Hopelessness

Re: Hopelessness

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:39 am

greentara wrote: I was really into Krishnamurti years ago.


I went through a phase with his writings from 1979 until 1984, or so. But some things he said always stayed with me. And despite his personal shortcomings, I think he was the real deal. But I don't want to divert Duckfiasco's thread so will leave it at that.

:focus:
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby futerko » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:41 am

jeeprs wrote:One other thought that I always found strangely consoling was this one:

My life has been a series of crises, most of which never occurred.


Don't know where I read it, but I often think of it.


It's from Mark Twain who was quoting Michel de Montaigne. "My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened."

Of course, de Montaigne's neurosis was obsessional, so he avoided the encounter. Had he been more like the Buddha and faced it through, maybe he would've turned his crises of faith into a "faith of crises". In failing to find any satisfactory answers, at what point do you come to realise that no such answer exists?

Best wishes Duckfiasco, whatever path you decide to take. :smile:
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:26 am

I think you have been offered a lot of good advice.
I have some questions.
How long have you been studying/practicing Buddhist meditation?
Do you have a teacher, someone you meet face to face with?

It is certainly possible that "Buddhism is not for everybody"
but the basic truth of the Dharma is pretty universal.
We all want to be happy, and we aren't getting what we want.

I ask how long you have been practicing, because everything you describe sounds so familiar to me, and whenever I have stopped practicing, or just really dropped all interest in it, at some point I would always end up right back to where I began, miserable about life or some aspect of it, and the Dharma always came back haunting me, Buddha wiggling his finger in my face and saying, "See? I told you that existence is suffering! Why didn't you listen to me the first time?"
So, I am going to make a random prediction, since I don't know you at all,
but you have made a connection with the Dharma, and it speaks to you, and you will probably stick with it.

A lot of problems come to the surface with Dharma practice, and likewise, having a lot of problems already, such as problems at home or in relationships are really, really, REALLY stressful and just sitting on your butt watching air go in and out of your nose doesn't really do anything very noticeable. It doesn't make the problems go away, and it might make you feel even more anxious, just sitting there, or wishing you were a holy sage or something.. So, what's the point?

I think that if nothing else, it gives you a solid point of reference. You establish a kind of base of operations rooted in calm mind, from which to practice patience and compassion both for others and toward yourself. So, when crap boils over, you aren't swept away by it. You know where the true mind rests, and that becomes your refuge. And then you take another breath and keep rolling with that. But the thing is, sometimes we are in situations that just really suck. That's just a fact. It's usually the result of choices we have made in the past, maybe unwise choices. But every situation has causes and when the causes cease the situation changes. So, you have to be patient.

Some people are not in stressful situations and they can just relax and meditate and be happy or whatever, but that doesn't last forever either. And others are in really tense or unfavorable situations that make it hard to see any benefit from dharma practice. But actually, the worse it seems, the more benefit you are able to get. This doesn't mean that you will get more benefit from dharma practice (meditation,etc.) but that the opportunity for you to benefit is greater. But we don't always see the benefit.

There is an analogy of a flower. When you or I see a flower growing in a garden, all we focus on is the beautiful or fragrant blossom. We think that is the most important part of the flower, because to us, it is. But from the flower's point of view (so to speak) the blossom is really a pretty trivial thing. It's good for attracting bees and thus important for reproduction, but the petals all come and go in a very short time. The real action, as far as the flower is concerned, is beneath the soil, in the dark, where nobody can see it. That's where the roots are, where the water gets in, and where the nutrition is absorbed. In a lot of ways, Dharma is like this. We look at it like a flower, and we don't see any blossoms so we think nothing is going on. We think, "I am not getting anything out of this!" ---and for some people, maybe not. But really, if you are practicing and studying, a lot is going on at the root of where it matters.

I love your phrase, "box up the altar" because that is what I had to do...literally, when our son was born, raising him took up all of my time and having incense and little bowls of whatever or candles was simply out of the question... not to mention trying to find time to meditate! And when I found time, when he was napping, not being able to, because I was always listening to hear if he was about to wake up. So, I literally had to pack it all up in a cardboard box (Well, I kept a small Buddha statue on a shelf). This was the best thing that ever happened, because I finally learned that dharma "practice" wasn't really the sitting or chanting mantras or whatever, although these are important tools.

