1 year in ...

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caprica
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1 year in ...

Post by caprica »

Hi

I have been attending a local Tibetan buddhist centre for the last 12 months. In that time I have been meditating regularly and attending weekly introductory lectures or teacher led meditations and pujas. It was all exciting at first but since about September I have been dragging myself along and now my wife is saying I should take a break if it isn't making me happy.

So a question for the community. What sustains you? what keeps you at it?

thanks
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

caprica wrote: Sat Feb 01, 2020 12:36 am Hi

I have been attending a local Tibetan buddhist centre for the last 12 months. In that time I have been meditating regularly and attending weekly introductory lectures or teacher led meditations and pujas. It was all exciting at first but since about September I have been dragging myself along and now my wife is saying I should take a break if it isn't making me happy.

So a question for the community. What sustains you? what keeps you at it?

thanks
It's not really meant to just "make you happy". I mean, if you meditate regularly and your practice goes well you will see a decrease in negative emotion, hopefully gain skills in showing generosity, dealing with conflict, etc. However, the main purpose of the Mahayana is enlightenment for all sentient beings - including ourselves. It's a huge goal, an overtly "religious" and out there one to many people, but that is the primary purpose, and the main place our motivation is supposed to be directed - not simply to improve our hedonic situation. In addition, dedicating oneself to meditation(especially Vajrayana where purification happens so quickly) also often means emotional upheaval, fear and uncertainty and boredom as we progress on the path, lots of stuff that is not necessarily conducive to day to day happiness as it's normally understood.

Has your teacher introduced you to Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind? Normally these are the contemplations that sustain one's motivation, and what I've been advised to focus on when my own motivation flags.

Now, if you are primarily practicing simply for the immediate benefits of meditation, and not the larger spiritual goals of Buddhadharma, you might be better off with a completely 'secular' meditation program with identifiable goals in terms of emotional management, well-being etc.. barring that, it sounds like you need to do some contemplation on why you are engaged in this stuff in the first place, from what little I can infer.

So basically, the Four Thoughts, they are the practice that keeps on giving even when everything else seems drab and boring, and are (in my experience) what will break the general dullness and complacency with the samsaric situation.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
AJP
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by AJP »

Ngondro is good at showing the reason to practice, especially about Samsara, four thoughts, purification of Karma, Bodhicitta, Guru Yoga and all the rest....
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明安 Myoan
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by 明安 Myoan »

Bodhicitta.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

caprica wrote: Sat Feb 01, 2020 12:36 am ... It was all exciting at first...
What sustains you? what keeps you at it?
Yeah, ummm... it is exciting at first because it is new and different. When it stops being new and different, and it becomes boring, then it’s like Trader Joe’s food.
That is a grocery store chain that constantly introduces new and different, kind of exotic stuff to eat. Because it’s a new flavor, the brain registers it as super delicious, like some new kind of gourmet salsa. Then you buy a second jar and by the third jar You are tired of it. That’s when they introduce another flavor of salsa. I worked there. It’s their marketing formula. But, I digress...

If you are interested in the Buddhist teachings then you should read more books on the subject, watch teachings by good teachers on YouTube, read the sutras. Very often, Vajrayana (Tibetan) centers just focus on sitting meditation and rituals, filling bowls with water and banging drums and maybe do a weekly class related to the practice or some teaching by a Lama, and then they just have the motivation of, “you are doing this for the benefit of all sentient beings” but there isn’t necessarily a lot of discussion about Buddhist basics, and about why you would want to practice it in the first place. So, you kind of need to look at your own personal motivation for wanting to even go there.

Buddhism is a philosophy in that it is very analytical.
It is a religion in that it is very intuitive spiritually
And for some people it’s also like an absorbing hobby, like model railroads, where you keep adding little bushes and trees and buildings and tiny people, except that with Buddhists it’s adding another statue or getting bigger offering bowls or fussing about every little detail, and getting lots of empowerments and so on. And many times dharma centers attract people for a while with all the exotic trappings and atmosphere and whiff of incense and then the people get bored with it because they didn’t really apply it. They didn’t really study the Buddha’s teachings. If you study them and try to practice them, they present all kinds of challenges to you. They annoy you and make you doubt everything that you were always cozy with. Maybe you even lose sleep trying to understand how if there’s no self then who is getting bored?

