Life After Death

November Project: Question #8 This question comes from Lee through email

Is there life after death?

Thanks for the question, Lee.

No.

Life After Death

OK, OK, put down the torches....we'll go into this a bit. ;-)

The better answer - well, not better, but perhaps the only answer - is, I don't know. I never will. Neither will you. We know what we've been taught, and that is all.

Reincarnation, life after death, and all of the other things we have been told of the after life have been given to us, and adopted by us, for two main reasons: control and comfort. If we can be made to believe the stories we have been given, we are easier to control. And since we can't fathom, or won't fathom, the notion that this life may very well be all there is, we take comfort in knowing we'll be taken care of later.

It is, "Be good now, or suffer later," or "If you don't get it right this time, you will have another chance," and so on.

What we have been taught are the products of thinking. We give a description of something through thought, that is beyond thought. Death is the ending of thought. Not necessarily the ending of life, but of thought.

Thought is scared of the end, and thus, makes tales of another life or another something in an attempt to maintain its own continuity.

Try and see this within yourselves...if you can put aside the things you've been taught, and just see the functioning of thinking and how it moves, with its hopes for the future and a life without end. Somewhere, somehow, it must know that eventually its number will be up, but it does its damnedest to keep going.

Take a moment and look within yourself. Why do you want to go on after this life? Not because you believe you will, it is more than that. Why do you want to? I am not saying you should or should not. Just ask why. It seems no one bothers to ask.

I know what people say about this, and I know what they believe. But just because an idea is popular, or because you believe it, doesn't make it true. And I am not trying to say "Believe me!! Believe me!!" because all I can really say is, "I DON'T KNOW." And I am more than fine with that. It just gives one a reason to never waste one's time. Ever.

You might ask, "Isn't there a possibility that what we've been taught will turn out to be true?" The same possibility exists of there being an alternate universe where Takuin has super powers and is leader of the X-Men.

;-)

Quick Reply on Living

November Project: Question #7 This question comes from A in the comments on a previous post Quick Thoughts on Living:

What is the the most significant or the most major difference you feel between a ‘separate feeling of being alive’ and no ‘separate feeling of being alive’? You have known the former before the accident, I guess. Would love to know.

Thanks for the question, A

Honestly, I don't remember much of what life was about back then. Certainly it moved along some path or another, with many different jobs, locations, attitudes, and so on.

There was most likely a person, thinking itself to have a life, with struggles, conflicts, hesitations, and worries for the future. But what any of those things may have been about, I cannot really remember. And as far as the former and the latter is concerned, I can only imagine a comparison between the two....

...so let's imagine for a moment.

Before, there must have been a person and events. And the event's apparent importance arose only as backdrop for said person's particular sphere of drama.

Or perhaps there were no events, and only personal interpretation?

Or maybe it was the person, merely interfering and interacting with the physical world?

It could have been all or none of those things. Perhaps more. Perhaps less. Whatever it was, is not so important now.

These days, the past has little importance, apart from its usefulness regarding memory. Well, it is a great resource for navigating the physical world, and essential in that way. So we could say the past works as it is needed (or we could also use the word memory in place of past). That is also the only place where time, and the past, exist; in memory.

The person is dependent upon the past that sustains it (the person IS that past). And that same person hopes to remove the past to have a better life in the future. That is essentially what the seeker is doing; looking for a way to end its 'non-essential part' in order to have a more complete 'essential part' and then sustain a new and better life with it.

The Self in Agony

None of this really interests me anymore. I don't want to say it has never interested me, although I am sure I have said that, haha. Life is attracted to life, and even saying that much could be considered gratuitous, as the words cannot hold the thing as tightly as we would want them to.

There is life here, and it is different from the life behind the eyes that will read this. Different and the same. These eyes take in sights no one else will ever see, and it is the same for yours. If there is an interpreter behind your eyes, there is nothing wrong with that. Rather than struggle with it, if you do, just embrace the thing and get on with living.

