Tonglen discursive problems

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Karatzo
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Tonglen discursive problems

Post by Karatzo »

Guys I've been trying to set my mind regariding this practice...I know this is a mind training practice and I really need to convince my analytical mind about some questions arising when I try to do the pracitce....help me if you can...

1. Doing this practice you're supposed to feel the suffering of other beings...those who suffer. So, when you exchange their suffering with your happines or wisdom how can you say that you're not faking it? E.g. lets say one person has cancer and you do the practicewith him. You wish this persons cancer and suffering will come to you...and your happines will go to this person. Is anybody here that would trully do this exchange? Do I have to convince my self that in case this might happen I would choose to do the transaction? Is this the goal of the practice? To be able to say yes to a situation like this? I read above:

“Taking on the suffering of others shouldn't be seen as being a martyr or getting nailed to a cross.
You take on the suffering of others out of compassion, but it doesn't make you suffer.
It dissolves in your own realization of the illusion of samsara.
just like waking someone up who is having a terrible nightmare doesn't cause you to have the nightmare.
This is an important thing to know.”

But if you do this practice from this safe point how could you abandon self-cherishing?

2. I can understand that suffering is suffering and it's not pleasant for noone but why should I exchange my happines with people that did brutalities. e.g. Hitler...or a guy in a village who skinned alive two dogs and hang them just for fun. I feel that these guys should rot in hell forever before they would reborn again. This is not related to self-cherising but to protecting the others or because I feel the pain and injustice these tortured beings felt. Which is the anlaytical approach that someone follows to do tonglen with Hitler or this other guy? I really think and feel that beings that cause suffering should die now. I would push the magic button to kill them all NOW in order to save all the others and I would sleep like a baby without any remorse...then how could I exchange my happiness with the suffering of the "bad" guys? This is just karmic suffering and it is there for a reason! To balance the situation. Why should I wish sth which is against this since I agree with its functioning? Would Buddha push this KILL THE BAD GUYS BUTTON?
Last edited by Karatzo on Sat Sep 19, 2020 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
Danny
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by Danny »

Ah, bodhisattvas and their ethical issues!
:D
If a hungry ghost begged you for some water after a arhat told you not too! Being a bodhisattva has idea that they have more compassion than a arhat, would you give the suffering hungry ghost some water out of compassion?
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Aryjna
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by Aryjna »

Karatzo wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 11:45 am I feel that these guys should rot in hell forever before they would reborn again. This is not related to self-cherising but to protecting the others or because I feel the pain and injustice these tortured beings felt. Which is the anlaytical approach that someone follows to do tonglen with Hitler or this other guy? I really think and feel that beings that cause suffering should die now. I would push the magic button to kill them all NOW in order to save all the others and I would sleep like a baby without any remorse...then how could I exchange my happiness with the suffering of the "bad" guys? This is just karmic suffering and it is there for a reason! To balance the situation. Why should I wish sth which is against this since I agree with its functioning? Would Buddha push this KILL THE BAD GUYS BUTTON?
Wishing anyone to rot in hell is a root downfall of the bodhisattva vow. Having no bodhisattva vow, you cannot practice Mahayana, in which tonglen belongs.

The reasoning about karmic suffering that is there for a reason is wrong. There is no reason in that sense, we have all been like Hitler or worse in previous lifetimes, and will be again if we do not leave samsara. There is no divine reason behind karma, it is like gravity etc. There is also no real existence, or some essence where someone is really Hitler, really evil, a real entity, as such there is no one to be punished. All his crimes are due to a particular combination of causes and conditions. Also, if he is reborn in hell, even though he is not actually Hitler even conventionally, he still has to suffer horribly. So, even if you think about it in the ordinary non-Mahayana perspective, there isn't any justice in that.

If you want to add another karma related point, those who suffer at the hands of Hitler, suffer so because they have the karma to suffer like that. It is a vicious cycle.

Killing a dictator to prevent genocide may be acceptable depending on the case, but it is completely unrelated to feeling they deserve to suffer etc. In case anyone ever had to do such a thing, the only 'acceptable' way to do it from a Buddhist point of view, is out of compassion for others and for the criminal, who is also causing damage to himself/herself by generating horrible karma. But there is no reason to imagine such situations in the first place.

The answer seems to be to not practice things for which you are not ready. E.g. if someone is trying to practice tonglen with Hitler and keeps thinking of wanting him to suffer, maybe it's better to practice it with someone they like first. Or maybe it's better to do a different practice, such as generating bodhicitta.
Soma999
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by Soma999 »

I offer you some ideas if that can help you.

You do tong-len for you, not for others, even thought it may in a way be good for them.

When you suffer, you resist against it. You want it to go. You want to remove it. Can you feel the tightness in that ?

