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«
What do you look for in a Buddhist tradition? (…)

I look for perfection. Utter, complete, sublime perfection. (…)

I’ve spent more time hunting this exquisite Buddhism than actually practicing, which makes me about as far from awakened as possible. I am literally unenlightening myself.
»

LOL… as if the point was to join one form of establishment, or another!

Alternatively, one might contact a non-sectarian teacher (e.g. the teacher of +koan.無 or the teacher of +Dharma.house… Oops, sorry, that's the same guy) … and get 'answers' or 'tools' from many schools based on the questions at hand, rather than based on some prejudice that one school has the (necessarily 'right') answers for everything…

#Buddhism #Dharma
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Non-duality is when you reach beyond… the mundane and the sublime.

The mundane and the sublime? The body and the mind?

Zen master Dōgen famously awoke by « dropping body and mind. »
It's been assumed by some that, since Dōgen practised calm-abiding meditation, « dropping body and mind » meant dramatically calming the activity of both the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system (respectively: body and mind). Maybe it's too 'mundane' an explanation?
He later wrote in the Genjokoan: « Those who regard the mundane as a hindrance to life and practice only understand that in the mundane nothing is sacred; what they have not yet understood is that in sacredness nothing is mundane. » (cf. also gplus.wallez.name/BFDc6d6skGG)

Mundane life is not just a distraction (gplus.wallez.name/EqYZgeWy52Y). Buddhas arise from the mundane: there's no need for a buddha if there's no sentient being struggling… Wisdom arises from discernment, dukkha arises from discernment: discernment is the root-cause of our troubles, and of the Liberation from these.

Here&now, in our 'mundane' small life, is where the cultivation of the 'sublime' takes place (gplus.wallez.name/iEYTjZpHa83).


#Mahayana #Buddhism #Dharma
Illustration: unattributed (sorry for that)
Call for donation? So I can keep supporting people without precondition? Well, even regular, interested readers routinely ignore such a call; maybe it appears to them as "both too much mundane and not enough sublime"? May practitioners see beyond the mundane / sublime; may they cease separating practicalities from practice!
Two good videos on Vimalakīrti sūtra : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dp6e6Lzhvc (2h39'52'') and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG3ScsVNPuo (2h51'30'').
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What's the point of adding a lamp where there's already light?

If you take bodhisattva vows (gplus.wallez.name/Asnsd7UxggZ), then the next step is not to go to a monastery, nor to become a renunciant, etc. That's a natural wish, and it may seem a logical continuation from the vow, but… that'd be like creating a new lamp where there's already light. What's the point?

Armed with bodhicitta (gplus.wallez.name/b78HsaBqyxw), stay in the world:

• see how "wishful thinking" never is true 'care' (for anyone: neither you, nor others); see how postponing engagement ("for a better, wiser engagement") is just postponing engagement while making excuses (gplus.wallez.name/WQb24yAL1zt) because there's no 'perfect' answer anyway (gplus.wallez.name/UnoFyYsg9n2); if you feel you're 'useless', you may well be onto something (gplus.wallez.name/SJEBPcoupP7);

• engage with businesses; make them ethical;

• engage with families; bring love, compassion, patience in; in fact, embody endless tolerance (gplus.wallez.name/TsjCwAtFWpJ);

• engage with the mess (gplus.wallez.name/L1ySPYygwr9); produce "right effort" in practice, i.e. reduce the unwholesome, increase the wholesome;

• engage with crazy thoughts and with desires (that's just a sub-category of crazy thoughts); realise the folly, see it by yourself, renounce unwholesome thoughts not by force, not by conceited righteousness, but by merely losing interest in fallacies;

• you're your own refuge (gplus.wallez.name/8S8Av8M9msA), offer a refuge to others; create a lamp into the world (gplus.wallez.name/AmuTinzujq8);

• keep on doing what you do, while knowing full well this is futile. If you're falling but realise you're merely in a dream, is there an absolute need to wake up immediately? It's a dream, you cannot truly get hurt! So you can actually explore "falling further", that's OK! And yet, even in a dream, exploring with wholesome curiosity isn't leading to the same experience as exploring stupidly ;-) And waking up oneself and others from stupid dreams is a worthy task, even if there were just dreams, it's compassionate not to let dreamers experience nightmares;

