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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Grigoris
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Grigoris » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:11 am

£$&^@ wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:05 am
If instead of dramatic change, our goal is to be fully present in the next breath...
I saw that, you almost said present "in the moment"! :tongue:
"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

Simon E.
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Simon E. » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:48 am

Busted... :smile:
“Why don’t you close down your PC for a while and find out who needs your help?”

HH Tai Situ.

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Rick
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Rick » Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:22 pm

Wayfarer wrote:I think the crucial point about the Buddhist approach is the motivation has to be centred on benefiting others (i.e. 'all beings').
amanitamusc wrote:A Buddhist practices to know he/she is Buddha to benefit all beings.
Yes. And that's another big old psychological obstacle.

Most of us, by nature/nurture, want to reap the benefits of our hard work for ourselves.

Those with a more altruistic nature want to benefit a group <to which we belong>: a family, tribe, community, culture, nation. But in essence isn't this primarily the desire to benefit ourselves as projected onto / identified with some collective?

The desire to benefit all sentient beings equally — regardless of appearance, behavior, culture or religion or race, species, etc. — without the <unconscious> urge to benefit ourselves the most is, I'd wager, very rare.

Authentic bodhicitta/metta is hard to cultivate. (For me, at least.)
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Simon E. » Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:20 pm

You have just described one of the bedrock practices of the Mahayana as a 'big old psychological obstacle'..Although you do admit that you are talking about your own experience.

Many of us find that the desire to benefit others by our practice is absolutely key to our understanding of Dharma.

Do you have a flesh world teacher? I am not asking you to name her or him as I know that is considered rude in some circles, just asking whether you have access to a Buddhist teacher?

I sometimes think that these processes are better modelled to us than explained.
“Why don’t you close down your PC for a while and find out who needs your help?”

HH Tai Situ.

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Rick
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Rick » Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:38 pm

Rereading my posting (to which you replied), it might look like I said that metta is an obstacle. But that's not what I meant! Rather, that the psychological drive towards not-metta <selfishness> is.

Yes, I have a living teacher, and we've talked some about the cultivation of bodhicitta.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by SunWuKong » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:27 pm

Rick wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:22 pm
Wayfarer wrote:I think the crucial point about the Buddhist approach is the motivation has to be centred on benefiting others (i.e. 'all beings').
amanitamusc wrote:A Buddhist practices to know he/she is Buddha to benefit all beings.
Yes. And that's another big old psychological obstacle.

Most of us, by nature/nurture, want to reap the benefits of our hard work for ourselves.

Those with a more altruistic nature want to benefit a group <to which we belong>: a family, tribe, community, culture, nation. But in essence isn't this primarily the desire to benefit ourselves as projected onto / identified with some collective?

The desire to benefit all sentient beings equally — regardless of appearance, behavior, culture or religion or race, species, etc. — without the <unconscious> urge to benefit ourselves the most is, I'd wager, very rare.

Authentic bodhicitta/metta is hard to cultivate. (For me, at least.)
You have a much bigger psychological obstacle if you only live for your own self-centered selfish desire to escape into what you call "liberation" which many rightfully see as the biggest possible trap to fall into on the way to Buddhahood. Why is consideration of others so difficult?
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by amanitamusc » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:34 pm

Rick wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:38 pm
Rereading my posting (to which you replied), it might look like I said that metta is an obstacle. But that's not what I meant! Rather, that the psychological drive towards not-metta <selfishness> is.

Yes, I have a living teacher, and we've talked some about the cultivation of bodhicitta.
Have you read "The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva?
He offers a timeless understanding of the human condition.

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Karma Dorje
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Karma Dorje » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:43 pm

Rick wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:22 pm
Yes. And that's another big old psychological obstacle.

Most of us, by nature/nurture, want to reap the benefits of our hard work for ourselves.

Those with a more altruistic nature want to benefit a group <to which we belong>: a family, tribe, community, culture, nation. But in essence isn't this primarily the desire to benefit ourselves as projected onto / identified with some collective?