There is no feeling of life here...no feeling of a life being lived. And while Takuin is definitely alive according to the definition of living, he doesn't really know he is alive, and he never will. Only his thinking would tell him yes or no, and that in itself will never be a problem unless he starts believing it.

Someday, A, you may be free of your need for freedom. That may be the only freedom...

************

Thanks for your question, A. I don't know that I have answered you, and I may have gone off into other areas, but I did my best! ;-)

On Increased Awakenings

November Project: Question #6 This question was asked by Bill through the Contact Form

Now that there are more awakened people than ever before, how do you think this will effect the world that we live in?

We hear a lot of this talk these days, of there being more awakened people throughout the world, or that awakening is happening at a faster pace than ever before, and so on. There certainly are more people talking about it now, which I suppose is not a bad thing. But I just don't see it as an actuality. At least, not yet.

I think there is one reason for the rise in these ideas, and that is the Internet. Now, more than ever before, we do not have an increase in awakened people, but an increase in our ability to see them all over the world. It is not the same thing. We have no idea if the number of awakened people is actually higher, or if we are just looking at what we have had all along.

The Internet makes it possible for us to see people all over the world, after all, and I find it suspicious that 'more' people are supposed to be awakened, when that number has 'increased' right along with our increased ability to access the rest of the world easily. Does that make sense?

And also, due to the Internet, we now have access to vast amounts of spiritual teachings and teachers. More of that knowledge is available than ever before, which does not mean an increase in awakening, but an increase in people's ability to speak as if they are awakened. Again, not the same thing.

Yellow Flowers

I'm not saying that every teacher is out there trying to fool you, but it is true that the common lingo of awakening is so seductive, one can easily fool oneself without really noticing. Of course, there are only so many words we can use to describe awakening, and we shouldn't necessarily throw things out just because of words commonly used. But, have you ever asked yourself why so many teachers sound so much alike? Does any part of you find that suspicious, or at least, the tiniest bit odd? Question it.

I am not sure what people are expecting. If there are so many more awakened people now, what does that mean? What makes that such a wonderful thing? Is it because we'll be better as a species? We'll take care of this world better than if we're not awakened? Bullshit, I say. If people really want to help the world, they will do it now, and not wait for some magical date in the future when it will be better.

When humanity dies off, it will not be due to a lack of awakened people. It will be due to lack of right action. And anyone can make things right, right now. There is no need to wait. And we all know what right actions are, even if we claim we do not.

In order for us to survive as a species, we do not necessarily need more awakened people. We just need to take our collective heads out of our collective asses. ;-)

Thanks so much for your Question, Bill.

Questions Answered - Again!

November Project: Question #5 I knew this would happen at some point during the November Project. It happened last year, in fact...

So far, 5 days into the project, I have received around 45 to 50 questions. I will probably end up using 15 out of those 50. And not because the questions are 'bad'. It is just that many of the 50 are repeatedly asked. Not only that, they have already been addressed in a post from last year's November Project called Questions Answered. To handle the deluge of familiar questions, we'll do the same again.

So, does that mean I am going to just take the cheap way out and link to that article? Yes, but with a few additions. ;-)

Here are a couple reasons why:

1.) Since the November Project last year, the number of subscribers has about doubled. So there is a whole new group of readers that may have missed those explorations the first time.

2.) The repeat questions this year are almost IDENTICAL to the questions asked last year. The only real difference is those questions are in greater numbers this year, haha.

The questions in last year's post, Questions Answered, are grouped into 5 categories consisting of the most frequently asked questions. I have received some variation of the same questions this year (apart from #4, for whatever reason), so it is still a good fit.

There are some posts written after last year's project that may fit nicely as well. I will append those below.

In Shinagawa Station

But first I want to say, even though I have used the word answer in relation to these questions, please never think of what is written as an answer. They are merely explorations, and nothing more. Don't think of it in terms of right or wrong. Just open yourself to the exploration and take it from there.

Last Year's Post, Questions Answered

Related articles posted since last year's project:

From the Journal

Sitting #5

Be Good

Just Look

Cook Your Own Meal

************

Also, I should say I am still taking in questions for this project. Even though I have received more than enough to fill up the entire month, I will not stop taking questions until November 30th, so keep them coming!

