Author Topic: Hello everyone! Very new to Buddhism :)  (Read 579 times)

Offline Safay

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Hello everyone! Very new to Buddhism :)
« on: September 14, 2016, 11:12:09 am »
Hello everyone, I am very new to Buddhism but have studied ( well read a few books at least ) on Taoism in the past. I wasn't raised a religion per say, more like a new age kind of deal growing up with bits of Jesus thrown in so I am sort of finding my way and hope to find a path that suites me. From the outside Buddhism came off as depressing at first but now I am beginning to grow curious as Taoism started to fade away from my heart.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Hello everyone! Very new to Buddhism :)
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2016, 09:39:06 am »
Welcome. This forum is a good place to further your interest.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Hello everyone! Very new to Buddhism :)
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2016, 11:21:26 am »
Hi, Safay.  Welcome to FreeSangha.

Re your statement: 
Quote
" From the outside Buddhism came off as depressing.."

Out of curiosity:  In what way did you find Buddhism depressing?
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 stillpointdancer

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Re: Hello everyone! Very new to Buddhism :)
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2016, 03:04:44 am »
Hi, Safay.  Welcome to FreeSangha.

Re your statement: 
Quote
" From the outside Buddhism came off as depressing.."

Out of curiosity:  In what way did you find Buddhism depressing?

Good question Ron. I don't know about what Safay experienced, but I can see that if you got hold of certain Buddhist books it can sound pretty dire. Being brought up a Christian it would be so easy to read translations which use the language of Christianity, there being no other words to use, which make it sound like the very thing you were trying to find an alternative to.

The Buddhists you meet are important too. I was lucky in that the Buddhist center I first went to was very welcoming, and full of enthusiastic people who seemed happy in their practice and everyday lives. The depressing part was down to one or two individuals insisting that it was impossible to gain enlightenment in this lifetime, so you must be a good Buddhist now to get a more favorable birth next time round. Now that's depressing.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Hello everyone! Very new to Buddhism :)
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2016, 12:41:59 pm »
Quote
Stillpointdancer:  " The depressing part was down to one or two individuals insisting that it was impossible to gain enlightenment in this lifetime, so you must be a good Buddhist now to get a more favorable birth next time round. Now that's depressing."


Yes.  I understand.  There used to be a Buddhist Emoticon, which was a little man with his hair on fire.  I believe it was part of Dhammawheel's emogy collection, which indicated that due to our suffering we were on fire, but didn't realize that there was literally an emergency to which we must respond with great urgency!  Worse yet, when we did realize our dire condition in our ignorance we didn't know what to do about it, until we discovered The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eight Fold Path, which gave us the solution to extinguish our fire. Yet somehow most of us are willing to endure such pain and suffering for multiple lifetimes, perhaps we don't get that the power to end our own suffering is within our control.  Even more startling, you are right, there are those of us who seem to be enthrawed with the appearence of flames in our hair, and are satisfied to just run around looking in the mirror admiring ourselves as if enduring endless suffering was a condition of which we should be proud or deserving of sympathetic attention. Like pigs, we  sometimes even seem to gain satisfaction from wallowing in our own "crap". :smack:

In a way it seems sordidly humorous, but not so funny given the realization that the most painful injuries and the most difficult to treat, because of complications of infection are third degree burns. 

Buddha seemed especially concerned about third degree burns of the mind, which can lead to severe depression, aberrant behaviors, perhaps ending in suicide, and subsequent endless cycles of nonbeneficial rebirths, arising in seemingly infinite degenerative loops often resulting in sojourns in the hell realms.  Buddha likened dukkha, our suffering, stress and dissatisfaction to a fire of the mind, and that if we wished to be "unbound" from this fire, we would have to learn and act with a sense of urgency to extinguish it, because appearance in the human realm, a place where we can discover and learn The Dhamma is quite rare.:

Quote
"How is it, Master Gotama, when Master Gotama is asked if the monk reappears... does not reappear... both does & does not reappear... neither does nor does not reappear, he says, '...doesn't apply' in each case. At this point, Master Gotama, I am befuddled; at this point, confused. The modicum of clarity coming to me from your earlier conversation is now obscured."

