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[Meditation Society of America] Re: Meditation Advice

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  • dan330033
    It is enough to know what you are not. You need not know what you are. For as long as knowledge means description in terms of what is already known,
    Message 1 of 18 , Jan 18, 2007
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      "It is enough to know what you are not. You need not know what you
      are. For as long as knowledge means description in terms of what is
      already known, perceptual, or conceptual, there can be no such thing
      as self-knowledge, for what you are cannot be described, except as
      except as total negation. All you can say is: "I am not this, I am not
      that." You cannot meaningfully say "this is what I am." It just makes
      no sense. What you can point out as 'this' or 'that' cannot be
      yourself. Surely, you cannot be 'something' else. You are nothing
      perceivable, or imaginable. Yet, without you there can be neither
      perception nor imagination. You observe the heart feeling, the mind
      thinking, the body acting; the very act of perceiving shows that you
      are not what you perceive. " - Nisargadatta Maharaj

      Who is the one who is aware, who is the meditator?

      One may assume that one knows who the meditator is. Then, meditation
      is a process to get for the meditator the benefits of meditation.

      Or, meditation may throw into question any assumptions about the
      nature of the one who is aware during meditation.

      In which case, meditation may not be a means for acquiring anything,
      but rather for dissolving previously maintained assumptions,
      particularly assumptions of self-identity.

      Is the previously assumed meditator the one who is actually aware
      during meditation?

      Is meditation a technique for uprooting assumptions, or is meditation
      itself "what is" when assumptions (about a situated self which is
      aware) are not?

      -- Dan
    • dan330033
      In-depth instructions for Mahamudra meditation (and non-meditation): http://www.mahamudracenter.org/MMCMemberMeditationGuide.htm#_Toc420995692
      Message 2 of 18 , Jan 23, 2007
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        In-depth instructions for Mahamudra meditation (and non-meditation):

        http://www.mahamudracenter.org/MMCMemberMeditationGuide.htm#_Toc420995692
      • Marc Moss
        Dear Dan, Thank you for the link. I caution practitioners that will read something like the descriptions listed within this link to be very careful in
        Message 3 of 18 , Jan 24, 2007
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          Dear Dan,
           
          Thank you for the link. I caution practitioners that will read something like the descriptions listed within this link to be very careful in understanding the implication that "nothing exists". This contradicts the teachings of Lord Buddha, Je Tsongkhapa, Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti and other masters that instruct the fine line between eternalism and nihilism.
           
          True, things do not exist in an ultimate sense. There is no findable lasting essence to phenomena. BUT, that doesn't change the fact that suffering is still experienced, that false views still bring about results from causes that made them seemingly manifest. It's not that things do NOT exist, but that they do not exist INHERENTLY; from their own side, coming AT us, independently from a perceiving consciousness.
           
          This is where words fail so much to give the correct rendering of the situation. Even when one becomes an Arya on the Path of Seeing, they do not cease to see the deceptive side of reality. They can still get hit by a bus on the corner, they can still feel pain when they stub they're toe...after coming down out of the direct perception of emptiness. In that moment, which is the Path of Seeing, there is no conceptualization of an "I", a "self", an object or expressions of the sense faculties. After that experience on the first level of the form realm, they come out of that meditation and are now on the path of familarization, or sGom pa'i lam, some call the path of meditation. This latter interpretation of the tibetan term is confusing for many, for when is it a path of meditation? Isn't every meditation practice I do the "path of meditation?" No, meditations on the path of preparation are dealing with certain points of the Lam pa'i Rim pa, the graduated steps of the path to enlightenment. The Path of "meditation" should be translated as the path of familiarity, since the term sGom means familiarity, which is what meditation is giving us with our object.
           
          With what are we becoming more familiar? We are familiarizing ourselves with the knowledge in postmeditation from the path of seeing. In the path of seeing, we see emptiness directly; we are looking into the dharmakaya itself. we are seeing the mind of a Buddha. There is no difference between the dharmakaya of a buddha and the dharmakaya of ourselves...both are empty of any inherently existent quality.
           
          Inherent existence is another tough term. The sad thing about the translations that are coming to the West from the authentic lineages is that they have become the folly of philosophers who typically like language that distances their intellectual expressions from those of the common man. Yet, in the Buddha's own Sangha, there was a monk that couldn't remember the simplest of phrases, the simplest of prayers. But the Buddha, with omniscience, saw into the monk's mind and new that there was a simple practice that he COULD remember...he asked the monk to be responsible for sweeping out the gompa everyday and as he did to repeat Duru pang, Drima pang...clear the dust, clear the defilements. And that monk gained enlightenment.
           
          Thoughts are the most subtle form of all phenomena. A thought becomes a seed that gets planted into the consciousness and manifests as it grows from all the ripening conditions necessary become available to it. Speech is first found in thought, action is first found in thought. And as things have NO inherently existent nature, they manifest in their various forms in our consciousness. It is the most difficult part of our practice to understand that that terrible thing that is appearing before us IS dharmakaya expression, working precisely the way the mechanism should work. You thought it, it became manifest. You have a low self-esteem and things seem to be bringing you down, why are you upset?? That's what you've asked for!
           