There was a famous Korean nun, a very enlightened teacher, who is gone now but she taught a lot in the 1980s and she said that if you are really a dharma practitioner, then it’s like boiling water. And when you are really into it, that’s the water. And when you are tired of it, or you don’t want to study or meditate or do rituals, that’s like the air bubbles in the boiling water. But it’s all there. It’s all still practice. Not practicing is practice. Being bored with dharma is boredom dharma practice. Being sick of the whole phony thing is sick of the whole phony thing dharma practice. So, you can look at it that way. You can practice “it’s not exciting any more” dharma practice.
If that doesn’t help, then maybe take up model railroading instead.
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Be kindness
Charlie123
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by Charlie123 »

caprica wrote: Sat Feb 01, 2020 12:36 am Hi

I have been attending a local Tibetan buddhist centre for the last 12 months. In that time I have been meditating regularly and attending weekly introductory lectures or teacher led meditations and pujas. It was all exciting at first but since about September I have been dragging myself along and now my wife is saying I should take a break if it isn't making me happy.

So a question for the community. What sustains you? what keeps you at it?

thanks
If you are able to, in the beginning, it is very good to meet many different teachers from different lineages.

If you have a meditation practice, don't abandon it in favor of every other new practice you may encounter, but still it is good for beginners to hear many different teachings. Practicing the teachings of a qualified teacher with whom you have a strong karmic connection is really different than practicing the teachings of a qualified teacher with whom you do not have a strong karmic connection. It is like cooking with gas vs cooking over a wood fire. Accordingly, it is very important to find these teachers with whom you have a strong karmic connection.

If you have a teacher at the center you have been going to, it might be good to share your concerns with them. Tell them what you just wrote above.

Also, you should know that the disenchantment you are experiencing is very normal. I think in a lot of ways it is much better than the strong excitement one feels at the very beginning. This strong excitement is mostly connected with hope and attachment. Although it can help propel us, it can also be a major obstacle.

All that being said, I think the traditional antidote for what you are describing is contemplating the precious human birth as described in various lam rim texts.
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by muni »

I am not sure if this is what applies for you, may it be of any benefit: Devotion. This is not just for a person who looks right and says right things but for the naturally amazing kindness of liberating actions, out of suffering.
Or devotion as nectar introducing into same nature as the liberating Master/Buddha :buddha1: .
While not feel guilty when this devotion isn't. Then care for yourself, be kind. Be not too stern. It probably is passing, because there is change all the time. Perhaps say or chant OM Mani Peme Hung, to help not to fall back into worldly motivations, or read or go to another teaching...Do not force yourself.

Also do not follow the teachings because others do. H H Dalai Lama said when you have already a religion, follow this then whole heartedly. But when you feel connection with Buddhism, follow it then whole heartedly.

When there is devotion, this allows as well compassion to shine because the compassionate instructions break ( slowly) our experience to be an independence, opens 'our heart-mind'.

Some lines By Khenpo Brothers, again if not useful right now, don't worry:

1. 18 Endowments
2. Devotion
3. Joyful Effort
4. Wisdom
5. Qualified Teacher
6. Practice and Overcome Obstacles

Again do not worry too much, even most of us do sometimes.

May all be fine.
Conversely, viewing the self as a mere convention or as a designated label for our dynamic stream of experience - consciousness in relation to the body and the world - is in harmony with the interdependent and impermanent nature of reality; and leads to a state of well-being grounded in wisdom, altruism, compassion, and inner freedom.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... he-self--2

Simplicity reveals the nature of the mind behind the veil of restless thoughts.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... plicity--2
Yeshe Dorje
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by Yeshe Dorje »

meditate on the precious human rebirth
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PeterC
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by PeterC »

caprica wrote: Sat Feb 01, 2020 12:36 am Hi

I have been attending a local Tibetan buddhist centre for the last 12 months. In that time I have been meditating regularly and attending weekly introductory lectures or teacher led meditations and pujas. It was all exciting at first but since about September I have been dragging myself along and now my wife is saying I should take a break if it isn't making me happy.

