Buddhism may be (perhaps incorrectly) be summarized as metaphysical suicide; by achieving a hypothetical near-perfect state of mind, one ceases to be reborn. However, for skeptical materialists who don't necessarily believe in the idea of a soul or reincarnation due to a lack of objective evidence for either, this goal may seem a bit hollow. Even if proper views are cultivated and meditation practiced, they only offer temporary relief or at best a slow, steady reduction of suffering. Even if such a state as most people would refer to as "enlightenment" is achieved, what would justify the effort?
From the perspective of someone who doesn't believe in reincarnation, wouldn't killing myself achieve more or less the same end result? Life takes effort and suffering but death takes neither, so life must offer something to offset its negatives. To make matters more confusing, in the suttas, there are examples of arahants killing themselves after enlightenment, which implies that there is no "offset." Currently, I meditate and read suttas because I, for a lack of better terms, find them wholesome and interesting; I don't really expect anything out of the practice, and I do it for its own sake. Even assuming the best possible outcome of practice -- nibbana -- creates a state of mind in which all judgment and interpretations are gone, why should one value this state over death? Does mere inertia of "I'm not dead, so I may as well continue life" justify itself or is the decision to continue living based wholly on emotions?
I'm assuming that from the perspective of most people on this website (and monks who are explicitly forbidden from encouraging death), my way of thinking is horribly skewed. If it could be pointed out where my thinking has gone wrong, it would be greatly appreciated. I've thought on these points for a while and have come to no satisfactory conclusion.
If it could be pointed out where my thinking has gone wrong, it would be greatly appreciated.
You sound almost exactly like me a year ago, so let me give it a shot (from the perspective of Theravāda; Other forms of Buddhism may see things differently.)
Buddhism may be (perhaps incorrectly) be summarized as metaphysical suicide; by achieving a hypothetical near-perfect state of mind, one ceases to be reborn.
Freedom from defilements is not a hypothetical state, but has been actually achieved by the arahats. If you don't believe arahats exist, then you probably don't believe anything in the suttas which you don't remember from personal experience. This is fine. Buddhism is a set of instructions on how to end greed, hatred, and delusion. There is no need to fantasize about how all this may affect you at or after the time of your death. What matters is your state of mind right now.
However, for skeptical materialists who don't necessarily believe in the idea of a soul or reincarnation due to a lack of objective evidence for either, this goal may seem a bit hollow.
The Buddha did not believe in a soul, and he believed in questioning what others say, even what he himself says. The goal of Buddhism is the end of suffering. If you can get rid of anger right now, in this moment, you will suffer less right now. That's pretty much what it's about, not concepts like "your" "future" "death" and potential "rebirth."
Even if proper views are cultivated and meditation practiced, they only offer temporary relief or at best a slow, steady reduction of suffering.
I respectfully disagree with this thought. If proper views are cultivated and meditation practiced properly, it can lead to fruition of stream entry. This is a very fast, huge jump in one's experience of freedom from suffering. It is also the opposite of temporary. It is permanent. Once you have gone through those couple of moments, you will never again be able to experience certain kinds of suffering. It probably depends on what kind of person you were before that event, but I feel very comfortable stating that stream entry can reduce suffering by over 90%.
Even if such a state as most people would refer to as "enlightenment" is achieved, what would justify the effort?
I am not "fully enlightened," but let's think about one thing from a hypothetical perspective for a moment. Let's say you become completely free from greed and hatred after decades of intensive practice. Try to imagine what that would be like. Do you really think you would then say, "Meh, this freedom from greed and hatred is not really worth the effort."?
From the perspective of someone who doesn't believe in reincarnation, wouldn't killing myself achieve more or less the same end result?
The error here lies in the assumption that there is an "end" in which your actions will result, and that this end, which happens after you are gone, is somehow more important than your actual experience, when in reality it is totally unimportant, since you are not going to experience any of it. If time is linear, independent, and absolute, then I guess you have a good point, because you just look at a hypothetical point in time when your existence has ended. Either way, from that perspective, it will be all the same to you, namely non-existent. The problem is, however, that time is neither linear nor independent nor absolute. You don't have to study Buddhism to realize that. You could also study the theory of relativity and quantum physics. This is not a joke and not some popular misinterpretation of actual science. The actual science itself clearly shows that time is not absolute and matter does not exist in the way we "intuitively" think it does. So given this new information, things start to look entirely different: The rest of your life, whatever that may be, is what you are going to experience, not some theoretical point in time which by definition you won't experience. If you look even more closely, you can even say the present moment is the only moment you actually experience, but I think that's beyond the scope of your question.
Life takes effort and suffering but death takes neither, so life must offer something to offset its negatives.
I simply do not understand why you believe life "must" offer anything at all. It's not a zero-sum game in which the players, "life" and "death" somehow compete for your approval by presenting their respective pros and cons. "Death" is just what we call the end of life. Ultimately you don't make a decision between "being alive" and "being dead." All you can do is influence the time of death within the limits of your capabilities. Once that time has come and gone, you will not be alive anymore, but neither will you "be dead." You just won't exist as the person with the username "Princess of Canada" anymore.
To make matters more confusing, in the suttas, there are examples of arahants killing themselves after enlightenment, which implies that there is no "offset."
Again I'm not sure I truly understand what you are saying, but there is indeed no "offset." Things just are the way they are. They don't have to be fair or balanced; They are not fair or balanced. At least not from that perspective.
Currently, I meditate and read suttas because I, for a lack of better terms, find them wholesome and interesting; I don't really expect anything out of the practice, and I do it for its own sake. Even assuming the best possible outcome of practice -- nibbana -- creates a state of mind in which all judgment and interpretations are gone, why should one value this state over death? Does mere inertia of "I'm not dead, so I may as well continue life" justify itself or is the decision to continue living based wholly on emotions?
You got me on that one. I am not wise enough to even try to answer this question. All I would like to say in response is that I used to ask similar questions and I don't anymore. I guess a standard response would be, once you are fully enlightened, it doesn't matter to you either way. You may live or die. However, given the choice between dying right away and helping other beings end their suffering, you would choose the latter out of compassion.
I'm assuming that from the perspective of most people on this website (and monks who are explicitly forbidden from encouraging death), my way of thinking is horribly skewed.
No, just delusional. :D But in all seriousness, I think your way of thinking is pretty normal or average among those who have started to practice Buddhism as adults and not yet made huge progress. Give it some time and make sure you learn insight meditation from someone who acknowledges fruition of stream entry as a likely outcome in the short to intermediate term, not some elusive goal that will take the infamous "many lifetimes" to realize.
I've thought on these points for a while and have come to no satisfactory conclusion.
Neither did I come to a conclusion or any degree of satisfaction by thinking on these points, which I did for almost seven years. Eventually I realized thinking is not the correct approach to this. Insight meditation is.
When my mind is calm, and my thoughts cease for the moment, I sometimes tend to naturally focus on maintaining a straight, upright posture rather than the rising and falling of the stomach. I find it increasingly difficult to focus on both simultaneously. Should our attention to the motion of our stomach take precedence over any other aspect of our physical body during meditation? How important is it to maintain good posture during sitting meditation?
The posture (straight back) is not so important as long as you are able to note the rising and falling of the stomach !
So next time you realise you are focusing on maintaining your posture remind yourself "distracted","distracted" or "sitting" ,"sitting" and bring your focus back on the rising and falling of the stomach.
This should help you :
"Chapter 2: Sitting meditation
The formal method for sitting meditation is as follows:
- We sit with the legs crossed if possible, with one leg in
front of the other, or in any position which is
comfortable as necessary.
- Traditionally, we sit with one hand on top of the other,
palms up on our lap.
3. We sit with our backs straight, although it is not
necessary to have the back perfectly straight if this is
uncomfortable; just as long as one is not bending over
to the point where one is not able to experience the
movements of the abdomen.
- We practice with the eyes closed. Since our focus is on
the stomach, having the eyes open will only distract us
away from our object of attention.
- Once we are in a suitable position, we simply send our
5 Please see illustration 41 in the appendix for two traditional sitting postures.mind out to the abdomen; when the abdomen rises, we
simply say to ourselves, silently, in the mind, "rising".
When the stomach falls, we say to ourselves, "falling".
