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

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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 1 of 18 , Jan 26, 2007

      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 2 of 18 , Jan 26, 2007
        --- 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
        > 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
        > 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
        > 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
        > 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 3 of 18 , Jan 26, 2007
          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 4 of 18 , Jan 27, 2007
            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.
            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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