Thoughts On A Spiritual Practice of Transformation and Transcendence

16 Jun

A spiritual practise means transcending the cognitive patterns that create our ordinary reality. As I discuss in my book, The Buddha’s Radical Psychology: Explorations, one must see through the conventional dualistic dichotomy of the relativistic subject/ object consciousness to welcome the original unity of the Buddha Mind or Original Mind and let it unveil itself into one’s awareness without our wanting or trying to analyse or grasp it. As one unveils and allows the primal unity, which is the background for the myriad foreground cognitive constructions -including that of the ‘I’, me, mine- one finds the true actuality of their humanness which is the pure, undistorted consciousness of the luminous, awakened mind.

When identifying oneself with the ‘I’ and the other multitude of identifications, one’s world is constantly vulnerable to the self-induced tensions created by the perpetually  alternating cognitive pairs of opposites – like/dislike, good/bad, fortunate/unfortunate and so on. When one first intuitively communes with the Buddha Mind, there begins a transcendence of one’s perspective from the subject/object constructed ‘I’. In so, one begins to realize the blessedness inherent in the emptiness of the Buddha Mind where every contradiction is resolved and space/time reality loses its authority. By discovering the Original Mind something decisive happens. Gone is the dependence on the external sense based world which had been regarded as the sole reality and in which the ‘I’ floundered never finding a satisfying worldly foundation or ground and, also, where one’s emotions remain entangled, constantly fluctuating and stressed. Gradually, the world anchored in the ‘I’ becomes recognized as an illusion and remains an illusion as long as it persists as an absolute character. Instead, representing an advanced mature ego stage, is the ego consciousness of the Original Mind -the Emptiness. This stage is only available to one who regards the subjective ‘I’ reality has a mere illusion and one lets go of it. Once the illusion ceases to be the substantive reality, it is understood as the mechanism of cognitive manifestation. Then the relative, subjective ‘I’ reality becomes transparent, and the Original Mind is unveiled. The complete lifting of this illusion becomes the ultimate goal as one progresses on the inner way. The mature person then constantly perceives the Original Mind behind all of their and others cognitively constructed world, like the refraction of light in the prism. By transcending the structure and patterns of ordinary consciousness and breaking through the illusionary patterns of the usual rational consciousness, a person can become one again ‘seeing’ the Original Mind.

 

While on the practical side, learning to acquire skills and knowledge to successfully thrive within the space/time worldly existence is necessary,but if one’s practice  merely enhances and strengthens the worldly ego, all possibility to transcend the ‘I’ obsession is doomed to failure. While living with ease in the world is indeed a benefit of an integration with the Buddha Mind, this is not a primary aim of practice. Instead, the goal of the transcendental is to overcome the illusion of the dichotomous objective and subjective consciousness and the unveiling of the original unity into one’s awareness without wanting or trying to rationalize and grasp it. Right training in the Middle Way is undertaken only in the service of rediscovering the Original Mind. For, if one’s trainings are directed only toward enhancing their egotistic relation and success in the world, that merely strengthens a person’s illusionary autonomy which serves to only increases one’s estrangement from the Original Mind and the universal truths understood from that perspective. What keeps one alienated from the Original Mind consists not only in being fettered by psychological complexes; the rigidity of habitual cognitive patterns, and debilitating physical propensities but also by the infatuation and dominance of that illusionary point of view. So any renewal is achieved through the transformation of the whole person and this implies not only an intellectual and spiritual conversion but also the transformation of the body and its posture and movements.

 

The suffering of humans is created because humankind is blinded by their exclusive preoccupation with the dominant world of space/ time and the accompanying illusionary created cognitive manifestations. Instead, with the Original Mind, one comprehends an existence beyond the misconception of the cognitively created world of space and time. This is the way to maturity, the way that yields benefits in proportion to one’s success in integrating with the Original Mind. The obstacles on the inward way are the very cognitive structures of a person’s unexamined consciousness which have complete control of the person’s life experience. The door that opens the experience of the Original Mind is available when the domination of the ‘I’ with it’s companion subject/object perspective is transformed and one’s unfettered consciousness breaks through and contacts the Original Mind- the interbeing of life then becomes understood.

 

Quotes by Rodger Ricketts

2 May

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Developing a Happier Life – 10 Steps to Help

28 Sep

Hand drawing unhappy and happy smileys on blackboard

 

10 Steps to a Happier Life.

Developing and leading a happier life is not only focusing on what and how you are adding to your life but also what you need to reduce or eliminate. Below are 10 important guidelines for a happier life.