Dharma practice is the actual practice of generosity, patience, mindfulness, compassion and so on. It really is like your own blood, rushing through your life constantly, even though nobody can actually see it. So, meditation (and these other "tools") help to establish that foundation for the "real " practice. So, it isn't about doing such and such until your finally get to the last chapter and then you are enlightened. It's about constantly realizing the enlightened mind all the time, which is possible to do...at least very poorly!!

I think this dissatisfaction is a good thing, and I would continue to use it as a means to examine your motivations, and definitely continue with walking meditation. Sometimes you can meditate for a short period, sometimes for a long period, sometimes not at all. But, just stay with it.

.
.
.
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby windsweptliberty » Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:33 am

Foaming Buddha. That was a a very helpful reply. Very thoughtful, clear, and understandable, but most of all helpful.
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Jesse » Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:02 am

Cut all the shit out of your practice, keep the tools you've gained along the way because those will be the things that help you in whatever direction you go. Disenchantment with buddhism was probably the best thing that happened during my practice, because once I was rid of buddhism what was left were those tools that allieviate my suffering. When we aren't suffering we are far more capable of lessening other peopples suffering too.

What else can we really do you know :smile:
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:06 am

Thank you all, truly. :heart:

I wanted to just chuck everything in the garbage, including Dharma Wheel. But then I figured others took the time to read and reply, so I should at least return the favor. I'm glad I did.

Buddhism has so many teachings and cultural trappings by now that I fear I've made it into a depressing heap of ways I don't match up and essential practices I suck at :rolling:

I perused some books on Christian and Jewish contemplation at the library. I was stunned to see how close they are to zhinay. It made me realize that the peace borne from meditation is a human need, not a religious one. Even the methods are almost identical. So maybe it's time to put away the altar, the enlightenment, the Buddhism, and stop worrying about getting it right. I've got enough "me the husband, artist, cat lover..." without adding "me the Buddhist". I guess it's just so habitual that I've done it to Buddhism too :shrug:

Really no clue where this will go. Simplifying sounds like a really good idea right now.

Thank you all again :) Much wonderful advice that I'll digest through the next few days. May this thread be of benefit to others who doubtlessly will pass through this same uncomfortable hopelessness.

:bow: :heart:
Namu Amida Butsu
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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Re: Hopelessness

Postby muni » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:13 am

Worry is holding on/keeping thoughts in collection, like butterflies in a dusty box.

Surrender unnecessary thoughts.

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Re: Hopelessness

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:36 am

There are two books that I turn to when I find myself discouraged and depleted spiritually.

The first is the timeless classic "Life of Milarepa".

The second is the excellent "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry" by Jack Kornfield, who explores what happens when the enchantment of the initial approach to the dharma wears off, and we are left with the messy task of working on ourselves- "the laundry".
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby lobster » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:59 am

I perused some books on Christian and Jewish contemplation at the library.


Part of the reason for prostrations, is saying, 'I can not cope with this shit'. You take it (higher power) and help . . .
. . . it is the knowledge that others empathise, do puja for you, have been through the mill etc, that allows us hope in a hopeless mind set.
When you are back on your feet, pray for your former self . . . already perking up :woohoo:
I did not dedicate any merit for todays excessive chanting. Sent your way and those in similar distress, via my pals the astral dolphins . . . :twothumbsup:
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby pemachophel » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:54 pm

Duck,

I've been right where you are. So I understand where you're coming from. However, the very fact that you're having all this turmoil is itself proof that Buddhism is working and that you are making progress. These thoughts and emotions are all up-surges due to the ripening of your past bad karma.

So just keep going. It doesn't matter how you feel. All these thoughts and emotions are merely fleeting illusions. They never have and never will have any effect on your true essence.

"The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on."

Good luck and best wishes.

:namaste:
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby wisdom » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:11 pm

duckfiasco wrote:I sometimes doubt enlightenment is possible for me or anyone else, aside from the most devoted practitioners and teachers. They seem to be onto something. The average person? Not so much.


Its possible! Devotion comes from within. There is no telling who is and who is not devoted. Just because someone does a billion accumulations of something doesn't mean they are more devoted than the person who does zero. The ego can easily fuel our aspirations and create the appearance of being a devoted practitioner. True devotion is in the heart, and its tied to the desire to liberate all sentient beings and free them all from suffering.

duckfiasco wrote: Someone on here posted a list of like 20 complex meditations to master before even thinking about enlightenment.