So what do you do ? You accept this suffering (by the way recusing it will not make it go away...) and you develop an altruistic attitude « be me experiencing this suffering, may all being be liberated ».

You do not take their suffering. You open your suffering so that it becomes full of compassion, and full of the intention of beings to be free from suffering.

You change your frequency and change the energy of your problems. It can even dissolve at some point. Also, it helps generate attention towards other and melt the heart (turning it from stone to flesh).

So, in fact you substitute the « me » in your suffering be a « we, us ». You open it, and you transform your pain and suffering.

Now, when you are happy what do you do ? You wish each and everyone to experience this hapiness, and even much better.

You remove this tightness of « MY hapiness ». You open the field of energy.

If you have great joy, and want to keep it all for yourself, you may lose it. A problem, anything can come to steal your joy. But instead if you say « Buddha, please take this joy, multiply it and share it with all beings. May many other share in this joy and happiness ». There, you will keep your joy. And much better. You will have even better condition.

Tong-Len is all about you.

You want to refuse suffering ? You accept it and turn it into compassion.
You grasp at your happiness in fear of losing it ? You open more your spirit so you wish and everyone the same, even better.

What do you dissolve ? Tightness in your heart.

You turn your heart to an ocean. In this open space, the pure quality of your mind can manifest.
Karatzo
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by Karatzo »

Thank you guys the advice are really good!
Momo
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by Momo »

It might be an idea to examine what we mean by “feeling”in this context.
If we could jump straight into feeling another’s pain or anguish we wouldn’t need Tonglen. :smile:
It’s a practice. It’s to get better at it. So at first it might be “this is what it must feel like to be in that situation”.

Sometimes we have fake to make it, at least for a while.
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明安 Myoan
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by 明安 Myoan »

Apply it to your daily relationships and problems, especially when you feel unhappy or angry all of a sudden, or distracted by unhappy ideas. Practice turns into insight when it becomes personal and specific to how you deal with daily life.

The Lojong Slogans are a great guide to the ins and outs of tonglen practice. They're short and easy to remember.
I don't practice tonglen per se these days, but these Slogans still come to mind when I need them.
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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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Don't start with Hitler or the Dog skinner, that is an advanced practice. Start with a person or animal who you easily feel empathy for.

Get out of your head though. If you walked outside right now and saw a suffering animal, you wouldn't need to justify feeling empathy with some kind of narrative, you would just feel it. That's how Tonglen is, you don't plan or strategize it.

One of the most valuable things I've been taught is to use your own pain to feel empathy, when you experience suffering yourself, internally say "may all beings be free of this suffering", "may my loved ones be free of this suffering" "may I be free of this suffering", etc. It's not Tonglen, but it helps to become familiar with the state of mind needed for the practice.
Which is the anlaytical approach that someone follows to do tonglen with Hitler or this other guy? I really think and feel that beings that cause suffering should die now. I would push the magic button to kill them all NOW in order to save all the others and I would sleep like a baby without any remorse..
Most beings who cause suffering do it out of ignorance. We can debate extremes like Hitler or the Dog Skinner, but this is a bit of a distraction, just don't include them if it's tripping you up. Many murders (for instance) are not preplanned but are the result of impulsive action resulting from anger, jealousy. It may be that you can't develop empathy for people who do monstrous stuff, but you should be able to for people who do awful stuff out of ignorance. If you can't, you should examine why that is.
"...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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javier.espinoza.t
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by javier.espinoza.t »

1. when our mind is meddling in everything it fakes everything. this is not true just for practice.
But if you do this practice from this safe point how could you abandon self-cherishing?
that is the kind of question that shoul occur, i think, so it is a good sign.

2. you shouldn't, but if one is to help someone it is a need.
a guy in a village who skinned alive two dogs and hang them just for fun. I feel that these guys should rot in hell forever before they would reborn again.
that will happen regardless anyone's wish. that is the point. this guy took the feelings of hurting other as a pleasure, mistaking it for happiness. he won't flay only two dogs, he will do it again and again, life after life, and due to this will go to hell again and again. and due to his habit become to flay again and again, suffering of bad health, tormented and alike, never knowing why bad things happen to him. it never ends, it wont end, there is no cause for it to end unless someone do something (that is precisely not to "flay him back"). and it is like that for everyone. it ain't fun to foresee this things but is a necessary excersice for understanding the real world problems, the situation of sentienr beings, our situation.

ignorance is the root problem.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

I think you have a misunderstanding about Tonglen, and you should ask your teacher about this.

In the sending and receiving practice you are not supposed to feel the suffering and misery of others yourself. First of all that’s pretty much impossible. Secondly, the basis for the practice is an understanding of emptiness and of no self. The bodhisattva can take on the suffering of others because they realize there is no self for that suffering to stick to.

