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Re: [Buddhism_101] The Solitary Buddhist

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  • ken
    Hi, Carmen, Welcome to our group. And thanks for your email. You ve written a very compelling email. There s no need to apologize for its length. It
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 26, 2012
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      Hi, Carmen,

      Welcome to our group. And thanks for your email.

      You've written a very compelling email. There's no need to apologize
      for its length. It actually wasn't so long and the subjects you wrote
      about were described quite well. You obviously are an intelligent woman
      and have a talent for writing.

      Thanks too for mentioning your experience with SGI. People in my past
      have warned me away from that organization and for the very reasons you
      cite. Genuine Buddhists understand that the dharma is more important
      than any amount of money, more important than any particular person, and
      that is the emphasis of their practice. It is a credit to you and
      indicative of your wisdom that you sensed this and that you took
      appropriate action. In these ways you are fortunate.

      In troubling times it's good to assess our lives and consider how we are
      fortunate. Sometimes we forget the good fortune we have and can become
      discouraged and even experience sadness as a result. Somehow it's easy
      at times just to see our misfortunes and these obscure the good in our
      lives.

      For these and other reasons it's taught in the Lamrim that we are
      fortunate just to have a human body. We could have instead have been
      born as an animal or in some other realm of existence where we would be
      unable to understand and act on the dharma, the teachings, and so have
      almost no chance to escape samsara. We are also fortunate to live in a
      time when the dharma is available to us and not in some other epoch
      where this wisdom might not even exist or not exist in a language we can
      understand. And we are again fortunate to have actually discovered the
      dharma and perceived its many merits. There are many people in the
      world who, even though this huge body of ancient yet contemporary wisdom
      is available to them, have not availed themselves of it, who might even
      scoff at it, and who, for whatever reason, haven't opened their first
      book on buddhism or read their first web page about it or heard even a
      single word from the world of Buddhism. So you and I and many others on
      this list and elsewhere around the world are actually very fortunate and
      for a lot of reasons. In this we can take heart and gather our courage.

      Your nephew is fortunate to have you as an aunt and, because you've done
      him a great favor, you are fortunate too for the good karma you've
      earned by helping him. Your nephew may be in a physical prison and
      behind physical bars and walls, but it sounds like he's on his way to a
      kind of freedom much more profound and more important than those
      constraints.

      I have to say too that I feel fortunate to have found and read your
      email. For I've been in a small crisis of my own, a crisis due to much
      chaos in my life which makes practice difficult. Your email with the
      stories of your difficulties and those of your nephew, however, have
      brought me to think again about my situation and how actually, like you,
      in a very fundamental sense, I'm quite fortunate for all the reasons
      cited above. I'm sure there must be many others in the world having
      much the same difficulties. To you, to them, and to myself I don't have
      great advice, only that we should practice as much as possible. We can
      read a bit of Buddhism here and there in spare moments, even if we have
      just five or ten minutes in the morning. We can make it into a way to
      relax for a moment during an otherwise hectic day. We can also meditate
      is such small moments-- even for one minute before that first cup of
      coffee in the morning is helpful... and/or for a couple minutes before
      going to sleep at night. Yes, it would be great if somehow we could be
      like monks and be able to meditate for hours on end. But that isn't an
      option for a lot of people. But if we can grab just five or ten minutes
      of meditation three or four times a day, that is excellent and very
      beneficial.

      We can also try to live mindfully. Last week I called a company about
      their web site and how it wasn't functioning correctly for me. This
      technology being my area of expertise, I tried to explain first to a
      clerk there, then to the manager, that there was a problem and that the
      measures she recommended to me wouldn't fix anything. I could hear in
      her voice that she was feeling intimidated and defensive and knew I had
      to be careful of what I said to her. Then it occurred to me to speak to
      her as if she were Buddha himself, with only the greatest kindness I
      could convey. And then I could discern that she started to feel a
      little better. And after that call I felt better too... because I had
      learned something, I'd learned an example of mindfulness. Practicing
      mindfulness doesn't take any time at all. It's simply a different way
      of doing things we'd be doing anyway. Well, if we're driving in rush
      hour and we want to do so mindfully, it might take a little more time to
      get where we're going because we're letting people in front of us and
      not driving as fast as we possibly can. But then we're learning to live
      mindfully and actually living mindfully and we're not becoming upset
      with other drivers and not stressing ourselves out. We'll feel much
      better when we arrive *and* we'll have spent some time practicing
      patience and generosity, two of the Six Perfections. And in all
      likelihood we'll have arrived only a few seconds or a minute later than
      we otherwise would have. And in the end, the reason for studying
      Buddhism and for meditating is to bring that wisdom experience we glean
      from them to bear on our day to day existence and into all those small,
      seemingly insignificant (but actually quite significant) moments. If we
      don't actually live mindfully, in accordance with the dharma we learn
      and the meditation we practice, then we are grossly minimizing the
      intent and benefit of the dharma and of meditation.

