Motivation for taking refuge

If you're new to the forum or new to Buddhism, this is the best place for your questions. Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
Post Reply
User avatar
Agdistis
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:40 am

Motivation for taking refuge

Post by Agdistis »

Hi! So, after 19 years of reading about Buddhism and not taking refuge out of respect for the magnitude of the decision, I've decided that I do indeed want to become a lay Buddhist.

The details are in this thread;

>viewtopic.php?f=77&t=31626
>‪Obtaining a specific rebirth as a transgender‬

But basically, I'm very unhappy with my life, and I accept that my past actions are the cause of my suffering. More than anything, I have faith in reincarnation, and faith that wise beings can tell me which actions will prevent another incarnation as a poor, socially isolated person.

But is this an acceptable motivation? It seems that I have the lowest type of motivation;

>https://zenawakened.com/going-for-refuge/
>There are three different levels of motivation for taking refuge with this sort of faith
>The Motivation of Fear & Happiness
>There are those beings who fear the suffering of the three lower-realms (animal, hungry ghost, hell) and take refuge with the hope to be reborn in one of the three higher realms (heavenly, demi-god, human)

>http://www.shengyen.org.tw/DownloadFile ... Jewels.pdf
>Taking refuge in the Three Jewels can be divided into three categories: those who wish to receive the refuge for the sake of benefiting self and others belong to the superior category; those who wish to receive the refuge for individual liberation belong to the middle category; those who wish to receive the refuge in order to avoid being reborn in lower realms of existence or for the purpose of being reborn in heaven, belong to the lowest category

On this forum as well, I can find statements that physical beauty is the result of merit;

>viewtopic.php?f=47&t=31457&p=497542&hilit=tara#p497542
>Being attractive is actually a Merit, it doesn't mean you have to be attractive in order to be an excellent Teacher, however an attractive form is also seen as a Ripening of merit. Look at Tara for example, that is the reason that she has a perfect form, it's the display of the perfection of merit

In the first thread I linked to, I was specifically told to follow Tara;

>viewtopic.php?f=77&t=31626
>Thus focus on Tara & bodhicitta motivation. She will be happy to get another female helper. Pray to her for you to be always in a female body

I interpret this to mean that I can take refuge with my current motivation, and work on producing bodhicitta?

User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 3782
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Motivation for taking refuge

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

You do realize, of course, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder?

I don't know if I would find a green woman with three eyeballs especially attractive.
Further, all appearances are illusions. This means that what we experience as beautiful or ugly is really just a projection of our own ego.
This applies equally to inward illusions such as dreams, as well as ideas we hold about ourselves including concepts such as gender,
as well as outward appearances, those objects we see and hear and sense all around us.
Society and social pressure also influences this. In one culture, a thin person is regarded as attractive; in another culture, a chubby person is considered more attractive.
And finally, below the single layer of skin cells that wraps the body, we are all meat and blood and bones and so on.
So, perhaps there is a deeper meaning to the suggestion that beauty is the result of previous good deeds or merit.
If you think you are born either beautiful or ugly, this distinction only exists in your mind.
Gender, trans-gender, makes no difference in realizing Buddha nature. It only matters when buying underwear.

Good merit is that which helps one transcend all dualities such as beautiful and ugly.
Thus, to be born beautiful means having a pretty face to those who can only grasp it at the superficial level
But at the profound level, it means having the merit to see your own inner and outer beauty regardless of how you appear to your visual senses of to those of others.
At the ultimate level, it means being able to see all beings as Buddha, and all appearances as emptiness and as displays of Buddha-mind.

Only confused, un-enlightened beings take refuge. If a being is not confused and is enlightened, then no need!
That person is already aware that they are Buddha!
So, you should take refuge.
The wrong reasons for taking refuge are often the best reasons for taking refuge.
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Fo Ming (Buddha Bright) Monk"
People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.

User avatar
Agdistis
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:40 am

Re: Motivation for taking refuge

Post by Agdistis »

>You do realize, of course, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
>I don't know if I would find a green woman with three eyeballs especially attractive.
>Further, all appearances are illusions. This means that what we experience as beautiful or ugly is really just a projection of our own ego.
Yes - and I want a pleasing illusion. Given the truth of what you say, I have to wonder how the agreement that one person is attractive and another ugly comes about.
>This applies equally to inward illusions such as dreams, as well as ideas we hold about ourselves including concepts such as gender,
So than a correct understanding is that male and female have no real difference, and we hallucinate ourselves as being men and women?
>as well as outward appearances, those objects we see and hear and sense all around us
Just to make sure I understand - that means our appearance is 100% hallucination, correct?
>Society and social pressure also influences this. In one culture, a thin person is regarded as attractive; in another culture, a chubby person is considered more attractive.
>And finally, below the single layer of skin cells that wraps the body, we are all meat and blood and bones and so on
Isn't it an hallucination that one person is thin and another is chubby?
>So, perhaps there is a deeper meaning to the suggestion that beauty is the result of previous good deeds or merit.
>If you think you are born either beautiful or ugly, this distinction only exists in your mind
If my understanding is correct, than in essence what I'm upset about is that no one agrees I'm a beautiful woman - but if both I and the other people are all just experiencing illusions, than why can't the illusion be something different?