Heres my thoughts on this matter, I don't know if this accords with any Dharma teaching, its just my own personal conclusion.

Theres only two kinds of meditation. Analysis and concentration. Meditations of analysis are geared towards understanding the functioning of energy. Meditations of concentration are geared towards stilling the mind and revealing its true nature, then abiding in that. Meditations of analysis have two modes. The first is taking the objects as real and seeking to understand how they interact with each other. This is like seeing your marriage is failing and introspecting to understand why you got with this person in the first place, why the marriage failed, what could have been done differently, what might be done to save it, and so forth, as well as analyzing your own emotions and thoughts in the same way. The second is taking objects as unreal. In this case you would examine the same problem, but seek to understand how all things are impermanent, transitory, dream like and empty. The second kind of analysis is the more powerful of the two because it applies to every situation and not just one in particular.

Meditations of concentration appear diverse but really its just one meditation with many different focuses, but each focus can become a distraction until you reach the true nature of the mind. Hence focusing on formlessness, bliss, form, and so forth all produce their own kinds of karma and rebirth. The goal is just pure spacious awareness. But this kind of meditation is difficult and easily disrupted if you haven't first strongly established emptiness because whenever a strong thought and emotion arises the temptation is there to believe in it as objectively real.

One could say that meditation on bodhicitta is one kind, and meditation on equanimity is another, and on the preciousness of human life a third. But these are just meditations of either analysis or concentration. One is either analyzing and considering suffering, turning it over and over in the mind, or one is simply concentrating on the feeling of compassion for all sentient beings. Or one is contemplating what equanimity is, or one is concentrating on equanimity itself, maintaining equanimity towards all reality and situations.

duckfiasco wrote:That was my main allergy to Zen. I've had troubles with specific defilements before, and the solution given at the local Zen place was just to sit, sit, sit. Sit like a statue, the bird that just crapped on your head is beyond concepts.


Thats one solution. Its the most direct. An indirect solution would be analysis of the problem first as being real, so you understand how it came about. Then analysis of the problem as being empty and unreal, dream like as all things are. Then you sit with that. So when the thoughts and feelings emerge you've already worked the problem out, you can then just remind yourself of its emptiness and continue focusing on your breath or whatever you are concentrating on. This is how the two kinds of meditation complement each other and actually feed into each other. The more you realize emptiness, the stronger and more consistent your concentration becomes. The stronger your concentration and more consistent it becomes, the deeper into realization of emptiness as truth you go. The deeper realization makes analyzing things as being empty easier, and on and on it goes. But first you have to get some experience in emptiness and meditative stability, and continuing in those you will make progress.

duckfiasco wrote:Since we're on pointless questions, long term? Paradoxically hope for enlightenment but give up hope of anything; let's set a goal to draw you in, then say the goal doesn't matter. What the hell?


This means that you shouldn't have a strong attachment to the concept of Enlightenment. You should truly desire it for yourself and others, but you need not focus on it constantly. The fundamental teaching of Dharma is to cultivate non-attachment, one should have the desire for enlightenment but not attach to it. We are deluded in the west because we think attachments are not just needed, but healthy! The goal doesn't matter because enlightenment is an organic, living experience that flowers in the present moment. Its not something we will obtain and hold one day, and thinking we are holding it and actually believing that its being held is in fact an expression of ignorance and not enlightenment.

What do we focus on then? We focus on our own mind, what its doing, and how to bring it to stillness. We accomplish this by study and practice, contemplation and asking questions.


duckfiasco wrote:And short term, this weird emotionless gulf and tangible alienation from people around me, whatever my actual feelings towards them may be.


Actual feelings are a funny thing because they change so often, who would call them actual? One day a person is our friend, the next our enemy. One day our lover, the next a constant reminder of loss and pain.

duckfiasco wrote: It seems like Buddhism sets an incredibly low and incredibly high bar.


It sets all bars. Anyone can benefit from Dharma if they desire to do so. There are means and ways for every kind of mind. But much of the work is up to us, and not the system we are engaging with.

duckfiasco wrote: Work for all beings, but if you do your best and still feel miserable, oh well!


