torsdag 29 december 2011

Sitting










While meditating you don't have to unleash your full potential, live the life of your dreams, fulfill your destiny, awaken the power within, or discover your true self.





















Sit.













Photographs. 1: From St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. 2: Link

söndag 18 december 2011

The Snowman

Merry Christmas, everyone! Here's a very silly Christmas story from us, emptiness-style!






Hello there, Mr Snowman!

Hello, Maker!

How are you? A bit chilly today, isn’t it?

I’m fine, thanks. Yeah, rather cold!

Mr Snowman, let me ask you a personal question. Winter’s over soon. Are you afraid of dying?

Dying, what’s that?

You know. Melting away. Ceasing to exist.

Ah! No, I suppose I’m not.

Why?

Why would I be?

Well, because, when you melt away, that’s the end of your existence.

I think I know what you mean. But, thing is, I don’t really think like that.

What do you mean?

I don’t think that I am a snowman.

But you are.

Maybe to you. Maybe to some others. But I don’t think so. I look at my reflection in an icicle and I see nothing there. And since I don’t see any snowman there, it would be rather strange to assume that I—a snowman—could melt away and die. I mean, what then is there to melt away? So, yeah. That’s kind of how I think!


But you are a snowman. I mean, just look at you. Three balls of snow, a hat, that nice blue scarf, a carrot, and pebbles for eyes — clearly a snowman!

Well, if I am a snowman, when do you think I became one? Any particular point in time?

Yes, of course. When we assembled all the things and put them together.

I see. But at what exact time was I born? If I exist, as you claim since you say you can see me, there must have been a precise time when I was born. So, was it when you put the middle-sized ball of snow on top of the large ball of snow?

No, of course not. Then there was only two balls of snow on top of each other.

Okay, so maybe when you put the smallest snowball, that is, what you call my head, on top of the other two snowballs?

No, Mr Snowman. You didn’t exist at that time. There was just three stacked snowballs. You were born when we put in the carrot and the pebbles. That’s when!

In what order did you put them in?

Uh. I think the pebbles first, and—

—The left one first, or the right?

The right one first, I think.

So when you placed the right pebble into the top smallest snowball, was that when I was born?


I think... No. Then there was just three snowballs and one pebble assembled together.

And when you put in the left pebble, was that when I, the snowman, was born?

Erm... well. Yes, I think so! You were born at that time!

Ah! But what about my nose, the carrot. Didn’t I need that? What about this fancy hat, and the scarf?

No, you can do without those things and still be a snowman.

I see. So, what if you were to remove my left eye right now. Would that make me die?

No, of course not.

But you said I was born at the moment when you inserted the left pebble. Wouldn’t it then be so that if you removed the left pebble which gave birth to me, that left pebble also has the power to make me die?

No. Then you would only be a snowman without a left eye. You would still be alive!


What if you removed the right pebble as well. Would that make me die?

No, no. You would only be a blind snowman!

But how could this be? You said I could not exist when no left pebble where put into the top smallest snowball. And then I started to exist when you put the left pebble in. But now, even though you remove the left pebble so that there is no left pebble, I can still exist? How?


Because now you have your nose, your right eye, your hat, and your scarf as well. I can recognize you as a snowman.

But you’ve said I could exist even without the nose, the right eye, the hat, and the scarf. Since I according to you was born exactly when the left pebble were put in, then I must depend on that one for my existence. Therefore if we go by what you said, we shouldn’t be able to take it away. I would die.

Hmh. But Mr Snowman, it would be crazy to assume that just because you take away the left pebble, you would die!

Yes, that is my point. Just as it, to me, seems a little crazy to assume that I was born exactly when the left pebble was put in. You see, this is one reason why I don’t think that I am a snowman. I just can’t find a moment when I was born. And that’s why I also can’t find a moment when I will die. Because if you’re not born, how could you die?

But how can you even speak to me if you’re not born?

Hmh. Think about, say, monsters in a nightmare. Even though they are not thought of as real, they can still be said to be able to perform functions. Like scaring you, for instance.

I’m not sure I agree with all this!

Haha, nevermind! How about instead of worrying about existence and non-existence we play a winter game together?

onsdag 23 november 2011

God




sick of it whatever it's called, sick of the names
I dedicate every pore to what's here

~ Ikkyu

torsdag 3 november 2011

Love's Follower

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,”  he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

Mark 10:21-24 [Read the full story.]




