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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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:46 am

Grigoris wrote: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.
Thanks, that's a useful distinction.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Queequeg » Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:47 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:46 am
Grigoris wrote: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.
Thanks, that's a useful distinction.
There was a recent thread about forgiveness.

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=30940

Some of the discussion is specific to Nichiren Lotus teachings, but I think in general, it present a corollary to the question of guilt/regret distinction presented here. Guilt and forgiveness thematically go together, while regret and relinquishment also thematically match.
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 Rick » Sat Apr 27, 2019 3:25 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:06 am
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'.)
From the msgs of yours I've read over the years, it's clear to me that you are very much at home in the realm of analysis and abstraction. You tend to see the interdependent web of concepts underlying things, Indra's Net of Ideas. And your approach is eclectic, includes teachings from many traditions, though it seems to be grounded in Buddhism.

What I wonder is if this tendency towards abstraction and ideation and analysis and eclecticism slow your progress towards awakening and turn up the volume of your doubt?

My brain-mind works similarly. In worldly things, it's always served me well. But in spiritual seeking ... its usefulness seems to go only so far. As my teacher keeps telling me, I mind-f**k dharma teachings a lot. And that's what I was trying to get at with spiritual vs. analytical intelligence. What appears to me to be good honest analytical inquiry doesn't seem to work all that well when it comes to the spirit. Or, more accurately: It works well up to a point ... then it fails quite epically!

I wonder if this applies to your journey also?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:26 pm

I honestly don't think it's a problem of relying too much on discursive analysis. It's that my behaviours, my 'persona', is still very undisciplined and self-centred - just as it was in youth. I don't do what I know I must do, and I do things I know I ought not to. I suppose I expected that there would be a silver bullet that took care of it - that the insight itself would change things - but there isn't one. It's a hard path, and it has to be hard path, and really I don't like that.
'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 11:40 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:06 am
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.)
I missed this! Yin Kuang is of special interest to those interested in the Japanese Pure Land schools, because he also bases his teachings on Master Shandao. The letters are very encouraging and easy to read. And now and then, you get some teachings on the Mind interspersed :smile:
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 Rick » Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:51 pm

I honestly don't think it's a problem of relying too much on discursive analysis. It's that my behaviours, my 'persona', is still very undisciplined and self-centred - just as it was in youth. I don't do what I know I must do, and I do things I know I ought not to. I suppose I expected that there would be a silver bullet that took care of it - that the insight itself would change things - but there isn't one. It's a hard path, and it has to be hard path, and really I don't like that.
Aha.

Again, it's quite similar for me. Part of me also keeps waiting/hoping for some grand magical transformative experience that will let me pursue all my default pleasures but remove suffering from the equation. And, like you, I've had my share of kensho thingies ... but none has ever lasted very long, I've never been "born again in Buddha" if you know what I mean?

I blame it largely on the literature (books, articles, sites, videos) that tends to depict enlightenment as a sudden spiritual orgasm, after which all your problems are solved, forever. I mean what's not to like about that?! The thing is ... it's <largely, if not wholly> fictional. And for those of us who latch onto yummy stories and spiritual fairy tales, it becomes the yardstick against which we measure our progress (or lack of same).

If, instead, I had been taught, from the get-go, that Buddhism (Advaita, Taoism, whatever) would improve the quality of my life and the lives of the people I touch, modestly, not explosively ... I'd be much much more content with my progress along the path.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Apr 28, 2019 1:15 am

A lot of us moderns would like an 'instant solution' to the problems of life. That's why zen was so popular in the sixties, right? Pick up a Penguin Classics paperback, and it was full of aphorisms where some - what's the word - bombu suddenly 'gets it'. Apart from anything else, this is incredibly hip, and also cool. It's the very definition of cool! That's what the beat generation and the hippies loved about it. Discipline, devotion, commitment - all of these things were not, they were 'straight' or 'hung up' (covered in Alan Watts' essay Beat Zen, Square Zen and Zen).