"Of course you're befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you're confused. Deep, Vaccha, is this phenomenon, hard to see, hard to realize, tranquil, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. For those with other views, other practices, other satisfactions, other aims, other teachers, it is difficult to know. That being the case, I will now put some questions to you. Answer as you see fit. What do you think, Vaccha: If a fire were burning in front of you, would you know that, 'This fire is burning in front of me'?"

"...yes..."

"And suppose someone were to ask you, Vaccha, 'This fire burning in front of you, dependent on what is it burning?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"

"...I would reply, 'This fire burning in front of me is burning dependent on grass & timber as its sustenance.'"

"If the fire burning in front of you were to go out, would you know that, 'This fire burning in front of me has gone out'?"

"...yes..."

"And suppose someone were to ask you, 'This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"

"That doesn't apply, Master Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass and timber, being unnourished — from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other — is classified simply as 'out' (unbound)."

"Even so, Vaccha, any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea. 'Reappears' doesn't apply. 'Does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Both does & does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Neither reappears nor does not reappear' doesn't apply.


source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.072.than.html

Buddha refers again to the analogy of fire in reference to suffering:




Quote

From:  Kor Khao-suan-luang
Usom Sathan
Khao-suan-luang
Rajburi.
23rd April 1972

The Lord Buddha has laid down the Recollections of the Four Requisites [of life], which, for the monks, are: robe material, alms food, shelter, and medicine. He said that if they weren't considered merely as material exigencies, as elements,[1] free of all ideas of self, then the yellow robe, the lump of rice, the hut and medicines would all burst into flame. Even though we may not be monks and only beginners in Dhamma practice, if we really have the determination to be rid of the defilements and self, then there's no loss in trying to follow a similar basic rule. If we don't, imagine how the defilements, craving, clinging, and self will relentlessly proliferate. So we have to make our choice: simply to follow the old way, or to strive towards the ending of self. Each one of you should take this to heart. Turning to examine internally is difficult, but even modest application will result in great benefit. Actually catching the deceit of self in the act of plunging one still deeper into suffering, and being able, there and then, to wipe it out — this is truly a reward beyond price.

The failure to implement this eradication, this giving up of self, lays the basis for the intensification of suffering. For, by not bringing it in for examination, it is able to grow freely. You may be able to quote and recite the scriptures — and even skillfully teach others — yet the mind remains impure and confused. By clearly seeing this you will feel revulsion for everything involved with this craving and desire. You will start to give generously and to make sacrifices, no matter how difficult it seems, and thereby suffering can no longer secure a hold. Each small renunciation builds its own reward in the mind until there is complete victory.

Anyone having a strong tendency towards stinginess — which is a particular defilement — seems unable to give anything up. They are reluctant to examine themselves or admit that they can possibly harbor a disease as severe as selfishness. If they would frequently make an inspection, that sort of defilement wouldn't dare to show its face. But by being negligent the defilement grows strong and bold, and is capable of the most selfish and despicable acts. Such people will then be able to appropriate the property of a community, such as we have here, for their own selfish purposes.

By turning to a constant probing of your mind, you'll be able to succeed in the giving up of unworthy attachments. Whatever you do will then become Dhamma, and will be of assistance to our companions in [this world of] birth, sickness, old age and death. The getting rid of selfishness will also allow you to come to the aid of others, without caring about the hardships involved. Without self we are truly on the noble way.

The practice of Dhamma needs orderliness in daily life. Any slackness is inappropriate. Another point here is that any shortcomings in behavior allow defilements a chance to come forth more easily. Orderliness helps to arouse mindfulness, which may in its turn forestall the defilements. Disregard for rules and regulations brings nothing, whereas conscientiously abiding by them can bring benefit. They give one a sense of how properly to respond to any situation, and this is necessary because we still can't completely understand by ourselves. The Lord Buddha knew the situation from every side, whereas we are surrounded by darkness and ignorance. This means we can't be sure of ourselves — either externally or internally — and so must depend on Dhamma and the Way it points out to us. The decision — to follow Dhamma or to wander away — remains with each one of you.

