Author Topic: Practices of Various Practitioners  (Read 1262 times)

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Practices of Various Practitioners
« on: July 19, 2017, 05:08:53 am »
Quote
Artist Magistra:  "Hi, Ron, can you make a thread about all your practices and precepts and all that? It may benefit vistors as well. I'd really like to see too. Thank you!"

I started this thread as a result of the above contributor's suggestion so that others might make themselves aware of what we call our various practices.  These will be stated from personal perspective, rather than by rehashing dogmatic viewpoints or teachings, with a short explantion as to why and how it works personally in my life.

The Precepts:

"Cause no harm to sentient beings / living beings."


I spent most of my childhood playing in the woods, where life-forms could be observed in their various forms.  Parents in those days sent their kids out the front door and didn't expect to see them until sundown.  While in the woods and forests these woodland animals, plants, and insects brought me great wonder and studied interest.  They were more like my playmates than "other" creatures.  Squirrels, foxes, racoons, badgers, deer, an occasional black bear, bees, hornets, wasps, ants, mosquitoes,grass hoppers, birds of all varieties, large and small were everywhere around me to be seen and with whom I would share my lunch, or just observe and enjoy with endless fascination.

Trees, grasses, vines in particular provided my playground equipment.  Trees were to be climbed and used as observation towers.  Grasses were my bed.  Vines were my transport into the deepest jungles of Africa where in my imagination I could become Tarzan of The Apes, although I had never seen an ape, other than man-apes except in the movies or the zoo.

My paternal grandmother raised chickens, and it was my duty to collect the eggs in the morning from the hen coop.

My grandmother also had a grape arbor, which always produced magnificent Concord grapes from which she produced delicious varieties of wines.

Her garden yielded tomatoes, egg plants, peppers, lettuces, potatoes, and other varieties of plants, which were too numerous  for my mind to recall, except for her fig trees, and apples.

And then there were members of the family:  my parents, my aunts and uncles, cousins in all sizes and genders, but most importanly, my grandmother.

I had no grandfather on either side of my family.  They had both died before I was born in their fifties.

Later there were classmates, teachers, neighbors, neighbor's children, but during the impressionable years of my childhood, my whole impression of my universe pretty much existed in my grandmother's yard and the adjacent woods and forest.

So, the first precept, "Cause no harm.." came naturally to me, as I would never cause harm to any of my playmates, to my toys, or to members of my family who clothed me, fed me, placed a roof over my head, loved and cared for me and taught me with great care and kindness to love and care for others.

Hope this is a good start.

I will speak of other precepts in subsequent posts.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2017, 09:44:06 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline The Artis Magistra

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2017, 12:11:35 pm »
Please continue, that was wonderful, and thank you so much for making this available to everyone here!

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2017, 02:45:51 pm »
Precepts:  "Take not that which has not been freely given."

Born into a large family community, the belongings of others, especially those of relatives were always available for the taking.  However, I can not remember even one occasion where such things were not readily shared and to which I was welcome to take whatever I wanted.  The only exceptions were those things like tools which were needed to perform necessary household tasks.  For example, I was told on many occasions not to play with my grandmother's shears, because she needed them for doing seamstress work and they were not toys for little boys.

Fishing poles, bottom weights, spoons and hooks were  part of the gear that we were allowed and even expected to use, when we would go fishing in The Bay for fish. When crabbing in a nearby river, we would need nets, lines and bait, which was always readily available, lying on the docks for anyone to use, or which would be provided by an uncle before we loaded our equipment into our row boat and heading out into the river very early in the morning well before sunrise. 

Food was always provided whether at home , school, in the forest , or working the waters for seafood.  So, there was never any need to take what belonged to others.  We were always part of the group, which had resources, which they were always ready and willing to share.

The same was true for clothing and shelter.  Much of my clothing came from older cousins as I had no brothers older than me.  When I needed for something, an aunt or an uncle would provide if my parents could not afford to buy them for me.  Those family members who had older children would readily offer outgrown clothing for us younger folks to wear.

On one occasion, while still in elementary school this custom got me into trouble with the parents of a neighborhood playmate.  He had a brand new bicycle, which he let me ride and would always let me borrow.  One morning before going to school, I decided that I was too tired to walk to school and thought it would be a great idea to take his bike and ride it to school. Since he wasn't around I decided it would be OK for me to borrow it for the day.

Arriving at school on my friend's bike, my school mates complimented me on my new bicycle and  the compliments made me feel proud, even important, so I just smiled and did not bother to tell them that the bike belonged to a friend and pretended it was mine. 

Back in those days it wasn't necessary to use bicycle locks as theft wasn't a problem at our school.  However, when classes were over, I went to the bike rack and the bicycle was gone.  I was terrified, because, not only did the bike not belong to me, but, now I would have to replace it, because it was my fault that it was stolen from the school yard.

