Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Attachment  by Elihu Genmyo Smith
 
Attachments to feelings, to body condition, to positions and events seem natural.

You receive a promotion with a significantly increased salary; your daughter has had a successful delivery and gives birth to a healthy baby; you run a full marathon and are finally among the top ten in the event - these are just three examples of events which can elicit joy, elation and happiness, among many emotions and reactions.

You find your month old parked car has been smashed and there is no evidence by whom. Your boss declares that your division is being closed and you are laid off. Your mother tells you that her illness has been diagnosed as aggressive cancer. You wake up and your legs ache so much that it is painful to get out of bed; simply standing is a pulsating shooting pain.

Our responses to these four events - sadness, loss, grief, anger, rage - can be intense. These are opportunities of attachment manifesting. And, this coming going attachment sometimes brings on further reactions, often without noticing this. We may be overwhelmed, almost taken over by these reactions, believing these reactions, acting out of reactions. Has this been so for you? What has resulted from that?

Being embodied is the possibility of physical emotional joy, physical emotional pain, as well as other forms of attachment. This is human life, our life. The seemingly automatic self-attachment, even as it is a fundamental strength of life, can also be a fundamental life hindrance.

In the midst of ongoing change life, attachment can be stressful and painful, pulling in many directions and ways of being.

Have you noticed attachment events like this recently in your life?

Holding to these reactions, attaching to them, attaching to the attaching, living out of them, can make entanglement and trouble for us. Has this been so for you?

An aspect of the Buddha’s teaching can be stated as, ‘suffering, misery, arises not from loss but from attachment.’

This is important to clarify. Misery, suffering, are important and difficult human conditions. And I repeat, suffering and misery do not come from loss - though it often seems that way to us, especially in the midst of loss, in the midst of the various forms of loss which are an inevitable part of our life.

Believing attachment, holding to attachment of like or dislike, of wanting and repelling, of fear, greed and anger based on attachment, results in entanglements, troubles and harming. Please reflect on this for yourself.

Because attachments seem to be who we are, we “follow” attachments without even noticing this. We make self of arising-passing attaching, without perceiving an alternative to acting out of attachments. Do you believe attachment reactions as truth, as what is good and what should be? Do you follow them?

The Avatamsaka Sutra states that Buddha, upon Awakening, said, “All beings are endowed with wisdom and perfection of the Tathagata - but because of attachment and delusion they miss this and suffer.”

This Buddha Awakening is your Awakening, your life.Yet, we miss life when entangling in attachment. And this attachment believing, attachment attachment, keeps us from compassionate responding.

Varieties of attachment – “unconscious” attachment, “conscious” attachment – are what keep us from compassionate living.

The “4 Practice Principles” begin, “caught in self-centered dream”, caught in the attachment that is self-dream. Attachment is in form, sensation, conceptions – the seemingly natural tendencies of self-volition and experiencing, our very consciousness, awareness. Clarifying if and how this occurs in your life is zazening. Please be zazening life, please clarify this.

There is no other form of the universe than right here. You might wonder why in Bodhisattva’s Vow we say, “When I a student of the Way, look at the real form of the Universe”? We say “real form” because attachment distorts this life moment, blinds us to life, blinds us to this moment form. Thus Bodhisattva’s Vow needs to state skillfully that what we believe may not be the so-called “real form” because our attachments distort right here now for us.

There is no other “real form” elsewhere. And yes, we may miss this moment form - miss form is emptiness, miss emptiness is exactly form. So we are reminded in the Heart Sutra. And even as are reminded by the Heart Sutra, we must be clear - form is exactly form, emptiness exactly emptiness. No other real form.

Experiencing – bodily experiencing, body-mind experiencing, body-mind-universe experiencing – experiencing.

Do you fail to see this life because of holding to attachments about this moment, about this particular condition? Does attachment holding occur in your life? Please notice if and when this attachment holding occurs.

Because of attachment holding, the Bodhisattva’s Vow emphasizes – in any event (in this particular event), in any moment (in this very moment), in any place (this very place here), none is other than this Buddha Awakening life.

This right here now is the real form, your very life – no need to go looking elsewhere or else-how for some other real form.

