what is your approach to Dharma?

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by DGA » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:15 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:48 pm
boda wrote:Roughly put, by degrees of happiness, or suffering, of course.
One can live quite happily by immersing themselves in worldly dharma, so unfortunately that is not a valid measure.
depends how you define happiness. if you mean worldly comfort and pleasure, then yes, you are right.

"suffering less but noticing it more" is one measure that I have found useful.

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by steveb1 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:40 pm

Probably not the most nuanced language, but I approach the Dharma from experience and devotion.

As a convert to Jodo Shinshu/Shin Buddhism, I have received the experience of Shinjin, the gift of Amida Buddha which has been described as "a raft from the Other Shore". The devotional aspect is the response to Shinjin - sheer gratitude, as expressed in the mental and verbal chanting of the Nembutsu (Namo Amida Butsu): "I take refuge in Amida Buddha".

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by KathyLauren » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:56 pm

My practice consists mostly of daily meditation and an attempt to practise compassion and non-attachment in daily life. Although it has been a while since I read a sutra, I do like reading them, so I have great respect and gratitude for the academics who translated them into a language that I can read.

However, the academic study of the Dharma is not for me. I seriously wonder how many people use academic studies to feed their monkey minds instead of settling them. That certainly would be the case for me if I were to pursue that path.

I have had some excellent teachers, but I feel that they have given me a lifetime of homework. So, although I am teacherless at the moment, I do not feel a strong urge to find a new one.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by boda » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:12 am

Grigoris wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:48 pm
boda wrote:Roughly put, by degrees of happiness, or suffering, of course.
One can live quite happily by immersing themselves in worldly dharma, so unfortunately that is not a valid measure.
This seems to imply that you don't buy the 1st Noble Truth.

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by TharpaChodron » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:15 am

I was inspired by Milarepa, but realistically becoming a true yogi hasn't worked out (yet). So, I got a job and have tried to be a functioning Buddhist in modern times. Now I'm working and paying the bills, plenty to do in Samsara, as a Buddhist.

People think of having a credit card. I'm thinking I have a "merit card." Exhausting negative karma, accumulating merit, etc. Lol. Or perhaps I should create one.

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by Grigoris » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:40 am

boda wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:12 am
Grigoris wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:48 pm
boda wrote:Roughly put, by degrees of happiness, or suffering, of course.
One can live quite happily by immersing themselves in worldly dharma, so unfortunately that is not a valid measure.
This seems to imply that you don't buy the 1st Noble Truth.
No, it doesn't imply that at all. Temporary (relative) happiness is quite real, the problem is what happens after the causes and conditions that bring it about, are no longer in place. That is why happiness per se cannot be a completely valid measure of the effectiveness of one's practice.

I recommend you go contemplate the "Four Thoughts that Turn One's Mind Towards the Dharma".
"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: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by shaunc » Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:18 am

rory wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:37 am


As for Pure Land, for mainstream Pure Land anyone can practice it, you don't need a teacher. All you need is faith, same with a mantra concerning Amida or Kannon-sama, anyone can chant with faith and practice with enormous benefit. Also Nichiren Buddhism. This is why these two schools are so popular as you can be poor, sick, not a genius, busy with heavy family responsibilities; no dharma $ needed for fancy empowerments or monastery retreats .


Rory
That's why I'm a pureland devotee. As a lay Buddhist struggling with samsara i need a simple practice. One that has been designed for the masses rather than one designed for monastics and renunciates.

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by Grigoris » Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:59 am

shaunc wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:18 am
That's why I'm a pureland devotee. As a lay Buddhist struggling with samsara i need a simple practice. One that has been designed for the masses rather than one designed for monastics and renunciates.
Practices in ngakpa lineages are for lay practitioners too.
"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: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by shaunc » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:34 am

Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:59 am
shaunc wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:18 am
That's why I'm a pureland devotee. As a lay Buddhist struggling with samsara i need a simple practice. One that has been designed for the masses rather than one designed for monastics and renunciates.
Practices in ngakpa lineages are for lay practitioners too.
Thanks for that but I'm pretty happy with the path I'm on.
I suppose that's the beauty of buddhism, there's something for everyone.

