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15184[Meditation Society of America] Re: Meditation Advice

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  • dan330033
    Jan 25, 2007
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      Hi Sonam -

      Thanks for what you shared, I appreciate it and know it reflects your
      life experience.

      My take is different than yours, and I'll share it for what it's
      worth, if anything. This is simply my perspective on these issues. I
      know that Buddhist sects and scholars have debated many of these
      points for centuries, and there are many different ways these concepts
      can be viewed. My view is in flux, I'm not taking it for any kind of
      definitive statement, and I'm not looking for one.

      Gautama died a long time ago. He didn't write down his teachings.
      Other people wrote those down later. When you read things written
      down close to the time he lived, I don't think you'll find anything in
      Buddhist texts about how he obtained omniscience. I do think you'll
      find things written about the ending of dukkha (which has other
      connotations besides "suffering" - such as incompleteness,
      imperfection, friction). There also may be a distinction to be made
      between seeing Buddha as one awake, with the presumption that
      awakening was related to the end of self-continuity, grasping, and
      attachment, the cessation of any separated self sense. That's my
      impression, for what it's worth (or not), so I see the teachings as
      having more to do with being awake than being enlightened.

      At any rate, for me, what is of interest is what resolves the issue of
      discontent, dukkha, grasping -- here, now, in this life, in this
      experience as it presents here. Not for an idealized being out there
      somewhere, but for this present being, present life experience, as is.

      So, I'm less interested in mythologies about imagined beings and their
      omniscience or other godlike traits. However, I find interest in art
      and music generated by such mythologies, and am not opposed to them.
      I just don't find them to be that relevant to my day to day life.

      I am interested in meditation as it resolves the splitness,
      separation, incompleteness and other aspects of dukkha involved in
      human living. Meditation, to me, has much to do with openness,
      considering openness as similar to what you said about emptiness. And
      openness and emptiness have to do with the awareness that nothing has
      any kind of ulimtately separable existence (and so is closely related
      to the teaching of interdependent co-arising).

      I am also interested in nonmeditation as the ending of any split
      between a meditative state and life as it presents itself immediately.
      I have found material about this from Tibetan sources, although I came
      to that understanding before having read those Tibetan sources.

      You asked me if I followed your analogy. I think so. Although I
      disagree with your conclusion. I do agree that consciousness can be
      viewed as spheres that connect and disconnect. I don't think that
      being awake has to do with forming better spheres, although that may
      be a side effect. Being awake, as I experientially understand this
      term, has to do with realizing one is not located in or as any
      particular sphere, but that any sphere includes every other sphere,
      without having any sphere be the origination point of the
      all-inclusiveness. I don't believe that one has to be omniscient to
      know this, and be this.

      You discuss how there is no inherent existence to any thing. That
      rings true to me. One may realize this in terms of nonseparation and
      nondivision, and yet continue to be dealing with tendencies to live as
      if separation could be taking place, as if a self with an inherent
      existence could be continuing and could be threatened or needy, etc.

      So, living through life is important. The dukkha of life, it seems to
      me, is necessary. It has to do with the uncertainty of life, the
      nonfixity of life. Buddha couldn't have expressed freedom from dukkha
      if he didn't experience dukkha. They go together. Having experienced
      dukkha, he could cognize beings dealing with dukkha and offer them his
      teaching. With no experience of dukkha, he couldn't have cognized
      those beings, nor formed those relationships. I think what I'm saying
      here relates to what you said about things not existing outside of or
      apart from the consciousness of them. (I think that's what you were
      saying, if I interpreted you correctly.)

      This means that every being plays its part in the inter-co-arising of
      all beings. The ignorant and the wise, the awake and the asleep, the
      enlightened and the burdened.

      This awareness can open in a flash, as it isn't contained in any one
      particular being or any one experience.

      Well, that says a bit about my take on the teachings of the Buddha.
      Unlike you, I don't characterize myself as Buddhist, nor following a
      lineage of teachers and so on. I'm not saying I'm correct to do so,
      just that it's how it is for me -- and I respect what you have
      received by following the path you've discussed so eloquently.

