Hi BB. You mentioned spending time at a Thai-forest Theravada monastery in England. I'm guessing it is in the Ajahn Chah lineage? Are you attracted to him or his teachings? Have you looked into other teachers within the Theravada tradition? I found the collections of Ajahn Mahaboowa's dharma talks to be outstanding. I've spent some time at Abhayagiri, a California Theravada monastery in the Ajahn Chah lineage. Have to say, it was a nice experience. Also spent some time with the Chan/Pureland tradition at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas which is near Abhayagiri. Their Chan sessions were wonderful, but I learned that I am not attracted to ritualistic deity devotion at all.beautiful breath wrote:Hi All...and apologies for not responding - its been a busy week!
I still feel like we're skimming around the issue rather than answering it definitively. The two schools are so far apart in their approach so as to seem completely different. Simply put - Vajrayana does (however you dress it) fill the mind with more concepts, ideas Mantras Yantras etc...we know this - and without going into too much details (for obvious reasons) these are apparently tools for Tantra. But I maintain that sitting quietly after a few gentle prayers 'feels' more conducive to me.
So do it then I hear you say.
But then there's the carrot on the end of the Vajrayana stick...if you want to control your death and re-birth then you will have to practice this way. I dunno, I just find it all very confusing to the point where I have stopped doing anything at all to be frank.
I am scared that I may be averting my attention from massively important teachings and practices. But equally concerned that if I do immerse myself in them I may be adding more furniture into my prison cell rather than trying to escape!
You haven't mentioned what, if any, sitting practices you are doing within the Tibetan tradition you belong to. I'm sure you know that to sit quietly doesn't mean you have to abandon the Mahayana tradition, or even the Tibetan tradition. There are the Chan and Zen traditions, also there is Mahamudra sitting practices with Tibetan tradition. As I'm sure you already know, in addition to calm abiding you will need insight practices. Get your hands on any Mahamudra meditation manual, which always include both shamatha and vipashyana training. If you are interested, I can offer some suggestions. In addition, I would strongly urge you to find a meditation master (in whatever tradition you are comfortable with) to study under, if you can find someone you connect with.
I reached a point where I was feeling a need for simplicity in my practice. At one time I had so many different practices I began an earnest prayer/quest: "What is the one practice that yields the fruit of all practices?" I got an answer. Most of my old practices have significantly curtailed or been eliminated. Tenga Rinpoche, who recently passed on, once said, "If you can practice shamatha and vipashyana properly, then you do not need visualizations, because shamatha and vipashayana are the actual, the main, or ultimate practice of working with the mind itself in the completion stage." The key of course is proper practice.
I'm sure others here have different perspectives. Which is ok. Sarva Mangalam.