          Remember that of the Two Truths, we are almost always experiencing kun rdzob ldenpa, samvritisattya. This has been translated as 'conventional truth', which is again another wonderful rendering from our philosophical giants that seem only intent on helping the highest of intellects, forgetting that we must help all beings...the greatest common denominator would be to put it into simplest language that all can comprehend in words. The base of these two words (kun rdzob, and samvriti in snskt) mean "fake" or "artificial". Fake truth?? What does that mean? It can't be a truth, can it? When weighed against the Ultimate Truth, it must mean that fake truth isn't the final truth. There can only really be ONE truth. You can't be a man AND a woman at the same time. You cannot be two contradictory things at the same time, they would cancel each other out. An electron and an antielectron cannot coexist. So, can we really have TWO Truths?
           
          Here, the convention of language is giving us an indication for investigation. We look at this computer screen and can agree that it isn't permanent, it is a changing thing. Therefore, we can see on the surface that the computer is not emerging as an Ultimate thing...it willl cease. The forces that have brought these molecules together have made them appear at this moment as a computer. BUT, that would be to assume that those things are all happening OUT THERE...coming at me and that's the only way they can be.
           
          Now, the Ultimate nature of the computer is emptiness, which is the NEGATIVE of form. The Heart Sutra says: gzugs stong pao, stongpanyid gzugs so. Form is empty, emptiness is form. There have been translations that say "form is emptiness..." This is incorrect. sTong pa means empty. Nyid means "ness" or "hood". Form is not emptiness, that is a characteristic of phenomena. Emptiness is the characteristic and form is not THAT characteristic, but HAS that characteristic. That's why the next part of the Heart Sutra says sTong pa Nyid gZugs so...Emptiness is form. For that characteristic to exist, there must be 'form", or matter or some "thing" being perceived. So, as we look at the computer, we can recognize that because it is a changing, dependent, and non-self-standing thing, it must be empty, a characteristic, of inherent existence.
           
          See, if this computer had any essence to it that was permanent, our typing on it could do nothing to change it. It has no flexibility without emptiness. If it is independent, we could have no contact with it. If it were self-standing, it wouldn't need to be plugged into the wall to work. It would work independent of a power source that couldn't really effect it's permanent nature anyway. So, you can see the viewpoint of emptiness at work from the Lower Buddhist Philosophical venues at work here. But, that still hasn't changed our suffering nature. As long as we thing about that non-inherently existent "computer" out there, we're still dealing with a "thing" infront of us, not appearingly so, but materially so.
           
          This does not deny that that computer is there, emptiness is HOW it is there. It appears to be infront of you because your eye is experiencing a form, your touch is sensing something solid, your ear is hearing the typing of your fingers or some pretty song you have in another window (hopefully a mantra recitation), your nose can smell the coffee or tea next to your mouse, etc. These are all working to organize the data that your mind has conditioned to experience...to make "real". And for all intents and purposes, it is real. It functions and it will do what you want it to do as long as the karmic seeds for that to happen continue to ripen for you. When those seeds run out, you have either turned off the computer, walked into the other room, had a power outage, or died. That's it. Your perceptions at this moment are aligned to this experience but if they were better (from better karmic seeds) you could have a secretary reading this letter to you, or be a tantric angel enjoying a paradise. But, you are having karmic seeds ripen as a human. You are having karmic seeds ripen to see all the things you see as seemingly real...as seeming to exist from their own side, but they do not. This is the only meaning of "not exist" as explained in the weblink that you gave.
           
          If you can understand that, the reading of the information in the Mahamudra link will be more helpful. You would be much better to receive teachings on the Mahamudra directly from a qualified lama, spiritual teacher. There is so much more power in the organic process of receiving the teachings from the lama directly. I know this intuitively; many more blessings have come to my practice and journey since I took vows from my Holy Lama, and he then led me to the beautiful and precious teacher that gave me my Bodhisattva Vows. To them both I am endebted eternally.
           
          Now, I'm going to try to use an analogy to make this point a bit stronger...and I do apologize if it fails, but it is my own and no one else's so I'll take full responsibility for any misinformation or mistakes from it...but I think it's pretty damned close. This is ONLY an analogy based upon Pranagika-Madhyamikan ideals, so keep in mind it's got a little ways to go before it's spot-on, but it will help those that struggle with emptiness get to here, I hope:
           
          Let us think of our consciousness as a radio, receiving and transmitting signals. As you know, in America we use hertz below two hundred, but in europe they don't use anything below 1,000 (I might be off on this one, but I know they are a lot more cognizant to infrasound than Americans). Your consciousness is currently tuned into receive other "human" transmissions, and can also pick up faint traces of animal transmissions. You can see them, you can hear them, you can sort of understand them (animals, and not always the case with humans) , taste them (if you're into licking total strangers), anything involved with the sense data that your own little radio consciousness can detect. Now, there are these other beings around you, angels (dakinis) or spirits, or "gods"...or buddhas. We haven't done anything to change the wiring in our "radios" to receive that information. We don't believe those "signals" exist because we don't pick them up on our radios, so we deny them. We believe that we can refine and retune our radios and might work on that in yoga classes, meditation or study. But, we only see the picture getting a bit more clear for our fellow human and even animal signals. We haven't changed or shifted our "channels" to tune-in to higher frequencies...and that's what our spiritual practice is about.
           
