect of the posture.

Anonymous said...

you are always right on time ^

(must be a bass player ;)

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.

Anonymous said...

"The easy answer that Anonymous is looking for is that all mental illness comes from a mistaken identification of the ego as one's true and fundamental self."

How in the world do you know what Anonymous is looking for?

Quite often, you set up your argument or statement by first setting up a straw man. Try noticing when you do this. Observe what else is rising in you. Perhaps this is a good learning point.

Just kidding. I'm an over-caffeinated moron.

katageek said...

The point that I see that is missing, is what is a mad person supposed to do regarding Zazen?

I'm no "Zen master" although I have a teacher. Our tradition is a Soto/Renzai mix called Sanbo Kyodan where we have our very own war monger in our tradition's family tree.

Anyway, people who are nuts often turn to spirituality to be less nuts. A minister tells them "Jesus can give them peace" and they buy the full meal deal to handle their issues and when it doesn't work, THEY INVEST MOAR.

And then the religion inevitably fails to deliver after the big gospel tent leaves town. Some recognizes this, others do not.

For such people interested in Zen, I feel that Zazen sessions should be short (one to five minutes) and that they should KEEP them short and VERY SLOWLY increase time only if their practice helps them deal with their symptoms.

Kind of an approach that uses:

PATIENT: "It makes me crazy when I do this!"
DOCTOR: " Then DON'T do that!"

Anonymous said...

Crum wuvs you...

Anonymous said...

Katageek, I hang at a Sanbo Kyodan place too. My teacher is Ruben Habito. I doubt he could beat Brad in a fistfight, so I'm somewhat ashamed. :(

Anonymous said...

I don't know anything. I don't have anything to say. Like the opposite of brad who can talk and write about everything.

Mysterion said...

katageek said...
"The point..."

While the gospel tent is about "other control," Zazen is about "self control." (I know, there is no self... we are all manifestations of Krishna consciousness...)

Zazen sessions, in group, usually DO start at 5 - minutes (attention span of the angst). After a few weeks, the sessions are incremented (don't use the term graduated) to 10 or 12 minutes, depending on the tolerance level of the group. At the end of six months, the Zazen period should a full thirty minutes.

Therefore, the licensed clinical psychologist can collect $25 from each individual in group or insurance carriers thereof by doing NOTHING.

Or so it seems to the uninformed.

P.S. Zazen was introduced into Europe in the early 1800s. Arthur Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland. The area was already familiar with Buddhism and Meditation. Doyle occasionally alluded to Buddhist themes in his first Sherlock Holmes novels.

Anonymous said...

"Zazen sessions, in group, usually DO start at 5 - minutes (attention span of the angst). After a few weeks, the sessions are incremented (don't use the term graduated) to 10 or 12 minutes, depending on the tolerance level of the group. At the end of six months, the Zazen period should a full thirty minutes."

What? Where does this happen, or is this the rule for ALL zazen group sessions? That's something I've not heard of or experienced.

Khru said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
katageek said...

Me too Anon, but I think Ruben is pretty scrappy. Unless Brad dons a monster suit, I would have to go with the old man.

Khru said...

Does anything on this blog relieve suffering for anyone?

This isn't a rhetorical question, I'd like to know.

Perhaps that isn't the purpose.(?)

Anonymous said...

Does anything on this blog relieve suffering for anyone?

This isn't a rhetorical question, I'd like to know.

Perhaps that isn't the purpose.(?)


The lessons conveyed herein are subject to BROAD interpretation. Take from them what you will.

I, a very serious practitioner, had a verbal altercation earlier today. My wife and I were walking and nearly got run over by some guy in a big vehicle. I said something like "are you in a hurry?" and the guy slammed on his breaks and asked me what I "hollered" at him. The guy was itching for a fight. (He was very old and looked quite infirm, but that's not really the point.) I tried to apologize but he squealed off when I was mid-sentence.

There is probably a lesson in there somewhere. It's not apparent to me just yet, but it'll emerge when it emerges.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I'm more earnest than I am serious. Don't know why I chose "serious" to describe myself.

Mysterion said...

I am speaking ONLY of Zazen as practiced within a group setting under the umbrella of CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY.

also HERE

and HERE

Meditation is called "typical" by the NIMH HERE

Regular Zendos often do regular sessions - 30 minutes (or more) regardless of the skill or tolerance levels of the 'students.'

This insensitivity to new students is, no doubt, part of the reason that the drop-out rate remains high. (e.g. this is too hard, does not apply, etc.) The lack of Instant Gratification is often the second reason students drop.

Question: Why do I bother to respond?

Don't give up so easily!

Mysterion said...

"Does anything on this blog relieve suffering for anyone?"

Suffering, like happiness, comes from within.

It is very easy to say "I want relief from YOU."

It is difficult to accept that "Relief from suffering is my responsibility."

and

"Relief from an exuberance of happiness (mania) is my responsibility."

Buddhism teaches that each person is responsible for the next breath that they take.

From the 'world of passion',
to 'the world of passion'.
There is one pause --
if it rains, let it,
If the wind blows let it.

-- (1424) IKKYU

Cidercat said...

Crum knows a great many things!

Jinzang said...

Putting on my homeopathic hat, there's no such thing as mental illness and there's no such thing as physical illness. The WHOLE PERSON is ill not not just one particular organ. Though, obviously, symptoms of one type may predominate in a case. What makes something an illness? When someone walks through the doctor's door and asks for treatment. From the homeopathic perspective, treatment is matching the symptoms of the case to those produced by the medicine.

Putting on my Buddhist hat, I don't promise meditation will solve anyone's problems. What meditation does instead is show you that what you took to be a problem is really not one. Or if it really is (your roof is leaking) maybe you need some other type of help. There are many non-problems surrounding the real problem of illness, such as fear and anxiety over the illness, that can be helped by meditation. And conventional medicine has medicalized many non-problems (sadness becomes depression and fidgityness becomes ADHD) that can be helped by meditation.

hAtman said...

Is a "homeopathic hat" simply the echo of a hat, like a breeze blowing through your hair?

Is a "buddhist hat" wearing your begging bowl like a hat?

Mysterion said...

Blogger Jinzang said...
"Putting on my homeopathic hat..."