So a question for the community. What sustains you? what keeps you at it?

thanks
The early stages of the path can have a lot of emotional ups and downs. It does help to have some structure - something long-term to work at and see results. One of the good things about the Tibetan schools is that they excel at this - whichever one you’re in, they will have some sort of lamrim curriculum you can work through.

But the motivation to keep practising has to come from a combination of conviction that you need to practice, and results seen from practice. For the first, the starting point is the four thoughts that turn the mind to dharma. For the second, meditation according to the right instructions. Honestly the rest is really window-dressing until these are well established.
caprica
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by caprica »

Thanks everyone .. OP here ...

I have been working my way through the lectures from the FPMT syllabus. In the last 12 months I found myself agreeing with so much I had learned in my lessons, but the big thing I have been struggling with is rebirth. Rebirth is something that I am skeptical of and the problem is Buddhism without rebirth looses its whole philosophical basis. I have been trying to put my skepticism aside on the whole topic and just keep learning, but I find it keeps getting in the way

Any thoughts on next steps?
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明安 Myoan
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by 明安 Myoan »

Try perfecting your conduct in daily life by focusing on the teachings on virtue (Right Speech, Six Paramitas, etc.). They lead to happiness for oneself and others, no matter our present understanding of rebirth. Some things just take time, and having these teachings in your life as life continues to happen to you will show you things in a different light.

I mentioned bodhicitta specifically, because it can make your day to day life meaningful (for you too), as well as providing the basis for approaching teachings like rebirth in a constructive way.

All or nothing can be just another form of anxiety, little to do with truth.

As for books that help understanding of rebirth, I recommend: Return to Life, and Karma What It Is and What It Isn't.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen
TrimePema
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by TrimePema »

caprica wrote: Sat Feb 01, 2020 12:36 am Hi

I have been attending a local Tibetan buddhist centre for the last 12 months. In that time I have been meditating regularly and attending weekly introductory lectures or teacher led meditations and pujas. It was all exciting at first but since about September I have been dragging myself along and now my wife is saying I should take a break if it isn't making me happy.

So a question for the community. What sustains you? what keeps you at it?

thanks
did you take refuge and bodhisattva vows or not?
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Virgo
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by Virgo »

caprica wrote: Sun Feb 02, 2020 12:56 pm Thanks everyone .. OP here ...

I have been working my way through the lectures from the FPMT syllabus. In the last 12 months I found myself agreeing with so much I had learned in my lessons, but the big thing I have been struggling with is rebirth. Rebirth is something that I am skeptical of and the problem is Buddhism without rebirth looses its whole philosophical basis. I have been trying to put my skepticism aside on the whole topic and just keep learning, but I find it keeps getting in the way

Any thoughts on next steps?
Caprica, I would have a read through this thread:

viewtopic.php?f=66&t=5678

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caprica
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by caprica »

Thanks Myoan and Virgo. Lots of useful information to follow up on

TrimePema: no I have stayed away from vows, initiations and guru yoga until I am certain this is something I want to do
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

I would *strongly* recommended Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoches book on Karma (and by extension rebirth). It is written for Westerners, he had degree in Western philsophy, and it was one of the best plain language discussions of karma and rebirth I have read to this date, really excellent.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by Vasana »

Namthars and the biographies of great masters can help with inspiration. You have to keep watering the seeds of inspiration and awe in this world otherwise practice becomes dry. Keep going. If you have been too focused on practice, try more study. If mostly study, try more practice. If it's agitation you're dealing with you can apply antidotes for relaxing more deeply, physically and mentally.