          The problem with our misunderstanding emptiness is that, from the analogy above, all of the experiences we have are "signals". They are coming at us and disappear the next instant. Much like listening to a real radio, if you missed what the DJ said, you can't really rewind him, you just missed what he said and that's that. So it is with all of our signals. As long as our perceptions, or receptors aren't shifting to receive higher "frequencies", we're gonna lose a great opportunity. We will die and be cast wherever karmic winds through us. Our minds are scattered now, why wouldn't they be scattered at death?
           
          The problem with the above analogy is simply this (Lower Madhyamika): we're still seeing the data "out there", and not simultaneously expressed in the consciousness- the same karmic seed is producing all the things that you are now and all the things that you experience now. There is no separate substance. You're organizing that data into what you make of it now, only to dodge or embrace it. But, even the data is without inherent existence...it is all Dharmakaya expression.
           
          I hope that this may help. May this and the link help you on your path and may all your precious lamas, all your protectors, and the wisdom of the Holy Dharmakaya itself leave enough "popcorn" to keep leading you out of the "woods of samsara".
           
          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
           
           
           


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        • dan330033
          Hi Marc - Thanks for your response. Yes, it really wouldn t make much sense to take a website as some kind of final authority on what is so. And, in the same
          Message 4 of 18 , Jan 24, 2007
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            Hi Marc -

            Thanks for your response.

            Yes, it really wouldn't make much sense to take a website as some kind
            of final authority on what is so.

            And, in the same way, it wouldn't make sense to take your remarks or
            my remarks as the authority for what is so.

            Thus, the Buddha advised to find out for oneself what is so.

            A resource on the internet can be taken as nothing more than a
            resource on the internet.

            Including our remarks, here, of course. ;-)

            The conventional life in which we encounter beings who appear to us to
            be suffering, isn't appearing separately from the one to whom it appears.

            Which means, that if I understand you to be suffering, I can't divorce
            my own suffering from my perception of you. How else can I perceive
            your suffering, if I have no experience of suffering?

            In the realm of conventional truth, I can offer help to you. In
            helping you, though, I am helping myself.

            With regard to the aconventional truth, there is no separable you or
            me to be getting or giving help.

            These two truths are not-two.

            This can be said in a simple way, but that doesn't mean it is easy to
            understand.

            Thanks for clarifying the points that you clarified.

            I appreciate that you took the time to share your views on emptiness
            and inherent existence with us. Those are important points.


