The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
|Articles by alphabetic order|
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Interviewer: What do you think of the current styles of Buddhist meditation generally practiced by the public?
Dark Zen: I think most of them are wrong. Just doing meditation alone is like putting the cart before the horse. Whether or not we are discussing Vipassana or Zen meditation, I think some of the public who engage in meditation without studying the driving theory of Buddhism might be actually harming themselves. Some people I have met have the idea that Buddhist meditation is being aware of sensations; not attaching to them. Others think Buddhist meditation is keeping still and not thinking. Such practices are not found in Buddhism If they had studied Buddhism they would know this.
Interviewer: That is interesting. So, specifically, in what ways are they harming themselves?
Dark Zen: They harm themselves by not seeking the absolute in their meditations. Mediation is certainly not what Vipassana centers portray it to be using the technique of observing. Nor is meditation the kind as taught in most Zen centers. It is not about sitting on a pillow trying to be as physically and mentally still as can be like an upright corpse. I am also a little shocked to see that meditation is peddled as a way to mental health as if the correction of mental afflictions is nirvana. If we practice these kinds of meditation how shall we come to see the undying, as the Buddha called the absolute? Let me tell you that the Buddha discovered something very profound and very positive. His unique meditation is supposed to guide us to the substantial vision of the absolute which he, himself, saw.
Dark Zen: I am suggesting that meditation as originally taught in Buddhism is fundamentally about the discovery of what we really are which goes far beyond our mortal physical body. To meditate as the Buddha did, means to look inwardly and clearly see the very highest. It is not some state or experience like peace or oneness. These are mental abstractions unconsciously fabricated by us.
Dark Zen: Correct. Anybody who is normal will eventually get tired of just sitting and move on to a higher practice. And that goes with Vipassana meditation and the rest. It is one thing to be aware of impermanent things. It is quite another matter to see that which is permanent and undying. True meditation should be about inwardly looking for the permanent, that is, looking for our true nature which is not subject to change, death or rebirth.
If anybody believes that Buddhist meditation is about sitting to be sitting, they have no clue what the Buddha taught. The whole point of meditation is to connect us with the absolute, getting us beyond phenomena wherein death and rebirth are operative.
Dark Zen: The absolute as found in Buddhism is, as simply as I can state it, about the liberation of will which in Pali and Sanskrit is called citta, often translated as mind. Such liberation means that the will is intrinsically free of its willed creations, which we perceive as phenomena. We say that will, when it becomes the absolute, is absolute when it comes into perfect identity with itself-not being anymore mesmerized by its phenomena. This, in fact, is the whole thrust of meditation. It is about the renunciation of phenomena, then turning the will to its incorporeal nature which is empty and free of its phenomena. You see something-yes something very dynamic and powerful. But it is not a phenomenon.
Dark Zen: I would be happy to, although I can't tell you everything. Some of this is not for public consumption least they reject it and come to catastrophic harm. Let me begin by saying that we are intrinsically a will entity striving for fulfillment in the midst of our own loss and pain. Fulfillment is the other meaning of vidya which scholars translate as 'knowledge' as opposed to 'ignorance'. (I should mention, these same scholars seem to forget that vidya can also mean fulfillment!)
What we see before us, including our body, is what has been willed as possible fulfillment. But then the Buddha didn't see this as complete fulfillment. Not by a longshot. Eventually our little willed-out empire collapses. Buddha reckoned that if we had attained complete fulfillment, our body would not suffer.
The Buddha knew that fulfillment can only be properly obtained when will comes into complete identification with itself, called samadhi or sambodhi. Anything less than this is identification with suffering-a kind of asymmetry or disharmony. This is what Buddhist meditation seeks to remedy, in other words. The will is working to find itself thus reaching absolute fulfillment in which all desire for will-made things has been quenched.
Interviewer: Related to unfulfillment, then are you suggesting that will is out of sync with itself which is the cause of suffering?
Dark Zen: Yes. That is a good way to put it. This out of syncness is disparity and suffering. We call it duhkha. Sounding scientific, this out of syncness is a phenomenal moment as well, being the smallest unit of suffering since all phenomena, according to the Buddha, are synonymous with suffering and unfulfillment. I can even declare that the curvilinear nature of the universe is emblematic of suffering [laughing].