Be Good!!

Quick Thoughts On Living

November Project: Question #4 This question comes from B.C. through Skype chat:

I was thinking about life and living the other day, and it struck me as strange that we are alive. Not in any morbid sense, but just as a fact. We are living beings on this planet, running around, doing whatever it is that we do. Have you ever thought about how odd it is to actually be alive? How do you feel about this?

[NOTE: I paraphrased this question, as I neglected to write it down at the time. Oops! ~ TM]

Thanks for the question, BC.

I just realized I have never actually thought about this before. It is amazing...

...I have no feeling whatsoever of being alive.

I know, factually, it must be true. If I look up the word in the dictionary, compare it to my state, I am sure I would qualify as life. But I feel nothing. Not that I feel 'un-life', or 'not living', or anything like that. There is just no feeling of being alive.

Or maybe I should say, there is no separate feeling of being alive. I can feel the heart beating. My senses all seem to be operational. I can talk. I eat. I excrete. This is a living creature, to be sure. But I don't feel these as separate events, happening to a person. It is all simultaneous.

Fishing

I suppose most people feel this differently. Perhaps it is the separatness of experiences stacked on top of one another than gives the illusion of a person having a unique life? A feeling or an idea of being alive; a feeling of having a life, of living a life, of being a person experiencing a life. But I feel none of that. I can't really even sense it.

Perhaps it is this...Life does not know it is alive. It just lives.

How does living appear to all of you? I am curious to find out...I'm not sure we've ever discussed this before.

Burning the Notebooks

November Project: Question #3 This question comes from Thom.

A few posts ago [In Recent Doings - TM] you mentioned you were going to burn the notebooks you've written in over the last 5 years. What would possess you to do such a thing?

I have heard a few variations of this question through email, Facebook, and Twitter. I don't know if I can give a more satisfactory answer than I have already, but let's see what comes up.

I suppose this is related, in part, to the recent comment changes on this site. Not 'because of' or anything like that. But it is related.

Whenever I finish a piece for Takuin.com, it is not meant to suddenly die. Through the comments, it will take on another short life of its own and grow into something different from its origin. Hopefully. Then we can explore a bit, as it is no longer the words of one person. But even this has its limitations, as I find it best to move on quickly after the various participants have 'walked' together a bit.

So, as far as a blog post is concerned, it is born, grows up a bit, maybe has a mid-life crisis, settles down, then dies, sometimes with a whimper and sometimes with a bang. And I attribute the life it has not solely to me, but to whomever participates in its journey.

If we look at just the writing; forget the participation and all of that, just the writing; after it leaves Takuin, it is really a dead thing.

On its own, once a piece is written, it dies off very quickly in my mind. Nothing holds or connects me to it, almost as if it never happened. It could be burned at that point and I would never know.

For me, keeping the writings in the old notebooks is like trying to get your breath back once it has left your body. It is gone forever, so you might as well forget about it enjoy the next breath. It could be the last one, you know. ;-)

Image

It is not a matter of being a temperamental or eccentric writer. It is not a decision made to heighten a sense of artistic integrity, nor is it due to some stylistic ideal. It is not even personal. Writing may be a purging of some sort for me. (I do not know, as I have not really explored this, which means I should. :-)) Or perhaps even a removal of wastes, so to speak.

Looking at it that way, I would not hang on to my writing anymore than I would hang on to yesterday's stool sample. ;-)

Thanks for your question, Thom!

The State of Non-Duality

November Project: Question #2 This question comes from K through Skype chat:

What do you think of the current state of non-duality? Do you find certain teachers to be missing the point, or have they mostly stayed true to core teachings?

I am glad you asked this question, K, because it will give me the chance to clear a few things up.

I am not a non-dual teacher. As far as I know, I have never used those words to describe myself. Not that you have said that...this is just something I want to say.

I don't know what it means to be non-dual. I know what the term is meant to mean, but that is as far as it goes. I am sure there must be certain 'criteria' to be met in order to call oneself non-dual, similar to meeting the requirements to call a food product organic, haha. But I really have no interest in any of that.

