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15185Re: [Meditation Society of America] Re: Meditation Advice

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  • Marc Moss
    Jan 25, 2007
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      Dear Dan,
      I am sorry that you have your disagreements, and that is to be understood. Those that follow what is written on ink and utilize everyday beta/alpha wave mental processes simply come to more imaginary conclusions, regardless of how strong and logical they are.
      Up to this point, I would make the assumption that you have been reading and studying the teachings from the First Turning of the Wheel. This is good. This will develop a very clear and understandable idea of what a self nature is. Without a picture of self-existence, we cannot come to understand what the absence of that is when we read the Heart Sutra.
      And with this, I don't know how much more I can offer because I sense that you do not believe in past life. That is fine. It is good to have a definite practice for developing your heart and mind, building compassion and wisdom. But, I would say that you should read Master Dignaga's teachings and proofs of past life and then meditate on this deeply (Pramana Samuchaya) or Master Dharmakirti's Pramanavartika. With a Master to guide you through these teachings, you can come to deep understandings that this life that we believe is it is simply a reflection of the enfolded univeral nature of our deepest consciousness reasserting itself with these perceptions of us and now.
      The most difficult part of our practice is understanding what is meditation. To just sit and have no thoughts whatsoever is a good practice, but it is not the ends...just a means. Emptiness is not just some big blank, some big nothing. It is an adjective, a negative of the positive. The result of meditation is to remove the idea that the disparity of subject and object exists, and this is true because one has removed that form of delusion in samadhi.
      There are nine levels to meditation in the "desire realm", meaning that you go through nine different states or degrees of keeping the mind fixed on an object. The ninth level is deep meditation, where distraction is completely removed. Only after developing this deep samadhi can one begin to experience form realm meditation. And it is only in this level can one see emptiness directly. If one has not yet had this experience, then one's speculations of emptiness are merely that. One cannot corroborate the Buddha's teachings for themselves, they cannot understand all the teachings.
      In our skeptical and unbelieving world, we scoff at the idea of omniscience, though science is beginning to understand that this is a possibility. For our normal everyday thinking, we do not believe if we do not see. That is exactly correct. So, it is preferable to accept the word of an authority, one that we believe cannot lie. And for Mahayana practitioners, we do not believe that the Buddha can lie. His teachings on karma show how one's mental obscurations will not be totally removed when commiting acts such as these that would plant more bakchak (mental seeds, if you will) into the continuum, only to ripen as a negative result. So, we accept the Buddha's words and take them into our practice until we develop deep realizations and direct experiences with them.
      Typically, Americans new to the practice of buddhism get misunderstandings and create confusion for themselves by jumping to conclusions because the teachings do not always accord to our version of reality. But, if our version of reality was correct in the first place, why seek buddhism for answers to questions that could not have formed?
      Philosophers and Buddhologists in America compare historical situations and primary source material to come to the conclusions that these things developed because so and so changed this, or so and so influenced that. But even within the Buddha's own teaching career we see three distinct episodes, and most believe that only one of them could have been correct because of the apparent contradictions. But think about the fact that we do not send senior class teachings into kindergarten. The mind must be cultivated and developed. And when you look at the entire scope of the teachings throughout the career of Lord Buddha, you see how he ripens the minds of the students. But, during this career we also see that he told his disciples that some of the deepest teachings of emptiness he just cannot publicly render and prophesied that Nagarjuna would come and expound upon it during a time when disciples minds were more developed.
      After studying the Pramanavartika by Master Dharmakirti, one comes closer to understanding how the mind works in a deep way. The differences between mental images in general and specific...this could be a long letter, so I'll leave it there. The Pramanavartika is to deep to just grab off the shelf and try to understand. So much of it requires a commentary, and a teacher to teach the commentary as well. Suffice it to say, that the biggest problem with Buddhism in America is that there are more "I think it's like this" people than true and qualified teachers. Without the blessings of the organic, spoken teaching from teacher to student, one is left to guesswork. And this will only bring more confusion.
