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Messages - Gibbon

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1
Open Discussion / Re: Losar
« on: February 13, 2021, 12:37:07 AM »
Burning green juniper bows -- I love that.  And there are also giant khapse to eat, I really miss that.  And the game of sho.

Will put in some extra practice time tonight :)

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Open Discussion / Re: Losar
« on: February 12, 2021, 11:13:17 PM »
Great, just don't put a giant yak head on it!

On a serious note, I am thinking that this is a good occasion to practice the perfection of generosity.  Often donations to temples and monasteries are given on Losar and help support Dharma work for the coming year.  It is nice being able to dedicate that!

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Open Discussion / Losar
« on: February 12, 2021, 03:56:14 PM »
Happy Tibetan New Year, year of the Iron Ox!

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Open Discussion / Re: Cultural Baggage
« on: February 11, 2021, 10:33:55 PM »
Thank you, Chaz -- I was typing on a mobile device in a bit of a hurry, but this is exactly what I was looking for -- some concrete examples to start the discussion.  Of course, it is hard to see outside one's own upbringing and belief system -- in the West they are heavily influenced by Christianity, on one side, and the European Enlightenment ideas.  So, yes, such views are definitely conditioned and could themselves be considered "cultural baggage".

In general, there is a tendency to remove anything that is magical or miraculous and leave just the material.  This strikes me as very Protestant thinking.  The Buddha is not the only victim -- there was a scholar, for example, Ernest Renan, who did the same thing to Jesus Christ.  He just stripped the Gospels of all the miracles and published a tedious life of Jesus as a regular Joe.

Karma and rebirth are central to the teaching of the Buddha and I don't see how one can skip that -- if uncomfortable with both, it is probably best to become (or remain) a Christian.  The Christian idea is that we are all born as blank slates and the Creator then doles out fates to us, possibly at random.  This has never made any sense to me, but a lot of people think it is natural.

As to rituals, implements, and such, they serve a profound function in transforming the mind of the practitioner.  The challenge is not to use them for materialistic ends which defeats the purpose.  We have all met people who are dressed to the nines in Buddhist paraphernalia, but is their practice pure -- does it lead to a transformation of the mind?  On the other hand, throwing it all away can also be pollution of the Dharma, so it is better to strike the middle ground.

The Tibetans spent a lot of time adopting Indian culture as a vehicle for Buddhism.  They have great respect for it.  If you look at a Dharma text in Tibetan, it will have titles in both Sanskrit and Tibetan and even the shape of the book derives from that of Indian manuscripts.  Tibetan Buddhism is basically Indian Buddhism that has evolved in some outside aspects to adapt to its new environment.  But the transmission of Dharma to Tibet was pure and complete -- there was neither rejection nor aping. 

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Open Discussion / Re: Cultural Baggage
« on: February 11, 2021, 02:32:23 AM »
What would be some examples of that? 

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Theravada / Reposting the Metta Sutta
« on: January 20, 2021, 08:02:48 PM »
I posted it once on the old site...  here it is again.  Posting in the Theravada section, but this is essential for all Dharma practitioners.



Herein lies the Metta Sutta,
Translated by Nyanamoli Thera:


What should be done by one skillful in good
So as to gain the State of Peace is this:

Let him be able, and upright and straight,
Easy to speak to, gentle, and not proud,
Contented too, supported easily,
With few tasks, and living very lightly;
His faculties serene, prudent, and modest,
Unswayed by the emotions of the clans;
And let him never do the slightest thing
That other wise men might hold blamable.

(And let him think:) "In safety and in bliss
May creatures all be of a blissful heart.
Whatever breathing beings there may be.
No matter whether they are frail or firm,
With none excepted, be they long or big
Or middle-sized, or be they short or small
Or thick, as well as those seen or unseen,
Or whether they are dwelling far or near,
Existing or yet seeking to exist.
May creatures all be of a blissful heart.
Let no one work another one's undoing
Or even slight him at all anywhere:
And never let them wish each other ill
Through provocation or resentful thought."
And just as might a mother with her life
Protect the son that was her only child,
So let him then for every living thing
Maintain unbounded consciousness in being;

And let him too with love for all the world
Maintain unbounded consciousness in being
Above, below, and all round in between,
Untroubled, with no enemy or foe.
And while he stands or walks or while he sits
Or while he lies down, free from drowsiness,
Let him resolve upon this mindfulness:
This is Divine Abiding here, they say.

But when he has no trafficking with views,
Is virtuous, and has perfected seeing,
And purges greed for sensual desires,
He surely comes no more to any womb.


From https://accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.08.nymo.html

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Open Discussion / Re: This time of year .....
« on: January 08, 2021, 11:43:19 PM »
No, Buddhism will not supplant the Christian (or rather post-Christian) culture in the West.  But it will survive and grow as long as conditions are good for Dharma practice.  It does not have to be a state religion to do that.

Interestingly enough, now Christianity is very popular in the East.  In South Korea, Buddhism is passť and there are many devout Chinese and Japanese Christians (especially Catholics).  Things have definitely changed since the time of the Nestorian monks.

I look forward to decorating the Buddhamas tree a few hundred years from today!