Or is it a situation where dukkha always expresses as some sort of dissatisfaction, in the sense of - if I was a beautiful woman, I would have the illusion of some other problem in my life? Even to the point of still considering myself ugly?

Isn't there some objective reality on some level? That is, can't we use geometry to define how two faces are objectively shaped differently? And, having done so, can't we use merit to acquire specific objective physical states? For instance, acquiring reincarnation as a specific race of person with specific characteristics that my current non-awakened self considers attractive?
>Good merit is that which helps one transcend all dualities such as beautiful and ugly.Thus, to be born beautiful means having a pretty face to those who can only grasp it at the superficial level But at the profound level, it means having the merit to see your own inner and outer beauty regardless of how you appear to your visual senses of to those of others
So there is on some level an objective physical reality that makes one body differently shaped from another? I understand that my opinions about beauty are arbitrary and the result of attachment - but can we acquire different objective physical states with merit? I also understand that all bodies are subject to aging and death, and that I'm wasting my time pursuing a specific objective physical state.
>At the ultimate level, it means being able to see all beings as Buddha, and all appearances as emptiness and as displays of Buddha-mind
In the highest realms, there aren't even physical bodies - I take this to mean all physical reality is an hallucination, and moreover even thoughts are hallucination. To be honest, I've seen the void behind Buddhas before, and I'm scared of it. I don't want to enter nothingness, but I also feel a 'psychonaut' desire to feel void. I should confess that I've done drugs before, and I want a longer-lasting feeling of the void. But I don't want to stay in the void for longer than a split second.

I don't want to slip into nothingness just yet - but I feel the compulsion to put my toes into the water. To peak through the cracked door and see what lies at the end of this mahakalpa.
>Only confused, un-enlightened beings take refuge. If a being is not confused and is enlightened, then no need!
>That person is already aware that they are Buddha!
>So, you should take refuge.
>The wrong reasons for taking refuge are often the best reasons for taking refuge.
Thank you. I think I need other people to take refuge, correct? As in, I can't take refuge privately - I have to do it in the presence of the Sangha?

User avatar
Vasana
Posts: 2099
Joined: Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:22 am

Re: Motivation for taking refuge

Post by Vasana »

Hi Agdistis,

I rejoice that you are thinking about taking refuge. Based upon some of the comments you've made, I would suggest dedicating more time to some study since you seem to have some misconceptions about various topics including rebirth, the void and so on. This isn't a criticism but it's much better if our motivation is driven by as few incomplete or wrong understandings as we can.

You are right in noticing there are different levels of motivation for rebirth. Now that you've heard of the Dharma, even a lesser motivation for higher rebirth is better than none at all so even this is still reason to rejoice. The bodhisattva-yana motivation is of course said to be supreme but it's ok if you don't feel that level of motivatio, at least not in any stable sense. This is where studying and attending teachings comes in.

As for the gender topic. Generally it's a misconception to assume that some unchanging essence of your current identity will appropriate your next incarnation.
A flower is neither identical to the seed nor does it occur separately from it. In other words, in my current understanding, it's better to aspire for more general qualities of a precious human rebirth than to make to specific requests about gender, height, hair colour, food preference, hobbies etc. Does beauty always guarantee spiritual interest? Clearly we see that there is a lot of superficial beauty in the world and beautiful people are not always happier than those who aren't so good looking. However, as far as physical looks go, there are aspirations of taking an appearance that encourages other toward virtue and the Dharma.

We should be aspiring to take birth in pure lands or at least in to Buddhist families so we can absorb the Dharma from an earlier age. The rest should really then automatically be covered no? In this way, if your karma is female rebirth then so be it, if it's male, so be it, since it's not 'you' in your current form nor personality who will come to experience your future body. (This is where a closer study of what exactly takes rebirth could help) as

With that said, I think the advice to focus on Tara is excellent.

Back to refuge, if you can attend a refuge ceremony this is good but there are also some traditions which don't require any formal ceremony, rather just a personal declaration. At this point maybe you could explore the various flavours of different traditions to see which feels most compatible for you. Most compatible won't necessarily always mean the tradition you assume right away but sometimes it can be.

