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Messages - Gibbon

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Danger Zone / Re: east and west
« on: November 20, 2020, 06:50:00 PM »
The Parable of the Two Villages:

A man who was traveling came upon a farmer working in his field and asked him what the people in the next village were like. The farmer asked "What were the people like in the last village you visited?" The man responded "They were kind, friendly, generous, great people." "You'll find the people in the next village are the same," said the farmer.

Another man who was traveling to the same village came up to the same farmer somewhat later and asked him what the people in the next village were like. Again the farmer asked "What were the people like in the last village you visited?" The second man responded, "They were rude, unfriendly, dishonest people." "You'll find the people in the next village are the same," said the farmer.

Open Discussion / Re: Favorite Buddhist books
« on: November 15, 2020, 11:44:44 PM »
Sorry it took me a while to respond!  Here is a link to the book Chaz recommends:

Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

In general, anything by Pema Chodron is good.

Another great book, a classic, is Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life by Shantideva.  There are a number of translations, here is one:

There are more authors that one can recommend.  About podcasts and video lectures, I don't know much about them but will see what's out there -- maybe we can set up a thread dedicated to such things.

Meditation / Re: Jeffrey the Meditator
« on: October 29, 2020, 05:31:47 PM »
Yes!!  Then I found Your Life in Jelly Beans, bummer.

Ze Frank seems to be popular with meditators:

Meditation / Live and recorded 7am Sits with Gil Fronsdal
« on: October 28, 2020, 05:55:18 PM »
Here is something of possible interest -- noted insight meditation Gil Fronsdal conducts live sits a regular basis.  I stumbled across it while browsing the web this morning.

The guided meditation was followed by a talk on the Eightfold Noble Path.  There were over 400 people tuned in today.

About him, from Wikipedia:

"Gil Fronsdal is a Norwegian-born, American Buddhist teacher, writer and scholar based in Redwood City, California. He has been practicing Buddhism of the Sōtō Zen and Vipassanā sects since 1975, and is currently teaching the practice of Buddhism in the San Francisco Bay Area."

Meditation / Re: Jeffrey the Meditator
« on: October 28, 2020, 04:03:56 PM »
Thanks for reminding me about Ze Frank -- I spent quite a bit of time yesterday laughing my head off.  Also learned surprising new things about the animal kingdom.

Open Discussion / Favorite Buddhist books
« on: October 26, 2020, 08:26:19 PM »
I am not sure if this is the right subforum to put this, but I thought it is time to compile a list of recommended Buddhist books.  There were extensive resources collected on the old forum, but we can start afresh here.

I will launch it with The Dhammapada.

Not to do any evil,
to cultivate good,
to purify one’s mind,
this is the Teaching of the Buddhas.

Open Discussion / Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« on: October 26, 2020, 08:18:32 PM »
Hi Maras and Buddhas,

Sorry for sounding a bit forceful and my meaning being unclear.  I simply mean that Buddhism is not a label to identify oneself with.  That is just simply another impediment.  So is fantasizing about being a Zen monk etc. 

What Buddhism is is the practice.  It is the whole point of the Buddha's Teaching.  Without practice, you cannot improve the Mara/Buddha ratio.  That practice happens Now.

So, if you want to try it, we are here to help.  No need to start big, but the point is to start.

Meditation / Re: Life Turns
« on: October 26, 2020, 08:02:07 PM »
Hi Chaz,

I am so happy I am just tearing up!  Yes, once a promise has been given, something in the mind was set in motion, and going back on that promise creates an obstacle.   Congratulations on restarting your ngondro!! 

I guess now we can commiserate about the process, which will take quite a while.  My prostrations are not going super fast, but they are moving along.  The old knees objected at the beginning, but now they seem to have gotten into the swing of things.  Slow and steady really does it.

Yes, this forum, whether large or small, does it work well.  It was a great idea to revive it.  I hope more of the old timers come back.  Something really good can be built/rebuilt here.

Open Discussion / Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« on: October 22, 2020, 06:01:35 PM »
You cannot be more wrong about the "rules", M&B.  What the Buddha's teaching does, is point out the laws of cause and effect.  If you perform an action, its result will come back at you like a boomerang.  And it does not matter if the action is positive or negative, you still reap the result of it.  There is no mystique to Buddhism.  All it teaches is, if this happens, that happens, period.

Based on this, Buddhism has recommendations for what to do to become free.  This is what the precepts (refraining from killing, lying, stealing etc.) are for.  They are practical ways to purify one's mind.