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Open Discussion / Re: This time of year .....
« on: January 06, 2021, 04:19:52 AM »

This is why eastern and western christianity differ.  This is why they are in some ways the same.  The same is said for Buddhism.  As Buddhism spread it encountered new cultures and was adapted by those cultures.  Sometimes Buddhism prevailed, sometimes not.


But what does it mean, sometimes Buddhism prevailed, sometimes not?  There are only two scenarios -- one where Dharma is transmitted and when it isn't.  In case of successful transmission, it does not matter what it looks like.  What matters is whether a realization into the ultimate nature of reality is achieved or not.  Someone once asked my old Guru if Jesus was a Buddha, and he said that he might have been one and it was impossible to determine based on the mode of transmission.

The other case is when it certainly looks like Buddhism, but it's only the outer trappings and the essence is not there any more.  We have all met people who have that ultra-Buddhist look, covered in layers of maroon clothing, jingling their malas, hanging around Lamas, talking much profound stuff.   They absolutely reek of Buddhism, but is it real or just an ego trip?  So it may look like Buddhism has prevailed, while, in reality, the Dharma has become corrupted and is now gone.

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Meditation / Re: Headspace Guide To Meditation
« on: January 06, 2021, 12:40:34 AM »
Thank you for recommending it!

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Open Discussion / Re: Fear, Attatchment, and Suffering
« on: January 06, 2021, 12:34:48 AM »
Yes, we can try to suppress an emotion, but that will just give rise to more emotions, more mental states, more suffering.  The answer to that is probably more practice!  Then it becomes possible to observe love arise and function as a bystander, not a participant.  And that would be the beginning of freedom.

In any case, not just love, but any pleasurable thing turns its other side sooner or later.  What if you love chocolate and went to a chocolate factory where you can consume unlimited number of candies?  How long will that last!!

I remember, one time a poster on the old FreeSangha was asking if happiness is really an illusion, and gave the example of sitting in his armchair at the end of the day with a good book and a warm cat.  Very nice -- but it will end, like all other things in life.


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Open Discussion / Re: This time of year .....
« on: January 06, 2021, 12:25:01 AM »
Happy New Year!  The Dharma certainly adapts to new cultures as it moves across the world.  It does not really matter what it looks like as long as it retains the view of impermanence and interdependence of all phenomena, and shunyata as their ultimate nature. 

I suspect that there will be not one, but several varieties of Western Buddhism in the future.  Several lineages have been passed on to the West successfully.  They will continue, but maybe some of them will merge.  There will be constant development in form but not in essence.

The Dharma will draw on what's in the minds of the people it encounters along the way.  The Christian background of Westerners will be a huge factor.  Already the chanting practices of some sanghas have Christian, rather churchy, cadences.  Some Buddhist centers have taken over old monastery sites.  I wonder if there will be a Western modification of monastic robes as has happened over many different cultures (compare Thai robes with Zen or Tibetan ones).

I must emphasize the all-important nature of lineage and transmission without which the Dharma cannot go on.  To my limited knowledge, no completely new lineage founded by a Westerner exists so far.  That would require a pure vision, something like a terma.  But it is only a matter of time before that happens. 

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Open Discussion / Re: Fear, Attatchment, and Suffering
« on: December 15, 2020, 12:09:29 AM »
M&B posted something that bears discussion on it's own.

Quote
so am I supposed to believe an attachment believe an infant and a mother always without a doubt leads to suffering?

I'm reading "believe" as "between".

The answer to that is unequivocally, yes.

My guru gave a teaching where he said the fear was the cause of suffering.  Where are afraid the good things will go away and bad things will stay.  so we become attached to that.  Thus there is suffering.

A mother, naturally fears for her child.  She is afraid that her child will get sick.  The child will die.  Leave her.  Not love her.  This cause the mother to cling to the chaild in the forlorn hope that the changes she fears will not come to pass.  That is suffering.  The mother isn't bad for feeling the way she does.  The suffering she experiences isn't bad either.  Just the same it is attachment and it is suffering.

I have an example.  about 50 years ago something happened with/to me that caused my mother such anguish and fear for my well-being that she had a breakdown and ended up in the hospital.  Wht she was feeling wasn't bad, and quite understandable, but it she was suffering on my account.  It was so bad that the family never really recovered from it and  that's on me.  A lot of suffering from a lot of love. 

That's an extreme case, but event the natural care and love a mother will have for her child, will be suffering.  It's inescapable.

I've been meaning to reply for a while, sorry it took so long.  Yes, even the best relationship between mother and child (no emotional or health issues ever) will lead to suffering.  That is because it will end. 

Why?  Because all conditioned things are impermanent.  So when they fall apart, as they will, it will lead to suffering.  There are no exceptions from the law of dependent origination. 

Also, karma is very complex.  We choose our parents much more than our parents choose us and there will be deep entanglements and issues right there.   But liberation is real and also the prospect of helping our present parents and all sentient beings, who have also been our parents, in a meaningful way.

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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.


http://wiki.c2.com/?ParableOfTheTwoVillages

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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
https://www.amazon.com/Start-Where-You-Are-Compassionate/dp/1570628394

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:

https://www.amazon.com/Way-Bodhisattva-Bodhicaryavatara-Shambhala-Classics/dp/1590303881/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=shantideva&qid=1605476403&s=books&sr=1-2

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.


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