Author Topic: Tell us about your current contemplations!  (Read 1605 times)

Gibbon

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #15 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".

Gibbon

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #16 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.

MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2020, 11:12:33 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".

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.

 :-\
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Chaz

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2020, 01:10:57 AM »
Talking about merit pins and badges, that is a seriously bad idea.  Brings up all kinds of worldly concerns and spiritual materialism issues.

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.



Gibbon

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #19 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.

Gibbon

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #20 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. 






Chaz

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2020, 11:32:29 PM »
It is also really helpful to have someone supervise and direct one's practice.

I've been fortunate.  In both the Shambhala and Kagyu communities I was a member of, members could arrange to work with specially trained mentors, to aid in the development of a strong practice and advise on or recommend steps to take.  It was a real blessing,  That fellow I offered a link for last week, Jeffrey the Meditator, was one such person and there have been others.

An interesting story about the role of such a mentor involved someone I was working with.  I had been struggling with what I call "Observer's Dilemma".  In observing something, we change it.  In practice, we rest on our breathing, watching the in and out breath.  The breath should be natural, but when observed becomes controlled.  I asked my mentor about this.  He smiled and said, "It's just another thought.".  It's not what I hoped for, but it was exactly what needed to be said.

Gibbon

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #22 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.

MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2020, 09:10:01 PM »
The only problem I overall have with meditation is it seems to promote a religious belief in stillness. The way you all are talking about it (and it reflects my experiences as well) is that there needs to be a lot of experimentation and guidance in terms of developing a stable meditation practice. Given the heavily structured and quiet nature of sanghas, proper guidance rarely happens. For example, in one zen sangha i attended one of the monks met with me in private a couple of times to talk about how to better my meditation, through that I tried the burmese posture, i experimented with it at home on several occasions, and found that my legs got severely numbed by the practice. This is why i went and met with her a second time: she explained that the numbness wasn't good and that she actually had to get surgery because she had done the lotus position a lot in her youth. I was a little mad later (yet of course i didn't express it cuz it's a "sacred space") that the chants actually advocate the lotus position...

so in other words, maybe the Buddhist religion actually interferes with its noble goals of ending suffering and ignorance?
When thoughts arise, then do all things arise. When thoughts vanish, then do all things vanish.

Chaz

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #24 on: October 22, 2020, 02:33:57 AM »
The only problem I overall have with meditation is it seems to promote a religious belief in stillness.

You do know that the Buddha became enlightened by meditating, right?

Quote
The way you all are talking about it (and it reflects my experiences as well) is that there needs to be a lot of experimentation and guidance in terms of developing a stable meditation practice. Given the heavily structured and quiet nature of sanghas, proper guidance rarely happens.

Most people's first contact with a practice-oriented sangha is though it's group practice sessions.  Newcomers can get instruction, and if they become members can be mentored.  If found this in Kagyu, Gelug, Nyingma, Shambhala and Zen.  I believe other Tibetan Lineages do the same.  Not sure what pure land does.


Quote
For example, in one zen sangha i attended one of the monks met with me in private a couple of times to talk about how to better my meditation, through that I tried the burmese posture, i experimented with it at home on several occasions, and found that my legs got severely numbed by the practice.  This is why i went and met with her a second time: she explained that the numbness wasn't good and that she actually had to get surgery because she had done the lotus position a lot in her youth.

Did this monk tell you that you had to use a specific posture.  I got instruction at a Zen center and they said we could use any number of postures.


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I was a little mad later (yet of course i didn't express it cuz it's a "sacred space") that the chants actually advocate the lotus position...

Really?  What chants advocate the Lotus Posture for practice?  I've done sadhanas where the visualiztion include a lotus posture, but that doesn't mean you have to do it that way.

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so in other words, maybe the Buddhist religion actually interferes with its noble goals of ending suffering and ignorance?

Really?  The "religion" (whatever that means)?  Maybe.  Tthe teachings?  No way.

MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #25 on: October 22, 2020, 04:47:17 PM »
Well Chaz, I suppose we all have different experiences, but to me a religion is anything "bounds" you to it, as is the etymological meaning behind it. If you create a space that praises stillness and keeping your mouth shut, seems like it's going to be pretty limited in terms of what people can learn there. In my understanding buddhism always has these very stringent controls, time you wake up, what you can and can't eat, regulation of conduct, there's a never ending list of rules, which is why i choose the name "MarasAndBuddhas", because I'll probably always be more like a mara than a buddha in the mythological buddha's eyes.

And yes there was a chant in the zen center that praised the lotus position as a "perfect posture" or something similar.
When thoughts arise, then do all things arise. When thoughts vanish, then do all things vanish.

Gibbon

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #26 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.

Chaz

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #27 on: October 22, 2020, 06:48:45 PM »
Well Chaz, I suppose we all have different experiences, but to me a religion is anything "bounds" you to it, as is the etymological meaning behind it.

Take you pick:
  • the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
  • a particular system of faith and worship.
  • a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.

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If you create a space that praises stillness and keeping your mouth shut, seems like it's going to be pretty limited in terms of what people can learn there.

True enough but where has such a space been created?  Stillness is important in practice and contemplation, especially a group setting.  So is silence.  If you're making noise, it becomes difficult for others and it's hard to contemplate or meditate while you're talking, right?  In the sangha there are plenty of places or times where discussion is encouraged, but not everywhere.

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In my understanding buddhism always has these very stringent controls, time you wake up, what you can and can't eat, regulation of conduct, there's a never ending list of rules, which is why i choose the name "MarasAndBuddhas", because I'll probably always be more like a mara than a buddha in the mythological buddha's eyes.

There are rules, yes, but remember, no one is there holding a gun to your head to make you comply.  If you want to eat meat go ahead.  If a particular group doesn't approve, then find another group.  If you can't keep the precepts don't worry.  Do what you can do with the resources available to you.

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And yes there was a chant in the zen center that praised the lotus position as a "perfect posture" or something similar.

There may be praise and yes, I suppose the Lotus posture is the "best", but if, like me,  you can't do it, then don't try.  I sit in an office chair.  The seat set to about 15".  That's perfect for me.


MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #28 on: October 22, 2020, 09:25:44 PM »
But there is little point in empty talk about this or that.

hmmm, not sure what you mean here, if all of my thoughts about buddhism are just empty talk then so be it, but my understanding about buddhism is that all things are empty anyways, definitely not something i disagree with. You seem to be pretty sure and purposeful about what buddhism is, and I honestly applaud you for that, but for me it all still seems kinda odd, I really wanted to become a zen priest so that I could go all the way with it but it became very clear I would be unable to do it. Monastic regulation overall just seems something that would never work for me no matter the sect, so I choose to be a layperson buddhist/non-buddhist instead, but if I feel differently in time then that's that, clearly in no matter what situation I'm going to be selfishly serving my well being or acting foolishly and hurting myself, maybe both at once.
When thoughts arise, then do all things arise. When thoughts vanish, then do all things vanish.

Gibbon

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Re: Tell us about your current contemplations!
« Reply #29 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.





 

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