I remember the walk home after school as being terrifying to me, because I knew what I had done was wrong.  When I got home, my mother, and one of my uncles was waiting for me, and the first thing that came out of their mouths, was  asking me if I took my friend's bike from his house.  I hesitantly admitted that I did, because I knew that somehow I was in trouble.  I explained that my friend and I had a deal that I could borrow his bike any time I wanted to, which was truly a fine deal between friends, except for the fact that my friend and I never got his parents agreement that this arrangement was OK with them.  Apparently, my friend had planned to take his own bike that morning, and he didn't realize until much later that it was me who had "stolen" his bike.  When my mother was approached by my friend's mother, suspecting what I had done, my mother called my uncle who drove  to my school and retrieved the wayward bicycle.  He decided not to inform me, but instead to wait until I got home from school to teach me a lesson.

Clearly understanding what I had done wrong by taking the bike without permission, I apologized to my friend's parents and to my friend.  For punishment my parents told me that I was no longer allowed to borrow his bike ever again.  Now, this was a pretty stern punishment, pretty much a maximum sentence for a seven year old.  However, the next July, on my birthday, I came home from playing in the fields near my home to find a brand new Schwinn Bicycle sitting beneath my window, purchased for me by the very same uncle, who had come to my school to find the bicycle, which  I had borrowed without permission of my friend's parents.

I ran to my friend's house to show him my new bike, and we rode together up and down our neighborhood streets.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2017, 03:00:33 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline The Artis Magistra

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2017, 05:25:21 pm »
I'm enjoying this very personal intimate account greatly, thank you so much for all the time and effort taken in writing all that out, its really nice to see.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2017, 05:34:19 pm »
My main practice is Shamatha meditation.  This is what I was taught when I was introduced to Tibetan Buddhism and I've continued it ever since.

When I do a formal "sit"  I recite a liturgy that includes a Kagyu Lineage prayer, a long-life supplication for my guru, the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa, and my guru's root guru.  I also recite the heart sutra and a short Vajrasattva practice.  This is a karma purification practice recomended by my guru to his students.  I end the practice with a merit dedication.

I am doing Ngondro practice.  This is a practice for preparation for tantric practices.  Apart from that, I'm not at liberty to discuss the particulars.

I do Tonglen regularly.  It's a bodhichitta practice.  Refer to Pema Chodron's book "Start Where You Are" for a great discussion and instruction on this practice.  There are a number of varioations.  I do a practice taught by Geshe Michael Roach.

I do an Amitabha practice when those close to me die.  THis is a pure land practice to aid the dying or dead to pass though the Bardos and take birth in Amithaba's pure land.

My guru discouraged me from doing precept practices like Ron describes.  "You'd bring too much self into it.  Perfect your main practice and the precepts will follow in due course.". 

Offline EaglesWing

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2017, 05:45:09 pm »
Please continue, that was wonderful, and thank you so much for making this available to everyone here!

I tried to practice breathing meditation I read on the internet called 'Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.'

I did this for a while but I started to feel desolate, alone & empty. The fear just suddenly arose and I could not meditate any more. Lately, I have been having an existential crisis about the world & life.

Can any help? Can you help me The Artis Magistra?

Thanking you

 :anjali:

 

Offline The Artis Magistra

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2017, 07:58:15 pm »
Please continue, that was wonderful, and thank you so much for making this available to everyone here!

I tried to practice breathing meditation I read on the internet called 'Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.'

I did this for a while but I started to feel desolate, alone & empty. The fear just suddenly arose and I could not meditate any more. Lately, I have been having an existential crisis about the world & life.

Can any help? Can you help me The Artis Magistra?

Thanking you

 :anjali:

I will keep trying, if what I offered in the other thread doesn't work, then we will work on other ways to get you feeling more functional and capable in life.

Offline EaglesWing

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2017, 11:30:45 pm »
I will keep trying, if what I offered in the other thread doesn't work, then we will work on other ways to get you feeling more functional and capable in life.

I doubt it will work because what was offered was terrible.  :help:

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2017, 12:27:53 am »
The Precepts:

"Abstaining from sexual misconduct.".



My earliest childhood memory was of lying on my back on the floor in my grandmother's garage engaging in sexual activity with an older family member.  This same family member perpetrated these sexual activities not only with me from age five or so till I was age eight, when he was, many years later, discovered to be doing the same kind of thing with my "baby" sister.  He was arrested for it at the request of my mother, sentenced by the courts to imprisonment and psychiatric treatment untill his physicians found him to be "cured", which anyone having even the most basic understanding of pedophilia knows that cures of this abhorent sexual behaviour truly never happens.

According to my psychological councilors in their workups, as a result of this early childhood experience my concept of what was a normal and well adjusted sexual relationship with age and gender appropriate mates was at the best misguided and inappropriate well into my young adulthood resulting in uncountable promiscuous, often disastrous sexual encounters and bizarre relationships that all ended badly well into my adulthood until I met my first wife. 

