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[Meditation Society of America] Re: Meditation Advice

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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 1 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 2 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
         
         
         


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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 3 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
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >---------------------------------
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          _________________________________________________________________
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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 4 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 5 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 6 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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              • Marc Moss
                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 7 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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