All suffering is unfortunate, and even more so if you are suffering and are yet working for the benefit of others! It shouldn't be that way, but it is. It is that way because regardless of our actions today, if we haven't tamed our own mind then suffering will run rampant. We can help a billion people, but if we are still attached to objects of the senses, if we still believe in the reality we have created with our own mind as being objectively real, we will suffer.

duckfiasco wrote:There's this undercurrent that it's always just your fault and not a problem with the conceptless, pure, etc. Buddhist teachings. I'm reminded of some serious questions being posed on another forum, and a Zen practitioner replying, "just look at the plum trees in the orchard" or something. All righty then :shrug:


Our mind has been conditioned in one way, we can either take responsibility for our mind and therefore all the suffering it brings us, or we can reject responsibility and blame our suffering on external objects. But if we do that, then we are also placing our enlightenment in dependence upon external situations. External situations can support us, but they can never enlighten us. We need not place blame on anything or anyone, including ourselves. Just take responsibility for our own state of mind. Say "I am responsible for what I am feeling, and even if I can't control it, I'm responsible for how I will let it affect me, how I will react to it, and whether or not I will continue to train and seek to understand my mind or not". The problem with blaming ourselves is that even if its our own karma that created our situation, its also our karma whether or not we punish ourselves by blaming ourselves or just take responsibility for a situation. Its like being in a superior position at a job. You may not have created the problem, or you may have, but either way its your problem and you have to do something about it. Blame in those situations rarely does any good, what does good is action and implementing solutions.

duckfiasco wrote:Pema Chödrön says to use the raw energy of doubt, fear, anger, etc. to reconnect with our soft spot and see the ways we protect ourselves.


She is saying that when we feel these things, our reaction is to cover our wound. Its not to just sit with it and examine it and experience it, its to run from it. She is saying don't do that. If you feel anxiety, go into it and inquire about its origin, its roots, its reality, and why you feel that way. She is saying to act with fearlessness. In each case we try to avoid pain, but there is no avoiding pain. You either suppress it and make it worse or you confront it and heal. There is no other way.

Remember to take it easy on yourself and cultivate compassion for yourself since you are also a sentient being that suffers.
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby zangskar » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:21 am

Duckfiasco, maybe I'm wrong but it sounds like you are perhaps looking for a nice community and good, meaningful company, as much or more than for 'enlightenment' and other such abstract ideas. If so you can find this in other places too, and it may make up for the lack of same in your local Buddhist centre? Or create some fun there yourself. There are many people who probably feel like you do, and they are just waiting for someone to take their hand, actually or metaphorically. If you want to communicate something to yourself (compassion, happiness, fun), the best way to do it is often to communicate it to someone else. Bodies and minds moving together in space and time to different audible or inaudible tunes and rhythms is 95% of human life after all.
Anyway excuse this confused writing and if I was wrong. I often am. :oops:
Best wishes
Lars

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Re: Hopelessness

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:33 am

You just haven't found the right teacher yet.
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby duckfiasco » Sun Dec 23, 2012 1:31 am

More physical problems. Need to see a doctor, and soon. Symptoms may be indicative of a serious hereditary condition that my parents had around my age. Even if it isn't that, it's enough to have discomfort and blood in places you'd rather not.

No desire to meditate. It feels like Buddhism was an interesting hobby that is no longer relevant. I've thought about cancelling my participation in the refuge ceremony, but I haven't yet. It may be better to do it some other time rather than wish I were somewhere else. I put away my altar. My husband misses it more than I do.

A friend's disgruntled ex-husband came by our apartment today with a stranger. He tried to gain entry and when that failed, take our friend's car which he doesn't own. We weren't home, but he was stopped on both accounts by another friend, thankfully.

Yesterday, I had a strange visual distortion come out of nowhere while shopping. I saw bright color flashes and wiggling that got so bad I couldn't read my phone. I had to go home and lie down, but it did go away.

The partner of a good friend of mine sent me a message detailing how much he loathes me. I could barely sleep that night as I was genuinely afraid he would come to my home and do something. One of those couples where one wants to utterly possess the other and forbids them from having friends. So today, I had to finally cut things off.

Things seem to be going downhill in general. I'm also worried about my marriage.

I suppose I'm posting this here in case anyone feels like praying for the removal of obstacles, or maybe they can get some metta practice from this. I just want all this nonsense to be of benefit to someone somehow :shrug:
Namu Amida Butsu
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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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:15 am

[I'm trying to think of something meaningful to say here but everything I write seemed bogus so I am starting again.]