1.      Control of actions and speech to avoid actions that create unnecessary conflict and regret.

2.     Not associating with immature egotistical people; not allowing ourselves to be adversely influenced by them.

3.     Proficiency in one’s work. Using and improving the skills we possess to better life for ourselves and others.

4.     Honest business pursuits, free from inherent disrespect to employers, employees and customers. A wholesome occupation that one does well and enjoys.

5.     Doing acts of responsible generosity. Giving is a source of happiness for both giver and receiver.

6.    To cherish one’s family. To support through wise and kind behaviors one’s parents, children, partner and extended family either in the biological sense or also a community of friends and colleagues.

7.      Living one’s life in an unreproachable respectful way which eliminates shame, guilt, and one has nothing to hide, nothing to regret.

8.    Gratefulness and humility. Remember fondly all the people in your life who have supported and helped you.

9.    Contentment. Do not constantly seek new stimulations and objects.

10. Refraining from doing or allowing behaviors that are disrespectful and unkind to your self/body or others.

 These are 10 important guidelines that if not already followed will create a happier life. Can you think of more?

11. Another important aspect for a happier life is – Not to consume substances likely to poison my body and in a way that they distort my sensibilities and deprive me of my self-control and powers of judgment; such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and so on .

“Why are you unhappy? Because 99.9 percent of everything you think, and of everything you do, is for yourself—and there isn’t one.”― Wei Wu Wei

28 Sep

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These are two paragraphs from my almost finished book- Realizing our Original Mind. ‘While the self seems real and substantial, our dis-identification practice helps us remember that it consists of only evolving and impermanent patterns in the mind and brain. The self exists in the way that memory allows it to exist. However, like all physical biological processes, it’s existence is transient and illusionary, and thus it is foolish to cling to it. To quote Rick Hanson, ‘Whatever of self there is in the brain, it is compounded and distributed, not coherent and unified; it is variable and transient, not stable and enduring. In other words, the conventional notion of self is a mythical creature.’ When we come to understand that the representations of self are only fictional, which we author and what they represent does not substantially exist, we then can start taking our ‘self’, as the expression goes, ‘with a grain of salt’ or not literally. So, for us to do that, and this is a revolutionary and very important discovery, our mind needs to be trained with some prolonged disciplined practice. The more we study how our mind and brain are intertwined, the more we can use the mind to change the brain, which then supports our future mind. Neuropsychology supports the idea that we have the freedom and possibility to condition and create our particular mind states supported by our nurtured brain structures.

So in the end, after the gradual ripening of the maturation and transformation of our habits, latent tendencies, dis-identification with the subjective ownership of experience, calming and stabilizing our physiology and behavior in our life patterns, we no longer respond immaturely or egotistically to our desires and aversions. Does that mean we become emotionless and detached automatons? No, just the opposite. Instead, we develop the perspective and ability to remain stable, balanced, not susceptible to the quirky ups and downs of our immature selfish emotions and wants. Even for the most accomplished meditator strong emotions can arise, when they do they are observed with the acceptance and objectivity of mindfulness and the stability of equanimity. While emotions can have an impact, it is only momentarily or at best a short time before the stability of calm and dispassion evaporate them away. Through the transformative process, there becomes a greater awareness and respect for our body, serenity of the emotions, increased kindness of the heart, flexible and realistic attitudes, more genuine human relationships growing out of a deeper awareness of our affinity with the web of life and a relinquishing of the Great Poisons of greed, anger and ignorance. We learn not only how to proceed anew but also importantly what we can simplify and do without.’ Look for publication in November, 2016.

 

INTERDENDENCE of Humans and Nature: We Are One

21 Jul

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As I have written in my newest book- The Buddha’s Radical Psycholohy: Explorations, there are direct implications for ecological ethics throughout the Buddha’s teachings. There is a holism. The Buddha emphasized the interdependence of human and non-human life, the importance of the ecosystem and of natural processes. By rejecting the concept of a substantial ‘self’, and comprehension of the interdependency of all phenomena, the importance of the distinction we usually make between ourselves and other living beings lessens. Such an attitude views the world as a vast interdependent field, in which no life form, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is an outsider. There is a state of connectedness and interdependence of all phenomena. The significant realization that there is no independent ‘self’– that the perception of ‘self’, of ‘me’, of ‘mine’ is only an egotistical representation, therefore leads every person to inter-dependently co-exist. Undercutting the usual ignorant anthropomorphic view of the validity of the successful domination and control of the environment by humans, naturalist Aldo Leopold claimed that, ‘The biotic (life factor) mechanism is so complex that its working may never be fully understood.’ There is a deeper ecology that recognises the inherent worth of other beings aside from their utility.

