Other Energy Other Power Mystery他力

In later 1996 upon receiving word of an upcoming Buddhism in America conference in Boston, I contacted one of the organizers. Conference announcement looked interesting despite the typical illiterate cliché of “Buddhism” found in objectionable periodicals such as Tri-Cycle. Why not give it a try, helping them broaden comprehension of Buddhism beyond that stale “Bit Three” of Zen, Theravada, and Tibetan Buddhisms. Al Rapaport let me know that’s it – nothing else. Besides upon learning my credentials are of Jodo Shin, he quickly added the conference was ‘not’ for popular Buddhism! Ironically, outside of mainstream “Western neo-Buddhism”, it was even then well understood the Zen, Tibetan, Theravada standard is American Popular Buddhism – even with its flagship magazine, TriCycle, said to be for those still unable to ride a two wheeler with training wheels!

Rapaport and Trike represented the latest regurgitation of that colonial Orientation fabrication named with no corresponding work in Asian languages: Buddhism, a religion of doctrines, clerics, all corresponding to recycled Western Christianity in academia as the laughable ‘scientific study of religion.’

Tooth and Nail

I was warned at the outset – our normative standard explanation of ‘Buddhism’ is deeply flawed. But I was warned by my mentor, one whose Shin Buddhism was generally agreed to be so seriously deviant from core Buddhism to question even including it. His four bedroom home was upholstered floor to ceiling in books, including several editions of the Buddhist canon in Chinese. He published in ten languages, and now was mentoring me in Sanskrit. I could not figure out how someone so steeped in Buddhism could swallow simplistic Pure Land Buddhism – ‘just chant the Buddha’s name to earth rebirth in his afterlife pure land.’ My twice weekly hour lessons quickly turned into 4-6-8 hour or longer arguments, him nailing me every time. We’d reach a point for him to say “let’s find out what the Sanskrit says”. That moved on next to “the Chinese”. An apprenticeship fighting tooth and nail every step. For his part, he was the first, likely only, non-Japanese Hokyo of the Nishi Honganji Gakkai, let’s say like a big rank above a Zen master. Before me, he’d been mythologist Joseph Campbell’s mentor leaving me to get both of their wisdom. In time I flipped or my understanding woke up, no longer that of a privileged white colonial Orientalist superimposing the categories of normative Christian theology on non-Western phenomena.

We did meta-praxis, too. Most central recitation of a mantra like phrase called the nembutsu. For me, that was immediate entry into unsuspected other realms of consciousness. In our Western tradition, doctrine settles all accounts of what you’re doing. In Shin Buddhism mythology instead of doctrine paces growth of understanding. Amida Buddha, a mythic figure whose name means Immeasurably Awake (a metaphor for emptied), is the interlocutor for entry to his Pure Land. How our colonial Orientalists invented Pure Land remains a mystery. The Sanskrit word is sukha, referencing an innate bliss embodiment as the stresses of normality are seen through, risen above. You don’t achieve bliss, instead return to a primal energy informing life. I call nembutsu chanting a portable practice – no need for religious costumes, cushions, paraphernalia. Just intone it, silently or out loud. Feel it. Transformation moves you from the roller coaster melodramas of ‘normal neurosis’ eventually to an unassailable internal stability, to an emotional intelligence immune to nonsense.

Nembutsu metapraxis has taken decades of consideration as it has progressively matured my understanding. But not by itself.

Meetings with Remarkable Men

Once connected with my mentor, our partnership became prime focus. Including through most of Japanese Buddhist University graduate school. Most. Edward Conze was with us for two quarters, opening still more vistas for me. Most remarkably, Conze detested Pure Land Buddhism, making no bones about his convictions. We did a graduate seminar in Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamika Karikas, Conze’s primary specialization of bodhisattava prajna/wisdom texts. Our text was photocopyied cut and paste of Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese versions of each of the karikas or verses, along with several English translations. For my term paper submitted one on Madhyamika in the Shin Buddhist cofounder’s work, one Shinran. Several weeks later Conze remarked in class that the most sublime expression of buddhist wisdom was the work of Shinran.

For my part Conze took me another step in deconstruction of the Western fabrication – a literary invention of the Victorian era in which the post-Christian culture of ‘scientific’ modernity was emerging, bringing along with it all the taboos inherent in traditional Christian culture. And installing a tendency to look down upon cultures not so invested. Just as Buddhism doesn’t distinguish between mind and body, more significantly Buddhists cultures never imposed a taboo forbidding development of psychology – both normal existential psychology as well as an advanced psychology of liberational transformation of mind, emotions, embodiment. Our Western culture, then, was close to 2,000 years short of development of psychology of Being.

Shin’ya Kasugai was a professor at Bukkyo Daigaku in Kyoto, oriented within the Jodo movement. After World War II he’d lived for years in India, becoming fluent in spoken Sanskrit, several dialects as well as classical Tibetan. Kasugai was the closest to Carlos Castenada’s don Juan. The ‘paranormal’ or miraculous dimensions of Buddhist naturalism were just that with him: awakening to our fuller nature. His graduate students were encouraged to show me the real buddhism unseen and rejected by Western students up to their ears in politically correct Zen – to the exclusion of learning the bigger remarkable picture in Japan.