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by Grigoris » Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:13 am

shaunc wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:34 am
Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:59 am
shaunc wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:18 am
That's why I'm a pureland devotee. As a lay Buddhist struggling with samsara i need a simple practice. One that has been designed for the masses rather than one designed for monastics and renunciates.
Practices in ngakpa lineages are for lay practitioners too.
Thanks for that but I'm pretty happy with the path I'm on.
I suppose that's the beauty of buddhism, there's something for everyone.
I wasn't suggesting you change paths, I was just pointing out that there are other options out there too. ie That Pure Land Buddhism is not the only path for lay people.
"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: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by Ayu » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:58 pm

Maybe this is "metadiscussion", but I have to add I like this thread. :heart:
:smile:
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by DGA » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:52 am

shaunc wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:18 am
rory wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:37 am


As for Pure Land, for mainstream Pure Land anyone can practice it, you don't need a teacher. All you need is faith, same with a mantra concerning Amida or Kannon-sama, anyone can chant with faith and practice with enormous benefit. Also Nichiren Buddhism. This is why these two schools are so popular as you can be poor, sick, not a genius, busy with heavy family responsibilities; no dharma $ needed for fancy empowerments or monastery retreats .


Rory
That's why I'm a pureland devotee. As a lay Buddhist struggling with samsara i need a simple practice. One that has been designed for the masses rather than one designed for monastics and renunciates.
Pure Land practice is excellent. I'm not sure which traditions you are referring to as limited only to monastics and renunciates, but that's somewhat irrelevant anyway, so please don't let my confusion trouble you.

With regard to rory's point: It helps to hear the Dharma. Specifically, it helps to understand the practice and to develop trust and confidence in it if one has heard about it from a living being who has practiced a lot, reflected on the teachings, and so on after him or herself hearing it (and so on down the line). It comes from the heart, not the head. That's how illiterate peasants practiced for centuries in villages across Asia. Good for them, I say. That's regarding pure land practice generally.

Now, with regard to the discussion of "esoteric" Pure Land practice that kicked off this thread (link below)...

viewtopic.php?f=64&t=25310

For this, you definitely need a teacher with a capital T. Why? Because that's how esoteric practice works. It's excellent, but if you don't plug it in to the power source, it won't work.

Back to the big picture: the role of the teacher or lineage holder differs tradition to tradition, and context to context, but the principle is the same. This is sociable stuff. If you want to cope with Dharma (as Ayu put it), you have to cope with other practitioners too. Intellectual dabbling isn't adequate--at least it wasn't adequate for me.

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by boda » Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:22 am

Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:40 am
boda wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:12 am
Grigoris wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:48 pm
One can live quite happily by immersing themselves in worldly dharma, so unfortunately that is not a valid measure.
This seems to imply that you don't buy the 1st Noble Truth.
No, it doesn't imply that at all. Temporary (relative) happiness is quite real, the problem is what happens after the causes and conditions that bring it about, are no longer in place. That is why happiness per se cannot be a completely valid measure of the effectiveness of one's practice.

I recommend you go contemplate the "Four Thoughts that Turn One's Mind Towards the Dharma".
Because there's temporary happiness, suffering or happiness are not a valid metric of progress. I have to say that I agree, in a pedantic sort of way. How about if we throw in a dash of wisdom. That would make it more palatable, yes?

