Taking Stock of Practice

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
[N.B. This is the forum that was called ‘Exploring Buddhism’. The new name simply describes it better.]
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Wayfarer
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Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:49 am

When I first became interested in Buddhism, it was because it offers 'a way', namely, the way of meditation. At the time - decades ago - my idea was that through spiritual experience and discipline, you could realise a higher truth in, and for, yourself. And Buddhist teachings pointed towards that. In particular, the book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, which many here are familiar with, impressed me, as it seemed 'do-able' (unlike many books which seemed to suggest cutting off all your ties and migrating to a remote part of Asia.)

Over the years I practiced meditation reasonably assiduously - last year I participated in a 365-day challenge (under the guidance of Meido-roshi). This year my practice routines have been a lot more erratic. And I also have started going to some services at HongWanJi mission, which is Jodo Shinshu.

So, I have a confession to make. It is that, though it's true that I had realisations through meditation, some of them long-lasting and very valuable, there are certain layers of behaviour, or contrary habits, that are darned hard to shift. I had had the (perhaps romantic) idea that through meditation, you would reach a kind of 'aha moment' that blasted away all of those samskaras, like a pressure-washer. Alas, not so. My temperament has improved, I like to think I'm a little less self-centred, but I'm far from the serene, disciplined yogi. Very far.

The attraction of jodo shinshu is, of course, 'other power'. But the issue that this brings up for me, is that it's very much like the kind of religion that I thought I had left, because again the emphasis is on faith alone and the assurance of posthumous salvation (what I used to curtly dismiss as 'pie in the sky when you die'). Even though the cultural tropes are vastly different, there is considerable similarity between Protestantism and Shin - Calvinism's 'inherent depravity' is very similar to 'beginningless ignorance'. Which makes me wonder, whether I should believe in Amitabha more than I should believe in... well, this is a Buddhist board, so I won't go there. But this is definitely coming up for me. It's about 'belief' as distinct from 'insight'.

The thing which appeals to me about Shin is that I'm definitely 'bumpo' (I think that's the word) - in other words, an undisciplined barbarian with little or no self-control. If the sangha comprises those who are self-mastered, and personify the paramitas, then that excludes me. But I am highly articulate and come across as knowledgeable. I even give dharma talks - :jawdrop: - something which I wonder whether I ought to be doing at all.

So again, I have the intention - tomorrow, I'll set the clock in a place where I have to get up to turn it off, I won't go back to bed, I will do my practice - tomorrow, and every day thereafter. But nobody really notices if I don't, and so...
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by muni » Fri Apr 26, 2019 8:35 am

*Amitabha*

I am not so vast learned, but seem to recognize something. Inquiry like vacuuming-showering inside is perhaps a way to express Buddhism; purification of perception. For me realizing own dust, even a single little dust, has amazing helpful value. It is really a small break through the tick wall of self-deception and makes aware of the destructive habits of seeing dust elsewhere (grasping). This by habitual protection of the inner self. It throws a light on my ideation, seen as some things to rely on. Whatever amazing teaching, it cannot penetrate without vacuuming or showering inside or with other words practice to reduce suffering (suffering by self-centeredness).

I am just thinking now, gratitude for given practices is perhaps the strongest encouragement. _/\_

I think the more we discover own dust, the better we can be there for all. And faith is allowed to grow vaster, where perhaps then no dust any longer conditions. At least this I just say for courage, lots of courage, as I'll take your example and am going to take a shower.
*Om Mani Peme Hung*

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Apr 26, 2019 8:56 am

Thank you, corrected.

:namaste:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by £$&^@ » Fri Apr 26, 2019 10:15 am

It's at such times, and they happen to everyone, that the input of a hands-on, flesh world, teacher/spiritual friend is invaluable.
Frequently what is obvious to someone who has trod the path before us, or is treading it alongside us, is obscured to us by our own striving.

And online discussion seldom cuts it more than superficially.
My name is Simon John Ellis. Husband of a Buddhist wife. Father of a Buddhist son. And I will have Enlightenment in this life or the next.

( Or the next..or the next....)