Interviewer: Okay, I get it [laughing]. So when will comes into identity with itself, what is that like?
Dark Zen: The will then is unconditioned an in sync with itself. It is not a phenomenon. The senses can't sense it. It is invisible. For me it is real-more real than phenomena. Being now with itself, the will is able to subdue the lure of all phenomenal arisings, that is, it is able to subjugate even the most subtle mental phenomenon. We also realize that what we experience as phenomena are just this pristine will sliced up into billions of particles, so to speak.
Interviewer: Where does nirvana fit into this?
Dark Zen: In complete nirvana there is no disparity between the will and its full assimilation into itself. On the other hand, with incomplete nirvana the will is coming closer and closer to itself. Its disparity and self-alienation are becoming less and less.
Dark Zen: Yes. This is our meditation in a nutshell. Our mediation is different from all other meditations is this respect. It is the most advanced and yet the most simple to execute. We believe it was the meditation of Gautama the Buddha which has long since been forgotten but was rediscovered by me in 1991 without any help from the canon. I simply put two and two together.
Interviewer: That sounds a little prideful and condescending, don't you think so?
Dark Zen: Not really. As proof, if you read the ancient commentaries dealing with meditation, everything I have said about Dark Zen Meditation is proven to be absolutely true by the ancient teachers who probably composed some of the commentaries when the Buddha was still alive. This should be a great cause for celebration in Buddhist world. Indeed, the Buddha's original meditation has been discovered and is being practiced by many thousands. In my estimation, which I dare say is not final, for some 2,000 years the Buddha's meditation has been hidden beneath a mound of sectarian dogmas and squabbling.
Interviewer: Some might call this bragging. Can you really be so sure that your meditation is the true one?
Dark Zen: Yes. I even have a passage memorized which tends to prove that there is something beyond just the in and out breath. It says in the Patisambhida-magga, "The primordial will is the efficient cause of the in and out breath."
Interviewer: But how does that prove anything?
Dark Zen: In Dark Zen Meditation when we apprehend the thoroughly antecedent of breathing, called in Pali, parimukha-sati, we touch the Buddhic light or the same, the primordial will. This light is also called, the unbound sovereign will. It is not the dualized volitional will mired in phenomena, connected to our breath and the body. Rather than over focus on the breath, I recollect its source and tap into this power.
Interviewer: This is too hard for me to understand. Isn't there a much more simple way to express it for those who aren't there yet?
Dark Zen: Of course. Just sit down and try Dark Zen Meditation. Try and become anterior to in and out breathing. Once there anyone will sense, for the first time, the sovereign will. They will also understand that this is the beginning of nirvana in which the will is coming near to itself. But remember, you are not going to gain access to the fullness of sovereign will in a matter of minutes. It will take time. Most people are still heavily tied to the breath. It is unimaginable for them that, as will, they are really thoroughly before the breath-including the physical body.
Dark Zen: I can only speculate. For the most part the public wishes Buddhism to be dumbed-down to its level. They want Buddhism to justify their bourgeois lifestyle. They are unwilling to look beyond their materialistic needs, in other words. On the other hand, those who practice and praise Dark Zen Meditation are Buddhists who have been, in the past, monastics or serious practitioners of many years standing. One day they got fed up with the meditation malarkey. They realized that siting on a pillow makes for blood clots and hemorrhoids-not illumination.
Interviewer: What do you think of Vipassana?
Dark Zen: I think it is better than sitting on a pillow or, as one Zen master called such sitting, 'ghost-sitting'. Vipassana affords the practitioner an immediate way to overcome the inertia of bad habits that control the body-oftentimes making it sick. Still, at some point, the serious practitioner must aim for the absolute. This means cutting through the layers of the phenomenalized will which includes old habits, emotions, concepts, and other kinds of experiences that block out the absolute.
The will got itself into this mess and by right meditation it has to pull itself out of this sludge pit. Vipassana is a good strategy for doing this. But Dark Zen Meditation is the piece de resistance. When you get to that place before the in and out breath, sensing a kind of magnetic, clear light, for lack of a better expression, you know that you've hit the jackpot of meditation. The rest is crap.
Interviewer: Could you use all three kinds of meditation?
