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Denis Wallez
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«Intentions do matter.»
«Intentions do matter.»

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I will practice diligently what I learnt… yes, yes! promise! sure! In particular if it's simple and brief!

« Then, a mendicant went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him: “Sir, may the Buddha please teach me Dhamma in brief. When I’ve heard it, I’ll live alone, withdrawn, diligent, keen, and resolute.”
“This is exactly how some foolish people ask me for something. But when the teaching has been explained they think only of following me around.” »
— Saṅkhitta (Dhamma) Sutta (AN 8.63)
(tr. bhikkhu Sujato, https://suttacentral.net/an8.63/en/sujato)


On social media, people ask questions about the Dharma… However, after some answer was given, they tend to neither study nor practice any deeper. Should the answer be long and thoughtful, they'd mark it as "to read later" and usually never come back to it (unless they complain that social media is not for such long essays!). 'Wisdom' in a social media comment, or in a tweet, is the request!
A while later, something else pops up in their mind, and they simply ask other questions…

Always seeking the answer 'outside' of themselves (so they can save themselves from practicing, from doing the work, from challenging their own assumptions, own habits and own views), they get used to, and take for granted, the availability of teacher / teachings / answers… and they project some 'authority' onto their sources, so they don't need to "see for themselves".
By thus doing, they're caught in following and clinging to the 'source of answers'. The more fantastic the projection ("fully enlightened" teacher, or teacher with "unbroken lineage to the Buddha"), the more materialistic the projection (teacher with X students, or with Y followers on social media… or teacher with Z years of solitary retreat), the easiest it gets not to practice the Dharma but instead to practice clinging to certainties. A bit like some people never actually read the Bible and nonetheless cling to the idea that it holds all the answers.

People keep saying they will practice what they just learnt! It's the equivalent of "I start my new diet next Monday"; it's usually and repeatedly postponed. Should a teacher ask them e.g. to meditate one minute a month, or to burn one incense stick a month, and although it's clear the 'follower' couldn't possibly be so busy that (s)he cannot materially do so, those claiming to 'take refuge' won't do as instructed.
Yet they hope that they'll benefit "by association". They'll pretend that their 'intention to practice' is already a start, already wholesome, even if they fail… without realizing that, all along, their true intention was not to practice, and to find excuses to justify not to! Often, people perfectly know they won't do what they're supposedly committing to, and yet they hope they'd benefit from lying about it!

Most Buddhist teachers live off such projections. It's good for their ego that students look up to them for answers. If students hope benefits by association, then they spend much time seeking the presence of the teacher… The students are happy that they get easy answers and don't have to actually change their way of living, the teacher are happy they get to live off 'transmitting' the Dharma, everybody wins… or do they? Samsaric perpetuation is the opposite of the soteriological goal of Buddhism!
Good teachers don't give pre-digested wisdom or 'answers' or mantras-to-solve-this-or-that. In Tibet, it is suggested that your guru should be 3 valleys away (i.e. that's reachable when you're serious, but you won't easily spend all your time there…). Good teachers support study, they support enquiry, they give food for thoughts (not food for cheap reassurance): any 'apparent' answer comes with extra questions! They let the students reflect over the Dharma, which is not "brief". At the very least, like the Buddha on the above occasion, they draw the attention towards the fact that the message counts more than the messenger.

#Buddhism #Dharma
image: "reverent gathering at a Monastery in Sikkim listen as Dalai Lama tells them to follow the Buddhist principles of love and nonviolence", © Homai Vyarawalla, 1956 (via wikipedia)
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Ignorance, greed and aversion... are more dangerous than ever against individual freedom

« It is particularly important to get to know your weaknesses. They are the main tools of those who try to hack you. Computers are hacked through pre-existing faulty code lines. Humans are hacked through pre-existing fears, hatreds, biases and cravings. Hackers cannot create fear or hatred out of nothing. But when they discover what people already fear and hate it is easy to push the relevant emotional buttons »

Buddhism has very practical applications in our world today: letting go of whims, renouncing the identification with whims, weakening the dictature of unexamined impulses... as well as the cohort of more wholesome political consequences that arise from ceasing the "me, myself, mine" logic of naïve voting: social safety nets, ecology, and the defence of freedoms against the "law of the strongest (data-miner)".

#Buddhism #EngagedBuddhism
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« Thus I have heard. On one occasion, the Blessed One was dwelling at Savattthi in Jeta's grove, Anathapindika's park. There the Blessed One addressed the monks: "Bhikkhus!"
"Venerable sir!" those monks replied.
The Blessed One said this: "Bhikkhus, I do not see one other form that so obsesses the mind of a man as the form of a woman. The form of a woman takes hold of the mind of a man."
Anguttara Nikaya 1.1 (i.e. very first sutta of the Numerical Discourses)

#Buddhism #Dharma
PS: AN 1.6 reverses the genders.
photo: © +Denis Wallez, 2018
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Hijacking other traditions... without clarity ?