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by rory » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:49 am

Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:13 am
shaunc wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:34 am
Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:59 am
Practices in ngakpa lineages are for lay practitioners too.
Thanks for that but I'm pretty happy with the path I'm on.
I suppose that's the beauty of buddhism, there's something for everyone.
I wasn't suggesting you change paths, I was just pointing out that there are other options out there too. ie That Pure Land Buddhism is not the only path for lay people.
Does it require $ to get teachings/empowerments from Nyingma teachers for lay people? Do you have to go to a specific place that costs money? As that was/is a concern. I have never paid a penny for Dharma. In fact the Young Men's Buddhist Association gives these fantastic books away for free; this is how I really became a Pure Land practitioner.
https://www.ymba.org/free-books
I read some books left outside a health food shop in NYC. Since that time I've given contributions (which were never asked for) to spread the Dharma so others can benefit as I did....
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by Grigoris » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:34 am

rory wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:49 am
Does it require $ to get teachings/empowerments from Nyingma teachers for lay people? Do you have to go to a specific place that costs money?
Your questions are irrelevant.
"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: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by DGA » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:56 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:34 am
rory wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:49 am
Does it require $ to get teachings/empowerments from Nyingma teachers for lay people? Do you have to go to a specific place that costs money?
Your questions are irrelevant.
I think that rory is asking if the teachings are for sale. If so, then her questions are completely relevant and should be clarified directly and immediately.

The answer is an obvious no. In the case of Vajrayana, one reason for secrecy is to prevent fools from taking the teachings to the marketplace for their own profit. Here is an old, old thread on this topic.

viewtopic.php?t=3949

rory also brought up the topic of generosity (dana), which is indispensable to Mahayana practice. The relation of dana as a mindset toward one's approach to Dharma may be a worthwhile topic for discussion independent of this thread.

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by Grigoris » Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:37 pm

DGA wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:56 pm
I think that rory is asking if the teachings are for sale. If so, then her questions are completely relevant and should be clarified directly and immediately.
No, they are irrelevant.

This year I am organising, for the second time, a "seminar" with our teacher Loppon Ogyan Tanzin Rinpoche.

Last time he was here I made sure that the price (which just covered expenses: hotel, flights, teaching space,etc.) for the seminar was extremely reasonable. I gave discounts to people registered as unemployed and the option for anybody who wished to offer work instead of money... Rinpoche never asks for a fixed amount of money for the teachings, the students give whatever they want.

After making damn sure I was paid by everybody (I forked the cash out of my pocket for the seminar and did all the running around), I still paid about a months wages out of my pocket. I consider it money VERY well spent.

You know what pisses me off the most though? People that whinge and whine about not having enough money for the seminar, and yet you see them puffing away on cigarettes and running off to drink beers at the bar once the seminar closes. People that have enough money to fly in from countries that are way wealthier then the country the seminar is being held in, live in hotels, eat and drink the offerings without giving any and yet complaining that the teachings should be for free.

And even if you give money to the teacher, what do you think the teacher does with it? Blow it on drugs and hookers? Well, some teachers do, none of mine so far (that I know of). They have gompa to support. Refugee communities to clothe and feed. Personal expenses (food, clothing, medical care, etc...). If they do not receive that from your donations and payments then are you going to condemn them for engaging in worldy pursuits (working), or complain that they do not live a 100% holy life? And if they do spend it on drugs and hookers, well, nobody tells you how to spend your money, do they?

So the questions are completely irrelevant.
"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: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by Malcolm » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:13 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:40 am
Temporary (relative) happiness...

is called the suffering of change.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by DGA » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:14 pm

:good:
Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:37 pm
DGA wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:56 pm
I think that rory is asking if the teachings are for sale. If so, then her questions are completely relevant and should be clarified directly and immediately.
No, they are irrelevant.

This year I am organising, for the second time, a "seminar" with our teacher Loppon Ogyan Tanzin Rinpoche.

Last time he was here I made sure that the price (which just covered expenses: hotel, flights, teaching space,etc.) for the seminar was extremely reasonable. I gave discounts to people registered as unemployed and the option for anybody who wished to offer work instead of money... Rinpoche never asks for a fixed amount of money for the teachings, the students give whatever they want.

After making damn sure I was paid by everybody (I forked the cash out of my pocket for the seminar and did all the running around), I still paid about a months wages out of my pocket. I consider it money VERY well spent.

You know what pisses me off the most though? People that whinge and whine about not having enough money for the seminar, and yet you see them puffing away on cigarettes and running off to drink beers at the bar once the seminar closes. People that have enough money to fly in from countries that are way wealthier then the country the seminar is being held in, live in hotels, eat and drink the offerings without giving any and yet complaining that the teachings should be for free.

