Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Help required with personal difficulties.
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Challenge23
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Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Challenge23 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:39 pm

First of all, apologies for the title. I've spent awhile trying to figure out what to type here and that was the best I could figure out.

For those that aren't up to speed.

I've been a Buddhist for about 10 years. About 4 years ago or so I found a teacher in the Dudjom Tersar lineage and started practicing Ngondro after being given the teaching(once by one of the lamas working under him and once by him as part of a group class). I have been practicing Ngondro at varying levels of intensity since then(including all of the visualizations that my teacher requested that we do).

The main things that happened during this time was that I was involved in a very traumatizing and isolating relationship and was in therapy and medication on and off for clinical depression. This will become important later in the story.

As I practiced I realized I had very serious doubts about not just the Dharma but about everything. As someone who is at his core a very serious agnostic(I don't believe that we can be certain about anything in reality at all, even the absence of certainty) this isn't very unusual. What was new was that I realized the consequences of these doubts, especially in regards to what happens after we die.

As it stands we don't have a way to say that the Islamic, atheist, fundamentalist Christian, Buddhist or Hindu afterlife is what actually happens or how we get to a specific one if our actions determine where we go.

And since what you are supposed to do for all of them(be a good Muslim, nothing, get straight with Jesus, work towards Enlightenment, and worship God in a specific way) either don't agree or in some cases contradict each other it is pretty important to figure out either which experience happens to everyone or the mechanism by which it is determined what happens to people.

Now, of course, many people would say, "Well, if you practice then certainty will come." Here is the problem I've run into with that. Part of being diagnosed with depression is that, by definition, you can't trust your own mind. Because of this you have to verify everything via external methods, otherwise you might think that jumping off of a bridge is a revealed insight and be dead before lunch(not that I've had thoughts like that for a couple of years).

Another thing that has been worrying me is the difference between Enlightenment and happiness. When I originally started I thought that Enlightenment was the same as happiness. Though there might be some rough patches the path to Enlightenment seemed to be one that would lead to greater and greater happiness over time. I have not found this to be the case at all. Practice has made my life harder, not easier. When I practice I am reminded that I don't know with any certainty what happens when I die, that the primary method everyone says I have to use to verify this(internal experience) I can't trust, and that Enlightenment is(to me, at least) not logically understandable(and thus something to view with great skepticism). It's like when a dog pees on the carpet and you rub his nose in it to get him to stop.

Now, I told my teacher a very abbreviated version of this and his response was, "Do Vajrasattva instead of prostrations" which I have done. And it has produced precisely 0 change. I still don't know what Enlightenment is, I still don't know what happens when we die, and I still can't trust my inner experiences at all if they aren't vetted by rigorous standards. On the other hand, I have noticed that getting a new significant other, exercising, eating right, staying away from "doomer" media, taking St. John's Wort, and socializing with people has helped with my depression immensely. However, according to how I understand Buddhism that should not be the case at all. Practice should make things better and anything else should make things worse.

I'm not sure what I'm asking for precisely, here. Maybe this is just for me to be able to look at my own thoughts.
IN THIS BOOK IT IS SPOKEN OF THE SEPHIROTH & THE PATHS, OF SPIRITS & CONJURATIONS, OF GODS, SPHERES, PLANES & MANY OTHER THINGS WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT EXIST. IT IS IMMATERIAL WHETHER THEY EXIST OR NOT. BY DOING CERTAIN THINGS CERTAIN RESULTS FOLLOW; STUDENTS ARE MOST EARNESTLY WARNED AGAINST ATTRIBUTING OBJECTIVE REALITY OR PHILOSOPHICAL VALIDITY TO ANY OF THEM.

Wagner, Eric; Wilson, Robert Anton (2004-12-01). An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson (Kindle Locations 1626-1629). New Falcon Publications. Kindle Edition., quoting from Alister Crowley

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:25 pm

I've found the more you expect out of practice, the more you demand results of it to "change" things for you, the more apparent ugliness will become to you, demanding that Buddhism produce results for you is a dead end.

Don't try to use Buddhism as a way to escape your garbage, if you approach it like that you will just create misery for yourself, "enlightenment" is not another place you go to where all the sudden all your bad stuff doesn't exist. The first thing is to really, truly, give up on being any better than you are now. Give up on trying to fix yourself, misery is misery, there is no unique key that will unlock the door to leaving yours behind...give up the search for that.

I know it sounds crazy but I think it's true, you first need to completely accept, and abide with all the ugly things you are trying to get away from, if you can't do that any path you are on will ultimately end up with you running away from those things and obsessing on the ugliness of samsara..which is of and within itself, dwelling deeply in what you are trying to detach yourself from.