The desire to benefit all sentient beings equally — regardless of appearance, behavior, culture or religion or race, species, etc. — without the <unconscious> urge to benefit ourselves the most is, I'd wager, very rare.

Authentic bodhicitta/metta is hard to cultivate. (For me, at least.)
Start where you are. The first sentient being you need to show compassion to is yourself. The best way to show yourself compassion is to engage in positive intentions and actions for the benefit of others. If you understand karma and its operation, that seeming obstacle dissolves. What is of greatest benefit to you is also what benefits others.

Universal compassion is our real condition. Our samsaric machinations are symptomatic of the disease of self-grasping. Remove the self-grasping and the universal compassion that is one's real nature will become natural and easy. Kindness is closer to us than afflictive emotion.
"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

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Rick
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Rick » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:53 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:27 pm
You have a much bigger psychological obstacle if you only live for your own self-centered selfish desire to escape into what you call "liberation" which many rightfully see as the biggest possible trap to fall into on the way to Buddhahood.
Again, I miscommunicated above. I didn't mean that kindness is an obstacle to spiritual growth, rather that self-centricity, which I see as our default state, is an obstacle to cultivating kindness for others.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Rick
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Rick » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:55 pm

amanitamusc wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:34 pm
Rick wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:38 pm
Rereading my posting (to which you replied), it might look like I said that metta is an obstacle. But that's not what I meant! Rather, that the psychological drive towards not-metta <selfishness> is.

Yes, I have a living teacher, and we've talked some about the cultivation of bodhicitta.
Have you read "The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva?
He offers a timeless understanding of the human condition.
No, haven't read it. I'm making an effort to read less and practice more, I can get lost (happily) in words and theories.

But I'll keep it in mind, thanks amanitamusc! :-)
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Karma Dorje
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Karma Dorje » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:08 pm

Rick wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:55 pm
amanitamusc wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:34 pm
Rick wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:38 pm
Rereading my posting (to which you replied), it might look like I said that metta is an obstacle. But that's not what I meant! Rather, that the psychological drive towards not-metta <selfishness> is.

Yes, I have a living teacher, and we've talked some about the cultivation of bodhicitta.
Have you read "The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva?
He offers a timeless understanding of the human condition.
No, haven't read it. I'm making an effort to read less and practice more, I can get lost (happily) in words and theories.

But I'll keep it in mind, thanks amanitamusc! :-)
I second that advice. It's not a theoretical book but very suitable for slow line by line contemplation to build the courage to embrace bodhicitta.
"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

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Rick
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Rick » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:09 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:43 pm
Rick wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:22 pm
Authentic bodhicitta/metta is hard to cultivate. (For me, at least.)
Start where you are. The first sentient being you need to show compassion to is yourself.
And therein lies the rub. I show more kindness to others than to myself.
Universal compassion is our real condition. Our samsaric machinations are symptomatic of the disease of self-grasping. Remove the self-grasping and the universal compassion that is one's real nature will become natural and easy. Kindness is closer to us than afflictive emotion.
Perhaps ... but "remove the self-grasping" sounds way easier to accomplish than it actually is. Hence all of us chugging away year after year, decade after decade, lifetime after lifetime.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by 明安 Myoan » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:12 pm

Rick: here you go. This one has a lot of commentary and notes, so you can just read Shantideva's actual work starting on pg. 15 of the PDF. It was composed in verse, so it's very pithy, very readable, and sometimes a verse will stick with you for a long time.

There's also this guidebook from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on how to bring a mind of bodhicitta to everyday activities.

Reading Shantideva changed my life. And I can't say that about many things.