Take it as slow as you need. Learn from books, videos, and in person teachings if you can. Male ,female or other practice self compassion as a basis for developing compassion for all beings. I know that gender dysphoria must be pretty difficult so developing a mental emotional but also physically based compassion for yourself could be a useful thing to focus on here.

Have you heard of Pema Chodron? Perhaps her material might also be of benefit to you :)
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

User avatar
Agdistis
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:40 am

Re: Motivation for taking refuge

Post by Agdistis »

>Hi Agdistis,
Hey! Hows it going?
>I rejoice that you are thinking about taking refuge. Based upon some of the comments you've made, I would suggest dedicating more time to some study since you seem to have some misconceptions about various topics including rebirth, the void and so on. This isn't a criticism but it's much better if our motivation is driven by as few incomplete or wrong understandings as we can
I seem to have been deeply confused by my studies, because I've read Sutras and apparently completely misunderstood them.
>You are right in noticing there are different levels of motivation for rebirth. Now that you've heard of the Dharma, even a lesser motivation for higher rebirth is better than none at all so even this is still reason to rejoice. The bodhisattva-yana motivation is of course said to be supreme but it's ok if you don't feel that level of motivatio, at least not in any stable sense. This is where studying and attending teachings comes in
Well, I can say this; I feel as if my job is meaningless because I don't really help anyone, and I have no money to help anyone otherwise. I honestly can't see any activities worth engaging in aside from preventing pain.
>As for the gender topic. Generally it's a misconception to assume that some unchanging essence of your current identity will appropriate your next incarnation.
A flower is neither identical to the seed nor does it occur separately from it
This is where I think I might be confused. Aren't consciousness and memory separate? That is, my memories are separate from your memories. Buddhism supposes (At least this is my understanding) that reality is composed of Indra's Web, with all objects reflected in all other objects. I take this to mean that the division between the consciousness of two beings is delusion.

Also, I've had visions (Which may not be in accordance with Buddhist theology, aka delusion) where all moments of time exist simultaneously. The past and the future were like an extra spatial dimension, and an object physically extended into both past and future. Nothing changed, because all moments were simultaneous.

As well, I have to ask how the Jatakas tales fit into this? Doesn't that imply that later incarnations can remember the lifes of past incarnations?
>In other words, in my current understanding, it's better to aspire for more general qualities of a precious human rebirth than to make to specific requests about gender, height, hair colour, food preference, hobbies etc. Does beauty always guarantee spiritual interest? Clearly we see that there is a lot of superficial beauty in the world and beautiful people are not always happier than those who aren't so good looking. However, as far as physical looks go, there are aspirations of taking an appearance that encourages other toward virtue and the Dharma
>We should be aspiring to take birth in pure lands or at least in to Buddhist families so we can absorb the Dharma from an earlier age. The rest should really then automatically be covered no? In this way, if your karma is female rebirth then so be it, if it's male, so be it
I can say this - I wouldn't want to be born into a family that prevented me from being interested in spiritual subjects, or as someone with no spiritual interests. I also don't want to be reborn in a Heaven, but as a human - and I certainly want to be raised Buddhist.
>since it's not 'you' in your current form nor personality who will come to experience your future body. (This is where a closer study of what exactly takes rebirth could help) as
Let me ask you a question; would you say that fire burning through one life, and being fed into another wood pile by a trail of fuel, and burning that new pile, is a good analogy for the Buddhist concept of mind?
>With that said, I think the advice to focus on Tara is excellent
Thank you very much for helping guide me to her. I also thank Nicholas Weeks for suggesting her (Didn't want to forget him!)
>Back to refuge, if you can attend a refuge ceremony this is good but there are also some traditions which don't require any formal ceremony, rather just a personal declaration
So, a private refuge ceremony with family or friends as witnesses is more than enough?
>At this point maybe you could explore the various flavours of different traditions to see which feels most compatible for you. Most compatible won't necessarily always mean the tradition you assume right away but sometimes it can be
I have a long appriciation of Mahayana, and I guess I'll pick my tradition based on Tara.
>Take it as slow as you need. Learn from books, videos, and in person teachings if you can
I think I need someone to clarify some things more than anything else.
>Male ,female or other practice self compassion as a basis for developing compassion for all beings. I know that gender dysphoria must be pretty difficult so developing a mental emotional but also physically based compassion for yourself could be a useful thing to focus on here
I can have more compassion for other people than I can have for myself. I never judge other people harshly, especially over their appearance, but I'm brutal with myself. I guess that's a delusional bias?
>Have you heard of Pema Chodron? Perhaps her material might also be of benefit to you
This article seems to express what I've felt before very well;

>https://tricycle.org/magazine/dont-bite-hook/
>She criticizes your work or your appearance or your child. In moments like that, what is it you feel? It has a familiar taste, a familiar smell. Once you begin to notice it, you feel like this experience has been happening forever.
>There’s a tightening that rapidly spirals into mentally blaming this person, or wanting revenge, or blaming yourself

I feel this constantly, mostly over my appearance or coworkers criticizing my ability to work.