"Rising", "falling" "rising", "falling". "
Hope this help!
I've got, maybe a strange question. First, maybe I should say that Im practicing Buddhism and mediation for few months, maybe and year. Im not a monk, for sure, I have a regular job, with I very like, got some friends, a house, a car and so on...
But as Im fallowing the path on enlightenment and letting few of those things go, for example: not drinking alcohol changed my friendships, with I found good but left some time, space, energy in my that is unused. What can I do to for fill my day, life, what goal should I set, except of developing my inner self, helping others, meditating and just enjoying the moment?
Im suffering from sudden letting go of entertainment, social engagement, alcohol and all that stuff that used to do "before". I don't feel like going further with my Buddhism for now, and therefore making this blackhole getting smaller and smaller because I still dont feel so confifent on this, so I would humble ask You for some kind of direction, what else can I do or try to do, or where should I direct my life path now when most of those things are gone and there is a lot of time, boredom and unused energy in my life.
What would be good to do in addition to your daliy meditation would be to continue being mindful and to keep to the five precepts.
The continus practice of Vipassana meditation will help with things like boredom and you will eventually come to see that you never needed all the things you have let go of!
Yesterday while watching "Dhammapada Verses Seven and Eight" at the end it was mention about different types of meditation for different individuals and its not always but sometimes I find myself with low spirits thinking about these things for example that the body is like a pile of wood -as mention in the video or reminding myself of death often through the day etc.. and until now I was kind of thinking that this is normal and thats the purpose of doing it because this is the reality and thats our goal- to see reality clearly and mindfully.But in the video is said that for such people is more appropriate to meditate on love and kindness.
So can anybody give me some better instructions on this kind of practise and more importantly what can I do when not meditating to change this low mood when I catch myself feeling like that.
Here it is in the talk:
First of all, it's important to understand that a low mood is neither you nor yours... that is the method of practice in insight meditation. It should be seen as it is, impermanent, unsatisfiable, and uncontrollable. The real problem is not the low mood, it is the desire to change the low mood into something towards which one is more partial. I made a video about this earlier:
Loving-kindness (metta) meditation is an all-around useful meditation... I made a video about this and other useful meditations here:
Today, during meditation, I noticed that I almost stopped meditating because of anxiety and fear that I felt.
I struggle with that feeling of almost two years. I went to a psychologist, and it helped a lot, this problem was the impetus for the development of meditation and self awareness.
But the whole time I have a problem with it, I was worried because I do not see the end, meditation helps, but in every moment of the day feeling "that something is wrong." Can I do something besides watch this? Observing and not resort to this is difficult and stressful.
Please help, this is the biggest problem that I have at this time.
Rather than wanting not to be anxious or afraid, examine it. It's more than just observing it, it means to actually become interested in what is really going on. When you do this, you will see that it is nothing to be concerned with. After all, what's the problem with anxiety? It only becomes a problem when you become anxious about your anxiety, afraid of the fear.
This is how all of our emotions work; they become feedback loops that get stronger and stronger because we don't see them for what they are, we imagine them to be something more. As a result we react to them with more emotion, which of course makes them stronger, until they build into habitual tendencies.
When you begin to deconstruct habits, it can appear to be futile, since the habitual behaviour just returns again; you need to remember that habits are so called because they are persistent. You have to just be more persistent in changing the habit, and that means mindfulness even when it seems like nothing is changing. Eventually, slowly, the habit will fade away.
I'm practicing meditation for about 2 and a half week now. There are lots of things that I have learned about myself already.
At the beginning I was stressed even felt irrational fear to meditation.
I've discovered through walking meditation that I'm impatient and I mean really impatient ( i was really angry about walking )
The one thing that bothers me is after a day of being mindful I feel exhausted. I'm working in the office and my job isn't easy, adding mindfulness to it is like wearing a heavy boots for running;)
Is this temporary or am I doing something wrong?
I believe it is not the mindfulness that is causing the stress, it is rather showing you how stressed we are in daily worldly activities. Without mindfulness, we have a delusion of non-suffering in the things we do and just like how you learned about impatience in walking meditating, you are seeing the usual stress at work, I think.
As you develop more mindfulness, it is easy to avoid stressful situations although we might be doing the same kind of job. What you're experiencing is as a result of right practice. Watch the below video for a full treatment of this subject:
Hi, I come from a place where Buddhist meditation is almost unheard of.I had the good fortune to come across this wonderful technique and i am greatly benefitted by this.i would like to know how i could share what is taught by ven.Yuttadhammo to those who are inclined to meditation.since it would be hard for them to follow Ajahn's video on "How To Meditate" since it is a non-English speaking area,is it ok to share the technique from how i have understood it?is there anything i should keep in mind before doing this? Thank you for this space and all the support from the community and the dedicated members.
I see nothing wrong with sharing Dhamma the best you can. The only thing here is to avoid giving an impression that one knows more than he or she actually does. This is to avoid unreasonable expectations from the receiving party. Just tell that you have learned something and you think it might help. Keeping it simple would produce the best result IMO.
Staying with evil people who are competing and critical and has evil thoughts towards you, it is hard to meditate when around those people. I am having serious headaches and tiredness constantly. When I am alone outside of the house, I feel better. What should I do? Or Is something seriously wrong with me like having paranoia?
On the bright side, your state of mental fatigue can be useful, since it helps you to let go. It might help to see them as a support for your meditation and embrace those situations as teaching you how to let go. Then you will begin to win over your own emotions. Remember, meditation is not an escape, it is a examination of the reality around you. Once you see reality as reality, it will never bother you in any form.
The best way out of difficult situations is to focus on the emotions, specifically:
just look at the emotions as they come up, and remind yourself of what they are, as "liking" or "disliking", etc. You will find this changes the situation considerably.
If you need private guidance, you can send me a message via http://yuttadhammo.sirimangalo.org/contact/
Sorry, I would like to make videos for every question, but not sure how many I'll get around to. Thanks for helping, everyone.
May all be well.
i watched your video on giving up pleasure and i have thought about this a long time, and there was a person who commented on this video and said that,
Well,you said we have to give up the Attachment to the pleasure instead of the pleasure itself. For example a person enjoys chocolate very much,are you saying that he can eat all the chocolate he wants if he doesnt have any attachment to the chocolate? The thing is this action of eating chocolate is his Attachment to the chocolate,thats why he still craves chocolate. If he cuts down his attachment to the chocolate,then he wont desire any chocolate at all.
and this i agree with .. it seems that if we were to remove attatchment we wont crave anything, I want to meditate and be mindful .. but i dont want to be " flatlined " in life, not craving anything .. not being able to experience sexual pleasure or even going out to buy a bag of chips .. cus my attatchment to it disapeard therefor i dont desire the chips anymore , it seems that if we give up attatchment to things our life will be sort of flatlined in this way, not being able to " want " anything .. not feeling anything, so when someone dies you dont even get sad or feel anything about it ..
it seems like a cold way to live, i just think people should be careful thats all , in my mind it seems like if the attatchment go, the pleasure will go to, because you nolonger desire it, i just think it sound a little scary, not being able to enjoy anything anylonger, and giving everything up.
"He that desires a thing, and then this his desire fulfilment blesses,
Desires throng on him more and more, as thirst in time of heat oppresses.
"As in the hornéd kine, the horn with their growth larger grows:
So, in a foolish undiscerning man, that nothing knows,
While grows the man, the more and more grows thirst, and craving grows
"Give all the rice and corn on earth, slave-men, and kine, and horse,
’Tis not enough for one: this know, and keep a righteous course.
"A king that should subdue the whole world wide,
The whole wide world up to the ocean bound,
With this side of the sea unsatisfied
Would crave what might beyond the sea be found.
"Brood on desires within the heart — content will ne’er arise.
Who turns from these, and the true cure descries,
He is content, whom wisdom satisfies.
"Best to be full of wisdom: these no lust can set afire;
Never the man with wisdom filled is slave unto desire.
"Crush your desires, and little want, not greedy all to win:
He that is like the sea is not burnt by desire within,
But like a cobbler, cuts the shoe according to the skin.
"For each desire that is let go a happiness is won:
He that all happiness would have, must with all lust have done."
