15184[Meditation Society of America] Re: Meditation Advice
- Jan 25, 2007Hi Sonam -
Thanks for what you shared, I appreciate it and know it reflects your
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.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Marc Moss
>longer experiences suffering (per the definition of enlightenment: the
> Yes, yes Dan, that is correct. But here's something interesting:
> The Buddha, who attained total enlightenment and omniscience no
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?
>forces us to experience the perceptions that we have when we have them
> The law of karma, which is a spiritual or psychological law,
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.
>some beautiful teachings to the path to which I have devoted my life.
> Now, I am not an authority, to that I agree. I have only received
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.
>no benefit. Our study of emptiness, our application of our wisdom from
> The bottomline is, this path HAS GOT to work - otherwise, it's of
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.
>fully, and in most cases, they automatically bring tantric results. I
> Tantra works when the sutric understandings have been developed
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!(according to my lama). All the other teachers, rinpoches, and tulkus
> Milarepa was the last BRAND NEW enlightened being in Tibet
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.
>of one taste, that even samsara and nirvana are the same in the "taste
> Aryadeva teaches in his 400 Verses that everything that appears is
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
>things are empty. Now, how that is expressed is different from school
> In the way we have all heard in every school of buddhism, all
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:
>subatomic particles in the nucleus are feelings, discrimination,
> Your experiences are much like a SPHERE, you are the nucleus. The
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.removing the bonds that create lesser molecules. Is that right? Is
> Becoming enlightened is just about making better molecules and
that analogy working? I don't know. Think about it. It's just poetic
>That's all. When you look at a big blue recliner, you see that it's
> Emptiness is an adjective. It is a characteristic of phenomena.
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.
>exist out there on its own through its own unique identity? Or is it's
> Now, for the final adjective: does that chair have the ability to
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, andit becomes the most powerful view you can have for your meditation, it
is the one that works!
>so that you may be of benefit to all!!
> Hope this helps in any small or great way to be of benefit to you
>then - may I too remain to dispel the sufferings of the world. -
> Sonam Tsering
> As long as space remains, as long as living beings remain, until
> Don't be flakey. Get Yahoo! Mail for Mobile and
> always stay connected to friends.
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