In meditation we often have a lot on our minds. Either we think highly of ourselves, our achievements, our state of mind. Or, we beat ourselves up about our lack of progress or understanding. In both these cases, there is a latching on to certain beliefs about how things are, or how they are not; how things should be, or how they shouldn't be.

Firmly grasping our beliefs in this manner seems to hinder us from fully doing whatever it is we're currently doing, like our meditation. Or anything. Raking leaves, walking the dog, eating lunch. Instead of simply living the action of the present moment, we are busy trying to manipulate it, by holding on to or pushing it away.

Maybe we could say, that rich is the one firmly attached to beliefs about this or that, whatever it may be. Then to forsake all of one's riches and walk naked into the unknown—that, surely, is an expression of love.



Art: Love and Money, by Dennis Kelly

söndag 9 oktober 2011

Samsara



To be, or not to be ... that is the samsara.







Painting: Link

onsdag 5 oktober 2011

Sunyata

Suppose that you, upon seeing the picture below, didn't immediately think "Ah, that's an X." What then would that thing be?


Just as a fun little experiment, try to look at the picture, without entertaining any preconcieved notions about what it is. (Or what it isn't). Instead, just look simply and without judgement. What do you see?

Now since I asked the question "what do you see?" you will, quite naturally, try to answer it.

Maybe you will say "It's an iris, obviously. Part of the eye. So what?" But as part of the experiment, let that thought gently dissolve, and look again.

Maybe you will say "It's a component of the uveal tract. It contains pigmented cells and muscle and is composed of four layers, namely the anterior border layer, the stroma, the dilator muscle layer and the posterior epithelium." Try to let that thought dissolve, and look again.

Or maybe you will say "It's just a bunch of colours, I guess?" Dissolve, look again.

"It's my mind." Dissolve, look again.

"Isn't it one of those results from the CERN Large Hadron Collider? Or maybe a visual representation of the big bang? A cosmic black hole?" Dissolve, look again.

"It's the totality of existence reflected in one thing due to the mutual containment and interpenetration of all phenomena." Dissolve, look again.

"It's a holon in the upper-right quadrant viewed from a 1st-person perspective in the gross waking state from the Teal stage of consciousness." Dissolve, look again.

"It's a perfect expression of Awareness, God, the Self, Spirit." Dissolve, look again.

"Who the heck cares, anyway? Whatever." Dissolve, look again.

"Ultimately I don't see anything since everything is empty of inherent existence." Dissolve, look again.

"I don't know." Dissolve. Look again.

"What is the meaning of this experiment?" Dissolve.

And look again.



Photograph: Link

torsdag 29 september 2011

Trust


Trust in the LORD with all your heart 
   and lean not on your own understanding
~ Proverbs 3:5






Photograph: Integral Monastery

lördag 17 september 2011

Lost?




"it's logical: if you're not going anywhere
any road is the right one"
~ Ikkyū




Drawing: Link

torsdag 8 september 2011

Apratisthita Nirvana

Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

~ Luke 9:58

The title translates into "non-abiding liberation" and is a consequence of letting go of all views, leaving one in a kind of free fall.

If you want, imagine what it would be like, to have nothing to defend. Nothing at all.


"Sell whatsoever thou hast"


"Although the term "self" is caused to be known of, and although a teaching of "no self" is taught,
No "self" or any "nonself" whatsoever has been taught by the Buddhas.
The designable is ceased when/where the range of thought is ceased,
Nirvana is like phenomenality, unarisen and unstopping. [...]
Devoid of mental construction, without variation, this is the mark of thatness."


~ Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika, 18: 6-10



Photograph: Brooke Shaden, from the band Mint Julep's upcoming album Songs about Snow.

tisdag 23 augusti 2011

Interview with Greg Goode

While most spiritual teachers speaking about nonduality prefer to stick to one language or school of thought, Greg Goode would beg to differ.

This was exactly what deeply impressed me about Greg when I first discovered his website a couple of years ago. Namely his proficiency in, and knowledge of, a very wide range of spiritual and philosophical systems. It doesn’t matter if one is into Advaita and Awareness teachings, Idealism, postmodernism, Buddhist emptiness teachings, Christianity, ancient Greek schools of philosophy, or no teaching at all – it seems Greg always has the capacity to respectfully adjust his language in order to meet people wherever they are.



Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions, Greg! I might start by asking, how come you seem hesitant about settling down with any one philosophical/spiritual/religious system?

What do you mean by settling down?

For instance, in a recent interview — in which you and several other spiritual teachers answered a bunch of questions — you did not speak from the Advaita perspective like you usually do. Instead you chose to answer from the point of view of Buddhist emptiness teachings. Why do you seem to enjoy switching perspectives like this?