-- Jataka 467
hi, i read somewhere that buddhist meditation is like psycho therapy , is this true ??? i mean when i make the clear thought will i uncover alot of suppressed emotions?, because this is really one of the reasons why i have started to meditate , i wanted to bring up suppressed emotions but not dwell on them, i want to heal my suppressions, does meditation purify you in this way ? or does it just bring your mind back to calm ? i saw one of the ask a monk videos and he said in the meditation your bringing up all the good and the bad things inside of you , but i just wanted to get a more clear anser . does meditation heal your suppressed emotions? thanks. :)
is not a stupid question at all,,,let me tell you why I started to meditated,,,when I was younger I was tortured ( 3 times), , i moved to the USA as a political asylee and stared a new life , got married and have 3 kids. I have no resentment for what happened to me, just once in a while I got sad when I thought of my friends and family. 2 years ago I had a massive seizure at my son's soccer game. after many MANY , test , I was asked to see a psychiatrist specialized in war trauma to see if I was ""suppressing memories",,,,I don't want to bore you with details but he suggested to meditate,,,and then my journal started ;first to look for the right meditation practice and second to find answers. After 6 month of searching for the right practice I found Theravada Buddhism, I found through meditation that yes indeed I was suppressing memories, guilt was a big one, you'd be surprised to see how the mind works,,bringing suppressing memories back to reality is the best thing anyone can do, meditation has heal me , do not be afraid ,,good luck and hope this helps
Why all of a sudden have I found it difficult to stay mindful throughout the day and in formal meditation? Walking and sitting meditation drags, and my mind seems to wonder much quicker than before. I'll stop and note "thinking, thinking", go back to "stepping right/left" or "rising, falling" and another thought pops up.
It's like my practice has been reset.
Are you noting the craving to be mindful too? The dislike(ill-will) toward thinking?
Are you noting the liking and attachment toward mindful states?
When I start a sit, my noting of my breath is, for want of a better word, clear. When I think "rising", I am not merely forming the word in my mind, I am actually attending to the rising of my abdomen. My thinking "rising" is a result of the actual rising of my abdomen.
But that lasts for only about two or three breaths. Then my attention begins to wane. Originally I took that as a bad sign and so I'd give myself a (mental) shake, and try to re-establish the focus I had with the first few breaths. But just as an experiment, I've been counting my "notings" to see how long I could keep going, even if I was getting more and more distracted, before losing the plot completely and getting lost in some train of thought.
I've gone from maybe an additional 3 or 4 breaths/notings after those initial 2 or 3 clear breaths/notings, to as many as an additional 15.
Again just to be clear, the key thing I'm trying to point out, and about which I'd like your comments, is the difference between the first two or three breaths and the rest. For the first two I am, as I said, "attending to" my abdomen as I think the words "rising" or "falling". But for the rest, there's something unmindful about the noting. Sometimes I've actually found myself thinking:
"Rising? Why am I saying 'rising'? Oh, yes, that's right. It's because I'm meditating and my abdomen is rising!"
Should I be learning anything from this? For example, is there anything "better" about those first 2 or 3 "clear" notings? Should I be aiming for more of my time to be like that? Or doesn't it matter?
And has anyone else experienced the shortness of attention span I'm describing. Literally within 2 or 3 breaths -- what's that, maybe 10 or 15 seconds -- there is a noticeable reduction in the extent to which I am able to point my attention at something and keep it there. My mind is like a squirrel on too much coffee.
I think its quite normal. This so called "meditation" (at least the meditation that bhante theach ) is actually the time which you describe as : "I am actually attending to the rising of my abdomen. My thinking "rising" is a result of the actual rising of my abdomen."The moment your mind starts wandering and you fail to note it and get lost in your thoughts..its not meditation ,until you catch yourself and say "thinking ,thinking"/"distracted, distracted". This is very important to catch all phenomena as early as possible and note them accordingly .Its not important how many hours you sit,its how many moments you have clear awareness of what happens in your mind ,body ,feeling etc.
But that lasts for only about two or three breaths.Then my attention begins to wane. Originally I took that as a bad sign and so I'd give myself a (mental) shake, and try to re-establish the focus I had with the first few breaths.
Its not a bad sign ,its just a sign of impermanence : ).Don't try to re-establihs the focus.When you attention begins to wane just note the reason for that "wondering" ,"thinking" ,"pain" or whatever is that distracts you until it goes away and your focus will re-establish automatically.
Should I be aiming for more of my time to be like that?
I wouldn't advise you to aim.I think the more you aim and struggle to make anything the way you want it to be the worse it will get.Dont worry about it. I would suggest to practise exactly how bhante Yuttadhammo explain here (I read it every now and then and it really helps)and I believe with patience ,constancy and effort the progress will come naturaly.
And has anyone else experienced the shortness of attention span I'm describing.
You are not alone .)
When I am meditating, I find myself unsure if I am actually mindful of what is going on externally and internally. This is what is going on in my mind:
When my stomach rises, I say "rising" very clearly and articulated (takes reasonable effort to do this). [So on and so forth about the acknowledgment]
While I say rising, I try to visualize my stomach rising, or I try to "feel" it. This is what confuses me. The visualizing of the stomach is most likely thinking (at least that's what I think).
The same problem with thinking: I'm not really sure how to be aware of the thought. When you say thinking, thinking... then this should be letting go of the thought right? Then how must I be aware of the thought (if it is gone or not) if I should be letting go?
Please respond in a way that shows what is going on in your mind during meditation.
Don't let these things confuse your mind. And do not worry too much about if you are making it right or wrong.
As for your example of the thought: It arises and you can become aware of it. Sometimes you become aware of it quickly, sometimes half an hour might pass and you sit there, drowsy, not realizing that you have been thinking for long.
The moment you become aware of your thought you say in you mind "thinking, thinking, ..." until the thought has gone. This too may happen very fast, after the first noting of "thinking" or take long, depending to the conditions.
Generally can be said that the mind is very quick, but it can hold only one thought or only one thing at a time, when you say "thinking" the thought that you have been thinking is gone, the mind is now with the word "thinking" and thus has let go of the thought. So you don't need to care about the letting go part or do something, it happens.
A thought might come back but it is another one. You might, after it has gone know and acknowledge that there was a thought and it has disappeared and you had acknowledged it.
All this can happen extremely fast. You just sit there and observe the arising and ceasing of thoughts and other experiences that come to your attention through one of your sense doors. No following after, no willingly letting go, just the mental noting of it as long as it lasts.
You don't need to visualise or feel your stomach when it is rising and falling, just know that it is doing it. To feel it or have a visualization of it is ok, it is neither wrong nor necessary. There shouldn't be any effort to feel it. If it comes naturally then note it, too.
Don't try to catch every thing, when the mind works quick and has the tendency to think and analize too much, one can get lost in thoughts about how to note instead of really noting.
When you find yourself trying to feel or visualise, say "feeling, feeling", or "visualising", when you catch your intention to feel it or visualise, say 'wanting' or 'intending'. Note always only one thing at one time, know when it is over and something else started.
It can take a while to get used to say things to yourself in your mind but once you got used to it, it will take less effort.
A few days ago was I thinking I was progressing with my meditation but then I got sick and my anxiety level is really high, so high I couldn't even go to work yesterday, I'm having a lot of problems to meditate and I'm finding myself really anxious about meditating too, but I'm still doing it, I know it's is very unreasonable to be this fearful of going out of my house, but nothing seems to help me. Any ideas? is it an attachment to my phobia?
If it is an attachment depends on how you work with it from now on. If you give in to it, then yes, you are attached to it.
When you think of it as my fear, my phobia then you will be attached. When you understand it as impermanent then there are good chances that you see it's arising cope with it as long as it lasts and can see it ceasing.
fears and aversions can temporarily grow quite a bit when you meditate. The more you start to look inside your mind the more you see and it's not all pleasing. We have to see, accept and deal with our body and mind to get it through 'the ocean of samsara' to 'the dry shore'.
As much as I feel compassion for your not wanting to go out, not feeling able to work, do not give in to such desires. They are habits as a reaction on something that is past. May be not to work is ok. But not to go out is not ok in such a situation. That's giving in, or more drastically: that's indulging in self pity.