Exchanging oneself for others doesn’t just mean you’re going to trade your problems with someone else.
It also doesn’t mean you are trading your happiness for someone else’s unhappiness.

The reason why you send out the wish for others not to suffer, especially to really awful people, is because you understand their reason for their evil actions is also a direct result of their suffering. If you don’t understand this, then you need to, otherwise your Tonglen practice will not have a solid foundation.

You also want their suffering to end so that they don’t cause more suffering to others.

You visualize sending out positive qualities, as radiant light or whatever, and visualize taking the suffering of others, as thick black smoke (if that’s the method you were taught) or whatever form. But then it just goes into the trash (or perhaps the recycling). You don’t hold onto it.

It’s like, imagine Avalokiteshvara driving a garbage truck.
Everybody’s suffering gets tossed into the back. It’s an infinitely large garbage truck that can hold the sufferings of all beings. But, Avalokiteshvara doesn’t take it home with him.

Even if you are not Avalokiteshvara or an enlightened being, you still need to keep in mind that there is no “self” that can be feeling or experiencing the pain of other beings. There may be sympathetic pain, of course, such as the pain you feel when another person or animal is suffering. That’s a different thing. That isn’t taking on their suffering.

If Tonglen causes you to suffer, then you are still clinging to the idea of self. You have to get past the idea that there’s a “ME” practicing Tonglen. You asked how Tonglen doesn’t contribute to more self-cherishing, that’s how. You aren’t sending your ego to others. The positive qualities you have developed in dharma practice is the wisdom of your own non-attachment. You learn to let go, that becomes the basis for the wish to liberate others that you visualize sending out to others.

Tonglen should be reducing your self-cherishing. If not, then you might need to take it back a few notches, as folks here have said, don’t “take on” the worst villains. The teachings say to start with loved ones, then to friends, then to casual acquaintances, then neutral strangers (people you just see in public) then gradually towards those who cause you the most anger, or feelings of hatred.
Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Mon Sep 21, 2020 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tata1
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by Tata1 »

Karatzo wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 11:45 am Guys I've been trying to set my mind regariding this practice...I know this is a mind training practice and I really need to convince my analytical mind about some questions arising when I try to do the pracitce....help me if you can...

1. Doing this practice you're supposed to feel the suffering of other beings...those who suffer. So, when you exchange their suffering with your happines or wisdom how can you say that you're not faking it? E.g. lets say one person has cancer and you do the practicewith him. You wish this persons cancer and suffering will come to you...and your happines will go to this person. Is anybody here that would trully do this exchange? Do I have to convince my self that in case this might happen I would choose to do the transaction? Is this the goal of the practice? To be able to say yes to a situation like this? I read above:

“Taking on the suffering of others shouldn't be seen as being a martyr or getting nailed to a cross.
You take on the suffering of others out of compassion, but it doesn't make you suffer.
It dissolves in your own realization of the illusion of samsara.
just like waking someone up who is having a terrible nightmare doesn't cause you to have the nightmare.
This is an important thing to know.”

But if you do this practice from this safe point how could you abandon self-cherishing?

2. I can understand that suffering is suffering and it's not pleasant for noone but why should I exchange my happines with people that did brutalities. e.g. Hitler...or a guy in a village who skinned alive two dogs and hang them just for fun. I feel that these guys should rot in hell forever before they would reborn again. This is not related to self-cherising but to protecting the others or because I feel the pain and injustice these tortured beings felt. Which is the anlaytical approach that someone follows to do tonglen with Hitler or this other guy? I really think and feel that beings that cause suffering should die now. I would push the magic button to kill them all NOW in order to save all the others and I would sleep like a baby without any remorse...then how could I exchange my happiness with the suffering of the "bad" guys? This is just karmic suffering and it is there for a reason! To balance the situation. Why should I wish sth which is against this since I agree with its functioning? Would Buddha push this KILL THE BAD GUYS BUTTON?
1) it's a practice, you are suppoused to... well practice it. You get better with practice

2) just watch yourself. Be aware of your own conditioning. Even with all your education and encountering Buddhist teachings you are still wishing people to rot in hell. It's not hard to see our own conditioning and then see that other people have the same conditioning as you.

I know I have the same kleshas that made Hitler did what he did: ignorance, desire, hate, jealousy, pride. Check. I have them all. I'm just lucky mine are not that strong but if I get distracted who knows what I might do in the future or future lifes
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Könchok Thrinley
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by Könchok Thrinley »

To Padmavonsambha :good:

Maybe prior to tonglen focus bit more on cultivating loving kindness. Or at least take the tonglen gradually. Also maybe Garchen Rinpoche's instructions on tonglen could be useful for you. Basically with inbreath you sound Om in your mind and take in the cause of all suffering the self cherishing and it goes to your navel where there is a small fire, then hold with ah for a bit and the self cherishing of all beings (including yourself) gets burned, then breathe out with hung pure light of love because that is the cause of all happiness.