      However, I do think it's worth noting that the Buddha didn't come to
      his being awake by following other teachers, or maintaining a
      tradition -- he broke with the tradition of his time, sought direct
      unmediated insight, and also didn't write down his precepts and so on.

      Those aspects of the story of the Buddha I find interesting.

      At any rate, thank you for what you shared here. I enjoy hearing
      about your insight into emptiness, and what you have to say about the
      path you are following.

      -- Dan




      --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, Marc Moss
      <jellybean0729@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      > Yes, yes Dan, that is correct. But here's something interesting:
      >
      > The Buddha, who attained total enlightenment and omniscience no
      longer experiences suffering (per the definition of enlightenment: the
      total removal of the mental affliction obstacles in their entirety
      upon individual analysis [and this has a lot to do with the direct
      perception of emptiness FIRST]) so, why doesn't the Buddha suffer when
      he sees the war in Iraq? Remember, Mara's armies threw spears and shot
      arrows at the Buddha, and His perceptions prevented him from seeing
      suffering, and they turned into flower petals and showered down upon
      him. But, if he can see the war in Iraq, or a hungry and homeless
      child, why does he NOT feel suffering?
      >
      > The law of karma, which is a spiritual or psychological law,
      forces us to experience the perceptions that we have when we have them
      from some past cause. Karma is said to be obvious or "not hidden",
      somewhat "hidden", and extremely hidden. Only the omniscient mind of a
      Buddha can see the final category. Even a Buddha's own mind is STILL
      being forced by these laws, though at that level we don't necessarily
      call it karma. A Buddha understands these laws and works in harmony
      with them to bring about a paradise.
      >
      > Now, I am not an authority, to that I agree. I have only received
      some beautiful teachings to the path to which I have devoted my life.
      The Buddha asked us to test his teachings for ourselves and come to
      realizations personally. I am pleased to know that what the Siddhas
      and Pandits throughout the centuries have found is precisely what the
      Buddha told them they would find. Nagarjuna expanded the teachings of
      emptiness in such a profound and beautiful way...followed by the
      edification of his students.
      >
      > The bottomline is, this path HAS GOT to work - otherwise, it's of
      no benefit. Our study of emptiness, our application of our wisdom from
      it in our daily lives, and our meditation upon it should relieve and
      remove suffering. Just having an intellectual understanding of a
      version of it that helps us deal with misfortunes and turn "lemons
      into lemonade" may be of benefit, but doesn't help us reach the
      highest happiness because it's not teaching us enough about how to
      CREATE or happiness. This is how tantra works. We learn how to put the
      right causes into motion and how to prevent our ignorant mind from
      creating the wrong causes.
      >
      > Tantra works when the sutric understandings have been developed
      fully, and in most cases, they automatically bring tantric results. I
      mean, if we remove ALL of the deluded and ignorant views and mental
      obscurations on the sutric path, we have achieved the goal. The
      tantric path intensifies our practice to make what could take
      thousands and thousands of lifetimes into the possibility of one
      lifetime...even as quickly as three years. When we look at some of the
      great pandits and yogis throughout the centuries, we find edification
      of Lord Buddha's teachings, from their experience. So, it is in this
      that I would have to say that sometimes scriptural references lend a
      hand for those of us who have yet to understand intuitively these
      teachings. But, it is without a doubt that when you hear what someone
      else has taught, it should logically and reasonably work. Do the math
      when you read it, does it lead to that goal, not just of the absence
      of suffering but to the accumulation of
      > the highest joy!
      >
      > Milarepa was the last BRAND NEW enlightened being in Tibet
      (according to my lama). All the other teachers, rinpoches, and tulkus
      have been emanations from a previously enlightened being. Milarepa is
      rare. BUT, the number of beings who have seen emptiness directly is
      much higher. It can be very problematic for our practice if we
      criticize those things that seem a bit far fetched...so it is at this
      that we turn to either scriptural or personal authority elsewhere or
      just table the information until you have developed more understanding
      and can return to it later.
      >
      > Aryadeva teaches in his 400 Verses that everything that appears is
      of one taste, that even samsara and nirvana are the same in the "taste
      of emptiness". I find that this illustrates the distance between the
      Dharmakaya and the appearances that we experience in our lives and
