Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Post by black_tea » Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:25 am

Pete Mcr wrote:Exchange 'antiques' for books, and its pretty much me, or at least 11 years of me. I have often given up past paths, which could be enlightening if maintained, after becoming dissatisfied or, more often, distracted (by another path). The pattern is a constant, a constant tussle between pursuing a creative path or pursuing an intellectual/spiritual path (e.g. music vs philosophy, philosophy vs psychotherapy, one form of psychotherapy vs another). There is a strong part of me that wants something beyond 'ego', and I believe that I don't regret too many of these changes. But this pattern of giving up many paths could suggest I'm turning paths into ego entertainment. A concern is that I/my ego could do this next with Buddhism and that I'll find myself in that lost place again.

Anyone had a similar experience?
Yes, absolutely. I have given up previous religious paths, and the nagging self doubt that I have goes along with this question:

'did this path not work out for me because it wasn't right, or was it because I didn't try hard enough/stick with it long enough/etc?'

Like you, I have a hard time trusting that I will stick with Buddhism, even though right now this seems like the best place for me to be. I can rationally look at the things I tried before and see where the problems lay, plus I'm in a different place as a person now then I was then. Yet, I'm just not very good at trusting myself sometimes. However, even if I do change my mind later, as long as I learn something from this experience, then it will be worthwhile.
Sooo, rather than just ditch stuff, I think I need to follow through and stay resolute with a certain path, clear my plate, digest it, and go easy on starting several books on Buddhism all at once. How do people stay resolute, practically speaking? How do people give up giving up?

Now to make Chogyam Trungpa's words a beautiful antique rather than throwing them in a junk shop!
I love to read, so I do read a lot of Buddhist related books. However, previous experience tells me I need to make sure I don't get stuck in the trap of just reading. To avoid that pitfall, I started a daily routine. I get up early so that I have time to meditate before work. I light incense and candles, take refuge, sometimes chant the heart sutra, and then either meditate silently or practice nembutsu. I will silently recite nembutsu at other points in the day, but it depends on what's going on and where my head is at. But this way no matter what, every day I actually do something. It acts as an anchor of sorts. Then my reading takes on the role of being inspirational and motivational rather than the whole of what I do.

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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Post by Ramon1920 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:22 am

I find having a lot of things to be an annoyance. It's so easy to clean when you throw the junk out, and it's so much nicer afterwards it's easy to say no to buying that lava lamp that's on sale or a new fish tank.

The alcohol, that's very dangerous, a lot of people play coy and pretend they haven't seen the police sectioning off the road a drunkard drove down, pretend they don't hear the neighbor couple screaming and beating each other in a drunken rage, pretend that they're interesting when drunk or don't smell offensive. Alcohol is one of the gruesome things of the world, like degenerative diseases and cronyism.

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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Post by gordtheseeker » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:22 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Replace the alcohol with meditation is the only advice I can give, seriously...when you feel like a drink sit instead. It ain't easy but after a few months i'm not missing the alcohol at all.
Good advice there. I used to (and still do at times) enjoy a drink or two every night with my wife, but I am beginning to realize it doesn't help with my practice. When you think of your 'state' as a sea, you like to keep it calm. When it gets rough you have to deal with it. I found alcohol, even small amounts just makes you unable or less able to tell if the sea is calm or not, for a while anyways. The more the you drink, the rougher the sea gets, without you even knowing it. I found after I have a drink, it is harder to do zazen in a manner that I like. Less clarity, etc.

I actually think I used to drink more to quell the unrest that was in me as I wandered from spiritual path to spiritual path. Buddhism is the first time I actually found that I wanted clarity instead of try to numb my true feelings on how I felt.

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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Post by BuddhaSoup » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:42 pm

I've been working on something that Thich Nhat Hanh taught once: before buying something, stop for a moment and see if breathing is enough. It's an idea that helps me avoid the need to buy something that I would habitually buy, but that increased clutter, or monthly costs. I got into a bad habit of stopping at Starbucks every day on my way to work. I stopped in and spent $2.00 every day (sometimes 2 times a day) without even thinking. That's $1200.00 a year on something I really do not need and can make at home quite easily for 1/20th the cost. The same can be true of bigger ticket items that I think about and can set aside with just attention on the breath instead of dukkha over thinking I'll exercise more if I have a better pair of cross trainers.

It's strange in a way that the more I embrace a simpler, less consumer life, with fewer possessions, the closer I feel to the practice and the better I feel about my intentions and my focus on the practice. Another positive aspect in all of this is the idea that maybe, just maybe, I can be a good influence on my children by refusing to buy into the pathological American consumerist vision...we don't need the next 4 G phone...we don't need a new car....we don't need to borrow money to upgrade the kitchen from plain Formica to marble counter tops....(these last three items all adverts on the TV last night). Perhaps by living with less the example of our renunciation and anti-consumerism can help others, too (part of the Bodhisattva sensibility). I worry that in the west, we are cultivating pathology and suffering for the next generation by simply by placing front and center the need to have more, to work more and buy more, to borrow more, when one key to contentment and balance is as easy as just stopping for a moment and seeing if breathing is enough.

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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Post by LastLegend » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:30 pm

I would start with eating habits, eliminating all the junk, sugary, and acid food. Personally, I eliminate fruits from my diet.

Bodhidharma [my translation]
―I come to the East to transmit this clear knowing mind without constructing any dharma―

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