      As for your financial situation, I'm afraid I can't say much. The
      Buddhist answer you already know: everything that happens to us is the
      result of past karma. So we need to purify any and all previous bad
      karma and not generate any more of it; and by generating good karma,
      hopefully, eventually, we'll begin to reap its benefits. I could add to
      that some advice about seeking support from various governmental
      offices. Though the US isn't the most generous nation in this regard,
      there are quite a few programs which help people in financial
      difficulty, providing help paying utilities and for food and some other
      things. While a considerable expense when they are younger, some of
      your children are getting to the age when they might be able to help you
      out financially. American children haven't been instilled with that
      kind of ethic-- this is something much more prevalent in the East-- but
      they should. Perhaps you could discuss this with them. On a final
      note, I have to claim complete ignorance of your particular situation
      and state that I speak only in vague generalities... but I've found that
      many people aren't very mindful about how they spend their money and buy
      a lot of things which they don't actually need and/or pay much more for
      things than is actually necessary. The time before purchasing something
      is a good time to think about how necessary it actually is and, if it
      is, could there be something else to serve the same purpose which might
      be less expensive. Mindfulness also works quite well on our personal
      finances.


      Best wishes,
      ken



      On 11/25/2012 11:45 PM mariposa196773 wrote:
      > Hello Everyone:
      >
      > My name is Carmen and I am new to the group. I first came into Buddhism
      > in 2009. A family member told me about The SGI and Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.
      > I was drawn into the Buddhist principles of "Cause and Effect" and
      > "Karma". I loved it. Also I found that the members of the SGI where
      > extrodianry people, and chanting with the group was exhilerating.
      >
      > However, as time went on I became disenchated with the SGI because the
      > way they portray their leader President Ikeda. Don't get me wrong, he is
      > an extradorinary person. A great example of a true Buddhist, a great
      > humanitarian, and leader, but a man, nonetheless. I feel they portray
      > him as God and I had a real problem with that. Also, I think they are
      > more about promoting their organization instead of Buddhism. So I pulled
      > away.
      >
      > I still feel a strong connection to Buddhism and the concepts of Karma
      > and Cause and Effect. When I first started Buddhism I shared it with my
      > nephew who is in prison. He has had many problems with anger and self
      > control. He took to Buddhism like a fish to water. We could not get
      > anyone in the SGI to reach out to him prison, so we found a Tibetan
      > Buddhist Group to reach out to him in prison. He has read hundreds of
      > books, and can meditate for hours. He is now practicing a form of
      > Buddhism called "The Easy Path". Buddhism has changed his life. He has
      > taken responsiblity for his crimes and has made peace with his life as
      > it is. He realizes what he did to land him in prison and realizes that
      > he can only change the future. He is serving a 25 year sentence. I know
      > the being in prison is horrible, but I think that having nothing by time
      > and solitud on your hands has allowed him to delve very deep into his
      > practice and I am extremely happy for him.
      >
      > I do not have the luxury of time and solitude. I am an unemployed single
      > mother of four. Two college students, one middle school student and one
      > elementary school student. I am battling major depression and all of my
      > bills including my rent are over due. I struggle to keep food on the
      > table. I realize that my actions and my decisions are what have led me
      > to this stage in my life. I feel that Buddhism can help me to elevate my
      > life and to achieve true happiness. However, I do not know where to
      > begin, with all the chaos in my life.Can someone please tell me how I
      > can start a new Buddhist practice within the chaos of my life?
      >
      > Sorry for such a long post, I didn't think I had that much to say. I
      > would really appreciate any advice that anyone has to offer.
      >
      > Thank You So Much!
      > Carmen
      >
      >
    • Carmen Baez
      Hi Ken:   Thnak you so much for your kind words and invaluable advice.  I too feel so lucky to have found this group and to have had the privlege of reading
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 26, 2012
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        Hi Ken:
         
        Thnak you so much for your kind words and invaluable advice.  I too feel so lucky to have found this group and to have had the privlege of reading your words.
          