            -- Dan



            --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, Marc Moss
            <jellybean0729@...> wrote:
            >
            >
            > Dear Dan,
            >
            > Thank you for the link. I caution practitioners that will read
            something like the descriptions listed within this link to be very
            careful in understanding the implication that "nothing exists". This
            contradicts the teachings of Lord Buddha, Je Tsongkhapa, Nagarjuna,
            Chandrakirti and other masters that instruct the fine line between
            eternalism and nihilism.
            >
            > True, things do not exist in an ultimate sense. There is no
            findable lasting essence to phenomena. BUT, that doesn't change the
            fact that suffering is still experienced, that false views still bring
            about results from causes that made them seemingly manifest. It's not
            that things do NOT exist, but that they do not exist INHERENTLY; from
            their own side, coming AT us, independently from a perceiving
            consciousness.
            >
            > This is where words fail so much to give the correct rendering of
            the situation. Even when one becomes an Arya on the Path of Seeing,
            they do not cease to see the deceptive side of reality. They can still
            get hit by a bus on the corner, they can still feel pain when they
            stub they're toe...after coming down out of the direct perception of
            emptiness. In that moment, which is the Path of Seeing, there is no
            conceptualization of an "I", a "self", an object or expressions of the
            sense faculties. After that experience on the first level of the form
            realm, they come out of that meditation and are now on the path of
            familarization, or sGom pa'i lam, some call the path of meditation.
            This latter interpretation of the tibetan term is confusing for many,
            for when is it a path of meditation? Isn't every meditation practice I
            do the "path of meditation?" No, meditations on the path of
            preparation are dealing with certain points of the Lam pa'i Rim pa,
            the graduated steps of the path
            > to enlightenment. The Path of "meditation" should be translated as
            the path of familiarity, since the term sGom means familiarity, which
            is what meditation is giving us with our object.
            >
            > With what are we becoming more familiar? We are familiarizing
            ourselves with the knowledge in postmeditation from the path of
            seeing. In the path of seeing, we see emptiness directly; we are
            looking into the dharmakaya itself. we are seeing the mind of a
            Buddha. There is no difference between the dharmakaya of a buddha and
            the dharmakaya of ourselves...both are empty of any inherently
            existent quality.
            >
            > Inherent existence is another tough term. The sad thing about the
            translations that are coming to the West from the authentic lineages
            is that they have become the folly of philosophers who typically like
            language that distances their intellectual expressions from those of
            the common man. Yet, in the Buddha's own Sangha, there was a monk that
            couldn't remember the simplest of phrases, the simplest of prayers.
            But the Buddha, with omniscience, saw into the monk's mind and new
            that there was a simple practice that he COULD remember...he asked the
            monk to be responsible for sweeping out the gompa everyday and as he
            did to repeat Duru pang, Drima pang...clear the dust, clear the
            defilements. And that monk gained enlightenment.
            >
            > Thoughts are the most subtle form of all phenomena. A thought
            becomes a seed that gets planted into the consciousness and manifests
            as it grows from all the ripening conditions necessary become
            available to it. Speech is first found in thought, action is first
            found in thought. And as things have NO inherently existent nature,
            they manifest in their various forms in our consciousness. It is the
            most difficult part of our practice to understand that that terrible
            thing that is appearing before us IS dharmakaya expression, working
            precisely the way the mechanism should work. You thought it, it became
            manifest. You have a low self-esteem and things seem to be bringing
            you down, why are you upset?? That's what you've asked for!
            >
            > Remember that of the Two Truths, we are almost always experiencing
            kun rdzob ldenpa, samvritisattya. This has been translated as
            'conventional truth', which is again another wonderful rendering from
            our philosophical giants that seem only intent on helping the highest
            of intellects, forgetting that we must help all beings...the greatest
            common denominator would be to put it into simplest language that all
            can comprehend in words. The base of these two words (kun rdzob, and
            samvriti in snskt) mean "fake" or "artificial". Fake truth?? What does
            that mean? It can't be a truth, can it? When weighed against the
            Ultimate Truth, it must mean that fake truth isn't the final truth.
            There can only really be ONE truth. You can't be a man AND a woman at
            the same time. You cannot be two contradictory things at the same
            time, they would cancel each other out. An electron and an
            antielectron cannot coexist. So, can we really have TWO Truths?
            >
            > Here, the convention of language is giving us an indication for
            investigation. We look at this computer screen and can agree that it
            isn't permanent, it is a changing thing. Therefore, we can see on the
            surface that the computer is not emerging as an Ultimate thing...it
            willl cease. The forces that have brought these molecules together
            have made them appear at this moment as a computer. BUT, that would be
            to assume that those things are all happening OUT THERE...coming at me
            and that's the only way they can be.
            >
            > Now, the Ultimate nature of the computer is emptiness, which is
            the NEGATIVE of form. The Heart Sutra says: gzugs stong pao,
            stongpanyid gzugs so. Form is empty, emptiness is form. There have
            been translations that say "form is emptiness..." This is incorrect.
            sTong pa means empty. Nyid means "ness" or "hood". Form is not
            emptiness, that is a characteristic of phenomena. Emptiness is the
            characteristic and form is not THAT characteristic, but HAS that
            characteristic. That's why the next part of the Heart Sutra says sTong
            pa Nyid gZugs so...Emptiness is form. For that characteristic to
            exist, there must be 'form", or matter or some "thing" being
            perceived. So, as we look at the computer, we can recognize that
            because it is a changing, dependent, and non-self-standing thing, it
            must be empty, a characteristic, of inherent existence.