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Grigoris » Fri Apr 26, 2019 11:35 am

***Warning***
This is not meant to be an advertisement, although it may sound like one. :smile:

This is exactly why I like the Tibetan traditions. You can go from a highly intellectual and rational approach of study and debate, to completely irrational antinomian, from ascetic to lay practice, from highly structured complex and complicated ritual practice to simple insight and calm abiding practices or just resting in one's natural state, from reliance on your personal capacity to "other power" practices, seamlessly and fluidly without any contradiction, without abandoning one's goal.


And why the feelings of guilt? So what if you are falling into old habits? Are you utilising these old habits constructively right now? Are they benefiting you (reducing your suffering)?

I was "lucky" in that I started practicing meditation without knowing anything about meditation and what it was meant to do. So I just practiced and the benefits came by themselves. I had no sense of a goal that I had to work towards. When I started to study (Theravada) then I started to think that "this" or "that" is what I had to do, or what had to happen. But it was sooooo contrived. I remember one time bumping into some old friends, after a long absence and they kind of looked at me as if I had fallen prey to some sort of cult thinking, because I came across as fake.

So now I just practice without expectations about what should happen* and without a sense of what I should be.

*Disclaimer. Sometimes I do specific practices for specific purposes.
"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: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Matt J » Fri Apr 26, 2019 1:54 pm

I used to think of the goal of practice the same way--- you have some great spiritually orgasmic experience and then all your bad traits dissolve. I thnk we get fooled by the stories of the rare practitioners who achieve full enlightenment because of an action of the master. But these stories often omit the training that occurs before and after. In addition, many of these people were full time monks in a pre-high tech society.

The best summary of the Buddhist path I've received is probably from Anyen Rinpoche. I was in a glum state about practice and asked him what the point of it was. He said "To know the truth." And I asked, "Well, what's the point of knowing the truth? I would rather be ignorant and happy." And he said, "One you know the truth, you can relax and you won't suffer." At the time, it sounded fairly trite and unconvincing, but over time this has become a key phrase.

Being relaxed, more pliant, flexible, and open to whatever happens --- this for me is a doable goal. And it doesn't come from force of will or changing how things arise--- it comes by discovering how things and what you are.

On the self/other power--- I don't see why you can't have both. Chinese Pure Land was often combined with Chan. In the Tibetan tradition, both are used. In the end, these aren't really two different things anyway.
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Queequeg » Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:55 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:49 am
When I first became interested in Buddhism, it was because it offers 'a way', namely, the way of meditation. At the time - decades ago - my idea was that through spiritual experience and discipline, you could realise a higher truth in, and for, yourself. And Buddhist teachings pointed towards that. In particular, the book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, which many here are familiar with, impressed me, as it seemed 'do-able' (unlike many books which seemed to suggest cutting off all your ties and migrating to a remote part of Asia.)

Over the years I practiced meditation reasonably assiduously - last year I participated in a 365-day challenge (under the guidance of Meido-roshi). This year my practice routines have been a lot more erratic. And I also have started going to some services at HongWanJi mission, which is Jodo Shinshu.

So, I have a confession to make. It is that, though it's true that I had realisations through meditation, some of them long-lasting and very valuable, there are certain layers of behaviour, or contrary habits, that are darned hard to shift. I had had the (perhaps romantic) idea that through meditation, you would reach a kind of 'aha moment' that blasted away all of those samskaras, like a pressure-washer. Alas, not so. My temperament has improved, I like to think I'm a little less self-centred, but I'm far from the serene, disciplined yogi. Very far.

The attraction of jodo shinshu is, of course, 'other power'. But the issue that this brings up for me, is that it's very much like the kind of religion that I thought I had left, because again the emphasis is on faith alone and the assurance of posthumous salvation (what I used to curtly dismiss as 'pie in the sky when you die'). Even though the cultural tropes are vastly different, there is considerable similarity between Protestantism and Shin - Calvinism's 'inherent depravity' is very similar to 'beginningless ignorance'. Which makes me wonder, whether I should believe in Amitabha more than I should believe in... well, this is a Buddhist board, so I won't go there. But this is definitely coming up for me. It's about 'belief' as distinct from 'insight'.

The thing which appeals to me about Shin is that I'm definitely 'bumpo' (I think that's the word) - in other words, an undisciplined barbarian with little or no self-control. If the sangha comprises those who are self-mastered, and personify the paramitas, then that excludes me. But I am highly articulate and come across as knowledgeable. I even give dharma talks - :jawdrop: - something which I wonder whether I ought to be doing at all.

