Author Topic: Hello freesangha community!  (Read 494 times)

Offline LifeStart

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Hello freesangha community!
« on: July 23, 2019, 03:24:27 am »
Hello freesangha community!

I live in a country where it is difficult to find many buddhist temples and monks, so i decided to join this forum to help me in my journey :)
I am farely new to Buddhism, but already know some stuff.

I already have a few questions that i would like to pose regarding Buddhism:

1. What does being “present” mean while doing everyday activities? For example when i brush my teeth should i focus on the sensation of the toothbrush, or my breath in order to be present?

2. Everytime i get glimpses of happiness and peacefulness “natural mind” (for example after i do sport, or i meditate) it only lasts for a short time, before my mind says “wait a minute, why are you happy ? Remember that one bad thing that happened 2 years ago ? It that didn’t happen THEN you could be happy” and my state of peacefulness stops. What should i do ?

Thanks to everyone in advance!

Offline MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2019, 06:02:49 am »
Hello LifeStart, welcome to buddhism and meditation practice! I can relate to your concerns, so let me try and resolve them:

1. "Being in the present moment" isn't about "what to focus on". Your mind is going to jump from one thing to another on a regular basis, and being present is about seeing this and accepting it for what it is. Ideally, you want to brush your teeth and not be cooking at the same time, even though there's nothing wrong with layering your tasks if you do it skillfully (i.e., don't forget about what you're cooking and burn your food). Meditation and mindfulness are about letting go of pre-occupations that distract you, it's not about trying to alter your thoughts.

2. What you see as "peacefulness", "happiness", and "natural mind" are fleeting experiences. The more that you try to pursue them the further away you will get from them. In yoga training, they talk about liberation being "freedom from the modifications of the mind", as in not trying to either cling to any particular state (attachments) or trying to actively change yourself or what you think about. The first time I went to a zen center, I felt a sense of total peace and non-attachment after the meditation, I have never experienced that feeling since despite the fact I have meditated very much. This is fine, no two moments are ever the same.

Liberation is a lifelong journey, you probably will not reach "total enlightenment", but the point of buddhism is that we need to try rather than getting caught up in worldly solutions to our problems. In buddhist cosmology, it actually takes many lifetimes of sensuality and suffering in order to reach nibanna/nirvanna.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2019, 06:08:30 am by MarasAndBuddhas »

Offline LifeStart

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2019, 07:51:44 am »
Okay thank you very much for your in depth response, i appreciate it!

But shouldn’t you be able to reach some sort of enlightenment during your lifetime here ? Shouldn’t you be able to make life significantly better and better with each day while following buddhist practices ? Isn’t that what it is all about ? Total enlightenment in another lifetime seems so far away and out of my grasp, i thought Buddhism is about results here and now, liberation here and now.

Offline LifeStart

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2019, 09:28:32 am »

Liberation is a lifelong journey, you probably will not reach "total enlightenment", but the point of buddhism is that we need to try rather than getting caught up in worldly solutions to our problems. In buddhist cosmology, it actually takes many lifetimes of sensuality and suffering in order to reach nibanna/nirvanna.

I mean this part.

Offline Gibbon

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2019, 01:00:00 pm »
Congratulations on making a connection to the Dharma!  You definitely want to establish a firm intent to become awakened.  But expecting it to happen easily might lead to disappointment and then abandoning the practice.  The mind is wild and full of unwholesome tendencies.  It takes some real work to change that.

Since you have met the Dharma in this life, you should rejoice!  Then, establish a daily practice and stick with it through thick and thin.  There is nothing like methodical practice to tame your mind.  I promise you, it definitely works, but takes time and effort. 

« Last Edit: July 23, 2019, 01:14:16 pm by Gibbon »

Offline MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2019, 02:38:26 pm »
Okay thank you very much for your in depth response, i appreciate it!

But shouldn’t you be able to reach some sort of enlightenment during your lifetime here ? Shouldn’t you be able to make life significantly better and better with each day while following buddhist practices ? Isn’t that what it is all about ? Total enlightenment in another lifetime seems so far away and out of my grasp, i thought Buddhism is about results here and now, liberation here and now.

You can have liberation here and now, it starts by seeing the way in which desiring makes us suffer and how we tend to torment ourselves with attachments. The goal is not to eliminate desire or attachments, this is impossible, we gain liberation from all these things by seeing them for what they are or observing them. Another way to start this process is to start to dis-identify with your thoughts, recognize that they are not you. We are often trained to identify with a role, or to establish "what we are", for example, think of all the games for status that people play with each other. In reality, you aren't anything. Everything in this world is dependent on something else, we have no "self" which we "are". A huge part of this process is learning compassion for all the other beings, because they suffer too.

