Zoom Talk James Low : Ignorance, prejudice and cruelty

‘In a world where vulnerability often evokes cruelty rather than kindness it is helpful to remember the Buddha’s teachings on how ignorance arises, and from it, the mental dullness which leads to selfishness, complacency and indifference. If we are to avoid a wish to blame others and seek revenge then it is vital that we see the absence of inherent existence in both persecutor and victim. Loving kindness is powerful when linked to the awareness of how our mind actually is.’

This talk is on wednesday

June 10 @ 6:30 pm8:40 pm BST

and organised at short notice so I’m highlighting it here…check under Events on the Simplybeing website for details.

If you can listen i’m sure  you will find it very helpful…

In this cartoon…credit …. it’s the case that there is one big realisation, one genuine fact, which makes the scales redundant.

Not knowing who we or others truly are we act out from our cherished certainties but, being blindfolded by them, we miss the point.

Working through my own life-experience, in the face of recent provocation from an old but unresolved situation,  this same realisation that James will speak of on wednesday properly ‘penny dropped!’ for me only yesterday.

So maybe it would be helpful to share, in a rambling way, some of my moves towards this realisation.

I had a Christian upbringing which taught me to turn the other cheek… to the extent that I lost feeling in that cheek and ‘head turned away’ became an habitual position!

‘Do as you would be done by’, ‘ Give and do not count the cost’ (‘to whom and why’..had fallen away here) and many other ideas about ‘true love’ and the nature of marriage had been taken in as veridical, and these defined my behaviour.

As I later learned… no habitual position will be appropriate and attuned in response to the ever-changing display of the world.

Freeing up from that has been part of growing up… out of a self/other imposed chrysalis or framework I relied upon to guide my behaviour…and also, very slowly, a release from judgment of karmically driven behaviours – my own and others.

As I extracted myself from that system, with no thought of revenge but with a strongly held notion of fairness, I was shocked to discover that belief in this and my interpretation of it, something I assumed was central to people I  felt close to and by assumed extension, all ‘good’ people, was in fact both personal to me and more than a little naïve.

So I found myself reeling at this late discovery and my, once firm foundations, in the house of relative compassion – I am happy when others are happy…I  want others to be happy, therefore I will do my best to please, to facilitate ease for others, to care for others… I will always be kind and not upset anyone or try to take anything for myself…that’s the best way to be! – were shaken. As you can see appreciation of the potential breadth and profundity of compassion was missing and my knowledge of the operation of karma in relative reality, non-existent.

That this way of being might be exploited or undervalued just hadn’t occurred to me.
That, through my own limited behaviours, I might be implicated in the resulting unpleasant situations, was an insight which dawned… slowly. The ego does not like to see how very foolish it can be!

Although, by great good fortune a moment of experience kept me welded to the dharma-track… the behaviour arising from from abiding in the truth of the realisation of the non-duality and empty nature of self and other, was way over the horizon!

Many right-minded people (in my opinion, at the time!)  might have come to the same conclusion as me as to what was fair…but clearly different notions of fairness are in operation…. some more self-serving than others…

Taking advantage of others stupidity seems wise to some…behaviour will depend on the view held at the time and the opportunity to act from that…and that’s just how it is in samsara.  Complaining or agonising that others are not ‘as I think they should be’… is activity based on opinions and not at all helpful. There is no magic wand to change the ideas of another…and lacking a deep dharma view, such an intention may just give energy to the seeming solidification of the polarisation of duality. Are ‘good’ ideas inherently better than ‘bad’ ones?

I see things as I do depending on the strength and inclusions/faults/distortions in the karmic lenses in front of my eyes… others are wearing different glasses…different makes of hearing aids/filters.

So for me to say ‘You need to see it my way’… is an aggressive statement coming from my ego. ‘Why  can’t you see it my way?’… the answer is obvious… because your lenses are different!

Can I really knock someone’s glasses off and give them mine to wear instead?  Would they be able to see through them, or want to wear them? If there’s any air of superiority about my glasses that distortion means they would not be so helpful anyway.

Most likely the egoic push-back will be ‘Get off me… these are my glasses! I can see perfectly well… thanks!

I was once told by an antique dealer that ‘a willing buyer and a willing seller makes a fair trade’. But is it fair if you, the buyer, can recognise the hallmark as silver but the seller cannot?…or if you know that a piece of furniture has been cobbled together but the purchaser does not?