And we must be supported by our Bodhisattva Vows, by being a practitioner of the way, in order to not be blinded or hindered by the natural tendency attachment holding. Not hindered, thus experiencing manifests in our compassionate responding.

Dogen states, “drop away body mind” – exactly dropping away this moment attachment. Right here is dropped away body mind.

You may discover that the attachment habit is strong, pervasive. At times manifesting attachment, noticing manifesting attachment and responding may be the necessary focus of our practice effort sitting, walking, throughout the day, when with others and when alone. Attachment holding can be bodily, thoughts, feelings, self, other.

Attachment to attachment, attachment self-centeredness, poisons life. The antidoting of attachment self-centered poisoning is experiencing. When we notice attachment arising, right at this moment is experiencing opportunity, which is experiencing holding; using this noticed opportunity is being this body-mind attachment, is experiencing holding, is releasing holding.

Attachment is no-thing. It is not other than this Buddha nature manifesting, our particular Buddha nature life. Experiencing is being just this – being free of just this.

In being blinded by attachment holding, we miss this here - by not allowing this light to permeate this moment. There is no need to continue reactive-habit distortions, the greed anger attachment harm that might otherwise result. Just make your practice effort when discovering attachment, allow attachment arising passing as your life, your moment experiencing.

So that we do not misunderstand, I repeat that attachment is just this human life. “(Though) the Buddha Way transcends being and non-being,…Nevertheless - flowers fall amid our longing, and weeds spring up amid our loathing – and that is all”(Dogen, Genjo Koan). This is our life practice.

Holding Mu lightly was Soen Roshi’s practice instruction and encouragement to Aitken Roshi. Being our life lightly is being awakened by the myriad dharmas, even being awakened by attachment dharmas. This is allowing the Universe living us.

Lightly being allows my life to be Dharma manifesting this life, this body-mind-world experiencing, rather than self-centered tightness controlling and hindering, the body mind holding-attaching blinding us.(Though this manifesting Dharma is not hindered yet for us blinding attaching-holding interferes; we miss this moment life we are, hindering compassionate responding.)

Our life practice is being transparent, being present, being lightly present -being transparently present, being transpresent.

Being just this – (is) being free of just this – this manifesting compassionate way.

© 2017 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Sesshin Dharma talks


 http://prairiezen.org/Sesshin_audio.html

Opening Remarks 1/11/17
Intimacy - Part 1   1/12/17
Intimacy - Part 2   1/13/17
Loving - Part 1  1/14/17
Loving - Part 2  1/15/17

Link to MLK Sermon "Loving Your Enemies"

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A joyous and wonderful New Year to all - please be cheerful and at peace, free from anxiety, fear, anger or hatred.


"The Fable of Edward Snowden - As he seeks a pardon, the NSA thief has told multiple lies about what he stole and his dealings with Russian intelligence."

The following was sent to me.

I post it in its entirety because of the pertinent nature of the content as continued hostility between the USA and Russia is in the news and because of its clarification and challenge to various tropes in the media.

I do not know what is true in this matter - whether the allegations in this article are true, as opposed to allegations in the movie and other portrayals. If what is implied in this excerpt are true then it seems to portent a more conflicted future. The following is an extended excerpt from a new book “How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft,” by Edward Jay Epstein.

"Of all the lies that Edward Snowden has told since his massive theft of secrets from the National Security Agency and his journey to Russia via Hong Kong in 2013, none is more provocative than the claim that he never intended to engage in espionage, and was only a “whistleblower” seeking to expose the overreach of NSA’s information gathering. With the clock ticking on Mr. Snowden’s chance of a pardon, now is a good time to review what we have learned about his real mission.

Mr. Snowden’s theft of America’s most closely guarded communication secrets occurred in May 2013, according to the criminal complaint filed against him by federal prosecutors the following month. At the time Mr. Snowden was a 29-year-old technologist working as an analyst-in-training for the consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton at the regional base of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Oahu, Hawaii. On May 20, only some six weeks after his job there began, he failed to show up for work, emailing his supervisor that he was at the hospital being tested for epilepsy.

This excuse was untrue. Mr. Snowden was not even in Hawaii. He was in Hong Kong. He had flown there with a cache of secret data that he had stolen from the NSA.