And even if you give money to the teacher, what do you think the teacher does with it? Blow it on drugs and hookers? Well, some teachers do, none of mine so far (that I know of). They have gompa to support. Refugee communities to clothe and feed. Personal expenses (food, clothing, medical care, etc...). If they do not receive that from your donations and payments then are you going to condemn them for engaging in worldy pursuits (working), or complain that they do not live a 100% holy life? And if they do spend it on drugs and hookers, well, nobody tells you how to spend your money, do they?

So the questions are completely irrelevant.
Well spoken.

When the implication is made that the Dharma is for sale, we must rebut with specifics.

And that is what is relevant here.

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Re: what is your approach to Dharma?

Post by liuzg150181 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:16 pm

DGA wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:14 pm
:good:
Grigoris wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:37 pm
DGA wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:56 pm
I think that rory is asking if the teachings are for sale. If so, then her questions are completely relevant and should be clarified directly and immediately.
No, they are irrelevant.

This year I am organising, for the second time, a "seminar" with our teacher Loppon Ogyan Tanzin Rinpoche.

Last time he was here I made sure that the price (which just covered expenses: hotel, flights, teaching space,etc.) for the seminar was extremely reasonable. I gave discounts to people registered as unemployed and the option for anybody who wished to offer work instead of money... Rinpoche never asks for a fixed amount of money for the teachings, the students give whatever they want.

After making damn sure I was paid by everybody (I forked the cash out of my pocket for the seminar and did all the running around), I still paid about a months wages out of my pocket. I consider it money VERY well spent.

You know what pisses me off the most though? People that whinge and whine about not having enough money for the seminar, and yet you see them puffing away on cigarettes and running off to drink beers at the bar once the seminar closes. People that have enough money to fly in from countries that are way wealthier then the country the seminar is being held in, live in hotels, eat and drink the offerings without giving any and yet complaining that the teachings should be for free.

And even if you give money to the teacher, what do you think the teacher does with it? Blow it on drugs and hookers? Well, some teachers do, none of mine so far (that I know of). They have gompa to support. Refugee communities to clothe and feed. Personal expenses (food, clothing, medical care, etc...). If they do not receive that from your donations and payments then are you going to condemn them for engaging in worldy pursuits (working), or complain that they do not live a 100% holy life? And if they do spend it on drugs and hookers, well, nobody tells you how to spend your money, do they?

So the questions are completely irrelevant.
Well spoken.

When the implication is made that the Dharma is for sale, we must rebut with specifics.

And that is what is relevant here.
To put things into perspective, based on my limited experience for a years, in Singapore most Tibetan Buddhist teachings are free,mainly I believe due to Chinese Mahayana culture influence that donating to Dharma activities generates immersive merits. Hence wealthy patrons and Chinese associations are more willing to provide sponsorship compared to the west. Even then some events and grps do need to balance the accounts(most of the cost comes from rental,and not cheap in land-tight Singapore),so there will be charges involved,though in many cases it is negotiable if there is financial issue afaik.

For empowerment,it is customary for us to give an amount in red packet,either to the Rinpoche giving empowerment,or also including the monks and nuns involved. Again not they would enforce an amount and not like anyone would check on that. Even if one doesnt give at all,i dont think there is an enforcer to single you out. :rolling:

Based on what I had read,it seems it is more customary in the west to charge a sum(or rather suggest) for a seminar or teaching,as TB doesnt have the leverage or economic-of-scale compared to Asian countries in terms of sponsorship or the customary red packet offering,or cultural and social establishment and infrastructure like Christianity in USA. Not to mention that TB/Vajrayana is the smallest of the three Buddhist denominations(like 7% percentage of all Buddhist worldwide). So lets be realistic,the sangha and the community needs money to at least mantain or survive.

Heck,if one has decent internet access,one can now receive online teachings and even 'big' empowerments for free where Tibetan Buddhism is concerned.

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