• realise the interpenetration of all phenomena, thus the dependence of wisdom upon ignorance (gplus.wallez.name/RSEqmZacaJ6);

• realise nibbana within samsara (gplus.wallez.name/VnpBY9yvsCL), not outside of samsara ! Realise that nirvana is samsara, samsara is nirvana (gplus.wallez.name/XRJ24JdxHPa), and yet the Middle Way is not Oneness (gplus.wallez.name/NUvsRGF3EtJ). Realise that cyclical samsara is not so 'cyclical', in an impermanent reality (gplus.wallez.name/WCNkcftwdew).


What's the point of adding a lamp where there's already light?

Bring a new lamp where there's still some darkness to dispel!


#Buddhism #engagedBuddhism #Dharma
Illustration: Gilt-bronze multi-armed Avalokiteśvara, Ming Dynasty (China)
To walk a spiritual path alone goes with a high risk of falling prey to preconceived ideas, distortions, selfish biases, individual preferences and unexamined impulses. Conceited, unwholesome righteousness often arises from an initial desire to do "the right thing"… Guidance is available: contact me!
Buddhism has no specific guideline on supporting teachers, it simply asks for you to consider causality: if you want this living tradition to survive, how are you participating, in practical terms, to make this happen? Nice words, exposure or social media ‘+1’ might feel good, but they do not actually help with the basic necessities: http://koan.mu/donate.htm
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The place of faith

Faith in Buddhism is often discerned from "blind faith"; it's usually described as "more like a form of trust. "

You can —and are even encouraged to— test the teachings; you shouldn't accept them based on the fallacy of authority (i.e. based on who said this-or-that), nor on the fallacy of popularity (i.e. based on how many believe this-or-that)… so the "faith" is based on a projection "it worked so far, so let's trust that it might be helpful again (in the situation at hand)."

And mindfulness is supposed to be the protector against blind faith: based on past experience, you trust that the Dharma will be useful… yet you keep monitoring the situation, you don't blind yourself vis-à-vis the consequences of what you do (should the Dharma not apply, at least not the Dharma-that-you-understood-so-far ;-) ).


There's one particular situation though, when faith plays a major role in the practice: "not having a (personal) agenda".

We cultivate relinquishing biases, personal preferences, selfish tendencies… And sometimes, we push far enough to seek the relinquishment of "personal agendas", the relinquishment of "goals". We attempt not to cling to the outcomes (expected or hoped for) of our best (unselfish) efforts.

At that point, we see that agendas and goals (i.e. a specific type of views) are a primary source of conflictual relationship with reality, a root-cause of "fighting for what we want" as opposed to "experiencing peace".


But how do you avoid creating a goal of "not to have goals"?

Faith!

You simply apply the teachings, the practice of relinquishing stuff. You don't aim for "not to have goals". You just relinquish goals as they appear; you don't relinquish them for something; nor do you relinquish them not to have them; perpetual relinquishment is just a practice you've learnt to "trust", to have "faith" into… a practice which so far has yielded wholesome results and therefore is worth trying ;-)

By relinquishing thus, you embody your wholesome karma leading you towards awakening, without even having to "aim" for awakening: nirvana is unconditioned, yet the attainment of nirvana is the result of causes and conditions… When you embody said causes, you don't need (on top) to "aim for" nirvana, you don't need extra intentionality to get there. That's why efforts and endurance are praised by the Buddha, in relation to the causes and the "factors" of awakening (not in relation to nirvana itself).

Hence you arrive at a situation where, with no personal agenda, you do what's called for by the situation at hand (which will notably take into account that all sentient beings seek to avoid suffering… that we're all connected… that phenomena arise and cease based on supportive conditions arising and ceasing…). You do so with application, wisdom, 'right effort' and 'right intention', and yet without selfish nor biased agenda. You do so without a goal, and even without the goal of not having goals.