Dark Zen: Oh I guess so. Somebody new to Buddhism should try Zen meditation first. Then when they got tired of just sitting, they could move on to Vipassana. After that they could try Dark Zen Meditation. I guess that would work. Actually, if you think bout it, one is moving from the superficial to the profound. But most people these days are stuck on the superficial. They believe that if you just sit long enough, you will turn into a Buddha.
Dark Zen: We hope to have an improved and revised one in major bookstores within a year. But we continue to be plagued by a lack of funding to finance the project. Let's not forget, Western Buddhists are cheapskates [laughing]. They spend more time supporting fast food enterprises, and their SUVs, than supporting the Dharma.
Recently, much of our funding for the new edition of the manual was stolen by a former Vipassana student who worked with us and was going to illustrate the new The Authorized Dark Zen Meditation Manual of Buddhism! So times have been difficult. Mara the Evil One has been busy in our neck of the woods, you could say, trying to prevent the Buddhic light from entering into our world. This is no joke. Evil is quite real in Buddhism and there are many who wish us ill.
Interviewer: That is most unfortunate. From my own experience, many who come to Buddhism these days are materialists. It is good to hear that you are revising the old manual. I recently read some review that The Authorized Dark Zen Meditation Manual of Buddhism is very much like Dogen's Kukan zazen gi. What are your views about that?
Dark Zen: I can't agree in principle. First, Dogen Fukan zazen gi is pretty much a copy of an earlier Chinese work. Dogen says nothing original at all. In his Fukan zazen gi, there is no treatment of 'parimukhasati', that is, 'recollecting the thoroughly antecedent'. In other words, that the beginner is supposed to strive to be anterior to the in and out breath in nowhere mentioned in the Fukan zazen gi. And compared with the Chinese meditation manuals such as the Tso-ch'an i, and others, The Authorized Dark Zen Meditation Manual of Buddhism is far superior.
Dark Zen: We have become the bad guys I guess. Some believe we are cult although we don't have even a tent in which to meet. So those who might substantially commit to our path are lacking in any meaningful numbers. I guess we are both feared and respected. But in the end we will triumph regardless of cash flow [laughing].
Interviewer: It is puzzling why people don't contribute more to your cause, if I may call it that. I have tried Dark Zen Meditation and that it actually works. I can feel a little surge of that light of which you speak. It surprised me when I first noticed it after doing this meditation for months. One day while driving back from work, I got it. It felt like a small magnetic field around the upper part of my body. What is it like with you?
Dark Zen: I sense it much more. I guess that is the difference. It never leaves me. It's like a powerful magnetic field which is always around me. As I assimilate into it, it grows stronger, overshadowing my physical body. From this I can draw a number of inferences the most profound of which is that this light is free from the physical dimension of this body. If I follow it I shall, too, free myself from the body. This is the real meaning of nirvana.
Interviewer: That is too much for me to think about [laughing]. I must confess that this is over my head. But I know that Dark Zen Meditation showed me something unexpected that I had no idea I would find. Can other people sense your power, if I may ask?
Dark Zen: They can. But these people are spiritual human beings-not craven humans who are pledged to materialism and spiritual blindness. I am reminded of a passage in the Christian Gospel of John which says, "And the light shone in the darkness and the darkness apprehended it not."
And so it is with these lightless ones-these materialists of our world who will cause the ruin of all. Oh-let me say this. This is not to say that on one side we have the light and on the other materialism. This is wrong. The material is only an image of this light.
There is no actual spatial separation between the two. We, as fundamentally light or the same, pure will, upon seeing this image become beguiled by it. After that, we come to fear it, trying to manipulate it which is now our body and the outer world our body faces. The only difference between those who sense the light and those who live in darkness is that those who cling to the darkness fear the light.
Interviewer: That, for some reason, reminds me of the movie out now called, The Return of the King, which is based on Tolkien's novel, Lord of the Rings. The people who follow the evil Sauron only want darkness. Didn't the Buddha divide people into aryans and the profane essentially saying that those who are aryan follow the light and those who are profane follow the evil one, Mara, who is like Sauron?