Keep meditating! And notice the anxiety. Don't be ashamed of it but observe it as good as you can without judging. When nothing seems to help, go back to the rising and falling. That will always be there, as long as you are alive. Remind yourself to have patience with yourself and the situation and then try to cultivate metta for yourself.
Don't expect miracles to happen, just continue practisingand noting and dare something. :) go at least out of the front door.
I have a quite of problem with this. Very often (mostly at work) sloth torpor gets me. It feels very heavy, tired, bored, weary, distracted, barely awake. It doesn't go away so fast like other feelings, it remains for a long time. I know it's 1 of 5 hindrances. Where does it come from? I've noticed my friends who dont meditate are awake for the whole day. But they seem motivated to work maybe because they have wives, children and debts, i am single and i dont have these problems. So it's probably lack of motivation. Any advices? Thanks.
If it is, as you say, because of lack of purpose, then you should make practicing the dhamma your purpose. I happened to be reading the following sutta just last night. In it the Buddha seems to say that you should take the thoughts you usually have that lead you to be lazy and change them into thoughts that convince you to take action. Take a look at it and maybe you can apply this teaching to your situation.
Kusita-Arambhavatthu Sutta: The Grounds for Laziness & the Arousal of Energy
Also, I have found for me personally, if I am, say, sitting on the couch and just don't feel like getting up. Instead of living inside that thought and feeling of torpor, I bring about my presence of mind and look at the feeling objectively. I think:
This is just a thought and a feeling. This numbness feels like a weight holding me in place, but what will happen if I ignore this impulse to stay still and just shoot up out of my seat?.
It's almost as if you become afraid of what might happen if you ignore these feelings. Really, it takes only one instant to go against them and then the numbness in your body is replaced by the feeling of movement. For the moment you no longer feel stuck. After a time you will develop the habit of identifying the feelings and thoughts as useless and hurtful and simply start pushing them aside in favor of thoughts that are beneficial.
In terms of your job, it helps to keep your mind engaged. Take an active interest in the quality of what you're doing. Encourage thoughts about the present task which cause you to pay more attention and do a better job. Your problem is probably that you simply don't care and would rather be anywhere else. In Buddhism, the way you approach every situation is important. There is no room for not caring.
If nothing else, simply find your inner rebel and do the things you need to do simply because every feeling in your world is telling you not to.
Hope that helps.
I am having diffculty with my parents and I am wondering how to approach this situation. I have been having a difficult time being nice to one parent and have been avoiding the other because of my relations with my step parent. I have been thinking that it is better to avoid both in order not to treat them badly or to be effected by their influence due to fear of being misguided by their opinions. Is it better to make the effort to spend time with them and try to be nicer or to continue to avoid them and practice meditation and metta? I would think that I should do both but I am not sure about the first.
In case of doubt, it's better to spend time with your parents and help them rather than ignoring them or shutting them out.
However, if they keep badgering you to the point that you feel that you are purposely placing yourself in a situation where you suffer just because you think you are doing them a favor by letting them vent, then that would be a different story, in my opinion.
Regarding your fear that their views might cause wrong view in you, time and practice are definitely going to be on your side here. The doctrine of Buddhism is not some weird story that conflicts with other stories people might believe in, but it is self-evident truth. As long as you can stick with regular, daily meditation, you won't have a problem in the long run, because within probably a few months, you will get to the point where you directly see some key aspects of the truth of reality, and then no amount of talk is going to be able to convince you to ignore what you have directly experienced and choose to believe something else instead.
"I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother & father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate & urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays & repays one's mother & father."
In terms of following the spiritual path towards Nibbana, are there any diferences on how a homosexual practices Buddhism? I am specifically thinking concerns reggarding the precepts and what sort of limitations (if they can ordain at all) this puts on a person in terms of being ordained, as obviously a homosexual living in a monastic enviornment creats challanges (Do they need to avoid all physical contact with the same sex as well?)
For a layperson it is not necessary to give up sex entirely, the one precept among 5 precepts for laypeople is to train not to comitt sexual misconduct. So, if a homosexual person lives in a partnership with another homosexual and both agree happily in their sexual practices there should not be a problem. So there is no restriction other than for everybody else.
From the 8 precepts on and of course for Bhikkhus (monks) and Bhikkhunis (nuns) any sexual activity is not allowed.
To be on the path to enlightenment does not require ordination, but being ordained makes it easier to walk the path. A mind, in a male or female body, ordained or unordained, might have problems to advance on the path to Nibbana when it is distracted by lust and sexual phantasies or thoughts. Such a mind is going for sense pleasures and not for liberation.
Hence sexuality in general and not only homosexuality has to be given up.
It might be very difficult for a homosexual man to be among so many other men. Contact happens, it is not forbidden as long as there is no lust involved. A diciple might be asked to help wash his teacher, novices may come and play and cuddle innocent.
We saw in the past in the catholic church what can happen when sexuality is suppressed for long but not given up. It can happen in Buddhist monasteries as well. It might almost be torture for a homosexual man to be a monk - unless lust has been uprooted and is not a challenge anymore.
I know at least on monk who would not ordain homosexual men. Not because he wants to discriminate them but just out of the experiance that it can become too problematic and imbearable for the homosexual monk to be in such a close contact with the object of desire. Although one would think he should live with the nuns then, this is not a serious option.
So far I haven't heard of homosexuality being a topic among Bhikkhunis.
How does one overcome feelings of failure in daily life?
For me anyway, I believe that (my) feelings of failure is connected to expectations. An expectation, a belief that is centered on the future, may or may not be realistic. A less advantageous result than what you had hoped for gives rise to the emotion of disappointment. So try to let go of expectations, clinging and attachment. A complete change will probably not happen tomorrow or next week, but meditation (curing the cause) will help to see things more clearly. And, don't expect to be free from expectations (or these feelings) immediately. I think there is no quick fix, and distracting youself certainly won't help. It's not like taking a pill or distracting yourself (curing the symptoms), instead change will come gradually but will be more stable over time if you go to the root of the problem.
I had been a Buddhist for a year now. Before converting to Buddhism, I had been consistently studying for 2 years. I never heard Buddhism before until I reached the age of 10. My uncle had a Chinese Buddhist text that he never understands. When I reached my college days, I became curious on different religions, spirituality and philosophies. I was unsatisfied with the faith I belong. I felt not connected with it and I am not convinced with it. I began a simple study. It started from reading holy books on the Abrahamic religions, atheism and then with the Indian religions.
I almost decided to became non-religious (atheist) until I decided to study Buddhism. I watched videos on youtube concerning Buddhism especially those of Yuttadhammo, Ajahn Brahm, Stephen Batchelor, etc. Then, I moved to reading the core principles of Buddhism, its precepts, foundations and adherence. It goes on for 2 years of slow but consistent study. I felt a connection with Buddhism. I wasn't too sure about it until last year. I make it to a point that I won't change My belief because of the person's actions. Whether they are good or bad to me, it won't affect the decisions I'll be making response to their religious background.
So, I applied what I have studied, and learned from Buddhism...
I am a very anxious person. Let's say, I am the worrier type. I also suffer some emotional problems and it somehow pulled me in my shell. It was a struggle for me to overcome this. I am always bother by this and simple relaxation techniques wont work and my prayers weren't effective much. I decided to meditate and free my mind, extend awareness of what I'm doing. It has been very difficult AT the start but it became beneficial and easier. The precepts were really helpful. My goal was to overcome suffering, ease it out. I may not be enlightened as some Monks could be. However, I'll be very happy at least to have my suffering ease at a significant level.
Almost everything that I studied and applied with Buddhism had been extremely helpful for me. I improved my outlook in life, perspective of things, and the way I handle challenges, stress and problems. I agree with most of the Buddhist teachings and I approve of the precepts. Then, I said to myself one day, I am a Buddhist. I'm unsure about whether there are ceremonies for that. Well, I'm informed that's there's no formal ceremony.
My conversion remains a secret for my family. I know that they'll be extremely upset. So I'll hide my conversion for now. Our family belongs to a moderate Roman Catholic background. However, there are times I felt weird. There are times that my religious studies crawls back and haunt me. Those are rare times and Hell comes to my mind. I guess it is because of the exposure I had since I was a child.
If I may ask, How Buddhism changed your life? it does not need to be as lengthy as this. Thank You!
