The Zen of Politics and the Transmission of Mind

Presented by Stephen Gaskin.

People who know me know I'm way the hell out on the spiritual, dope-smoking, meditating left. If they know me pretty well, they know I'm in the competent, non-superstitious, hardheaded end of that spectrum. I've been to a lot of "END OF THE WORLD!" parties, yet here we are. I don't care about anybody's creation myth. I am scandalized that half of the Republican field of candidates does not believe in evolution; that's a clue about how good our educational system is. What we lack is an empirically derived, widely agreed-on, easy-to-grok system of mind and spirit. Most of our religious structures are stuck in cultural imperialism. We know little about the beginning of the world, but a huge amount more than they did 2000 years ago; and I'm content to wait and enjoy the progress on truth made in my lifetime, without having to invent stories about how it started. The Buddhists have a concept called "transmission of mind;" the only truly recognized succession in Zen. It's a condition of the head that can be experienced, recognized, and understood. In a system that has elements of falling in love and realizing one's place in the world, if a Zen mind meets another mind that can communicate, it is called transmission of mind. That's the real treasure that can come down to us unchanged for thousands of years. All other stuff is culturally tainted and historically dated. But Zen today is just as fresh as the first one. That system where we learn about our own mind and the changes we can bring about in our mind by how we live, how we treat other people, and how we teach our children is the important linchpin that can hold society together.

















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