- "The Buddha's Teaching was recorded in the Tipitaka several hundred years after the Buddha passed away, and this text was then copied and recopied over a period of thousands of years. The teachings were probably recorded very well, but it is possible to doubt that the reader will now understand what those who recorded the teachings meant. For me to refer merely to the texts all the time would be like guaranteeing the truth of the claims of another, claims of which I am not certain. But the things that I tell you I am able to guarantee, because I speak from my own direct experience."(source)
- According to Fa-tsang, (643-712) of the Hau-yen school, nobody understood a word of what ended up being the Buddha's first Sutra, so the Enlightened one resorted to a series of teachings which took into consideration the limitations of sentient beings, with the intention of gradually leading them to overcome those limitations. Thus each subsequent teaching renders obsolete the previous ones, though they all continue to function so as to accomodate the greatest number of sentient beings.
- With the help of similes, metaphors, and comparisons as an effective part of his teaching method, the Buddha explains his ethico-philosophical contepts to his audience. These figures of speech are significant and important both from the preaching point of view and literary point of view.
- For the preaching point of view, the Buddha has utilized comparisons, similes and metaphors to enable the hearer understanding the "Dharma which is profound, difficult to realize, hard to understand, not to grasped by mere logic, subtle and comprehensible only by the wise." Without these figurative images the hearer may have difficulties in understanding the meaning of his teachings.
- With reference to literary point of view, these figurative images used by the Buddha are to make the little-known and unfamiliar, theUpamana, of an unfamiliar abstract object, familiar. Upamanas thus presented sometimes illuminate and beautify the object to be compared, and sometimes vividly present before us the unfamiliar. In short, we can say that similes (and metaphors) concretize the most abstract things. (source)
- When in accordance with worldy convention one speaks of a self, it is not spoken from the standpoint of the supreme and actual meaning. For this reason, although Dharmas are empty and devoid of a self, there is no fault in speaking of an "I" simply to take into account the dictates of worldly convention.(source)
People equate what the Buddha said and did and call it Buddhism. Actually, what the Buddha said and did, which was later written down and translated into the sutras, was string together a group of words around already in place phenomenon veiled to others by the samsara world. In a sense it was really not much different than what Albert Einstein did when he wrote the Theory of General Relativity and Special Relativity. Einstein did not create a system of master laws and then force nature to follow, but instead, 'intuitively figured out' what went around the already in place existing occurrences, then wrote his theories to fit accordingly. No offense to the 10,000 things, but for lack of more indepth discourse, bottom line, what Sakyamuni's Enlightenment did was awaken him to the Void or Emptiness, period, that's it, Emptiness. That is, that all things are inherently Empty...which goes hand in hand with what is called for the most part, Dependent Origination, or Arising Due To Conditions. Again, all being simply written or spoken words giving verbal syntax expression around existing phenomenon FOR THOSE INTERESTED in pursuing some understanding of the Enlightenment, Awakening experience.
When speaking of Einstein and the Buddha and what either or both accomplished do not confuse the two issues. They are quite different. Einstein's efforts were a product of the intellect while the Buddha's were not. True, everyday conscious intellect may have driven Shakyamuni's initial thrust, but in the end, for Einstein, his theories were an outcome that were expressed and shared exclusively through thought processes and language, mathematical language true, but language nontheless. If Shakyamuni's Awakening was nothing more than some intellectual mental construct applied over a "Law of Nature" that just happened to be waiting to be discovered by the first person to come across it, any rational person could, using logical intellect could "learn" Awakening in the same fashion one can "learn" Einstein's theory of relativity. Such does not seem to be the case, however.
If our minds have created dualism, they should be able to un-create or deconstruct it. This is not a devious intellectual trick which claims to solve the problem logically, while leaving our anguish as deep as before.(source)
Master of the Law Ch'ung-yuan asked, "What is the Void? If you tell me that it exists, then you are implying that it is resistant and solid. If you say that it is something that does not exist, then why go to it for help?" Shen-hui replied, "One talks of the Void for the benefit of those who have not seen their own Buddha-natures. For those who have seen their own Buddha-natures the Void does not exist."
