India, Buddhism, and Zen Enlightenment
In February of 1985 Playboy magazine published an exclusive interview with Steve Jobs that had within it's contents some rather interesting aspects of Jobs, as a 19 year old, backpacking barefoot through India with a buddy in the summer of 1974. He was gone seven months, primarily in search of a guru and possible Enlightenment. Even though the information on his trek has been available to a wide general audience since at least that 1985 interview, over the years, relative to Jobs, it has long been overshadowed by other events. However, since his death and the recent publication of his authorized autobiography --- that goes into some aspects of his India adventures such as having his head shaved by a monk high in the mountains of India among other things --- people have been coming out of the woodwork with all kinds of comments and questions regarding his trip, India, his relation to Buddhism, Zen and Enlightenment.
On and off over time I developed a sort of rolling interest in Jobs' spiritual trip to India --- primarily for a couple of reasons. First, because I talked to Jobs just days before he left on his trip. And secondly, how it related to a man named Adam Osborne who I re-met in 1982 that I knew from my childhood and had lost track of over the years. Osborne, whose father was Arthur Osborne, a devotee of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and a well respected author of several books on Ramana, grew up at the Ramana ashram as a young boy --- and it was there at the ashram that I, also as a young boy, met Adam for the first time. Interestingly enough, he became one of the earliest pioneers in creating and marketing a commercially viable personal computer called the Osborne 1, and because of same, became one of Silicon Valley's first high-tech multi-millionaires and an arch foe of Steve Jobs.
Sometime in the early 2000s, probably 2002 or 2003, in a quasi follow-up on the going to India aspects of the Playboy article, I had a page on the net that alluded to an impromtu meeting between Steve Jobs and myself that happened just days prior his final decision, then actually leaving on his trip to India. However, that page, as many of my pages have, disappeared into cyberspace some years ago --- not unusual for a lot of my pages --- and by the time I discovered the page was down I never followed up in trying to retrieve it.
Back in the old days I used to get a regular stream of emails when the page in question on Steve Jobs was up and, as time went on, I continually refined the page so the questions would be answered by simply reading the contents. When the page went down, every now and again people would ask questions regarding Jobs and India. In those days I would answer them individually. Then sometime around June of 2009 I added some of the information as a footnote to 'page two' of my long running page, ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, and simply just refered people there without comment. Recently the contents of the footnote were updated and moved into the main text and now reads thus:
"Before the oncoming summer of 1974, and somewhat early for the arrival of my mentor's friend, I headed north up California slowly wending my way toward Sausalito, all the while crossing paths with a few friends along the way. One of the people I stopped to see was an old high school buddy who lived in San Jose and worked at IBM. Typically he and I would never have been friends or even known each other in high school because we traveled in such different circles. However, we had established a strong tie and friendship because he was like an artist when it came to working on and having knowledge of old Fords, of which my early 1940s woodie station wagon was one. While I restored the wood he spent tons of hours working on the mechanical end of things just for the heck of it, and because of his endeavors, it sang when it ran because everything mechanical was so in sync.
"Other than our high school days and working on the woodie wagon in our past, we really did not have a whole lot in common, so staying at his place for a couple of days we did things more to his liking than what I would have otherwise have done. He, having to work on one of the days I was there, suggested I visit the Winchester House which was located not far from his apartment. It wasn't long before I was off on my own wandering around both inside and outside the rather bizarre complex, eventually ending up leisurely strolling around the Victorian gardens that surround it. While in the garden I was approached by three or four monks in full Buddhist regalia. We spoke for a few minutes and they went on their way. A somewhat intense, disheveled, and bearded young man in his late teens or early twenties who seemed to have been following and observing the monks from a distance came up to speak with me when they departed. He asked if they always acted that way as they seemed to exhibit some sort of reverence toward me. After several more questions I told him I had studied Zen under Yasutani Hakuun Roshi and had as well been to India and the ashrama of Sri Ramana Maharshi. As the afternoon passed in conversation he continually wanted to know all about the the difference between the Indian side of things and that of Zen. After awhile, he stood up from the bench we were sitting on and said as soon as he had the money he was going to go to India. Later I learned the besheveled young man did just that, actually traveling in India for seven months. His name Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple." (source)
Now, to make it perfectly clear, there is no credit here, implied or otherwise, that somehow the meeting that transpired between the the young Steve Jobs and myself in the garden of the Winchester House directly influenced him into acting positively toward his then already seedling desire to actually go to India. However, the garden meeting fell within weeks, possibly days of his decision and departure. So too, the events I describe in Dark Luminosity had transpired some years before, so the two of us crossing paths, even for the short time we did, there is a chance he may have vaguely whiffed the perfume of the gateless gate and thus then the possibility of it being accessed.