User avatar
Grigoris
Former staff member
Posts: 21398
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Motivation for taking refuge

Post by Grigoris »

Agdistis wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:58 pm
Let me ask you a question; would you say that fire burning through one life, and being fed into another wood pile by a trail of fuel, and burning that new pile, is a good analogy for the Buddhist concept of mind?
This current idea of you is a projection onto a particular set of mental and physical causes and conditions (the five skandha), once one of these changes then "you" changes.

Consider how much "you" has changed over this lifetime: emotionally, physically, intellectually.

Are you the same "you" as when you were a baby? A child? A teenager? Etc...

So imagine how much this "you" will change upon death, when you will lose this form and everything associated with it.

As for memories. Memories also change (our relationship to/view of them changes as we grow through our experiences or they become irrelevant) and fade, eventually being forgotten forever, over the course of this lifetime. Imagine how much they will fade and lose relevance in our next lifetime. Buddhas have the ability to remember all previous lifetimes because they also have the ability to see exactly which karma lead to what.

I have talked to a tulku about their memories. He explained to me that in the beginning the memories of his previous lifetime were vivid and real. As time passed and new experiences were lived and new circumstances developed, he slowly lost recall and they started to fade becoming almost dream-like.

You can experience this for experiences in this lifetime. As you get older it becomes unclear if they are memories or dreams/fantasies.

Now to your central point (a point brought up in another discussion you strated too):

Buddhism can be a means to accomplish worldly ends. But actually, even without being a Buddhist, your karma will drive you towards these ends anyway (even over lifetimes). Will these ends bring real happiness though?

The Refuge prayer we say at the beginning of practice (in most Tibetan traditions) goes:

"Until I am enlightened, I take refuge
In the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
Through the merit I create by practicing giving and the other perfections
May I attain Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings."

We take Refuge because we know we are incapable of liberating ourselves, by ourselves. The Triple Gem is our life jacket while we float freely in the storm tossed sea of Samsara. Buddhism is the method by which we will become enlightened and be completely free. The Buddha is the teacher of this method. The Dharma is the truth of this method and the method itself. The Sangha is the community that supports us.

The second part is the bit you should take notice of. It says that, via the Paramita (Perfections) may I become a Buddha and help all other sentient beings overcome their suffering.

The motivation is not for personal gain. Any personal gain that arises from practicing is just an added bonus. But don't be surprised if the Path actually initially generates an even greater feeling of suffering for you, as you become more aware of the real reason behind the feeling and the suffering of others. Luckily, if you persist, the Path also gives a LASTING amelioration of this feeling.
"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

User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 3782
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Motivation for taking refuge

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

" I want a pleasing illusion. Given the truth of what you say, I have to wonder how the agreement that one person is attractive and another ugly comes about."

...Often there is not an agreement, is there? Some people love the flavor of cilantro while other people hate it. This is all due to previous conditions.

"So than a correct understanding is that male and female have no real difference, and we hallucinate ourselves as being men and women?"

...Ultimately, the concept of male and female only defines reproductve function. a woman's lungs and kidney can be transplanted into a man's body and vice-versa.
If you take any aspect of gender and dissect it, deconstruct it, you will find it has no instrinsic (self-producing) reality to it.
Of course, in relative truth, there are experiences of the mind. An old person may think and feel exactly as they did when they were young.

"Just to make sure I understand - that means our appearance is 100% hallucination, correct?"
...Yes, but if you stick the illusion of your finger into the illusion of a flame, you will definitely experience the illusion of burning pain.

This is one of the biggest hurdles to understanding <i><b>Sunyata</b></i>, or the emptiness of phenomena.
That's because people usually start from the point of view, for example, "this is a table" and then try to reconcile it with, "but it doesn't exist".
And of course, you can't do that. It's nonsense. The table is right here, It has legs. There are books on top of it and chairs under it. That's the relative truth of that table.
But Buddhism doesn't start from that point of view.
Instead, "nothing truly exists which can be said to have any self-produced quality of table<i><b>ness</b></i>.
It is made of wood, the wood is made of atoms. None of the atoms or wood contain any "tableness" That is the ultimate truth.
If you sleep on it, is it still a table, or is it a bed? Every quality or characteristic we say defines something, a table, a male, a female,
is only something we have imputed, or decided is a description.

