New Bookshelf in Operation


Special Thank-you to Tozen and our webmaster, Jure Kralj, for our new operational Bookshelf link–on top far right (Bookself new).

Tozen is graciously supplying the books, and Jure’s fine efforts have the new plug-in up and working–it was his find and suggestion that we use it.

Thank’s guys, I’m sure our new library will prove to be a great resource for many! 🙂

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35 Responses to New Bookshelf in Operation

  1. n. yeti says:


    • Vajragoni says:

      Am truly loving this new “bookshelf” plugin. It really feels like you’re sitting-down and reading the books in a library…

  2. n. yeti says:

    It’s really been a huge benefit. I feel like a kid in a toy store with all these wonderful teachings.

  3. n. yeti says:

    Vajra this is a serious question. Why do you think some people seem to just have an innate affinity for spirituality and others seem to recoil from it? This seems to be quite separate from specific traditions. I’m talking about a generalized gravitation toward spirituality rather than any particular form. Some people get truly excited and inspired by these texts, and others will groan and roll their eyes. Why is this, do you think?

    • Vajragoni says:

      Well, it’s something that “The Zennist”, Tozen, and by and large the teachings within these blog posts have been addressing right along. Without question this is what Madonna once sang about concerning this present “Material-Age”. It essentially happened with the beginning of Modernism way back at the turn of the last century. Most people are just accepting this to the total neglect of the Summum bonum—which is spirituality. Most want to be that Material Girl living in the material world—for them this is the only reality there is. To feel the call for something far deeper, for THAT which transcends the best that this material world can do, to yearn for the Light of Pure Mind—for one’s True Essential Selfhood, well, I suppose for most of us our life’s journey has brought us to this point. This “Mind Stuff” is so much more satisfying. You’re right; most would just shrug their shoulders and say—how boring! Boring? Heh, we don’t have enough lifetimes to even begin to absorb IT all. For myself, I’m never bored. I only hope that during this present life-journey I have enough time left to just begin to touch the surface.

  4. n. yeti says:

    What is curious in my own life is that I have always, as long as I can remember (which is about 1 year of age) had some kind of spiritual yearning. Maybe that’s not the right word. An awareness? And as time went on I grew more and more perplexed by religion and specifically how people would get carried away with beliefs and stray from that inner light of consciousness, which for me is the very spirituality itself. As I child I was interested in Buddhism, but it was only much later, in my early 20s, that I seriously began to explore the buddhadharma, and again in mid-life after a significant “rapturous” and most entirely unexpected awakening one morning while meditating on a turtle. But through it all, there has been something there, faith, or inspiration, a sense of almost “unreality” to the physical world, and I am curious by this — not out of self interest of fascination, but to understand if others feel the same way. Because obviously there are people who recoil from any kind of spirituality whatsoever. So I wonder where this sense comes from. That is why I asked what you perceive, because I see in you the same emanation of spiritual presence, i.e. “spiritual” significance in life.

    • Vajragoni says:

      The herd-mentality is repelled by the Light. Like you, I had early intimations of something far deeper and far more meaningful that lay just beneath the surface of it all. Heh, I’ll never forget during my early sojourn in South Florida back in the early ‘80’s (for a more detailed account, I refer you to the blog post, dating this young (we were both in our early ‘20’s) and attractive woman and standing on a peer overlooking the ocean with a bright full moon shining, and saying to her, “Can’t you just feel what this all is; the depth of it all???” She looked at me like I was some kind of a nut! I guess I’ve always been one who looks into the face of the deep and am utterly filled with awe.

  5. n. yeti says:

    I have no doubt the deep was just as awed of you, noble one.

  6. Methexis says:

    N. Yeti, there is a story written by someone we call “the greatest Slovenian writer”. I will try to reproduce it here with my broken English. Sorry that I can’t do a better job.

    There was this boy, and he was weird. They asked him: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And he answered: “A king.” – And the father got angry at the answer and beat him. They asked him again … “what do you want to be when you grow up, you good for nothing?” – And he answered: “A pope.” – And they beat him again.

