FreeSangha - Buddhist Forum

Schools of Buddhism => Mahayana => Zen / Ch'an / Seon / Thien => Topic started by: zafrogzen on November 04, 2016, 10:11:36 am

Title: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 04, 2016, 10:11:36 am
This is from the Mount Baldy newsletter. I thought it might be of interest to some of the folks here.

Bodhidharma’s Four-fold Entrance of Practice
by Noritake Shūnan Rōshi

EXCERPTED FROM TEISHO GIVEN AT MOUNT BALDY ZEN CENTER
JULY 2016. TRANSLATION BY THOMAS KIRCHNER.
[After his audience with Emperor Wu], Bodhidharma
went north to the temple Shaolin on Mount Song, where
he sat in a cave in deep meditation for nine years. Later
generations extolled Bodhidharma’s practice, speaking of
his “nine years facing the wall” and referring to him as
“the wall-gazing Brahman.” Many of Bodhidharma’s
expressions, such as “not relying on words and letters” or
“a separate transmission outside of the teachings,” are
famous in Zen, and have come to define the essential
nature of the Zen school.
... But Bodhidharma did not stop with his nine years of
zazen in the cave. He also left behind a number of texts
and records of his exchanges with students. Particularly
well-known is the text known as the “Treatise on the Two
Entrances and Four Practices,” in which he outlines his
teachings on Zen. To summarize, there are various
approaches to entering the Way, but in the simplest terms
there are two approaches and four practices. The two
approaches are referred to by him as the entrance of
principle and the entrance of practice. The entrance of
principle consists of understanding the source of the Way
through study of the teachings, with deep faith that all
sentient beings, both ordinary and enlightened, equally
possess the same true nature, that is, the Buddha-mind,
and with the recognition that we fully live everyday life
in the suchness of Truth. It is only because of superficial
delusions and false thinking that this Truth is not clearly
visible. It is like the sun, which is eternally radiant but
whose light is temporarily hidden by clouds. Therefore
we read the sutras in order to grasp the fundamental
principle, which is also known as “the source” or
“Buddha-nature.”
The entrance of practice consists of entering the Way
through use of the four practices; all other virtuous acts
are incorporated within these. It is not sufficient to
understand the four practices intellectually—they must
be actually performed. 
The first practice is known as “the practice of accepting
adversity.” When we undergo suffering we should reflect
in this way: “In the past we have forgotten the root and
gone chasing after the branches and leaves, thus
wandering through the world of delusion, generating
enmity toward others and causing unlimited injury to
them. Thus I cannot avoid this suffering. When in the
past I experienced suffering I felt resentful, so now I will
endeavor to eliminate this feeling of resentment. I shall
patiently accept this suffering and bear no resentment
toward anyone.” When painful things or bad things
happen to us we disregard our own part in the matter
and place the blame on other people, on society, or on
nature. When our children are involved we don’t consider
our responsibility as parents but say instead that the
schools are responsible, or the teachers, or the society we
live in. Such attitudes do nothing to solve the problem.
We must return to the starting point of the ego. We must
closely observe ourselves.   
The second practice is known as “the practice of
accepting circumstances.” Originally there is no ego. We
must penetrate to the essence of this lack of ego—this is
the true spirit of no-self, of anatman. All of us are simply
acting in accordance with the law of causality. We human
beings have been born into this world according to
circumstances, and our existence here is merely
provisional. We have nothing that we truly possess, and
we will die according to circumstances. It is important
that we observe the true workings of nature—suffering
and pleasure, sadness and joy, all are entirely the result
of circumstances. All that we receive we will lose when
those circumstances are exhausted. There is nothing to be
happy or sad about—just move ahead, one with the Way,
in accord with circumstances through both gain and loss.
It is like the water in a river, which flows along smoothly
when unobstructed but throws up spray when hitting a
rock; if you allow yourself to be obstructed unsteadiness
sets in, and you undergo suffering. 
The third practice is known as “the practice of
nonseeking.” There is nothing to seek; simply be satisfied
with what suffices. People in their constant delusion
always covet this and covet that. This is what is called
craving. In the sutras it is said that where there is craving
there is suffering, and that where nothing is sought there
is ease. Human desires are limitless; there is no end to
them. The negative side of this is a constant state of
frustration; the positive side is that human desire drives
scientific progress, affluence, and human evolution. None
of this brings us spiritual peace, however, regardless of
how much we advance materially or culturally, no matter
how much we progress intellectually and technologically.
What eases our spirits is the Buddha’s teaching to be
content with what is enough. What satisfies the mind’s
limitless discontent is to accept, in the midst of one’s
discontent, the fact that “this is fully sufficient.” Do so
and you will realize that there is nothing lacking in
yourself. 
Last April Jose Mujica, the former president of Uruguay,
visited Japan. He was called “the poorest president in the
world” because of his simple lifestyle—he donated most
of his salary to the poor, refused to move into the
presidential mansion, and lived in the same way as the
ordinary people of Uruguay. He would appear on TV
driving around in his old used automobile, which he kept
in a dilapidated garage. He proclaimed that unchecked
greed constitutes true poverty, and said, “At some point a
time comes when people must stand in front of a mirror
and see the summation of their lives. Those who have not
given any time or space to other people will see in the
mirror only egoism, and no doubt will despair.” He also
said, “A person needs a certain amount of egoism in order
to live, but what is important is to apply the brakes to
greed and cooperate with other people.”
Such comments are clear indications to us of the true
way that people should live. A young Japanese woman,
when asked on Japanese TV what she thought of
President Mujica’s views on life, replied, “They were truly
wonderful. I’ve never in my life heard such refreshing
words.” Hearing what she said I was quite moved, and at
the same time made aware of how short I’ve fallen as a
Buddhist in teaching these same values. This young
woman is typical of the post-WWII generations who,
having grown up in a Japan that attempted to fulfill all
human desires, seek only their own affluence and the
satisfaction of their own wishes. Thus this woman, living
her ego-centered existence, had never heard of simple
living or of Shakyamuni’s teaching to be content with
what is enough, and knew nothing of applying the brakes
to desire. President Mujica’s words opened her eyes a bit,
I believe, and the eyes of other Japanese. His advice is
that of the Buddha, “Be content with what is enough”—
advice that all Japanese Buddhists know but have a hard
time putting into practice.
The fourth practice is known as “the practice of according
with the Dharma.” The principle of essential purity is the
Dharma. We must practice dana free of avarice in our
hearts, giving fully of our possessions and giving fully of
our essentially pure life, unstained by anything and
unattached to anything. Moreover, we should practice
dana with no thought of practicing dana; we should
perform good works with no thought of performing good
works. “Good works” are often talked of, but I
recommend that you actually do them. You see people,
however, who become full of pride in their contributions,
boasting to the world of all the wonderful things they’ve
done and thus negating the benefit they gain from their
good works. Good works must be performed in the true
spirit of Bodhidharma’s “no merit.” What is essential is
that acts leave no trace, just as birds leave no trace as
they fly through the sky.
An ancient master said, “Bodhidharma, gazing at the
wall, pacified peoples’ minds; outwardly cease all
attachments; inwardly grasp not with the mind. When
there is nowhere for dust to settle in your mind, then you
can enter the Way.” A precious teaching indeed!
Let all of us here in the beautiful surroundings of Mount Baldy
return to the spirit of Bodhidharma and give ourselves
fully to the practice of zazen.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: VincentRJ on November 05, 2016, 04:51:40 am
Quote
People in their constant delusion always covet this and covet that. This is what is called craving. In the sutras it is said that where there is craving there is suffering, and that where nothing is sought there is ease. Human desires are limitless; there is no end to them. The negative side of this is a constant state of frustration; the positive side is that human desire drives scientific progress, affluence, and human evolution. None of this brings us spiritual peace, however, regardless of how much we advance materially or culturally, no matter how much we progress intellectually and technologically.