I answered those questions as from the emptiness teachings for several reasons. More and more people have been interested in that approach. Also, I really like the emptiness teachings – the first "nondual" insights in my life even as a child were very congruent with the emptiness teachings. And I also thought, let's add a bit of variety to this round-table discussion!

As for perspectives, I don't consider them to be like marriage vows, where you "forsake all others."

And what if someone were to offer you the question, “But which is the true perspective? Surely they can't both be right?” I ask because I know you've also criticised the view that all the different teachings are simply different ways of pointing to the same absolute spiritual truth/experience.

Would "true perspective" mean "the perspective that correctly and accurately describes reality as it is, beyond perspectives?" If so, I'd say that it's an incoherent notion, since one can't ever perform the needed comparison between perspective and a non-perspectival reality. One's access to non-perspectival reality turns out to be an artifact of a perspective after all. The irony is that it naïvely fails to regard itself as a perspective. It takes itself as unmediated apprehension of reality as it is in itself. The perspective defines itself and defines reality so that it turns out that this very perspective happens to get reality just right! So if one believes the pronouncements of this perspective, one might come to regard it as "true," and maybe even exclusively true in a way that makes others false.


Greg's upcoming book
I used to do this for much of my life – I used to see perspectives as being able to represent or be accurate. I call this notion "representationalism" after Richard Rorty. Kicking the representationalist habit is important in nondual inquiry. Sooner or later all nondual teachings get to this in some form or other, whether through inquiry, through love, or by other means.

To feel strongly that various teachings really point to exactly the same pre-existent truth, or that they really point to different truths -- both these alternatives depend on representationalist assumptions. Without these assumptions, the same/different question just doesn't come up.

Thank you for fleshing that out. The reason I'm asking is because the Integral Monastery loves to explore perspectives in this manner. For example we examine whether it is possible to flow freely between different perspectives without getting stuck. I think you’re able to demonstrate this attitude quite beautifully.

Thanks Dawid. I think that perspectives have been thought of as something that one must be faithful to. I have felt this myself very strongly in life, especially when I began to study philosophy and get into spiritual paths. Each one claims truth for itself. I felt this pull, I felt and understood the claims that were being made.  But these claims were never able to take total control over my experience.  Maybe 95% control, but never 100%.

5%?  Yeah – I've thought about this over the years of doing direct inquiry, and think that that 5% was probably due to where I grew up. There was a sort of openness and lack of exclusivity that were baked into my life early on.  I grew up in multi-cultural southern California, and I spent summers with my grandparents on a ranch in Oregon. My paternal grandfather had been a cowboy when he was young. I went to a very preppy high school where I was a cheerleader and wore saddle shoes and cuffed, pleated wool trousers, and those preppy multicolored ribbon watch bands sold by Brooks Brothers.


Perspectives
Each year I confronted the lifeways of cowboys, and also surfers, skateboarders, stoners, and preppies.  My dad had spent time in Japan and my parents were big fans of Japanese, Chinese and Eskimo (Inuit) culture. There were also Hawaiian influences in California so strong that when I first traveled to Hawaii decades later I felt instantly at home. And of course in California, we had the Mexican, chicano and vato cultures all around. I used to go to huge tamale cookouts with friend from high school.  My American mom cooked Mexican food for us several times each week.  I studied Spanish every year in school and became bilingual. In the 70s while in the Army I lived in Panama for 3 years.

African American culture was all around as well, and much of this for me was during the Vietnam era where these social issues were problematized and brought to the surface. And then in graduate school I lived in Germany for a year while studying at the Universitaet zu Koeln.

You see what I'm saying? Early on and for most of my life I was constantly immersed in different lifeways, with different languages, values, imagery, history, foods, clothing, art, music, color schemes – so much!  Each one makes its claims.  And many of these lifeways operate as though there are no others.

Many years later, I discovered that this richness itself can be a great teaching. Each claim serves to soften the others.

There's an interesting book by Jan Assman called The Price of Monotheism that traces the notion of exclusive truth to monotheism itself, where a given monotheism relegates "truth" to itself and "falsity" to other religions, dating back to Akhenaten's cult of the sun god Ra in Egypt around 1350 BCE.  In the West, we grow up with this sort of exclusivistic attitude towards norms of all kinds.  We think that if one holds, then the others must be false.  But how does one really go about making sense of claims like these?  What do we gauge them against? Our experience, as already influenced by one or more claims like these, is not exactly a neutral standpoint. Deeply grokking this can bring great freedom and joy!