Putting on my skeptical (critical thinking) hat, just where did you complete your advanced studies on the subject of medicine?

I have NOT studied medicine. But I have been the recipient of some medical advances - something this side of 1840.

As for meditation, it is one of those RARE cases where an approach to therapy pioneered in 585 B.C.E. has remained somewhat beneficial into the 21st century.

Do homeopathic remedies work?
*****************************
CONCLUSIONS: Statements and methods of alternative medicine--as far as they concern observable clinical phenomena--can be tested by scientific methods. When such tests yield negative results, as in the studies presented herein the particular method or statement should be abandoned. Otherwise one would run the risk of supporting superstition and quackery.

**************************
The Bible of Homeopathy says it.

I believe it.

No more need be said.*
**************************

*Not.

Beliefs and science do not mix. Where believing starts, science stops.

Once you have built a belief into your brain, it is resilient to change - it is literally a crystallized structure. Like crystal, some beliefs can be 'shattered.' Many, like tumors, only die with the host.

Soft Troll said...

Manny Furious wrote:

Maybe I come off as smug or uncompassionate.

Maybe that too.

When I read stuff I've written, I often realize what a stupid fuck I am.

We're all in this together.

gniz said...

I'm not sure what's gotten into me lately--or what's gotten into Mysterion. Except that I now find his posts to be fairly insightful and exceptional.

No, I'm not being remotely sarcastic or ironic, etc.

Carry on.

gniz said...

Also, excellent blog post Brad. great stuff, I have nothing to add except my appreciation for the subtlety of what you've written here.

I've accepted that I'm insane about 95 % of the time.

Some people seem to be insane about 100 % of the time. That 5% can make a big difference.

Mark Foote said...

So now that we've all agreed that the jhanas involve coffin-cases unstaked...

Western medical science is king where intervention is the order of the day. I agree. Chronic conditions, western medicos look to me like quacks in white coats with board certificates- what are they practicing!

Houdini knew something about being a coffin-case; could be useful, but not at Harvard, I think.

So how's this for an instruction of zazen: let the length of the inhalation or exhalation engender the activity in the sartorious and gluteous muscles that rotates the pelvis and extends the hips, and through the extension of the hips let the inhalation or exhalation simultaneously cause the piriformis muscles to act to rotate the sacrum opposite to the pelvis. Consciousness takes place; flexion, extension, and rotation at the location in space act to open the ability to feel. Relinquishment of activity to the point of falling can sometimes bring forward the sense of location in space, through which the ability to feel necessary to perceive the activity in the movement of breath is opened.

Sealed and buried over an hour, Houdini survived. He developed an ability to feel things related to the activity of breath that most people don't feel, that would be my guess.

I believe the cross-legged posture can be a teacher, and can teach me the truths about suffering in particular. The teacher's teacher, was it not so?

Anonymous said...

Zen Master get neurosis because of zen:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/magazine/26zen-t.html

Mysterion said...

Well, I never met Krishnamurti but I did meet Khuda Bux "the Man with the X-Ray Eyes" in 1973.

Brief BIO

Sometimes, Indians exaggerate.

And I thought it was only the writers of "sacred" scriptures.

"In the summer of 1949 Lowell Thomas set out on his most thrilling and unusual trip across the Himalayas to the remote country of Tibet, granted access to visit by the Dalai Lama, ruler of Tibet at that time. In Tibet, the Dalai Lama was considered the living Buddha and worshipped as the spiritual leader. Lowell Thomas writes at the time of his visit only six Americans had ever previously seen him."

I wonder if the Dalai Lama I met was the same one??? And Lowell Thomas the radio guy, was he the same one? Was I the same one? (bubble pops!) Oh... it was all a dream! Nevermind.

Perhaps one day I will meet John E. Mumbles.

Wait and see.

Mysterion said...

Zen Master get neurosis because of zen.

1) there is no cause and effect shown.

2) self-alienation isn't neurosis, it's a pathological modality. Only an errant (delusional) MODE of thinking - like thinking you are one of god's chosen few.

3) "he scraped by on teaching gigs at half a dozen schools" [rejection is a hard thing to take]

4) He faced financial and/or professional insecurity, the infirmities of growing old, and the aftermath of a broken marriage — his fourth.

Where's the detachment here?

it should read:

Would be half-time Zen Master and adjunct professor becomes delusional because of financial insecurity, growing old, and a broken marriage.

Out of embarrassment, he became the "invisible man" in his own mind.

We are fortunate to have met a number of delusional people in this comments section.

Should I recall a few? Seeking mitigation for their delusions, they came here.

Anonymous said...

anonymous saidTo me this suggests that severe mental illness seems to happen to those who have difficulty coping with their perceived lack of importance in the world. Schizophrenia tends to happen to creative types and highly intelligent people as well as people who come from prominent families. Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder tend to afflict people like housewives and those who come from impoverished backgrounds. OCD occurs within those who are insecure.

The point is that each disorder has a tendency to attract a specific type of personality (or vice-versa), suggesting that these disorders are ways of coping for those personality types

Unfortunately this is simpley not true. Very atractive but not true. People suffering from mental illness are people---as complex different and individual as the rest of us. Like the rest of us when they are ill there are aspects of their illness, physical or otherwise that some of us share with them.

Modern medicine/psychiatry is also complex. Some of it is good. Some of it is difficult much like chemotherapy for cancer. No doubt it will continue to change.

Mindfulness has entered the portfolio of treatments of late for both mental and physical disease. This i thick is generaly a good thing though I agree that most 'teachers' are not aware of the potential power of this treatment. In medical terms the side effect profile has not been appropriatly aknowleged.

what am i trying to say---I suspect 'life is complicated'. any simple solution is neat attractive and wrong.

ben.silvna@virgin.net

proulx michel said...

I'm not really into homeopathy. I rarely seek medical advice and medication, and when is the case, I'm content with allopathy.
But I heard stock breeders make ironic remarks about homeopathy, since they did apply it to their cattle and it worked...

anon #108 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Just Kidding said...

hAtman said...
Is a "homeopathic hat" simply the echo of a hat, like a breeze blowing through your hair?


I seem to remember reading somewhere that homeopathic hats are made out of tinfoil. Aluminum foil would probably be just as effective.