Hi Zafrogzen,
Thanks for that very rational and sensible summary of Bodhidharma's teachings. I see from Wikipedia that in Chinese Buddhist art, Bodhidharma is depicted as an ill-tempered, profusely-bearded, wide-eyed non-Chinese person. He is also referred to as "The Blue-Eyed Barbarian".  :wink1:

From your long quote, I've selected  just a paragraph for discussion which I think implies a contradictory problem related to the Buddhist philosophy, from a political and economic perspective.

From an individual perspective, and also from my own personal perspective, the advice to 'let things flow' and 'don't resist', is good advice, which I try to practice.

However, I'm very much aware that my circumstances are dependent upon a modern economy, or, as you put it, the positive side of human desire which drives scientific progress, affluence and human evolution.

If everyone were literally a 'true' Buddhist, Homo Sapiens would become an extinct species. Is that not so?
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: stillpointdancer on November 05, 2016, 06:33:59 am


From your long quote, I've selected  just a paragraph for discussion which I think implies a contradictory problem related to the Buddhist philosophy, from a political and economic perspective.

From an individual perspective, and also from my own personal perspective, the advice to 'let things flow' and 'don't resist', is good advice, which I try to practice.

However, I'm very much aware that my circumstances are dependent upon a modern economy, or, as you put it, the positive side of human desire which drives scientific progress, affluence and human evolution.

If everyone were literally a 'true' Buddhist, Homo Sapiens would become an extinct species. Is that not so?
I've often heard this before. There is no such thing as a 'True Buddhist'. Once people are enlightened they become the individuals we were always supposed to be, but denied by the demands of society. Finally letting go of Buddhism, the resulting 'species', full of enlightened people, would be interesting, but not heading for extinction like a load of lemmings.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 05, 2016, 11:08:59 am
That text I posted was from a recent talk by Noritake Roshi at Mount Baldy, a Rinzai Zen monastery high in the Mountains just East of Los Angeles. I get their newsletter on my email because I've done sesshins (intensive 7 day retreats) with them in the past. It was founded by Joshu Sasaki who died a few years ago at 107. He was an incredibly hardworking teacher who did sesshins almost every month and presided over a very rigorous form of zen throughout his over 50 years in L.A. He was Leonard Cohen's teacher as well as many others who have gone on to start zen centers around the world. However, before he died he was the subject of controversy when it came out that he made sexual demands on some of his female students.

Although Sasaki gave permission to teach to many, he never named a main successor, which might be why they are reaching out to teachers from Japan, like Noritake. I liked his talk and thought it might illuminate some zen teachings for those here who are not familiar with them.

All zen monks, or priests, are free to marry, unlike Theravada Monks, so the human race would survive a zen takeover. Zen in the West is also more open to lay practitioners (no pun intended).
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 05, 2016, 12:20:31 pm
My favorite Bodhidharma story, a koan or "public case" used for meditation, is when Huike, his main disciple comes to him and says --

"I cannot pacify my mind. What can I do?"

Bodhidharma replies, "Bring me your mind and I will pacify it for you."

After some time Huike comes back and says, "No matter how hard I try, I cannot find my mind."

"There, I've pacified it for you," Bodhidharma exclaims.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: VincentRJ on November 05, 2016, 05:53:25 pm


From your long quote, I've selected  just a paragraph for discussion which I think implies a contradictory problem related to the Buddhist philosophy, from a political and economic perspective.

From an individual perspective, and also from my own personal perspective, the advice to 'let things flow' and 'don't resist', is good advice, which I try to practice.

However, I'm very much aware that my circumstances are dependent upon a modern economy, or, as you put it, the positive side of human desire which drives scientific progress, affluence and human evolution.

If everyone were literally a 'true' Buddhist, Homo Sapiens would become an extinct species. Is that not so?
I've often heard this before. There is no such thing as a 'True Buddhist'. Once people are enlightened they become the individuals we were always supposed to be, but denied by the demands of society. Finally letting go of Buddhism, the resulting 'species', full of enlightened people, would be interesting, but not heading for extinction like a load of lemmings.

Hi Stillpointdancer,
Since the sexual drive is such a powerful and fundamental instinct, I do not see any likelihood of the human race becoming extinct due to any wide-ranging acceptance of the ideal of celibacy. Such a prospect seems inconceivable to me.

What I'm really questioning is whether or not it is possible for anyone to become as enlightened as Gautama Buddha was, whilst continuing to engage in sexual practices, and if it is possible, can such practices correctly be named Buddhism?

I understand that the life of celibacy in Buddhism is not recommended for everyone and that it is accepted that most people are not ready to embark upon the path to enlightenment in this lifetime, perhaps as a result of an accumulation of bad deeds in previous lives. However, if one is espousing an ultimate ideal of achievement which necessitates refraining from all sexual activity, one would expect a certain optimism that eventually, as humanity progresses, more and more people would embark upon such a path of celibacy in order to achieve that ultimate goal of Nirvana.

Here's a rather strong criticism, attributed to the Buddha, of a monk who broke his celibacy vows without having first disrobed. (I presume this is from the Pali Canon, but I'm not sure where.)