Another area we're very interested in, obviously, is monasticism. Recently we interviewed your friend Tomas Sander, who had been living as an urban monk for several years. I heard you were also fascinated by this at one point?

I never pursued monkhood for its own sake. But for several years in the early 1990s in Manhattan I had a lifestyle that sounds like your description of urban monkhood.  I haven't watched TV since 1972 and don't drink or go to bars.  But during that time I was deeply involved in the spiritual quest. Though I wasn't purposefully being celibate, I simply wasn't interested in having a "significant other" for much of that time. I didn't read novels and hardly ever went to a movie.  I visited many different spiritual retreat houses, temples, churches, cathedrals, meditation centers and monasteries. I joined the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons. I attended many different spiritual events, from both Western and Eastern traditions. One year, I abstained from meat, wheat and dairy all at the same time. And I read hundreds of books on virtually every spiritual topic I could find info on – I spent many a Friday and Saturday evening at home alone, searching for the secrets of the universe and the wisdom of the ages.

Wow, that sounds intense, all right! Looking back, do you feel this rather eccentric lifestyle were an idiosyncratic expression of Greg’s, or is it something you’d actually recommend spiritual seekers in general to go through?

The solitary search is something that I'd recommend to anyone who is deeply interested.  Certainly there are social aspects to spirituality, and these are important. But the individual aspects cannot be overlooked. As for all that reading – that's probably an idiosyncratic Greg thing!

We touched on emptiness teachings earlier. Before we conclude the interview, I’d like to ask if you have anything in the pipeline related to this spiritual/philosophical perspective? Personally I’ve studied and practiced with emptiness teachings for many years, totally digging it. As you said, it seems now that more and more people are discovering this kind of inquiry.

In the pipeline is a book due in February from Non-Duality Press called The Direct Path: A User Guide. It's a very experiential approach. Also coming is a book on modern approaches to the emptiness teachings, a new website, and lots of classes and interactive web sessions.


I'm putting more attention on emptiness partly because I've found this teaching to be radical and heart expanding in a real-world way.

But the main reason is that I'm encountering more and more people who really relate to the emptiness teachings. They've tried the "oneness/awareness" style of nonduality teachings, and for various reasons didn't feel a deep connection to them.

The emptiness teachings are nondual but without assuming unicity or a single consciousness.  So there are different ways one connects with these teachings. This itself is a rich subject, way beyond the scope of our interview here!

Thank you kindly for your time, Greg! Maybe next time we can sink our teeth deeper into the emptiness teachings.

I'd love to end by asking you to share a quote or two that had a great impact on you in your spiritual life.

Everyone has heard the quotable Buddhist and Vedantic quotes.  Here are a few from one of my favorite teachers, Richard Rorty.  He wrote about truth and reality for over 30 years.


...

"The suggestion that truth, as well as the world, is out there
is a legacy of an age in which the world was seen as the creation
of a being who had a language of his own."

...

"Take care of freedom and truth will take care of itself."




Greg's Website: www.heartofnow.com
Photo: Greg Goode, all rights reserved.
Art: Link
Emptiness Print: Link (Modified by the Integral Monastery.)

måndag 15 augusti 2011

Shikantaza

"What do you do?"

"We sit and we sit."





Clip: Zen

söndag 14 augusti 2011

Street Gaze





Leaves' veins ablaze in this misty morning; 
thick concrete skin goes like tap, tap, tap, tap
Bright lit n' shine blinding
O street gaze!




Art: Integral Monastery
Poetry: Integral Monastery

onsdag 3 augusti 2011

The Childlike



"O Father, thank you for hiding this from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike."

~ Matt 11:25



Photograph: Gregory Colbert

onsdag 13 juli 2011

Ängsbacka No Mind Festival



So we're just back from Ängsbacka No Mind, a festival sprouting up every year in the forest of Värmland county, Sweden. With a focus on personal and spiritual growth, reconnection with nature, exploration of relationships and communion, and much more, Ängsbacka is unlike any other festival I'm aware of.

The main tent where the most popular workshops are held.

And oh, it's drug, alcohol and smoke free. (Well, if you're gonna smoke, you'll have to drag yourself off to the dedicated "smoke temple.") And the food? You guessed it ‒ vegetarian only.


The Ängsbackian laid back and accepting atmosphere.