Thich nHAT Kidding said...

hAtman said...
Is a "buddhist hat" wearing your begging bowl like a hat?


A Buddhist hat is worn inside your head.

Anonymous said...

don't be silly.

HERE is a buddhist hat.

and ANOTHER

and ANOTHER

and ONE MORE

katageek said...

i read the article on the Zen master who went to psychoanalysis.

He had the classic "satori" experience and as a human being is still all fucked up. He did Zen for 30 years. He had a HORRIBLE childhood, four marriages, and wasn't better after 30 years of staring at a wall.

In fact, he was worse.

Yup. That's Satori for you.

Zen (including Renzai's "Satori") really doesn't FIX anything. If you drive to a Zendo in a bad car, you will leave the Zendo in a bad car.

And "Crazy" is more like a car then people want to admit. Even among the comments here, people are denying that mental illness is "real."

Really? Okay. Good luck with that.

In that article, I think the Zen Master was trying to "fix his crazy car" with Zen. Deep emotional wounds need professional help or wise ears that listen four times before a tongue speaks.

Zen won't fix the crazy car. And Zen is an easy way to "avoid" dealing with the crazy car. And that is just what this guy did.

What do you call a crazy man who becomes a Zen master?

Easy. A crazy Zen master.

Mark Foote said...

With the activity of breath underground in the cross-hairs of the stake, the voice of the place echoes, "comb hair!"

The candle-flame flickers in the wind; waking up, falling asleep?- like a zombie, the body rises and walks!

Tune in again for the next exciting episode of "Zazen Walks", or "Only Zazen Can Sit Zazen"- brought to you by the good folks at Deep-Endz-en.

Mysterion said...

Schizophrenia is a developmental dis-ease that is structural in nature and has nothing to do with creativity, intelligence, Feng Shui, VooDoo, OuiJa, MoJo, or spirituality. It tends to run in families - which might help explain Leviticus (the code of the tribe of Levi).

Mysterion said...

"Recent studies have indicated that children who born to mothers who suffer from flu, viruses and other infections during the pregnancy are at significantly increased risk of schizophrenia - up to 700% higher than children who are not exposed to flu/viruses during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy." source

schizophrenia - it's a gift from mom.

Anonymous said...

^ what do you mean by 'developmental' and 'structural'?

john e mumbles said...

(On meeting Mysterion...)

'There is nobody else but me or my consciousness' -this
is Advaita Bhakti (non-dual devotion)- I Am: This is
the highest devotion - to vanish and be lost or
submerged in this vast unknown. -Nisargadatta Maharaj


THE STORIES
He wrote the stories when he was a young man, not understanding that what he wrote amounted to prophecy, that the fictional character would turn out to be him later on, that the tragedies he foretold would actually come true. Unconsciously, the pattern of his life raveled out of him in the form of allegory, a poem, a short story, a long descriptive narrative. Or perhaps this map of the future was simply an outline of possible futures, and really, anything could have happened. But it didn't, it happened exactly as he had written it down, years before.

The stories lived within him from the beginning, as far back, in fact, as he could remember. Almost as if it had all already happened, or he were in the very heart of the heart of time, erasing concepts like past, present, and future, standing somewhere inside and outside of it, looking in all directions at once.

The stories demanded to be told, to be lived and breathed. They were his life itself.

He thought in terms of them, translating simple reality into the language of storytelling, until both were inseparable. Everything was symbolic of something else, interconnected, a bridge of metaphors that he crossed, and turning around, crossed again, and again.

Mysterion said...

speaking of the NY Times...


and
"A number of abnormalities have been identified and confirmed by meta-analysis, including ventricular enlargement and decreased cerebral (cortical and hippocampal) volume. These are characteristic of schizophrenia as a whole, rather than being restricted to a subtype, and are present in first-episode, unmedicated patients. There is considerable evidence for preferential involvement of the temporal lobe and moderate evidence for an alteration in normal cerebral asymmetries. " source

john e mumbles said...

(I was there when he said it, so it must be true, or not, at least acc. to Hassan-i-Sabbah, Old Man of the Mountain...-JEM)

People often ask me if I have any words of advice for young people.
Well here are a few simple admonitions for young and old.
Never interfere in a boy-and-girl fight.
Beware of whores who say they don't want money.
The hell they don't.
What they mean is they want more money. Much more.
If you're doing business with a religious son-of-a-bitch,
Get it in writing.
His word isn't worth shit.
Not with the good lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.

Avoid fuck-ups.
We all know the type.
Anything they have anything to do with,
No matter how good it sounds,
Turns into a disaster.
Do not offer sympathy to the mentally ill.
Tell them firmly:
I am not paid to listen to this drivel.
You are a terminal boob.

-William S. Burroughs

Anonymous said...

"One may, in fact, believe in their own ego-self so deeply that their belief has caused the very chemical structure of their brain and body to be altered to the extent that it's impossible to function in "normal" society without the help of chemicals. It may go so deep that one seems to have been born with this condition. Or that one seems to have had events in one's past that forced this upon the person. This doesn't mean their past is unreal nor the bad things that were done to them were unreal in the conventional sense.

Remember you're reading the words of a Buddhist who believes that even normal conventional notions of what constitutes reality are false."

Just a non-judgmental comment on the above. I suffer from bipolar disease, formally known a manic depressive illness. I currently take medication that does not create any type of "buzz" and is non addictive. What it does do is reduce the fluctuations of mood that go with this disorder. These types of drugs do change the chemical imbalance in the brain that "seem" to be caused by the imbalance.

Anyone who has suffered with depression should understand how distorted your thinking can become. I truly believe that I could change the chemical pattern in my brain that impacts this with the practice of Zazen. It has made it better even with the small amount of time I sit. But... I currently function in society properly because of the medication. It truly is a scary proposal to discontinue the drug while trying to hold down a job and be a husband and father. If I could go on an extended retreat and simply work on this I am convinced I would have success. As it is I work on it day by day and realize that the emotions I experience at times are not real just as my concept of an I, self, or any other fixed personality does not exist as a permanent thing.

Mark Foote said...