Anyone who wishes to be rid of their defilements and suffering, will need vigilance as an asset of mind and must then be diligent and persevere. Forever encountering the scorching fire of suffering, they will finally have to stop, turn and set themselves the task of struggling to be free. Without a clear and thorough understanding about oneself, the defilements will thrive and spread their virulent infection, which can only bring more and more suffering. We must therefore reinforce our mindfulness and wisdom, for no other instrument can fight and destroy the defilements.

The persistent quest to train the mind needs mindfulness and wisdom to point the way. Halfheartedness merely wastes time and one remains the same unmitigated fool. When you come to realize this the benefits from the resulting effort are immense. Eventually, you will be able to destroy the defilements, relinquish all attachment and the mind will transcend suffering. But any failure to achieve this will see you swept away by the power of craving and defilements. Negligence and carelessness will allow them to lead you away by the nose; they'll pull you here and drag you there. This is why the Lord Buddha emphasized, in so many ways, the necessity of letting go, sacrificing and disentangling yourself. This is the way to excise the cancer from the mind.

This kind of malignant disease is very insidious and though it may reveal a few symptoms, it's usually not enough to alert one to the situation. Eventually, it will usually triumph and sometimes you may even submit to its terms with alacrity. Your examination therefore must be circumspect and alert, otherwise it's like plugging one hole in a leaking boat only to find it's leaking elsewhere. There are six holes or apertures — the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind — and if you have no control over them, they are left open to follow after emotional objects. And this causes great suffering. You must use mindfulness and wisdom to seek out and review the true situation present within yourself, and this must become the most important activity throughout the day.

Our life is for working on the elimination of the defilements, not for anything else. Yet the defilements and suffering continue to hover about, and if we aren't equal to their threat we'll surely get burnt. We need to pull ourselves around and question how to deal with this, for then we'll be heading for great success. While we still have breath and our body isn't yet rotting in its coffin, we must take counsel and search for a way to eradicate the root infection of this terrible disease, the germ of defilements and craving. This cancer, which has gnawed deeply into the mind, can only be remedied with Dhamma. The Lord Buddha prescribed his Dhamma medicines with their various properties. Each one of us must carefully select from them and blend what is correct and most suitable, and then use it to destroy the root infection. All this necessitates great circumspection.

Should your self-inspection remain insufficient to destroy the defilements, they will grow stronger and burn like an unseen fire inside the mind. Introspection is the extinguisher to use, so that when you notice greed arising for an object, you can snuff it out and let go of it. Now, look at the mind, is it free or entangled in turmoil? If you don't persevere, it can only end in your getting burnt. No matter how smart you think you are, you always seem to succumb to greed. Greed seizes the commander's position and you make no attempt to dislodge it — and even go out to receive it in with compliments. The mind is then the oppressed slave of desire, and has fallen into delusion, with the grasping of this and that. There's no obvious way out of such wretched entanglement; we just don't know how to escape the dilemma that viciously encircles our mind.

We are trapped by our lack of true resolve and finally, when we are at our wit's end, we become slaves to the defilements just as before. The more often we submit to them the more their power grows. The only true way to overthrow them is strenuously to bring mindfulness and wisdom to bear. We can then examine, from all angles, the suffering they bring until the mind refuses to stay a slave any longer. It's no use just making an external show of it, because the greater the fuss the more stubborn the defilements become. Yet, we also can't be halfhearted about it. You must have the appropriate response for whatever the situation brings. You can't rush in with massive good intention to wipe them out, but must first carefully focus and enhance mindfulness and wisdom. This will all require great circumspection, and all these points will need to be remembered.