The belief depends on which thoughts your sense-of-self (itself a bunch of thoughts) identifies with. ‘I buy and sell antiques… I have rent and petrol to pay… a family to feed… care home fees for my elderly mother… I need to make a profit to survive. You want some money for your antique… I will offer you this much… you can accept or not.’ That’s fair, isn’t it?’

When King Trison Detsen became buddhist he looked at his kingdom and was shocked by the material inequalities he saw. So he tried to introduce fairness  by gathering in all the material goods and redistributing them more equally.

At the end of the year he checked, expecting to be satisfied with a more ‘Buddhist’ situation… and was surprised to find that  the equality had not been maintained. He had two more goes at acting on the situation before realising that there  were more factors in play than he could control…the karma of others being one of them, dependant co-origination another!

You might enjoy a look at these different views of the character of Shylock in Shakespeare’s the Merchant of Venice…[my notion that fairness was a natural outcome available under the legal system was also laid waste to during my late ‘adolescence’.]

At one point I had the notion that there were jailers and prisoners… and those who acted to liberate.
Having compassion for the prisoners, feeling the misery of their situation, I wanted to be a liberator!!!
Then I saw that the jailers were also prisoners…that good and bad were not separable but one arises upon the ascription of the other… and that we are complex in our showing, so simple terms don’t cut the mustard!
then that liberation does not come through becoming anything…

The polarisation of discrimination between those labelled by us as virtuous and unvirtuous… with its attendant aversion accentuates the artificial divisions of the world and will inevitably circumscribe our lovingkindness… with it’s warm welcome of ‘however you are it’s okay’ as basic…

The historical Buddha taught that praise and blame, profit and loss, pleasure and sorrow, fame and infamy come and go like the wind… (is this not true?)…so to be happy remain rooted like a great tree in the midst of it all.

Rooted in what?  In none of  the above obviously …nor the soil…but in the ground.
In the ground of the open spaciousness of your ungraspable actuality…in wisdom.

Another version is:

“Praise and blame,
gain and loss,
pleasure and pain,
fame and disrepute
are the eight worldly winds.
They ceaselessly change.

As a mountain is
unshaken by the wind,
so the heart/mind of a person
is unmoved
by all the changes on this earth.”

I’ve added  /mind   to this version otherwise it can look as though a a profound lack of sensitivity is indicated.
The heart/mind is unchanging and stable – wisdom. Compassion arising from that is very sensitive to the presenting situation… and more tolerant of phenomena knowing their self-arising and self-liberating nature.

With this the desire to control is dissolved and whatever comes comes and whatever goes goes…this sense of ease is not dependent on external factors. Interactions grounded in that easy view lack the tension which is the dis-ease of samsara and so are healing without intention.

So this love arising from wisdom heals the sense of separation arising from these artificial divisions and is of a very different order/quality than conditional love which arises dependent upon behaviours, or habitually through a sense of attachment and appropriation.

For myself…  a squillion squenchy thoughts and feelings may arise…including the desire to control…but arise…and pass.
My invitation to a different way of relating, by being both different and equal as guests in this world, may ‘cut no ice’…
but since encountering the dharma, over the years i have learned that despite the resonance of habitual pattens and tendencies to tighten… not responding as some fix-ed ‘thing’ to some other pre-defined ‘thing’ is always available as potential through softening and opening without solidity.

‘Nothing is better than something because something is always nothing anyway’…takes all the heat out of it!
..and, koan-like, did my head in when i first heard that from James…so many years ago!

While you’re here I invite you to put all your own worries aside and see how projection, combined with an uniquely limited view of external perfection, and an unwillingness to accept that a situation cannot be manipulated as desired, brings suffering to two healthy adults in otherwise relatively easy life circumstances:

Spare a thought for the suffering!

My neighbour’s neighbour’s life you see
is being ruined by a tree
A tree she finds so deeply ugerlee…!

Yet neighbour, guardian-owner of the tree
has come to see it differently
…and thus arises misery.

Oh woe is she…!!!
She so much wishes it were dead
it’s taken root inside her head!

It’s darkness makes her act things out
though, being ‘genteel’, she won’t shout..

Covering her fence with anti-virus cloth,
black, on both sides
incurs artistic neighbours wrath

also as she
wants details of propinquity!
You slept with him? You must tell me!
Contaminated you may be…

Neighbour removes cloth forcibly…


The buddha’s equanimity…
present yet absent
in this lunacy.