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06.07.11 : How Is Compassion Great? | Are You Sure You Closed The Window? | Understanding Amituofo Via The Amitabha Sutra | The Middle Way Between Hedonism & Asceticism | The Love & Loss Of 'Norwegian Wood'

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  • NamoAmituofo
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    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 6, 2011
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      The Daily Enlightenment
       Quote: How Is Compassion Great?

      Great compassion is great
      not only because
      there is concern for great matters,
      but for 'lesser' ones too.

      - Stonepeace | Comment | More 

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       Realisation: Are You Sure You Closed The Window?

      If you are not
      in the here and now,
      you are lost.

      - Stonepeace 

      After I had left the house, I wondered if I had closed the remaining open window. As I was unsure, I returned to check. And there it was – closed. As I left the house again, I wondered when I closed it, as I couldn't remember. I must have closed it, that I'm absolutely sure of, for there was no one else in, and it was open before. Why am I not absolutely sure of when I closed it then? I must have sleepwalked to close it, closing it personally, yet not closing it mindfully, going through the automated habitual motion. No, I don't mean I literally walked asleep, but that in essence, it was similar. When we go through the 'rituals' of life in a mechanical manner, lacking presence of mind, it is as good as sleepwalking. More examples include checking doors and the gas!

      I was obviously there to close the window, or I couldn't have closed it, yet while it was being closed, my mindfulness wasn't there in the moment – which is why the moment of closing it wasn't registered in memory upon hindsight. Having to return to check the window was actually a needless minor cycle of rebirth. We are reborn time and again from life to life in Samsara precisely because we lack mindfulness in firmly realising and registering the lessons of life and death. There must be many missed opportunities. As such, we are forced to return, to relearn how to break free from the Samsara. Whether we are diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) or not, rebirth is already our 'OCD'! Mindfulness is the cure for the disease of meaningless repeated forces of habit.

      We need to train our minds to be sharper, with greater mindfulness and insight – not just for mastering the Dharma, but for mastering everyday life matters too. In fact, there is no separation, for the Dharma is exactly for application in everyday life. This would include mundane stuff like closing windows and locking doors! Mindfulness can be systematically trained through meditation practices. Even chanting done properly is a meditative practice. Then again, even mustering our mindfulness to more deeply see and feel a window handle can be meditative. There is truly no separation between the Dharma and Samsara. All the Dharma we need to master is in the midst of Samsara. Even the beings in Pure Lands peer and venture into Samsara to master the Dharma!

      Pure Lands are for training us,
      to peer at Samsara from a safe distance,
      before returning better qualified to liberate beings from it.

      - Stonepeace

      Shen Shi'an | Comment | More 
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       Excerpt: The Middle Way Between Hedonism & Asceticism

      Birth in the heavens might be supremely hedonistic.
      Birth in the hells might be supremely ascetic.
      Birth in the Pure Lands is supremely the Middle Way.


      In India at the time the Buddha's time, there was a belief that the purpose of life was to enjoy as much sensual pleasure as possible. Sensual pleasures are of course enjoyed through the sense faculties. This ability to experience pleasure through the senses gives rise to the five desires [for wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep]. In this hedonistic view, failing to fulfill the five desires results in unhappiness. In reality, however much we may crave and pursue pleasure, we can never completely satisfy the five desires. Therefore the result of constantly pursuing pleasure is vexation, not happiness and joy. Furthermore, this behavior ultimately causes conflict with others, producing more vexation. The sutras describe this kind of conduct as that of ordinary beings, not sages or saints.

      Also prevalent in India at the time was the opposite view, that to become pure, one needs to undergo extreme pain and suffering – the more pain, the purer one becomes. Some ascetics had themselves buried in the earth up to their necks; others would immerse themselves underwater for long periods of time, or hang upside down from a tree. Even today, in mainland China I saw one person who wore a very heavy coat in summer but very little in winter in order to inflict suffering on his body. In Taiwan I saw another person staring directly into the sun for hours. I asked him, "Why are you doing this?" He said that by staring at the sun he was burning off bad karma. If such people think they can gain liberation through [extreme] asceticism, then a furry dog running around on hot summer days can get liberated too.

      Shakyamuni Buddha said that if following the path means suffering, the fruit will inevitably be more suffering. Inflicting suffering and pain on oneself will not result in liberation. Furthermore, the pains that ascetics inflict on themselves are not necessarily connected to the vexations they are trying to eliminate, and inflicting pain on one's body does not necessarily ease mental suffering. The Buddha therefore taught that the Noble Eightfold Path is the Middle Way between the opposing extremes of hedonism and asceticism. One needs the basic necessities of life in order to practice, but on the other hand, one should not merely pursue pleasure for its own sake. So if one is guided by the Noble Eightfold Path, one will naturally practice the Middle Way.

      Comment More 
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