It can often be helpful in these states of confusion to study Buddhism and all the different teachings, and decide what to make of it without getting too fixated on the words...I feel what I'm saying may not be very helpful...

Offline LifeStart

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2019, 02:11:57 am »


It can often be helpful in these states of confusion to study Buddhism and all the different teachings, and decide what to make of it without getting too fixated on the words...I feel what I'm saying may not be very helpful...



What you are saying is INCREDIBLY helpful! I can barely convey how helpful it is, i mean it!

I have read a few books on Buddhism and a lot of the teachings seem very theoretical and some of them i can barely apply in real life in the 21st century. But talking to real people who indulge in the Dharma is a whole other story! It shows me that Buddhism is truly a practical way of life that can be applied even today in the 21st century - I just have to make sense of it.


And i had another question regarding developing empathy for all other human beings,
Sadly in our world today, there are a lot or selfish people who look for opportunities to take advantage of you at every step. How can i be empathetic towards someone who only wishes evil for me ? And if they ask me for something, am i supposed to agree to their every wish because i am empathetic towards them? Or am i allowed to avoid such negative people, without having to help them?

Offline LifeStart

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2019, 02:29:57 am »


 are often trained to identify with a role, or to establish "what we are", for example, think of all the games for status that people play with each other. In reality, you aren't anything. Everything in this world is dependent on something else, we have no "self" which we "are". A huge part of this process is learning compassion for all the other beings, because they suffer too.


I am very much aware of all the games people play for status, money and whatever. But if you stop playing so to speak, you will be taken advantage of MASSIVELY. And then you could end up with a worse job, worse position and so on. And isn’t it your primary objective in life to provide for your family first of all, and if the means to do so, is to play those games, then shouldn’t you?

I don’t see modern society, in which everything is about money, functioning without those games...
And well, if you stop playing, you’ll make it way easier for others to take advantage of you...

(Note: I am not working yet, i am still a Student and thinking about how i should build my future.)

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2019, 03:44:40 am »
Okay thank you very much for your in depth response, i appreciate it!

But shouldn’t you be able to reach some sort of enlightenment during your lifetime here ? Shouldn’t you be able to make life significantly better and better with each day while following buddhist practices ? Isn’t that what it is all about ? Total enlightenment in another lifetime seems so far away and out of my grasp, i thought Buddhism is about results here and now, liberation here and now.

This is the problem with Buddhists. Many are reluctant to say that enlightenment experiences happen when you meditate, mostly for good and helpful reasons, but it can be off-putting when you start out. For some, the reason for playing down enlightenment is that much of Buddhist writing does just that, and you shouldn't go against the writing. Personally I don't buy into that as Buddhist practice is all about doing it yourself and seeing what happens.

Yes of course stuff should happen to you in this lifetime, as it's the only one you have. Some say that even if you haven't had enlightenment experiences, then at least you have led a good life if you have followed the Buddhist path. Which may be so, but for me it is missing the point. Our brains are in a constant state of change, but we usually merely reinforce what we normally think. When we meditate and follow the path we bring about a certain structure to the change process, and we do indeed change. We can't force the changes, but change will happen.

Will life be better? I noticed years ago that the quality of my experience of life changed for the better when I practiced and for the worse if I stopped. Does that help? That's my definition of better, despite the garbage that life throws at you whether you are a Buddhist or not.

I've used two main strategies, each interacting with the other. In one you work on your relationship with your thoughts by concentrating on, say, the breath to give an opportunity to slow down your thoughts in order to get a different relationship with them. One where you are more in control than when you just let thoughts carry on as normal. The other is working on your relationship with the world, other people and situations you find yourself in. This could be a programme of mindfulness, where you develop the ability to view what is happening from moment to moment in a different way.

Both of these could be done outside of a Buddhist context, but really need the three aspects of Buddhism, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to do the kind of thing you seem to be looking for. Not only that but things will happen if you stick at meditating, especially if you meditate without expectations, letting change happen rather than trying to force it. Unfortunately they are often things you may not like, as stuff gets thrown up along the way, sometimes frightening stuff, even if you are meditating with experienced meditators, but much worse if you are by yourself.

Results may take some time, but not on the scale that people who buy into many lifetimes think. We could be talking five, ten or twenty years or more. Now that's what I call 'here and now'.
“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 LifeStart

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2019, 04:34:45 am »

This is the problem with Buddhists. Many are reluctant to say that enlightenment experiences happen when you meditate, mostly for good and helpful reasons, but it can be off-putting when you start out.