Dark Zen: Yes he did. Let me say that Tolkien's ideas are very Buddhist, although if he were alive he would never admit to it [laughing]. I know he was a Christian. Then of course, Paul's letters are very Buddhist in my opinion-so what is the significant difference between the two is anybody's guess. I find the whole Tolkien trilogy very moving. The movies, too, are very enchanting and profound as well. We need this kind of art. It inspires our youth to become spiritual warriors and not materialists. We all need to throw the One Ring of materialism back into the fire where in belongs, in the Mountain of Fire in the Land of Shadow [laughing]. I think Dark Zen Meditation is the key for doing this. It proves beyond a doubt that we have been beguiled by Mara and Sauron too long [laughing]. When we first experience the light something tells us things today are evil-that there are many Orcs out there [laughing].
Dark Zen: The Lord of the Rings movies by Peter Jackson were awe inspiring. All who participated in the movie put their hearts into it. My hat is off to everyone who helped put this epic on the screen. For our youth it offered inspiration that it is time to throw materialism back into Mount Doom. And for us crotchety old spiritual warriors of the past [laughing] it gave us faith that not everybody is stark raving mad.
Dark Zen: I think so. I am somewhat of a believer in Sheldrake's morphic field theory. If you don't know what that means, it can be liked to an invisible matrix which stores each and every pattern of action which gives rise to phenomena. If what you put into this matrix is garbage, that is what you get phenomenalized eventually. Presently, we are dumping lots of garbage into this matrix which in Buddhism we call the Alaya. I firmly believe that Dark Zen Meditation can change the course of our decline by adding a new energy and vigor to what is now a matrix of decadence. But to be effective we must believe that the present world can be changed; and that its evil can be curtailed.
Interviewer: I am curious. What do you mean by a matrix of decadence?
Dark Zen: Decadence occurs when all begins to lose its vitality. The very principle of life begins to ebb away. Insanity and illness begin to make significant inroads into our very way of life so that this is all we are concerned with as a people. As a consequence, we become a nation of care givers and sick people in which nobody is healthy. Religion, too, fails. It becomes a dead history in which faith is replaced by hope and mere belief. In other words, religion loses its ground.
Interviewer: But isn't god a ground?
Dark Zen: No. The word god is just a semantic place holder for our subjective consciousness. This is not a ground. God is a metaphor for the subject. It is an extreme abstraction. Buddhism, on the other hand, is grounded on the will.
We connect with the pure will, distinguishing it from it phenomenalizations. We understand that all is intrinsically the content of will called, Cittamatra in Sanskrit. From this, we ground our terminology upon our discovery of the pure will. Samsara, for example, is our will striving for fulfillment but never finding it because it is chasing after its own creations which only lead to more discontent and more blind striving.
Interviewer: Okay I get it. Your meditation is designed to help us find this ground which your call pure will before it turns into phenomena. Okay, that makes a lot of sense. God, by comparison, is just a word which has no reference to anything except the subject. But why is this meditation so difficult to understand and accomplish?
Dark Zen: Because we are taught from birth to follow the creations of will, including thoughts and ideas. We are like a great and powerful king who, spending too much time with his subjects, forgets he is a king. Because of this, the kingdom goes to ruin if he cannot awaken.
This is my gripe with materialism which is anti-religious. It dooms us to endless samsara. Materialism makes us slaves to phenomenalizations of will. As a result, we become dense and ignorant. We refuse to listen to the sages who tell us otherwise, that phenomena are empty and the cause of suffering. In fact, we attack the sages being, ourselves, unable to come into communion with the pure will. What is more, materialism makes its way into Buddhism. We soon find teachers teaching materialism.
Interviewer: Who are these Buddhist teachers?
Dark Zen: Any Buddhist teacher who tells you that Buddhism rejects an absolute; teaches insubstantiality and emptiness as ends. Ask yourself, "What is the purpose of meditation to these teachers?" This will expose just how hollow they are. For such teachers, meditation is just learning how to relax and accept your anxieties and your eventual erasure in death. That is pretty depressing in my book. It smacks of radical pessimism. On the other hand, Dark Zen meditation helps us access the Buddhic light. From there it is possible to pass on to the undying realm.
Interviewer: I agree that the central purpose of Buddhism is seeking the absolute and that meditation is its means. If teachers teach that there is no absolute, there really doesn't have to be meditation. What is its point?
