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Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free
September 24th, 2018
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free
John8:32

A lot of modern, Western Buddhists focus on "seeing reality as it is", which might be seen as the goal of insight meditation, as the freedom from biases and from self-centered preferences, as a consequence or manifestation of Wisdom.
It would seem the jhānas as well as serious zazen are out of fashion: calm-abiding is seen as a mere supportive ground to cultivate insights. 'Direct' cessation of struggle is dismissed, either as too passive, too 'withdrawn' or simply unreachable.

And yet, Buddhism is not about philosophy, it's not about metaphysics, it's not even about truth… How could it be about truth, when it states at least two "truths" which cannot be reconciled into a large one? When it asserts that various facets of reality cannot be unified, nor simply rejected? When it presents itself as a mere raft, an expedient means?
The cessation of struggle is the goal, and it is like opening the hand to let fall the object it grasped 'til then! It doesn't require some discussion, it only calls to actually, truly let go of the burden (of the views, habits and narratives which cause tension, cramps, fights, pain).


George Michael, in his ultra famous song, says it all:
There's no comfort in the truth,
pain is all you'll find.

And this aligns in fact with the Buddha's teaching. "Seeing reality as it is" doesn't magically make dukkha vanish! The "first noble truth", that life is unsatisfactory, doesn't lose its bitter taste when you realise it's true!
After his Awakening, the Buddha still had to contend with back pain, with the betrayals of his cousin Devadatta, with an unruly saṅgha of bickering monastics, with monastics misunderstanding his teachings and committing suicide en masse, or with unethical behaviours by monks he then had to ban through the monastic code of conduct…
Realising the truth, in Buddhism, gives you freedom from suffering, not the absence of suffering!
Freedom from suffering means that you no longer let suffering decide your life for you, decide your next move for you… either because you seek it (as some kind of martyr) or because you seek to avoid it.
The naïve belief that you may separate yourself (if you [could] do this-or-that) from suffering, from ageing, from sickness, from death no longer holds sway on your mind. And by letting go of impossible hopes, you can now actually engage with life as it is, as constructively as possible… therefore avoiding stupidities but instead creating conditions as wholesome and supportive as possible for all to strive! You no longer need to put others down to elevate yourself, you no longer need to assume a 'zero-sum game' view on life and to bring perpetual competition to the world, you can seize the opportunities for win-win scenarios, etc.


Funnily, when Jesus told Jews that the 'truth' would set them free… At first, they blinded themselves with mere appearances and delusions of freedom! “We are Abraham’s descendants,” they answered. “We have never been slaves to anyone. How can You say we will be set free?” But to this, Jesus replied “Truly, truly, I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
Just like Buddhism doesn't misinterpret freedom as the unchecked dictatorship of unexamined, subconscious impulses (be they manifested as lust or aversion)!
Freedom is tied to responsibility, at large… not to an absence of limits. Letting go of the burden of the views, habits and narratives which cause tension comes with a classical limit of 'freedom': not encroaching on the freedom of others! Such a limit might be in constant motion, ill-defined, changing, ineffable… and yet it exists, and Wisdom is found in being able to discern where the boundary lies, moment by moment. [Note that this does not equate letting inappropriate conceptions of 'freedom', e.g. about others imposing their rule, go unchecked.]


#Buddhism #Dharma
Georg Michael didn't particularly like this song himself. He was 17 at the time of composition, and he later said it wasn't part of his own emotional development. There's some autobiographical aspect, but he was too young and still lost in being 'clever' rather than having emotional depth. Later, he said was "it disappoints me that you can write a lyric very flippantly—and not a particularly good lyric—and it can mean so much to so many people. That's disillusioning for a writer." He also made other dismissive comments about the song, saying: "I'm still a bit puzzled why it's made such an impression on people. Is it because so many people have cheated on their partners? Is that why they connect with it?"
George Micheal went through a dozen saxophonists before finding one who could play that famous melody with one breath and the way he wanted it! However, a few other musicians are good there: e.g. the bass line played by Jeffery Deon Estus is not that bad, full of tiny details… When Steve Gregory, who got the sax part, discovered that the solo was near impossible to play in the written key on his old Selmer Mark VI tenor (which didn’t have a top F# key), the engineer slowed the tape down so that Steve could record the solo a semitone lower than intended. Once the tape was put back to the normal speed, the 'unnatural' saxophone sound was created.
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