            >
            > See, if this computer had any essence to it that was permanent,
            our typing on it could do nothing to change it. It has no flexibility
            without emptiness. If it is independent, we could have no contact with
            it. If it were self-standing, it wouldn't need to be plugged into the
            wall to work. It would work independent of a power source that
            couldn't really effect it's permanent nature anyway. So, you can see
            the viewpoint of emptiness at work from the Lower Buddhist
            Philosophical venues at work here. But, that still hasn't changed our
            suffering nature. As long as we thing about that non-inherently
            existent "computer" out there, we're still dealing with a "thing"
            infront of us, not appearingly so, but materially so.
            >
            > This does not deny that that computer is there, emptiness is HOW
            it is there. It appears to be infront of you because your eye is
            experiencing a form, your touch is sensing something solid, your ear
            is hearing the typing of your fingers or some pretty song you have in
            another window (hopefully a mantra recitation), your nose can smell
            the coffee or tea next to your mouse, etc. These are all working to
            organize the data that your mind has conditioned to experience...to
            make "real". And for all intents and purposes, it is real. It
            functions and it will do what you want it to do as long as the karmic
            seeds for that to happen continue to ripen for you. When those seeds
            run out, you have either turned off the computer, walked into the
            other room, had a power outage, or died. That's it. Your perceptions
            at this moment are aligned to this experience but if they were better
            (from better karmic seeds) you could have a secretary reading this
            letter to you, or be a tantric angel
            > enjoying a paradise. But, you are having karmic seeds ripen as a
            human. You are having karmic seeds ripen to see all the things you see
            as seemingly real...as seeming to exist from their own side, but they
            do not. This is the only meaning of "not exist" as explained in the
            weblink that you gave.
            >
            > If you can understand that, the reading of the information in the
            Mahamudra link will be more helpful. You would be much better to
            receive teachings on the Mahamudra directly from a qualified lama,
            spiritual teacher. There is so much more power in the organic process
            of receiving the teachings from the lama directly. I know this
            intuitively; many more blessings have come to my practice and journey
            since I took vows from my Holy Lama, and he then led me to the
            beautiful and precious teacher that gave me my Bodhisattva Vows. To
            them both I am endebted eternally.
            >
            > Now, I'm going to try to use an analogy to make this point a bit
            stronger...and I do apologize if it fails, but it is my own and no one
            else's so I'll take full responsibility for any misinformation or
            mistakes from it...but I think it's pretty damned close. This is ONLY
            an analogy based upon Pranagika-Madhyamikan ideals, so keep in mind
            it's got a little ways to go before it's spot-on, but it will help
            those that struggle with emptiness get to here, I hope:
            >
            > Let us think of our consciousness as a radio, receiving and
            transmitting signals. As you know, in America we use hertz below two
            hundred, but in europe they don't use anything below 1,000 (I might be
            off on this one, but I know they are a lot more cognizant to
            infrasound than Americans). Your consciousness is currently tuned into
            receive other "human" transmissions, and can also pick up faint traces
            of animal transmissions. You can see them, you can hear them, you can
            sort of understand them (animals, and not always the case with humans)
            , taste them (if you're into licking total strangers), anything
            involved with the sense data that your own little radio consciousness
            can detect. Now, there are these other beings around you, angels
            (dakinis) or spirits, or "gods"...or buddhas. We haven't done anything
            to change the wiring in our "radios" to receive that information. We
            don't believe those "signals" exist because we don't pick them up on
            our radios, so we deny them. We
            > believe that we can refine and retune our radios and might work on
            that in yoga classes, meditation or study. But, we only see the
            picture getting a bit more clear for our fellow human and even animal
            signals. We haven't changed or shifted our "channels" to tune-in to
            higher frequencies...and that's what our spiritual practice is about.
            >
            > The problem with our misunderstanding emptiness is that, from the
            analogy above, all of the experiences we have are "signals". They are
            coming at us and disappear the next instant. Much like listening to a
            real radio, if you missed what the DJ said, you can't really rewind
            him, you just missed what he said and that's that. So it is with all
            of our signals. As long as our perceptions, or receptors aren't
            shifting to receive higher "frequencies", we're gonna lose a great
            opportunity. We will die and be cast wherever karmic winds through us.
            Our minds are scattered now, why wouldn't they be scattered at death?
            >
            > The problem with the above analogy is simply this (Lower
            Madhyamika): we're still seeing the data "out there", and not
            simultaneously expressed in the consciousness- the same karmic seed is
            producing all the things that you are now and all the things that you
            experience now. There is no separate substance. You're organizing that
            data into what you make of it now, only to dodge or embrace it. But,
            even the data is without inherent existence...it is all Dharmakaya
            expression.
            >
            > I hope that this may help. May this and the link help you on your
            path and may all your precious lamas, all your protectors, and the
            wisdom of the Holy Dharmakaya itself leave enough "popcorn" to keep
            leading you out of the "woods of samsara".
            >
            > 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
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > ---------------------------------
            > Check out the all-new Yahoo! Mail beta - Fire up a more powerful
            email and get things done faster.
            >
          • Marc Moss
            Yes, yes Dan, that is correct. But here s something interesting: The Buddha, who attained total enlightenment and omniscience no longer experiences suffering
            Message 5 of 18 , Jan 24, 2007
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              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