But this goal of "not having goals" may regularly pop back in our heads, so what do we do?

We just apply to this goal what we do to other goals! We relinquish it, we let it go: we refocus on the situation at hand and what it calls for, and give no weight (no lust, no aversion; no chase, no denial) to the 'goal' we just relinquished… we 'just' focus on something else, more constructive.

Refocusing 'at will' is why meditation is part of the path: meditation is a training in vigilance and in pliancy, so we can detect quickly whenever we drift towards unwholesome thoughts (and words and acts), and so we can refocus the mind easily and quickly on more wholesome conducts.

"Not having goal" doesn't need to be a goal… no more than nirvana and peace need to be the direct object of efforts: "not having goals" is a consequence… a consequence of focusing on what matters, what's beyond our little selves and selfish agendas; just like the attainment of nirvana (or of peace) is a consequence, of focusing on appropriate engagement with reality as it is (or of renouncing fights, in particular fights in the name of peace!).

#Buddhism #Dharma
image: gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus
Buddhism has no specific guideline on supporting teachers, it simply asks for you to consider causality: if you want this living tradition to survive, how are you participating, in practical terms, to make this happen? Nice words, exposure or social media ‘+1’ might feel good, but they do not actually help with the basic necessities: http://koan.mu/donate.htm
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Good intentions are no protection

One of the risks those on a spiritual path regularly need to tackle is… the hope that doing good, good intention, merit, etc, will somehow shield them from bad news or challenges… as if God (or the Universe or whatever) rewarded their good works by protecting them more than others.

Many spiritual people experience frustration when they try to help others and it doesn’t work (sometimes due to the active resistance of the very people they try to help!), and they wonder why a ‘pure’ intention (without hatred, with patience, etc.) doesn’t give better results.
The thing is, though, that such an intention does give better results (bringing positive energy always helps compared to negative energy)… but ‘better’ is far from ‘guaranteed’… and their brains crave for a ‘better’ or ‘best’ which is so good that it’s basically fail-proof… Better results don’t change the essential nature of things, though; in particular, it doesn’t allow to make the impermanent permanent, so their brains basically raise expectations to an unrealistic level, and thus set them up for disappointment.

Some bodhisattvas supposedly postpone their attainment of peace and bliss and whatever, for the sake of helping others attain it too. Thus, they basically choose to stay in samsara, in the realms of suffering, of anguish, of unsatisfactoriness, etc.
The sort of suffering they experience tends to arise from the frustration of not being able to help more or faster, of not finding the ‘right’ words all the time (not being ‘heard' by those the words are addressed to), etc.
The two Tara (white and green) are supposedly born from the tears of frustration of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of Compassion (who also has 11 heads and 1000 arms, as they split due to trying to 'reach out' more…).
The sort of suffering bodhisattvas experience tends to arise from the frustration that good intentions still do not allow them to force reality to comply with their wishes (no matter how good, benevolent or pure!).

Spiritual people tend to accept that 'tainted' intentions do not allow them to force reality to comply with their wishes… but they still crave for ‘special' intentions ('good', 'pure', etc.) which would allow them to force reality to comply with them wishes. Reality doesn’t allow that.
When encountering difficulties, it's not rare that well-intentioned people think that they might need to ‘fix’ something, that doing their best to be a good (insert-appropriate-term) clearly wasn’t enough and that some flaw stayed and needs fixing.
From a Buddhist perspective, this is an unrealistic hope that once reaching a ‘good enough’, being a good (insert-appropriate-term) would make life safe —to the point of permanently safe.
People might have been a good (insert-appropriate-term), but this cannot make life safe; it probably made it ‘better’, they probably had some positive results, it wasn’t all for nothing, but the ‘prize' was (and is) in the journey they had (and have), not in some kind of warranty.