This was not the only lie Mr. Snowden told. As became clear during my investigation over the past three years, nearly every element of the narrative Mr. Snowden has provided, which reached its final iteration in Oliver Stone’s 2016 movie, “Snowden,” is demonstrably false.

This narrative began soon after Mr. Snowden arrived in Hong Kong, where he arranged to meet with Laura Poitras, a Berlin-based documentary filmmaker, and Glenn Greenwald, a Brazil-based blogger for the Guardian. Both journalists were longtime critics of NSA surveillance with whom Mr. Snowden (under the alias Citizen Four) had been in contact for four months.

To provide them with scoops discrediting NSA operations, Mr. Snowden culled several thousand documents out of his huge cache of stolen material, including two explosive documents he asked them to use in their initial stories. One was the now-famous secret order from America’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court requiring Verizon to turn over to the NSA its billing records for its phone users in the U.S. The other was an NSA slide presentation detailing its ability to intercept communications of non-American users of the internet via a joint program with the FBI code-named Prism.

These documents were published in 2013 on June 5 and 6, followed by a video in which he identified himself as the leaker and a whistleblower.

At the heart of Mr. Snowden’s narrative was his claim that while he may have incidentally “touched” other data in his search of NSA files, he took only documents that exposed the malfeasance of the NSA and gave all of them to journalists.

Yet even as Mr. Snowden’s narrative was taking hold in the public realm, a secret damage assessment done by the NSA and Pentagon told a very different story. According to a unanimous report declassified on Dec. 22 by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the investigation showed that Mr. Snowden had “removed” (not merely touched) 1.5 million documents. That huge number was based on, among other evidence, electronic logs that recorded the selection, copying and moving of documents.

The number of purloined documents is more than what NSA officials were willing to say in 2013 about the removal of data, possibly because the House committee had the benefit of the Pentagon’s more-extensive investigation. But even just taking into account the material that Mr. Snowden handed over to journalists, the December House report concluded that he compromised “secrets that protect American troops overseas and secrets that provide vital defenses against terrorists and nation-states.” These were, the report said, “merely the tip of the iceberg.”

The Pentagon’s investigation during 2013 and 2014 employed hundreds of military-intelligence officers, working around the clock, to review all 1.5 million documents. Most had nothing to do with domestic surveillance or whistle blowing. They were mainly military secrets, as Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on March 6, 2014.

It was not the quantity of Mr. Snowden’s theft but the quality that was most telling. Mr. Snowden’s theft put documents at risk that could reveal the NSA’s Level 3 tool kit—a reference to documents containing the NSA’s most-important sources and methods. Since the agency was created in 1952, Russia and other adversary nations had been trying to penetrate its Level-3 secrets without great success.

Yet it was precisely these secrets that Mr. Snowden changed jobs to steal. In an interview in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post on June 15, 2013, he said he sought to work on a Booz Allen contract at the CIA, even at a cut in pay, because it gave him access to secret lists of computers that the NSA was tapping into around the world.

He evidently succeeded. In a 2014 interview with Vanity Fair, Richard Ledgett, the NSA executive who headed the damage-assessment team, described one lengthy document taken by Mr. Snowden that, if it fell into the wrong hands, would provide a “road map” to what targets abroad the NSA was, and was not, covering. It contained the requests made by the 17 U.S. services in the so-called Intelligence Community for NSA interceptions abroad.

On June 23, less than two weeks after Mr. Snowden released the video that helped present his narrative, he left Hong Kong and flew to Moscow, where he received protection by the Russian government. In much of the media coverage that followed, the ultimate destination of these stolen secrets was fogged over—if not totally obscured from the public—by the unverified claims that Mr. Snowden was spoon feeding to handpicked journalists.

In his narrative, Mr. Snowden always claims that he was a conscientious “whistleblower” who turned over all the stolen NSA material to journalists in Hong Kong. He has insisted he had no intention of defecting to Russia but was on his way to Latin America when he was trapped in Russia by the U.S. government in an attempt to demonize him.