"Worthless man, sexual intercourse is unseemly, out of line, unsuitable, and unworthy of a contemplative; improper and not to be done... Haven't I taught the Dhamma in many ways for the sake of dispassion and not for passion; for unfettering and not for fettering; for freedom from clinging and not for clinging? Yet here, while I have taught the Dhamma for dispassion, you set your heart on passion; while I have taught the Dhamma for unfettering, you set your heart on being fettered; while I have taught the Dhamma for freedom from clinging, you set your heart on clinging.

Worthless man, haven't I taught the Dhamma in many ways for the fading of passion, the sobering of intoxication, the subduing of thirst, the destruction of attachment, the severing of the round, the ending of craving, dispassion, cessation, unbinding? Haven't I in many ways advocated abandoning sensual pleasures, comprehending sensual perceptions, subduing sensual thirst, destroying sensual thoughts, calming sensual fevers?

Worthless man, it would be better that your penis be stuck into the mouth of a poisonous snake than into a woman's vagina. It would be better that your penis be stuck into the mouth of a black viper than into a woman's vagina. It would be better that your penis be stuck into a pit of burning embers, blazing and glowing, than into a woman's vagina. Why is that? For that reason you would undergo death or death-like suffering, but you would not on that account, at the break-up of the body, after death, fall into deprivation, the bad destination, the abyss.

Worthless man, this neither inspires faith in the faithless nor increases the faithful. Rather, it inspires lack of faith in the faithless and wavering in some of the faithful."

Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: VincentRJ on November 05, 2016, 06:13:43 pm
That text I posted was from a recent talk by Noritake Roshi at Mount Baldy, a Rinzai Zen monastery high in the Mountains just East of Los Angeles. I get their newsletter on my email because I've done sesshins (intensive 7 day retreats) with them in the past. It was founded by Joshu Sasaki who died a few years ago at 107. He was an incredibly hardworking teacher who did sesshins almost every month and presided over a very rigorous form of zen throughout his over 50 years in L.A. He was Leonard Cohen's teacher as well as many others who have gone on to start zen centers around the world. However, before he died he was the subject of controversy when it came out that he made sexual demands on some of his female students.

Although Sasaki gave permission to teach to many, he never named a main successor, which might be why they are reaching out to teachers from Japan, like Noritake. I liked his talk and thought it might illuminate some zen teachings for those here who are not familiar with them.

All zen monks, or priests, are free to marry, unlike Theravada Monks, so the human race would survive a zen takeover. Zen in the West is also more open to lay practitioners (no pun intended).

Hi Zafrogzen,
I wasn't aware that Zen monks are officially allowed to marry. Checking on the history of this development, I came across the following in some Wikipedia article.

"In Japan, celibacy was an ideal among Buddhist clerics for hundreds of years. But violations of clerical celibacy were so common for so long that, finally, in 1872, state laws made marriage legal for Buddhist clerics. Subsequently, ninety percent of Buddhist monks/clerics married."

Is this true Buddhism, I wonder?

Regarding Joshu Sasaki, I came across the following reference.

"Kyozan Joshu Sasaki  (1907-2014) was the founder of the Mt. Baldy Zen Center in  California (Rinzai School of Zen). Awareness of his sexual misconduct was known since the 1970s but was covered up or ignored for decades."

Sexual misconduct does seem to be a problem with Zen teachers. Here are a couple of other references.

"Taizan Maezumi (1931-1995) co-founded several Zen centers in the United States (Rinzai, Sōtō and Sanbo Kyodan schools of Zen). Maezumi admitted to being an alcoholic and to having sexual relations with his female students while he was still married."


"Eido Tai Shimano (1932-), the founding abbot of New York's Zen Studies Society (Rinzai School of Zen), resigned from its board in 1995 after acknowledging that over 30 years, trust had been "placed in an apparently wise and compassionate teacher, only to have that trust manipulated in the form of his sexual misconduct and abuse."
 

Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 05, 2016, 10:41:06 pm
Vincent,

I don't know which is sicker and more reprehensible -- your quotes about the "worthless man" or the zen teachers who abused their power. Fortunately there are many more zen teachers who fulfill the simple zen precept "not to misuse sexuality."

I was voluntarily celibate for several years and now I've been married for many more. I didn't see that sexual repression accomplished anything on the spiritual path -- except perhaps to give one a little more time for meditation. It turns one of the greatest expressions of love we're blessed with into something dirty and evil. All religions indulged in this nonsense. You'd think Buddhists would know better.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: stillpointdancer on November 06, 2016, 02:46:33 am


From your long quote, I've selected  just a paragraph for discussion which I think implies a contradictory problem related to the Buddhist philosophy, from a political and economic perspective.

From an individual perspective, and also from my own personal perspective, the advice to 'let things flow' and 'don't resist', is good advice, which I try to practice.

However, I'm very much aware that my circumstances are dependent upon a modern economy, or, as you put it, the positive side of human desire which drives scientific progress, affluence and human evolution.

If everyone were literally a 'true' Buddhist, Homo Sapiens would become an extinct species. Is that not so?
I've often heard this before. There is no such thing as a 'True Buddhist'. Once people are enlightened they become the individuals we were always supposed to be, but denied by the demands of society. Finally letting go of Buddhism, the resulting 'species', full of enlightened people, would be interesting, but not heading for extinction like a load of lemmings.

Hi Stillpointdancer,
Since the sexual drive is such a powerful and fundamental instinct, I do not see any likelihood of the human race becoming extinct due to any wide-ranging acceptance of the ideal of celibacy. Such a prospect seems inconceivable to me.

What I'm really questioning is whether or not it is possible for anyone to become as enlightened as Gautama Buddha was, whilst continuing to engage in sexual practices, and if it is possible, can such practices correctly be named Buddhism?

The whole point of Buddhism is to get beyond Buddhism, as an enlightened being. On the path you have to let go of attachment to stuff. Which does not mean not doing stuff, but letting go in the right way. You can still have sex, but with the right mindset. Denying yourself sex is just as bad, if you are attached to celibacy in the wrong way. Many monastic organisations use celibacy to build up sexual energy and to channel it, tantric wise, in meditation. For me, I try to steer clear of people like that (running away screaming works for me), and those who use hatred towards women in a similar way.
Can you live 'normally' and become enlightened? Of course you can. It's the extremists who say you can't who hold you back from enlightenment. Just sit with the right non-attachment and you'll get there. And maybe treat people with love and compassion along the way.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 06, 2016, 11:23:48 am
Fortunately, Buddhism is a living, changing tradition. It even went through a Tantric period when that movement grew up in India. Tantric Buddhism and some esoteric Tantric sexual practices migrated to Tibet with Padmasambhava and his two female consorts. Most of the figures in “Tankas” (Tibetan meditation paintings) are shown engaged in sexual union.