Which then leads to the ‘but then why does (whatever) no longer work?’.
Most probably know already that such a question isn’t really helpful… The very idea that there’d be a (true) ‘why’ is linked to the idea that there was something to fix which would have provided for the warranty craved for. There’s no such ‘why’.
And it doesn’t make life ‘bleak’, or efforts ‘pointless', it just implies that the reward is in the journey (even if it includes some sadness too along the way), the reward is not found in attaining some sort of perfectly-safe state.
At times, this seems discouraging… at other times, we find it easier to go back to the "it’s in the journey” perspective.


Reality doesn’t comply to our wishes, it’s just not what it does, and good intentions don’t offer a magical solution (to the unsatisfactoriness / dukkha arising from this fact).

#Buddhism #Dharma
illustration: white Tara
Buddhism has no specific guideline on supporting teachers, it simply asks for you to consider causality: if you want this living tradition to survive, how are you participating, in practical terms, to make this happen? Nice words, exposure or social media ‘+1’ might feel good, but they do not actually help with the basic necessities: http://koan.mu/donate.htm
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The first quality to cultivate is not meditative!

Westerners love to think they can pick and choose… bad habit from unexamined consumerism! So of the eightfold path, they go straight to the 7th (mindfulness) and 8th (concentration) spokes; of the 6 paramita, they go straight for the 6th (wisdom). Bad habit of Western arrogance, mixed with the delusion that freedom lies in letting unexamined impulses/desires dictate one's next move/goal/practice!

And yet, the instructions are clear… and refraining from doing as one pleases is the beginning of a wider practice (much based on restraint)!


Generosity / dana is the first parami(ta) in Buddhism, both in Theravada and Mahayana schools.

And no excuse (most people invent some reason or another not to give) changes this fact.

The person typically praised in suttas and other texts is thus:
« Now, at that time, in Benares, a certain brahman of great wealth and resources was a well unto recluses and brahmans, indigents, tramps, wayfarers and beggars, gave away food, drink, clothes, lodging and other benefits. He ordered his life and gave, according to opportunity and as was fitting, to those coming and going, everything necessary for the road. »
— excerpt from book II, story 2, in Gehman, S: ``Stories of the departed'', in "Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon, volume IV", Pali Text Society (1942)

Such a praise includes the two key angles to consider in order to start / keep / maintain a constructive practice of dana / generosity.


The first angle is to remember (stay mindful) that, by taking care of oneself one helps others, and by taking care of others one takes cares of oneself… Giving so much that you will later require help from others is usually unwise: you're displacing a problem rather than reducing/solving it.

But giving little does count, generosity is not about excesses.
« Even when there's next to nothing, giving is good. » — SN 1.33


The second angle is to remember (stay mindful) that it's not about you!

« For generosity, nothing to do; other than stop fixating on one self. » —Milarepa, “song on the Six Perfections”

If you can give a lot but only a little is needed, just give a little (it's not about you shining!)… then help elsewhere with the rest! Wasting / splashing resources is not 'generosity'.

The mirror situation exists of course: give as much as you can (but still in accordance with 'first angle' above), and yes this requires effort and the said effort is indeed indicative of a genuine 'practice', of 'right effort'. Giving what you don't care about losing, what costs you nothing, is not yet 'generosity': it's not about you staying comfortable, and genuine practice is meant to shake one's attachments and fears (incl. the fear of missing)…

« having given the donation attentively, having given the donation with his own hand, having given the donation thoughtfully, having given the donation not as if he were throwing it away… » — DN 23



« If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving and sharing, they would not eat without have given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared, if there were someone to receive their gift. But because beings do not know, as I know, the results of giving and sharing, they eat without have given. The stain of miserliness overcomes their minds. » — Iti 26


#Buddhism #Dharma
cf. also dana sutta, on consequences attached to various intentions behind giving: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an07/an07.049.than.html
Buddhism has no specific guideline on supporting teachers, it simply asks for you to consider causality: if you want this living tradition to survive, how are you participating, in practical terms, to make this happen? Nice words, exposure or social media ‘+1’ might feel good, but they do not actually help with the basic necessities: http://koan.mu/donate.htm
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This article is focused on academia, however the same could be said of teacher-student 'mentoring' relationships in the Dharma… and the same debate arises, between those who believe in "clear solutions, sharp rules, or a tidy legalistic pathway through the murky terrain of misconduct via institutional channels" (often attempting to protect the institutions and their personal influence there, rather than actually protecting students) and those who see the illusions and vacuities behind such attempts (but then can only offer less clear, blurrier, context-specific guidelines susceptible of interpretations… which few find satisfactory, because it's so much easier to hide behind rules than to take responsibility!).
Food for thought.
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Craving for Awakening, and the poisoned arrow