If there was such a thing as a fence on which one side was found those not-Enlightened and on the other those Enlightened, then those on the not-Enlightened side, seeking to cross over, would be greatly assisted in the endeavor by assimulating into their being, as a second nature, the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Noble Path. Once they crossed over the Four and Eight would no longer be needed nor exist. The same is true of everything. Throughout the centuries people have concocted various routes to pursue Enlightenment from the traditional to Zen, but the ultimate result, once experienced, is the same. Zen short circuits the route by endeavoring to bring forth the Enlightening experience outside the scriptures, which is a concrete, non-abstract cut-straight-to-the-bone lightning approach. The Zen way, however quick, instant or gradual, is based on the same Buddha insights before they became excessively over encumbered by scripture. A person seeking the Zen experience must somehow come to recognize the same insights as Siddhartha Gautama experienced when he Awakened to become the Buddha, which later inturn, gave birth to the scriptures. If Enlightenment doesn't come out of the blue, then laying the groundwork is the next best thing. Before his Enlightenment experience under the Bodhi Tree the Buddha tried many, many different things in his attempt to 'cross over.' After Awakening he could see what was to avail and what was to no avail. That is what he attempted to put into words for his followers. That is how the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path took root. An old saying goes: we are the results of what we were; we will be the results of what we are. A Pali text called The Anguttara says it best:
"It cannot come to pass that the fruit of a deed well-done by the body, speech, and thought should have for a result that which is unpleasant, hateful, or distasteful. But that it should be otherwise is quite possible."
People go on and on, batting their gums about everything under the sun and beyond, and most of it never adds up to very much about anything. People ask, "Why do I have to do anything about anything? The sixth patriarch, Hui-neng, as a young boy minding his own business delivering wood for his mother, overheard a stanza from the Diamond Cutter Sutra and was Awakened. Sri Ramana Maharshi never bothered with anything formal and he was awakened to the Absolute out of nowhere, so why bother to do anything about anything?"
Not a bad question. Actually it is a very good question framed in all the best samsara clothes. The short response is of course, you don't. But, what if a person did want to do something about it? Is the Enlightenment experience preordained or destined? Or can a person of their own volition persuade or exert an influence on the outcome. If a person steps in front of an oncoming passenger train and is killed, could that same person have selected not to step in front of the train and acted upon that selection by actually not doing so instead? Is it Karma, destiny, fate?
For the most part Hindu and Indian-based religious schools of thought, especially early ones, believe and promote the concept that Karma operates in a straight line, with actions from the past influencing the present, and present actions influencing the future. As a result, they saw little room for free will. A lot of that interpretation has permeated into western culture and thought, with Karma ending up being an unbending "fate" or "destiny" type of concept.
However, Karma operates more closely with the Buddhist view as formulated by the Buddha, acting more or less in feedback loops, with the present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present. This constant opening for present input into the causal process makes free will possible. This freedom is symbolized in the imagery that Buddhists use to explain the process: flowing water. Sometimes the flow from the past is so strong that little can be done except to stand fast, but there are also times when the flow is gentle enough to be diverted in almost any direction. (source)
"The present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present."
With that in mind, there is an axiom that goes:
This being present, that arises; without this, that does not occur.
Which is elaborated on from Pali and Sanskrit texts:
Acts do not perish, even after hundreds and thousands of years. On meeting the right combination of conditions and time, they bear fruit.
Vasubandhu the great Indian Abhidharma master wrote:
Material and mental elements uniterruptedly succeed one another in a series, a procession that has action as originating cause
He continues to write, and this is the punchline:
The successive moments of this procession are different; therefore there is an evolution or transformation of the series.