To genuinely understand, the mind will have to investigate in every posture, with every breath. It will then be equal to the task of stopping those moods and tendencies that continually fabricate notions, without reason or value, under the compulsion of delusion. Without true determination, practice becomes halfhearted. This leads to distraction and a waste of valuable time, with it all being nothing more than delusion. We must turn our vision within and persevere until we see clearly. Once we are adept, it's actually more enjoyable to look inside than out. Externally there is just the dissolution of things seen — why be so engrossed in that? But the inner eye can penetrate to the clear light and then to the Truth of Dhamma. By seeing the nature of the dissolution of all determinations,[2] new insight will arise as to that nature that doesn't deteriorate, a nature that can't be altered but just is.

If your all-round mindfulness and wisdom remain insufficient and weak, the defilements will be overwhelming. However, if you can persistently build up mindfulness and wisdom, the strength of the defilements will proportionally decline. You'll notice that though the mind was previously confused, it has now become resolute. It's able to see the impermanence of things more clearly, so that they can be let go of. This insight into impermanence empowers mindfulness and wisdom to move towards an even deeper discernment. Yet this penetration must be truly focused, otherwise the slightest inattention will be disruptive. If it doesn't wander off target, even for a moment, then this is truly the way to control the defilements. Negligence, however, means that they can never be threatened and they'll regroup stronger than ever.

Mindfulness and clear comprehension must be developed in every posture, with every breath. We must make the effort so that the mind is attentive and doesn't drift away following various emotional objects, or lose itself in the confusion of concocting thoughts. You should be forewarned here about the tendency to think, "I know!", when you don't really know at all. Until the mind penetrates to true insight there must always be doubt and uncertainty; but when you begin truly to see, such doubts fall away and speculation is no longer necessary. One truly knows. How can you be certain that you have true insight? When the mind truly comprehends, the defilements and suffering are really eliminated. However, if one just thinks that one sees — whilst having no real insight — then one can't possibly destroy the defilements and suffering.

This insight penetrates into the mind, for this is where the desire for things is activated and that which blocks out Dhamma resides. When this concocting stops, one sees through to the nature of mind that is without the fire and anguish of desire. This can be seen anytime when one focuses properly and with determination. One can see other things, why not this? Just truly look and you will certainly see!

But you must look correctly to be able to penetrate, otherwise you won't see anything. If you grasp at things — which goes against the basic principles of true knowledge — and then try to go straight on to the truth, it's probable that you'll get all twisted and an element of pride, or something similar, will insinuate itself. The only way is to see the arising and ceasing of things, merely seeing and understanding without grasping. See! This is the way to freedom from attachment. It has been said, "See the world as if it were empty," and we must similarly see our moods, as they arise and cease, as empty. When the mind truly realizes the transience of things, the deceit of the world and our moods, it doesn't grasp at them any more. This is the free mind. There are many levels to this but even a temporary experience is still of benefit; just don't go and grasp after anything!

The free mind that is called vimokkha — attaining to true and final release — we find described in one of the scriptures[3] we chant: "vimokkha is not subject to change." Those levels of freed mind that change are not true vimokkha, so we must continue to examine each level and press for the fruit, which is always freedom from attachment. It doesn't matter how many levels one has to work through until it finally doesn't change, which is when it is without any aim or attachment for anything. This is the true way to penetrative insight.


source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/kee/directions.html

« Last Edit: October 03, 2016, 06:14:11 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.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Hello everyone! Very new to Buddhism :)
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2016, 02:45:40 am »
Good post Ron. Some years after meeting those people at the Buddhist Center I was taking a group of young children to a religious multicultural 'taster' session run by people representing various religions. Chatting to the Buddhists monks, they were surprised that I took up Buddhism to change myself. Their impression was that most Buddhists they knew just went to the temple because it was their religion and that's what people of their culture did. Most Buddhists they knew weren't interested in gaining insight, or making any kind of 'progress' in the way we often talk about here.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Hello everyone! Very new to Buddhism :)
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2016, 06:05:51 am »
Did a search and found this, which is similar to the emoticon I remembered: 

For clarity, I did not find it on Dhammawheel.  Perhaps I remebered it from e-Sangha days.  Since it is an important topic and it is relatively burried in this section, I am starting another thread with the topic "Mind on Fire" in General Dhamma.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2016, 06:19:12 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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