I think that the general view of Tantric practice towards sex, as a sacred act of transcendence and union, is very healthy. Meditation and sex is a tremendous combination. Making a ceremony out of sex is especially beautiful -- something most couples eventually do without even thinking about it, but a little Tantricism could make it even better.

The teachings regarding retention of ejaculation by males, the purpose of which is a “higher” form of orgasm or climax, is a bit overrated. I’ve experienced that kind of orgasm and it is phenomenal, but I don’t think it’s worth making it into a fetish. It’s probably not even good for the body. Plus, one can only save up a very limited amount of sexual energy -- it peaks after about two weeks of celibacy in normal males.

Now in the West, thanks to the changes it went through in China and Japan, the earlier aesthetic monasticism of Buddhism is developing a strong lay component that is making meditation practices available to the general population. I think that’s a very welcome development.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 06, 2016, 11:31:55 am
Oops, that should be ascetic not " aesthetic."

This topic of sex, always a hot one, should probably be a new topic, in deference to Bodhidharma.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: VincentRJ on November 06, 2016, 07:45:20 pm


From your long quote, I've selected  just a paragraph for discussion which I think implies a contradictory problem related to the Buddhist philosophy, from a political and economic perspective.

From an individual perspective, and also from my own personal perspective, the advice to 'let things flow' and 'don't resist', is good advice, which I try to practice.

However, I'm very much aware that my circumstances are dependent upon a modern economy, or, as you put it, the positive side of human desire which drives scientific progress, affluence and human evolution.

If everyone were literally a 'true' Buddhist, Homo Sapiens would become an extinct species. Is that not so?
I've often heard this before. There is no such thing as a 'True Buddhist'. Once people are enlightened they become the individuals we were always supposed to be, but denied by the demands of society. Finally letting go of Buddhism, the resulting 'species', full of enlightened people, would be interesting, but not heading for extinction like a load of lemmings.

Hi Stillpointdancer,
Since the sexual drive is such a powerful and fundamental instinct, I do not see any likelihood of the human race becoming extinct due to any wide-ranging acceptance of the ideal of celibacy. Such a prospect seems inconceivable to me.

What I'm really questioning is whether or not it is possible for anyone to become as enlightened as Gautama Buddha was, whilst continuing to engage in sexual practices, and if it is possible, can such practices correctly be named Buddhism?

The whole point of Buddhism is to get beyond Buddhism, as an enlightened being. On the path you have to let go of attachment to stuff. Which does not mean not doing stuff, but letting go in the right way. You can still have sex, but with the right mindset. Denying yourself sex is just as bad, if you are attached to celibacy in the wrong way. Many monastic organisations use celibacy to build up sexual energy and to channel it, tantric wise, in meditation. For me, I try to steer clear of people like that (running away screaming works for me), and those who use hatred towards women in a similar way.
Can you live 'normally' and become enlightened? Of course you can. It's the extremists who say you can't who hold you back from enlightenment. Just sit with the right non-attachment and you'll get there. And maybe treat people with love and compassion along the way.

Sounds to me as though you're just making excuses because Buddhist teachings, as found in the earliest Buddhist texts, are simply too difficult for most people to put into practice.

I would say that the whole point of Buddhism is to get beyond whatever one's current understanding of Buddhism is because, until one has arrived at the state of Nirvana, or the final goal, one's understanding and interpretation of Buddhist teachings will inevitably be flawed or misconstrued to some extent.

If the goal of Buddhism is to experience a state of Nirvana, then surely one cannot get beyond Buddhism unless one also gets beyond the state of Nirvana. Plain logic.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: VincentRJ on November 06, 2016, 07:53:38 pm
The teachings regarding retention of ejaculation by males, the purpose of which is a “higher” form of orgasm or climax, is a bit overrated. I’ve experienced that kind of orgasm and it is phenomenal, but I don’t think it’s worth making it into a fetish. It’s probably not even good for the body. Plus, one can only save up a very limited amount of sexual energy -- it peaks after about two weeks of celibacy in normal males.

As I understand, the purpose of Buddhist practices is to eliminate all suffering through processes of self-control of all sensual pleasures and egotistical reactions such as anger, hatred, envy and so on.

Sex is not only a sensual pleasure, it is perhaps the quintessential sensual pleasure; a powerful force which is prevalent in all animals.
To control one's sexual desires (rather than repress them, which I would think is actually non-Buddhist) is surely the ultimate achievement. It's equivalent to a climber reaching the summit of Mt Everest.

Perhaps some of the confusion here is due to the personalisation of the sexual force. Because of ego and vanity, we tend to think of sex in intensely personal terms, when in fact it is just a force that flows through us and uses our emotions for its own ends, which are the continuation of the species.

The basic principle here, which makes complete sense to me (and I follow only what makes sense), is that complete control of one of the most powerful forces that flows through us (the sex drive), is absolutely essential if one is to achieve that ultimate goal of Nirvana.

I see no reason why abstinence from sexual activity could have any harmful effects. The physical body has its own intelligence. If there's a need to get rid of a build-up of semen, then spontaneous ejaculations will take place during sleep. That's perfectly natural and not against Buddhist principles.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: Pixie on November 06, 2016, 10:45:46 pm
Fortunately, Buddhism is a living, changing tradition. It even went through a Tantric period when that movement grew up in India. Tantric Buddhism and some esoteric Tantric sexual practices migrated to Tibet with Padmasambhava and his two female consorts. Most of the figures in “Tankas” (Tibetan meditation paintings) are shown engaged in sexual union.

I think that the general view of Tantric practice towards sex, as a sacred act of transcendence and union, is very healthy. Meditation and sex is a tremendous combination. Making a ceremony out of sex is especially beautiful -- something most couples eventually do without even thinking about it, but a little Tantricism could make it even better.

The teachings regarding retention of ejaculation by males, the purpose of which is a “higher” form of orgasm or climax, is a bit overrated. I’ve experienced that kind of orgasm and it is phenomenal, but I don’t think it’s worth making it into a fetish. It’s probably not even good for the body. Plus, one can only save up a very limited amount of sexual energy -- it peaks after about two weeks of celibacy in normal males.