Well, I plead guilty - sorry, regretful. That's pretty much how it was for me, but in my seventh decade, the perspective has shifted again. (With the one silver lining being, that there is definitely a 'background awareness' now, which is very much like, and might even be, bodhicitta. :smile: )
Mönlam Tharchin wrote:Yin Kuang is of special interest to those interested in the Japanese Pure Land schools...
I'm really liking this book. I will read this for the next couple of months.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by amanitamusc » Sun Apr 28, 2019 3:36 am

Rick wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:51 pm
I honestly don't think it's a problem of relying too much on discursive analysis. It's that my behaviours, my 'persona', is still very undisciplined and self-centred - just as it was in youth. I don't do what I know I must do, and I do things I know I ought not to. I suppose I expected that there would be a silver bullet that took care of it - that the insight itself would change things - but there isn't one. It's a hard path, and it has to be hard path, and really I don't like that.
Aha.

Again, it's quite similar for me. Part of me also keeps waiting/hoping for some grand magical transformative experience that will let me pursue all my default pleasures but remove suffering from the equation. And, like you, I've had my share of kensho thingies ... but none has ever lasted very long, I've never been "born again in Buddha" if you know what I mean?

I blame it largely on the literature (books, articles, sites, videos) that tends to depict enlightenment as a sudden spiritual orgasm, after which all your problems are solved, forever. I mean what's not to like about that?! The thing is ... it's <largely, if not wholly> fictional. And for those of us who latch onto yummy stories and spiritual fairy tales, it becomes the yardstick against which we measure our progress (or lack of same).

If, instead, I had been taught, from the get-go, that Buddhism (Advaita, Taoism, whatever) would improve the quality of my life and the lives of the people I touch, modestly, not explosively ... I'd be much much more content with my progress along the path.
Have you ever practiced with a qualified teacher for some years?You mentioned Taoism,Advaita and Buddhism.What is whatever?
Very sad you have set the bar so low.

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Rick » Sun Apr 28, 2019 4:44 am

amanitamusc wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 3:36 am
Have you ever practiced with a qualified teacher for some years?You mentioned Taoism,Advaita and Buddhism.What is whatever?
Very sad you have set the bar so low.
I've studied, to one degree or another, a whole buncha traditions, some with qualified teachers, some on my own.

I'm okay about where my bar is now ... it was too high before, unrealistic, setting it lower is a relief, less is more and all that. :-)
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:07 am

Rick wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:51 pm


If, instead, I had been taught, from the get-go, that Buddhism (Advaita, Taoism, whatever) would improve the quality of my life and the lives of the people I touch, modestly, not explosively ... I'd be much much more content with my progress along the path.
The quality of ripples made by a rock dropped in the water depends very strongly on the one who is doing the dropping, how they are dropping it, what kind of rock it is, etc. While I think there's some wisdom to the above (not expecting oneself to be a siddha next week, and certainly not deluding oneself that one is more "advanced" than one is), it might be worth opening to the possibility that your practice could do more for you.
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 muni » Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:59 am

There is no qualified teacher without receptive student ( wishing to be free from suffering). This qualified teacher helps us to get rid of our grasping, our attachments. This qualified teacher, is shining through own behaviour.

I went to teaching teachers all Tibetan,( Yama will not listen to this, will just throw me with my afflictions on the heap of becoming), before I was told 'to be like a bee' and after that. I loved to sit near by them, even smell their clothes! I love Puja, love Empowerment, love the voice of the teaching Masters so much, giving me chicken skin. All studies sounding so great as well, really profound.

And my suffering by delusions? Nicely flourished through spiritual attachments!!!

Perhaps I realized somehow ( due to suffering) I was wasting this life and needed to practise instead of hanging on so perceived other lips only. For practice we need a Master, other ways, what to practise? Attachment to the teacher, grasping to a person? It is me made clear this is nothing other than making a samsaric object of the Master while afflictions, dividing actions by body speech and mind have free run. In that I have trained myself very good already, many lives I guess.