Of course socializing will make you feel better, even better, if you a have a friend who is sick and injured, spend time with them. Try to open yourself up to people in a way you normally wouldn't - if you listen to the words of many wise, altruistic folks this is their advice, when they feel dark they try to lift someone else's darkness - no matter how small a gesture.
"it must be coming from the mouthy mastermind of raunchy rapper, Johnny Dangerous”

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Punya » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:19 pm

Dear Challenge23

I'm glad to hear you have found ways to overcome your depression. I'm sure others will offer you more sagely advice on this topic but perhaps I can make a couple of points.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche's new book "Not for Happpiness: A Guide to the So-called Preliminary Practices" would seem most relevant to your current dilemma. At the end of the book he says signs of progress include "noticing the futility of everything you do" and " ever increasing conflicts as a result of old habits". Like you I have become much more serious about practice over the past few years and I found this advice strangely reassuring. I was also fretting over my increased awareness of my foot-in-mouth disease and found Pema Chodron's "Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves From Old Habits and Fears" very supportive.

You also talk about what happens at the time of death. I have recently been studying the bardo teachings and I'm currently reading Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche's Mind Beyond Death. I find he gives very clear explanations and contemporary examples. In the Bardo of Meditation section he also talks about the benefits of the just "sitting" with your problems which is what Johnny is referring to. Sogyal Rinpoche's The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is, of course, another very readable book on this topic.

I hope this in some way helps. :smile:

Metta
Punya
Just as the trunk of an ordinary tree
Lying in the forests of the Malaya mountains
Absorbs the perfume of sandal from the moist leaves and branches
So you come to resemble who whomever you follow.

~Words of My Perfect Teacher

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Punya » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:00 pm

One other thing. With the term "confession" in Vajrasattva practice, one of my teachers has said that this is a very incomplete translation. It actually refers to exposing our neurotic actions ie recognising them as such. In the Tibetan "shakpa", it is implicit that we "let it go" and that we have a sense that we are "forgiven". It's not about the Christian concept of guilt.
Just as the trunk of an ordinary tree
Lying in the forests of the Malaya mountains
Absorbs the perfume of sandal from the moist leaves and branches
So you come to resemble who whomever you follow.

~Words of My Perfect Teacher

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby DGA » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:17 pm

I'm glad you got out of that relationship! You're settling into a much healthier path now. Seems to me that practice might be working after all...

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Jesse » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:56 pm

“Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of one's desires, but by the removal of desire” – Epictetus

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Ayu » Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:07 pm

Hello Challenge23,

i can give you some of my impressions to this topic. I think, there is no advice i can give because we people are all quite different.

There were great changes is my mind by Vajrasattva-practice. But i didn't expect any effect. I just started it because i liked it. There were different phases.
First ist was just beautiful. Then a long time it became dry and i thought "I'm not able to think of the wonderful meaning of this mantra and of this sadhana. I'm doing it wrong!" But i couldn't do it better for one year maybe. My teacher told me, even to speak out the mantra for just 21 times gives an incredible wonderful effect to the whole universe. I admit, i believed him, because i feel huge respect for him. So that's why i just went on. There was great doubt in my personal capacity but that was like wandering in the rain. I didn't stop.
Then there came a phase of big feelings of happiness. This came like a shock so strong. And i could sense that this kind of strong happiness is not the goal for me. It is just another sensation, it is suffering...
For me the goal now is peace. This is where the path should lead to. It's a peace full of calm joy, lightness, friendlyness.
I came more near to this by Vajrasattva-Practice, but the results were not totally apparent. It works in a more subtle way most time.
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Adamantine » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:53 pm

Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Konchog1 » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:55 pm

The following is merely my understanding.

Whenever you think a thought electricity moves through a specific neuron in your brain. As you think the same thought over and over again, that neuron becomes stronger and following the path of least resistance, electricity is more likely to travel down that same neuron. Thus, the more you think a thought, the more it will arise unbidden. (a side note but I find the similarly between neurobiology and channel and wind theory amazing)

Thoughts cause action, even subtle body language. Actions affect people.

So, if you are depressed, unless you interrupt the depressive thoughts and introduce new thoughts, you'll get more depressive thoughts which will change how other people act around you.

This is karma acting within this life.

Now, an effect must be related to its cause. When we are born we have a mind. Where did it come from? The brain alone isn't related to the immaterial thoughts.

Similarly, we are subject to cause and effect our whole lives with our thoughts creating karma as explained above. Then when we die, our last thoughts are causes. Is there really no effect? Does that make sense?

Karma creates predispositions in our next lives. Our brain develops in response to genetics (caused by karma), environment (caused by karma), and karma.

There you go, karma and rebirth.