        I am and have always been a really introverted person.  I am the youngest of 13 children.  I was very sheltered growing up having very little social interaction with people outside of my family.   This has led to me leading a very solitary life.  I have not been able to form any long lasting relationships outside of my family.  My solitary upbringing, two very disfunctional relationships and the turmoils of inner city life have led to my children leading very solitary lives as well.
         
        However, I wanted better for them and took steps to  change it.  Seven years ago I moved my children and myself to a beautiful city in New England.  My children have fluurished here.  They have freinds and social lives, the schools here provide opportunities that they would have never have had back home and it has been great.  My son is still not very social but since starting college he is definitely coming out of his shell.  I think it is taking him longer to flourish because he is very much a mammas boy.
         
        I however still lead a very solitary life.  I rarely speak to people other than my children.  That is why I am reaching out to groups like this and also why I have so much to say, LOL!  I don't get to talk to people very often.  I am also going take some classes to update my skills so I can find a good job and get some social interaction.
         
        At last,  I am sure you would agree that I sound a lot more optimistic about my life than I did in my first post.  This is because just over 11 hours ago something happened that put things into clear perspective for me.  My 85 yearold mother suffered a major stroke.  While she is very ill, I have nothing but hope for her.  It took this to make me realize while I may have a lot of problems in life, I have far more to be grateful for.    Also I am going to take to heart your advice about taking short moments of meditation and of mindfulness to begin my new buddhist practice, and I just realized that I already have many buddhists texts that I can read.
         
        Thank You All So Much for letting me vent.
         
        Carmen
         
         
         
         
         
         
         

        From: ken <gebser@...>
        To: Buddhism_101@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Monday, November 26, 2012 1:21 PM
        Subject: Re: [Buddhism_101] The Solitary Buddhist
         
        Hi, Carmen,

        Welcome to our group. And thanks for your email.

        You've written a very compelling email. There's no need to apologize
        for its length. It actually wasn't so long and the subjects you wrote
        about were described quite well. You obviously are an intelligent woman
        and have a talent for writing.

        Thanks too for mentioning your experience with SGI. People in my past
        have warned me away from that organization and for the very reasons you
        cite. Genuine Buddhists understand that the dharma is more important
        than any amount of money, more important than any particular person, and
        that is the emphasis of their practice. It is a credit to you and
        indicative of your wisdom that you sensed this and that you took
        appropriate action. In these ways you are fortunate.

        In troubling times it's good to assess our lives and consider how we are
        fortunate. Sometimes we forget the good fortune we have and can become
        discouraged and even experience sadness as a result. Somehow it's easy
        at times just to see our misfortunes and these obscure the good in our
        lives.

        For these and other reasons it's taught in the Lamrim that we are
        fortunate just to have a human body. We could have instead have been
        born as an animal or in some other realm of existence where we would be
        unable to understand and act on the dharma, the teachings, and so have
        almost no chance to escape samsara. We are also fortunate to live in a
        time when the dharma is available to us and not in some other epoch
        where this wisdom might not even exist or not exist in a language we can
        understand. And we are again fortunate to have actually discovered the
        dharma and perceived its many merits. There are many people in the
        world who, even though this huge body of ancient yet contemporary wisdom
        is available to them, have not availed themselves of it, who might even
        scoff at it, and who, for whatever reason, haven't opened their first
        book on buddhism or read their first web page about it or heard even a
        single word from the world of Buddhism. So you and I and many others on
        this list and elsewhere around the world are actually very fortunate and
        for a lot of reasons. In this we can take heart and gather our courage.

        Your nephew is fortunate to have you as an aunt and, because you've done
        him a great favor, you are fortunate too for the good karma you've
        earned by helping him. Your nephew may be in a physical prison and
        behind physical bars and walls, but it sounds like he's on his way to a
        kind of freedom much more profound and more important than those
        constraints.