The successive moments are different, that is they are not the same. If they were the same they would not be different. On a fine grain level the differences are practically imperceptible. On a coarse grain level the differences manifest themselves more readily. Take those differences and stick them into their operating field of conditions and the evolution or transformation compounds itself. Conditions? Now we have conditions! What the heck are conditions? The word conditions is an english word used in our context from the sutras for the sanskrit word Pratyaya which roughly translates into: "the pre-existing conditions that allow primary causes to function." Which basically means if the conditions are absent, then the causes are prevented. Conditions are the milieu, stage set, or playing field where acts or impulses unfold. They can be increased by other conditions, decreased by other conditions, or replaced by other conditions to accelerate or postpone results in the stream of events. Which means that conditions can be, but not necessarily do modify. They arise primarily on a broader scale from causes in the distant past. When conditions do manifest themselves they are for the most part not defined, that is, they are undefined or spent, meaning they cannot create or impact figuratively further downstream responses. However, even though they are spent, they are still extremely powerful in how they impose themselves on the immediate circumstances in which they are operating. To wit:
Any shift in any fashion in the conditions up or down or across the stream relative to the cause will impact the resultant outcome of that cause.
How do we know this? Just go back to the Einstein analogy above where he just 'intuitively figured it out.' Over periods of thousands and thousands of years observant people have seen rise to the same thing over and over and have placed words around the phenomenons observed. For more in a similar vein refer to David Hume who said knowledge is not attained by reasoning a priori, but arises ENTIRELY from experience, when we find that any particular objects (or phenomenon) are constantly conjoined with each other.
Again, to illustrate: Two people are master jugglers. They are each able to juggle eight or ten balls at one time. With much practice and perfect timing each of the jugglers has been able to toss a ball from their group of balls while in the midst of juggling to the other juggler without missing a beat, switching balls one at a time to the other person while still themselves in mid juggle. They have done it over and over for up to an hour and never missed. They are fifteen minutes into their act when the lights go out and they are plunged into total darkness. The next thing you know one of the jugglers misses a catch. Now he is down one ball and the timing starts to go haywire because instead of ten balls he now has nine while his fellow juggler still has ten. In addition the sound of the ball falling is unsettling impacting concentration. The next thing you know the balls are all over the floor. Everything was the same at the start between the two jugglers, the only thing that changed was the conditions, that is, the lights went out, causing the outcome of their juggling to be different than all the other times they had performed the act.
For any of it to work though, there would have to be "moments" and "successive moments." Vasubandhu, mentioned above, writes of succesive moments, using the plural of moment, suggesting that moments are made up of more than one, with moment in this case, seeming to be mutually interchangeable with what is typically called "the present" or "now." But what is the present? Everytime anyone says "now" they have to say it again because the first now is gone, ad infinitum. Well, and it may not hold water, but if one has to use words, the present is probably best described as that which is performing it's own function after the dissoulution of the previous becoming, but before the arising of the next becoming, also ad infinitum. Buddhaghosa in the Visuddhimagga writes of the present of continuity and the Samyutta Reciters say it is of two kinds: material and immaterial. Material continuity "lasts as long as the muddy line of water touching the bank when one treads in the water to make clear." Immaterial continuity "consists of two or three rounds of impulsions." Nagarjuna, taking issue with the Abhidhramists however, implies if time is composed of separate parts such as past, present (that is, now), and future, time would lose it's coherence. If present and future are considered products of the past, both present and future would be inseparably enmeshed in the past, hence not be able to be separate entities. If, on the other hand, the present and future are separate features from the past, that would make them unconnected, thus not caused by and without reference to the past. Nagarjuna thus implies the present and future do not exist, there is no actual graspable "static moment" of time, while at the same time not denying the "unmediated experience of change." Although the stages of time have a before and after, each he concedes, has it's own integrity. That is where I come in and say it is the own integrity that becomes focused on smaller and smaller by humans to become known orally among men as "moments" or "successive moments." Dogen writes in the Shobogenzo:
Life is a stage in time and death is a stage in time, like, for example, winter and spring. We do not suppose that winter becomes spring, or say that spring becomes summer
In the flow of things there is no specific concrete instant when winter is suddenly not anymore and wham, spring all of a sudden exists. Even though an actual standing alone moment in time is not a truly existing thing because it cannot exist independently of other moments in time, of which there are none, hence it can't, there is though still, the unmediated experience of change. It is that experience that becomes artificially contrived and delineated by human concepts into smaller and smaller increments that when small enough become practically non-existant and for that are called "moments" and when strung together "successive moments."