               
               
               
               
               
              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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            • dan330033
              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
              Message 6 of 18 , 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
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > 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
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > ---------------------------------
                > Don't be flakey. Get Yahoo! Mail for Mobile and
                > always stay connected to friends.
                >
              • Marc Moss
                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
                Message 7 of 18 , 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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                • Des Brittain
                  Could you please make an effort to stop saying stuff like....We Americans or .....I m a typical American or........in America we do this or that. There are
                  Message 8 of 18 , Jan 26, 2007
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                    Could you please make an effort to stop saying stuff like....We Americans or
                    .....I'm a typical American or........in America we do this or that. There
                    are other people on the planet besides you lot, doncha know? When I lived in
                    America I got so tired of all that crap.
                    We in England or France or Ireland do not constantly refer to the human
                    race as us Frenchies or we English or Irish. Think about it and stop
                    irritating the rest of us. It is bad enough that you Americans cause more
                    wars and kill more of us and pollute more than the rest of us without you
                    constantly speaking as if there is nobody else on this planet that matters.
                    Des Brittain.


                    >From: Marc Moss <jellybean0729@...>
                    >Reply-To: meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com
                    >To: meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com
                    >Subject: Re: [Meditation Society of America] Re: Meditation Advice
                    >Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2007 19:35:27 -0800 (PST)
                    >
                    >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...
                    >Download and play hundreds of games for free on Yahoo! Games.

                    _________________________________________________________________
                    Get Hotmail, News, Sport and Entertainment from MSN on your mobile.
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                  • Marc Moss
                    I apologize for making nationally categorical references, but I do believe that the point here is that there is a mistaken interpretation of certain teachings
                    Message 9 of 18 , Jan 26, 2007
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                      I apologize for making nationally categorical references, but I do believe that the point here is that there is a mistaken interpretation of certain teachings as they are being manifested in America. I think you should consider that before becoming angry, for you anger has only to harm you and anyone else in the wake of that ire.
                       
                      Please accept my apology for these references, but they were not loaded with an intention to offend, but to help understand mistaken views.
                       
                      Naturally, there are many cultural and subcultural dilemmas that arise and are unique to location and regional influences. Rather than pointing out the problems as they arise on, for example, the midwestern north american land region, or to say that dialogue that has been entertained on the south Irish shore line would not be as understandable as the statements that I have chosen to employ.
                       
                      If your perception is that my writings have been intolerant and discompassionate, they are but your perceptions, I do not own them.
                       
                      Best of luck with the anger.
                      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
                       
                       
                       


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                    • dan330033
                      ... understood. Those that follow what is written on ink and utilize everyday beta/alpha wave mental processes simply come to more imaginary conclusions,
                      Message 10 of 18 , Jan 26, 2007
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                        --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, Marc Moss
                        <jellybean0729@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > 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

                        Hi Sonam --

                        I agree with you that the next five years will bring much change.

                        Radical change may be uncomfortable, but wouldn't be radical change if
                        it were comfortable.

                        As to prognosticating exactly what changes will be brought, isn't
                        necessary. Not for one whose life is "now-ness."

                        What is to be will be, as is.

                        Just as what was, is as is - regardless of how many imagined
                        lives can be strung together on the thread of memory.

                        And yet, this moment, ever new, ever moving, ever still -- is as is,
                        is all.

                        This moment, as it is, is my start and my finish, so to speak.

                        This truth accumulates nothing.

                        As Krishnamurti observed, "the eagle leaves no footprints."

                        As the Buddha observed, "be a light to yourself."

                        Thanks for what you've shared.

                        -- Dan
                      • Marc Moss
                        The following are more details on the nine stages of meditation. These are the translations (I ve paraphrased most of them) of Geshe Michael Roach from Je
                        Message 11 of 18 , Jan 26, 2007
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                          The following are more details on the nine stages of meditation. These are the translations (I've paraphrased most of them) of Geshe Michael Roach from Je Tsongkhapa's Lam Rim Chen Mo. This has helped me tremendously, may it benefit all who read it:
                           
                           
                          Here are the nine stages of meditation. These MUST be developed before one can develop form realm meditation. One can only have a direct perception of emptiness in the first level of the form realm. It is impossible to have a direct perception of emptiness in desire realm meditation.
                           
                          1)Place the mind on an object;
                               a)you achieve this state by recieving the instructions from your lama, master, or qualified teacher.
                               b)The mind stays on the object from time to time and is not said to be fixed to the object at all.
                               c)Mental noting and examining are present and due to this you lose your mind to scattering and agitation.
                               d)You cannot keep your mind on any object for any continuous length of time.
                           
                          2)Placing the mind on an object with some continuity;
                               a)you can now keep your mind on the object with some continuity.
                               b) you can keep the mind without distraction for about as long as it takes to count the Mani around a mala.
                               c)The problem of having too many thoughts goes away and then comes back.
                               d)One has to use contemplation strongly here
                               e)dullness and agitation are strong
                           
                          "During these first two stages of meditation, you have an abundance of agitation, and only occassionally fix your mind on the object. Therefore at this point we say that your mind is in the first of the four mental modes, the one described as having to 'concentrate to focus'. Periods of distraction last longer than when the mind is fixed to the object.
                           
                          3)Placing the mind on the object and patching the gaps;
                               a)quickly catch your mind after being distracted and "patch" the gap in continuation.
                               b)The difference here versus the two stages prior is the length of the distraction.
                               c)Here you are able to develop your recollection to a high degree.
                           
                          4)Placing the mind on the object closely;
                               a)recollection is developed very highly.
                               b)not likely to lose the object completely.
                               c)dullness and agitation are still very strong.
                               d)must apply antidotes to dullness and excitement.
                              