Thanks for the links, Mysterion. Two things interest me in the NY Times article, first that the researcher mentioned plaque in connection with Alzheimer's as an ill, but I believe this is now regarded as a healing response of the brain rather than as a "toxic" nuisance. Second, "inadequate myelin coating" is offered as the possible cause of schizophrenia; Dr. John Lee spoke about the possiblity that the use of over-the-counter progesterone creams helped his patients with arthritis because the Schwann cells require progesterone to produce the myelin coating, without which the nerves are inadequately sheathed.

Of course, there has never been a national test involving natural progesterone in the treatment of anything, because the compound is easily synthesized (in a form molecularly identical to the substance in the human body) and cannot be patented. Meanwhile progestins, like so many other chemically-altered compounds that can be patented, appear to have serious side-effects; so said Dr. Lee.

Some voodoo science to start the day. Allopathic medicine these days largely proceeds not on the basis of the healing properties of natural substances in the world, but rather on the basis of whatever scientific interest in unnatural substances can attract corporate funding.

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis Bela Lugosi," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

Beckle Nrod said...

Wimerth swam drinp dmamath mer sen driggs. Sen hmiller trel kran swam helling snill. Menni prasm, nendifiny!

Anonymous said...

^ mog

Dog Down said...

I posted a while ago about my dog being Ill and having to put him to sleep. Well , the time came and I had make the decision to do it. It was not easy and never felt quite right. He was suffering although in good spirits he was unable to walk. My question is, where does one draw the line between compassion for a suffering animal and the first precept – do not kill? I have reflected on this for quite some time and thought I might ask someone with a little more knowledge.

Brad- your advise to pet him came to mind. And that I did. I was able to put him down at home with doctors that did house calls. So I did zazen for six straight hours in the same room with my dog before the doctors came and the event was very peaceful.
Thanks for your help Brad. It really helped.

Mysterion said...

My local HMO, having never been a Siamese Twin of big Pharma, now has alternative treatment options including, but not limited to Herbal Remedies, Chiropractic (for those who so desire the same), acupuncture, and who knows... maybe reiki and homeopathy in time...

BTW, ever hear of a vaccine?

The vaccine concept is based upon the homeopathic principle "Similimum similibus curantur" or "Like cures like" with the modification "like prevents like."

There are different types of vaccinations in use.

The smallpox vaccination is based upon a dead or attenuated cowpox microbe.

My HMO makes available mercury-free vaccinations (increased co-pay) so the "window" of this type of reduced mercury new stock is three days or less. They figure it's cheaper than subsequent anti chelation.

Anonymous said...

Youth in asia and the precepts. Good ? ..............

Mysterion said...

asia is a big place...

China, in general, is extremely superstitious and goes for flakey things like Falun Gong.

India is moving toward Islam - one of the three violent Abrahamic Traditions.

Japan is Shinto and Buddhist with Confucianism thrown in for good measure.

The ONLY predominately Buddhist place left in "asis" is Myanmar (Burma). There, we speak of five precepts.

Of course Cambodia, Tailand, and Vietnam have Buddhist majority populations - in principle.

South Korea is a major Presbyterian stronghold - as displayed by Some Young Moon [sic].

Mysterion said...

The Son of God, Emperor of the Universe.

Or NOT

Anonymous said...

I think he meant euthanasia and the precepts.

Anonymous said...

I'm a hardcore zen blog newbie..

Does anyone here think mysterion isn't a total blowjob?

This might be important info for some of us.

gniz said...

I've always been a big critic of Mysterion.

Mostly I find his posts to be of dubious quality with spam like elements when he gets on a roll.

However, recently, he has written a few things that made me wonder if I've misjudged him.

And then he went back to being white noise...that's the best answer I can give.

Khru said...

Concerning the contributions of Chas (Mysterion): food is bland and boring without any spices, IMHO.

huang said...

VRLA battery manufacturer
valve-regulated lead acid battery

deep cycle batteries
deep cycle lead acid batteries
golf trolley battery

Anonymous said...

Krhu are you saying that mysterion adds spice to this comment stream, or that mysterion needs to spice up his posts?

Angry Vaishnavite said...

Mysterion said...
India is moving toward Islam...


That is 100% bullshit. Would you care to provide the bullshit source, if there is one other than your own ass, from which you obtained that bullshit?

Anonymous said...

But truly, who or what can threaten Krishna? Back to the Gita!!

Anonymous said...

re islam in india

http://bengalunderattack.blogspot.com/2008/11/900-growth-of-islamic-population.html

http://www.iosworld.org/Islamic_Finance_Growth.htm

http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers12%5Cpaper1131.html

but mysti will trash the last one

Mysterion said...

The CIA Fact Book has 1 in 8 people being Islamic.

Religions: Definition Field Listing
Hindu 81.3%, Muslim 12%*, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi 2.5% (2000)

About 1 in 40 Indians is Xtian*.

India has the second largest Muslim population - after Indonesia.

I prefer greater granularity - more detail.

Maybe Sri Lanka is not part of India?

In Japan, about 1 in 200 is Xtian but 1 in 3 are radioactive!

*about 1 in 5 for 300 districts

The three violent lineages of Abraham continue to plague the earth. Stupidity is worthy of observation.

Cheers,

Chas

p.s. I love Xtians - especially when the spill their coffee and over react!

Anonymous said...

Mysterion, all this is taking place on Earth. Where is the Earth?

Anonymous said...

is this mysterions blog? I'm in the wrong place

Mysterion said...

3rd rock from the sun.

THIS REPORT [a PDF] addresses the marginalization of Muslims in India.

Muslims—mostly Sunnis—make up 13.4* percent of India’s population, yet hold fewer than 5 percent of government posts and make up only 4 percent of the undergraduate student body in India’s elite universities.

*Nov, 2006

A 10% population growth in just 5 years is quite a jump. Looks like they would rather hit the sack than hit the books! And, they don't live in condoms!

Angry Vaishnavite said...

The first anonymous link contained the most relevant and useful information:

"Now let us look at what it would take for the Muslim fraction to reach 25%. The relevant equation is:

M(0)exp(0.33t)=0.25T(0)exp(0.24t)

Solving for t, we get t=7.81, which is about 80 years i.e. 2070."

So, IF those numbers are accurate and IF current birth rates in India continue, which are both HUGE assumptions, the population of India MAY become 25% Muslim by 2070. Based on those highly speculative numbers, since the current population of India is approximately 80% Hindu,
India is moving toward the Himalaya Mountains faster than it is "moving toward Islam".

