reality

Bruce Springsteen’s book, Born To Run

SI.com has a great quote from Bruce Springsteen’s book, Born To Run:

The band was part of a four-band showcase; one band would get the chance to move on and perhaps get a recording contract. The Jersey guys went third and thought they killed it. The fourth band, though not as energetic, was very good. Via “Born To Run:”

“They got the gig. We lost out. After the word came down, all the other guys were complaining we’d gotten ripped off. The guy running the joint didn’t know what he was doing, blah, blah, blah.”

That night, Springsteen reflected, sleeping on a couch in his transplanted parents’ home in the Bay Area. “My confidence was mildly shaken, and I had to make room for a rather unpleasant thought. We were not going to be the big dogs we were back in our little hometown. We were going to be one of the many very competent, very creative musical groups fighting over a very small bone. Reality check.”

“I was good, very good, but maybe not quite as good or exceptional as I’d gotten used to people telling me, or as I thought ... I was fast, but like the old gunslingers knew, there’s always somebody faster, and if you can do it better than me, you earn my respect and admiration, and you inspire me to work harder. I was not a natural genius. I would have to use every ounce of what was in me — my cunning, my musical skills, my showmanship, my intellect, my heart, my willingness — night after night, to push myself harder, to work with more intensity than the next guy just to survive untended in the world I lived in.”

Stuff that will make you wonder about the nature of reality

When I woke up this morning I was very refreshed and my brain was quiet, so I decided to meditate. Shortly after that the room got a little busy, and then a terrific Michael Jackson song started playing. As I watched what was going on in the room and listened to the musicians and the lyrics, I realized it was a song that doesn't exist here in awakeland. Stuff like that will make you wonder about the nature of reality.

Seeing everything as moving subatomic particles

“Having a direct experience of seeing everything one looks at (including one’s own body) as moving subatomic particles alters the perception of ‘me’ and of the substantiality of what we regard as ‘normal’ reality.”

(I can’t remember where I saw this quote, but I think it had to do with some sort of system that you could walk into and see your body as moving subatomic particles.)

Emptiness vs interdependence in Buddhism

I’ve often wondered about the difference between the terms emptiness and interdependence in Buddhism, and came across this excellent Accidental Buddhist blog post recently, which includes this paragraph about a conversation the Dalai Lama had:

“In the course of one of these conversations, His Holiness tells Victor Chan that for decades he has meditated every day on interconnectedness and emptiness. He said that there are two types of reality. Firstly, there is ‘standard’ reality. He gestures towards a mug of water. When we look at it we see water. When we touch it we feel water. We know it is water. But then he described how we can look at it with ‘ultimate’ reality in which the mug is a combination of particles, atoms, electrons and quarks — none of these particles can be described as ‘a mug’. The term mug is just an every-day label for this collection of particles. The mug has come into existence because of a complex web of causes and conditions. Therefore it does not and could not exist independently. It cannot come into being by itself, of its own volition. It is empty of intrinsic, inherent existence. In other words, ‘empty’ is another word ‘interdependent.’”

We all tend to see ourselves as distinct entities; we are different from our friends and family. Due to our conditioning we believe we are distinct and independent, but in fact our existence depends on an infinite, intricately linked series of events, causes and conditions. (Your parents, grandparents, friends, where you were born and lived, and millions of other things.) If any of these conditions had varied, we would exist in a wholly different way. From this perspective, ‘self’ and ‘others’ makes sense only in terms of relationships. In fact, your interests and my interests are inextricably connected in a tangible way. The Dalai Lama concluded his discussion by emphasizing that anyone could obtain happiness and fulfillment by focusing on two main elements: compassion and emptiness.

He continued, “Normally we tend to see things in a solid, tangible way. Therefore there is a tendency to grasp at things, to become attached to things. We cling to the idea of a separate self and separate things. We strive for new experiences, new acquisitions. Yet as soon as we possess them, the buzz is gone and we look for something new. This endless cycle of craving causes suffering”.

“The path I have followed has been dangerous”

“The path I have followed has been dangerous, destabilizing more than calm, excruciating more than pleasant, and hard to integrate (into ‘normal’ everyday life). It has also been profound, amazing, and glorious. Surfing the ragged edges of reality has been easier than slowing the thing down.”

~ A quote from the book, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, by Daniel Ingram.

Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore on the Nature of Reality

This is part of a discussion between Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore, from this page on mindpodnetwork.com.

The conversation begins like this:

TAGORE: You have been busy, hunting down with mathematics, the two ancient entities, time and space, while I have been lecturing in this country on the eternal world of man, the universe of reality.