Initially, we went to Ängsbacka simply because of how new-age-wacky and odd it seemed. We expected mysterious shakti energy healing, talking to the dead, tarot-cards, mind-reading, ghost chasing, and various other magical investigations. While there were some of that around, we were pleasantly surprised at how downplayed the new age portion of the festival turned out to be. And, neither were folk generally how we had anticipated—somewhat spaced-out, balmy, aloof—but very intelligent, present, warm. Actually, just ordinary and unpretentious people. Albeit sometimes with a nice hippie or new age twist.


Some of the food is grown on site.

The days are quite regulated; various workshops to choose from are offered to the thousand festival attendees at set times throughout the day, punctuated by tasty vegetarian meals, intimate sharing group sessions, and open events. Rarely do you find yourself with nothing to do, for better or for worse.

Fire dancing.

The workshops, the first ones starting at 7 a.m, are numerous and varied. Some are challenging, some relaxing, some intellectually stimulating, some informative, others just plain fun. We've been meditating, singing, playing improvisational theatre, dancing, fire walking, attending talks and satsangs, sweat lodging, drumming, tantra exploring, yoga practicing, and chanting long into the night. All this in addition to the various activities just spontaneously forming around the festival area.

Forest walking. (If it weren't for smartphone GPS tech, we'd still be out there.)

If you enjoy meeting a lot of new great and interesting people, spending time in beautiful natural surroundings, and challenging a perhaps constrained and shy sense of self to become more open, unassuming and free, why not book yourself a ticket to 2012's Ängsbacka No Mind Festival? Maybe we'll see you there!

Lunch together in the sun.


More pictures:








Pictures: Integral Monastery

torsdag 23 juni 2011

Music of the Garden





Many thanks to our friend Susan Kahn for allowing us to use her exquisite poetry in today's blog post. Be sure to check out her website, and follow her on Twitter.

Pax vobiscum.



Design: Integral Monastery

måndag 23 maj 2011

Becoming an Urban Monk


If you feel a strong sense of spiritual vocation—a desire to devote yourself to fully to truth or God—but don’t want to live in a secluded monastery, physically and mentally isolated from the modern world, then becoming an Integral Urban Monk might be a wonderful option. But how does one do it? What is required, practically speaking?

We just added a new page on the top right of the site called Becoming an Urban Monk. Check it out if you want to learn more!

/Integral Monastery

måndag 25 april 2011

iPhone is Suffering




Mentioning suffering and the iPhone in the same blog article probably won’t land me a job as an Apple marketing consultant. Luckily, my interest in marketing is about as great as my interest in finger knitting, so I will proceed!

The Dalai Lama famously states:


“No matter our situation, we all share the same aspiration for happiness.”

Therefore, since I too think we all like being happy, and because one is not happy if one is suffering (duh), I will take the liberty of speaking a little on a method I know from personal experience has an extraordinary capacity to alleviate suffering. My hope with this article is that you might find the method useful as well, insofar as it can release suffering.

What is Suffering Anyway?

First, what is suffering? What is it we’re now going to try to alleviate? Personally I like to break down suffering into four categories, all which of course are arbitrary and very closely related:

Suffering from lack.
Suffering from dissatisfaction.
Suffering from uncertainty.
Existential (philosophical) suffering.


Let’s take a close look at various kinds of suffering below, and how they fit with these categories:

To have what one does not desire. (Suffering from dissatisfaction.)
Not to have what one desires. (Suffering from lack.)

To lose the good that one already has. (Suffering from dissatisfaction.)
Not to lose the bad that one already has. (Suffering from dissatisfaction.)

Longing for the good that one does not yet have. (Suffering from lack.)
To fear the bad that one does not yet have. (Suffering from uncertainty.)

To fear loosing the good that one has. (Suffering from uncertainty.)
To fear not loosing the bad that one has. (Suffering from uncertainty.)

To be in the state of confusion regarding phenomena and how they exist or don’t exist. (Existential suffering.)

I would like to use an iPhone to illustrate how suffering can be related to it, and then, how it can be alleviated. I use an iPhone because many people can relate to it, but by all means, if you are an Android, Blackberry, Nokia or Windows Phone user - please feel free to substitute iPhone for your own device. If you don’t have a phone at all, use something that's precious to you.

Now, let’s have a look!


iPhone is Suffering

Suffering from lack:


  • You don’t have an iPhone, but you want one.
  • You have an iPhone, but you want one more. 
  • You have an iPhone, but you need iPhone accessories and you need them now!