1976 at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Michael Murphy, co-founder of Esalen Institute was Regents Lecturer for a month. I knew of him through Adam Smith’s book, especially his work in meditation and in sports. He wasn’t expecting to meet an official Kyoshi (Teachings Master) and gym rat combination. I’d been living what he was researching all by myself for close to twenty years. Mike’s background in yogic sutra tradition and tranformational psychologies was just what a I need for some imiportant loose ends.

The guiding mythic image of the majority tradition of Buddhism is the person waking up, the widom-being or bodhisattva. An immense literature began in India, continued developing through Central Asia, China, Tibet, Mongolia, Korea and Japan. Western scholarship’s paradigm paralysis addiction to doctrines extends to schools or sects and orthodoxy. That’s how they mistake the forest for the trees. The guiding mythic image of bodhisattvas is bodhi building, wisdom embodiment, enlightenment phenotype. Declaring myself a bodhisattva generalist in the likes of Joseph Campbell liberated me to understand a complex developmental meta-psychology of mature waking up to our innate human potential – not some damned religious dogma. While still in India, bodhisattva mythos included Piaget like developmental models guiding emergence of wise intelligent sentient beings.

Several years ago Murphy directed me to Jeffrey Kripal of Rice University. Jeff’s works brought more catalyst. I will not attempt summarization, instead recommend reading them all. A student of Wendy Doniger, holder of the Mircea Eliade chair at Chicago, Jeff has shown how reframing the history of religion to the history of consciousness clears focus to energetic primes we shape and embody. His newer discussion in Secret Body also focuses on the energy of Other.

Tariki – Other Energy Mystery

In my understanding, the whole Pure Land movement from India forward, and particular Shinran, are pure and simple gnosis spirituality. And not one engendering cultivation of practices calculated for your enlightenment. Self-calculating effort (hakurai) defeat the natural grace endowed in the mystery – every bit as much as mentally straining to orgasm thwarts it happening. Just as they don’t distinguish body from mind, bodhi building doesn’t’ make itself religion or medicine – instead an easy, natural way of liberating innate fullness. Amida’s Pure Land has become salvation for those who don’t handle metaphor, then made far worse in a standard of English rendering amounting to Second Hand Orientalism. Also important is that awakening is the sense of mystery traditions in which you first cross over the threshold from normal to natural, then become a connoisseur of the repertoire of hidden capacities and functions in natural living.


Shifting from dogmatic beliefs to our evolutionary history of consciousness is an immense game changer, one loosening us up for the fun, the journey, the mythos of our nature.

Please correspond. Please help success with this work. I expect to merely be a shorter term catalyst from what becomes a voice and image for an emerging grassroots movement in cultural evolution in favor of Jonas Salk’s The Survival of the Wisest. I’d like to see the website grow into an online education resource including access to ideas, tools, life networks. So you’re forewarned: many folks need to become involved, not just a marginalized old man.

Contributions are solicited and will be put to good beneficial use.

Thank you.

Copyright November 2020, Ken O’Neill. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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Secret Mind, Hidden Mind

Events of 2020 forced me to take stock of myself in a new way. Between Covid-19 Pandemic and world response to it, most especially in America, sense of being alien to the dominant culture was underscored in a mix of feelings. Nothing new so much as comprehension “it’s finally here, in a dominant culture more unfit and unwilling to face it head on than in science fiction tales of sudden onset of catastrophic events.

Some of us have known a big disaster would come sooner or later, more likely a natural disaster. A plague? Twentieth century medicine’s triumph in largely eradicating infectious, transmissible disease gave little cause for entertaining the viral plague that hit us. Nevertheless, governmental response was hardly surprising. We’ve known for decades certain catastrophes would emerge, growing out of civilization’s dominant guiding paradigms — inevitable outgrowths from paradigms both inadequate and unable to resolve problems created by them. Our solutions would need to come from emergence on new paradigms, new guiding images emerging as creative evolutionary responses.

Thus far folks are hankering to get back to ‘normal’ – including governmental and business leaders. They don’t understand that they don’t understand: long taken for granted ‘normal’ got us in this mess. Normal is unfit, incapable – so bury to get on with life.

Secret Mind, Hidden Mind

Close to 60 years ago I was a young competitive weight lifter and Physical Culturist. Stories ranging from unusual to miraculous pointed to hidden, secret powers of the mind. One heard all the reported a young man having his Buick up on jacks under the two front wheels that he’d crawled under to work on his car only for them to fail, perilously trapping him pinned under the vehicle. His old mother, under 100 pounds body weight, scared for her boy’s life, grabbed the bumper exerting seemingly super human strength lifting it enough for him to quickly crawl out. Guys I’ve known who could lift the front end of an early 1950s Buick were the same ones who could dead lift a 500 pound barbell from the floor to standing upright with it. But all we had was a story – no lessons.