Examine your motivations and expectations and see if they actually align with the teachings. There will usually be discrepancies that we have to iron out over time. A long time. Review what has worked and what hasn't in the last year and then do the same next year.
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
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by Virgo »

caprica wrote: Mon Feb 03, 2020 2:49 am I have stayed away from vows, initiations and guru yoga until I am certain this is something I want to do
That is a good idea.

Virgo
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by ford_truckin »

Don't worry about temporary worldly happiness. Practice for permanent happiness/buddhahood.
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by muni »

caprica wrote: Sun Feb 02, 2020 12:56 pm I have been struggling with is rebirth. Rebirth is something that I am skeptical of and the problem is Buddhism without rebirth looses its whole philosophical basis.
Perhaps these two quotes throw a light?
First of all, it's important to understand that what's called reincarnation in Buddhism has nothing to do with the transmigration of some ‟entity” like an autonomous "self". It's not a process of metempsychosis. As long as one thinks in terms of entities rather than function and continuity of experience, it's impossible to understand the Buddhist concept of rebirth. As it's said, ‟There is no thread passing through the beads of the necklace of rebirths.” Over successive rebirths, what is maintained is not the identity of a ‟person,” but the conditioning of a stream of consciousness.
See the metaphor river: :anjali:

That the self has no true existence doesn't prevent one particular stream of consciousness from having qualities that distinguish it from another stream.The fact that there's no boat floating down the river doesn't prevent the water from being full of mud, polluted by a paper factory, or clean and clear. The state of the river at any given moment is the result of its history.

In the same way, an individual stream of consciousness is loaded with all the traces left on it by positive and negative thoughts, as well as by actions and words arising from those thoughts. What we're trying to do by spiritual practice is to gradually purify the river.

Shechen teaching, Matthieu Ricard.
Conversely, viewing the self as a mere convention or as a designated label for our dynamic stream of experience - consciousness in relation to the body and the world - is in harmony with the interdependent and impermanent nature of reality; and leads to a state of well-being grounded in wisdom, altruism, compassion, and inner freedom.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... he-self--2

Simplicity reveals the nature of the mind behind the veil of restless thoughts.
https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/ ... plicity--2
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weitsicht
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Re: 1 year in ...

Post by weitsicht »

In Shechen Monastery in Bodnath, Kathmandu, in the room of Dilgo Khyentse's Stupa, some guys with Engineering affinity have installed big prayer wheels that continuously Keep on turning by the force of magnetism. The attending monk Needs to repair them once on a while and can do other stuff for the rest of the day.

My mind Returns to this Picture now and then because to me it contains a metaphor: until your inner wheel is effortlessly turning on its own, it Needs be cared for, reengineered, readjusted, it requires effort and (others' / a teachers') Feedback.

So first of all practise in Patience and Diligence.
Reconsider your Motivation, as previous Posts have stated, happiness is not the purpose, it's maybe a nice side effect.
Look out for what is helpful for you.

I personally think that when you feel like pursuing the dharma you Need to take refuge and bodhichitta vows. -more in a way to Elaborate for yourself what this entails (rather than the effective vow in front of a Guru, but I am not very Traditionalist on that and you have to check out for yourself what is it that you Need!)
There's many lectures on that. I am just referencing here to the Audio of my own teacher http://eifelaudio.simplybeing.co.uk/201 ... tumn-2017/ (numbers 7 and 8)

It is not about turning you into a Buddhist, it's about Setting your perspective straight (see here Bob Thurman)


Lastly, don't be harsh on yourself. In the end there is nowhere to push yourself to. The practice of loving kindness includes yourself, OK?

And about Rebirth: you are not necessarily required to accept or not, just consider it a possibility.

Hope that helps or at least does not harm
Ho! All the possible appearances and existences of samsara and nirvana have the same source, yet two paths and two results arise as the magical display of awareness and unawareness.
HO NANG SRI KHOR DAE THAMCHE KUN ZHI CHIG LAM NYI DRAE BU NYI RIG DANG MA RIG CHOM THRUL TE
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