Dark Zen: That is my question, too. For modern Buddhism meditation often becomes a ritual. It leads, at best, to learning how to relax yourself. But it falls short of the goal of original Buddhism. For the Buddha and his followers meditation accessed higher worlds and eventually the absolute. How then can Buddhism be about insubstantiality and emptiness?
Dark Zen: Let me say that we are reaching a crises of sensory overstimulation in our culture seeing an increase, for example, in attention deficit disorder problems among children and adults. There needs to be a sensory fast. The average person needs to minimize the sensory input to their bodies. It is too much. This means turning off the cellular phones, TVs, the music, the simulation games, and anything else that can overload the senses.
This includes lighting, too. Subdue it. Use lower wattage light bulbs. Stop taking the car to work, also. Use public transportation. Anybody who does this will notice that in only a few hours their concentration will increase. If this is continued, they may notice that they will begin thinking more profound thoughts. If this sounds like too much, maybe do this fast once a week. Just let me say something about our national problem with obesity in regard to this. Not only are we externally overstimulated, but our organs are overstimulated by eating too much.
In addition, we are sexually overstimulated where now impotency is a problem. If the average person can't cut back on the need for heavy amounts of sensory stimulation, they need to seriously worry about their mental health and their physical health. As I look around me I see people who unconsciously want their senses to be bombarded. They are sensation addicts They can't sit still, appreciating the silence around them. They have to be on their cell phone, or doing something like eating or shopping. It is a frightening development for our nation's psyche to be in this shape.
Interviewer: Sense this crisis might have a more adverse impact on our youth what would you recommend they do to spiritualize themselves?
Dark Zen: Two suggestions come to mind. First, read philosophy. And second, do a lot of hiking. Philosophy helps see through the malarkey of bad views which any society tries to instill in its youth to make them become obedient slaves. A people who claim to love freedom must also love freeing themselves from wrong views which exploit the very foundations of freedom. This is part of what of philosophy is about. Our founding fathers read philosophy and did away with monarchy.
Next, a lot of hiking is a form of meditation. It serves to clear one's head of the impressions put there by the modern artificial landscape which psychically pollutes the capacity to see one's Buddha nature. The gas stations, the liquor stores, the hideous malls, and the noxious freeways can't stand up to beauty of a waterfall or a pristine ocean beach. What I am saying, is get back to a simple life. If our youth don't rebel against modern pollutions they will become consumer zombies who eventually will be, themselves, consumed. The excellence of the Buddha's spiritual path cannot be reached by corrupted minds.
Interviewer: Are there other ways for the average person besides what you've touched on so far?
Interviewer: Are you kidding
Dark Zen: No, not in the least. Long ago Native Americans discovered the benefits of healing the senses by reducing the amount of simulation they would normally receive. The used the sweat lodge to achieve this. Even the ancient Greeks did almost the same thing. They went into dark silent caves to heal. Solitude is very important if we are to heal ourselves as beginners before we get serious about meditation. But anybody can do it. That is the beauty.
Stay in a dark room for a while. Or soak in your bathtub turning out the lights. When the old cravings and patterns no longer interest us, that is a good indication that solitude therapy is working. I used to meditate in an old abandoned copper mine. Talk about dark and isolated [laughing]. But what an amazing effect it had upon my psyche. I noticed that my reasoning improved. It was easy to break old habits.
I could even reprogram myself to a certain extent. I can remember looking forward to meditating in the mine. I think when the outer environment is as non-sensory as can possibly be, the body and the nervous system try to follow it. As a result, the body undergoes an amazing change. In studies I have read about Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (R.E.S.T.) the benefits are truly astonishing. Mental illness, cigarette smoking and other like disorders seem to fall by the wayside when therapeutic solitude is used.
Interviewer: This is really fascinating. I especially like your theory about the body following the outer environment and becoming like it, for better or for worse. In Dark Zen Meditation can you say the same thing, that the body is trying to conform to the Buddhic light?
Dark Zen: Yes. Well put. If we are in a world of sensory overloading-something happens to our body and nervous system. And it is not good. On the other hand, if we live quietly, hike in the mountains, learn to use solitude, something good happens to our body and nervous system. With Dark Zen Meditation when you access the Buddhic light, something really good happens. One transcends all possible suffering and its rebirth.
http://www.darkzen.org/Articles/meditationQA.htm Interviewer: This seems like a good time to end the interview. Thank you so much.