So again, I have the intention - tomorrow, I'll set the clock in a place where I have to get up to turn it off, I won't go back to bed, I will do my practice - tomorrow, and every day thereafter. But nobody really notices if I don't, and so...
Never give up.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by SunWuKong » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:25 pm

I think it's amazing that something i practice with my mind changes me from the heart.

I don't really get caught up in guilt. I just do what i do and accept my limitations. Where I change the most is when my predilections and foibles undermine my compassion and loving-kindness. When i change I feel a break and compassion floods in.

Our minds try to complicate things. We can discipline this by insisting that our thoughts be evidence-based. It's a cognitive behavioral process, not at all incompatible with any inquiry and insight. We like to believe all kinds of things we have no solid reason to believe. It clutters things up and destroys the simplicity. Simplicity and the elegant solution is like a light that should guide us. If we are bummed out due to defilements, we can't follow the light because we can't see the light.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Queequeg » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:28 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:25 pm
I think it's amazing that something i practice with my mind changes me from the heart.
May be appropriate here:
As [it says in] the Ta chih tu lun concerning a burning torch, “It is neither at the beginning nor separate from the beginning; neither at the end nor separate from the end.” If one is endowed with both wisdom and faith, then upon hearing that a single thought-moment is identical with the positive [aspects that are conducive to bodhicitta], faith will keep one from denigrating [what one does not understand], and wisdom will keep one from being apprehensive [about one’s inability to attain enlightenment]. [In this case,] both the beginning and later [stages] are positive. If one does not have faith, then [one despairs that] the exalted levels of the sage are not part of one’s own wisdom, and if one does not have wisdom, one becomes arrogant and thinks that one is already equal to a Buddha. [In this case,] both the beginning and the later are negative [and not conducive to attaining bodhicitta].
-Zhiyi
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by SunWuKong » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:47 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:28 pm
SunWuKong wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:25 pm
I think it's amazing that something i practice with my mind changes me from the heart.
May be appropriate here:
As [it says in] the Ta chih tu lun concerning a burning torch, “It is neither at the beginning nor separate from the beginning; neither at the end nor separate from the end.” If one is endowed with both wisdom and faith, then upon hearing that a single thought-moment is identical with the positive [aspects that are conducive to bodhicitta], faith will keep one from denigrating [what one does not understand], and wisdom will keep one from being apprehensive [about one’s inability to attain enlightenment]. [In this case,] both the beginning and later [stages] are positive. If one does not have faith, then [one despairs that] the exalted levels of the sage are not part of one’s own wisdom, and if one does not have wisdom, one becomes arrogant and thinks that one is already equal to a Buddha. [In this case,] both the beginning and the later are negative [and not conducive to attaining bodhicitta].
-Zhiyi
WOW
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Rick » Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:31 pm

Wayfarer, I think your 'confession' is one we can all make, to one degree or other. I know I can.

Imo there's a certain kind of intelligence that fosters spiritual growth. It isn't IQ or analytical/logical ability or articulateness, though it might have aspects of these. It's its own thing: SI = spiritual intelligence.

If you lack SI it makes spiritual progress difficult: You are filled with doubts, you second guess yourself and teachers/traditions, meditation is difficult or unproductive, you become a spiritual materialist, you flit <as I do> from spiritual flower to flower to flower ... which feels great, but keeps you from diving deep.

And then there's the psychological side of the journey. Awakening is opening to full adult human maturity and embracing the world. If your internal sense of self-ego wants you to stay closed and cocooned in the known, it will fight tooth and nail to sabotage awakening. I think this kind of sabotage hits Westerners more than Easterners, because of how our ego/I-constructs are nurtured and encouraged.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by clyde » Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:31 pm

We are all bumpo.

:namaste:
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Queequeg » Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:41 pm

BTW, fellas, its bombu, not bumbo. I've made that error before... cuz I bombu...
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 26, 2019 8:04 pm

My experience has been very different.

I notice the difference almost immediately if I do not practice, it's almost as if the world and phenomena actually become narrower and more claustrophobic, I miss possibilities I would otherwise see, etc.

If I might give a piece of advice from personal experience here: If you're going to evaluate the merits of your practice, you shouldn't focus on "what other people see", or really even on what you see conceptually in terms of evaluating your self image, you should focus on how your direct experiences change. Those changes are what will create actual change in your person, your personality, whatever you think is "supposed" to happen...in western terms the whole Individuation gig.