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN
RECOUNTING A YOUNG BOY'S NEARLY INSTANT TRANSFORMATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE DURING HIS ONLY DARSHAN WITH THE MAHARSHI
THE 1985 PLAYBOY INTERVIEW
YASUTANI HAKUUN ROSHI
MEETING DR. LA PAZ
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
As Sarlo, who has a long running guru rating service on the net says about my works:
"It's organic and sprawling, but intricately interlinked, linking also to outside sites. One of the most fascinating aspects of this interconnectedness is that his collection is not very systematic in the usual sense. Forget site map, there is nothing for it when visiting but to wander from one page to another without much sense of where you're going, and usually without completing the page you're on, which you may return to only after a long garden path. In reading, you become a wanderer.
"One more tidbit is the domain structure. The Wanderling has undertaken to create his project in free website places, assembling a myriad of apparently different sites, but all interwoven. As the free website places fold and merge and change their rules, he shifts accordingly, thus a migration happens on this level as well."(source)
"When Buddhism went to China, inconsistency became problematic. This was due to the very non-Indian way the Chinese perceived the world and human nature. Unlike Indian thinking, which gave priority to the devine or the trans-human element of reality, Chinese thought gave priority to the human world. The traditional Chinese view was that people are born with an innate sense of goodness, purity and truth, and that the normal human passions are a part of this goodness and an Enlightened sage is someone who accepts this."
SUDDEN OR GRADUAL ENLIGHTENMENT? Rev Vajra Karuna
The difference between the Indian side of things and that of Zen are huge --- although the end results, the finality of the Absolute, are not unlike.(see)
I started study-practice under a man who himself had Awakened to the Absolute under the grace and light of the venerated Indian holy man, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Much to my mentor's chagrin, in my study-pactice, he discerned little or no headway over the years on my part. He decided my approach and temperment suited more of what Zen had to offer than what was found on the Indian side of things. In so saying, he arranged for me study under the noted Japanese Zen master Yasutani Hakuun Roshi. That too, did not reach the results he had hoped for. Knowing that as a young boy I had met with the American Franklin Merrell-Wolff high in the mountains of the Sierras with somewhat striking results, and, in that I would not quit bugging him, in a last ditch effort he decided I needed something in-between Yasutani and his own teaching. In 1965 he arranged for me to go to Connecticut and visit a nearly invisible man of great spiritual prowess by the name of Alfred Pulyan. Just as spring reached its final count down and the warmth of summer was coming on I showed up at Pulyan's wooded rural compound and began a most unsual almost non-study study --- the visit eventually growing into the end of summer because, I'm sure, of my mentor's pull and Pulyan's own graciousness. Before I could return the following year Pulyan died.