The "not making mirror by polishing bricks" is part of a Zen kōan... i.e. part of the Zen traditions advocating "sudden awakening".
This is markedly different from "sudden faith into future awakening by the power of another" (in this case, of Amida buddha). This has little to do with the 'faith' in Amida, and it's regrettable a teacher, in particular one who is so prone to criticise the 'arrangements' other teachers in his own tradition make, would try to hijack and misrepresent it.

The kōan calls for looking at the nature of reality indeed here & now, without accumulating preparatory practices "first" (in the kōan, the targeted practice is... meditation!).
Nanyue thus prevents Mazu from falling into merit (Bodhidharma killed that one early on, with emperor Liang), from copying (how would one find one's zen "true self" by imitating others?), from long roundabout ways... He does so while remembering the sixth patriarch, Hui Neng, and his "no shining mirror, where could dust collect?" (No soul, where could defilements accumulate in order to prevent awakening?).
Nanyue's injunction doesn't arise from some anguish about not having time to accumulate merit or doubt about our limited power... but from the confidence in everyone's immediate, present Buddha-nature (i.e. from the confidence that no defilement, no past, no karma can inherently take your Buddha-nature away or block it). The point is very much about self-power: you can open the hand and let the grasped fall. No need for preparation, just open your hand. Nobody can open their hand for you, you have to open your own hand, and let the defilements crash on the floor of reality.
This is the very opposite of Pure Land teachings, and therefore there's a contradiction in using this kōan to push faith in other-power.

The Pure Land school believes that we're too degenerate, our teachers are too degenerate, what was transmitted to us is too altered and tainted and rotten to be truly helpful. So faith appears as the last refuge in these later days of dharma (mappo)...
But the Zen kōan takes a very different angle: your Buddha-nature cannot be corrupted, and you just have to open your hand to let what you were grasping fall, in the same way you just have to let go of mental fabrications to awaken.
This is very different from the mental fabrication (from Zen's perspective) of mappo, the classic of samsaric search for the "golden old days" and the criticism of current days as "degenerate".

Each tradition might be respectable... but they're not particularly compatible.
The original poster would agree with the latter: from his perspective, Zen is a dangerous path that's probably degenerate, and that we're too degenerate ourselves to achieve Awakening with anyway. He argues that we'd better put our faith in Amida than have the arrogance of believing we could awaken through our own efforts and practice. I won't argue with him on this, in particular when he prevents comments on his posts, but... I'll reject that the kōan he quoted from supports his point.

#Buddhism #Dharma
Some people say that the Nembutsu of faith is too much related with death and afterlife and that they prefer something (a practice or teaching) for the "here and now”. The world of spiritual seekers is filled with such ideas of "here and now" being a supreme goal, that we must learn to live in the "here and now", and not think about death or after death. But this separation is only a delusion. In truth, death is not separated from the "here and now” as breath which comes out might not be followed by the breath which comes in. In the "here and now” we can lose everything; in the "here and now” we and our loved ones can stop breathing, in the "here and now” we may suddenly find ourselves in the afterlife, losing this human form, the chance of listening the Amida Dharma and receive faith.

Like in the good movie, "Groundhog day” , the minds of unenlightened people dwell constantly in an ever repeating "here and now”. Unfortunately, they like this "here and now" so much that they even create spiritual ideologies to keep them focused on it. Being extremely attached to the "here and now”, they refuse to speak about death and rebirth, or the aspiration to be born in Amida’s Pure Land, calling it a reminiscent of folk religion or a distraction from the "here and now". Unfortunately, they will also die one day, in the exact moment they dream about ‚"here and now" and will be born again, in another "here and now" - the same here and now, but painted differently. How sad this is…

I know that the Buddhas always live in the here and now, because they transcended life and death, as well as any limitations of time and space, but are those practitioners whose mouths are filled with "here and now", really living in the here and now of the Buddhas? It is important to understand that unenlightened beings never dwell in the "here and now”, but only dream in the "here and now”. They move, they live, they die and are born again in the "here and now” dream and slavery of samsara. Without rebirth in the enlightened realm of Amida Buddha, ordinary beings cannot hope for true awakening.

Children should not behave like adults. Similarly, unenlightened beings should not imitate the speech and actions of Buddhas or Enlightened Masters of the past. Until we actually transcend birth and death and attain Buddhahood, we should not speak too much about "here and now" and forget death.