    Later, growing up, this boy learned to play the violin. He was great, everyone’s heart warmed upon hearing him play … but this wasn’t enough for him. He wanted to bring true and lasting happiness to people’s hearts, with his music. He wasn’t satisfied with being a mere musician for people’s entertainment. So he called for Satan and Satan came and of course he signed a pact with this devil. He sold his soul in exchange for being able to play divine music … but there was a cost. Everyone hearing his music would experience divine joy, a bliss beyond this world … and they would dance all night in ecstasy. But after this would be over, they would have to die.

    So he would go around and people cried of joy when they heard his music … they danced in divine ecstasy, experiencing a heavenly joy they had never experienced before … but he left a trail of corpses behind as he moved across the nation.

    I don’t remember the ending well, I think the Slovenian nation becomes depressed (like always) and migrates massively (to Germany and America) while our (anti)hero becomes patriotic and compares himself to Christ. And then composes a poem about God’s Light. I’m not sure why I’m telling this story. But there must be some good reason.

    Perhaps you will find one.

  7. Methexis says:

    I’m not sure what you mean, Vajra.
    The devil doesn’t have a nationality.

  8. Methexis says:

    (Perhaps it was a bit unclear. “This devil” refers to Satan, not to the boy. And the story is not a metaphor. It’s an actual story, written by (perhaps) the greatest Slovenian writer, Ivan Cankar.)

  9. Methexis says:

    (Of course it doesn’t describe actual events … it’s a story about striving, and how striving for the divine can become diabolical … but also how the diabolical can become divine again. I’m sorry it doesn’t exist in English.)

  10. Methexis says:

    (It’s similar to Goethe’s Faust in some ways.)

  11. n. yeti says:

    Slovenia has a great history of mysticism, including Magdalena Gornik (July 19, 1835–February 23, 1896) who lived 47 years without food and bore stigmata and astounding physical healing. Throughout her life she had many raptures and visions; she lived in accordance to precepts of atonement, renunciation, inedia, forebearance, and great compassion by bearing the wounds in dedication to others. Throughout her life she demonstrated the genuine virtues of generosity and service to other beings. A truly noteworthy and inspiring mystic.

  12. Methexis says:

    47 years without food – well she ate the Holy Eucharist every day, – as a good Catholic … that’s enough food to survive I imagine, provided you drink plenty of water. Also I don’t know whether this Magdalena was sexually active or not, but male sperm is highly nutrient (high in protein) so ingesting it even once a week would be enough to live on. I mean no disrespect but it is something to consider when we evaluate inedia.

  13. N. Yeti says:

    Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
    Matt. 15-11

  14. Methexis says:

    It is the intent that defiles, not the content itself: the content in itself is neutral …

    Romans 14:

    “I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.”

    About inedia, the same Romans 14:

    “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit … ”

    Asceticism is not Christian, and certainly not Buddhist. What follows is a deconstruction of asceticism from a Christian point of view:

    The Bible warns of those who “forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods” (1 Timothy 4:3); thus, it is erroneous to believe that celibates who abstain from certain foods are “more holy” than other people. We are under grace, not under the law (Romans 6:14); therefore, the Christian does not live by a set of rules but by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Christ has set us free (John 8:36). In many cases, the ascetic practices self-denial in order to earn God’s favor or somehow purge himself from sin. This shows a misunderstanding of grace; no amount of austerity can earn salvation or merit God’s love (Ephesians 2:8-9)

  15. Methexis says:

    I do not, however, want to speak in absolutes. If someone wants to practice religion via diet, and in that way show reverence to the Buddhas or to Christ, then that is also a path. It is a form of practice. I fail to see, though, what is mystical about diet. I would say we should be careful lest we mistake the mystical for the supernatural or the magical. The true Buddha is formless and so cannot be found in signs – whatever has signs is illusion. (Moreover do not forget that uneducated village people made all kind of stories not only about Holy Mary but also about hobgoblins, vampires, and in the case of Slovenia about an evil hag that lurks in the woods …)

  16. Methexis says:

    (To conclude: it is a known fact that malnutrition causes various psychopathological phenomena such as hallucinations. By straining the body and forcing it into unnatural states, we produce results similar to intoxications. This has been proposed as an explanation behind many of the Hindu mystics’ visions – other than the entheogen “soma” of course, the drug they were taking we still do not exactly what is was, perhaps a psilocybe mushroom.)

