A small victory, still more questions than answers

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Challenge23 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 6:58 pm

I think this is about the 5th time I've tried to write this post. That is a habit I have posting here at Dharma Wheel. I'll read something and think that I should say something, I'll type that something out, and then I'll think better of it.

Sometimes I'll feel that what I have to say isn't really valid. Sometimes I worry I'll hit a nerve and upset people. Sometimes I'm not sure why I decide not to push that post button. I just don't.

I was able to finally complete the Dorje Sempa portion of my Ngondro. I think I was hoping for a lot more than it seems to have provided. Not magical powers or anything like that, but answers. Clear, logical, consistent answers to questions that sound pedantic and foolish in my head that just will not go away. Why can't I just believe that Enlightenment is awesome because everyone believes it is self evidently awesome? Why does the idea of having faith and not relying on intellect fill me with fear and anger*? How can we know that Enlightenment is not only good for us as humans but for all beings across space and time**? What I have is some answers from my teacher that only half answer the question and a theory that I've developed that even though it makes sense to me it seems too strange to be true.

I am going to complete my Ngondro. Period. I've put in too much not to. However, at this point, I don't know if I will be a Buddhist after I'm done. I know that some day I'll have to ask my teacher some deeply uncomfortable questions that I frankly don't know if I want the answers for.

So it goes.

*Actually, that one I think I know. The way that I stave of serious mental illness(clincial depression) issues is constant and ruthless intellectual examination of everything that enters my mind as a possible depressive delusion. Invariably when I stop doing that I end up in an extreme depressive low swing within a matter of hours. Total vigilance is how I keep off of the psych meds and out of the hospital.

** For example, it is possible for living beings on other planets to have evolved out of base silicon instead of base carbon. I can barely concieve of how their physiology works. I am deeply skeptical that we have the same religious endgame. And that's one of the countless ways that sentient beings can incarnate in the universe.
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.

I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Jesse » Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:00 pm

I know the feeling. I have to be very vigilant in what I allow my mind to do otherwise I get sick. Its very draining isn't it? Sometimes its nice to just put all that on a shelf and relax though. No questioning. No searching. No whirling monkey mind. Just enjoy life as it comes.

If you want to save yourself some pain. Then concede ever finding logical intellectual answers. They aren't fulfilling and the there is no evidence past a certain point.

What your searching for isn't an intellectual answer anyway. Wanna know why? Suppose you got it would you be satisfied? Would you stop your seeking.. stop asking questions? No. Because what your dealing with is a habitual tendency to find happiness by searching for truth. Its a sickness.

I could be wrong. And if so I hope you find your answers. :smile:
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Hieros Gamos » Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:31 am

Jesse wrote:... a habitual tendency to find happiness by searching for truth.

True.

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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Aug 28, 2014 8:56 am

You finished the full 111,111 repetitions of the 100 syllable mantra?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Soar » Thu Aug 28, 2014 11:22 am

I think, dont take your mind so seriously. No need to engage each depressive thought with more mind, just in general dont take any of your thoughts too seriously!
“If you propose to speak always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Jechan » Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:43 pm

You are a Buddha, you have the Buddha nature in you! Realise this and carry on!
南無妙法蓮華経
南無妙法蓮華経
南無妙法蓮華経
南無妙法蓮華経
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Challenge23 » Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:03 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:You finished the full 111,111 repetitions of the 100 syllable mantra?


My teacher stated that he only wanted 100,000 but other than that, yes.
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.

I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Aug 28, 2014 4:31 pm

Challenge23 wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:You finished the full 111,111 repetitions of the 100 syllable mantra?


My teacher stated that he only wanted 100,000 but other than that, yes.
:twothumbsup: Well done!
My personal experience was that 100,000 is MORE than enough. :smile:

As for answers, well, maybe you were asking the wrong questions?

But really, whenever we enter into a practice with hopes, all we will end up with is disillusion. You have to put aside all hope and fear when it comes to practice.

In most cases, any change that will occur, will be subtle and over a period of time, so it may not be discernible to us. How long did it take you to do the 100,000 accumulations?

Don't let your confidence wane, keep at it, and talk to your lama. Ngondro is Vajrayana, so the lama is indispensable.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Malcolm » Thu Aug 28, 2014 4:35 pm

Challenge23 wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:You finished the full 111,111 repetitions of the 100 syllable mantra?


My teacher stated that he only wanted 100,000 but other than that, yes.