It is commonly held to be the case that what was in the past are gone, what are at present are transient, and what will come have not yet occurred. Consequently, even though after having accepted the Dependent Origination View that all dharmas are mutually dependent as causes and conditions for their coexistence, one still regards Dharmadhatu as a flow of dharmas. Past dharmas have faded away, present dharmas are apparent but transient, and future dharmas have not arrived and are unpredictable. This view of Dharmadhatu is under the limitation of the notion of time, and as such it deviates from the correct meaning of the Buddhist Dharmadhatu. Dharmadhatu is neither limited by space nor by time. According to the correct view of Dharmadhatu all dharmas in the past, all dharmas at present and all dharmas in the future are all together in the Dharmadhatu. Ordinarily people can experience only a mi-nute part of all dharmas at present (becoming "moments" as described above), and therefore people sustain the view that dharmas in the past are gone and future is unpredictable. If one practices according to Buddhist teachings and thereby comes out of the bondage of the fixed view of a space-and-time framework, then it is possible to experience or witness dharmas in the past as well as dharmas in the future.
THE WORD "RIGHT." What Does It Mean?
Before moving on there is another thing. Again, it has to do with words and their meaning. The fourth of the the Four Noble Truths refers to eight precepts prescribed by the Buddha: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. The first thing everybody starts jumping up and down about is that's a lot of rights, especially coming from the all time champion of non-dualism. But, you have to remember the Buddha is framing in words from his Enlightened state what he would like his non-enlightened peers to experience, so he has to use words he hopes they will understand. The problem is that the non-enlightened take issue with the words saying that as soon as a word is used, "right" for example, then dualism raises it's ugly head, because "right" has an opposite "wrong." Buddha knows that but doesn't experience it so he doesn't have a problem with it because he knows the meaning he means about the word "right" from his Enlightened state. The problem is in his non enlightened peers experiencing it. The thing is the word we translate into "right" from the sanskrit word "samma" does not translate exactly into "right" so realistically there is no opposite "wrong." What happens in this case right view is not dualisticly opposed by wrong view per se', right intention is not opposed by wrong intention per se' etc., etc. Doesn't matter much anyway because they are actually no more than conceptual abstracts culled out of the same phenomenon, bracketed in a given section of that phenomenon, and then clothed in the words right view, wrong view, right intention, wrong intention.
If right doesn't translate into right with wrong being the dualistic opposite, then just what is meant when the word right is used by the Buddha like he uses it in the Eightfold Noble Path? For the answer to that we will again have to go to an illustration:
Back in the old days when a dollar was a dollar a farmer had borrowed $200.00 against his land in order to bring in a crop. With the money he had used half to buy seed and half to live on for the year knowing he could take his crop to market and sell it for $400.00, doubling his money. With the double amount of money he would pay back the loan and still have $200.00 left to replant a new crop and get by the entire following year, except without the need to borrow any money. He also knew if he didn't pay back his loan he would lose his farm. The crop came in as expected. He divided the grain into ten bags he figured were worth about $40.00 each, loaded the ten bags on his wagon, hooked up his draft animal and headed toward the grain market in the big city.
