#archive George Saunder’s Graduation Speech

4 08 2013

Don’t read further if you don’t want the spoiler. I thought of using the blog/tagging format to keep track of the important stuff I read. You can read the full article here.

Each of us is born with a series of built-in confusions that are probably somehow Darwinian. These are: (1) we’re central to the universe (that is, our personal story is the main and most interesting story, the only story, really); (2) we’re separate from the universe (there’s US and then, out there, all that other junk – dogs and swing-sets, and the State of Nebraska and low-hanging clouds and, you know, other people), and (3) we’re permanent (death is real, o.k., sure – for you, but not for me).

Now, we don’t really believe these things – intellectually we know better – but we believe them viscerally, and live by them, and they cause us to prioritize our own needs over the needs of others, even though what we really want, in our hearts, is to be less selfish, more aware of what’s actually happening in the present moment, more open, and more loving.

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“Kill the Buddha”

25 05 2013

I was listening to Alan Watt’s On Time and Death when he quoted the following.

Followers of the Way [of Zen], if you want to get the kind of understanding that accords with the Dharma, never be misled by others. Whether you’re facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it! If you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. If you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go. – Linji Yixuan, Chinese Zen Proponent

I think this comes from a perspective of challenging one’s own internal idolatry, which can come in many forms. As a non-believer it is crucial to stay alert and check if one is worshipping other, less conventional Sacred Cows. Happy Vesak/Buddha Purnima.