Again, I urge all my Dharma friends to realize that there is NO time for the so called spiritual evolution. All we have is this fragile moment, this short break before death and another uncertain rebirth. In this moment we either accept Amida’s helping hand or refuse it and waste our human life so hard to obtain.

🙏

There's no time, no time! There's no time for your so called "spiritual evolution"!
All you really have is this fragile moment between life and the next uncertain rebirth, so please, don't rely on the "achievements" or "virtues" of your deluded ego!
As you cannot make a mirror by polishing a brick, you also cannot transform yourself into a Buddha!
Understanding the two types of impermanence, of your body and your so called "spiritual realisations", don't lose your time in vain, and entrust to Amida.
Only by being born in His Pure Land after death you can safely get out of samsara and be able to benefit all sentient beings.

🙏

Fragment from my book, The Four Profound Thoughts Which Turn the Mind Towards Amida Dharma, which you can download for free at this link, http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/2017/11/my-new-book-four-profound-thoughts.html

🙏

#jodoshinshu #shinbuddhism #amitabha #amidabuddha #amituofo #amitayus #sukhavati #pureland #buddhism #mahayana #nembutsu #shinjin #nienfo #shinran
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Vajragarbha, you should know
The Tathāgata's perfectly tranquil nature
Has never had a beginning or end.
If you use the cyclic mind
Discursive thought just revolves,
At most, reaching the limits of cyclic existence,
And you are unable to enter the Buddha-sea.
It is like smelting gold ore:
The gold does not exist because of smelting,
Yet crude gold, from smelting
Once subsequently perfected,
Never returns to the state of ore.
Saṃsāra and nirvana,
Worldlings and Buddhas
Like sky-flowers, are appearances.
Discursive thought is just an illusory phenomenon:
How can it penetrate falsity?
Only after you fully know this mind
Can you seek Perfect Enlightenment.

Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment
Charles Muller translation
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“With mettā, good-will, you are not blinding yourself to the faults and flaws in everything. You are just peacefully co-existing with them. You are not demanding that it be otherwise.
Mettā sometimes needs to overlook what’s wrong with yourself and everybody else; it doesn’t mean that you don’t notice those things, it means that you don’t develop problems around them. You stop that kind of indulgence by being kind and patient; peacefully co-existing.”
— Ajahn Sumedho
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I keep reading Americans expressing that they have lost hope in Humanity... usually due to some news about the US (quite often about Trump)...

I understand the feeling but its manifestation is not constructive, in my opinion. It's merely a way of speaking, I know, but it feeds and perpetuates a cycle...

Maybe it's time to realise that Humanity is neither reduced not reducible to Americans?
The rest of the world can be used as models sometimes... Other countries top the US, on one or many measures / scores at once, whatever the topic you're looking at is. Sanders pointed this out, Moore pointed this out, anyone who has an interest in improving the US and has a brain can see that there's no point in reinventing the wheel when you're behind: start by copying what works, then improve on it. To win the race, you need to catch up first...

This is serious... because American exceptionalism and nationalism take their roots in such beliefs that America is best, or the center of the world, the only place that counts... they take their roots in dismissing whatever happens elsewhere as less important (thus impeding collaboration, responsibility, accountability... or keeping one's words vis-à-vis international treaties). Not only it's patently false on most counts, the US is hardly best in anything (unless you consider modern slavery in prisons for profit as a valuable goal?), but also it feeds supremacists.

You cannot defeat supremacists by sharing their primary cognitive bias, not even as a backhanded way of speaking or a joke.

So keep hope in Humanity, to the point of considering migration: a lot of Americans currently state "we're all (descendants of) immigrants", all very well but... when was the last time you considered migration to improve your lot, by leaving behind regressive, self-destroying places towards lands of opportunities (other states or even other countries)? Even if you ended up having to face that you cannot personally move, that's still no reason to lose hope in Humanity just because of a few supremacist, racist, sexist, brain-dead locals. Be the hope you're calling for, so others don't lose hope! Lead!
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There is a Zen koan that says "Show me your original face, before you were born."
A variation is "Without thinking of good or evil, show me your original face before your mother and father were born."
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« L’injonction au bonheur est une trouvaille formidable pour le pouvoir »

Le bouddhisme (contrairement aux petits cours de méditation en pleine conscience, yoga, et autres) promeut une version à la fois vertueuse et rationnelle du bonheur... Mais du coup le chemin est plus compliqué, plus long, sans promesses à 2¢, et rejette la dimension individuelle du bonheur: anatta est un des 3 traits/caractéristiques de l'existence (donc améliorer son bonheur demande d'améliorer l'environnement et les conditions partagées de vie, d'améliorer "le monde" (loka), donc tous en bénéficient... ou personne).
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