People constantly ask if my stay with Alfred Pulyan ended in a positive outcome. As stated above, initially I had not had much actual success along the path. My mentor sending me to Pulyan in 1965 and the events that followed in May of 1969 as presented briefly in the paragraph below and more indepth in Dark Luminosity are all part of the Dharmadhatu. Nothing stands alone. Additional contributing co-factors was my earlier childhood experience with Franklin Merrell-Wolff as well as doing months and months of hard time in a Zen Monastery high in the mountains somewhere along the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. Although it is extracted from its original context below, when asked, I usually refer them to the following paragraph that shows up on page two of the previously cited ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds:
"After an intermittent slow start as a teenager, followed by twelve years of serious practice, in the month of May of the year 1969, at age 31, because, for the lack of anything else to call it, a Collision of Infinities occurred and the bottom of eternity consciousness literally broke through --- which refers to Awakening in the classical sense and what Sri C. R. Rajamani refers to as well in The Last American Darshan about my even earlier experience under Sri Ramana Maharshi. Rajamani says, speaking of me, "Within an hour of his face-to-face meeting with Sri Bhagavan, his mental barriers were reduced to nothingness" --- and thus therefore, the equivalent of Inka Shomei, the Seal of Approval, at the Fourth Level (ken-chu-shi), was graciously accorded me by the person from which I sought guidence; he himself, having experienced full realization under the grace and light of Sri Ramana Maharshi some thirty-nine years earlier, also at the age of 31."
ALL IS ILLUSION?
A Chinese-Indian Dichotomy In Advaita and Zen
DOING HARD TIME IN A ZEN MONASTERY
TEN FETTERS OF BUDDHISM
So, the question arises, does a dichotomy arise or is it no more than just a boring conceptual construct propped up out of whole cloth so bigtime spiritual types can bat thier gums using mispronouced sanskrit words and their minions can sit around at their feet in awe?
Could be. If you move away from the above visual the whole thing can get complicated the more you read and the deeper you get into it. In a search or research any potential dichotomy usually boils down to differences welling up from two major divisions, the Buddhist version and the Indian version. The main Buddhist thrust is of course, Zen, and lesser so by a little, Buddhism generally. The Indian version is typically related to what is called Advaita. Both main catagories break down into several branches, each with their own set of rules to follow if you expect to reach the final goal.
The quote below by Tiruvannamalai-based Kevinandaji, whose stuff I absolutely love but whose blog is universally hated by the hawk Enlightenment crowd, will put into perspective what I present for those who may be so interested because, as Kevinandaji presents it, so closely parallels my perfume on the subject that if I were to write it myself there might be copyright infringements:
"Traditional and Gaudapadian Advaita have failed to address the arguments of Madhyamaka Buddhism. This too is the legacy of Gaudapada's political formulation of Advaita. We know that Gaudapada borrowed from the Madhymakans and reinterpreted their thesis of non-origination without crediting them. Unlike the Sarvastivadin and Yogacarin positions, the Madhyamaka teaching of non-origination was not nihilist. Its main teachers Nagarjuna and Candrakirti - now classified as Prasangika Madhyamaka - rejected outright both nihilism and eternalism. They advocated instead a new interpretation of the Buddha's Middle Way which says (as modern theoretical physics confirms) that absolutes are impossible. There cannot truly be any enlightenment, Self or Brahman to attain - nor can there truly be any jiva, "I" or method to attain it. This position does not say "no I" or "no method". It says all things including the person exist as empty, co-dependent arisings which are neither totally existent nor totally non-existent. Methods may happen, methods may not - what happens simply happens - and whether someone practises a method or not is completely irrelevant ..."
Historicly Gaudapada is considered the teacher-guru of Govinda. Govinda inturn, is said to have been the teacher-guru of Shankara --- Shankara being the main bigtime heavyweight dude behind Advaita Vedanta as it has come down to us today. As Kevinandaji points out in the above quote, Gaudapada borrowed from the Madhymakans and reinterpreted their thesis of non-origination without crediting them. While the non-crediting is valid, researchers and scholars on Gaudapada seem to think how and what he has presented his works indicates a strong familiarity with Buddhism both in language and doctrine. Many of those same researchers and scholars seem to think he was originally a Buddhist and simply brought his philosophy with him.
So, what is being said, whichever of the two you seek to use to contribute toward "your mind being ripe," if you seek either, they are in the end, based in common roots. All the bells and whistles are just exterrnal trappings like the plumage of the peacock --- to attract you --- that is, if you are a peacock.
Painting legs on a snake won't make it traverse the ground any better or reach it's goal any faster.