Robert Thurman says he can't wait to see the new Star Trek movie out this summer. As a leading scholar and translator of Tibetan Buddhism to Western audiences, he believes science fiction provides a likely metaphor to describe the "multi-dimensional universe of infinite possibility" inherent in the Tibetan Buddhist worldview.
The following thoughts are excerpted from an interview with Thurman prior to his participation at the Sun Valley Wellness Festival on Friday, May 22, at 7:30 p.m. as keynote speaker with Michael Beckwith:
Two world views
"Tibetan Buddhists have a quantum physics and astral physics world view. There is life on many other planets and enlightened beings all over the universe. There are also universes in every atom. The Western, materialist worldview has us on a cold and lonely planet, fearing invasions from aliens. Our scientists send Beatles songs out into the cosmos, hoping for a response from Alpha Centauri, or something.
"We are trapped in a failure of the imagination in America today because of the prevailing view of materialism. There are those who recoil from this materialism and go back into old-fashioned, Western fundamentalism, which is very closed and flat. The Earth is flat, like during the Inquisition. We are stuck in either of these two options.
"Buddhism helps to discover the best that is in our culture. In any culture—America, Mongolia, Japan, or Iran—as it did in ancient times, Buddhism seeks to grasp onto the elements of altruism and scientific wisdom, and we have those in abundance in our Western culture. Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson had Buddhist sensibilities."
Science and reality
"Science in the West is valuable, especially when it doesn't settle for the dogma of materialism, but looks very carefully at the atoms and the subatomic energies, when it gets down to that you can't really pinpoint what reality is. You have to implant your mind as a part of nature, and your observation affects what you observe. There is no such thing as absolute reality. You have to program in the presence of your subjectivity. You are responsible for your presence in the universe. That is ancient Buddhist science and it is modern quantum physics.
"The Buddha discovered that if you look at the nature of reality carefully and analyze it, and study it scientifically, although the scientific instrument he used was an extremely focused and laser-like mind that could really concentrate and drill down to the deeper nature of things; when you do that, you find that the nature of things is fine. It's wonderful. The energy of the universe is abundant. It's blissful, not harmful. You don't have to be afraid of other people. You don't have to fight with the universe. You could say this is the 'good news' from Buddhism."
"In all forms of Buddhism there are three traditional kinds of wisdom: one formed of learning through books, one born of critical reflection and one born of focused meditation. So read different opinions and develop critical understanding, then deepen what you know through meditation. This is very important. For Buddhists, ignorance is not bliss, but rather, the cause of suffering. Reality is bliss, and so knowledge of reality and wisdom of reality is blissful.
"The instrument with which a human being achieves liberation from suffering is fundamentally that which also opens the floodgates of compassion, and to open the gates of wisdom we have to get rid of our uncritical ignorance.
The Buddha once said, 'Monks, wise people, accept my teachings only after thorough analysis, as a goldsmith buys gold, only after cutting, rubbing and burning it to test it to see if it is real gold. Don't just accept it out of reverence to me. It is very important to think clearly and critically, using the rational mind to understand things, to look at the behavior of our teachers and see that it measures up to what their teachings are. We should implement the good things that they teach but not necessarily become too dependent on them."
On meditating correctly
" One misunderstanding rife in the world of Buddhism is that meditation means 'don't think anything,' to just empty your mind and shut down your thinking process. That is not correct from the Tibetan Buddhist view. It is very important to develop your critical wisdom and to learn something. If we just sit there and empty the mind without first critiquing and seeing into our preconceived wrong notions about the world, we will simply be meditating on our wrong notions. Even though we will not be thinking of them, they will be stuck in our minds. It might give us temporary peace of mind and some calmness, but in the long run we will be stuck in a kind of mud of our own confusion.
"There is a point where you go beyond thinking in terms of formal argumentation or syllogism, to a 'one-pointed' state of mind. But you would only be aiming that one-pointed mind by first critically inspecting your view of the world, making sure it is reasonable. You deepen what you have come to understand logically until it is visceral."
By TONY EVANS
10 ways to control your anger - Professional expert’s advice
I am really emotional and excitable person. I think that there are two types of anger: constructive anger and a destructive one. In order to understand the anger phenomenon I decided to investigate the nature of anger, reasons of its appearing, key factors and anger management.
What does it mean this anger? Anger is a strong indignation feeling of our emotional sphere that is attended by self-control losing. Anger is a signal of our state. Glands produce an array of hormones that have a great and deep effect on all our body. The main participants of this process are adrenaline and cortisol. They activate cardiovascular system and consequently all organs. Adrenalin causes fast heart beating, rising blood pressure. These rich oxygenated blood streams to the places are responsible for reaction. Thus some extra energy is released.
There are 4 basic ways of anger expressions:
1. Straight and immediately (verbally or nonverbally) to show your anger. It gives an opportunity to free from the negative emotions.
2. To express anger in an indirect way. In this case usually suffer persons that are weaker, not dangerous and those ones who “come to hand”, usually they are our family and close relatives. Thus we hurt our dear ones. One of the best ways is to express your anger to the person who is the source of this very anger. If it is impossible- better find some compromise.
3. Restraining anger you “drive” it deep inside. So, negative emotions store will provoke a big stress sooner or later.
4. You may foresee situation of anger feeling, try not to expand this feeling but get to know the reason, understand and solve it. A Roman philosopher Seneca said: “When you are feeling of ascending “volcano”- stand still, not doing anything- not speaking, not moving.”
Anger is a normal and natural human feeling, especially nowadays as life is really fast and we have a huge amount of information to accumulate (in comparison with our previous generations). The range of anger is rather wide: from a slight annoyance to impetuous fury. Anger can be quick and long, lasting for years in form of bitterness, vengeance or hate. Anger can lead to health issues like depression, high blood pressure, hearth diseases, stresses, alcohol dependence and obesity. If you are anger- express it. If you feel discomfort from these “negative splashes”- then we can give some techniques how to manage your emotional anger:
- 1. Take a deep and continuous breath. Count up to 50 or imagine your aggressor just naked, only in socks. This will help you to calm and smile.
- 2. Have a walk. Look at high sky. Continue to breathe deep and easily. So you appraise the situation and calm down.
- 3. Do some physical exercises. When you are angry- your body is very tensed and tough. If you stretch your muscles it will relax your body, as you will spill out all your negative energy into action. Your brains will get more oxygen and it assists to clear your thoughts.
- 4. Write down all your thoughts. Write down that you are mad and why. Avoid being rational, logical or laconic. Write on paper all you are feeling this moment. Try to write all in details. The function of this technique is to shift all your anger out of your head on paper.
- 5. Be grateful. Find someone to thank. Do you not forget about yourself. Thank that you have woken up today, thank that that the Sun is shining for you, that the sky is blue and the grass is green.
- 6. Prayer. Ask God to be with you during this anger moment and lead you.
- 7. Meditation. Close your eyes, look into solar plexus, and be all your anger, breathing deeply.
- 8. Change of places. Move yourself on your enemy’s place. And look at situation from his point of view. Better look at the situation from the ceiling. Focus on details, especially on funny and absurd ones. Strive to forgive your enemy as well as forgive truly yourself.
- 9. Go back to your childhood memories. Recollect state when you were angry. Hug this child and say: “All is ok. I am here. You are good child. I love you and I will not leave you.”
- 10. Your values. What is the most significant thing in your life? Who are the most important people in your life? What kind of person do you want to be? Think and accept that point that you are living your life, and you are living your values. There is a good man inside you that wants to help you. I wish you good luck!
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