In the Philippines, while serving in the military, I once had a prostitute tell me that the other young women in her professional sexual sisterhood community labeled me a "butterfly boy" indicating that I flitted from one prostitute to the next seemingly never satisfied as a butterfly flits from one flower to the next.  This was not favored by these young women, because they preferred young men who were faithful to one, and hoped that their favorite sexual customers would marry them, take them to America and share a long life with them in marital bliss.

Most of these young Filipino women were from poorest of families and were sold into sexual slavery by their parents or  guardians.  Many were the progeny of Filipino natives and military men, who frequented their brothels, literally born into sexual servitude.  These were actually sought by their "owners", because they would inherit phenotypic (physically apparent) characteristics desired by their clients, thereby improving business. 

The desirability of these young women, as with all sexual attractiveness only lasted in their youth, or until they acquired some disfiguring sexually transmitted disease, which was common to brothel workers, until appropriate medical surveillance and treatment became the norm, which certainly wasn't the case during the time of my youth.

When I found my first wife and we decided to be married, she asked me as we were lying in bed together, if I had ever been with another woman.  She asked this, because she was a virgin and had abstained from sexual congress until she was married as was the custom for women in my society.   I told the truth to her and said that I had been with other women, which I thought would end the conversation, but she persisted in that line of questioning and asked again, "How many?"

Trying to be honest, I answered, "I don't know."  "Perhaps hundreds."...which answer hurt her deeply, and she could not even look at me, let alone speak to me for days.

As uncomfortable days and nights went on, my bride eventually shared with me that she had faith in me that I would remain faithful to her so long as we shall live as we had promised to each other.  And the truth is that I was until the day that she died in our bed over thirty-five years later.

This form of marital fidelity was not the norm in my family culture.  Literally every male member of my family used to brag about their extra-marital escapades.  My aunts were apparently aware of this and cited many examples of how they had to fight for the possession of their men.  One experienced many, many divorces and remarriages due to infidelity.  Ironically the rest remained married till the day they died, but none of them seemed happy in their relationships.  Many of the males drank themselves into liver, heart, and brain diseases before they died miserable deaths, except for one, who died in his sleep., apparently faithful to his wife in his old age.

When my first wife died, I was lost again, panicking and searching desperately for someone to fill my life as she did.  Someone to love.  Someone to trust.  Someone to provide warmth, hearth, and home to share with me.

After the panic subsided, waned, and became barely noticeable, I was able to see clearly enough to find a mate who qualified in  the attributes I had come to admire from the exemplary example of the first woman I married and with whom we produced our four children.

My newly wed bride and I will celebrate our eleventh anniversary this November.  I remain faithful to our marriage, inspired by the beneficial results of fidelity in my first marriage of thirty-eight years till death did us part.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2017, 05:43:43 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline The Artis Magistra

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2017, 02:23:52 am »
I will keep trying, if what I offered in the other thread doesn't work, then we will work on other ways to get you feeling more functional and capable in life.

I doubt it will work because what was offered was terrible.  :help:

Haha but that is the whole story, that is the whole point. We offer, and we offer again, and we offer until we get it right.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2017, 09:30:06 pm »
Precepts:

Refraining from incorrect speech.


Probably the most difficult to keep of all the precepts for me is and was that of  abstaining from incorrect speech. 

This is/was particularly true for situations, which resulted in debates, or which attempted to resolve arguments.  The goal for me  in these situations seemed to be to "win" rather than to create harmony, or to come to agreements, which would allow resolution of problems, which resulted in debates or arguments.  I found this particularly true when caught in the act of lying, or where feelings of defensiveness arose, which I felt required me to save face or to justify what later proved to be dubious actions, or which resulted in unsatisfactory consequences.

Teasing, downright meanness, and/or bullying was very commonplace in our school environments. Therefore, as a child, particularly as a teen it seemed only reasonable to return such treatment in kind, when, as Buddha taught us, just the opposite is true:  The countermeasures for unkindness is kindness.  The appropriate response to bullying is loving-kindness.  The solution to disrespect is showing compassion, and etc..

When astounded or overwhelmed by abusive speech, I have recently found that silence or biting my tongue seems to serve me well, bringing much better results than returning verbal assault for verbal assault.

Character assassination seems to be a big problem today, especially within the context of social media.  I have learned that taking personal disagreements offline, or out of thread with the use of private messaging seems to be much more effective, and tends to cool things down more effectively.

Of course these approaches don't always work, and sometimes it becomes necessary to "ignore" for ongoing peace of mind.

Unfortunately there are no "ignore" buttons, which seem to work for marriage couples.  What does seems to work is to talk things out and to be certain never to go to bed angry.  I found that kissing seems to help in this case.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2017, 10:12:37 pm »
Precepts:

"Abstain from mind altering substances."