Part way there one of the wheels hit a rather large stone in the road. The farmer got out of the wagon and checked the wheel. He noticed the axle was somewhat bent, but to fix it would require him to unload the entire wagon because the weight of the grain was too heavy to jack it up. He did notice that part way through one revolution of the wheel it leaned in toward the top and in the rest of the revolution it leaned out. He was sure the wheel would not fall off however, so he continued on his journey. What he didn't notice was that on each revolution the wheel went around and leaned in at the top the rim rubbed across two of the cloth bags filled with grain. After awhile the wheel wore a hole in both of the bags and unknown to the farmer the grain began to fall out. By the time he reached the market the two bags were totally empty.
Now the farmer had eight bags, each bag worth $40.00 for a total of $320.00. Needless to say he was a tad upset. With the wagon empty he returned home without incident. He paid off the debt he owed which left him $120.00. To have it end up the way he hoped he knew he needed $200.00, $100.00 for grain, $100.00 to live on through the year. Being $80.00 short meant a lot of compromises. Did he just buy $60.00 in grain and try to live on $60.00; did he buy the full amount of grain he needed and scrape by on even less; did he borrow the amount he was short? What? You can see all the various ramifications. But the punchline is that when the wheel was not out of kilter it could be considered "right" because a wheel that is true is the way it is supposed to be. But, after the axle was bent the mere fact that the wheel ended up rubbing the grain sacks until they lost their grain doesn't exactly make it "wrong." The farmer might have not liked it, and true, it impacted his long term situation adversely, but other factors entered into it. What about the stone? What role did it play? How did it get in the road just at the place the wheel ran over it? What about the farmers driving, why didn't he go around the thing in the first place? How about his decision not to unload the wagon and fix the axle? Why wasn't he more alert the rest of the trip to the market when he knew the wheel wobbled? I could go on and on, but what I'm getting at is that in order for a wheel to work at it's best, being out of kilter is probably not the best way to go. So, now, if you have carefully followed the thread I have weaved up to this point, you should have arrived at a fairly good insight into the use of the word right as intended by the Buddha. Armed with that understanding we should be able to move along...
When I was sixteen years old or so and had first crossed paths with things Zen, envying my soon to be mentor's lifestyle living on a trust fund, I asked him how I could do the same. He told me to faithfully put $100.00 a month into a savings account every month and never touch it. One day it would accumulate into a rather tidy sum, of from which, one could live off the interest.
He was drawing an analogy between that and what we have been discussing above in that what one does at any given moment can produce impulses which inturn, meeting the right combination of conditions will bear fruit. Thus said, the right action, speech, and thought [right as used in the way we have previously suggested] at this moment can impact one's future positively like saving $100.00 a month faithfully might.
The Enlightened sage Luangpor Teean always said that the past is gone, incapable of being changed or rectified, while the future has not yet arrived: whatever we do, it must be done in the present. If we act well now, today will constitute a good past for tomorrow. And tomorrow, when it comes, will turn out to be a good future for this day in which we have already done good. It is useless to worry about things that are past and cannot be put right and just as useless to worry about things that have not yet happened: to worry about things that cannot eliminate suffering in the only place it is found, in the present.
What is important to consider of course, is having set into motion the correct set of principals in the past, so the fruit beared from those endeavors would be impacting one's present. To have that present be a positive experience my mentor's suggestion, extracted from the sutras, went something like:
1.) From the first generate only thoughts with the right escort.
2.) Support right thoughts already risen.
3.) From where thoughts arise, generate no thoughts that carry negative escort.
4.) Dispell any negative thoughts already risen.
Right action and speech should follow, inturn easily meeting the precepts of the Eightfold Noble Path and the results therein. Simple, simple stuff.
People come to me and ask how do we know any of the above is true? In the end can we even trust something or anything to be true since the word-concept true pops up just like right pops up with all of it's relative and dualistic ramifications? Well, lets try another illustration before proceeding:
Although they are not found as hunted or hunter in the same environment, both tigers and zebras are striped. The zebra is striped, it seems, so that while running in a herd to escape being preyed upon, the confusion of stripes from animal to animal as they overlap makes unclear to the hunter an individual animal. The tiger's stripes, on the other hand, is to make itself unclear to it's prey as it uses stealth to come within leathal striking distance. In each case both the seeking tiger and the sought upon zebra is trying to infer it is not there.