"Isn't it an hallucination that one person is thin and another is chubby?"
...Yes, It's all relative. A walking stick is long when compared to a toothpick, and short when compared to an electric pole.

"If my understanding is correct, than in essence what I'm upset about is that no one agrees I'm a beautiful woman - but if both I and the other people are all just experiencing illusions, than why can't the illusion be something different?"

...There is no reason why it can't be. There may be a million people who would say you are beautiful.
We live in a society that creates artificial definitions of beauty and ugliness, usually in order to sell some kind of products.

"Or is it a situation where dukkha always expresses as some sort of dissatisfaction, in the sense of - if I was a beautiful woman, I would have the illusion of some other problem in my life? Even to the point of still considering myself ugly?"

...How many "beautiful" women still starve themselves to lose weight, still cover their faces with make-up?
How many millionaires suffer from depression, or are never satisfied, who have everything they could ever buy,
but still want more, or want to be the ruler of a country?

"Isn't there some objective reality on some level? That is, can't we use geometry to define how two faces are objectively shaped differently? And, having done so, can't we use merit to acquire specific objective physical states? For instance, acquiring reincarnation as a specific race of person with specific characteristics that my current non-awakened self considers attractive?"

...There are actually studies that give evidence that we... almost all animals, in fact... are hard-wired to be attracted to certain physical features,
a phenomenon which is assumed to be related to survival species.
For example, men are supposedly attracted to women with big hips, as this is related to the ability to carry a baby in the womb.
...I don't think the accumulation of merit would help. It doesn't work that way.
Anyway, you might wish to be reborn with long slender legs, and maybe you'd get your wish and be reborn as a frog,
or wish to be reborn as big and strong, then take rebirth as a deer, and you'd be the one all the hunters are shooting at!
I don't know if those two scenarios are very likely. The point is, merit is acquired through the cultivation of selflessness, so, unless you have an altruistic motivation, it probably wouldn't work out. HH Dalai Lama recently made headlines when he told an interviewer he'd have to be reborn as a beautiful woman. He was joking, because what he was saying was that as a man it doesn't matter what he looks like, but if he were reborn as a woman, nobody would listen to him unless he had a pretty face!

"So there is on some level an objective physical reality that makes one body differently shaped from another? I understand that my opinions about beauty are arbitrary and the result of attachment - but can we acquire different objective physical states with merit? I also understand that all bodies are subject to aging and death, and that I'm wasting my time pursuing a specific objective physical state".

...Genetics determines most of what our bodies do. Whether we like what they do or not is purely a state of mind.
I would agree that it is a usually a waste of time pursuing a specific physical appearance, although for some people this really helps them, they get what's called corrective surgery.
A lot of people get it to avoid looking their age. But sometimes people are born with certain physical features, a giant nose, or ears that stick out, things that stand in the way of their getting a good job or finding a partner.


"In the highest realms, there aren't even physical bodies - I take this to mean all physical reality is an hallucination, and moreover even thoughts are hallucination. To be honest, I've seen the void behind Buddhas before, and I'm scared of it. I don't want to enter nothingness, but I also feel a 'psychonaut' desire to feel void. I should confess that I've done drugs before, and I want a longer-lasting feeling of the void. But I don't
want to stay in the void for longer than a split second."

..."void" and "emptiness" are english language attempts at translating "sunyata" which means everything is void of self-produced essence or reality.
If you've had an experience of no awareness, or a kind of dark mental state, that's not the buddhist "void". Likewise, doing various psychedelics will give you certain experiences, sometimes even some really good eye-openers, and lots of people have gotten into buddhist practice after having some mind-blowing trips, but that's not the goal of Buddhist practice itself.

"I think I need other people to take refuge, correct? As in, I can't take refuge privately - I have to do it in the presence of the Sangha?"

...To <i><b>formally</b></i> enter the family of dharma followers that extends all the way back to Sakyamuni Buddha 2600 years ago,
you need to participate in a refuge ceremony. However, before anyone does that, they have already decided in their heart and mind that they are buddhists.
So, from your point of view, you can be a buddhist now. From the point of view of Buddhism, you need the refuge ceremony to really seal it.
Profile Picture: "The Fo Ming (Buddha Bright) Monk"
People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.

User avatar
Agdistis
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:40 am

Re: Motivation for taking refuge

Post by Agdistis »

>Consider how much "you" has changed over this lifetime: emotionally, physically, intellectually.
>Are you the same "you" as when you were a baby? A child? A teenager? Etc...
>So imagine how much this "you" will change upon death, when you will lose this form and everything associated with it.
>Buddhism can be a means to accomplish worldly ends. But actually, even without being a Buddhist, your karma will drive you towards these ends anyway (even over lifetimes). Will these ends bring real happiness though?
I don't fear death, because as I've said, I don't really like who I am.

