Wednesday at Upaya

02009-10-28 | Photos | 7 comments

Wasn’t sure how slippery Upaya’s driveway might become today, so I put on the boots I wore in Kham, and walked. I got there a little early and took a few photos.
So unusual, to see nearly green leaves on trees that are covered with snow. The leaves seemed to glow.

Stephen Batchelor mentioned Situational Ethics, a Christian ethical theory. His explanation of that theory reminded me of Wilber’s Yes-No-Yes human developmental stages. We start out without ethics: my way or the highway – yes. Then we move to following the rules, the law, the bible, koran, the word of the priest etc. – no. Finally we arrive at a more fluid and situational response – yes. Ken also called these stages Egocentric, Ethnocentric and Worldcentric.

Watch Upaya’s Dharma Podcast or subscribe to it via iTunes for Stephen’s talks at Upaya this week. His dharma talk from last week is already up. I missed Monday’s talk, but everybody raved about it and Roshi asked me to transcribe it. I should get the mp3 this week. I have never transcribed a talk, but Stephen speaks so clearly and precisely that it should be a great opportunity for me to learn something.

After today’s talk I gave Stephen Batchelor a CD with uncompressed .tiff files of some of the photos I took of him the day before. (((I used the Gorman B&W conversion, if you want to know…))) He said he was 99% sure that he will use one of them for his new book.

Here are some of my thoughts, gathered during my walk home, in response to some of the things that were mentioned today.

Having practiced daily as a musician for nearly 40 years, I find that, while fluidity, process, stream is the ideal, the human mind seems to naturally want to create waypoints, goals, aims. I don’t think these goals or aims are a problem as long as one is aware of them as temporary goalposts that need to be moved as soon as they can be attained. The trick then, is not so much not having goals, but to create goals with the awareness that they are to be attained and moved. Or, to smoothly switch from one goalpost to the next one ahead. The image of throwing a rock as far as one can, comes to mind, only to find it, attain it, and throw it forward again.


  1. Brenda

    What a Wonderful Day! thank you for sharing with us.. your cup overflows – so good – I am happy for you.

  2. Brenda

    Thank you for the link to the Podcast of Stephen Batchelor’s talk. I enjoyed it. In his talk about Ethic’s, did he speak of one of the Greek words for love which is Agape?

  3. yumi

    “Or, to smoothly switch from one goalpost to the next one ahead.”

    Not to get stuck in the same place?

  4. Ottmar

    Well, not getting stuck would hopefully be a side-effect. I was thinking about the fact that our experience is not a smooth, continuous flow. Instead it is a series of stages. Movies come to mind. We experience a movie as a continuous flow, but a movie is really just a series of snapshots, projected at a rate of 24 images per second. The film appears to move naturally. To a being with “faster” eyes, our movies would appear to stutter.

    Our practice, whether it is a Buddhist practice or a musician’s practice, or any other practice, is like that movie. We take baby-steps forward, towards the goal. Maybe we practice a few bars of music at a time. Then the next few bars, and the next. Eventually we can, albeit haltingly, play the whole piece… now we work on giving the music a natural flow – and that takes years longer.

    Buddhism, like music, is a practice, an endless practice. Stephen talked about the stream, the flow. My thoughts were that, maybe due to the evolution of our brain, nothing is a total flow – more like a series of snapshots. Making goals is natural, is human. Make a goal, attain it, make a new goal. Don’t stop, keep moving. Ok, do stop, make a little dance, celebrate with a drink… and then do move on and set the next goal. Endless. Endless. Endless.

    It’s all endless, but our brain likes to cut everything into bite-sized pieces. Nothing wrong with that. We just need to be aware of it.

    Also reminds me of Dogen, who said that life was one mistake after another. Mistake – correction. Mistake – correction. etc.

  5. yumi

    Thank you for adding more that first part. I imagine many people (musicians/non-musicians) can relate to that and I liked the example of movies…and movies are never usually filmed in the order as scripted. Our minds have a different script in hand rather than what is happening = “That’s not in the script.”

    Now, part 2: “Make a goal, attain it, make a new goal. Don’t stop, keep moving.”

    Now, what happens if the goal/script is not attained? Should be the same answer, but with a little bit more reflection, yes?

  6. Brenda

    I am a Christian. I am a follower of Jesus. In my christian walk, or journey, or flow within the stream of life, I choose to be lead by the Holy Spirit. In studying my faith, I read the Bible and I try to see the Spirituality of all things created by God.
    When I read your post, regarding Ethics, my spontaneous reaction was first to reflect on a study of Ethics class that I took but I must admit, I also thought of your comment about “greek yoghurt” then my brain shifted to the thought of Ethics and the Greek word for love Agape which I realize that I am always journeying in the stream of life as a follower of Jesus, to believe and have faith to not let fear rule my life but love. Highest form of love is Agape which is unmotivated and creative, seeks nothing and the most difficult for me would be the unattracted by goodness. To be be lead by love, not knowing where the river of life or stream of life will take me.
    Upon listening to Stephen Batchelor’s talk, I hear our common threads in the community of life. It helps me grow as a Christian. Thank you for allowing me to share this with you.

  7. yumi

    Make a goal, don’t stop keep moving. Make a mistake, make the correction. Reflect. Pick up the camera again, back to the music; release the pause button and challenge our perceptions some more.


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