Suffering from dissatisfaction:


  • You have an iPhone, but you don’t want it. Or you want another one, maybe the white version, or the all-new model coming out in just a couple of months.
  • You have an iPhone, but you dropped it and the glass is all cracked.
  • You have an iPhone, but you feel the monthly subscription fee is too high.


Suffering from uncertainty:

Picture of a stolen iPhone

  • You have an iPhone, but you didn’t buy insurance and you are afraid it might get stolen, or that you might break it. Or you worry you might not be able to pay the subscription fee.
  • You have an iPhone, you enjoy and take pride in it, but you’re afraid your best friend might buy the newer, better model...
  • You don’t have an iPhone, and you are afraid you might never be able to afford one.


Existential (philosophical) suffering:


  • You have an iPhone, but you are confused about what an iPhone ultimately is. Does it exist, or does it not exist? Perhaps both, perhaps neither?
  • You have an iPhone, but you’re thinking a lot about what the mind’s relation to the iPhone is. Hmhh...

Let the Search Begin!

Oh boy, that’s a lot of suffering! But I think there’s a way to stop all this suffering from bugging you. At least, it works surprisingly well for me.

What if, just what if, you searched for the iPhone, and it curiously turned out that you simply couldn’t find it? What if you looked everywhere the iPhone could possible be, but no iPhone was found? If you couldn’t find any iPhone anywhere, then it’d seem to me all the suffering spoken about above simply wouldn’t have a chance to arise. You can’t possibly burn wood that you don’t find, right? In the same way, I think suffering can’t arise if you can’t find an iPhone.

So let’s carefully look for this iPhone. Let’s use our eyes, let’s point with our fingers, let’s use our minds.


The Same as its Parts:

If an iPhone exists, it is either the same or different from its parts. Let's start by searching for the iPhone as the sum of all its parts. The parts being the display, the battery, the antenna, the processor, the memory, the cameras, the home- and volume buttons, the casing, the audio speakers, etc.

Think intently about an iPhone. Is this an iPhone that is one with, and the same as, its many parts? This seems obvious enough. But let’s look a bit closer. If the iPhone is the same as its parts, there are two alternatives: either it is the same as all the parts as a whole, or is it the same as them individually. If it is exactly the same as all the parts as a whole, then what if one part goes missing? If the audio speakers goes missing, does that mean the iPhone becomes utterly nonexistent? It doesn’t seem that way. It would be an iPhone without audio speakers.

Also, just as the iPhone clearly is a single entity, so the parts would have to (absurdly) be a single entity. Because of these strange consequences, the iPhone can’t be exactly the same as all the parts as a whole.

But is the iPhone then exactly the same as all its parts individually? Well, if it was, then since the iPhone has many parts, it would have to mean that there are many iPhones! But clearly, we think about the iPhone as a single entity, not as several. We say “I just bough an iPhone.” We don’t say “I just bought iPhones” if we just bought a $659 iPhone.


Different from its Parts:

Strange! It seems we couldn’t find the iPhone as being the same as its parts. But there is only one alternative left, namely that the iPhone must be naturally separate and different from its parts. But, if the iPhone is wholly different from its parts, then why would it need its parts at all? Try to point at the iPhone. When you do, what do you point to? Always to the parts, right? You don’t just point out into space, or at a Blackberry- or an Android phone. But if the iPhone wasn’t the parts at all, it would make no sense to point at the parts, since the iPhone is suppose to not have anything to do with them...


The World's Happiest iPhone Owner


Now this is strange! There are no more alternatives. Or if there are more alternatives, I’ve noticed they are variations or combinations of the two mentioned above, both of which were found to be unfeasible. So, with our eyes we looked for the iPhone, which obviously could cause so much suffering, but we couldn’t find it. We tried to point with our fingers at it, but we couldn’t, because no matter where we pointed, we couldn’t find the iPhone there. We tried to find it with our minds, but we didn’t seem to be able to form a solid concept of it.

To me, this non-finding is remarkable, marvellous, awesome! Because this means, as said earlier, that it’d be nonsensical to assume that the iPhone could cause you any of the four kinds of suffering. Just as it would be nonsensical to assume that a rope you, in a dark room, mistake for snake can bite you; or to assume that a desert mirage can quench your thirst.

I’ll close by saying that I believe that you, if you have an iPhone, can easily be the world’s happiest iPhone owner. The reason being that, in a very practical sense, you are not an iPhone owner, with all the suffering that comes with that. Nor will you ever  even if you lose your iPhone  be an iPhone non-owner, with all the suffering that comes with that.

Best wishes,
An urban monk