I'm not sure if I understand this correctly, but you say that our karma drives us across lifetimes towards specific ends. I've imagined this as like the movement of a raindrop - it's direction is the result of objective reality. I only imagine, as the raindrop, that I have any say in my direction at all. All my current goals are the fruit of my past efforts. I'm transgender because of my past efforts - for some reason, I'm very, very attached to women.

What you're saying seems to support what I've heard the Buddha say; that our attachments pave the road to our future life. Buddhism could be said to be a much harder side road taken when the destination seems unbearable - the Buddha mentioned that people seek liberation only after samsara becomes unbearable.
>As for memories. Memories also change (our relationship to/view of them changes as we grow through our experiences or they become irrelevant) and fade, eventually being forgotten forever, over the course of this lifetime. Imagine how much they will fade and lose relevance in our next lifetime. Buddhas have the ability to remember all previous lifetimes because they also have the ability to see exactly which karma lead to what.
Ah, I see - so remembering your past lifes is part-in-parcel with realizing Indra's web, meaning that you only remember them as footprints left by all beings?

Does this mean my attempts to document my past lifes are probably delusional folly, because I'm not a Buddha? Does this mean science can't be used to deduce your past lifes? Meaning that memory being transfered by RNA has nothing to do with it?
>I have talked to a tulku about their memories. He explained to me that in the beginning the memories of his previous lifetime were vivid and real. As time passed and new experiences were lived and new circumstances developed, he slowly lost recall and they started to fade becoming almost dream-like.
The experience which seemed to show me my past lifes has also faded - I felt a powerful need to write it all down, and I actually wrote an essay where I tried to relate my experience to Buddhism;


https://pastebin.com/YaXGWVv6

>Soma and Buddhism

Elsewhere, I equate becoming a Soma with Sokushinbutsu. Something I want to emphasize is that while my understanding of Buddhism may be imperfect, I really do believe the cosmology established by the Buddha.
>You can experience this for experiences in this lifetime. As you get older it becomes unclear if they are memories or dreams/fantasies.
[/qoute]

Yes, that's true. I can actually still remember my earliest days, but I have no emotions about it anymore. I hate to say it, but I don't even feel love for my mother anymore. None of my childhood memories mean anything to me. Not even nostalgia.
>Now to your central point (a point brought up in another discussion you strated too):
>The Refuge prayer we say at the beginning of practice (in most Tibetan traditions) goes:
>"Until I am enlightened, I take refuge
>In the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
>Through the merit I create by practicing giving and the other perfections
>May I attain Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings."
>We take Refuge because we know we are incapable of liberating ourselves, by ourselves. The Triple Gem is our life jacket while we float freely in the storm tossed sea of Samsara. Buddhism is the method by which we will become enlightened and be completely free. The Buddha is the teacher of this method. The Dharma is the truth of this method and the method itself. The Sangha is the community that supports us.
Here's the thing. Before I had ever started studying Buddhism, I'd come to the conclusion that life is 100% pain with no pleasure. Despite this, I determined to find happiness. In the end, I Buddhism was the only thing left - I no longer have hobbies, play games, etc. Every morning I wake up and check these threads, and I check them before I go to sleep.

I don't want to admit it, but there is no happiness. Even non-Buddhists knew this and told me and I couldn't admit it. In the end, all pleasure is spoiled by dukkha.

A life jacket implies that there's something to save - I feel more like someone starving and freezing to death, and food and warmth don't exist. I understand how snuffing yourself out would prevent this pain, but I can't desire death. So, I simply accept that life is pain, and that my only alternative (Nirvana) is not much better as far as getting happiness goes.

I don't want to live, but I'm afraid of dying; dukkha. I can even hover around nirvana, but I'm horrified of entering it.
>The second part is the bit you should take notice of. It says that, via the Paramita (Perfections) may I become a Buddha and help all other sentient beings overcome their suffering.
I feel a powerful desire to engage in charity, based on the assumption that helping others or myself seems like the only useful action. I feel bad about this, because I have no money to give.
>The motivation is not for personal gain. Any personal gain that arises from practicing is just an added bonus. But don't be surprised if the Path actually initially generates an even greater feeling of suffering for you, as you become more aware of the real reason behind the feeling and the suffering of others. Luckily, if you persist, the Path also gives a LASTING amelioration of this feeling.
I don't think anyone can ever be happy. Buddhism is truth to me, rather than a tool to help myself or others. I want to say I can't imagine how people who do anything else aside from help themselves or others, but the truth is I understand that life involves hurting other beings to live.

