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I spoke to a few history teachers over the week, trying to understand what differentiates history from time. Is history a human construct? A conceptual imposition of key notions onto bare reality? Are time and history even separable ideas? What I got were a few key ideas, that history consists of: Continuity, Chronology, Perspective, & Linearity.

All of this was prompted as I grappled with two strange ideas. First, that humans fell into history, and that this was a mistake. Secondly, that through this fall, we have the potential to make gold. As Terrence McKenna writes, we can “take what we learn from history, and fold it back into being truly human”. …


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Compassion (karuṇā) serves as a profound Buddhist motif, holding important doctrinal significance from the early śrāvakayāna up to the Vajrayāna. Its conceptual richness and depth is rivalled only by the breadth of its usage. Colloquially understood as a sensitivity to the situation of others, the meaning of compassion in Buddhism ranges from a sympathetic attitude informed by wisdom, a factor of enlightenment, to a fundamental modality of the cosmos. This essay aims to survey some of the diverse ways compassion appears within Buddhism, and the techniques used by practitioners to cultivate this state of being. I will begin with a doctrinal survey, starting with early suttas and moving to Mahāyāna texts. I will then situate karuṇā within the Hevajra Tantra, examining the evolution of its relationship to concepts such as bodhicitta, and how its reframing in this text bestows an additional element of metaphysical gravitas to it. …


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Strikingly simple, yet endlessly profound, the concept of suchness (tathātā) is one of the most interesting teachings in the Mahāyāna canon. Finding its full expression in the writings of Sōtō Zen masters, proto-formulations of suchness stretch all the way back to the Nikāyas. On the topic, Dōgen writes that, “If you wish to attain suchness, you should practice suchness without delay” (Abe 2007, 3). Philosopher Aśvaghoṣa describes suchness as the “highest reality” and as the quintessence of the Mahāyāna (Suzuki 1900, 153). This paper will explore the genealogy of this concept, and its significance in the Sōtō Zen tradition. Exploration of suchness will start from the early suttas, and move to seminal Mahāyāna Sutras such as the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra, Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna sutra, and Prajñāpāramitā literature. I will then turn to the Caodong lineage, a Chinese Chan Sect, and analyze the appearance of suchness in the writings of Dongshan, one of the founders of this school. …


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All of us have goals. Whether they be far-reaching, short term, professional, personal, or as mundane as getting something to eat. No matter the importance of the pursuit, distinguishing means from ends at the outset is essential. When the ends are clear, and one does not fixate on the means — then immense creativity is possible. Say there’s an apple in front of you, and you’re hungry. The ends are eating the apple, and means include ways of getting there. Obtaining said apple can happen in any number of fashions: you can walk and grab it, ask your friend to give it to way, construct a machine to fetch it for you, and so on. In this toy example, we see that creativity with respect to means is almost always available. However, human ingenuity is truly put to the test when an immense barrier is placed between ourselves and our goal. Even more, trying is that sometimes that barrier is the very means we were employing! This essay will explore two far off disciplines that have transmuted what were once insurmountable barriers into solutions. …


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There exists a space beyond what the eyes can see. A conceptual space filled with ideas, concepts, emotions, feelings and dreams. It’s hard to map it, because this world is shapeless and ever changing. It’s where our future plans exist, where our memories live, where joy/anger/happiness exists in their abstract state.

The closest thing to a map we have for this transcendental landscape of ideas are quotes, platitudes and aphorisms. These have always fascinated me — I see them as small nuggets of wisdom from those who have come before. Signposts in the amorphous landscape of the conceptual. Finding a good quote is like seeing an old friend in a crowd. …


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One of the most intellectually astounding ideas I’ve ever encountered is that there are different types of infinity. Not only that — some infinites are larger than others, and there are an infinite number of infinities. The tool used to create these ever larger levels of infinity is know as a power set.

One of the most existentially relevant ideas I’ve ever encountered is the Buddhist notion of emptiness. In a sense, calling it an idea devalues it —as it is nothing short of an epistemic tool leading to liberation from suffering.


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Musings on the geometry of selfhood

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This essay will be exploring the connection between space, and the objects within it. For centuries, philosophers and scientists believed that space was a static, and absolute container. Objects inhabited space, but they were ontologically separate entities. Yet as science progressed, it was definitively shown that objects fundamentally alter the space they are in, so much so that conceiving of them as totally separate things is untenable. This connection is shown brilliantly in Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. An even more fascinating notion, is how conscious entities are affected by the spaces they inhabit. How does the way in which we orient ourselves, affect the way we perceive ourselves? This idea is explored in the Proulx et al., 2016 paper “Where am I? Who am I?”. Finally, when it comes to living the good life, what orientation should one take towards the world? In answering this I will assess notions put forward by Dogen, founder of the Soto school of Zen, in light of the preceding discussion on spatial cognition. …


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https://kingsanda.tumblr.com

The Buddha became enlightened through meditation — nothing else.

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Meditation is often viewed as a highly subjective practice. However, Buddhist scholars and philosophers have put much work into systematizing, and collecting information on the stages of meditative maturity. While inner work is subtle, there are definite signposts that one passes on their journey of practice. In this piece I will be looking at forms of early Buddhist practice, and providing an outline of the way meditation has been categorized. …


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Mike Zeng: https://zaoeyo.com

“Just get rid of the false and you will automatically realize the true”

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Philosophers and Yogis are both concerned with making sense of the world. They seek to fundamentally orient themselves in reality. While the stratagem they employ appear different on the surface, I want to explore the deep similarities in their approaches. Yogis and Philosophers both understand that truth (whatever that is) is not something external to a problem, but already contained within it. They both understand that to find answers, you must simply remove all that is superfluous, redundant, or excessive. …


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James White — https://signalnoise.com/neowave-series

A journey through Physiology, Poetry, Symmetry and Yoga

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“But your god-self dwells not alone in your being. Much in you is still man, and much in you is not yet man, but a shapeless pigmy that walks asleep in the mist searching for its own awakening.” -Khalil Gibran

Physiology

Two of the most ancient systems in our bodies are the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. They work in consort, and regulate opposing aspects of our physiology.

Sympathetic: stress response, fight/flight/freeze, increased heart rate, bronchiole in lungs dilate, pupils dilate, digestion inhibited, functions not critical to immediate survival shut…

About

Sasha Manu

Insatiably curious student of life | Writing about Physics, Philosophy, & Dharma | Newsletter @ apsis.substack.com | Personal Site @ sashamanu.com

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