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Messages - Gibbon

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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".

Open Discussion / Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« on: October 14, 2020, 10:59:37 PM »
Thank you for sharing this video, Chaz.  That's a really good introduction to meditation, full of sensible advice from a seasoned meditation master.  Too many people jump in, overexert themselves, and then just drop it.  It does not have to be this way.  Meditation does not have to be perfect -- as YM Rinpoche says, just a little bit at a time, but methodically, works well and adds up. 

The Tibetan-style practice allows for relaxed sitting and nobody will be shocked if you wriggle a bit.  I, too, sit on a chair sometimes.  Also, the zafu does not work for many Westerners and maybe a rectangular cushion might be better.

Open Discussion / Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« on: October 14, 2020, 05:20:52 PM »
All this sounds like a good start.  I wonder why you have a problem with structured meditation -- is it because you were introduced to meditation via Zen?  I tried it once and found it very rigid, which is probably because of its connection with Japanese culture.

Danger Zone / Re: Do buddhists talk to much about politics now?
« on: October 12, 2020, 06:50:52 PM »
I think that the current situation is a relatively minor thing and your intuition of it being just an event in the wheel of samsara is right on the money.  Looking back on history, there has always been suffering and probably much more than what we are going through today.  It will continue as long as there exist unawakened minds.

Open Discussion / Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« on: October 12, 2020, 06:35:21 PM »
The eight verses of Mind Training are not the eight worldly concerns, they can probably serve as an antidote to them:

gain and loss, praise and blame, fame and disgrace, pleasure and pain.

There are many mind training/lojong systems and a lot of literature on them -- I will see if I can post more texts later on.

If meditation is difficult, did you try metta meditation beginning with generating metta for yourself?

Meditation / Re: Thoughts about a practice group
« on: October 12, 2020, 06:30:18 PM »
Being a subset of Mahayana Buddhism, Vajrayana practice begins with the development of renunciation (in common with the Southern school) and bodhicitta.  It emphasizes a personal relationship with a teacher more than other schools (although they all do to some extent).

I recommend Introduction to Tantra by Lama Yeshe as a good introduction.

Here are three texts outlining the complete Tibetan Buddhist path, beginning with renunciation, bodhicitta, and ending with tantric practices:

Atisha's Lamp

Tsonkhapa's Three Principal Aspects of the Path

Tsonkhapa's Foundation of All Good Qualities

and a commentary on it

Meditation / Re: Thoughts about a practice group
« on: October 09, 2020, 09:28:58 PM »
I hear you, Chaz.  I had a bad patch, too, after I moved and my first teacher died.  That lasted for almost ten years, and being on FreeSangha really helped at that time.  Eventually, I connected with a sangha again which has required considerable travel. 

It is always good to go back to the foundations and training in vipassana/Theravadin traditions can be of much benefit.  Then, one can engage in Vajrayana again with more meaning.

I strongly recommend going on with the ngondro, even if there are some lineage issues now.  Ngondro is an extremely long-term investment in improving one's mindstream.  This is accumulation of merit and the more it is done the more it causes the outer teacher to manifest.  If prostrations are physically hard, Vajrasattva is really, really helpful.  Just do a little bit every day.

Now, look who is talking -- here in the Gelug, we are quite laid back when it comes to the ngondro, so I didn't take any of them seriously before.  Having to work extra hard now!



Meditation / Re: Jeffrey the Meditator
« on: October 09, 2020, 09:12:51 PM »
I watched and enjoyed both videos, thank you for sharing, Chaz!  Also reading the posts/articles on his website.  You were lucky to have had such an instructor.

Now, to find out who Ze Frank is...

Meditation / Re: Thoughts about a practice group
« on: October 07, 2020, 06:34:53 PM »
Yes, definitely food for thought.  But giving people an opportunity to practice is a valuable service.

If I may ask, where do you stand with ngondro?

Open Discussion / Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« on: October 07, 2020, 06:33:27 PM »
Sorry, I don't even know what othering is.  As to my main practice, it is mind training/lojong.  I use the Eight Verses for Training the Mind which begin

By thinking of all sentient beings
As more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel
For accomplishing the highest aim,
I will always hold them dear.

The complete text is at

Getting up in the morning, I read them and then try to apply them throughout the day.  In the evening, I review the job I have done -- usually not very good!  Especially considering that my life does not bring me in close contact with crazy minds such as criminals, even when dealing with ordinary people all kinds of thoughts and attitudes arise.  Guess more work is needed :)

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