Direct experience of what changes is much more reliable than ideas about how you are, how you are supposed to be, etc...that stuff tends to tie in with the eight worldly dharmas and is a poor yardstick for measuring practice.
There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

-Guhatthaka-suttaniddeso

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Mönlam Tharchin » Fri Apr 26, 2019 10:11 pm

:good:

If you recognize doubt as an affliction, then it's not that different from enduring nausea or a head cold while you practice.

The whole religious process has been organic and unpredictable over the years for me.
I've seen your messages in this vein for a few years now also, so it might just be something you have to endure, because your good heart won't let you abandon beings.

Worries and shortcomings aren't obstacles in the way you might think they are. Even your worst ones. The buddhas don't care, and you happened to find one in Amitabha whose buddha work is such that you've already met the requirements, made the baseline connection to be benefited either now or in the future. The Amitabha Sutra says something like, "Shariputra, those who have aspired, now aspire, or in the future will aspire to be born in the land of Amitayus Buddha all dwell in the stage of non-retrogression. They have already been born, are now being born, or will be born in that land. Hence, Shariputra, good men and women of faith should aspire to birth there."
Sooner or later, but you're already on your way. :smile:

So that's some encouragement from the sutras.

Bodhicitta helped me make peace with my Christian past.

Nembutsu in particular will lay bare the truth of where you tend to take refuge, in what kinds of things, what kinds of thoughts and emotions disturb you enough to abandon the aspiration to awaken for the wellfare of others. Here is refuge in the Three Jewels in nembutsu, and here is something else.
And I think until I'm born in Sukhavati, I'll always have those ugly thoughts and these ways my trunk is gnarled. Everyone does... that's what the "disturbing, unsubdued mind" is, from the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation.

Bombu is how we see ourselves, like Master Shandao and Master Honen did, because it takes some level of humility to accept our usual knowledge and methods haven't freed us from suffering yet, so we need some help, some guidance.
We can't forget that Amitabha, with his buddha wisdom, sees us as bodhisattva children, very soon to enter into his care and tutelage.

For Shinran, he may not be the right medicine at this moment.
I got a lot of benefit from reading about Amitabha and the Pure Land across traditions.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-amida-butsu. -- Ippen

If in your heart you hold the thought, "I shall continue to utter the nembutsu," the Buddha will turn his attention to you, and thus you are one among those who are thought about and cherished. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:06 am

thanks, all, a lot of very good advice here. No, I would certainly never imagine abandoning or giving up. I do understand on one level that a lot of the doubt I go through is just the machinations of the monkey-mind.

Grigoris wrote:And why the feelings of guilt? So what if you are falling into old habits?
I think feelings of guilt are appropriate. Say if you have a predisposition to substance abuse or gambling. You might be a committed practitioner but still these samskaras might come up and you might fall into a binge. Then later you will regret it. If you do things you know you ought not to do, then I don't see how not regretting it is beneficial.
Rick wrote:Imo there's a certain kind of intelligence that fosters spiritual growth. It isn't IQ or analytical/logical ability or articulateness, though it might have aspects of these. It's its own thing: SI = spiritual intelligence.
Of course, 100%. That, I understand to be jñāna. As I said, I began with the understanding that the path is oriented around jñāna, rather than pistis (believing what you're told). There is a vivid insight, an active principle of understanding that changes you: that I understand to be jñāna. But what I'm learning is that even though jñāna can arise, there are still residual habitual patterns that act to thwart it or prevent it. (I think this struggle is the inner meaning of 'jihad'.)