The things that changed are too plenty to list but here is a representative list. From anti-social to asocial, materialism to dependent-origination, skepticism to open-mindedness, rashness to politeness. In short, unsafe wandering to safety in the Dhamma.
About five years back, I started to study the Buddha's teachings and philosophy more intently. It helped me quite a lot in life, as I became calmer, more truthful, less afraid, etc. But later I reached a phase where I looked at my friends and peers and society in general, and got rather disgusted at the hypocrisy, prejudice and dishonesty in this world. Needless to say, this is a rather unwholesome mode of thought and I'd prefer not to lapse into it. It's probably (most likely?) hindering my spiritual advancement, not to mention my social life. After all, who wants a condescending friend?
My questions are: has anyone ever experienced this before? How did you cope with it? Is there any reason why others' lack of mindfulness would have such a deep impact on me? Especially considering I'm not all that mindful myself.
I hope the questions made sense: I'll be glad to clarify any ambiguities.
I'm sure someone more knowledgeable can provide a more Dhamma specific answer, but this simile from the tv show "Kung Fu" helped me a lot when this came up in my practice.
"In the pond there are some Lotuses which stand above the water. And though there roots feed, they themselves are untouched by it. Some others have risen only to the waters level. And others, are still underwater. Examine the flower...is not the flower, in each position, yet a flower?"
I have to deal with people who are very negative. It's like a disease. I really don't know how to stay cool when someone treats you like trash? I'm mindful most of the time but i really can't cope with people who are full of arrogance and disrespect. Their negativity is like transferring on me and i become negative myself. This kind behaviour is most common with so called "intelligent" people, well educated, wealthy etc. They look at everybody from above. I've also found out that people who are poor, villagers etc. are more positive and kind in general.
I would say this has to do with expectations. The Buddha taught us to remember that this sort of thing is inevitable. It is inevitable that people will speak harshly, lie, etc.; it is inevitable that they will speak at the wrong time, say the wrong thing, etc. He had us consider: "what else should I expect?" The key lies in seeing that this is just the way things are. If you reflect upon your situation, you will easily see that the situation has created itself - negative people become negative because of their situation. Wealth, status, priviledge, etc. makes people lazy, arrogant, etc. by its very nature.
It is also important to be careful about thinking that you are mindful most of the time; if this were true, the negative qualities of others could not transfer to you; you wouldn't even see the others as beings, you would just be aware of the hearing as "hearing", the seeing as "seeing", etc. and the whole idea of negativity would disappear. Often we mistake concentration for mindfulness; the former can only protect you like a shell - once it is broken, it is useless.
i require free books on budhisim,please send me
Go to www.budaedu.org I just received 8 books for free, including the Dhammapada
is curiousity a type of craving? There's always the wanting to know more about different subjects. Without wanting to know more, we will not be able to gain opportunities to know something that may be beneficial to us. Even for buddhism, it must stem from such wanting... Perhaps it is in some sense craving if the consciousness wants to know more about the wrong things. But wanting to know more about the right things, is that craving?
Yes, curiosity is a type of craving. If desire leads to letting go, then it is useful; if it results in more clinging, then it is not.
The Buddha tells us when desire is beneficial in his definition of "Right Effort":
"And what is right effort? There is
the case where a monk generates
desire, endeavors, arouses
persistence, upholds & exerts his
intent for the sake of the non-arising
of evil, unskillful qualities that
have not yet arisen... for the sake of
the abandoning of evil, unskillful
qualities that have arisen... for the
sake of the arising of skillful
qualities that have not yet arisen...
(and) for the maintenance,
non-confusion, increase, plenitude,
development, & culmination of skillful
qualities that have arisen: This is
called right effort.
The secret to this type of craving (the craving for awakening) is that it causes us to let go of other cravings we have. Since at the end of the path, there are no more cravings to be removed, the craving for awakening is no longer needed and falls away, allowing one to enter into cessation.
Ven. Yuttadhammo has explained that God can be reasoned out if we experience visions or voices because it's simply 'seeing, hearing'. This logic that all can be reduced to the six senses can also apply to recalling past lives. If someone achieves advanced concentration and allegedly recalls past lives all they experience is 'seeing, hearing, thinking' etc. If so, are alleged past life recollections reliable?
Past lives can be confirmed in the same way as seeing God can be confirmed... i.e., they can't :)
But then, by that reasoning, nothing can be confirmed. I can't confirm that I am typing right now; maybe I am lying in a coma somewhere with doctors stimulating my brain to make it appear that I am sitting in front of a computer.
This is not what I meant in that video, though. I meant that in ultimate reality, all that exists is body and mind. If you see god, great, you've seen god - power to you. If you've remembered a past life, same. None of it is truly real and none of it will bring lasting peace, happiness and freedom from suffering. Just neat experiences.
It's important not to conflate levels of reality. If you study science, you will often hear it said that they can't prove anything. This was just the point I was trying to make, that whatever you experience, "real" or "fake", it is still just experience.
If you remember a past life, then can confirm through other people that what you remember actually happened, that's pretty good "proof" on a conventional level, and is not affected by the fact that neither "past" nor "life" actually exist in ultimate reality. Of course, "remembering" the future is more reliable in this way ;)
Bhante, in the video you talked about how you used to go deer hunting with your father when you were younger and how things like that came up in meditation later and you had to deal with it. When I was ten or eleven years old I had a similar experience.
Even though killing is something that has never been in my nature, I was young and impressionable so I agreed to go duck hunting anyway because my father wanted to have some kind of male bonding experience with me.
Now this has come up in meditation and when I think about it, I have what you described before as some kind of "car crash" in my mind of terrible guilt for having been a part of that, and anger towards my father for encouraging me to participate in what seems to me to be abborant acts that have inflicted suffering on others and damaged my mind. Even when it was clear, (from me becoming very upset several times) that this was not something I wanted to be a part of.
You said that you had to realize, sort things like this out, and give them up. I was wondering if you could possibly elaborate on this situation in particular a little further in relation to guilt, (because we had similar experiences). It has been one of several fairly sizable roadblocks in my meditation practice and something I would appreciate some advice on dealing with.
I have a question about addiction, clining and attachment, specifically to the internet. I am old enough to remember the time before the internet, and during the recent years, it seems like, at least to me, that the internet can be quite addictive. Not at least to talk about social networks... I do feel that the internet can be very beneficial, but also very stressful at times. Last year I got so stressed that I even tried to put a curfew on myself, restrict my time spent in front of the computer/online. It has become better but there are still moments when I feel I waste my time online, just surfing.
I am interested to hear your opinions on the topic, both from the point of view of laymen and people living a monastic lifestyle.
This is one of my worst topics :) I've been using computers since I was six, so it has always been easy for me to get lost in them.
The key, I think, as with all addictions (as I probably said in the video Owen posted - thanks, Owen) is to look both at the addiction itself and the results that it brings. After you finish using the computer for a long time, you'll probably feel less than fresh. If you are aware of that and experience that feeling fully, the next time you want to use the computer, it will temper your desire and make objective observation of the desire a lot easier. When you are using the computer, you can try from time to time to sit back and meditate for a spell before continuing.
What would be really nice is an application that reminded you every so often to take a meditation break :) I think they exist, it would be nice to post a link to something for us all to download and use.
I would like to know more about the status of women and bhikkhunis in the society from a Buddhist perspective, and in particular the status of bhikkhunis in the sangha. I know that the status of bhikkhunis can be much lower than bhikkhus in some Buddhist countries. Why is this and what did the Buddha say about gender equality?
Also, what is the logic behind assigning unequal rules between bhikkhunis and bhikkhus?
Buddhism doesn't say much about people's social status; it is more concerned with a person's individual mental development. You won't find any teachings in the tipitaka on social status; there are some teachings on how a husband and wife should treat each other, but they are certainly not meant to be the idea of how society must necessarily be organized.
As to the status of bhikkhunis, most Theravada bhikkhus don't recognize them as "legal", so they really don't have any status to speak of - they are illegitimate, in the eyes of the sangha government. I don't know of any Theravada countries where Bhikkhunis are given any legitimacy by the sangha as a whole. What you may be referring to is the fact that most Buddhist countries have inherited India's gender discrimination, but that doesn't really have anything to do with Buddhist doctrine.