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

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Karma Dorje
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Karma Dorje » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:18 pm

Rick wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:09 pm
And therein lies the rub. I show more kindness to others than to myself.
Well that's a pretty clear indication where you might want to look. Why do you *not* show yourself the same kindness as you do to others?
Universal compassion is our real condition. Our samsaric machinations are symptomatic of the disease of self-grasping. Remove the self-grasping and the universal compassion that is one's real nature will become natural and easy. Kindness is closer to us than afflictive emotion.
Perhaps ... but "remove the self-grasping" sounds way easier to accomplish than it actually is. Hence all of us chugging away year after year, decade after decade, lifetime after lifetime.
Why do you expect it is going to happen overnight? It all depends on how much time you put into it. If one spends 23 hours a day cultivating afflictive emotions and 1 hour cultivating bodhicitta, improvement will take longer than if you are meditating and contemplating full-time.
"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Rick » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:29 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:18 pm
Rick wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:09 pm
And therein lies the rub. I show more kindness to others than to myself.
Well that's a pretty clear indication where you might want to look. Why do you *not* show yourself the same kindness as you do to others?
Unresolved negative vasanas, I'd guess.
Perhaps ... but "remove the self-grasping" sounds way easier to accomplish than it actually is. Hence all of us chugging away year after year, decade after decade, lifetime after lifetime.
Why do you expect it is going to happen overnight?
I don't know what to expect. But my hope is that it would happen in what I'd call a reasonable period of time. And spiritual progress seems, for me, to run on geological time. ;-)
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Karma Dorje
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Karma Dorje » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:37 pm

Rick wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:29 pm
I don't know what to expect. But my hope is that it would happen in what I'd call a reasonable period of time. And spiritual progress seems, for me, to run on geological time. ;-)
Then you have other priorities. Nothing wrong with that, but you get from dharma what you put in.

Many of us are simply comfortable in our misery.
"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

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Rick
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Rick » Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:23 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:37 pm
Many of us are simply comfortable in our misery.
Yes, survivors of psychological ordeals sometimes learn to be comfortable with their suffering. A mixed blessing!
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by TharpaChodron » Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:38 am

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...
I really appreciate your post and "confession", and your sentiments are pretty much the same for me. I still have not achieved the level of total enlightenment I wish for, and as soon as I think I have, I am rudely interrupted by my own idiocy and the reality that I'm far from what I aspire to. I agree with a lot of what other have said, especially Karma Dorje. We all know the cliched Buddhist platitudes too well, and when faced with the force of our Kleshas acting up, it's quite a big disappointment.

However, it's not that the Dharma is false or there's something wrong with practicing Buddhism, it's just hard work. Sorry, I know this is something everyone's said already. I sometimes think I haven't learned or internalized a single teaching, but nevertheless I'm called back to try harder next time, practice self-compassion and begin again another day. If we think others don't notice our efforts, just think where we might be without them.

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Rick
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Rick » Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:05 am

Mönlam Tharchin wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:12 pm
Rick: here you go. This one has a lot of commentary and notes, so you can just read Shantideva's actual work starting on pg. 15 of the PDF. It was composed in verse, so it's very pithy, very readable, and sometimes a verse will stick with you for a long time.

There's also this guidebook from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on how to bring a mind of bodhicitta to everyday activities.

Reading Shantideva changed my life. And I can't say that about many things.

:cheers:
Thanks! I appreciate the help. :namaste:
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Wayfarer
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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:13 am

TharpaChodron wrote: it's not that the Dharma is false or there's something wrong with practicing Buddhism, it's just hard work.
Quite true! It occurs to me that this is probably the meaning of the title of Jack Kornfield's book, After the Ecstacy, the Laundry. It's like, when you first 'meet' the Dharma, it is a bit like falling in love (or it can be, anyway). But then you 'settle down to married life', and it's not new anymore. I suppose the point is (like an actual marriage) to find ways to make it new all the time - but it's not so easy! (Actually I see that Jack says exactly that: '"We all know that after the honeymoon comes the marriage, after the election comes the hard task of governance. In spiritual life it is the same: After the ecstasy comes the laundry.")
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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