We also learned in the mid 1950s that an average one-third of persons diagnosed with terminal illnesses and not undergoing treatment of any sort were said to ‘spontaneously remit’, Instead of killing them, the disease just disappeared. For decades science shrugged its shoulders at spontaneous remission as an anomaly.

Anomaly is a technical word in science referring to observed phenomena for which scientific theory has no explanation or even flat out denies can happen. I was raised in the William James tradition of Radical Empiricism whose metaphor says when you discover white crows that break the rule all crows are black, then it’s time to evolve science beyond its shortcoming.

60 years ago I had a hell of a time pursuing understanding of our hidden mind, our secret mind. Better put, my passion became understanding our natural mind-body or mind-muscle connection. Pursuing under grad majors in philosophy and psychology, my questions were met with ridicule and laughter by the experts of our science. Some ‘chance’ encounters resulted a few years later in becoming full scholarship student in a Japanese-Buddhist university which took mind-body as primary, and associated orientations to medicine regarding remission as natural.

That adventure resolved that we ‘have’ a natural yet hidden mind, secret mind even though our dominant cultural paradigm ignores and denies it.

For the last 50 years and more, I’ve been a pioneering explorer, research, mentor in the frontiers of human consciousness – better put, at the leading edge of understanding both who and what we naturally are, what we can do. The implications and data are enormous. Simply put, the same ineptness that’s maintained guiding social, economic and political paradigms also inform and guide embodiment of an entire culture of underdeveloped humans.

While we cannot undo mistakes of the past, we sure as hell need to become motivated by hard core realism about our condition. The delusional sense of comforting normality that got us into the 202 catastrophe is just the tiny tip of an immense iceberg posing a creative challenge to intentional perpetuity not only of humanity but of the entire biosphere of our home, Space Ship Earth. Now as never before we must become living wise embodiment of our dormant Super Intelligence. Learned to access, develop and mature, stabilize and organize our core generative emotional and cognitive intelligence is our first task – but as play and art becoming the gifts of the lives we were given.

Kokoro Institute

Kokoro (心) means both heart and mind and spirit in Japanese — except without the ‘and’ , instead as a single experiential unity. Kokoro is also pronounced shin, and too often it’s meaning lost by just translating it as ‘mind’ – for example, in Zen literature. That also makes for weird translations such as One Mind for isshin, better taken as ‘wholehearted’ (instead of half-assed).

Kokoro Institute begins with this blog. With regular articles. Articles, plural, because as we enter mind-body we enter a whole lot more, far too much to reduce to a single article. We enter the realm of exploring the fauna and flora of our largely undisclosed nature.

Our dominant social paradigm distinguishes between Eastern and Western approaches that we’re going to fully outgrow here. Western European culture has a rich ‘underground’ or counter culture of consciousness – underground due to first faith based dogmatic religion, then in recent centuries faith based dogmatic materialist scientism – both rendering understanding consciousness as taboo and forbidden. During the harsh reign of Western religion, so forbidden was understanding consciousness it became to most persecuted of heresies (persecution authorizing torture, even death) as the gnostic heresy.

Gnostic and gnosis are key words here, from the Greek verb ‘to know’ (found in dia-gnosis, pro-gnosis and other words about knowing. In turn, it’s related to the Indic Sanskrit words including jnana and prajna (-jna corresponding to gno). Bottom line is a liberating understanding that frees kokoro – heart, mind, spirit – to grow beyond normal into fuller ranges of understanding.

We have a wealth of human wisdom traditions supplying us with data contributing to a far bigger vision of our nature. In common, the establish a turning point kind of experience of understanding that begins freeing and transforming kokoro (heart/mind/spirit) from normal to more fully human. No special practices required, many happening in sports, fine and performing arts, hypnosis, contemplation. The significant matter (some call it The Great Matter) is experiencing that ‘flip’ in understanding, that change of attitude, that ‘rebirth’.

Future Tense

Kokoro has been catalyzed by 2020’s events. Not to dish out some helium filled words of philosophy. Quite the opposite. Consider humanities and science as aspects of Life. Your consciousness is a vital centerpiece of the Life Intelligence that’s living as you. So we’re starting a counter cultural educational movement with roots from all over the human experience. As I near age 80 my concern was preservation of my research archives and Bodhi Building laboratory/gym/dojo. Until a few young candidates for that preservation stressed all those things have coherent, congruent unification only within my understanding. So Kokoro is a literary genre, an oeuvre of my understanding. Linear composition is not my style – count on non-linearity, multiple even trans disciplinary, and weird stuff – forbidden topics guaranteed to stretch your mind from the pale ken of normality to frontiers of our natural yet dormant human potential.

Aside from this we also foster canines rescued from kill shelters.

Please correspond. Please help success with this work. I expect to merely be a shorter term catalyst from what becomes a voice and image for an emerging grassroots movement in cultural evolution in favor of Jonas Salk’s The Survival of the Wisest. I’d like to see the website grow into an online education resource including access to ideas, tools, life networks. So you’re forewarned: many folks need to become involved, not just a marginalized old man.

Contributions are solicited and will be put to good beneficial use.

Thank you.

Copyright November 2020, Ken O’Neill. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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