Another writer who expressed a similar deep view of ecology was R.G.H. Siu:

‘The term Ecology, as used locally, does not have the connotation of the “environment” as used in America. There is no separation of man and his environment; rather there is a fusion of man and his environment. Ecology represents the study of the ecological entity as a whole. When a given ecological complex appears unfavourable from the standpoint of man, for example, he does not have a prior claim to adjustment on the part of the other elements of the complex. The others have just as much “right” to demand modification of his behaviour as he has on theirs. All are one in Nature. There is an appreciation of this Oneness and the delicate interrelationships of its diffusions.’

So humans are not an isolated island in a sea of existence, but rather their being is shared ultimately with all. This becomes a clear and apparent relationship with all existence through the Buddha’s teaching of anatta.

‘A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer’s hand.’ Probably the Best Argument for Gun Control.

18 Jun

A famous quote of Roman politician Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4Bc-65 AD) is ‘A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer’s hand.’ This quote simply states a simple truth of basic physics. An object at rest remains at rest until acted on by an outside force. A sword, sitting there, doing nothing, will not kill anyone. The same goes for guns or any other item that can cause death. None of them have any intent to cause harm, that is what the human adds to the equation. Only humans have intent, only humans can kill and the fact of the matter is they have been killing since pre-historical times and it is naive to think they will automatically stop for no particular reason. The inanimate objects are merely tools in the hands of a killer. As long as people have ignorance and unwholesome thoughts and intentions, and succumb to them, they will use tools to kill others. So since society cannot nor should constantly monitor the state of mind or intentions of its citizens (Brave New World), the most potent and catastrophic tools for killing ( i.e. assault weapons/bombs/etc.) must be restricted for the government to maintain a stable and safe society for its citizens.

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What Is your Newest Book About?

9 Jun

Since I first posted about the publication of my newest Book- The Buddha’s Radical Psychology: Explorations, I have had numerous inquirers asking about the content of the book. I thought the quickest look at the book contents would be to list the Table of Contents. Good reading!

The Buddha’s Radical Psychology: Explorations

Contents

Preface…xi

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

Chapter 2 Self/No-Self 7

Chapter 3 Self as Construction 23

Chapter 4 The Human Being as a Collective, Unified Unit 35

Chapter 5 Awakening and Enlightenment: Psychological Transformation and Transcendence 61

Chapter 6 Enlightenment: Reality, Actuality and Transcendence 73

Chapter 7 Knowing and Not Knowing – What is Possible? 81

Chapter 8 The General Doctrine of the Law of Dependent Co-arising 99

Chapter 9 Kamma 109

Chapter 10 Sense of Agency 119

Chapter 11 Agency Labelled as Self 129

Chapter 12 Dividing Existence – Duality 143

Chapter 13 Language Construction of Duality 163

Chapter 14 Identification 181

Chapter 15 The Buddha’s Compassion 197

Chapter 16 Memory 207

Chapter 17 The Unconscious 227

Chapter 18 Habits 243

Chapter 19 Cognitive Biases 253

Chapter 20 Meta-cognition and Mindfulness 267

Chapter 21 Automatic Influences on our Actions and Perceptions 277

Chapter 22 Organisms as Coherent Embedded Systems 299

Chapter 23 Happiness 379

Chapter 24 The World without a ‘Self’ 391

Chapter 25 Closing Thoughts 405

Appendix A Explanation of the effects of stress on the different systems of the human body 411

Appendix B Special experiences 415

About the Author

Rodger R. Ricketts, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist and mindfulness meditation teacher. He has been studying Buddhism for over thirty years, both as part of his own personal quest and also in the application its principles as a therapeutic tool in psychotherapy. He has written three books exploring the foundation of the Buddha’s Teaching in psychology. Rodger has given numerous presentations at wellness and professional psychological conferences on the topics of cognitive psychology, mindfulness and wellbeing. Rodger continues his study of both science and Buddhism, and maintains a regular meditation practice.