    • Vajragoni says:


      It also reminds me how many parallel accounts through many cultures…for example the “Hansel and Gretel” story…

      Yes, many of these old wives tales had some basis in fact: Most likely your Baba Yaga was in reality an aged woman living in the deep woods who scared the bejeebers out of kids who ever approached her domain…

      Even in my own childhood we had this old woman who lived in this creepy-looking white house and who would scare the shit out us anytime we went near her–of course, as kids, we used to spark her ire…we even had a song about her:

      Old lady Smith sitting in her rocking-chair,
      chewing on her underwear…
      oh what a sight to bear…
      Oh Lady Smith, come-out, come-out..
      Come-out and dance by the light of the moon…

  17. n. yeti says:

    Too much, too much.

    First, Methexis, I am astounded you would choose Paul (who, as I think is very clear these days, was homosexual and suffered great internal conflict because of this), and of all the apostles was the most likely to project his own struggles upon the Gospel, and who sublimated his own self-hatred by becoming the chief propagandist of his sect.

    As to the substance of my comment, I never intended to argue that aceticism (inedia) is the pathway to enlightenment. The World Honored One made it very clear that such deprivations were not the way, leading to the Middle Path. Undoubtedly she did suffer from some form of mental turmoil caused by her inedia, but the presence of visions and raptures should not be discounted because of this.

    As to the hallucinogenic mushroom, it is my view that no substance (and Vajra mentioned this in the Patanjali series) is advisable even though they may indeed have a genuine effect. James Austin M.D., a rinzai neurologist, provided an interesting overview of induced hallucinations and their similarities to certain meditative phenomena.

    As Tozen referred to the other day, for example, in meditation I have perceived unusal fragrances, something unknown or “otherwordly”. This does not happen often, maybe only once or twice, but this was not the result of injesting any substance. I have also referred to certain phenomena, such as perceiving energy signatures, which again is sporadic and not due to taking drugs. So from my own experience, which is very limited and has actually been rather troubling at times, there is indeed a veil which is lifted in the meditative practice, and I do not grasp to material explanations for this.

    When you say the true Buddha does not manifest in signs, this might indeed be true. However, the unconditioned does not know such limits, and if you were to read the Mahaparinirvana you would see that Buddha revealed quite a few weird things that the Buddhas do all the time.

    But this is of no account because the mystic in question was tried and found authentic by skeptics both within the church and among laypeople who — as you — could not drop their need for answers for mystical phenomena and therefore elevated her to some exalted status. I hold that such phenomena are quite common, and that it is only through the dulling of our perception by the constant barrage of materialism that we drive our awareness of these things out of our waking consciousness. But in a dream state, no one questions such things as a hut that walks on chicken legs as being real, very real.

  18. Methexis says:

    This idea of Paul being a closet homosexual is slightly amusing, where did you read it? Is there some good literature on the topic?

    Paul is the de facto founder of Christianity and … in a way … more important than Jesus Christ himself. Without Paul’s interpretation of the “Christ-event”, Christ might have been forgotten and seen as just one among many messianic figures (you know there were myriad messiah claimants at Jesus’ time)… Paul I think is the archetype Christian.

    Love the expression “Rinzai neurologist” – I imagine something crazy, like someone shouting KATZ!!! while looking at X-Ray CT scans of a patient’s brain, tearing them apart in the process

    The scientist who discovered the structure of DNA claims to have got the idea while under LSD. So I definitely do not think that some insight gotten “under influence” is necessarily “false”. But it is not necessarily true either – and this goes for the influence of LSD or inedia or the influence of staring at a wall for 8 hours. This skepticism I propose is not to advance a materialist worldview like you suggest – but more as a test … if something is truly genuine, it should endure through such scrutiny. And smelling strange fragrances during meditation, I think, does not. I refuse to accept that the only choice we have is between materialism and miracles or what you call “mystical phenomena” (really: paranormal phenomena). I insist there is a way to keep both scientific rationality and rational skepticism without discarding religion and even mysticism. We don’t have to be materialists to see that the brain plays tricks on us. (take for example parlor tricks …)

    You – like the Zennist – make the mistake sometimes of conflating paranormal stuff & mysticism. I think Vajra once criticized Zennist for it when Zennist posted about “empirical proof for rebirth” and things like that … (children remembering past lives) – Vajra called it “phenomenalism”

  19. Methexis says:

    (Even better example than parlor tricks are optical illusions.)

