just a good thread.

Discuss the application of the Dharma to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice.
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joy&peace
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Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 4:53 pm

just a good thread.

Post by joy&peace » Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:11 pm

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Om Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate bodhi svaha

joy&peace
Posts: 969
Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 4:53 pm

Re: just a good thread.

Post by joy&peace » Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:12 pm

Written to a new member - Sko - on the topic of karma. May all be healthy, happy, and at peace.

It can be helpful to view karma as cause-and-effect, which is a good definition of it. It's important to remember that the words we say are important not only because they affect the person we are speaking to - but also it affects all living beings as a whole. This happens in a couple of ways - one is, kind words to someone help lift them up, strengthen immune system, and so many other positives - and then this person may go on to do some or many acts of kindness the same day, or on a subsequent day; helped and made glad by one person's kindness - this is like lighting a candle, which then may be used to light other candles. This is not the only way they affect the world, though. A second way is, that other people observe the words, and people can pick up positive or negative tendencies from others -- acts of kindness, respect, understanding, caring, which are in the Dharma-domain, which are, of course, the ideal. Nor of course is it very difficult to attain such natural kindness, if we have good karma from previous births, which all of us do.

There is much good karma from previous births - in every single human being; and indeed, both kinds may be said to be like a kind of dream. As our natural way is Buddha-nature ( do not demean yourselves; every person has Buddha-nature - Dogen ), once the mist has cleared, one may see clearly again. There is no impediment to seeing clearly - the only impediment, indeed, is any idea of an impediment. Good and bad karma are part of the material universe - all of which is very much like a dream. Generating the mind set on enlightenment, with firm faith and determination, is the expedient process of awakening - and when this is achieved, one is completely free. Indeed, freedom is basically the whole goal of the path.

Living beings and Bodhisattvas are said to be like water - the former are frozen, the latter are unfrozen; but both have the same essence, which is water. Bodhisattvas are not bound by the world, and are able to go to Nirvana or stay here, but out of a wish to save all living beings, they stay in the material world until all beings have been saved. As I've often written, being free from persuasion is important - to quote Vimalakirti, they have attained control over good and evil influences. This is sort of like when Buddha sat underneath the Bodhitree, and Mara came to tempt him -- and probably more relevant to our day -- tell him he was not good enough: when he felt this his response was to place his hand on the earth, and summon mother earth as his witness.

There are then the 10 grounds of being, or bhumis, relating to this - the first of these is Great Joy; the eighth of which is Immovable.

Very useful, and also relating to other wisdom traditions, naturally, as stillness may be seen in many of them as very excellent in various forms.

In Vimalakirti sutra, as well, stillness, or non-action specifically, is considered one of the three gates to Nirvana; so, although Bodhisattvas are able to enter Nirvana, travel to the Pure Lands and stay there, out of loving-kindness for all sentient beings, their wish is instead to stay here for the benefit of all living beings, and so this is their action.

As karma is cause-and-effect, it helps us know both the future and past. Buddha said, if you wish to know the past, look at the present; and if you wish to know the future, also look at the present. What we are doing in the present creates the future - etc.


The most valuable step I took was many years ago. . at 18, I realized a very important thing; I was responsible for my life. It was my own karma - this relieved a great burden.


One might think at first -- to say one is responsible for their whole life, and everything involved in it, would that not be more burden? Yet the burden was lifted, because I was no longer concerned about what other people thought -- I had faith in myself. I still have faith in myself. Faith in oneself comes before anything else -- Why? Because to put faith in other, one is trusting in oneself - to choose whom else and where else to take refuge.

Thich Nhat Hanh explains this by saying we don't take refuge from blind faith - we use our insight and experience to know who else to have faith in as well. This is another way of saying the same thing.

Seng Ts'an, the third Zen patriarch, also wrote beautifully on this topic, in Song of Faith Mind - I have always enjoyed B. Watson's translation, very much probably because it was the first one I read -- from Entering the Stream, a very, very excellent compendium of Buddhism, that is only a penny on Amazon - yet certainly worth hundreds or much more, in my own estimation --

Anyway, he wrote,

'When trust and mind are not two,
Not two, trust and mind,
Then all words break off,
No past, no future, no now'

. . . this is actually the last line of the poem, which was very influential and stayed in good standing; although of course when I read it, I simply understood it to be one of the most beautiful, Lightening things I had ever read.

Dogen, as well, shares words of good encouragement. 'The guardians of heaven and earth,' he said, 'assure fulfillment.'

This is a beautiful . . . truth, really, that has so many aspects. . . I found another interesting one while looking up,

'Just practice good, do good for others, without thinking of making yourself known so that you may gain reward. Really bring benefit to others, gaining nothing for yourself. This is the primary requisite for breaking free of attachments to the Self.'

All the Zen teachers, really, say it is not so difficult; when Bankei went through austerity for all of his life, he chose to do so, but after he was finished he taught all of his students, 'It was unnecessary for me to have done this, and I encourage you to follow the Middle Way.'

I can tell you one secret, Sko, and that is this. The way is clear and open. What I mean by this is that wherever you walk, it will be clear and open - You are free. This is sort of the great secret, yet it should not be secret at all - and I do share it with all of my friends. I remember Shantideva saying - along the lines of - by friendship others become trustworthy. . . Vajrayana is specific, Zen is general - both allow the same beauty, freedom, wisdom, peace, and great happiness to blossom - when they are developed well, when they are well-developed. When they are shared between kind-hearted, open-hearted people, then these paths are very wonderful. As Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) says, 'May our heart's garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers.' (And many other beautiful ones.)

About karma -- association is a very significant part of life. Who we associate with - who we become friends - affects our lives more than almost anything else - maybe music, excluded. The reason is, we learn from those around us, as of course they learn from us - but this is very important - especially in the beginning. All the way through life, as well, but especially earlier - and, reaching that place of being free from persuasion - not necessarily persuading others, then. . . then going into the world to do peace work is very good. A very illuminating point is that of attaining liberation ourselves, first, before seeking to help others. . . One must untie one's own hands, before attempting to untie the bonds of another. Seek peace, and then share it -- this same can be seen in every other wisdom tradition around the globe, as well.

Namaste,
and Peace.

:namaste:
Om Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate bodhi svaha

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