For example, in October 2014, he told the editor of the Nation, “I’m in exile. My government revoked my passport intentionally to leave me exiled” and “chose to keep me in Russia.” According to Mr. Snowden, the U.S. government accomplished this entrapment by suspending his passport while he was in midair after he departed Hong Kong on June 23, thus forcing him into the hands of President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

None of this is true. The State Department invalidated Mr. Snowden’s passport while he was still in Hong Kong, not after he left for Moscow on June 23. The “Consul General-Hong Kong confirmed that Hong Kong authorities were notified that Mr. Snowden’s passport was revoked June 22,” according to the State Department’s senior watch officer, as reported by ABC news on June 23, 2013.

Mr. Snowden could not have been unaware of the government’s pursuit of him, since the criminal complaint against him, which was filed June 14, had been headline news in Hong Kong. That the U.S. acted against him while he was still in Hong Kong is of great importance to the timeline because it points to the direct involvement of Aeroflot, an airline which the Russian government effectively controls. Aeroflot bypassed its normal procedures to allow Mr. Snowden to board the Moscow flight—even though he had neither a valid passport nor a Russian visa, as his newly assigned lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said at a press conference in Russia on July 12, 2013.

By falsely claiming his passport was invalidated after the plane departed Hong Kong—instead of before he left—Mr. Snowden hoped to conceal this extraordinary waiver. The Russian government further revealed its helping hand, judging by a report in Russia’s Izvestia newspaper when, on arrival, Mr. Snowden was taken off the plane by a security team in a “special operation.”

Nor was it any kind of accident. Vladimir Putin personally authorized this assistance after Mr. Snowden met with Russian officials in Hong Kong, as Mr. Putin admitted in a televised press conference on Sept. 2, 2013.

To provide a smokescreen for Mr. Snowden’s escape from Hong Kong, WikiLeaks (an organization that the Obama administration asserted to be a tool of Russian intelligence after the hacking of Democratic Party leaders’ email in 2016) booked a dozen or more diversionary flight reservations to other destinations for Mr. Snowden.

WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange also dispatched Sarah Harrison, his deputy at WikiLeaks, to fly to Hong Kong to pay Mr. Snowden’s expenses and escort him to Moscow. In short, Mr. Snowden’s arrival in Moscow was neither accidental nor the work of the U.S. government.

Mr. Snowden’s own narrative asserts that he came to Russia not only empty-handed but without access to any of the stolen material. He wrote in Vanity Fair in 2014 that he had destroyed all of it before arriving in Moscow—the very data that he went to such lengths to steal a few weeks earlier in Hawaii.

As it turns out, this claim is also untrue. It is belied by two Kremlin insiders who were in a position to know what Mr. Snowden actually brought with him to Moscow. One of them, Frants Klintsevich, was the first deputy chairman of the defense and security committee of the Duma (Russia’s parliament) at the time of Mr. Snowden’s defection. “Let’s be frank,” Mr. Klintsevich said in a taped interview with NPR in June 2016, “Mr. Snowden did share intelligence. This is what security services do.”

The other insider was Anatoly Kucherena, a well-connected Moscow lawyer and Mr. Putin’s friend. Mr. Kucherena served as the intermediary between Mr. Snowden and Russian authorities. On Sept. 23, 2013, Mr. Kucherena gave a long interview to Sophie Shevardnadze, a journalist for Russia Today television.

When Ms. Shevardnadze directly asked him if Mr. Snowden had given all the documents he had taken from the NSA to journalists in Hong Kong, Mr. Kucherena said Mr. Snowden had only given “some” of the NSA’s documents in his possession to journalists in Hong Kong. “So he [Mr. Snowden] does have some materials that haven’t been made public yet?” Ms. Shevardnadze asked. “Certainly,” Mr. Kucherena answered.

This disclosure filled in a crucial piece of the puzzle. It explained why NSA documents that Mr. Snowden had copied, but had not given to the journalists in Hong Kong—such as the embarrassing revelation about the NSA targeting the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel—continued to surface after Mr. Snowden arrived in Moscow, along with NSA documents released via WikiLeaks.

As this was a critical discrepancy in Mr. Snowden’s narrative, I went to Moscow in October 2015 to see Mr. Kucherena. During our conversation, Mr. Kucherena confirmed that his interview with Ms. Shevardnadze was accurate, and that Mr. Snowden had brought secret material with him to Moscow.