In places like America, where there is of course much more individual freedom of religious expression, the Bhikkhunis are often regarded quite highly by society, I think. @phalanyani might be able to shed some light on that if she ever comes on this forum :) In fact, I think it fair to say that Buddhists in general (save those in power or robes) tend to regard bhikkhunis quite well.
As to how individual sanghas treat Bhikkhunis, I can only speak of my own "sangha" (three of us: me, myself and I) when I say they are treated as monastics and meditators, with the same status and responsibilities as the bhikkhus: study, practice, teach.
As to the codified status of bhikkhunis, there is something more to be said, of course. The sangha was originally set up to handle male renunciants - the very idea of women going forth was an absurdity before the Buddha came around; the Jain's believed that women were incapable of enlightenment, and Hinduism considered them inferior, unclean, etc.
The Buddha had no such views, but was very clear on the dangers of cross-gender interaction, in terms of sexual attraction and household-based behaviour. So, he made very explicit that the ordination of women would create complications and should be treated with great caution.
The question is, as you ask, why was his answer to place the burden on the women, rather than giving the men more rules as well? There are many potential answers to this question, some better than others:
- the Buddha may have been acting in response to the request - if you want x, you have to do y. Since the women were asking for ordination, the Buddha put the burden on them to be careful not to disrupt the existing organization or become a burden on the administration. There are a few gender/sexuality based rules that might fall into this category, and the one limiting the number of ordinations could be to ensure quality didn't become a victim to quantity.
- the Buddha seems to have been sensitive to the special status and needs of women - the rule against living alone in the forest (to guard against rape), the rule requiring two years of celibacy before ordaining (to guard against potential pregnancy), etc.
- Some of the rules for Bhikkhunis, like some of the rules for Bhikkhus, may have just been laid down because it happened to be the Bhikkhunis who broke them. It seems some of the rules given to Bhikkhunis should equally be observed by Bhikkhus; some are anyway. It should be remembered that the rules were by no means meant to be exhaustive; they were laid down as problems arose; in the end, the Buddha said simply that whatever goes with the rules should come under the rules, and whatever does not, should not - otherwise there might be millions of rules for each sangha today.
- The most difficult rule for women, I think, is the one that requires Bhikkhunis to pay respect to Bhikkkhus. This seems to be due to a lack of familiarity with sangha practice; we are all required to pay respect to someone - there are strict rules regarding respect for seniority, regardless of the virtues of the person being respected; it isn't a sign that one is lesser than the one being respected, it is a means of keeping order and harmony. So, the two choices were to have Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis pay respect solely by individual seniority, or to keep the groups separate and require all Bhikkhunis to pay respect to all Bhikkhus as junior group to senior group. The Buddha chose the latter, and I can only think it out of desire to keep the groups separate. I wouldn't personally have any problem paying formal respect to a bhikkhuni, but I would rather in that case that they all be put in a higher group, because I agree with the dangers of unregulated cross-gender interaction.
Of course, much of the argument for keeping the genders separate breaks down in modern society; it is always refreshing to see how little importance is placed on gender by Western societies. I think that is a good thing, and does make the rules seem a bit antiquated - these days it seems repressed homosexuality may even be more of an issue for the sangha than heterosexuality or gender-specific role-playing.
What has to be realized, and can often only be realized upon entering into the monastic life for oneself, is that they are only rules. When the Buddha set down the eight "heavy" rules as a requirement for his step-mother's ordination (the first Bhikkhuni ordination), her response was:
“seyyathāpi, bhante ānanda, itthī vā puriso vā daharo, yuvā, maṇḍanakajātiko sīsaṁnahāto uppalamālaṁ vā vassikamālaṁ vā atimuttakamālaṁ vā labhitvā ubhohi hatthehi paṭiggahetvā uttamaṅge sirasmiṁ patiṭṭhāpeyya; evameva kho ahaṁ, bhante, ānanda ime aṭṭha garudhamme paṭiggaṇhāmi yāvajīvaṁ anatikkamanīye”ti.
"Just as, Bhante Ananda, a woman or man, young, youthful, fond of adornment, washing their head, having received a water-lily-garland, a rain-flower-garland, or a rose-flower-garland, taking it with both hands would place it reverentially on the crown of their head; indeed, just so, Bhante Ananda, I receive with reverence these eight heavy rules, not to be transgressed for as long as life shall last.
-- Cv. 10
I think most monks would agree with her sentiment; rules are not a burden, they are a privilege that we take on. There are even some rules that monks take on themselves, as though the hundreds of rules they are required to keep are not enough.
Finally, it's clear that the Buddha placed little emphasis on the rules; at one point he stated that a dispute over the vinaya would be insignificant in comparison to a dispute over the dhamma; in one sutta in the Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha says that if the rules seem to be too great a burden, one should keep in mind only the three trainings of morality, concentration and wisdom in terms of one's meditation practice; if one does that, any minor infractions committed are to be overlooked.
First of all to Anna's last question:
most of the rules, to be exact 181 rules are identical to those of the monks. some of the monks rules do not exist for Bhikkhunis such as for building huts or others. Some are in different parts of the rule sets for Bhikkhuns and Bhikkhunis. 85 rules are different from the Bhikkhus or do not exist in their set of rules.
Of those 85 rules a large number refers to ordaining others; some rules (5)are dealing with the wish of Bhikkunis to get a massage; a few are for the interrelation with laypeople i.e. that a Bhikkhuni is not allowed to do chores for laypeople; and some rules are regulating the Bhikkhunis behavior toward the Bhikkhus. The latter are to my understanding protecting the Bhikkhunis or both Bhikkhunis and Bhikkhus rather than discriminateing someone. They are helping to create a harmonious co-existence.
The monks, too, have rules how to behave with Bhikkhunis in their set of rules.
There is the set of 8 rules, the so called Garudhamma, the heavy rules. Many people believe them to be discriminative. Bhante Yuttadhammo mentioned them in his answer.
The Buddha's stepmother was ordained by accepting those rules. 6 of the rules are part of the patimokkha and are not discriminative if you understand them as given by the most compassionate being this world has seen.
Two rules could be misinterpreted as discriminating Bhikkhunis or putting them in an order lower than Bhikkhus: nuns shall greet any monks first and nuns are not to admonish monks. If one is unfriendly and doesn't like to greet or if one has a fault finding mind these rules can be hard, but I can see the benefit of those rules in their very harmonizing factor and accept them easily.
I do the greeting of monks and appreciate it very much. It creates a polite distance and joy on the monks side.
We are not forbidden to teach monks the Dhamma if they wish and besides admonishing there are many other very nice ways to let a monk know when he did something wrong. Admonishment and criticizm is regulated by the vinaya for monks as well as for nuns.
Some monks I met expressed that they don't want me to keep the Garudhammas because they doubt they are originally stated by the Buddha and think that parts of in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta must have been added or modified later. There are some logical reasons to belief so.
It is most likely that Mahapajapati was not the first Bhikkhuni. The Therigatha of Baddha, Thi 109, gives proof that at least one Bhikkhuni was ordained with the words “Ehi Bhikkhuni”, the form of ordination the Buddha used in the beginning. Mahapajapati, Buddhas Stepmother was ordained later, when this formula was not longer use. She came with 500 women and those were ordained by other monks with the normal ordination procedure used at that later time. When the other Bhikkhunis didn't let Mahapajapati take part in their ceremonies because they thought she is not ordained properly, the Buddha said she was ordained by accepting the 8 rules and he himself is her preceptor.
This makes me believe the Buddha gave those 8 Garudhammas only to his stepmother.
A reason to believe that the Garudhammas were all added later or that the 8 rules we know now as the Garudhammas were not the 8 rules by which Mahapajapati was ordained by the Buddha is: they are mostly rules of the patimokkha and must have thus a story of origin (The book where those stories are found is rare and I don't have a copy but I asked someone who has access to the book to check on the origin stories of the rules of concern). The monks who ordained the 500 other women who came along with Mahapajapati and the Buddha himself would have broken one of the those very same rules. That doesn't make sense and gives rise to the suspicion that those rules came into the patimokkha at a later time.
The ages of Mahapajapati, Ananda and Buddha do not quite match the happenings of the story presented in the sutta.