Now in the West, thanks to the changes it went through in China and Japan, the earlier aesthetic monasticism of Buddhism is developing a strong lay component that is making meditation practices available to the general population. I think that’s a very welcome development.



The later tantric practices and beliefs, or general obsessions and fantasies about sex, have little to do with the actual teachings of the historical Buddha of course. However luckily we have dedicated monks like Bhikkhu Analayo who are making in depth translations and studies of the early Buddhist texts available to lay practioners around the world.

As far as Zen teachings are concerned, I think its definately worth looking out for people like Soto Zen teacher Brad Warner, rather than get involved with the random opinions of strangers on the internet who try to set themselves up as teachers.

http://hardcorezen.info/form-is-emptiness/4935 (http://hardcorezen.info/form-is-emptiness/4935)

Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: stillpointdancer on November 07, 2016, 03:30:19 am

Sounds to me as though you're just making excuses because Buddhist teachings, as found in the earliest Buddhist texts, are simply too difficult for most people to put into practice.

I would say that the whole point of Buddhism is to get beyond whatever one's current understanding of Buddhism is because, until one has arrived at the state of Nirvana, or the final goal, one's understanding and interpretation of Buddhist teachings will inevitably be flawed or misconstrued to some extent.

If the goal of Buddhism is to experience a state of Nirvana, then surely one cannot get beyond Buddhism unless one also gets beyond the state of Nirvana. Plain logic.
Yes, that's what I said. Get enlightened and you get beyond Buddhism, which is after all the path to enlightenment, not enlightenment itself. Logic don't enter into it. If you experience Nirvana you know what you have to do next. For some it's going back to teach Buddhism for the sake of others. The rest just get on with life.
The Buddhist texts are attempts to record how individuals managed to attain enlightenment; what they had to do to get there. We can take many generalizations from them, but need to keep in mind that everyone's 'too difficult' is different. If you hate women, then it's pretty easy to give them up. The hard bit there is learning to unhate.
Monastic communities often need monks to go through attachment to sex, on to, and I've gone through this myself, a place where you can move on in your meditation. But it depends what you need to go through, as an individual, at each stage along the path.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 07, 2016, 08:19:55 am
Hi Pixie,

I don’t know about anyone else, but for my part, although I’ve got lots of advice and opinions, and I enjoy writing and talking about meditation, I couldn’t deal with being a teacher. It takes way more patience than I have.

There are some, like you mention, who make a career out of it, which lets them devote themselves to practice more than they might have in some other endeavor. They write books, talk, get their name out and begin to attract attention. The more attention they get the more people assume they know something.

I’ve been very fortunate. I started early, trained with some great teachers and had a career that allowed time to devote to meditation.

Now I see my teacher everywhere. In everyone, including you.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 07, 2016, 08:33:07 am
Vincent,

Actually, from what I understand, frequent ejaculation is more healthy for the prostate, and the body in general, than abstinence. Also, studies have shown that men who do not have intimate contact with a partner are less happy and do not live as long.

There’s plenty of opportunity for self-denial in controlling greed anger and ignorance and cultivating generosity, humility and wisdom, without blocking natural impulses that are both human and healthy -- in particular loving and being loved.

But all that stuff is secondary to sitting meditation practice. Bodhidharma spent nine years in silent meditation in China. That’s after he’d already received the seal of enlightenment from his teacher in India and was quite old. The Buddha is almost always pictured sitting in meditation. Why is that?

Nirvana is not off some place in the future or after you die. It is not apart from this body and this life. Nirvana can contain all of it, pleasant and unpleasant, without being defiled in the least. I wouldn’t waste time.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: Pixie on November 07, 2016, 12:26:57 pm

There are some, like you mention, who make a career out of it, which lets them devote themselves to practice more than they might have in some other endeavor. They write books, talk, get their name out and begin to attract attention. The more attention they get the more people assume they know something.



 Brad Warner runs Dogen Sangha in L.A. amongst other things, and was authorised to teach by his own teacher Gudō Wafu Nishijima.

http://www.dogensanghalosangeles.org/ (http://www.dogensanghalosangeles.org/)

There's also Treeleaf Soto Zen Sangha on the internet, which is run by Soto Zen teacher Jundo Cohen (who lives in Japan).

http://www.treeleaf.org/ (http://www.treeleaf.org/)

and there's Zen Forum International, where there are several Zen teachers who will answer questions in their "Ask a Teacher" section.

http://www.zenforuminternational.org/index.php?sid=bb21480e265475c71dbe94ece9f0d260 (http://www.zenforuminternational.org/index.php?sid=bb21480e265475c71dbe94ece9f0d260)
.
I hope those links will be of some use to people looking in who want to know more about Zen Buddhism from genuine Zen teachers.....and these people all emphasise the importance of meditation, of course.

Quote from: zafrogzen
Now I see my teacher everywhere. In everyone, including you.


Sure dude, there's a  well known saying in Mahayana/Vajrayana "All beings are our teachers".

 :om:
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: VincentRJ on November 07, 2016, 06:02:10 pm
Vincent,

Actually, from what I understand, frequent ejaculation is more healthy for the prostate, and the body in general, than abstinence. Also, studies have shown that men who do not have intimate contact with a partner are less happy and do not live as long.



Zafrogzen,

I couldn't help laughing at the absurdity of such a claim. :teehee: It's the first I've heard of it, so of course I did an internet search to find out the details of such a study.

The first article I came across appeared to be making the counter claim that frequent ejaculation did not necessarily increase the risk of prostate cancer.
http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/news/20040406/frequent-ejaculation-prostate (http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/news/20040406/frequent-ejaculation-prostate)

"Frequent ejaculation, whether it happens during sexual intercourse, masturbation, or a dream, isn't likely to increase men's risk of prostate cancer. In fact, new research suggests it may have the opposite effect and help protect the prostate."

I next checked Google Scholar to search for the original scientific papers relating to this study, and came across the following pdf article.
http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/198487 (http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/198487)

Here's the Context:

"Sexual activity has been hypothesized to play a role in the development of prostate cancer, but epidemiological data are virtually limited to case-control studies, which may be prone to bias because recall among individuals with prostate cancer could be distorted as a consequence of prostate malignancy or ongoing therapy."

And here's the conclusion in this study:

"Our results suggest that ejaculation frequency is not related to increased risk of prostate cancer."