      I applaud all the teachers that are trying to put into words what is truly wordless. There are many who think that the Buddha was a man that just got some cool idea and point of view on life. If that is the case, and suffering cannot be fully abated, then we might as well just go out and have a few drinks, steal a few cars and accumulate as much shit as we can before we die. But, he taught that BIRTH is suffering, AGING and SICKNESS are suffering, and DEATH is suffering. You said that he was "awakened", is that different than enlightenment? And these four are the fundamental "dukkhas". If he taught that all suffering can be removed, after one completes the first turning of the wheel, go back and see if those have been taken care of...prick yourself with a pin and if you say "ouch", you haven't got it yet. So move on...never stop until you see for yourself that the freedom from samsara is not just metaphoric, here it is literal.
      Je Tsongkhapa wrote Drang nges legs shes, Clear understanding of how to interpret when the Buddha was being figurative or literal. Sure, there is the "mythology" that Je Tsongkhapa claims to have written 10,000 pages of teachings in his lifetime because he was receiving direct communication with Manjushri. I do not doubt that anymore.
      Openness and emptiness are not the same. One cannot understand emptiness and pass karma off without a thought. Emptiness and karma are so intimately intertwined; because things do not possess a self-nature, they depend upon our consciousness...they arise due to the things that we do, think and say. You are completely in control of your future, but the past is pommeling you and forcing you to have the perceptions that you are having. I suggest reading Candace Pert on any of this, scientifically. She has done a lot of study with brain chemistry and has nothing to do with Buddhism, though does not contradict it.
      You say imaginary beings...and for you, that is true. If you haven't seen them, you can't comment on them. And if you have seen them, talking about them to someone else isn't going to make them more inspired, for they'll just think you're crazy. Miracles are called miracles because the masses need to be able to compare regularities against other regularities. The flashlight to a primitive culture is an irregularity though does not bring much awe to a developed society. Therefore, those whose minds still resonate in the common, do not have trust or belief in anything that requires a higher resonance to directly experience.  However, as a meditative tool, these pictures, statues, and other renderings can bring great benefit, great reminders and greater progress on the path.
      The Buddha did experience dukkha, or suffering...but only BEFORE achieving buddhahood. He had lived a life as a prince, had a wife and son...and for countless lifetimes existed in unenlightenment. So, his teachings were not from his current situation but the reflection of those past. It is common for us to turn lemons into lemonade and then think that if there were no negatives in life for us to overcome, life would be boring. That is bullshit. The enlightened mind does not get bored, does not experience suffering, for the dharmakaya aspect is stainless and pure, and it is through this purity that all is expressed...even the impurities of beings who have yet to enter into the dharmadhatu.
      It has to work...that's the bottom line. If this practice we are on doesn't work, it is useless. There have been many masters in the past to make very high achievements, but total enlightenment is the rarest.
      Now, you enjoy science, and you are probably as typical an american as I used to be, and still am in too many ways. Science says that the human being can only live a certain amount of time without food or water or excreting waste. And yet, Ram Bahadur Bomjon, aka Palden Dorje, sat under a tree last year for ten months without leaving his meditation for any of these things. He remained in constant meditation except for two occasions where he helped his uncle remove a cobra from the area; his uncle was frantically trying to keep the snake from the boy (15) as not to interrupt his meditation. The boy was bitten by the snake and told his uncle he did not need treatment, just meditation. He disappeared on March 11, returned seven days later to tell his uncle that he was going deeper into the jungles outside Nepal to meditate for the next six years...there was too little peace in his previous location as too many followers were coming, thousands - to take pictures and pay honor and respect to what the hindus called the reincarnation of shiva. But, he was and is buddhist.
      We will see in six years, now about five. That brings us to 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar, which does not end because all life or the world ends, but because it is mapped as the next big shift in human consciousness.
      As long as we still see ourselves as human, and we have not seen emptiness directly, we are children trying to explain the inside of the creepy old man's house without ever going in to see it for ourselves. The masters have taught us, even Jesus tried to get his students to sit still long enough...but, none of them have. If they would, or we would too, we'd see the inner kingdom that Jesus saw, we'd understand more than we ever humanly could in our current condition. Without this knowledge, it will all sound superstitious and crazy.
      See emptiness, see past lives, and see for yourself the Four Arya Truths. Life will change.
      Anything I can EVER do to help you in any way, and now that I understand your discipline (one with which I practiced for almost ten years before moving into the Mahayana teachings of Tibetan Buddhism) I can lend you so much more help. So, where would you like to start first?
      Sonam Tsering

      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

      Bored stiff? Loosen up...
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