I don't read non-dual teachings, or any teachings for that matter. Not that you should or shouldn't, I don't mean it in that way. It is just that the subject doesn't interest me. I am not sure what else I can say about it.

I don't really know anything about the state of the teachings of non-duality. I am sure there are several fragments making up the whole. One group probably thinks a particular teacher or teaching is the true voice of non-duality, while others will disagree. There is probably even something like 'neo' non-duality, with young people championing a 'new' way of expressing the message, whatever that might be, and the old fogeys raging against it. I don't know. This is just my best guess based on experience with groups in general. Maybe it is something entirely different? I really don't know.

I only know what I know on the subject because of the wonderful people leaving comments here, and also through the talks I have had on Skype. Sometimes people bring up concepts or names or foreign words I do not know, all related to non-duality, and I have to ask what it means, what is that, who is that, and so on. Beyond that, I know nothing.

Takuin in the Snow

If there are 'core teachings', I have no idea what they might be. You're better off asking someone with real knowledge on the subject. Or at least someone who cares about it. ;-)

But it is a good opportunity for me to learn more. Even if I have no interest, I should at least learn enough about it so I can understand others better...

If any of you have a good understanding of that world, or if there are core teachings and you know them, please leave a comment below. I think I have a decent understanding just from speaking with others, but some of you may be able to better answer K's question. I don't want to leave him hanging, haha.

Thanks in advance!

November Project 2011: 30 Questions with Takuin

Time for another month-long project! I received many wonderful questions last year, and I am looking forward to doing it again. Here's the project:

For the entire month of November, I will be answering one question per day, every day, from a reader. And I will be taking submissions every single day, right up to November 30th.

You can submit your questions by commenting on this post, through the Contact Page on this site, on Twitter, or on the Life Beyond the Image Facebook Page.

For those of you submitting questions, I’ll be happy to link to you if you have a website, Twitter account, etc. But if you want to remain anonymous, or if you do not tell me one way or the other, I will just use your first name, or your initials.

I will most likely answer your questions in a written post, but I may decide to record audio or video for the answer instead. I’ll just go with whatever feels right at the time.

The questions themselves should be on the topic of this website, but we can still have some fun. Use your imagination, and feel free to ask anything you like. I can’t guarantee I’ll answer every question, but I will keep them all as I might use them in future posts. So let’s get to it!

November 1st is rapidly approaching...What would you like to ask?

Big Tree

Sitting #6

The tunnel stretches forward, and sitting happens as one walks. Cold and clammy. Wet sounds underfoot. I cannot feel breath of my own. Life of my own. Cannot feel the footsteps, bringing me closer to oblivion.

I've walked through the tunnel at least one hundred times, and yet, I've never experienced the walking or the tunnel.

A realm of the senses, beyond the interference of self.

Sitting happens as one walks. Life and death, the constant companion.

Recent Doings

Yes, Takuin is still alive. ;-) I have not posted anything since the first week of August, but I am still here. Even though I have not been seen at Takuin.com, I have been very active on Twitter and at the Life Beyond the Image Facebook page.

But fairly soon you'll have all of me you can stand, as I am going to hold another November Project this year. And for those of you unfamiliar, you can find out the basics of how it works on this post from 2010. I have not started taking questions yet, but you can expect to see a separate post on that soon.

**********

Recently, I poured through my library, looking for any notebooks I have filled since the 'accident' of December 1st, 2006. I think I have found them all, and my intention is to burn them. This might sound odd or even crazy to some of you, but it is completely right to me.

There has been some interest in those writings over the last year or so, and after I pulled them all together and had a look, I realized they were a wordy amalgam of no significance. I quite like to compare those writings to a two year old scribbling on the wall with a crayon; cute for sure, but something even the child will forget in a day or two. And this child has long since forgotten those old words.

I won't make a big to-do about disposing of those notebooks, but I may take a few photos of the event. ;-)

(NOTE: This does not mean I will purge the website. All the writings since December of 2006, and all future writings, will remain.)