      perceptions; they are all expressions of the Dharmakaya. The paradise
      of a Buddha is an expression of the Dharmakaya; the perceptions of an
      ordinary human are expressions of the Dharmakaya; the sufferings of
      those in the Hell Realms are expressions of the Dharmakaya. Our
      ignorant mind leads us farther from the Dharmakaya purity; it is in a
      direct perception of emptiness that the clear Dharmakaya is made
      available, experienced.
      >
      > In the way we have all heard in every school of buddhism, all
      things are empty. Now, how that is expressed is different from school
      to school. There is, though, no Buddhist school that says that all
      things are just the mind. The Cittamatra (Mind Only) does not take its
      name from the view of phenomena, for they do view that there exists a
      disparity between perceiver and perceived. Even in the Lower
      Madhyamika explanations, we see that there is still a perception that
      some "stuff" appears before us, but that TOO implies a disparity.
      There is no separate stuff from consciousness. What appears before you
      is appearing to be appearing BEFORE you, but nothing appears out there
      without all the heaps and other conditions arising first. There is no
      findable quality to things without the consciousness. This is giving
      me a headache. It is soooo difficult putting this into words, so I'll
      try another of my famous analogies:
      >
      > Your experiences are much like a SPHERE, you are the nucleus. The
      subatomic particles in the nucleus are feelings, discrimination,
      consciousness, physical body; as these move about, they create bonds
      to other "spheres" and for a while, the bond is complete. You are part
      of a "molecule" now that is between you and a friend, you and the
      room, you and the computer, you and _________. But, there is no single
      YOU to be found. Remove that bond and you have your atom. Look into
      the atom at particles, and you find that none of them can exist
      independently outside that atom. When you come down to the final
      particle, it TOO cannot exist independently. You are left with a big
      fat ZERO of independently existing particles...and those particles
      could be broken down to smaller parts as well down to a zero. They are
      interdependent and flowing. Much like true atoms and the subatomic
      world, viewed through quantum physics we see that the smallest
      particles act as energy AND as matter. It
      > must be energy first.
      >
      > Becoming enlightened is just about making better molecules and
      removing the bonds that create lesser molecules. Is that right? Is
      that analogy working? I don't know. Think about it. It's just poetic
      license.
      >
      > Emptiness is an adjective. It is a characteristic of phenomena.
      That's all. When you look at a big blue recliner, you see that it's
      big! You see that it's blue! You can observe other adjectives like if
      it's soft or hard, if it's reclinable or not, if it's wide in the
      seat...and so on. Now, is it self-powered? Permanent? Independent?
      These are observable adjectives. Though you cannot SEE them, you can
      understand them and experience them even out of meditation. We
      meditate on these qualities to really drive them home. These aren't
      too difficult for any practitioner.
      >
      > Now, for the final adjective: does that chair have the ability to
      exist out there on its own through its own unique identity? Or is it's
      smallest findable quality simply names and terms (or thoughts).
      There's an adjective for you! The Buddha taught that things have a
      self nature to some, but later taught that things have no self nature.
      Why would he do that? It has been taught that the Buddha did this for
      various dispositions of learning for disciples, but he did it to
      develop the idea of what self nature would be! We have to have a
      meditation object, something we can wrap our minds around and hold on
      to long enough to have a direct experience with the "truth". If we
      have an idea of what a self-existing or inherently existent thing is,
      we can have a better understanding of how phenomena do not fit that
      description, they are "empty", a negative, of that adjective!! Put
      your mind on the absence of that "thing" in any meditative object, and
      it becomes very powerful. Put your
      > mind on the absence (emptiness) of that adjective of the SELF, and
      it becomes the most powerful view you can have for your meditation, it
      is the one that works!
      >
      > Hope this helps in any small or great way to be of benefit to you
      so that you may be of benefit to all!!
      >
      > Sonam Tsering
      >
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      > As long as space remains, as long as living beings remain, until
      then - may I too remain to dispel the sufferings of the world. -
      Master Shantideva
      >
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      > ---------------------------------
      > Don't be flakey. Get Yahoo! Mail for Mobile and
      > always stay connected to friends.
      >
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