It is a staple criticism of Buddhism that craving for Awakening is still craving, and since Buddhism teaches that craving ought to be abandoned, craving for Awakening is inconsistent with the Dhamma.
This, of course, is missing the point of a path, of a process: if one craving (for Awakening) allows to abandon many cravings, it might make sense as a useful step on the way to abandoning all cravings. And sure, Awakening will require abandoning the craving for Awakening, in due time… and as a matter of fact, the Dhamma confirms so. It remains that, as an expedient means, one craving is temporarily a worthy goal, if one start from a position of many cravings.

Interestingly, though, one might also suggest re-reading the Sunakkhatta sutta (MN 105).
In it, the Buddha discusses monks with the thought « Craving is said by the Contemplative to be an arrow. The poison of ignorance spreads its toxin through desire, passion, & ill will. I have abandoned the arrow. I have expelled the poison of ignorance. I am rightly intent on Unbinding. »
In it, craving / intent is not necessarily the issue! The ignorance, biasing the craving towards unskillful objects, is the issue.
Similarly, the twelve-fold chain of Dependent Origination (dvādasanidānāni) start from 'ignorance'. Craving (taṇhā) is in the chain leading to "ageing and death, sorrow, lamentation, sadness and distress", yet it's in 8th position; it denotes an ignorant way to relate to experiences (later leading to a particular appropriation / identity). Without ignorance, unskillful craving doesn't arise; the craving leading to dukkha doesn't arise.

And if one has some sense of humour, even tainted and ignorant craving is great! Because it leads to suffering… thus indirectly is a supporting condition for faith [in the Dhamma ] (upon recognising that the Dhamma describes how dukkha comes to be), which in turn will support joy, rapture, tranquillity, happiness, concentration, the knowledge and vision of things as they really are, disenchantment, dispassion, emancipation, and the knowledge of the destruction (of the cankers)… according to the upanisā sutta (SN 12.23).
So yes, craving for Awakening commonly is tainted by ignorance (suffice to say that, prior to Awakening, people are making a lot of erroneous assumptions about what Awakening is and what the experience of it is) but that's OK. It is one craving that still allows to abandon many, and is skilful / useful along the way.
Just be clear that replacing one craving by one another isn't constructive; the trade-off is only wholesome if at least 2 cravings are given up ;-) Choose them wisely: if you can abandon greed and aversion (w.r.t. many phenomena), or abandon the craving for existence and for non-existence, you're close to the goal!


#Buddhism #Dharma
image: monk at the Thiksey Archery Festival (source unknown)
Buddhism has no specific guideline on supporting teachers, it simply asks for you to consider causality: if you want this living tradition to survive, how are you participating, in practical terms, to make this happen? Nice words, exposure or social media ‘+1’ might feel good, but they do not actually help with the basic necessities: http://koan.mu/donate.htm
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Understanding Nibbana within daily life

«
The word Nibbana means "cool." Back when it was just an ordinary word which people used in their homes it also meant "cool." When it is used as Dhamma language, in a religious context, it still means "cool," but refers to cool from the fires of defilement (kilesa), while in the common people's usage it means cool from physical fires.
(…)
When seeing a fire go out or something hot cooling down, look for the meaning of Nibbana.
When bathing or drinking ice water, when a breeze blows or rain falls, take notice of the meaning of Nibbana.
When a fever subsides, a swelling goes down, or a headache goes away, recognize the meaning of Nibbana as being found in those things.
When perspiring, sleeping comfortably, or eating one's fill, see the meaning of Nibbana.
When seeing an animal with all its fierceness and danger tamed out, see the meaning of Nibbana.
All of these are lessons to help us understand the nature of Nibbana in every moment. The mind will regularly incline towards contentment with Nibbana and this helps the mind to flow more easily along the path of Nibbana.
»
— Buddhadasa bhikkhu: Nibbana for everyone

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Impermanence

Experienced phenomena 'constantly' change. Yet, the change can be fast or extremely slow… so slow it might be hard to notice!