Will life be better? I noticed years ago that the quality of my experience of life changed for the better when I practiced and for the worse if I stopped. Does that help? That's my definition of better, despite the garbage that life throws at you whether you are a Buddhist or not.



So what you are saying, is that enlightenment is a kind of “tabu” topic amongst Buddhists ? Where noone admits to being enlightened?
 And that it isn’t like a light switch, but a more gradual process; that takes years, and one day you’ll be able to look back and say “everything has definitely changed for the better”?

Offline MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2019, 07:39:01 am »


 are often trained to identify with a role, or to establish "what we are", for example, think of all the games for status that people play with each other. In reality, you aren't anything. Everything in this world is dependent on something else, we have no "self" which we "are". A huge part of this process is learning compassion for all the other beings, because they suffer too.


I am very much aware of all the games people play for status, money and whatever. But if you stop playing so to speak, you will be taken advantage of MASSIVELY. And then you could end up with a worse job, worse position and so on. And isn’t it your primary objective in life to provide for your family first of all, and if the means to do so, is to play those games, then shouldn’t you?

I don’t see modern society, in which everything is about money, functioning without those games...
And well, if you stop playing, you’ll make it way easier for others to take advantage of you...

(Note: I am not working yet, i am still a Student and thinking about how i should build my future.)

Thanks for asking all these questions, I like to clarify some of what I've learned on these matters.

I was in no way implying that you shouldn't "play the game". What I'm saying is do not play yourself as you play it, do not give in to delusions such as "I am so much better than that other person!", because here you will be setting up a standard that you will probably violate sometime later, and you will end up judging yourself. Also, be mindful of what you desire. Buddhism is about renunciation for some (giving up all worldly possessions and joining a monastary, for example), but this does not guarantee an escape from the predatory games you describe, so we all have to live in this world with egotism and suffering.

Quote

So what you are saying, is that enlightenment is a kind of “tabu” topic amongst Buddhists ? Where noone admits to being enlightened?
 And that it isn’t like a light switch, but a more gradual process; that takes years, and one day you’ll be able to look back and say “everything has definitely changed for the better”?


I think what stillpointdancer has been getting at is that buddhists often want to downplay enlightenment because beginners have very strong, immediately gratifying, expectations for what meditation can accomplish, when it's often a gradual and un-impressive process. Zen buddhists say that to be enlightened is to see enlightenment as "nothing special", but this is also kind of misleading because every moment of life is special in one way or another...

I was trying to explain to you earlier that even though meditation is imperative to enlightenment and buddhist practice, enlightenment also comes through seeing things differently, or realizing things. I've made some progress over the years, but my life is still hard, and I still make some pretty big mistakes. You are already doing a good job by asking such questions: keep exploring yourself!  :anjali:

Offline LifeStart

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2019, 08:54:52 am »


I've made some progress over the years, but my life is still hard, and I still make some pretty big mistakes.



In your journey so far, what would you say were the most important insights you got? Or the most important moments you had ?

Let’s put it a little bit cheesy, if you could time travel at the very beginning of your practices, what advice would you give yourself? Like what mistakes did you do when you were starting out ?

Because there is a certain probability i am also still doing a lot of mistakes, and i would like to better myself :)


Thank you so much for your advice! It is priceless to me!

Offline stevie

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2019, 10:09:39 am »
Welcome dear Dharma friend LifeStart!

I can't answer your questions because for me there is no alternative to following the Buddha's teachings.

Kind regards
།བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ།

Offline MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Hello freesangha community!
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2019, 11:29:16 am »

Quote


In your journey so far, what would you say were the most important insights you got? Or the most important moments you had ?

Let’s put it a little bit cheesy, if you could time travel at the very beginning of your practices, what advice would you give yourself? Like what mistakes did you do when you were starting out ?

Because there is a certain probability i am also still doing a lot of mistakes, and i would like to better myself :)


Thank you so much for your advice! It is priceless to me!


The most serious mistake I've made so far is treating buddhism like a religion, and hence using it as a way to beat myself up. Having religious dedication is great if it works for you, but it doesn't always help.

Also, start out your meditation practice by making it easy and consistent. It's recommended that you meditate for a minimum of 20 minutes during your practice, but the time can be cut if it's a little too difficult and intimidating.

There are a lot of things about my mind that I wish I could fix, but we don't always get what we want. Keep desiring happiness and enlightenment, and you shall attain it.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2019, 01:50:22 pm by MarasAndBuddhas »

 


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