It should be quite clear to anyone who has even a basic understanding of the scientific method, that any serious study of the relationship between prostate cancer and the frequency of ejaculation should include communities of monks who are supposed to be celibate and who are therefore the most obvious candidates for such a study.

So I did another internet search for such studies, and came across the following article in relation to the general health of the monks at Mount Athos, Greece, which also included their rates of prostate cancer.

http://globalphilosophy.blogspot.com.au/2008/03/half-vegan-monks-who-are-worlds.html (http://globalphilosophy.blogspot.com.au/2008/03/half-vegan-monks-who-are-worlds.html)

Here's the relevant extract:

"Despite their average venerable age, the 2,000 monks living in 20 ancient monasteries have virtually no heart disease, no cardiac arrests and no strokes, a zero-incidence of Alzheimer’s disease which astonished the researchers conducting the various studies, and unusually low rates of cancer, which in the case of prostate cancer is 4 times lower than the international average. The latter finding is even more remarkable when you know that the monks in that particular investigation were aged between 50 and 104. Their rates of lung, bowel and bladder cancer are zero."

Quote
Also, studies have shown that men who do not have intimate contact with a partner are less happy and do not live as long.


I imagine such studies would have difficulty in separating the many complexities of cause and effect. For example, it might be the case that a particular medical condition, whether psychological or physical, is actually the cause an isolated life-style, unhappiness and a shorter life, in which case the solution would be to address the real cause, and not the symptoms.

Quote
There’s plenty of opportunity for self-denial in controlling greed anger and ignorance and cultivating generosity, humility and wisdom, without blocking natural impulses that are both human and healthy -- in particular loving and being loved.


I've noticed, Zafrogzen, that you often use words like 'repression', and now 'blocking', which have negative associations.
Sexual abstinence has to be voluntary. If a monk feels that sexual abstinence is unbearable, and beyond his capabilities, he's allowed to disrobe and satisy his urges. Perhaps later he might have second thoughts, or experience some sort of revelation about his misbehaviour, and re-ordain.

The relevant question in  this context might be, 'Is it likely that a person who has successfully freed himself from the dictates of that most powerful force called the 'sexual drive', will also more successfully be able to control greed, anger, hatred and so on, and also more successfully be able to cultivate generosity, humility and wisdom?'

An obvious way to make it easier to learn to control one's sexual urges is to place oneself in an environment away from the temptations of alluring women. Having successfully achieved total control of ones desires, one should not necessarily need to continue being separate from the opposite sex. I believe Mahatma Gandhi would sometimes test his self-control by sleeping with a young lady.

Quote
Nirvana is not off some place in the future or after you die. It is not apart from this body and this life. Nirvana can contain all of it, pleasant and unpleasant, without being defiled in the least. I wouldn’t waste time.


Of course. I've never imagined that Nirvana is a 'place'. I imagine it to be a completely peaceful 'state of mind', completely free of all thoughts, desires, cravings, and in particular, free of all sexual thoughts and desires.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 07, 2016, 10:58:19 pm
Vincent,

The first prostate study I read in a daily newspaper I was writing for in the seventies. The second series of studies on intimacy I've seen references to several times over the years, either in newspapers or online. One also said that men in particular suffer when their mate dies. Recently I've seen some studies that indicate that having lots of contact with others socially is conducive to healthy longevity (the internet didn't count). Studies in general can often be contradictory or skewed by initial bias.

I'm not sure the health benefits of being a monk is the result of celibacy. Numerous studies have come out that say meditation has health benefits, but there are also some who think they're overblown. The percentages are key.

So how long have you been celibate?

I was in my late twenties when I practiced it -- after a year of only having solo sex occasionally while doing hath yoga (amazing what a young, healthy, flexible body can do.) Eventually I managed to give that up too.

It's not that hard after a few months (pun intended). It's like a fire, when the fuel is taken away, eventually even the spark goes out. Of course, I had the good fortune to be living in a beautiful, remote natural environment, where I wasn't always seeing young babes in tight pants.

After a couple years of celibacy a goddess visited me in a dream. Incredible! Almost worth waiting for. Then a real woman found me.

Anyway, I think you overestimate it's importance, but you'll have to decide that for yourself. Like you say sex is definitely powerful. Whether it's good or bad depends.

Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 07, 2016, 11:24:47 pm
Dear Pixie,

I've outlived all of my teachers. Those you mention are fine, but they're younger and less experienced.

Teachers are great, especially in the beginning, or if you can find one that is a little further along the path, but they can't do it for you. I think most folks spend too much time reading and listening to others, without seriously practicing meditation on their own.

Just because it's a well know saying doesn't mean it's not worth practicing. There's also a saying that when someone is acting like an enemy, to view them as your student -- but I find it more productive to view them as a teacher.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: VincentRJ on November 08, 2016, 07:19:42 am
Vincent,

The first prostate study I read in a daily newspaper I was writing for in the seventies. The second series of studies on intimacy I've seen references to several times over the years, either in newspapers or online. One also said that men in particular suffer when their mate dies. Recently I've seen some studies that indicate that having lots of contact with others socially is conducive to healthy longevity (the internet didn't count). Studies in general can often be contradictory or skewed by initial bias.

I'm not sure the health benefits of being a monk is the result of celibacy. Numerous studies have come out that say meditation has health benefits, but there are also some who think they're overblown. The percentages are key.


Zafrogzen,
Perhaps as a result of modern medicine with drugs that often target a specific problem in a quick and efficient manner, there's a tendency to search for single specific causes for specific problems.

The reality, in my view, is that a healthy lifestyle consists of numerous interacting factors. It's far too simplistic to attribute just one factor to one's health, such as a specific food or herb, or the state of celibacy, or the practice of meditation.
In fact, I've read that Buddhist-style meditation practices can actually cause harm to some people who have certain psychological problems. But this issue is beyond my expertise.

Another example is the Theravada Buddhist practice of eating just one meal a day before noon. It's probably healthier than the customary 3 meals a day enjoyed by most people. On the other hand, if that one meal per day consists of crap food, such as white rice and non-organic, pesticide-covered food, the benefits of one meal per day are reduced.

This is why I'm attracted to the slightly heretical Santi Asoke movement in Thailand where the monks assist in growing their own organic food. They don't rely upon charity, refuse all donations, and get their funds from selling healthy, organically grown food at a bargain price in the local markets,

Quote
So how long have you been celibate?

I haven't been keeping a diary recording the precise periods, and this is the problem with studies that rely upon self-reporting. People tend not to report precise facts.

