Apr. 15, 2007

Time to Play Nicely Children

The comments coming into this blog have descended to a level where a reader has to wade through screenfuls of nasty insults and vague threats to find the few gems where someone has actually said something meaningful and sensible.

Barry has suggested that I do something about it. I've gone a step further than his idea of disallowing anonymous posting; I've enabled "comment moderation" so that I will now preview postings before publication.

Hopefully this will be a temporary measures until the trouble-makers mend their ways or go away and find another forum to vent their spleen. I don't really like the idea of moderated comments, which is too much like censorship.

You are still free to disagree with me or with each other; but address ideas not personalities.

Here are the new rules;

Any post will be deleted which;

1. Is an ad hominem attack or insult
2. Constitutes "hate speech"
3. Contains threatening language

If these types of posts stop coming in, I'll go back to unmoderated comments.


Anonymous said...

Yes Barry, you are correct, but the topic was of other realms, Hell in particular, and while these states are impermanent their impermanence can be a decidedly long and tedious impermanence that appears to go on forever unless one is fortunate enough to come across The Buddha’s teachings (which as you pointed out are founded upon sila).

In talking about different realms, there is a tendency for people to think in terms of separate worlds, like life on some other mystical planet. The existing karma and further karma production of a being (or ignorance) affects the perception of that being, as if looking through a dirty, discoloured and scratched lens.

Thus, these realms exist only as levels of perception, which, through karma, in turn determines the form (body) of a being and to a certain extent the type of karma they will experience. They are in fact impure and ignorant levels of perception (even the nicest of them), which we come to know as samsara, and cease to exist in a pure mind.

As for Hell, it is all around us, just look at some of the things that beings experience in this world of ours. Some of the images coming out of Iraq depict the suffering of an impermanent Hell, and there are places in most towns and cities where you can find impermanent hungry ghosts and occasionally one might meet a being who is a temporary demon. The House of Karma (your local hospital) probably has many beings experiencing, or have experienced, what it is like to be in Hell.

The next time we walk down the street we should not simply assume that everyone is a regular human being just because they look as if they are. Birth and death in the mind are moment to moment, unless one makes an effort to become simply the skilful observer.

Barry said...

I agree 100% with your post and I particularly like the decsription of altered perception being like seeing through damaged lenses.

I can recall when I first heard a Dhamma Talk. It was a talk given by a very famous Ajahn who is still resident in the UK. I had never seen people like this before, the robes, the shaved heads, indeed not only the Ajahn but his whole retinue had an air about them that was just mesmerisingly unlike anything I had ever encountered. They put me in mind of those creatures on an old episode of 'Star Trek', the ones with the enormous extended shaved heads who didn't communicate with their mouths but with their minds! As I think of it I believe these creatures also wore the same coloured robes as worn by Forest Monks.

But what struck me above all else was when the Ajahn spoke I didn't understand him. It was like picking up a foreign radio station but the tuning keeps fading in and out. I had to tune in in a different way to pick up what he was saying. I can recall thinking 'what the hell is this man saying?' but when I tuned in the strangest thing was I felt like he was describing my own life but he was using a language to do so that didn't come out of the proliferating mind but from somewhere else. I was amazed. I was staggered by the experience. I'd taken it to be my life. The language was completely unlike anything I had ever encountered. He knew every nuance of my experience. He had been everywhere I had ever been, done everything I'd done but he had found a way to leave it. He was the path sitting right there in front of me. I was completely speechless. I was getting a calling card from another realm entirely. It is still mysterious and virtually impossible to describe. It was like my heart had been a prisoner in a dark cell for a lifetime and suddenly someone spoke down there and said 'you can be free'! What I thought was necessary in life immediately became redundant. Long held views and opinions were like discarded children's toys. I wanted to know what language it was that the Ajahn was using and where I could learn it! I went about it like a total worldling as if I was looking for a bargain in the shops!
But I looked anyway.
You said "Thus, these realms exist only as levels of perception, which, through karma, in turn determines the form (body) of a being and to a certain extent the type of karma they will experience." So something turned, something changed to bring me out on a Friday evening in winter to listen to the Ajahn. I had no terms of reference to explain that except perhaps the Christian expression, 'grace'.

So situations can change, orientations can alter and that is where the emphasis - for me - is best placed. I read Chogyam Trungpa's 'Spiritual Materialism' and he gives a brilliant analysis of these realms (from a Mahayana position)and I found them very useful for recognising mind states. But his analysis is surprisingly weak on how to overcome these states. Sadly for him.
You said "Birth and death in the mind are moment to moment, unless one makes an effort to become simply the skilful observer." Well this is the heart of it isn't it, the becoming? This strikes me as THE point, the way we live through heedlessness entombing ourselves in new head trips, new births. There is a discreet difference between knowing this intellectually and seeing it directly. One leads back to the realms of birth and death, and the other to freedom. But isn't it amazing, wonderful, when the heart learns to put something down and not become?

Anonymous said...

It is about time to moderate the comments.

It was not pleasent to participate and comment when most of the comments are lenghful but not relevant at all.

Yuttadhammo said...


Thanks for your blog and your unwaivering liberality. I've met you before in TO, but you probably don't remember me. Anyway, it's nice to have another Theravada monk blog to use as a guide for my own work; personally, I've moderated posts from the beginning, to avoid both spam and of course the posts you are now dealing with. It'll be interesting to see what will happen with this.

For me, the blog was never meant to be an open forum, and I even once removed someone's long "comment" trying to explain to me how the Buddha really taught a self. I don't think it serves the purpose of a Buddhist weblog to be a forum for the proliferation of kilesa and wrong view, and if a comment is not simply a comment, I don't think it deserves to be in the comments section. But these are just my opinions, and I don't think the topics on my blog are nearly as controversial as yours :)

Other than that, wishing you all the best in your work.