Considering that you have had countless past lifetimes, it is a bit much to expect that 100,00 mantras is going to remove the negativity of all of that. However, there are specific signs of accomplishing the practice. If you have those signs, then you have really accomplished the goals of the practice. Counting a number is really not the point.
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:08 pm

Malcolm wrote:Considering that you have had countless past lifetimes, it is a bit much to expect that 100,00 mantras is going to remove the negativity of all of that. However, there are specific signs of accomplishing the practice. If you have those signs, then you have really accomplished the goals of the practice. Counting a number is really not the point.
I dunno man, Vajrasattva ain't like your local dry cleaner or something. He can pull off some pretty crazed results when it comes to purifying. If he couldn't, then the whole "one lifetime to enlightenment" trip goes right out the window.

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"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Hieros Gamos » Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:23 pm

Challenge23 wrote:My teacher stated that he only wanted 100,000 but other than that, yes.

Bloody impressive no matter what you decide to do in the future.

Respect.
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby kirtu » Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:27 am

Challenge23 wrote:I was able to finally complete the Dorje Sempa portion of my Ngondro.


Congratulations! :twothumbsup:

I think I was hoping for a lot more than it seems to have provided. Not magical powers or anything like that, but answers. Clear, logical, consistent answers to questions that sound pedantic and foolish in my head that just will not go away. Why can't I just believe that Enlightenment is awesome because everyone believes it is self evidently awesome? .....


Well, basically you have to have some kind of kensho experience. I am not trying to obfuscate my response *or* to cast things in Zen terminology or to urge you to practice Zen. Afterall, while I think Zen Buddhism is basically the pinnacle of Mahayana *practice* my practice has been Vajrayana for quite some time. Kensho is a Zen term basically for "a glimpse of enlightenment". To my knowledge there is nothing like kensho in Vajrayana. It is more than faith though as it is a kind of realization. Like all realizations short of actual enlightenment one can fool oneself or be deceived. And even when the realization is valid, short of full enlightenment it has to be abandoned at some point as it is not actually true. Short of full enlightenment this realization would be just a form of upaya, skillful means. I think for these reasons some masters like Tsongkhapa emphasized a kind of logical or intellectual approach. This idea is found in the Theradavin school as well BTW. For example Buddhadasa taught that you can experience a foretaste of nirvana directly during meditation. Similarly one can experience a kind of mini-enlightenment by experiencing complete purity during a moment of meditation. Or one can experience just awareness, etc. These experiences can show you directly a foreshadowing of enlightenment. In fact we can experience many such qualities of enlightenment during practice or even just doing daily things like complete love, lovingkindness, complete compassion, equanimity, joy, personal morality, unattached generosity, patience, forgiveness etc. Seeing these underdeveloped qualities in us already can help us develop a direct realization that enlightenment is real and not just a story.

Did you experience any of the Buddha's qualities at all during Vajrasattva practice?

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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby TRC » Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:14 am

Challenge23 wrote: Clear, logical, consistent answers to questions that sound pedantic and foolish in my head that just will not go away. Why can't I just believe that Enlightenment is awesome because everyone believes it is self evidently awesome? Why does the idea of having faith and not relying on intellect fill me with fear and anger*? How can we know that Enlightenment is not only good for us as humans but for all beings across space and time**? What I have is some answers from my teacher that only half answer the question and a theory that I've developed that even though it makes sense to me it seems too strange to be true.

Challenge23, if you just put these things aside you will more than likely look back and see them for the counter productive irrelevancies they are. These types of questions have a lot of pull and seduction and seeming importance at particular times, but they are really just the old paradigm, the 'rational' mind, fighting to remain in ascendency.

Sherab Dorje wrote:You have to put aside all hope and fear when it comes to practice.

Wise and practical advice Sherab Dorje. Clinging/hoping for a result or having fear/aversion that some perceived result won’t manifest, while very difficult to apply is essential.

Keep the focus on practice, not the result.
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Gwenn Dana » Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:08 pm

Challenge23 wrote:Clear, logical, consistent answers to questions that sound pedantic and foolish in my head that just will not go away.


What would the answer have to be so the question goes away?
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby Jesse » Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:30 pm

Gwenn Dana wrote:
Challenge23 wrote:Clear, logical, consistent answers to questions that sound pedantic and foolish in my head that just will not go away.


What would the answer have to be so the question goes away?



Mindfulness. Keep chanting idiot. :jedi:
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: A small victory, still more questions than answers

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:57 pm

Congrats, Challenge23 :twothumbsup:

Jesse wrote:
Gwenn Dana wrote:
Challenge23 wrote:Clear, logical, consistent answers to questions that sound pedantic and foolish in my head that just will not go away.


What would the answer have to be so the question goes away?



Mindfulness. Keep chanting idiot. :jedi:

Pretty much. The only way I stopped making myself physically ill from doubt was to answer every single question with the nembutsu. Then when the distress and confusion of doubt is lessened, actual helpful inquiry can take place instead of running in circles.

Even those relentless life-hinging-on questions are impermanent, selfless, and clearly can bring suffering. But how much noise they make!
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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