User avatar
Grigoris
Former staff member
Posts: 21398
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Motivation for taking refuge

Post by Grigoris »

You really need to find a good teacher, failing that a good therapist (if they are Buddhist too, even better).

Seems to me you are using these discussions to add layers of confusion instead of remove them, that you are not looking for answers but for validation of your existing views.

In which case I really cannot help you and I am certainly not interested in adding to your misery.

Good luck to you.
"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

User avatar
Agdistis
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:40 am

Re: Motivation for taking refuge

Post by Agdistis »

I apologize if I seem frustrating, and if it seems like I was being argumentative. You and many other people have helped me decide to formally become Buddhist, and have attempted to correct my misunderstandings. I've tried to understand Buddhism, and seem to have failed on some level. My attempts to express my understanding of dukkha seem to have come off as whining, and I apologize for that too.

If seemed arrogant, or as if I was ignoring what I was being told, I apologize for that as well.

I completely agree that I need a teacher - I want to understand the wisdom of the Buddha. I've seen therapists for my gender dysphoria, and I'm most interested in assuring a good rebirth. I guess I just don't understand Buddhism enough to discuss it with any detail or nuance.

Thank you all so much. I'll stick around and listen for awhile, and ask questions before attempting to run my mouth again.

User avatar
Grigoris
Former staff member
Posts: 21398
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Motivation for taking refuge

Post by Grigoris »

Agdistis wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:08 am
I apologize if I seem frustrating, and if it seems like I was being argumentative. You and many other people have helped me decide to formally become Buddhist, and have attempted to correct my misunderstandings. I've tried to understand Buddhism, and seem to have failed on some level. My attempts to express my understanding of dukkha seem to have come off as whining, and I apologize for that too.

If seemed arrogant, or as if I was ignoring what I was being told, I apologize for that as well.

I completely agree that I need a teacher - I want to understand the wisdom of the Buddha. I've seen therapists for my gender dysphoria, and I'm most interested in assuring a good rebirth. I guess I just don't understand Buddhism enough to discuss it with any detail or nuance.

Thank you all so much. I'll stick around and listen for awhile, and ask questions before attempting to run my mouth again.
It has got nothing to do with frustration.

It has got to do with me not having the capacity to assist you.

I don't think your supposed gender dysphoria is to blame. As a psychologist I have counselled people wanting to trans-gender.

From the little you have written here I believe you have much deeper issues to work on.

I don't know if Buddhism or psychological therapy is the way to deal with those issues.

I am sure that you will not get the answers on an anonymous discussion forum though.
"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

User avatar
Agdistis
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:40 am

Re: Motivation for taking refuge

Post by Agdistis »

>...Often there is not an agreement, is there? Some people love the flavor of cilantro while other people hate it. This is all due to previous conditions.
>...Ultimately, the concept of male and female only defines reproductve function. a woman's lungs and kidney can be transplanted into a man's body and vice-versa.
If you take any aspect of gender and dissect it, deconstruct it, you will find it has no instrinsic (self-producing) reality to it.
>Of course, in relative truth, there are experiences of the mind. An old person may think and feel exactly as they did when they were young.
I completely agree with this. I've never felt 'like a woman' because there is no such feeling.
>"Just to make sure I understand - that means our appearance is 100% hallucination, correct?"
>...Yes, but if you stick the illusion of your finger into the illusion of a flame, you will definitely experience the illusion of burning pain.
So then I can state that my desire is to have a specific hallucination.
>This is one of the biggest hurdles to understanding <i><b>Sunyata</b></i>, or the emptiness of phenomena.
>That's because people usually start from the point of view, for example, "this is a table" and then try to reconcile it with, "but it doesn't exist".
>And of course, you can't do that. It's nonsense. The table is right here, It has legs. There are books on top of it and chairs under it. That's the relative truth of that table.
>But Buddhism doesn't start from that point of view.
>Instead, "nothing truly exists which can be said to have any self-produced quality of table<i><b>ness</b></i>.
>It is made of wood, the wood is made of atoms. None of the atoms or wood contain any "tableness" That is the ultimate truth.
>If you sleep on it, is it still a table, or is it a bed? Every quality or characteristic we say defines something, a table, a male, a female, is only something we have imputed, or decided is a description.
So, we have fundamentally painful hallucinations and call the experience reality. Nirvana is refusing to perceive the hallucinations, and this is the point of Buddhism?
>"Isn't it an hallucination that one person is thin and another is chubby?"
>...Yes, It's all relative. A walking stick is long when compared to a toothpick, and short when compared to an electric pole.
>"If my understanding is correct, than in essence what I'm upset about is that no one agrees I'm a beautiful woman - but if both I and the other people are all just experiencing illusions, than why can't the illusion be something different?"
>...There is no reason why it can't be. There may be a million people who would say you are beautiful.
>We live in a society that creates artificial definitions of beauty and ugliness, usually in order to sell some kind of products.
>"Or is it a situation where dukkha always expresses as some sort of dissatisfaction, in the sense of - if I was a beautiful woman, I would have the illusion of some other problem in my life? Even to the point of still considering myself ugly?"
>...How many "beautiful" women still starve themselves to lose weight, still cover their faces with make-up?
>How many millionaires suffer from depression, or are never satisfied, who have everything they could ever buy, but still want more, or want to be the ruler of a country?
>"Isn't there some objective reality on some level? That is, can't we use geometry to define how two faces are objectively shaped differently? And, having done so, can't we use merit to acquire specific objective physical states? For instance, acquiring reincarnation as a specific race of person with specific characteristics that my current non-awakened self considers attractive?"
>...There are actually studies that give evidence that we... almost all animals, in fact... are hard-wired to be attracted to certain physical features, a phenomenon which is assumed to be related to survival species. For example, men are supposedly attracted to women with big hips, as this is related to the ability to carry a baby in the womb
So I can state that I want features that most human males would call attractive in a human female.
>...I don't think the accumulation of merit would help. It doesn't work that way.
Anyway, you might wish to be reborn with long slender legs, and maybe you'd get your wish and be reborn as a frog, or wish to be reborn as big and strong, then take rebirth as a deer, and you'd be the one all the hunters are shooting at!
Well, let me ask you this; if I worked to create a community of white Buddhists, among whom were attractive women with light eyes and hair, wouldn't the odds of being reborn in that community as one of these women go up?