But if, despite all logic shortcomings, the story has happened as it is brought down to our times, we have to keep in mind that they were stated by the Buddha, the most compassionate being on earth, the wisest teacher known, one who did feel love to all living beings equally, one who declares in the Abhidhamma, that being male or female are just physical characteristics, who states that a woman's mind is as capable of liberation as a man's mind is. We all will not be able to be as compassionate or wise as he was but if we try to look at the rules (any of them without exception) without ill will, jelousy or aversion but with all compassion and wisdom we can bring in, we will find that they are all just there to create harmony and peace within the community and within every individuals heart and mind.
It is not easy for us with the defiled minds to understand what a being with a not defiled mind is trying to get through to us because we perceive everything with our defiled mind. :)
To what Bhante Yuttadhammo mentioned in his post about Bhikkhunis in the west. Yes, there is good support and a broad understanding of many monks and most laypeople that Bhikkhunis are an important part of the 4 fold Sangha and should be treated and supported equally. Females are the main supporters for Buddhism and monastics, many of them wish gender equality and like to support female monastics. But there seems to be a slight tendency for women to prefer to do offerings and prostrations to monks.
Recently a monk visited the Aranya Bodhi hermitage in USA, where I stayed for the vassa. The place is beautiful, very remote but equipped with only very basic infrastructure, in the 3rd year of the place's existence. The monk who visited just said: if this were a place for monks, there would be more support, it would all be much more developed already. Although I'm very happy about the existing support and recognition, I bet the monk was right. It will take some more time – if it ever happes – for Bhikkhunis and women in general to be regarded equal to Bhikkhus and men.
In general it can be certainly said that gender discrimination has its root in culture and traditions rather than in the Buddhas teaching. In countries like Thailand the discrimination of women and the arguments of monks why this is so is almost painful bizarre. Monks carry their sometimes weird personal beliefs and country culture out in to the world and present them as the Buddha's Dhamma. Fatal. But we have to see that those monks are just men rather than enlightened beings and it is of course extremely comfortable for them to be surrounded by women who think men were superior.
And in fact, many women do think they are inferior, in Asia, in the west and all over the world. Some, women and men are fighting for equality. Only, fighting is not the right way and equality is not the right goal. The only goal worthy of following after is liberation of mind In the very moment liberation is realized, all thoughts and quarrels about gender discrimination cease.
I am thinking about giving away my jewels to my brother, because i dont really use them, but it raises a question that if it is a wholesome gift or not. Is it not strenghtens the ego/defilements/delusion etc?
What principles should we consider when we giving gifts to others?
The Buddha advises us to give wisely, to consider wisely whether the gift is beneficial, apropriate, timely and not i.e. too large.
Your question shows that you are indeed considering. Good!
If giving your Jewelery to your brother is for your benefit but not for your brother's it might be wise to find someone else, for whom such a gift were of more benefit. If it is beneficial for both the giver and the receiver, than do not hesitate and give it!
Giving thus wisely will always be wholesome, at least when you included concideration about your intentions of giving and it turned out they are pure.
It's hard for me to understand something that lessen suffering so effectively hasn't spread more. What are the barriers to the spreading of Dhamma and how much of a desire is there to spread? -Thanks(happy)
Such great answers, I have nothing to add myself, but just to quote wholesale the best answer I've heard on the question:
Dhamma is Only for the Wise
The Dhamma is subtle (nipuno) and can be realised only by the wise (panditavedanīyo). Here ‘the wise’ refers to those who have wisdom relating to insight, the Path, and nibbāna. The Dhamma has nothing to do with the secular knowledge possessed by world philosophers, religious leaders, writers or great scientists. However, anyone can realise it if they contemplate mental and physical phenomena at the moment they arise. If they pass progressively through the stages of insight, they will attain the Noble Path and its Fruition.
When the Buddha considered the nature of living beings, he found that most were immersed in sensual pleasures. Of course, there were a few exceptions like his five former companions in the forest retreat, or the two brahmins who were later to become the chief disciples of the Buddha. Most people, however, regard the enjoyment of pleasure as the supreme goal in life. Ordinary men and devas esteem such pleasure because they have no sense of the higher values, such as deep concentration, insight, and nibbāna. They are like children who delight in playing with their toys the whole day. Sensual pleasures do not appeal to Buddhas and arahants. A person who delights in sensuality may be compared to villagers living in a remote rural area. To city-dwellers these places seem totally destitute, with poor food, coarse clothing, primitive dwellings, and muddy footpaths, but the villagers are happy, and never think of leaving. Similarly, pleasure-seekers are so enamoured with their families, friends, and possessions that they cannot think of anything more noble and feel ill at ease without the stimulus of sense objects. It is hard for them to appreciate the subtle, profound doctrine of Dependent Origination, and nibbāna.
Dhamma is Profound
The Buddha’s teaching has little attraction for the majority since it is diametrically opposed to sensuality. Even an ordinary sermon, let alone a discourse on nibbāna, is unpopular if it has no sensual appeal. People do not seem to be interested in our teaching, and no wonder, for it lacks melodious recitation, anecdotes, jokes, and similar attractions. It is acceptable only to those who have practised meditation or who are earnestly seeking spiritual peace and freedom from the defilements. It is a mistake to deprecate the suttas by confusing them with talks containing stories and jokes. Discourses such as the Anattalakkhana Sutta and the Satipatthāna Sutta differ from popular sermons in that they are profound. The doctrine of Dependent Origination belongs to the Sutta Pitaka, but it can be classified as Abhidhamma because it is explained in the analytical way typical of the Abhidhamma Pitaka. Since this teaching also uses the analytical method, some people confuse it with the Abhidhamma and cannot follow it, much less attain the Path and nibbāna, which it emphasises. Dependent Origination is hard to comprehend because it concerns the correlation between causes and effects. Before the Buddha proclaimed this teaching, it was difficult to understand that no self exists independently of the law of causation.
-- Mahasi Sayadaw, Dependant Origination
(The entire source linked above is highly recommended reading, btw).
I suffer from depression and anxiety disorder, kind of severe. I meditate a lot, try to make good deeds, but still quite often my mood is so low that i transmit my emotions on other people. I mean, sometimes i'm rude, impolite, angry, especially towards specific kind of people who act the same way towards me and trigger my emotions, sometimes they take over me and i don't control them. What about my karma, how does it work?
Your karma gradually plays out. The present moment has karmic roots in actions from long ago as well as the intentions of the moment, so if you have accumulated a lot of negative tendancies from the past, it takes time to undo them. Meditation is not directly for the purpose of immediate undoing, as if it should give you the magic power to stop any arising within yourself that you don't find pleasant, any more than it should give you the magic power to make any phenomenon arise that you desire. The whole point of meditation is that there is no magic fix, and that we can only work gradually to sort through what tendancies we have in us and actually pay attention so that we can truly understand what tendancies are wrong; what we can truly see past, we can truly give up.
And even when you attain to enlightenment and stop generating new karma for yourself, the karma from your past must continue to play out. This is why the buddha persisted for such a long time after enlightenment, with such extraordinary influence on those around him; part of what's special about a buddha is that when he attains enlightenment, he still has a lot of positive tendancies that must still bear fruit before he dissapears from the phenomenal world entirely.
So what you do is you practice mindfulness (as protected by key ethical precepts), you intend to uphold mindfulness, and within that, to uphold good intentions in the moment according to what mindful attention has taught you about goodness. Gradually your bad tendancies get less and less; they gradually stop reinforcing themselves, and start to shrivel away. As you progress you'll be able to do the right thing more and more, but understand that you will still make mistakes so long as your mind is not yet perfected.
Since i've got into buddhism and once saw through illusion i am sad and depressed, not very hard, but my mood is low most of the time. I practice meditation, im not bound to things like i used to. Meditation helps me very much during hard times in life. But whenever something good comes, i cant really enjoy it, there comes a thought "this too will pass, its impermanent". Back before i started to meditate i enjoyed people, work, i had much more ambitions for career, i was more active. But i did suffer hard when something has been goin wrong. Now i'm getting totally INDIFFERENT. Im less active then i used to, i dont care about most of the things anymore. Maybe i suffer less now but i walk around with no point in life. I cant push myself to effort because i have this realization "Whatever i do in this life, its gonna fade away and its not satysfying." Im sad because of that. The human existence feels like nonsense. Can you give me some advices? Thank you.