Anonymous said...

Mysterion, where is the sun?

Mark Foote said...

There was a comment in the video on DMT about our society rejecting anything that doesn't have to do with the production or consumption of material goods. Maybe more like outlawing, villifying, and suppressing anything not having to do with production or consumption of material goods, although I think Andrew Weil's outline of consciousness-altering prejudices in "The Natural Mind" is probably closer to the truth.

The relationship between culture and the institutions of society is I think the heart of Brad's soliloquy. How does the heart of the culture get passed on, do we rely on institutions or individuals? The Catholic church represents its anointed ones as the authentic lineage of the son of God. The University of California likely derives its authority from some arcane formulation of board members and state certification. To what extent can a gnosis tradition survive institutionalization? Has Soto succeeded in doing anything more than compartmentalizing Zen in Japanese society, and isn't that what Shunryu Suzuki came to the U.S.A to try to get away from? I guess from what I've read he actually wanted to send American practitioners back to Japan to revitalize Zen there; that was his ultimate plan.

We see that we are headed toward the water downstream from whites rapidly, and the need to convey the heart of the gnostic experience to a wider segment of society seems evident. Yet the need for stability in succession marginalizes the importance and universality of the experience itself, in favor of survivors of the institutional experience. Is it any wonder that Brad's teacher sleeps on his keyboard while Brad tries to overcome these obstacles and enlighten L.A.? :)

Anonymous said...

The three violent lineages of Abraham continue to plague the earth. Stupidity is worthy of observation.

>Mysterion, all this is taking place on Earth. Where is the Earth?

3rd rock from the sun.

>Mysterion, where is the sun?

Mysterion said...

That's good news except that by 2070, India, like the rest of the northern hemisphere, will not be populated at all!

"The decommissioning process at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant faces a further obstacle after Tokyo Electric Power Co. said radiation readings in the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor were at fatal levels on March 27 [2012].

[...] 72.9 sieverts was recorded about 4.2 meters from the bottom of the vessel.

... the highest radiation level [previously] recorded was about 10 sieverts per hour last August around piping near the main exhaust duct of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors. [1 sievert is lethal]

[...] The latest reading is not only much higher but reinforces the possibility that the decommissioning process will be prolonged. [...]

Decommissioning was initially expected to take around 30 years, but that estimate will likely now have to be revised."

a new number - 900 years - is being discussed.

Newt: Why Does the Left Hate Nuclear Power? It Works.

I have a new Tee-shirt design.

Enjoy what's left of your miserable lives - day-by-day.

Cheers,

Chas

Anonymous said...

Mysterion's First Law: When your claim is refuted, immediately change the subject with another unsubstantiated, hyperbolic assertion. Repeat ad infinitum.

Anonymous said...

Absence of evidence is evidence of absence when evidence can reasonably be expected to be observable.

Mysterion said...

He who cannot weigh the evidence for himself should seek neither fish nor fowl.

The population projections are based on averaged assumptions which represent one bias. (e.g. the illiterates will continue their population growth at the same rate as the educated)

I call this bias "best-case scenario."

Global Warming Example: "According to a new study, it could become much warmer towards the end of the century than originally anticipated. The study has found that the average temperatures calculated are much higher than the IPCC’s worst-case scenario to date."

"In a first order assump­tion about the change in the demand for water, one of the major fac­tors is the change in pop­u­la­tion, said Gan­guly..."

But the overlying theory is this: "If everyone remains completely ignorant, then there is no problem."

I am not changing subjects at all:

IGNORANCE

But then ignorance is a dead horse to the ignorant.

I'm not concerned with the Muslim population or the Rastafarian population or the VooDoo population or the Feng Shui population or the Falun Gong population or the Occidental population or the Abi Da population.

I am concerned with the ignorant population.

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous from the previous days post. I think you misstated what I was looking for.

I'm more interested in the relevance of mental illness as some form of suffering, not a label. This may or may not impact their ability to function in normal society. For example, the person that hears voices - there may be an 'irreparable' part of their brain that causes this. Or, take a person with a neurological disorder if you want to get away from mental illness - say synesthesia (sensory mix up) or prosopagnosia (face blindness)

Maybe my assumption is wrong here, but it seems any sort of Zen teaching assumes there is something like free will or psychic energy or whatever the fuck you want to call it. That you, with lots of sitting and observing, can change your habitual patterns.

Your statement above is a pretty extreme version of this:

One may, in fact, believe in their own ego-self so deeply that their belief has caused the very chemical structure of their brain and body to be altered to the extent that it's impossible to function in "normal" society without the help of chemicals


I find this statement ridiculous, but maybe I don't understand it. If you're saying "belief/habit that belief/habit causes changes in the brain... etc.", you seem to be denying the possibility that the causality is the other way around. We know someone sans a limbs won't be able to grasp something, we know the guy who can't see faces won't see faces anymore barring some medical revolution. But what is classified as mental illness has privileged status that says it's habit/belief that can be changed.

I don't think anyone really knows this. So maybe this is an interesting thought experiment for Brad: Person who diagnosed as chronic schizophrenia hears voices all the time. They meditate for 30 years and somehow become enlightened - do they stop hearing voices?

I would guess not. Maybe they can't become enlightened *shrug*

Anonymous said...

mysterion need LOTS of attention. He seems to get it here. That's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Well, if there was one thing that Mysterion could be considered an expert on, it would be ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Different anonymous here....

Mysterion is very rude. Posting so many comments each and every article is impolite and his posts get tiresome. I'm not asking him to stop or rallying for his banishment. I merely would like for him to consider reducing the number of posts he makes here.

Sam Bell said...

Moon

Anonymous said...

mysterion is addicted to blogging on this blog. He must be jobless or bored at work or perhaps he's a paraplegic and the computer is the closest thing to the outside world. I agree he does lack manners and rarely posts anything constructive. He also stinks. Smells of Zen. I realize posting anything about him just fuels his fire but he's a vacuum sucking the life force out this comments section

Mysterion said...

"I'm more interested in the relevance of mental illness as some form of suffering, not a label."