It is explained better here:
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

Formerly known as Miroku.
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PeterC
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by PeterC »

Karatzo wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 11:45 am 1. Doing this practice you're supposed to feel the suffering of other beings...those who suffer. So, when you exchange their suffering with your happiness or wisdom how can you say that you're not faking it? E.g. lets say one person has cancer and you do the practicewith him. You wish this persons cancer and suffering will come to you...and your happines will go to this person. Is anybody here that would trully do this exchange? Do I have to convince my self that in case this might happen I would choose to do the transaction? Is this the goal of the practice? To be able to say yes to a situation like this? I read above:
Well - a few things to think about here.

1. Reflect more on upeksa and what that really means
2. Read the section of the Bodhisattvacaryavatara on this, which is really eloquent and puts it way better than I can
3. Of course you can't really take on someone else's cancer physically. But what is this training called anyway? Mind training. We are training the mind to, among other things, release the grasping at the sense of "I". We do that progressively - we feel compassion towards people we love (if you're using the seven points system, then the first step is to feel compassion towards yourself), people we like, people we're indifferent to, eventually people we hate. It's progressive. But you have to really engage with it. You can't just tell yourself, ok I'm not going to actually get cancer, this is just make-believe, so I don't need to take it too seriously. You have to feel it as strongly as possible, without overly intellectualizing about it.
2. I can understand that suffering is suffering and it's not pleasant for noone but why should I exchange my happines with people that did brutalities. e.g. Hitler...or a guy in a village who skinned alive two dogs and hang them just for fun. I feel that these guys should rot in hell forever before they would reborn again. This is not related to self-cherising but to protecting the others or because I feel the pain and injustice these tortured beings felt. Which is the anlaytical approach that someone follows to do tonglen with Hitler or this other guy? I really think and feel that beings that cause suffering should die now. I would push the magic button to kill them all NOW in order to save all the others and I would sleep like a baby without any remorse...then how could I exchange my happiness with the suffering of the "bad" guys? This is just karmic suffering and it is there for a reason! To balance the situation. Why should I wish sth which is against this since I agree with its functioning? Would Buddha push this KILL THE BAD GUYS BUTTON?
A Buddha is omniscient in the sense that he/she knows instantly how to benefit all living beings. A Buddha doesn't have to reflect about whether to press this button or not, the right action comes without thought or effort. We're not Buddhas yet (although we're the potential of Buddhas), so we don't need to worry about this particular question. However when you think of the guy who skinned two dogs alive, think about the terrible consequences of that act in terms of the karma it creates, how much suffering the person is creating for their future self. Feel compassion for that future person, and understand that when the conditions for the ripening of karma are met, it cannot be stopped. So that person will suffer hideously because of that act. In lojong practices, this is how we need to train the mind when we encounter people performing actions that create negative karma.

If it's too big a leap to do this for Hitler or the dog guy, start with something smaller and simpler. Did you ever steal anything as a child? Kill insects? Tease or hurt other children? Usually people can find things in their own past that created negative karma that they regret, and that's an entry point to understanding how you need to look at other people who create negative karma.
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tobes
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Re: Tonglen discursive problems

Post by tobes »

Könchok Thrinley wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 3:49 pm To Padmavonsambha :good:

Maybe prior to tonglen focus bit more on cultivating loving kindness. Or at least take the tonglen gradually. Also maybe Garchen Rinpoche's instructions on tonglen could be useful for you. Basically with inbreath you sound Om in your mind and take in the cause of all suffering the self cherishing and it goes to your navel where there is a small fire, then hold with ah for a bit and the self cherishing of all beings (including yourself) gets burned, then breathe out with hung pure light of love because that is the cause of all happiness.

It is explained better here:
That's a beautiful and profound technique.

I have received teachings where one only takes all the suffering for a while, using this as a basis to destroy self-cherishing, then after a while to meditate on emptiness. Only then, after all of this, to give out loving kindness, virtues, possessions etc.

The key to accomplishing the practice is basically to expand, expand, expand. Not leaving out a single sentient being, especially not leaving out your enemies and people you think 'deserve a bad fate.'

For example, I once say a social media post from a group of vegans doing tonglen for animals at a slaughterhouse. Very good. But: much better to do it for the workers there, meat eaters etc, all the beings one might feel some moral opposition to.

That is the sure path to genuine maha-karuna.
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