Against The Stream is more than just another book about meditation. It is a manifesto and field guide for the front lines of the revolution. It is the culmination of almost two decades of meditative dissonance from the next generation of Buddhists in the West, It is a call to awakening for the sleeping masses.
We are born into a realm of constant change. Everything is decaying. We are continually losing all that we come in contact with. Our tendency to get attached to impermanent experiences causes sorrow, lamentation and grief, because eventually we are separated from everything and everyone we love. Our lack of acceptance and understanding of this fact makes life unsatisfactory.
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Religion, which was obviously created to give meaning and purpose to people, has become part of the oppression. This is true in both Eastern and Western religious traditions. The Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad were all revolutionaries who critiqued and attempted to dismantle the corrupt societal traditions of their time. Yet their teachings, like most things in human society, have been distorted and co-opted by the confused and power-hungry patriarchal tradition. What were wonce the creation myths of ancient cultures, have become doctrines of oppression. More blood has been spilled and more people oppressed in the name of religion than for any other reason in history.
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We have the ability to effect a great positive change in the world, starting with the training of our own minds and the overcoming of our deluded conditioning. Waking up is not a selfish pursuit of happiness; it is a revolutionary stance from the inside out, for the benefits of all beings in existence.
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Everything is impermanent. Every physical and mental experience arises and passes. Everything in existence is endlessly arising out of causes and conditions. We all create suffering for ourselves through our resistance, through our desire to have things different than the way they are - that is, our clinging or aversion.
Renunciation is not about pushing something away, it is about letting go. It's facing the fact that certain things cause us pain, and they cause other people pain. Renunciation is a commitment to let go of things that create suffering. It is the intention to stop hurting ourselves and others.
We agreed that at least to some extent the whole punk movement is based on the Buddha's 1st noble truth of suffering & the dissatisfactory nature of the material world. The punks see through the lies of society & the oppressive dictates of modern consumer culture. Very few punks though seem to take it further & attempt to understand the causes & conditions of the suffering & falsehoods, unfortunately punks rarely come around to seeing that there is actually a solution & a path to personal freedom. My own life's experience w/ both Dharma practice & punk rock inspired me to try to bridge the gap between the two. I've tried to help point out the similarities, while also acknowledging the differences, & to show those of my generation who are interested that they can practice meditation & find there the freedom we have been seeking in our rebellion against the system.
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Finally we are being told the truth: life isn't always easy and pleasant. We already know this to be true, but somehow we tend to go through life thinking that there is something wrong with us when we experience sadness, grief, and physical and emotional pain. The first truth points out that this is just the way it is. There is nothing wrong with you: you have just been born into a realm where pain is a given.
The practice of celibacy alone was opening me up to a deeper sense of the way the mind-body connection works. I saw over and over that my mind and body could be filled with desire and that no matter how intense the craving was it would always pass. I didn't have to satisfy every desire that arose in my mind. I began to understand impermanence through direct experience rather than just intellectual theory.
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