                          The third and fourth stages are developed by means of recollection. From this point on the power of our meditation is complete, mature.
                           
                          5)Controlling the mind;
                               a) tendency during the fourth stage to draw the mind too far inside and develop subtle dullness, so now we must develop watchfulness to a high degree.
                               b)look for something wrong with the fixation and uplift the mind.
                               c)the difference between this state and those before it is whether or not obvious dullness can occur.
                           
                          6)Pacifying the mind;
                               a)subtle agitation is the danger here, from uplifting the mind too much in the fifth level.
                               b)must recognize when it occurs, that it is dangerous to the clarity of your meditation and must stop it.
                           
                          These two stages are developed from watchfulness. From this point on your development of watchfulness is complete.
                           
                          7)Pacifying the mind totally;
                               a)recollection and mindfulness are total, it is unlikely that dullness and agitation are going to occur.
                               b)still must apply great effort to eliminate even the most subtle forms of agitation and dullness
                               c)you have the ability necessary to block them, and so they are not able to create an obstacle.
                           
                          From the Third stage up to here, the mind is for the most part in single-pointed meditation, but dullness and agitation are interruptin one's concentration. The mental mode during these periods are called "engaging but interrupted."
                           
                          8)Making the mind single-pointed;
                              a)when you begin a meditation session, you must still make a slight effort to bring up the corrections.  After that you can go for an entire session without even the subtle forms of dullness and agitation coming to mind.
                               b)during the stages before, dullness and agitation have gradually lost their power.
                               c)you now need not make any conscious effort to apply watchfulness.
                             
                          The mental mode here is described as "engaging without interruption". The seventh and eighth stages are achieved by applying great effort.
                           
                          9)Achieving equilibrium;
                               a)mind is engaged without any conscious effort at all.
                               b)achieved by repeatedly going to the eighth stage until you are completely accustomed to it, then can go into meditation spontaneously and effortlessly.
                               c)this level is for all intents and purposes a desire realm form of single-pointed quietude.
                           
                          The ninth level is achieved by becoming totally accustomed.
                           
                          May these instructions help anyone who wishes to develop quietude and insight. Any mistakes in the rendering here of these wonderful instructions are mine.
                           
                           
                          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
                           
                           
                           


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                          The following is an excerpt from Master Kamalashila s Bhavanakrama, translated by Geshe Michael Roach and Christy McNally. At the end of this post there is a
                          Message 12 of 18 , Jan 27, 2007
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                            The following is an excerpt from Master Kamalashila's Bhavanakrama, translated by Geshe Michael Roach and Christy McNally. At the end of this post there is a meditation that will help to develop this great quality. The words in black are taken from this translation as well as the meditation at the end. The words in blue are my own, and I take full responsibility for any mistakes throughout:
                             
                            I pay homage to Manjushri, who appears to me as a boy.
                             
                            I shall now describe in brief the steps we take to meditate starting with the first of them - practices found in the sutra Collection of the Greater Way.
                             
                            To get to the point, if you want to quickly reach an omniscient state of being, you must put your efforts into these three areas: compassion, the Wish (bodhicitta), and practice.
                             
                            Once we reach the conclusion that the underlying cause of all the great qualities of a Buddha is compassion alone, we should devote ourselves from the very outset to that same goal: for it was stated in the exalted sutra, Perfect Summary of the Dharma:
                             
                            And then the Realized One, the Lord of Power named Loving Eyes, spoke these
                            words to the Conqueror: "O Conqueror, bodhisattvas should not train themselves in many qualities. O Conqueror, if bodhisattvas perfectly realize and hold well a  single quality, all the qualities of a Buddha will rest in the palm of their hand. And what is that single quality? It is great compassion.
                             
                            "O Conqueror, because they have great compassion, all the qualities of a Buddha are in the palm of their hand. For instance, Conqueror, whenever the precious wheel of a wheel emperor is in a certain place, all of his armed forces are also there. And like that, Conqueror, wherever there is great compassion of a bodhisattva, all the qualities of a Buddha are in that same place.
                            For instance, Conqueror, if someone is alive, then their other faculties will arise. And in this same way, Conqueror, if someone has great compassion, the other qualities of a bodhisattva will arise."
                             
                            And it has been explained in depth in the exhaulted sutra, The Explanation of the One Called Neverending Wisdom, with statements like the following:
                             
                            And furthermore, Venerable Sharadvatiputra, the great compassion of bodhisattvas never ends. Why is that the case? Because it always comes first! Venerable Sharadvatiputra, it is like this. Just as being alive is a prerequisite for our breath to flow in and out, in the same way the great compassion of a bodhisattva is a prerequisite for us to master the Mahayana.
                             
                            This same idea often occurs in the exhaulted sutra, The Mountain of Gaya, where for instance it states:
                             
                                 "O Manjushri, at what point do the activities of a bodhisattva start? And where do they start?"
                             
                                 Manjushri replied, "O child of the gods, the activities of a bodhisattva start with great compassion. And they start in the arena of living beings."
                             