There is a Krishnamurti aphorism: 'it is the truth that liberates you, not your desire or effort to be free'. That's what I see as underlying the 'faith' teachings. When you have faith in 'other power', it is a signal that you realise your own monkey-mind efforts will always be self-sabotaging, because really the monkey mind only understands one thing, and that's survival (as you say. Actually, on a side-note, this is a point where I realise how deleterious 'cultural darwinism' is, as it relegates you, automatically, to monkey-hood; It's all you're capable of being, and struggle your only end. The effects of this on the modern western mind are profound and spiritually poisonous. Nothing to do with ID, mind you, or creation - a matter of anthropology.)
Monlam Tharchin wrote:Nembutsu in particular will lay bare the truth of where you tend to take refuge, in what kinds of things, what kinds of thoughts and emotions disturb you enough to abandon the aspiration to awaken for the welfare of others.
Perhaps I should ask Rev. Watanabe for instruction in Nembutsu, as he hasn't mentioned it directly yet. (By the way, I found one of the books I think you mentioned, Pure Land Zen, Zen Pure Land, Letters from Patriarch Yin Kuang, in a second-hand store.)
Johnny Dangerous wrote:Direct experience of what changes is much more reliable than ideas about how you are, how you are supposed to be, etc..
Perfectly true. That is what I take to be the meaning of realisation. I think even though you still encounter obstacles and hindrances, any genuine realisation still remains.
Matt J wrote:Being relaxed, more pliant, flexible, and open to whatever happens --- this for me is a doable goal. And it doesn't come from force of will or changing how things arise--- it comes by discovering how things and what you are.
That is the meaning of yathābhūtaṃ.

Many thanks again, all. Makes me realise once again what a great community we have here.

:namaste:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Mönlam Tharchin » Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:35 am

I do also find it helpful now and then to revisit the Threefold Devotional Heart (or the Three Minds, found in the Visualization Sutra).
It's the cornerstone teaching of Master Shandao. The Three Minds explain the kind of attitude that is both helpful to nembutsu, and strengthened by it.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-amida-butsu. -- Ippen

If in your heart you hold the thought, "I shall continue to utter the nembutsu," the Buddha will turn his attention to you, and thus you are one among those who are thought about and cherished. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Grigoris » Sat Apr 27, 2019 8:42 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:06 am
Grigoris wrote:And why the feelings of guilt? So what if you are falling into old habits?
I think feelings of guilt are appropriate. Say if you have a predisposition to substance abuse or gambling. You might be a committed practitioner but still these samskaras might come up and you might fall into a binge. Then later you will regret it. If you do things you know you ought not to do, then I don't see how not regretting it is beneficial.
In the Tibetan traditions guilt is of no value as it traps us into negative feelings and self-flagellation. Regret is the key.

In my practice with victims of torture, rape, war and violence I find that guilt does nothing to help my patients. It is only after disentangling them from guilt and pointing them in the direction of regret that they start to change.

Regret is about recognising a mistake, making the decision to not commit it again and moving forward. Guilt is about an endless cycle of rumination and self-pity. Quite pointless.

But really, going back to "other power" is not a basis for feelings of guilt or regret as reliance on the enlightened is not a negative activity anyway. You are "condemning" the method, rather than the object of reliance. There is nothing wrong with the method, the object is possibly flawed.
"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: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by muni » Sat Apr 27, 2019 8:59 am

Regret is about recognising a mistake, making the decision to not commit it again and moving forward. Guilt is about an endless cycle of rumination and self-pity. Quite pointless.
I see how quilt is then distraction only. If suffering by guilt is holding on, then the questions what is guilty, where is that 'what', where is guilt, who-what is holding it? could help a bit for a practitioner. But I guess this is not sufficient skilful help a war-torture victim.

Many thanks again, all. Makes me realise once again what a great community we have here.
If you perceive so...through practice.

Perhaps then it is by Goodness' guidance, fellows' practice is medicine. Then inter-inspiring, the flame of the candles lits more and more, perhaps an example of interdependence and no one? Lights shining in uncountable mirrors.

(ps no worries, only had a latte.)
*Om Mani Peme Hung*

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by £$&^@ » Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:44 am

Speaking personally my own tendency is to be isolationist. I am by nature an introvert. I need to remind myself often that the Buddha left us THREE jewels. And my own inclination is to gloss over the third jewel.

I heard a conversation between two Dharma friends, We have all known each other a long time.
Friend A is an extrovert, very sociable. Very garrulous. He was saying that he longed to become a hermit for a while. Friend B laughed and said 'The only way you could be a hermit is on a well-lit stage!'

We all laughed in recognition. Sangha isn't always formal, It isn't always involving the Teacher.
But in my view it is essential.
My name is Simon John Ellis. Husband of a Buddhist wife. Father of a Buddhist son. And I will have Enlightenment in this life or the next.

( Or the next..or the next....)

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