**********

I am still taking Skype calls from people all over the world. It seems to go in 'waves', for whatever reason. That activity is sometimes busy and frantic, and at other times sparse. But I enjoy it either way.

I have learned a great deal from the people I have spoken with over the last 3 or so years, and I look forward to more of that. Thank you all very much! (If you are interested in having a call on Skype, there is no charge. Check the Contact Page for details.)

**********

That is all for now, but I look forward to interacting with all of you when the November Project 2011 begins. And I will write a post with details soon.

Be good. :-)

Ryozen Kannon

The Message of the Blind

I recently found this short bit of writing in an old notebook. Judging from the notebook itself, and the writings surrounding this particular piece, it was most likely written within a month or two of December 1st, 2006 (The accident). I have no idea to whom this writing is aimed - if anyone at all - as I remember nothing about it. It seems to have been written with agitation to some specific event, but I have no memory as to what it might have been.

Reading these old writings are odd for me. With no attachment to, or memory of, the thing, it is as if I am reading the words of a master forger; it isn't me, but someone else perfectly imitating my handwriting.

Too bad I cannot remember this. It seems interesting. ;-)

Sitting across the table, one sees everything you are. Every insecurity, every wrong you've meted out to those 'lower' than you, every exacting repetition of the words belonging to long dead masters...it is all there within you. Perhaps cleverly hidden, but it is there.

It is not a trick, a guess, or a projection....one can feel your pride as one might feel heat from a burning ember. It screams so strongly, it is hard to hear the real over the din of the false.

Even though, in your own words, this activity is all an illusion, it is your motivating factor.

The Fear of the Blind

You've pointed to many things, naming them trivial, illusory, insignificant.  Yet you've not been able to see these things within yourself; the trivial, illusory, and insignificant nature of the blind leading the blind.

Self-Portrait

I love to watch faces. To see them cry in the sun, or smile in the moonlight. I am truly fascinated by the human form, but it is the face that steals my focus. To listen to every expression of the face is something I love to do. And many times, when talking with someone, I may miss the words completely, but their face makes the meaning clear as day.

Many cannot listen with their ears, which is bad enough. But most are incapable of listening with their eyes. That is a shame. Listening to the lines running deep, shades of skin, glistening eyes staring back. It is all there to see.

Part of me wishes it were possible to poke into the senses of other people through their eyes, and fully feel what they are experiencing. To feel the love, hate, anger, happiness, and see what it is so many billions of people suffer over. But none of that ever comes to me. It is only ever human beings. Sitting. Talking. Listening. Looking. Lines running deep.

Takuin's Face

I take many photos of my face (although I never post them). I do not know why I do this. I am not particularly fascinated with it, and I cannot say there is anything at all I hope to find there.

Yet I keep doing it.

Whenever I see myself in the mirror, or in a photo, it is in some way like looking at a newly made map of a continent surveyed and explored for the very first time. Excitement and possibility. Unknown and dangerous. There are no memories or experiences of the thing.

This face is always with me, and carries absolutely nothing along with it.

And that never seems to change

 

Cook Your Own Meal

An excerpt from a recent talk. Why do you feel the need for preparation in your so-called spiritual life? Is it to have enlightenment in the future? Do you look to that future and think, somehow, you might be able to touch it through your effort?

Do you think you'll be able to replicate experiences someone else told you about?

Perhaps if you read the correct book, or hear the right collection of words coming from the perfect, smiling set of teeth, or if you sit in silence long enough it will come to you, wrapped up exactly as they have said, in the same precise shape as they have described.

But this is not preparation. It is prevarication.

How much knowledge does freedom need? How much experience must freedom have? Why must you wait, bound at the feet of another, praying for their table scraps?

Don't wait for someone else to feed you. Pick yourself up off the floor, walk your ass into the kitchen, and cook your own meal.

Breathe. Live your life. Freedom will take care of itself.