I've been celibate for a great number of periods of varying lengths throughout my life. I'm currently in a period of celibacy, partly due to a renewed interest in Buddhism, and partly, I suspect, because of my increasing age with its natural reduction of the intensity of the sexual urge. Okay!
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 08, 2016, 11:24:32 am
Ha, ha, I wouldn't worry about heresy. Buddhism, and religion in general, is a bit of a free-for-all in this era of globalization, despite attempts (even here) to enforce some sort of orthodoxy. As a lifelong iconoclast I think it's healthy.

I've settled on two meals a day with an occasionally short fast. I like thinking that sex is especially healthy, but I suspect you're right, that celibacy is also just as healthy and more so than its opposite -- promiscuity.

I've read that some people have had bad effects from meditation, but it is usually from jumping in too quickly, doing a 7 or 10 day intensive without working up to it. I think it's a little like taking a strong psychedelic drug -- some people who are prone to mental problems might get tipped over. I meditate a lot in my old age, as much as any monastic, but I've worked up to it over decades. I can't express how grateful I am to have done so.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: VincentRJ on November 09, 2016, 01:32:39 am
Ha, ha, I wouldn't worry about heresy. Buddhism, and religion in general, is a bit of a free-for-all in this era of globalization, despite attempts (even here) to enforce some sort of orthodoxy. As a lifelong iconoclast I think it's healthy.

I'm definitely not worried about heresy. My interest in Buddhism was renewed a few years ago when I came across the Kalama Sutta for the first time. I was quite amazed that a religious teaching could advise a group of skeptics not to accept something as true merely because it was mentioned in the scriptures, or because an authority or teacher claimed it was true, but to examine the words of the wise and work out for oneself if their advice could be beneficial for oneself and others.

This is an approach that has always appealed to me.

Quote
I've settled on two meals a day with an occasionally short fast. I like thinking that sex is especially healthy, but I suspect you're right, that celibacy is also just as healthy and more so than its opposite -- promiscuity.

There's a lot of emerging evidence on the increased health benefits of serious fasting, not just short fasts. Apparently, when the body is freed from the chores of digesting food, it can begin fixing its own problems, and 'nip any problems in the bud', so to speak.

As I understand, a serious fast for 5 or 6 or 7 days, taking water only, can renew one's immune system. The body will consume all the defunct, damaged and inactive white blood cells (as a substitute for food), then, after one resumes eating, the body will replace those consumed cells with fully functioning new cells.

There are also theories that the body will create new brain cells (neurons) during prolonged periods of fasting, which is presumably the body's attempt to help the brain more easily notice food opportunities in the interests of its own survival.

If these benefits of fasting are true, they provide at least a partial explanation for Gautama's enlightenment. Prior to his night under the Bodhi tree, he'd fasted to such extreme levels that he realised if he were to continue fasting he would die, so he began to eat again and his other ascetic companions deserted him.

With a completely renewed immune system and a great increase in the number of brain cells, it's not difficult to imagine that some time after his period of extreme fasting, Gautama could have had some inspiring revelations that might not have been possible without those resulting health benefits flowing from his earlier period of fasting. Just my own theory.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 09, 2016, 09:33:57 am
Yes, I agree that fasting is beneficial, although I think that, as with celibacy, you might be attributing more to it than it merits. There's a temptation to look for some external fix that will get us there without having to go within and really come to grips with this matter.

Gautama's enlightenment was a direct result of meditation, although as you say, his austerities may have set the stage for it. In my late twenties I did all of those austerities, including giving away everything and living on the street for a year and then retreating to a beautiful remote place to practice in relative seclusion for several years. But it wasn't until I'd meditated with sufficient focus that I actually begin to have some deep experiences of genuine insight. I always hesitate to say this, because it might discourage people, but for most of us it takes years of intense meditation to make much progress on the path to enlightenment. But even a little practice of meditation can have profound effects, so one shouldn't get discouraged by the enormity of what is involved. Do it now, time goes by quickly.

Here's something I wrote awhile back on fasting you might like -- http://www.frogzen.com/uncategorized/fasting/ (http://www.frogzen.com/uncategorized/fasting/)
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 09, 2016, 01:52:36 pm
I read up on the Santi Asoke movement online. It sounds great except for their apparent neglect of meditation practice. I often forget that all Buddhism isn't just about meditation and that there are forms that don't emphasis meditation practice. i think that's regrettable, but not surprising.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: VincentRJ on November 10, 2016, 04:34:24 pm
Yes, I agree that fasting is beneficial, although I think that, as with celibacy, you might be attributing more to it than it merits. There's a temptation to look for some external fix that will get us there without having to go within and really come to grips with this matter.

Gautama's enlightenment was a direct result of meditation, although as you say, his austerities may have set the stage for it.


There is often a problem in determining the main cause of a particular effect in any complex system because everything is so interrelated. Whilst it is reasonable to presume that Gautama would never have reached his stage of enlightenment without applying specific meditation techniques, it might also be true that without the conditions of a renewed physical and mental system that developed after he ceased his period of extreme fasting, the enlightenment might never have resulted.

Wasn't Gautama also meditating during his period of extreme fasting?

Quote
Here's something I wrote awhile back on fasting you might like -- [url]http://www.frogzen.com/uncategorized/fasting/[/url] ([url]http://www.frogzen.com/uncategorized/fasting/[/url]) 


That's an interesting and well-written article on fasting, Zafogzen. I share your experience that practicing short periods of fasting first is the way to go, and doing that gradually results in longer periods of fasting becoming easier.

However, I'm a bit concerned about the following statements from your writings.

"My fasts gradually became longer, until one summer, intent on going for two weeks with nothing but spring water, I was overcome with severe leg cramps on the twelfth day — to the point where I could barely stand. I learned later that my cramps were from a lack of salt and other minerals, brought on by walking the surrounding hills in the hot sun. I decided, henceforth, to be more moderate with fasting. I hadn’t noticed any additional benefit after three days and eventually the body will start consuming itself. Vital organs can fail. Longer fasts, of more than a week, are dangerous."

Doesn't spring water contain small amounts of salt and other minerals? People often get cramps without fasting at all, and the cause is often attributed to a lack of water.

If you got cramps during a fast, after walking in the surrounding hills in the hot sun, it sounds very much as though you were not drinking enough water. However, I confess I have never fasted for as long as 12 days. If I ever do try that, I might add a pinch of Himalayan Rock salt to each litre of my drinking water, just to be on the safe side.