        I have to say too that I feel fortunate to have found and read your
        email. For I've been in a small crisis of my own, a crisis due to much
        chaos in my life which makes practice difficult. Your email with the
        stories of your difficulties and those of your nephew, however, have
        brought me to think again about my situation and how actually, like you,
        in a very fundamental sense, I'm quite fortunate for all the reasons
        cited above. I'm sure there must be many others in the world having
        much the same difficulties. To you, to them, and to myself I don't have
        great advice, only that we should practice as much as possible. We can
        read a bit of Buddhism here and there in spare moments, even if we have
        just five or ten minutes in the morning. We can make it into a way to
        relax for a moment during an otherwise hectic day. We can also meditate
        is such small moments-- even for one minute before that first cup of
        coffee in the morning is helpful... and/or for a couple minutes before
        going to sleep at night. Yes, it would be great if somehow we could be
        like monks and be able to meditate for hours on end. But that isn't an
        option for a lot of people. But if we can grab just five or ten minutes
        of meditation three or four times a day, that is excellent and very
        beneficial.

        We can also try to live mindfully. Last week I called a company about
        their web site and how it wasn't functioning correctly for me. This
        technology being my area of expertise, I tried to explain first to a
        clerk there, then to the manager, that there was a problem and that the
        measures she recommended to me wouldn't fix anything. I could hear in
        her voice that she was feeling intimidated and defensive and knew I had
        to be careful of what I said to her. Then it occurred to me to speak to
        her as if she were Buddha himself, with only the greatest kindness I
        could convey. And then I could discern that she started to feel a
        little better. And after that call I felt better too... because I had
        learned something, I'd learned an example of mindfulness. Practicing
        mindfulness doesn't take any time at all. It's simply a different way
        of doing things we'd be doing anyway. Well, if we're driving in rush
        hour and we want to do so mindfully, it might take a little more time to
        get where we're going because we're letting people in front of us and
        not driving as fast as we possibly can. But then we're learning to live
        mindfully and actually living mindfully and we're not becoming upset
        with other drivers and not stressing ourselves out. We'll feel much
        better when we arrive *and* we'll have spent some time practicing
        patience and generosity, two of the Six Perfections. And in all
        likelihood we'll have arrived only a few seconds or a minute later than
        we otherwise would have. And in the end, the reason for studying
        Buddhism and for meditating is to bring that wisdom experience we glean
        from them to bear on our day to day existence and into all those small,
        seemingly insignificant (but actually quite significant) moments. If we
        don't actually live mindfully, in accordance with the dharma we learn
        and the meditation we practice, then we are grossly minimizing the
        intent and benefit of the dharma and of meditation.

        As for your financial situation, I'm afraid I can't say much. The
        Buddhist answer you already know: everything that happens to us is the
        result of past karma. So we need to purify any and all previous bad
        karma and not generate any more of it; and by generating good karma,
        hopefully, eventually, we'll begin to reap its benefits. I could add to
        that some advice about seeking support from various governmental
        offices. Though the US isn't the most generous nation in this regard,
        there are quite a few programs which help people in financial
        difficulty, providing help paying utilities and for food and some other
        things. While a considerable expense when they are younger, some of
        your children are getting to the age when they might be able to help you
        out financially. American children haven't been instilled with that
        kind of ethic-- this is something much more prevalent in the East-- but
        they should. Perhaps you could discuss this with them. On a final
        note, I have to claim complete ignorance of your particular situation
        and state that I speak only in vague generalities... but I've found that
        many people aren't very mindful about how they spend their money and buy
        a lot of things which they don't actually need and/or pay much more for
        things than is actually necessary. The time before purchasing something
        is a good time to think about how necessary it actually is and, if it
        is, could there be something else to serve the same purpose which might
        be less expensive. Mindfulness also works quite well on our personal
        finances.