Buddha-Master is not a self, even we humans need temporary an appearance. An Awaken Master offers help to see this clear. Or help to be at least a bit aware of own actions, to reduce our suffering.

May all be free of suffering and its causes, many of us wish probably so often.

The Masters' light shines through our practice, which shines in action body speech and mind, this is honouring the Master.
Or at least avoid we create more and more karma, which result is our birth we become.

Therefore as well I said I look to the dust inside, there is the purification to be happen. And deep gratitude for guidance.

With respect for all kindness of inspirations here, I rejoice.
*Om Mani Peme Hung*

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Dan74 » Sun Apr 28, 2019 9:01 am

Great thread, kudos to the OP and the respondents. :bow: :bow: :bow:

I have a somewhat different take on what I see as W's dilemma, not to negate the worthy answers so far.

Many of us, myself included, do like things to come easy. Almost have an expectation that they do. A hard slog, not only going outside one's comfort zone, but pushing way past the limits we thought we had, isn't something we find cool. This nonsense Rinzai talk of practicing like you're hair is on fire, swallowing the red hot ball of iron, great Determination, blah blah, just sounds like macho hyperbole and we gently slide toward the coolness of shikantaza, silently illuminating, just sitting and being left alone.

In psychoanalytic terms I think this smacks of a mother complex - we just want to curl up in mom's lap, be comforted, soothed and not having to confront the brutal nasty world out there.

In a way I've been lucky because I've had to take decisions that force me out of the comfort zone willy-nilly, plus I am quite good at self-sabotage and a little crazy. Otherwise I would still be asleep in the metaphorical lap (as opposed to just napping there frequently :lol: :emb:).

When W's speaks of being self-centered, I think this is where it is at, but also because it is a kind of a defence mechanism against stuff we do not want to face, don't feel up to facing. So we curl up in the familiar.

I think therapy can be good there - face the patterns on a deep emotional level and uproot them.

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by muni » Sun Apr 28, 2019 9:56 am

not deluding oneself that one is more "advanced"
I agree with that, very deluding. It actually invites only to be sooner or later blown of our seat, with our a.. right in the mud! Perhaps advanced in suffering is the only advanced, and creates the wish to be free.
*Om Mani Peme Hung*

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Rick » Sun Apr 28, 2019 1:45 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 9:01 am
In psychoanalytic terms I think this smacks of a mother complex - we just want to curl up in mom's lap, be comforted, soothed and not having to confront the brutal nasty world out there.
Yep. Willingness to awaken is like willingness to move beyond childhood into mature adulthood. Awakening is growing up.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Rick » Sun Apr 28, 2019 2:31 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:07 am
Rick wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:51 pm


If, instead, I had been taught, from the get-go, that Buddhism (Advaita, Taoism, whatever) would improve the quality of my life and the lives of the people I touch, modestly, not explosively ... I'd be much much more content with my progress along the path.
The quality of ripples made by a rock dropped in the water depends very strongly on the one who is doing the dropping, how they are dropping it, what kind of rock it is, etc. While I think there's some wisdom to the above (not expecting oneself to be a siddha next week, and certainly not deluding oneself that one is more "advanced" than one is), it might be worth opening to the possibility that your practice could do more for you.
Ideal, I have been told, is to practice with no expectations. But that hasn't worked for me, I need a goal or I fall off the wagon. And better a modest/realistic goal than a fairy tale. But, yes, remain open to whatever benefits practice might bring. Not doing so is just a negative fairy tale.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by SunWuKong » Sun Apr 28, 2019 4:23 pm

"A lot of us moderns would like an 'instant solution' to the problems of life. That's why zen was so popular in the sixties, right? Pick up a Penguin Classics paperback, and it was full of aphorisms where some - what's the word - bombu suddenly 'gets it'. Apart from anything else, this is incredibly hip, and also cool. It's the very definition of cool! That's what the beat generation and the hippies loved about it. Discipline, devotion, commitment - all of these things were not, they were 'straight' or 'hung up' (covered in Alan Watts' essay Beat Zen, Square Zen and Zen).