My first experience, which gave me a clue as to why Buddha recommended this rule for laypersons, was as a child.  My aunts and uncles used to gather at my grandmother's home for dinner pretty much every Sunday.  Most of them worked together and used to enjoy playing cards and drinking shots of whiskey and drinking beer while playing.

My uncles would leave their drinks sitting on the edge of the dining room table, and one day I decided to be like the big folks, picked up a "double shot" and knocked it back, ...immitating what I saw my uncles do all the time, while playing cards.  My throat screamed with pain, and I went to the kitchen sink for relief by placing my mouth around the spiggot and swallowing until the pain was bearable.  Exiting the kitchen through the door which led to back porch I escaped into the back yard, lay down and stared at the sky.  Shortly, I vomitted my five year old guts out and was glad that I was lying in the grass, instead of my grandmother's kitchen.

The next time I succombed to the effects of too much alcohol was in Japan, where I consumed an entire fifth of "Crown Royal" in one sitting.  The occassion was my separation from The Military as I was shipping home the following day, and my comrads donated the fifth to me as a token of their respect and friendship.  I woke up the next morning with my feet sticking out of the top of some hedges, and when able to free myself, I walked five miles back to my base of operations.  This was the first of only a few blackouts that I can recall during my drinking career.

Eventually, I realized that I was an "Event binge drinker" and needed to stop, or make a medical reservation for a new liver and brain.  This realization worked for attenuation for about twenty years, but I never actually quit drinking alcohol so long as someone else was buying.   I was one of those cheap drunks you see at company parties, wakes, and weddings, which still made me an event binge drinker.

Then my 16 year old daughter's boy friend brought her home one night as she was stoned out of her mind, apparently on pure grain alcohol mixed with Kool Aide.  I was furious, and couldn't seem to comprehend that children often follow the example that their parents set.  This was true for me, and it was true for her.  So, I went though my home, collected all of my bottles and poured the contents down the drain.  I sent my 16 year old to a rehab clinic, and I joined Alcoholic's Anonymous and have been abstaining from alcohol and sober since April 17th, 1984 @ 17:00.

One of the greatest attractions of the practice of Buddhism for me was and has been the fifth precept.  I am reminded of its value every time I see a traffic fatality report due to a drunk colliding with and killing a family in another car.

What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline The Artis Magistra

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2017, 01:27:38 am »
Awesome work, you are on a beautiful roll!

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2017, 04:15:47 am »
... inspired by the beneficial results of fidelity...

... have been abstaining from alcohol and sober since April 17th, 1984 @ 17:00....

... What does seems to work is to talk things out and to be certain never to go to bed angry...

 :sun: :sunny: :-bd  :namaste:

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Practices of Various Practitioners
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2017, 10:15:17 am »
Meditation

My first experience with meditation was after having read a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn a well known author and practitioner regarding the topic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Kabat-Zinn

Zinn studied under Tich Naht Hahn and Master Seung Zahn.  He was one of the founders of The Cambridge Zen Center.

My second group experience was with The Rochester, N.Y. Zen Center along with The Flour City Buddhist Meditation Group, which practiced both Zen type sitting, and Walking meditation.  It was with this group that I was exposed again to the writings of Tich Naht Hahn, with whom I was familiar from my tangential exposure to Zen Buddhism while serving in Hue', South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Next I joined a Laotian Theravadin group in Rochester, N.Y., where I first became exposed to Theravadin Monks and Bhikkhunis, while the Laotian community was building their temple

Through my studies of Buddha's teachings within the Pali Canon, and The Tipi Taka, I became familiar with Vipassana , or Insight Meditation:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vipassan%C4%81

Then I discoverd "breath" , or samantha meditation:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/inmind.html

Each of these methods, from my experience, has their application due to my current life circumstances. When there is a problem with which I am concerned, insight meditation seems to be the way for me to go.  When I am attempting to deepen my experience with meditation practice in general, or feel a need to expand my deliverance of compassion, then samantha seems right. When confronted with frustrating life circumstances such as long lines, or seemingly endless collumns of traffic on the expressway due to a collision somewhere ahead, unseen, simply focussing on and being mindfull of the breath seems the right way to go.

But, there is a type of meditation, which I found / and still find most practical and of benefit when experiencing what I refer to as "The Monkey Mind", a mental state of unresolved conflict, what we referred to in first year psychology as "mental dissonance".  That is where simply observing my mind without any form of intentional interfearence seems to work best.

This practice reminds me of a poem, which I recall from The Dhammapadda:  "The mind leads the heart as the Ox pulls the cart."   As both Buddha and later Zinn pointed out, if our minds are out of control, then our actions are predisposed to follow. :namaste:


« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 11:01:04 am by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

 


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