Mr. Snowden’s narrative also includes the assertion that he was neither debriefed by nor even met with any Russian government official after he arrived in Moscow. This part of the narrative runs counter to findings of U.S. intelligence. According to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report, Mr. Snowden, since he arrived in Moscow, “has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services.” This finding is consistent with Russian debriefing practices, as described by the ex-KGB officers with whom I spoke in Moscow.

Mr. Snowden also publicly claimed in Moscow in December 2013 to have secrets in his head, including “access to every target, every active operation. Full lists of them.” Could Mr. Snowden’s Russian hosts ignore such an opportunity after Mr. Putin had authorized his exfiltration to Moscow? Mr. Snowden, with no exit options, was in the palm of their hands. Under such circumstances, as Mr. Klintsevich pointed out in his June NPR interview: “If there’s a possibility to get information, they [the Russian intelligence services] will get it.”

The transfer of state secrets from Mr. Snowden to Russia did not occur in a vacuum. The intelligence war did not end with the termination of the Cold War; it shifted to cyberspace. Even if Russia could not match the NSA’s state-of-the-art sensors, computers and productive partnerships with the cipher services of Britain, Israel, Germany and other allies, it could nullify the U.S. agency’s edge by obtaining its sources and methods from even a single contractor with access to Level 3 documents.

Russian intelligence uses a single umbrella term to cover anyone who delivers it secret intelligence. Whether a person acted out of idealistic motives, sold information for money or remained clueless of the role he or she played in the transfer of secrets—the provider of secret data is considered an “espionage source.” By any measure, it is a job description that fits Mr. Snowden."

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fable-of-edward-snowden-1483143143




Thursday, December 8, 2016

"Trump as Lady Gaga - Trump is a political performance artist, challenging what we think is normal. "

The above is the title of one of the most interesting, surprising and maybe insightful analysis of President-elect Trump that was passed on to me.

It offers a useful practice reminder regarding our judgements and reactions.

Can we hold judgements lightly and temporarily withhold reactions?  What are the options in how we respond?

Below are some excerpts and the link.

"Lady Gaga once talked about the doubters in an interview: “They would say, ‘This is too racy, too dance-oriented, too underground. It’s not marketable.’ And I would say, ‘My name is Lady Gaga, I’ve been on the music scene for years, and I’m telling you, this is what’s next.’ And look . . . I was right.”

Who does that sound like?

In “The Art of the Deal,” Donald Trump described what he was up to: “I play to people’s fantasies.”

Anti-Trumpers will say: Precisely. We can’t have a performance artist as president of the United States.

That’s irrelevant now.

In four years it may be possible to say that making a performance artist president was a mistake. But that will only be true if he fails. If the Trump method succeeds, even reasonably so, it will be important to understand his art from the start.

So far, the media and the comedians are stuck in pre-Trump consciousness. You’d think the comedians would get it, but getting laughs from left-wing audiences has taken a toll.

Consider two Trump tweet performances:

Jill Stein commences her preposterous recounts and the press analyzes the threat to the Trump electoral-college victory.

Suddenly, the president-elect tweets that “millions” voted illegally for Hillary. The press pivots from Jill Stein to prove, across several days, that the Trump claim is “bogus.”

Like any smart performance artist, he’s made the strait-laced audience part of his act.

One day later, @realDonald Trump tweets: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

Now he’s the Queen of Hearts. Off with their heads! And like terriers chasing another tossed ball, the media ran down every case on the subject to prove, “court rulings forbid it.”

That is true. The courts forbid it. But if it is important to comprehend a president’s mind and intentions, it will be pointless if the media does nothing more the next four years than consider its job done if it microscopically fact-checks and flyspecks everything Donald Trump tweets.

Donald Trump treats the truth as only one of several props he’s willing to use to achieve an effect. Truth sits on his workbench alongside hyperbole, sentimentality, bluster and just kidding. Use as needed.

Another important distinction: Performers merely entertain. Performance artists challenge, subvert and alter. They may be slightly crazy, but they’re crazy serious, though usually a little unclear about where they’re going... (my emphasis)

(as the closing surprising paragraph states)

...Some of America’s most charismatic presidents were also public performance artists who challenged and overturned status quos: Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan. All of them knew that a successful American presidency would be measured by a totality greater than their public performances. "

The full article by Daniel Henninger is here:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-as-lady-gaga-1481154430

If you can access the link, some of the comments by readers offer further insight and examples.