"mental illness" covers a broad spectrum of things - from minor personality disorders (e.g. compulsive-obsessive hand washing) to major things - sociopaths.

Fortunately, the vast majority of "mental illness" are minor and can be treated (mitigated) with behavior modification therapy alone. Zazen is a type of behavior modification therapy.

I am not aware of a case where treating a sociopath with only behavior modification therapy has been successful. If you can keep sociopaths drugged, then they may not 'act out' again.

With compulsive hand washing, behavior modification and hand lotion may be sufficient treatment.

Developmental conditions - like schizophrenia - are "conditions." That is the schizophrenic, his/her family and community just need to accept the reality of this condition and work in harmony to accommodate the individual.

Likewise, we accommodate the epileptics, Pentecostals, and Evangelicals within our communities (unless we are a Wahabi). They may seem to be 'nutty as a walnut' but you can hardly confine them to their shell. These are just more 'conditions' with which we all must learn to live. Besides, I would never make fun of an epileptic. This is not a condition born of their own choosing.

As for the schizophrenics, we do need to sometimes summons intervention - like the time the poor guy across the street heard voices in his Chevy engine and completely disassembled it in the middle of the street. The police knocked on MY DOOR and we consulted about how to get the poor fellow back on his meds (the voices told him he didn't need pills) so that the local shop could reassemble the engine and his mom could go shopping for food again.

So, like it or not, we are all responsible for the harmony and well-being of the villages in which we live. It does take a village to raise a child - and beyond. It takes a village to stay a village.

If we have a perceptual understanding of this then we reduce our own suffering and the suffering of those in our "villages."

The new 'condition' is PTSD among Iran/Afghanistan Veterans (and others). I have to deal with this on an almost daily basis when I take my neighbor to coffee (he has it in SPADES) and I suspect, over time, most of you will have to deal with it also.

If you can, support IAVA. Two of my friends are Operation Desert Shield /Desert Storm (December 1990-April 1991) Vets.

BTW, it's RF4-Phantom II 1975-1995

These birds had neither armor nor armaments. They carried cameras only. R = Reconnaissance.

"Hot [pun] action on the ramp as the Nevada Air Guard launch the F-4's."

Mysterion said...

p.s. I am RETIRED

My "job" is remembering to deposit pension checks when they arrive.

Anonymous said...

post more mysterion get it out

Anonymous said...

Okay, well.... fine and dandy. I'm the anonymous who requested that Mysterion think about not posting so much and he replied by posting more of his, uh, stuff.

Think I'll move on from this blog now.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if everybody stopped posting if mysterion would continue on. Probably.

Anonymous said...

You're all missing a great opportunity. If, when Msty pisses you off (you know, when you're typing your reply), you noticed what was happening to you, he could be the greatest teacher you'll ever have. I get the feeling you guys are great teachers too.

Brad Warner said...

I don't think anyone really knows this. So maybe this is an interesting thought experiment for Brad: Person who diagnosed as chronic schizophrenia hears voices all the time. They meditate for 30 years and somehow become enlightened - do they stop hearing voices?

I would guess not. Maybe they can't become enlightened *shrug*


I don't know.

In my own case I only once in my life heard anything like disembodied voices. It scared the shit out of me. My practice taught me how not to listen to such things. So my guess is that this hypothetical person may or may not hear the voices anymore, but that they may be able to learn how not to care one way or the other.

Again, it's just a guess. I have no way of knowing.

If you're saying "belief/habit that belief/habit causes changes in the brain... etc.", you seem to be denying the possibility that the causality is the other way around.

I'm not denying it works the other way around. But it appears to me that the common understanding of how things work says only that changes in the brain cause belief. It appears to me that it works in both directions.

Mysterion said...

Effect: changes in the brain

Cause: building up a belief (usually by repetition, peer pressure, culture, and susceptibility*)

In the absence of just 1 factor, the probability of "belief structures" in the brain is greatly diminished.

Once present, beliefs are very resilient to change (e.g. don't waste your time trying to convert a true believer to your belief system --
atheist <---> Xtian,
atheist <---> Muslim,
Muslim <---> Xtian, etc.)

That is WHY Buddhists don't bother to go door-to-door handing out Buddhist Comics.

*Jack T. Chick knows the average IQ of his target demographic and it ain't no 100+.

Broken Yogi said...

We've been here before, but I will reiterate that the term "mental illness" is loaded with vaguaries that tend to make people go crazy, and almost entirely because of the "mental" category.

The term "illness" is something we can usually accept when it comes to biological processes gone wrong. We might say that cancer or heart disease are symptoms of emotional or spiritual problems, but we don't deny that they are actual biological illnesses. If you break a leg, the doctor doesn't tell you that it's just a social convention to have a working leg, and apart from that convention, it's just as "normal" to be lame as it is to be able to walk without limping.

But when the brain acts funky or breaks down or gets dysfunctional, we like to think it's just in your mind. It's not a real illness, it's "mental illness". At least that's what Brad seems to be claiming. The problem is that while legs are what we use to walk, brains are what we use to think. We don't like to admit that, we like to think that our thinking is "spiritual", meaning superior to the body and brain. But see how much thinking you get done with a damaged brain. Observe what happens to people whose brains get damaged in very obvious ways. And then think of what can happen to brains that get damaged in more subtle ways.

The brain is an organ like any other in the body, and obviously it can be impaired in countless ways, and when it does, it affects how we think. If your liver gets impaired, it will affect how you process toxins and it can severely effect your overall health. The same with the brain. It has an extremely complex chemistry to it, and even minor disruptions to that can produce illness of one kind or another, ranging from just being moody to full-blown psychosis or paralyzing schizophrenia. All of that can be called a form of "mental illness" in the same way that even a scratched knee can be called a bodily injury that needs minor treatment, like a band aid.

And the same is true of minor "mental illness". If we suffer from a bad mood, it's really, really important to understand that a very important element of that is just some minor disruption to our brain chemistry. Maybe we had too much coffee, or not enough sleep, or had a fight with someone. All these things and more can produce changes in our actual brain function at a biochemical level. And part of treating them is to address that biochemistry. If we ignore that, and simply try to solve such problems with "psychological counseling", we are not likely to get very far. Often we just need a simple practical change, have something healthy to eat, get some sleep, cut out the cafeine, whatever. In fact, a whole lot of what we think are emotional or psychological problems are really just us not taking responsibility for our own bodily chemistry.