                            Shaken by such great compassion, bodhisattvas no longer look after themselves. Instead, they work for years on very challenging and exhausting endeavors, collecting pure karma - all because they wish to truly be of help to others.
                             
                            As it is stated in the exalted sutra, Inciting the Power of Faith:
                             
                            When there is no form of pain that you would hesitate to take on, and no kind of pleasure that you would hesitate to give up in order to bring every living being to their ultimate evolution, that is the point when you have great compassion.
                            {My words}
                            To what do we develop great compassion? What is "all sentient beings?" We start with those beings in our life with whom we have contact. We develop great compassion for those we love, to those whom we are indifferent, and finally to those whom we feel discomfort or negativities. And we do this because the laws of karma have brought us to meet with them.
                             
                            The sentient beings that you see, in fact all phenomena, are simply expressions of the Dharmakaya. When you perform an act of karma toward a being, you are doing this towards the Dharmakaya. The absence of all obscurations is clear, blissful Dharmakaya wisdom. Therefore, the mechanism of the Buddhas in their infinitely blissful realms is the same mechanism as the thing we call "karma", though at the level of a Buddha we no longer call it karma. A Buddha is able to manifest his/her reality as bliss because their mind IS Dharmakaya. Therefore, the actions we take against sentient kind results in a further separation with, or a stronger connection to Dharmakaya.
                             
                            Since thought is the smallest and most subtle function of the mind, the grasping at the idea of a disparity between us and phenomena manifests the various appearances with which we interract. In fact, Kabbalah, Tantric Buddhism and many other forms of spiritual practice are aware of this. One does not have to be Buddhist to know the power that mind has over even matter, not just that of the body.
                             
                            Let's say that there is someone in your life that is bringing you difficulty. Somewhere in your past you did something that creates that person, or the bond to see that person bringing you difficulty. This is a law of perception. You said something with impatience to someone in the past, and the mind is now manifesting exactly what you "asked the Dharmakaya". It now brings blindly the appearances you have created.
                             
                            When you create more compassion, you are actually creating more union with the Dharmakaya. Seeing that all things are empty, that they are manifestations or appearances that come and go in the blink of an eye, knowing that you are who you are because of all the little and big things that you have done, said or thought, relieves some of the grasping at an artificial sense of self that does not exist the way you think it does. You are, as well, an expression of that Dharmakaya. You are manifesting in the way you see yourself because of karma. Karma and emptiness are intimately connected. Because things are empty of any self nature of their own, they are susceptible to the changing and flowing of the energy that you impart to them...the appearances of them.
                             
                            Compassion towards all beings is more than just compassion for yourself in the future; it is the compassion toward the Dharmakaya. And from that comes harmony, bliss and wisdom. Perfection of this compassion comes when you understand that you are an expression of this Dharmakaya, that your action is an expression of this Dharmakaya, and that to which you direct your actions (sentient beings) are also expressions of the Dharmakaya...they are a stream of flowing expressions, developed as they increasingly accumulate more similar energy, only to render their result when THEY are ready, not you. You are forced to then experience everything in life the way you do because of this process, an ignorance to the way this works.
                             
                            Some say, I can choose to see this computer screen however I want to. It's empty, so I can just as well see it as a shoe. This is false. You will never confuse the computer for a shoe. When one says, "Hand me my shoes, please," you never unplug the computer from the wall and smile as you hand them what you have CHOSEN to see as shoe. It is still a computer, and your mind is FORCED to organize the data into that image because of karma. If you disagree, next time you walk out into the street, wait for a semi truck to come by and jump in front of it and yell "It's really whipped cream! It's really whipped cream!" You will, I assure you, not be 'topped' by some light and creamy dessert topping. You'll be smashed.
                             
                            As we live our lives, we do many things that distance ourselves from this Dharmakaya wisdom. We create further expressions that are later projected at us again from our ignorant understanding of the world and the way it works. By understanding that these appearances are simply what you have placed ignorantly before the Dharmakaya mind, the subtle-most consciousness, you assure that they will come back on you. When you recognize that all things flow from this beautiful source, the mind of all the Buddhas (and your own future mind as the Buddha you will eventually become), when you understand that all action is Dharmakaya action, it is all a part of this deep and powerful projector, then delusions begin to fade and happiness grows and grows.
                             
                            Meditations:
                             
                            Investigating Compassion
                            Take a comfortable position and focus on the breath single-pointedly for the benefit of others.
                            Review the above instructions on developing compassion.
                            We need to open our hearts to others to develop single-pointed concentration.
                            Do an analytical meditation on the following:
                             
                                 Is it true that doing it for others would increase your ability to meditate
                                 Is it true that having the responsibility for all others would increase your ability meditate?
                                 Is it true that consideration for others would increase your ability to meditate?
                                 Is it true that loving others would increase your ability to meditate?
                             
                             


                             
                             
                             
                             
                             
                            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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