Therein lays the rub. Infer it is not there. If the tiger is there but infering it is not, it has to be there to inorder to infer it is not there. In other words, it is not not there even though it's prey may be being deceived by beliving it is not. If the tiger is there, then in both cases it is there, that is, the tiger is there because it is there and it is still there even though through camouflage and deception it is attempting to infer to it's prey it is not. It is that implied not being there when it is that is the deception, that is not true. The actual fact of the tiger being there, regardless of what the tiger's prey thinks or doesn't think is the truth. If the tiger were a human and using camouflage and deception as a ruse it would be lying.
Dualist and relativists would argue there is no truth, real or otherwise, especially so, absolute truth. For the most part arguing with words against a word based argument is to enter into a battleground basically unarmed...or at the most, armed only with weapons your host opponent gives you. But, if you go back to my illustration and not battle over truth existing or not existing and see, for example, that if the tiger is there and that is reality inturn taken for the truth, and agree that in the deception infered toward it's prey it is still there, then perpetrating the fact that it is not there would be in fact, not true.
People also have a problem with the meaning of originating cause and successive moments being different.
'Originating cause' does not have the same meaning as caused by or to be caused by. For example, a generally accepted axiomatic statement has been made that goes something like "From a tiny acorn the mighty oaktree grows."...which suggest that for every oaktree tree that exists there was once an acorn that existed before it. But where do acorns come from? For the most part they fall from the limbs of oaktrees, which by inference would indicate that before every acorn was, an oaktree was. But how can that be? Before the first first oaktree what was there?
That which makes an oaktree eventually an oaktree includes not just the acorn and the acorn only, but requires the right soil, moisture, nutriments, weather, temperature, location, etc. All of that stuff is called determinants. A determinant does not necessarily mean a sequential order of things, that is, one thing in order first before the other. For example, for the oaktree and the acorn before it to be the acorn or oaktree they are or are to become, the various determinants, soil, moisture, nutriments, etc., must all be in place and exist all at the sametime, not first one and then the other sequentially. The originating cause is like an acorn from which an oaktree springs. But, without the various determinants in place I wouldn't hold my breath.
Now lets try 'successive moments being different'. Again, fairly simple stuff. At the coarse grain level, lets say you the reader for example, are sitting in front of a computer and haven't left the room or moved from your chair for several hours, so engrossed are you reading my material. You haven't left the room yet if you think about it you are hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles away from the exact spot you were when you first sat down. How so? Simply put, the earth rotates while it orbits the sun. The sun moves in it's own direction while being swept along in the rotating galaxy, the galaxy itself moving on it's own path while being swept up in the inflation/expansion of the universe, etc., etc. At the fine grain level each of the billions of electron clouds clumped together to form the mental/material enity that represents that which you are are whisping around each of their own successive nuclei, none of them in their locked in orbits ever returning to the exact same spot because they too, like you and the overall vast expanse of the universe are being swept along and away from where they were. Nothing anywhere at anytime can ever be the same, from the minutest charmed quark being in the exact spot once once upon a time, to any two snowflakes ever being just alike. Fine grain, course grain? How could that be so?
In Zen lore Pai-chang Huai-hai (724-814) was a great Zen master, especially known for Hyakujo's Fox and the following No Ducks story:
Prior to his awakening experience Pai-Chang was a student of the also great Zen master Ma-tsu Ta-chi (709-788). One day while Pai-chang was still his student the two were out walking together and saw in the sky a formation of wild ducks. Ma-tsu asked, "What is that?" Pai-chang said, "Wild ducks." Ma-tsu said, "Where have they gone?" Pai-chang replied, "They have flown away." Ma-tsu then twisted Pai-chang's nose, of from which Pai-chang cried out in pain. Ma-tsu said, "When have they ever flown away, they have been here since the beginning."