Experienced phenomena 'constantly' change: at times the 'external' conditions supporting the experience change… at other times, it's mostly the experience itself that changes, because 'internal' expectations changed (from taking the phenomenon for granted or getting bored, to becoming impatient).

Experienced phenomena are impermanent. Things can 'improve', or 'worsen'… according to ourselves, others, both, none ! Losses can allow for new opportunities, gains can become prisons (some high-paying, top jobs certainly feel that way).


In Theravada countries, anicca vata sankhara — "Impermanent, alas, are all compounds!" — is used after a loved one died.

In general, sankhara may refer to all phenomena, really, but often it refers more specifically to the ideas/representations we have of phenomena (both a result of interacting with them, and an influence on how we'll interact with them!). The sense of loss when someone dies encompasses not only what was but also what (was imagined as what) could have been; the sense of loss (or relief?) is also more linked to our perceived relationship to that person than to who this person truly was, how this person perceived oneself, etc.
Prejudices, preferences, partial blindness, expectations, abusive generalisations —in short, ignorance— pollute 'compounds': the untamed mind often sees only what it desires to see!

The 'alas' is an expedient means, an expression of empathy toward a confused experiencer suffering in that instant… yet, impermanence doesn't call for sadness: sadness only arises from the disappointment born when you expect permanence… No expectation of permanence, no clinging, no surprise and no disappointment!
« Since in this very life a tathagata is not to be regarded as existing in reality, is it proper for you to assert: "as I understand the doctrine taught by the Exalted One, insofar as a bhikkhu has destroyed the intoxicants/passions, he is broken up and perishes when body is broken up, he exists not after death"? »
— Yamaka sutta (SN 22.85)
Impermanence calls for not taking for granted that experiences will continue as they currently exist. It might call for appreciation in the moment, it might call for not getting disheartened, it might call for appreciating some changes… i.e. it calls for discernment, not for fear of the change/unknown!
Impermanence calls for engagement, for "right effort", for giving rise to the wholesome, cultivating the wholesome, abandoning the unwholesome, and ceasing the unwholesome.


« Three kinds of feelings, monks, are impermanent, compounded, dependently arisen, liable to destruction, to evanescence, to fading away, to cessation: pleasant feeling, painful feeling, and neutral feeling. »
— anicca sutta (SN 36.9)

You cannot step twice into the same river. 'New' is no longer new, expectations arise, generalisations are drawn.
A mind gets used to things (pleasant or unpleasant is irrelevant): there's a strong tendency for the untamed mind to conclude that how it perceives phenomena corresponds to how they inherently are, there's a strong tendency for the untamed mind to conclude that subjective experiences are objective.
But then the experienced reality doesn't comply with your expectations, and expectations themselves evolve… in a perpetual attempt (and stressful fight) to force subjectivity to match objectivity, in a perpetual dissatisfaction.
Part of a more constructive approach is to refrain from creating 'certainties', from defining, from projecting ideals; at the very least, "unless it's necessary". It might turn out it rarely is… necessary.
When faced with a choice between perpetually engaging with reality as it is, or perpetually engaging with biased, disappointing fictions, which one will the wise elect?
It might seem scary to deal with reality without certainties… but to deal with reality based on misrepresentations is worse: the latter indeed guarantees that you'll hit the wall! At least, with mindful presence, you stand a chance ;-)


#Buddhism #Dharma
Buddhism has no specific guideline on supporting teachers, it simply asks for you to consider causality: if you want this living tradition to survive, how are you participating, in practical terms, to make this happen? Nice words, exposure or social media ‘+1’ might feel good, but they do not actually help with the basic necessities: koan.mu/donate.htm
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