The End of the World is at Hand!
Take a look, friends, Armageddon is upon us! The Kingdom of Heaven is Before you!
Can you, sitting there in your cross-leg Indian-style posture, look out on the world and not see that it is a slaughter-house? Millions upon millions upon millions of living beings are dying off every single day! Everything is crumbling before your very eyes. Those that struggle to rebuild, rebuild on a landslide.
There Is Salvation, but it is not Here or There, it is in not being Here or There.
Life is the Door to Liberation,
And the Gate to Hell,
Be Careful, therefore, My Friends,
On which side of it you dwell.
Work on it, My Friends, like a man in a House on Fire.
Someone remarked that this was an unusual post for me and for BuddhaDust. Not at all!
Read The All again!
One time I was living in New York, towards the end of my sentence there.
During most of my time in this particular apartment I had a table made from a huge round slab of white marble. I used to describe to people what the difference between Buddhism and other religions was by moving my hand around the circumference of the table, saying: 'This is the World. Everything you can conceive of in any form whatsoever is in This World. In other religions you go from one part of this world to another part of this world, but here, (and here I would point to the individual I was speaking to) is Nibbāna."
There is no question about it, during this time I was, by all ordinary measures of sanity, a total looney-bin. I was near death from starvation and looked like someone out of Auschwitz at the end of WWII. I had painted my walls with images of flames all round, intersperced with sayings: "Now is the Time!" "Fat is Death wrapped Round You." "Psychiatry is a Symptom of the Very Disease it Perports to Cure." and many others. And the table had lost it's iron pedistal and was sitting on some bricks on the floor. The electricity had been turned off long ago, and for light at night there were candles on the table spilling off their wax all over the World.
Then one night there came to that place an individual, for all appearances the perfect image of Jesus Christ. Standing, looking down at The World and over at the walls, he asked, pointing: 'Why all the Flames?" And I answered:
What is the all?
The Eye and Sights
The Ear and Sounds
The Nose and Scents
The Tongue and Tastes
The Body and Touches
The Mind and Ideas.
The Eye, Friend, is in Flames!
Sights, Friend are in Flames!
The Ear, Friend, is in Flames!
Sounds, Friend, are in Flames!
The Nose and Scents, the Tongue and Tastes, The Body and Touches, The Mind and Ideas, All, Friend, are in Flames!
Inflamed with what?
Inflamed with the flames of lust
Inflamed with the flames of anger
Inflamed with the flames of aging, sickness and death
Grief and Lamentation,
Pain and Misery,
And at that this person was exceedingly pleased, and we both knew that at that time we had heard a real sound in this world.
If you have read Castenada you will recall from the description of the table, Don Juan's description of the Nagual. One of the reasons I continue to recommend Castenada's books is that even though I think Don Juan fell short of the goal, what he did do was walk it like he talked it. This is not a system where one will make much headway sitting around reading suttas. Reading Castenada, what do you imagine is going on during all those descriptions of Carlos being scared to death, being so frightened at times he shits his pants? Being afraid of Death at every turn. Castenada is describing things that happen when you actually put the teaching into practice.
How many of you have tried to stop killing animals altogether?
Another time in New York, I made an attempt to stop killing animals altogether. Anyone who has lived in New York knows about cockroaches. Give them a few months of complete freedom in your apartment and the whole world looks different. I still get a kick out of imagining what is going on in the minds of my neighbors who seeing the situation from the outside, see a man opening his window a hundred times a day to shake out an apparently empty paper coffee cup. (You trap them under the cup, slide a piece of cardboard under, and throw them out.)
Here's another one: The Fire
Read this and ask yourself what is going on here that 60 bhikkhus would throw up hot blood and sixty others would resign from the order while 60 attained Arahantship.
Droning out words?
I don't think so.
These men saw an eye looking at them during this that saw right down into the depths of their hearts.
That line about working at this like a man in a burning house is not my line, that is the Buddha's line...what do you think? Is he just saying this to flap his lips? Or do you think you are such a master of this situation you are in that you are in no danger? Let me tell you if you think that, or if you are behaving as though this was just words being spoken to move air around, then you have not understood this system and you are not behaving in a way that has made you safe.
Get cracking, my friends, this life is but a 'tween-thoughts' and is over faster than you can snap your fingers.
One time the Buddha was in need of a period of complete solitude to re-charge his batteries. During three months the only contact he had was with Ānanda and that only so that Ānanda could bring him a meal once a day.
Previous to this The Buddha had usually recommended the meditation on the Foulness of the Body (see: Satipatthana, The Bean Peddler). While the Buddha was in retreat a great number of Bhikkhus, meditating on the foulness of the body, taking the teaching seriously, saw the foulness of the body and were driven mad being trapped in the foul thing. These "took the knife" (meaning killed themselves). I read that some 500 killed themselves during this time.
When the Buddha emerged from his retreat he looked around and said to Ānanda: "The Order looks somewhat diminished, Ānanda." and Ānanda explained the situation to him and requested: "Please! Give the Bhikkhus some other idea on which to meditate."
Without hesitation the Buddha uttered his famous: "This paying attention to in and out breathing, Ānanda, is of great fruit, is of great profit. Let the Bhikkhus meditate on in and out breathing."
And that was that.
What do you think is going on here? What can we see from the outside? Here is a man who has not swerved off course even to the degree of an eye-blink, even at the loss of 500 individuals! This is a graphic demonstration of the importance of sticking to the course! Nothing can be done about those 500 who took a wrong turn. This was not the Buddha's fault; it was the lack of vision of these Beggars; there is no basis for regret, remorse, guilt, there is no use to or time for feelings of loss. The important issue is what is to be done right here and now, for those on track right here and now. There is no time to waste. It is that important.
It is a common myth that the Buddha did not speak about the origin or the end of the world. Here is a sutta that shows that he did just that.
What is happening is that there is confusion about the way the Buddha answers various questions.
Western philosophers (and their cousins the physicists) like to try and find/prove the existence of a "First Cause" or Ultimate beginning to the world (not that any of them have ever succeeded, but they keep on trying). Here you can see that the beginning of the world is seen by Buddhists as something that is just one phase of a continuous repetitive cycle.
When the discussion is put in terms of "Ultimate Existance," the answer is in fact given, but again is not in the form of the positive statement Western Philosophers want to hear, but in the form of "It is not this, it is not that, it is that when this is, that becomes, when this ends, that ends." And the first "cause" in this formula (the paticca samuppada) is usually given as "avijja" or "blindness" (not seeing the paticca samuppada or the Four Truths)...but this is a convenience only and should be understood not as describing a first cause, but as a "bottom line" basic reason for the coming to be of Dukkha.
When pressed as to the cause of Ignorance, the Buddha gives "Tanha," but states that that is not without causes.
All this is not being coy, it is the admission on his part (he states it in so many words: "The Ultimate Beginnings of things is not to be seen, beggars, so long have we, bound by thirsts and delusion, been running round this run-around.") that he does not know. But what he does say is what makes him The Elder, the Buddha, the Number One Wide Awakened One, is that this is unimportant (worse, a waste of time) in the face of what it is that is driving people to seek such knowledge in the first place: the fact of Pain and the desire to bring that pain to an end. What he says straight out he is doing is responding to that need; and the response to that need is to present the process described by the paticca samuppada as the cause (no ultimate here) of pain and that by understanding that, and by following the logical conslusions based on perceiving the truth of that, to bring pain to an end.
So on many grounds it is not correct to say that the Buddha does not respond to or deal with these issues.