Quick Note on Comments

To the readers of Takuin.com, this is just a quick note to let you know all comments will automatically close on articles older than 30 days. This should mean that all comments on older articles will close instantly when this change is made. I will make this change by the end of the week, so if you have any unfinished business on older articles, get it done soon. ;-)

It is nice to look forward to what comes next, and not drown for too long in what came before...

Just Look

Recently, a curious child asked a curious question during a talk. Child: What are you doing?

Takuin: Speaking.

Child: No, I know that. I mean what do you do?

Takuin: I remind people to look.

Child: What does that mean?

Takuin: (pointing up) Do you see those clouds?

Child: Yes.

Takuin: Most adults cannot see them.

Child: How come?

Takuin: When they should be looking, they are instead thinking.

Child: ... (looking)

Takuin: I remind them to just look.

 

Skype Calls Have Resumed

Just a quick note... I have recently announced on Twitter that Skype calls have resumed for the first time since the earthquake. For the 'regulars' and for new visitor alike, just get with me through the Contact Page and let me know you would like to have a meeting.

I hope you've all been well, and I look forward to hearing from all of you soon.

Be Good

You have struggled for years over finding enlightenment and worrying about how to be good. But goodness doesn't need you to recognize it, anymore than enlightenment needs you to achieve it. Most likely, you struggled far less in your everyday life before you knew anything about enlightenment. And now what? Why continue such an abusive relationship?

It is enough to be good, and you already know how to do that, even if you claim you do not.

Commune with nature and other human beings, enjoy the wonders of the world while you can, and leave the room cleaner than it was when you entered.

Just be good.

 

The Announcement Revealed

Note: This was written before the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011. New information related to this announcement is at the end of the article.

*******

OK, this is what is happening...

After speaking with a few young filmmakers, a series of short films featuring Takuin will be shot throughout Japan sometime in May. The films will cover a wide variety of topics, but will not be 'about' Takuin.

The main reason I have refused this sort of thing in the past is because, usually, they want the subject to be Takuin. A film 'about' me would be completely unnecessary, and the idea just does not sit well. I cannot understand the interest in the subject.

If there is any significance to Takuin, it is in the moment by moment living of the thing, and not as an historical narrative or method building exercise trying to replicate whatever might have happened to him. There is enough of that sort of chicanery, the 'If you do THIS, you'll get THIS,' kind of nonsense.

Up the Mountain

Anyway, the filmmakers and I went back and forth a bit, and eventually came to an end we could both settle on.

None of the films will be pre-planned or scripted, apart from whatever shots they feel the need to get, but that is none of my business anyway. And as far as I know, filming will take place in Tokyo, Toyama, and a few other places in Japan. As to the subject matter, they've left that up to me.

And also, in the interest of full disclosure, I will not be making any money off of these films, and neither will the filmmakers. They will all be freely available through various video sharing websites.

I am not sure how any of this will turn out in the end, but I have no real concerns. I am actually looking forward to the process, as it will definitely be exciting and interesting. If there are any other updates or items if interest, I will be sure to let you all know here first.

*******

After the events of last week, I've been thinking of ways that I might help others here in Japan. Here are a few I have decided upon:

  • Making DVD's of the upcoming films for sale, with all proceeds going to disaster relief. This is something I know very little about, but I imagine it wouldn't take very much effort to make this happen.
  • Writing a new book - a PDF - for sale on this site, with all proceeds going to disaster relief.
  • I have been working with a film composer here in Toyko for the last 3 months for an upcoming project later this year. We may refocus our energies on writing music and holding performances in and around Tokyo with all proceeds going to disaster relief.

That is the list I've come up with so far, and two of them can be acted upon immediately.

What would you add to this list? How else would you help (or are helping) those that need it the most?

I'll be sure to keep you all informed about these things as time goes on.

To keep up with what is happening with me in Japan, please follow me on twitter.

Big Announcement for Takuin.Com Coming Soon

Early next week, I'll be announcing a major upcoming event for the site. It is something I have resisted and even refused in the past. But finally - and perhaps out of my need to leave the house - I have agreed. ;-) I'll reveal the whole thing around Tuesday of next week, after I take care of a few final details.

Stay Tuned...

TM