Broken Yogi said...

So the "spiritual" solution that an "enlightened" teacher would have for a lot of these rather low level mental aches and pains is simply to take care of your body and brain properly. Stop trying to solve every problem as if there's some internal psychological solution waiting for us. There isn't most of the time.

But I think an enlightened teacher would also recognize that there are much more severe forms of mental illness that can't be so easily resolved. Some people have much more serious mental illnesses than can't be easily healed with band aids. Some are literally incurable, the brain's equivalent of severe heart disease. They may be harder to see, because the disruption occurs at the level of chemistry. And doctors try to fix this chemistry, but because they know so little of how the brain's chemistry actually works, their solutions are very crude and even destructive.

We can of course judge such things merely as 'social problems', but that's hiding the fact that most things categorized as chronic mental illness have degenerative brain syndromes that represent a real functional problem in the brain, and not just some "different" way of functioning that isn't socially useful.

It's disingenuous to say that people in the future will consider most of us "mentally ill", or that the enlightened will see us that way even now. Brad is mixing categories. I can't pole vault 18 feet like a top Olympic athlete, but I doubt that athlete would call me physically ill because I can't do that. I can still use my legs and run and walk as those legs are made to do. I'm not lame, I don't have broken legs or arthritis or any number of diseases which might impair me. A little overweight, sure, but not morbidly so. I'm quite healthy, actually, just not a top athlete in the peak of youth.

Likewise, I'm not enlightened, but I'm not spiritually lame either. And I'm not emotionally or psychologically enlightened either, but I'm not actually chronically "ill" in those areas either. Some people are, and I'm lucky I'm not one of them. So while one might compare an enlightened person to a top athlete or genius, I don't think even they would consider ordinary folks like me to be "spiritually ill" or "mentally ill". Some people actually are, however, and an enlightened person would be able to catch that distinction and not blur the issue.

Not knowing absolute reality doesn't make one mentally or spiritually ill. Not knowing advanced physics doesn't make one mentally retarded. Not being an Olympic athlete doesn't make one physically ill. The difference lies in having a capacity to function at all, not just according to some social standard but by a basic physiological standard.

Khru said...

"""Anonymous said...

You're all missing a great opportunity. If, when Msty pisses you off (you know, when you're typing your reply), you noticed what was happening to you, he could be the greatest teacher you'll ever have. I get the feeling you guys are great teachers too."""

And that's the real punchline, friend: it's also why I always laugh when reading the comment section and see people's reaction to Chas...the joke is on us.

Every day's said...

"And that's the real punchline, friend: it's also why I always laugh when reading the comment section and see people's reaction to Chas...the joke is on us."

'Always'? 'Us'?

That didn't make me laugh. Partly because I doubt that it's highly unlikely to be literally true, and partly because it's sometimes brings up a sad irony:

I'm blind, he's deaf, she's dumb.

Fool! take the plug out of your mouth. Fool! take the plugs out your ears. Don't you see, we're all plugged up. Don't you see? Don't you see? Ha ha, Ha ha.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I wonder if everybody stopped posting if mysterion would continue on. Probably.


That sounds like an interesting and amusing experiment so I am going to try it immediately after this comment. Who's with me?

Brad Warner said...

Brad is mixing categories. I can't pole vault 18 feet like a top Olympic athlete, but I doubt that athlete would call me physically ill because I can't do that.

I'm not sure if I somehow inadvertently started this. But there seems to be a trend here in these comments to equate "enlightenment" with extraordinary abilities. Thus the analogy with pole vaulting 18 feet and many similar ones.

I have equated meditation with playing an instrument. I've said that the first time you play guitar you're going to suck, but after a while you get better. So maybe that's where it comes from. Or it may come from the way celebrity spiritual masters like to present themselves as extraordinary people.

But enlightenment (I hate that word) isn't like pole vaulting 18 feet. It's more like walking to the bathroom, if we were to continue that analogy. Most people, instead of walking to the bathroom, which (let's say) just happens to be 18 feet away instead try to pole vault to the bathroom. And they can't do it because the ceiling is too low. Yet they try anyway and keep injuring themselves. The pole keeps breaking, they keep hitting their heads, they keep beating themselves up over not being able to do it, and they still have to pee.

The only thing an enlightened person (fuck that term) does differently is that she walks straight to the bathroom, does her business and then goes back to bed.

Mysterion said...

I think it's easier than that.

A chef wanna-be tries to cut carrots into even slices with effort.

A chef, regardless of training or lack thereof, just cuts the carrots and sometimes the slices are even but mostly they are not.

A satori wanna be looks for something extra, a runner's kick, out of Zazen.

The satori is that Zazen is Zazen and, like the carrot slices, the experience is forever uneven. The real kick is that there is no apparent kick.

After years of practice, I have achieved the ability to take Shiro to Peets, sit next to the most banal conversation on earth, sip coffee or tea, say nothing, and just mindfully [pun] scratch Shiro's ears.

gniz said...

Broken Yogi, I agreed with most of your two posts about mental illness.

I didn't fully agree with what you said regarding Brad's statement that in the future all of us now might be thought of as mentally ill.

I took it this way... Although I am normally functioning in a societal sense, I can see how much of my thinking is just...insane. Babbling thoughts, and then me believing my thoughts--the constant mood changes, blaming others for my problems, arguing with people on the internet, getting angry at Mysterion.

You see how wars start over less. People hating other people because they are gay or because they like George Bush or whatever the case.

I feel that Brad's point was that in a more emotionally and psychologically evolved future time, they might look back at our current era as being filled with emotionally "sick" people. Our sickness is our disturbed thinking, our inability to see clearly, to take responsibility for our lives and our own happiness and not constantly blame others.

That's how I took it and I agree with it if that's how Brad meant it. Since he didn't get that specific, I can't say for sure.

Broken Yogi said...

Brad,

Point taken. But even using your own analogy, we are just talking about stupidity, not mental illness. I will grant you that many of the things we do are stupid, but that doesn't make them a form of mental illness.