You either practice to purify the mind, or you don't.  It's totally up to you.  If you are up for it, this Sangha is here to provide support as needed.  But there is little point in empty talk about this or that.

Open Discussion / Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« on: October 21, 2020, 05:26:13 PM »
Excellent, excellent, Subhuti! 

Regarding Jeffrey the Meditator, he is not posting any more videos since a month ago -- hope he will resume them.

Open Discussion / Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« on: October 20, 2020, 10:18:28 PM »
Yes.  Although I'm not one to disrespect another person's practice and it's expession, when I was involved with Shambhala, it was something I couldn't get comfortable with.  It was wild.  For special occassions people would dress up, wearing their pins, which are quite nice.  But after reading Trungpa's teaching on Spiritual Materialism, I found I couldn't understand how his students  would go for something as materialistic as those merit badges.  I didn't stay in the Mandala long enough to figure it out.

Just rhe same, and despite my discomfort with the more superficial aspects of this merit badge mentality, i would later catch myself in a similar setting.  For a while, I was snatching up every empowerment I could and every practice that could lead to more.  It was same mindset but without the physical symbols. That's what brought me back to my first instruction and a simpler practice.

Right, I also went through a phase when I was getting everything, with a just-in-case mentality.  Then I realized that I could not keep the commitments and did not get any new initiations for many years.  Getting back to the basics of the path is very wise.  Vipassana practice was really valuable for me, because it gives you an idea of what you are actually doing in a Tibetan setting.

It is also really helpful to have someone supervise and direct one's practice.  A lot of teachers give great teachings, but the level they teach at is so high that it is hard for a regular person to know where to begin. 

In my limited experience, it is crucial to do two things to develop the mind and prepare it for further practice:

-- create merit
-- purify obscurations

Ngondro such as mandala offering, prostrations, and Vajrasattva practice really accomplish this. 

Open Discussion / Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« on: October 20, 2020, 09:59:59 PM »
i guess we are getting into some of the darker aspects of buddhism!

most of the zen centers in the U.S. don't have the stick whacking practices since our culture is very sensitive to touch and physical violence, yet i have heard that normally when it is used it's done pretty moderately or softly, it's a way to get you to stay present in a your meditation...which overall is what real zen buddhism is all about. It's about taking your existence way too seriously, yet also thinking that nothing is that important (non-attachment), i don't really like it. It's definitely appealing for people who are kinda hard on themselves, or who can transcend a religious discipline to help them out in their daily lives (think a lot of christianity, opus dei, islam, etc...)

I had to stop aspiring to make progress up the zen ladder when i tried mimicking a monastic practice of waking up at 5:30am in the morning, which seems to be normal in a lot of buddhist temples. I was able to do it for like a week, but it just made me tired and unhappy, yet it did unlock a stronger part of myself where i'm capable of not getting too emotionally screwed up even in tense circumstances, kind of like what people do in the military.


I can totally see how the practice of getting gentle correction with a stick can be of value.  But, as you mentioned, not everyone needs it!  Different strokes (!) for different folks.  Getting up at 5:30 is actually merciful -- the one time I tried Zen practice, we got up around 3am as I remember.  That was quite a few years back at Green Gulch Farm.

The point is that meditation should not be some awful struggle, done with a military mindset.  It is far better to look forward to the session rather than dread it.  I have heard advice that, at the beginning, it is a good idea to sit a little less than you are able to, so that at the end of the session, you feel like you could go on.  Even 15 minutes at a time is good.  Then extend the time gradually. 

The most important, indeed crucial, thing is to build regularity, the habit of doing it every day, rather than doing a lot and then dropping it.  If practice is not done methodically, it doesn't produce results.

Open Discussion / Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« on: October 17, 2020, 09:55:49 PM »
Talking about merit pins and badges, that is a seriously bad idea.  Brings up all kinds of worldly concerns and spiritual materialism issues.

Open Discussion / Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« on: October 17, 2020, 09:55:06 PM »
You did well keeping up 30 minutes of zazen every day for two weeks, M&B.  But there are other styles.  In the Tibetan tradition, probably following up on the Indian practices, sitting is relaxed.  The more you sit, the stiller you eventually become.   But no one will hit you with a stick if you move a little.  It is good to practice mindfulness of, for example, breathing in this way.

Metta meditation and general setting the motivation can be done even while lying in bed, first thing in the morning.  It charges up the mind for the day ahead.

I have read of a woman in Asia who perfected mindfulness practice.  She did it although her father-in-law did not let her leave home.  When asked how she managed it, she said: "I stirred the rice very mindfully".

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