  20. n. yeti says:

    The theory (and yes, it is but a theory) about Paul’s sexual orientation is supported by scriptural evidence but I am not really an expert on the matter. If you are interested in the topic there is plenty of information in the public domain. Clearly homosexuality is a perfectly common human feature, so obviously there is nothing to be surprised about if one or some of the apostles (or even Jesus himself) happened to be homosexual. Why should that bother anyone? I do think Paul’s reactionary and prudish tendencies are evidence of some deep inner turmoil about his sexuality.

    As to whether or not there is any conflation going on in my views (and far be it from me to speak for Zennist, who I respect and appreciate as someone very knowledgeble about Buddhism), at the end of the day mysticism is a personal thing and even though such things as remembering past lives might seem shocking or incredible to your conditioned and deeply afflicted mind, doctrinally there is nothing surprising about it and in fact the Tibetan line is quite detailed about discerning such things.

  21. n. yeti says:

    BTW Dr. Austin is anything but crazy. He is a Harvard trained neurologist and one of the most widely respected doctors in his field (retired now I think). He studied both Rinzai and Soto zen in Japan during residency there and is one of leading scientific researchers into the mystical, prompted by curiosity about his own experiences as a meditator. You should check it out.

  22. n. yeti says:

    One other consideration, my good friend. The other day my son approached and asked me what suffering is. I think you will agree this is an unusal question from a four-year-old. When I asked him where he learned this word, first he said he didn’t know, then said he was taught by one of the entities he claims are always around. This happens fairly often to the point that I am no longer surprised. I have asked him why I don’t see these beings he learns these things from and he says, rather simply, it’s because I’m an adult.

  23. Methexis says:

    I do not exclude the “children remembering past lives” thing a priori – nor do I exclude anything else, even ghosts or what have you. That would be prejudiced. Even inedia or walking through walls or levitation might be true, as far as I am concerned. I remain neutral. I question however why some people tend to believe in this and find it important to believe in this, and to tell others. I question the intent. When Zen master Sheng Yen told his students he can read their minds, what was the intent? When that Pure Lander flaunted to Bankei that the founder of their sect [Shinran] could perform all kinds of miracles, what was the purpose of that? So leaving aside the paranormal, which may or may not be true – I question the very reason why some people want to believe, but even more, why they try to make other people believe. I personally don’t believe but not because I’m a materialist … just because I don’t see what good would it do to believe (as I never experienced anything paranormal myself).

    Your son is an interesting one, very sensitive. He is very lucky to have a father that can teach him about the Dharma … not many have such luck in the West.

  24. n. yeti says:

    The motive is to inspire. Don’t heed anything I say if it prompts in you such thoughts. But do please believe in the power of the infinite unseen Buddhas who work tirelessly for your enlightenment.

  25. n. yeti says:

    I first encountered them in a motorcycle wreck in the desert that left me sprawled and bleeding into the sand. Well, at least the first time that I am aware of. My body still feels that wreck as I write of it. Or maybe it is just delusion and I was nothing more than a gutbag bleeding out its life out there in the wastes, grasping to some fiber of comprehension. Which do you suppose it was?

  26. Methexis says:

    I don’t know which it was, I don’t have the answers. (These days, I don’t even have the questions, let alone the answers.)

    “The supreme Buddha is formless … When it manifests itself, it can no longer be termed ‘supreme nirvana’ (or dharmakāya).”

    Perhaps it doesn’t matter; both reality and delusion can be interpreted as their activity. Dreams can be more real than “reality”.

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