So building a community for others could directly create the context I want to incarnate into? For instance, by supplying these women with food and shelter, don't I stand to possible be incarnated as one of these pampered women?
>I don't know if those two scenarios are very likely. The point is, merit is acquired through the cultivation of selflessness, so, unless you have an altruistic motivation, it probably wouldn't work out
What about in the context of constructing and maintaining a society of Buddhist white people? If attractive white women are being born into such a Buddhist community, wouldn't I be able to 'get in line' to incarnate as them?

I mentioned in;

>viewtopic.php?f=77&t=31626

That while I'm attached to being white, I reject racism because I know that future generations of whites (The people I want to incarnate as) would be rightfully retaliated against for my behavior.
>HH Dalai Lama recently made headlines when he told an interviewer he'd have to be reborn as a beautiful woman. He was joking, because what he was saying was that as a man it doesn't matter what he looks like, but if he were reborn as a woman, nobody would listen to him unless he had a pretty face!
A poster cited his statement, and said that beauty was the result of merit - specifically citing Tara's form as an example of the perfect form which results from merit.
>...Genetics determines most of what our bodies do. Whether we like what they do or not is purely a state of mind.
So, if animals are hardwired to find certain traits attractive, and these traits are caused by genetics, and some Buddhists say beauty is the result of merit - why can't merit result in beauty?
>..."void" and "emptiness" are english language attempts at translating "sunyata" which means everything is void of self-produced essence or reality.
>If you've had an experience of no awareness, or a kind of dark mental state, that's not the buddhist "void"
So nirvana isn't blackness forever? I thought it was a 'snuffing out?' I'll acknowledge that this seems to be one of the points in Buddhism I've misunderstood.

Does this mean sunyata is really just the experience of no patterns? As in, seeing the table, and not perceiving 'table' but instead perceiving patternlessness? Like a featurelessness that contains everything?
>Likewise, doing various psychedelics will give you certain experiences, sometimes even some really good eye-openers, and lots of people have gotten into buddhist practice after having some mind-blowing trips, but that's not the goal of Buddhist practice itself.
I no longer do them, mostly because the feelings go away. I once heard someone say they became a Buddhist to make the strange feelings last longer, because drugs do a poor job of producing them regularly.
>...To <i><b>formally</b></i> enter the family of dharma followers that extends all the way back to Sakyamuni Buddha 2600 years ago, you need to participate in a refuge ceremony. However, before anyone does that, they have already decided in their heart and mind that they are buddhists. So, from your point of view, you can be a buddhist now. From the point of view of Buddhism, you need the refuge ceremony to really seal it.
So I should plan to do it and attempt to get into contact IRL with Buddhists, but can, for instance, pray to Buddha nature as expressed through Tara while refraining from formal diety yoga such as imagining myself as Tara because I have no empowerments?

User avatar
Grigoris
Former staff member
Posts: 21398
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Motivation for taking refuge

Post by Grigoris »

So much baggage... :crying:
"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

Post Reply

Return to “Discovering Mahayana Buddhism”