For example, Aristotle believed that frogs were spontaneously generated from mud. It now seems like a crazy idea, given what we know now, but I don't think anyone would conclude from that, that Aristotle was insane. He used reason and logic and a very functional philosophical position to come to that conclusion. He was wrong, and there were flaws in his thinking, but not due to insanity. He wasn't even stupid, just thinking in a flawed way.

Similarly, we could say that enlightenment mere means "using the mind correctly". I don't want to be more specific than that, because I'm not sure I know how enlightened people use the mind (Ramana Maharshi used to say that the way to make the mind strong was to not use it at all). But there's a difference between not knowing how to use the mind or think properly, and being mentally ill, which is a condition in which you can't do either of these, because of some disorder in the brain and body itself.

So your guy who is trying to pole vault his way to enlightenment isn't mentally ill, he's just using his faculties wrongly. If you point out to him what he's doing wrong, he could actually change his method and do things right, or at least better. Which means he's teachable. But a mentally ill person isn't teachable, or is at least less so, the way a guy with maimed legs can't be taught to pole vault, or it would have to be in a highly modified way.

THe guy who wrote to you in a previous thread about his mental problems is somewhere in between. He's conscious enough of his mental illness to try to work around it, but he's not going to pretend it's something that spiritual practice is going to magically heal. He'll do what he can within the limits he has to work with. And you could teach him within those limits also. So it depends on how debilitating the illness is, and whether one is suffering an "episode". A guy with bi-polar could be teachable, but probably not while having a manic episode. One has to at least stabilize the illness to the point where the mind has some basic functional strength from which to work.

Broken Yogi said...

Gniz,

I don't think that we view previous generations as "insane" simply because they considered certain ways of doing and thinking acceptable or normative that we don't see that way now. And likewise, I don't think future generations will literally consider us to be suffering from mental illness just because we are undoubtedly wrong about so many other things.

People like to throw these words around casually, and call people "crazy" or "insane" when they hold what we consider the wrong political views or religious attitudes. But we don't usually mean that in the same way we refer to mental illness. We might consider slavery to be "insane", but obviously the people who engaged in it were quite sane and rational, just immoral, selfish, and brutal. As mentioned above, Aristotle wasn't insane because he had this "crazy" idea about where frogs came from, he just didn't quite grasp the value of empiricism. If it had been explained and demonstrated to him sufficiently, he would probably have embraced it, which a crazy person couldn't do.

So yeah, there is an evolution of thinking and emoting and morals and how we relate to one another. But that evolution is within the spectrum of a basic range of decent mental and capability, not one that goes from literal insanity to sanity. Athletes can run faster and stronger and better than athletes in the past, due to better food, training, sports medicine and science, etc., not because previous athletes were physically ill and now they are recovering from illness. They were all very healthy athletes, they just weren't as developed as they are now.

So while you can certainly see much development in our society, most of that is among the mentally healthy, including the ability to recognize and treat mental illness. Even the ability to recognize sociopathy is an important step in the right direction. One can certainly say that many of the biggest social problems in the past have been caused by our inability to recognize sociopathic individuals and behavior, including recognizing all the factors (such as childhood abuse) that go into creating such psychologically deformed individuals. And becoming more aware of all that helps to alleviate a lot of problems in the world.

As for the problems you feel you have in using the mind properly, well this is true, but it's not a form of mental illness. It's just a sign that our development hasn't reached perfection. Falling short of perfection isn't mental illness. As Brad says, some of the solutions are very simple, like just walking to the bathroom rather than pole-vaulting. E-MC2 is a very simple equation too, but it takes a highly developed mind to come up with. So the simplest solution may not actually be all that easy to see. That doesn't mean that Newton was insane because his equations weren't as accurate as Einstein's. They were highly advanced for his time, and what he had to work with. I'm sure one day Einstein's work will be modified by a better theory. And so it goes.

gniz said...

Mostly agree with you. I think Brad could have been said to be using hyperbole. I would equate it to when someone looks back at how doctors treated patients in the middle ages and we say their practices were "barbaric."

You could also just say, "less developed" or in the earlier stages of understanding the human body, medicine, etc.

Or when they used to give a lobotomy to difficult mental patients because they didn't understand other ways of dealing with the mentally ill.

I am saying that in the future, the way we behave and think and act could easily be viewed not just a barbaric, but possibly even "insane" to those future generations.

Are we mentally ill in the literal fashion you describe? No. But we could be seen as sick or very poorly developed to future generations.

Anyway, I do think we're splitting hairs a little as I mostly agree with what you've said.

Broken Yogi said...

Gniz, yes, there's a difference between the colloquial and the literal use of the word "insane".

Mixing the two categories is what I criticized Brad for. I think he understands the difference. He's using the colloquial version.

The problem comes when people use the fuzziness of the colloquial to suggest there's no such thing as genuine mental illness.

Another way of approaching this from a spiritual angle, however, is to look at our spiritual connection to the mind and body from the perspective of reincarnation. In many such models, our deeper awareness is actually coming from beyond the physical, but from our subtle body, and "interfacing" with the physical body and brain. One of my theories of mental illness is that when the spiritual connection between the subtle mind and the physical brain is strained or undeveloped, it creates a stress and distortion in the brain itself, which can induce mental illness. The brain can also have built in problems that make it difficult to interface properly with. Hence it's a two way communication problem, that stems from and/or results in various biochemical problems in the brain's ability to function, and our deeper mind's ability to stay in functional communication with the body. Sometimes, things just get away from us. Sometimes whole lifetimes do.

radiosteve said...

As someone diagnosed as Bipolar, I can say that my meditation practice has helped me tremendously. Being able to recognize when my Bipolar has kicked in and is driving my mood allows me to be step back and (try) to let the moods go. I understand that these are temporary states, that have no real substance on their own. I can choose to allow myself to slip into euphoria or depression, or see it for what it is and deal with it. (That works better on some days than others!)

Also, I love this sentence:

"Remember you're reading the words of a Buddhist who believes that even normal conventional notions of what constitutes reality are false."

I have tried to explain that to people when I discuss their beliefs, but not with such clearness. Thanks for that!

Anonymous said...

Hey Brad I noticed you didn't respond or didn't see on the previous post about the commenter euthanizing their dog. I too was wondering how that works with the buddhist precepts and all. Thanks!