First thing: it is what it is. Whether it is the way we want it to be, or not, it is what it is, as a result of causes and conditions, and the wheels have been turning for a long time. I don't think we can escape from that, in the sense of abandoning it for something else. The only way out of it, is through it. I think wishing it could be something else or some other way is part of the problem, although I do understand it is much easier said than done.

We can't change the past, but we can change what it means, by what we do now. If what we do now is informed by insight into how our actions now create further causes and conditions, then we can start to move in the right direction, at least. And sometimes that is all we can do.

As for having 'a desire to meditate', in an important sense, just being able to stay with what is, to be able to be simply aware of the full panorama, (the full catastrophe, as Kabat Zinn says), is meditation. It doesn't take any special action or posture. The essence of meditation is to see what is.

And, as your splendid signature line says, please feel free to take the above with a grain of salt.

:anjali:
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Ayu » Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:33 am

duckfiasko wrote:I suppose I'm posting this here in case anyone feels like praying for the removal of obstacles, or maybe they can get some metta practice from this. I just want all this nonsense to be of benefit to someone somehow

Yes, be sure, there are many, many good practitioners who include you as one of all the beings into their prayers. :smile:

Duck, life is going through phases all the time. It is like weather. Bad weather is needed, enough rain has to fall.
I send to you personally all of the compassion, wisdom and strength i can get together. :smile: I hope, some of it will reach you.

For to do meditation no desire is needed. What ever you feel, you maybe right with it, there may be reasons for your lack of desire you are not concious about yet. But: DON'T STOP. That's the trick. Just meditate once a day for even two minutes, but don't stop, because Dharma is there to help you in any way.
Dharma is the soil and the ground of everything, so it is smart to keep the contact whatever happens. :smile:

All my best wishes for you,
Ayu
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby catmoon » Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:45 pm

duckfiasco wrote:
Yesterday, I had a strange visual distortion come out of nowhere while shopping. I saw bright color flashes and wiggling that got so bad I couldn't read my phone. I had to go home and lie down, but it did go away.



Had the same symptoms once. They said I had to get to a specialist very quickly indeed due to the possibility of a detached retina. Turned out to be the shimmering lights associated with migraine. Not all sufferers experience the classic pain. Harmless, unless you are driving in which case its a good idea to pull over. Some people go completely blind, all they can see is the whirling lights. In my case they are gone in a hour or so.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Sara H » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:44 pm

Hi Duckfiasco,

I think this is something you should take up with a qualified Dharma Teacher.
Preferably a monk.

This in no way implies any disrespect to anyone who comes on here,
However there are certain limitations to the format of an internet dicussion board, among them making sure you are not getting delusional advice rather than something on-center.

While there are many people on here doing very fine training, and would no doubt have some stellar advice for you from their own experience, the truth of an internet forum, is that it's very much a bag of marbles.

For something like this, which I would qualify as warrenting spiritual counseling, I would call a monk.

This is simply because as they are doing monastic training, one can have some more assurance as to the quality of their training, or at the very least whether they have actually meditated or done some sitting the actual day of my call.

I personally like Shasta Abbey (contact info on their website) ,but if you don't preffer them, I'm sure Gampo Abbey or any other monastic training center would be good as well.

Emotional states including hopelessness, will pass on their own if you sit through them, but I think this is something you may want to talk to a qualified spiritual teacher about.

I wish you the best of luck in your training.

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:25 pm

I know there are some teachers who also say that these feelings are actually a good sign, however unpleasant.

The idea being that when we are "normal" our mind runs through the things that frighten us so often it essentially runs away from them so quickly, and onto the next that there is no time to experience any one thing. Viewed in this way it can be a sign that your mind is slowing down, and you now have to deal with some of the garbage that is there. In short, feelings of hopelessness can be the first sign of starting to wake up to the reality of samsara.

That said, Sarah's advice is probably the most practical of the thread really...
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Ayu » Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:37 am

Yes, i agree.
When i feel, i'm in a difficult phase i try to see one of my teachers. Even if i don't ask any personal question (sometimes it's not possible or i am too shy) only to be near to a good teacher helps.
Often the questions are answered without asking them loudly. :idea:
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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