        Best wishes,
        ken

        On 11/25/2012 11:45 PM mariposa196773 wrote:
        > Hello Everyone:
        >
        > My name is Carmen and I am new to the group. I first came into Buddhism
        > in 2009. A family member told me about The SGI and Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.
        > I was drawn into the Buddhist principles of "Cause and Effect" and
        > "Karma". I loved it. Also I found that the members of the SGI where
        > extrodianry people, and chanting with the group was exhilerating.
        >
        > However, as time went on I became disenchated with the SGI because the
        > way they portray their leader President Ikeda. Don't get me wrong, he is
        > an extradorinary person. A great example of a true Buddhist, a great
        > humanitarian, and leader, but a man, nonetheless. I feel they portray
        > him as God and I had a real problem with that. Also, I think they are
        > more about promoting their organization instead of Buddhism. So I pulled
        > away.
        >
        > I still feel a strong connection to Buddhism and the concepts of Karma
        > and Cause and Effect. When I first started Buddhism I shared it with my
        > nephew who is in prison. He has had many problems with anger and self
        > control. He took to Buddhism like a fish to water. We could not get
        > anyone in the SGI to reach out to him prison, so we found a Tibetan
        > Buddhist Group to reach out to him in prison. He has read hundreds of
        > books, and can meditate for hours. He is now practicing a form of
        > Buddhism called "The Easy Path". Buddhism has changed his life. He has
        > taken responsiblity for his crimes and has made peace with his life as
        > it is. He realizes what he did to land him in prison and realizes that
        > he can only change the future. He is serving a 25 year sentence. I know
        > the being in prison is horrible, but I think that having nothing by time
        > and solitud on your hands has allowed him to delve very deep into his
        > practice and I am extremely happy for him.
        >
        > I do not have the luxury of time and solitude. I am an unemployed single
        > mother of four. Two college students, one middle school student and one
        > elementary school student. I am battling major depression and all of my
        > bills including my rent are over due. I struggle to keep food on the
        > table. I realize that my actions and my decisions are what have led me
        > to this stage in my life. I feel that Buddhism can help me to elevate my
        > life and to achieve true happiness. However, I do not know where to
        > begin, with all the chaos in my life.Can someone please tell me how I
        > can start a new Buddhist practice within the chaos of my life?
        >
        > Sorry for such a long post, I didn't think I had that much to say. I
        > would really appreciate any advice that anyone has to offer.
        >
        > Thank You So Much!
        > Carmen
        >
        >
      • John Pellecchia
        Good morning, Carmen, and welcome to the group. I just wanted to add to ken s excellent reply. It appears to me that you are well on your way in Buddhism. You
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 28, 2012
        • 0 Attachment
          Good morning, Carmen, and welcome to the group.

          I just wanted to add to ken's excellent reply. It appears to me that you are well on your way in Buddhism. You simply haven't found which of the 84000 Dharma Doors opens for you. *That* may take some time and research on your part. Not necessarily in the form of books but in attending various Buddhist temples and/or meditation groups until your teacher finds you.

          You've already learned one important lesson; some groups initially seem to be a match but may soon lose their luster. There are many books written on Buddhism and large numbers of teachers and systems of practice. All this can be quite confusing and difficult to sort out. One can practice in a way that is very simple and direct, yet fully realize ultimate liberation. Here are two pieces of advice you may find to be beneficial.

          "This sense of bad me comes from not understanding the view of selflessness that is so central to the Buddhist path. Understanding that there is no solid, singular, or permanent me makes it possible to accommodate whatever arises in life without feeling so intimidated by our experience, without rolling over like a defeated dog in a dogfight. We can see that things arise due to our karma playing itself out and that it does not necessarily have to be so personal. In this way we can identify with something greater which is our nature itself. From this perspective, since there is no solid, singular, permanent self, there's not going to be a bad self to feel guilty about. Mind is innocent but influenced by ignorance and wrong conceptual beliefs that project a self. But there is no self." (by Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche in "Realizing Guiltlessness")

          Ajahn Sumedho, the first American abbot of a Theravada Buddhist monastery, as quoted by Jack Kornfield in his book "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry" said: "For minds obsessed by compulsive thinking and grasping, you simplify your meditation practices to just two words-'let go'-rather than try to develop this practice, and then develop that, achieve this and go into that....why not just 'let go', 'let go', 'let go'? For years I did nothing but this in my practice. Every time I tried to understand or figure things our, I'd say 'let go', 'let go', 'let go' until the desire would fade out. So I'm making it very simple for you, to save you from getting caught in an incredible amount of suffering….just be an earthworm who knows only two words - 'let go', 'let go', 'let go'." You may find Ajhan Sumedho's talk "Attainment Vs Letting Go" at http://dharmaseed.org/talks/audio_player/10/8161.html of interest.

          Hope this helps.

          John

          Train yourself in doing good
          that lasts and brings happiness.
          Cultivate generosity, the life of peace,
          and a mind of boundless love.
          (Itivuttaka 1.22)



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