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08.04.10: Paradox of Love | Middle Path Between Relative & Absolute Truths | Eat for Better Personal & Planetary Health | Clash of the Titans

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  • NamoAmituofo
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    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8, 2010
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      The Daily Enlightenment
       Quote: True Paradox


      True love is truly paradoxical 
      because it is truly conditioned 
      by being truly unconditional.

      - Stonepeace: http://twitter.com/stonepeace

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       Realisation: The Middle Path Between Relative & Absolute Truths



      One who perceives everywhere as Pure Land 
      need not go to any 'other' Pure Land. 
      Till then, Pure Lands are precious places for training 
      the ability to perceive everywhere as Pure Land too. 

      - Stonepeace
      Though we usually call the teachings of the Buddha ‘the Truth’ – with a capital letter ‘T’, as something singular, the truth (pun intended) is, the Dharma (the Truth; the path to the Truth) can be divided under two broad categories – relative (conventional; mundane) truths and the absolute (ultimate; supramundane) truth. Relative truths are facts of reality which are defined by dualistic comparison of various forms. For instance, qualities such as ‘tall’ and ‘short’ make sense only in relation to each other. Say, a man is relatively ‘tall’ compared with a boy, who is ‘short’, though the boy is relatively ‘tall’ compared with a toddler, who is then ‘short’… while the absolute truth (in terms of emptiness) is that each are empty of inherent ‘tallness’ or ‘shortness’ in themselves – which is why these qualities seem to change in different settings. Though relative and absolute truths are two sides of the same coin, they are usually adhered to by the unenlightened as conflicting opposites.

      The Dharma can be 'shortchanged' by unskilful use of relative or absolute truth. For example, the Amitabha Sutra is a teaching by the Buddha that focuses on relative truth, where he repeatedly urged us to have firm faith in a Pure Land with wonderful forms, and to aspire for birth there. Though the Heart Sutra teaches that 'form is not different from emptiness', to introduce Pure Land in terms of emptiness can be confusing as to whether Pure Land is tangible or not. The truth is, Pure Lands are designed for beings with some attachment to form - which is most of us, while Buddhas can only teach through forms. As it is difficult to make a single giant leap to enlightenment, Pure Land as a school for enlightenment offers the best bridge for this gap. With forms shaped by Buddhas' perfect compassion and wisdom, Pure Lands are the most wondrous expressions of emptiness. Does Pure Land exists or not, if it is of emptiness? This is wrongly asked, because emptiness is not nothingness but 'everythingness' of dynamic forms.

      Attached to relative truths, one does not realise the absolute truth. Attached to the absolute truth, one does not apply relative truths. It is an absolute mistake to use absolute truth (on emptiness) to counter relative truths (on forms) when one has yet to realise either. Realisation of the one unconditional absolute truth is conditioned by realisation of many conditioned relative truths as essential stepping stones. Any relative truths that (in)directly lead to realisation of the absolute truth are useful, while there are many other truths which are relatively or absolutely useless. As relative truths and the absolute truth are in turn relative to each other, attachment or aversion to either is to miss the truest Middle Way. Sequentially, one realises the relative truths of forms, before one realises the absolute truth of emptiness, before one realises the Middle Path between the duo. That said, as warned by Nagarjuna, attachment to emptiness is the worst kind of attachment - because it tends to nullify the worth of everything! – Shen Shi'an: http://facebook.com/shenshian


      As Pure Lands are the most skilful conventional means 
      for guiding beings to the ultimate goal of enlightenment; 
      they are not exactly 'enlightenment' per se; 
      but expressions of enlightened activity.

      - Stonepeace

      Related Articles:

      Mind-Only Pureland & Self-Nature Amitabha = 
         Western Pureland and Amitabha Buddha? 
      Is Pureland Formless or Mind-Only? 
      The Fastest Way to Buddhahood is Via Birth in Pure Land 
      Is There Such Thing as Big or Small?

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       Excerpt: How to Eat for Better Personal & Planetary Health



      … I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and to learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals…

      - Thich Nhat Hanh 
         (The first mindfulness training)

      Many Buddhist traditions encourage vegetarianism. Although this practice is primarily based on the wish to nourish compassion toward animals, it also offers many health benefits. Now we also know that when we eat vegetarian, we protect the Earth and help reduce the greenhouse effect that is causing her serious and irreversible damage. Even if you cannot be 100 percent vegetarian, being a part-time vegetarian and consuming a more plant-based diet is already better for your own health as well as the health of our shared planet. [Vegans and vegetarians tend to weigh less than those who consume animal products.]

      You may want to start by eating vegetarian for a few days a month, or you can eat vegetarian only for breafast and lunch every day. This way, you are already more than half vegetarian. If you feel that you cannot eliminate animal products from your diet for even one meal, simply reducing the portion of meat and eliminating processed meats like bacon, sausages, and ham can lower your risk of colon cancer and your risk of dying an early death from heart disease, cancer, or other causes. This is a good first step to adopting a more plant-based, healthful, environmentally friendly diet.

      Using mindfulness to look more deeply at what you wat can make it much easier to make such changes, because you realize the benefits they can bring to the planet and yourself - lower weight, lower risk of colon cancer and heart disease, and more energy for doing the things you enjoy. We are 'interbeings': we and our environment are interdependent. And even small changes on our part can have a large impact when combined with others. Our market economy is driven primarily by consumer demand. As a population, if a large number of people make even small moves to eat less meat and more plant-based foods, the livestock industry will shrink. Over time, farmers will find other crops to support their livelihoods. Through such collective awakening, we can make a difference in our world.

      Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life 
      Thich Nhat Hanh & Dr. Lilian Cheung
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