Well, I plead guilty - sorry, regretful. That's pretty much how it was for me, but in my seventh decade, the perspective has shifted again. (With the one silver lining being, that there is definitely a 'background awareness' now, which is very much like, and might even be, bodhicitta. :smile: )"


LOL yes but a big part of "being hip" was simply to be more hip than other people could be, a kind of put-down thats inherently narcissistic. Which, to be honest, is being inauthentic. So there is no instant solution. What we have looks imperfect, incomplete, something missing. Characteristics of dukkha. Zen is pretty much entirely based on the all-pervasiveness of Buddha-nature. That looks like a very boring sentence, but it's why Zen holds fast to Sudden School. And even as we labor through gradual cultivation, we do in fact see the other shore. Buddha Nature is there for us when we look for it. It is not inauthentic.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:14 am

Rick wrote:Ideal, I have been told, is to practice with no expectations.
I think it's important! Obviously in some way, there has to be a sense of motivation - why do this? - but I think the crucial point about the Buddhist approach is the motivation has to be centred on benefiting others (i.e. 'all beings'). So the subtle, recurring thought that I continually fall into, about 'my' practice and 'my' progress, is actually kind of backwards; it's close to what Trungpa said was 'spiritual materialism'. That's one of the main challenges! Especially because in our Western culture everything is so results-oriented: do this and reap great benefits! 'Meditate like a yogi in ten minutes with this great system! Experience bliss!' Whereas, in reality, anything you try and gather up will flow away. (I think that's the meaning of the saying I have in my sig. at the moment.)
SunWuKong wrote:even as we labor through gradual cultivation, we do in fact see the other shore. Buddha Nature is there for us when we look for it. It is not inauthentic.
Absolutely, 100%

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

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by muni » Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:55 am

Obviously in some way, there has to be a sense of motivation - why do this? - but I think the crucial point about the Buddhist approach is the motivation has to be centred on benefiting others (i.e. 'all beings').
:good:
This motivation is the curing way, whatever lineage, tradition or practice, they all point to this importance. It purifies own mind and by that our perception of all which is then as well becoming purified. Because then we start to realize that how the world appears is dependent on our grasping. Benefitting others "cuts" through this delusion and its karma.

Fights and competitions are examples of selfcentred and is not what Buddhism is being meant for.
*Om Mani Peme Hung*

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by amanitamusc » Mon Apr 29, 2019 8:46 am

Rick wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 2:31 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:07 am
Rick wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:51 pm


If, instead, I had been taught, from the get-go, that Buddhism (Advaita, Taoism, whatever) would improve the quality of my life and the lives of the people I touch, modestly, not explosively ... I'd be much much more content with my progress along the path.
The quality of ripples made by a rock dropped in the water depends very strongly on the one who is doing the dropping, how they are dropping it, what kind of rock it is, etc. While I think there's some wisdom to the above (not expecting oneself to be a siddha next week, and certainly not deluding oneself that one is more "advanced" than one is), it might be worth opening to the possibility that your practice could do more for you.
Ideal, I have been told, is to practice with no expectations. But that hasn't worked for me, I need a goal or I fall off the wagon. And better a modest/realistic goal than a fairy tale. But, yes, remain open to whatever benefits practice might bring. Not doing so is just a negative fairy tale.
A Buddhist practices to know he/she is Buddha to benefit all beings.This is not a fairy tale.It is the highest aspiration.
Expectation can be strong conceptual obstacle.

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Re: Taking Stock of Practice

Post by £$&^@ » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:05 am

This might be a matter of timescale.
If instead of dramatic change, our goal is to be fully present in the next breath, or the next stage of visualisation, then the question of goals and expectations takes on a different aspect.
However, being present to events carries its own reward in terms of physiological well being as a secondary matter, although that is not the main aim of practice.
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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