When have they ever flown away, they have been here since the beginning! Sounds like fairly straightforward Zen-type discourse between master and student, except from the first not a thing is, which is, by the way, the same thing as having been here since the beginning. Ma-tsu was testing the awareness of his student. When asking 'what is that?' Pai-chang answered 'wild ducks.' To substantiate his level of understanding that all is One, that is, that his answer 'wild ducks' was in the Absolute, that his reply encompassed ALL about the scene of the ducks: 'clouds on the mountains and the moon on the sea,' etc., etc. Instead Pai-chang replied 'they have flown away' showing Ma-tsu that Pai-chang missed it twice. To Pai-chang the that in 'what is that?' was only wild ducks over there, mountains over there, sky over there, him over here. Hence, they, the ducks, could fly away. To Ma-tsu, all is One, how could anything fly away (or electron clouds orbit or be swept up in the inflation/expansion of the universe?). No over here, no over there, no Ma-tsu, no ducks.
Wild ducks may be One with the universe, but they still are what they are, regardless of how they may or may not be separated out or what they are called or not called. Although all is One, a given duck is unique in the universe because at the moment it is, it is nothing else, nothing else it. Like Shen-hui said:
"One talks of the Void for the benefit of those who have not seen their own Buddha-natures. For those who have seen their own Buddha-natures the Void does not exist."
So, added all together how does all of it work and what, if anything, does it mean to you? Again, another illustration:
You go to Las Vegas on a certain day on a certain time and select a given video poker machine out of all of the machines in all of the casinos in all of Las Vegas. You buy twenty dollars in quarters and start putting the coins into the machine. Pretty soon the quarters are all gone, you haven't won anything, get up and leave. What has happened? Of the money that you have or had you are now out twenty dollars, twenty dollars you won't spend somewhere else with all of it's downstream ramifications. Ramifications such as items you could have possibly purchased and their use thereof or taken out of circulation for others not to use. You also took not just twenty dollars, but twenty dollars in quarters out of circulation and put them into a video machine, plus, you using the machine at a given time at a given place prevented others from using the same machine at the same time, which bumped them to some other machine or none at all, impacting their own and others downstream flow. Now, as money, those quarters have inherent downstream impact anyway, but now they are sitting in a video poker machine waiting to impact the next person, or the next, or the next. But, lets say instead of losing your quarters you hit a royal flush and won four thousand quarters for a total of one thousand dollars. Now you have a thousand dollars you will distribute and spend in your own lifestream activities, impacting those who come in contact with the money from you just like you have been impacted by having a thousand to spend you didn't have before, etc., etc. Plus, by you winning, you have denied the further use of that money by anybody else who may have accessed the machine and how any of it may have impacted them and others and others and others.
So, what am I getting at? I am just pointing out that everything is interconnected. No matter what you do or don't do, in doing it or not doing it, everything is impacted because everything is interconnected. And that is the answer to why you are. If you were not, at this moment, and did not tie up or ever tie up all the aggregates or constituents that make you up, then those aggregates or constituents either might not have ever existed, or if they did, would be split up and used somewhere else, bumping everything from where it is to some other place to some other place to some other place...because if you were not, that is, never existed, then everything and every part that ever proceeded leading up to you being you would not have unfolded the way it has or be where it is or was or be impacted by what you are or have done or will do. The mere fact you are tying up the aggregates or constituents you are tying up is WHY the universe is the way it is. See how important you are? If it wasn't for you nothing else would be the same. In other words:
This being present, that arises; without this, that does not occur.
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
AWAKENED TEACHERS FORUM
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
ON THE RAZOR'S
WHAT THE BUDDHA TAUGHT
SPIRITUAL GUIDES: PASS OR FAIL?
THE AWAKENING EXPERIENCE IN THE MODERN ERA
IN THE WAY OF ENLIGHTENMENT: The Ten Fetters of Buddhism