I'm not sure one can generalise about the dangers of fasts that are longer than a week. There are many different individual circumstances that could make fasting dangerous. For example, it wouldn't be recommended for pregnant women, young children, underweight or anorexic people, and people on medication for certain types of medical problems.

However, a person who is normally healthy, not underweight, and even overweight which is now the norm, should be able to fast safely for up to 30 days, provided he doesn't stress himself with too much physical exercise and provided he drinks plenty of water. At least that's my understanding of the situation.

Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: VincentRJ on November 10, 2016, 04:45:15 pm
I read up on the Santi Asoke movement online. It sounds great except for their apparent neglect of meditation practice. I often forget that all Buddhism isn't just about meditation and that there are forms that don't emphasis meditation practice. i think that's regrettable, but not surprising.

Yes, that's an interesting distinction between Santi Asoke and the more traditional forms of Buddhism. However, I get the impression that Santi Asoke adherents claim that they do meditate, but with 'open eyes' whilst working, rather than with 'closed eyes' whilst sitting down, doing nothing.

From what I've read, for the Asoke group, every moment of the day is supposed to be meditation in the form of concentration (sati), consciousness and awareness of the surrounding world. Asoke members emphasise more the aspect of “concentration,” and thus their meditation is concentration in whatever they do whether it be eating, working or sleeping. Every action is carried out with careful concentration, which is their form of meditation.

They are very pragmatic and believe Nirvana is a state of mind achievable in this lifetime.
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 11, 2016, 12:23:23 pm
In zen meditation the eyes are kept open, relaxed and looking slightly downward.

I could get on my high horse, as some do here, and say that Santi Asoke isn’t real Buddhism the way Gautama taught. But to me that’s irrelevant. I can only comment based on my own experience.

Yes, that’s an ideal way to go about one’s life, although not so easy as it sounds, at least for me. I find that only regular, consistent sitting meditation makes it possible to practice that kind of mindfulness.

People often tell me they meditate while doing other stuff or while lying down or walking. I always say that I meditate those ways myself, or at least I try to, but I also practice zazen (sitting meditation) and it is just not the same.

Zazen eventually brings a whole new level of attention to those everyday activities, which I'm convinced would be very difficult to arrive at otherwise.

When I do something, like painting, I am that activity completely. There is no subject/object dualism, just total engagement in the activity of painting. There is just painting.

In zazen I eventually arrive at a place where I am empty of all such activity, where I am just myself, or emptiness, or True Mind -- whatever name is attached to it is inadequate. It is the “source” as Noritake Roshi says in the talk about Bodhidharma above. When that is experienced, it brings a whole new awareness to everyday activities. But don’t take my word for it.

I think it's too bad the Santi Asoke folks gave up on traditional meditation, because their lifestyle sounds like it would be very conducive to sitting meditation

Anyway, you’re into studies. Here some on meditation -- https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201309/20-scientific-reasons-start-meditating-today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201309/20-scientific-reasons-start-meditating-today)
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: VincentRJ on November 11, 2016, 07:23:25 pm

People often tell me they meditate while doing other stuff or while lying down or walking. I always say that I meditate those ways myself, or at least I try to, but I also practice zazen (sitting meditation) and it is just not the same.


Ah! Zazen! Sitting still like a frog!  :wink1:

Quote
I think it's too bad the Santi Asoke folks gave up on traditional meditation, because their lifestyle sounds like it would be very conducive to sitting meditation

Anyway, you’re into studies. Here some on meditation -- https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201309/20-scientific-reasons-start-meditating-today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201309/20-scientific-reasons-start-meditating-today) 

Thanks for that link to the benefits of 'sitting-still' meditation, Zafrogzen. However, I've never had any doubts that quieting the mind should have some health benefits. There are countless activities and practices that have been demonstrated to have specific health benefits, such as particular types of food and particular types of exercise, both physical and mental.

I like the analogy in your own article on fasting where you describe meditation as a kind of fasting for the mind. Just as stopping the intake of food for a few days gives the body a rest, which allows it to make certain adjustments in the interests of its own health, stopping or reducing the incessant turmoil of thoughts arising in the mind, gives the mind a rest which should in turn result in some health benefits.

However, I'm sure you would agree that to achieve the ultimate benefit along Buddhist lines, such as enlightenment or Nirvana, meditation alone will not be sufficient. There is the 8-Fold Path of right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

Notice that right mindfulness and right concentration come last, but this doesn't mean that each division should be fully developed in the order they are presented in the list, before moving on to the next one. All the factors in the list are interrelated and could be practiced simultaneously, albeit in an imperfect, less-than-ideal manner, which would be the case for most people.

The main point I would make here is that the benefits of just one factor, such as sitting meditation, can be offset by a deficiency in the practice of one or more of the other factors.

For example, the US army has discovered the benefits of regular meditation. It reduces stress, improves concentration and allows the soldiers to do their job more efficiently. However, I doubt that any of those soldiers would reach a state of Nirvana, no matter how much they meditated, because, from a Buddhist perspective, they probably haven't developed the other factors of the 8-Fold Path, such as right aspiration, right action and right livelihood.

The Santi Asoke philosophy takes all of these factors mentioned in the 8-Fold Path into consideration. Any perceived deficiency in one factor, such as the amount of time spent doing nothing but meditating, is compensated for (if not more than compensated for) by the greater effort and honesty that they apply to the other factors.




Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: zafrogzen on November 12, 2016, 08:39:42 am
External practices are like the leaves and branches. Quiescent stillness is the root -- the abode of all the Buddhas.

An old master said, "I know what others know, but others do not know what I know."

 
Title: Re: Bodhidharma's teaching
Post by: VincentRJ on November 12, 2016, 04:45:46 pm
External practices are like the leaves and branches. Quiescent stillness is the root -- the abode of all the Buddhas.

An old master said, "I know what others know, but others do not know what I know."

Interesting analogy to associate 'stillness' with the root of a tree, Zafrogzen. Do you not know that roots are in a constant state of growth and activity?  :wink1:

The area covered by roots below the ground is often far greater than the area covered by the foliage above the ground. Root growth takes place constantly and opportunistically whenever the environment provides the water, oxygen, minerals, general support and warmth necessary for growth. Soil microfauna are constantly nibbling away at tree roots, frequently causing death and injury and resulting in new roots forming rapidly.

The population and concentration of roots in the soil are as dynamic as the population of leaves in the air above, if not more so.  Are you sure your analogy is still relevant?  :wink1:

SimplePortal 2.3.3 © 2008-2010, SimplePortal