As to the rest of the opening post, if I were you I would take a break from Buddhism and when refreshed, reread the foundational texts of my school. (So Words of My Perfect Teacher I guess?)
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Adamantine » Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:35 am

Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 1:44 am

Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Adamantine » Sun Jan 13, 2013 1:28 pm

Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Challenge23
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Challenge23 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:30 pm

So wow. It has been awhile. I'm sorry I haven't updated this in such a long time. Samsara has been good and bad.

I am still doing my Ngondro, still doing Vajrasattva, and it still is pretty painful, though I am now over a third of the way through.

I may post this in another thread but in a nutshell here is what I'm struggling with now from reviewing some texts from very early Buddhism.

It is true that the path of the Dharma isn't nihilism or eternalism.

The reason for that is that the Buddha didn't believe in a "Self" therefore when the mind stream stops then nothing is actually destroyed. So the only reason that Nirvana isn't the oblivion that atheists believe happens when we die is because the atheists believe that there is a "Self" attached to the brain while the Buddha believed that there was no "Self" anywhere. So the goal is to hate existence so much that you are willing to realize that your consciousness is an illusion and therefore destroy it.

Ergo, Buddhism believes you have to work for what atheists believe we get complimentary.

I'll most likely reach out to my teacher about this because everything I have seen from the early sources comes back to a single point and that is this, the only reason that Buddhism isn't nihilism is basically because of a semantic trick.
IN THIS BOOK IT IS SPOKEN OF THE SEPHIROTH & THE PATHS, OF SPIRITS & CONJURATIONS, OF GODS, SPHERES, PLANES & MANY OTHER THINGS WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT EXIST. IT IS IMMATERIAL WHETHER THEY EXIST OR NOT. BY DOING CERTAIN THINGS CERTAIN RESULTS FOLLOW; STUDENTS ARE MOST EARNESTLY WARNED AGAINST ATTRIBUTING OBJECTIVE REALITY OR PHILOSOPHICAL VALIDITY TO ANY OF THEM.

Wagner, Eric; Wilson, Robert Anton (2004-12-01). An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson (Kindle Locations 1626-1629). New Falcon Publications. Kindle Edition., quoting from Alister Crowley

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Andrew108 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:38 pm

The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Vajraprajnakhadga » Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:05 pm


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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Vajraprajnakhadga » Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:11 pm


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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Grigoris » Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:35 pm

"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby dude » Sat Apr 05, 2014 12:24 am

Now, I told my teacher a very abbreviated version of this and his response was, "Do Vajrasattva instead of prostrations" which I have done. And it has produced precisely 0 change. I still don't know what Enlightenment is, I still don't know what happens when we die, and I still can't trust my inner experiences at all if they aren't vetted by rigorous standards. On the other hand, I have noticed that getting a new significant other, exercising, eating right, staying away from "doomer" media, taking St. John's Wort, and socializing with people has helped with my depression immensely. However, according to how I understand Buddhism that should not be the case at all. Practice should make things better and anything else should make things worse."

It sounds to me like you're making a lot of progress and don't know it. Practice enables us to tap our innate Buddha wisdom and make changes in the here and now. The changes you have made and the good results you are seeing, maybe, just maybe, are an indication that your practice is working.

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Challenge23
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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby Challenge23 » Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:16 am

Thank you very much for all of the replies.

First, I e-mailed my teacher about 10 seconds ago. I will continue to practice until I hear from him.

Second, there was something that I didn't add that I should. The situation I am in can be compared to when you are doing the type of math homework where you have the answers at the back of the book. You know when you are working on a problem and you do all of the work, check it twice and you are not getting the answer the back of the book says you are supposed to get? Where you are 100% certain that you are following all of the steps that you should be following and just as certain that the answer in the back of the book is right and they just.aren't.meeting?

That's it in a nutshell.
IN THIS BOOK IT IS SPOKEN OF THE SEPHIROTH & THE PATHS, OF SPIRITS & CONJURATIONS, OF GODS, SPHERES, PLANES & MANY OTHER THINGS WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT EXIST. IT IS IMMATERIAL WHETHER THEY EXIST OR NOT. BY DOING CERTAIN THINGS CERTAIN RESULTS FOLLOW; STUDENTS ARE MOST EARNESTLY WARNED AGAINST ATTRIBUTING OBJECTIVE REALITY OR PHILOSOPHICAL VALIDITY TO ANY OF THEM.

Wagner, Eric; Wilson, Robert Anton (2004-12-01). An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson (Kindle Locations 1626-1629). New Falcon Publications. Kindle Edition., quoting from Alister Crowley

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Re: Doubt, Vajrasattva, etc.

Postby dude » Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:47 am

Tell me more about that.
What answer in the book doesn't jibe with your calculations?


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