I would guess this is because of too much intellectual activity; it's easy to believe intellectually that there is no purpose, but since the heart is still deeply attached to achievements, the only result of such belief is, as you say, depression and sadness.
The truth of the matter is that it is precisely the lack of purpose in reality that is most encouraging. You can do or be whatever you want, and no one and no thing can stop you. What to become king of the world? There's a way. Want to become God? There's also a way. Want to become free from suffering? The way exists. The lack of a predefined purpose is the most liberating aspect of reality.
No one can dictate your reality to you. You have chosen to be sad and depressed and indifferent. You can choose to let it all go as well. That is the truth of having no purpose; you are completely in charge of your destiny.
In this case, it is difficult to believe that you have had a true realization of the purposelessness of life, otherwise you wouldn't be sad or depressed, you would be very bright and clear in mind, living your life to its fullest at every moment, perfectly in harmony with what is, rather than what isn't. If you truly understand that there is no purpose in life, you would have no reason to mourn for anything; you would have perfect peace at all times.
The only thing I would recommend is to give up this idea you have of meaninglessness; it too is meaningless :) Meditate on the sadness; obviously you would be better without it and until you come to understand it, it will always hang over you like a dark cloud. Meditate on the thoughts of meaninglessness, etc. as well. They too are meaningless. See them as such and you will find true freedom.
I am concerned with the connection between mind and brain. For example:
1) A person with brain damage may forget knowledge he'd acquired during his life
2) A person with brain damage may radically change his behavior
Is there any reason to think nirvana would be permanent (unaffected by brain damage or death)? If so, then is there a part of the mind that is unaffected by the brain? Did the Buddha talk about anything like this?
Nibbana is permanent because there is no arising of any sort of phenomena, physical and mental.
In our experience of reality, we do not experience the brain but only thoughts. So assuming that the brain thinks is just a thought and most importantly, as I'm acquainted with psychology literature, scientists do not understand how humans think.
The mind and the brain function together i.e. namarupa gives rise to the six sense bases. And for the other senses too, the organ and the respective consciousness function together. But sometimes as in the moment of death, the mind can be on its own. For an interesting account of medical patients being totally conscious when the brain is clinically dead, watch Dr. Bruce Grayson's "Consciousness without brain activity" on youtube.
In the dispensation of the Buddha, only six things comprise our experience of reality: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling and thinking. Everything else is an extrapolation of reality.
For asian people the mind has nothing to do really with the brain. If it has a location, than that would be in the heart. You might have heard about the heart-mind.
Strictly speaking there is no seat of mind in the body, the mind (naama) is not form (ruupa). It is insubstancial. Naama is dependet on ruupa to function and vice versa. Brain is part of the ruupa and if you take it serious as important as the heart for the mind to work.
Nibbana is no thing or nothing. It is in mind, a mindstate could possibly be said.
So it is not really fitting to say it is permanent or impermanent. (Although I know that it is called permanent by some.)
It is the understanding of truth by having abandonned defilements.
We all learn in early life somehow that we don't touch fire because if we do we burn ourselves. We know this, right? This knowledge is there and you don't touch fire although you do not permanently think of it. It would not be correct to say this understanding is permanent.
Now someone becomes an Arahant and knows, deeply experiences through insight the defilements greed, anger and delusion as dangerous as fire, so that person abandonnes them, does not touch them anymore and does furtheron not think about it because knows. The mind has changed by way of understanding. The person is not the same as before but changed for the rest of life but still it is not possible to call it permanent.
That's one aspect.
Then there is this what is called cessation or phalasammapatti, the fruit of meditation practice which is considered as the absence of any counsiousness or conscious experience. A meditator can experiance this cessation and its bliss but it is not lasting. Some masters can remain in this state of mind for at most 7 days says the Visuddhimagga, an advanced yogi possibly for some minutes or hours. So this is certainly to be called impermanent.
About parinibbana we can only speculate. It is nothing we can experience in this lifetime and share our experience with others. So we better just don't think about it - as these thoughts will surely will not lead us to nibbana.
There is the danger that we make things up with our limited minds and short visions, that we out of desire for something eternal call something permanet which is far greater than that.
(Barath, do I have to mention that this statement is not meant for you personally but generally for unenlightened beings, me inclusive?)
If I know that my friend hurts me all the time do i still have to continue forgiving this person and be a friend according to Buddhism
Kanchani Buddhism discourage unwise friends, The Maha-mangala Sutta, the Great Discourse on Blessings, is one of the most popular Buddhist suttas, In the very first stanza of his reply the Buddha states that the highest blessing comes from avoiding fools and associating with the wise (asevana ca balanam, panditanan ca sevana)
Good friendship, in Buddhism, means considerably more than associating with people that one finds amenable and who share one's interests. It means in effect seeking out wise companions to whom one can look for guidance and instruction. The task of the noble friend is not only to provide companionship in the treading of the way. The truly wise and compassionate friend is one who, with understanding and sympathy of heart, is ready to criticize and admonish, to point out one's faults, to exhort and encourage, perceiving that the final end of such friendship is growth in the Dhamma. The Buddha succinctly expresses the proper response of a disciple to such a good friend in a verse of the Dhammapada: "If one finds a person who points out one's faults and who reproves one, one should follow such a wise and sagacious counselor as one would a guide to hidden treasure" (Dhp. 76).
Association with the Wise
Hello Yuttadhammo and all contributors to this forum,
I am trying to address Yuttadhammo directly because of the nature of the question and his practice. Of course, everybody is welcome to share their thoughts. One of the five precepts is not to kill. Then is it correct to eat animals killed for food ? I remember you mentioned that monks are allowed to eat meat but not the exotic variety in one of the youtube videos which makes me wonder what is your take on eating meat in the first place.
Doesn't your love for all beings somehow interfere with your practice of non-vegetarianism? I don't mean to offend anyone who is non-vegetarian(born in a vegetarian family but not practicing it perfectly myself so no different).
Thanks for previous answers. Waiting for replies.
In my laptop running genuine Windows 7, there are cracked softwares, lots of movies downloaded using BitTorrent, heaps of music files which are evidently downloaded without payment. Even if all the above are deleted, most of us listen to copyrighted music on youtube or download a PDF eBook or something of that sort. The desktop my family uses,even goes to have a pirated Windows OS !
How far is this considered stealing ? Is this bad karma? The point is, we are replicating content or utilizing without the original source being unaltered in content. Of course, it is illegal to do all these things, but I really haven't come across a person who refrains from indulging in the things I mentioned above.
I probably don't want to get started on this :) In short, here are some principles I live by:
- Sharing is never wrong
- Copying is not stealing
- Telling other people not to copy your work doesn't make it wrong to do so.
I don't like using copyrighted material in general, both because of the trouble involved and a belief that copyright in general is wrong, but then some people like to abuse copyright laws (and laws in general) in ways that make use of copyrighted material in daily life unavoidable. At any rate, anyone who calls breaking copyright law stealing doesn't understand the basic principles of ownership or copyright law.
Copyright law creates an artificial right of the owner of an object to restrict the manufacture of another object using the first object as a template. Unlike stealing, ownership of the object is not threatened by breach of copyright; what is threatened is the ability to control distribution and publication of the object.
I think breach of copyright can actually be a good thing, since it undermines people's ability to restrict the free flow of information and encourages generosity over stinginess. Open source is not just about freebies, it's a philosophy and a principle to live by. Those people who complain about lost livelihood should find more substantial ways of making a living than restricting the freedom of other people to share what they have rightfully procured, be it a copy of something else or not.
I wrote about this in a comment on Buddha Torrents:
I give away my book and videos away for free; not even any ads on my YouTube page, even though I’m a partner. To do this, I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices. I wear rags, eat leftovers, live in caves and shacks and under park benches, etc. I have no money, go hungry sometimes, sick and have no medicine sometimes, etc. But I’m happy, and I’m not going to let someone tell me that I shouldn’t share dhamma because the author “donates all her proceeds to her monastic practice center to ensure that it can continue in the future.” What a bunch of rubbish. If you need money to write a dhamma book, you shouldn’t write a dhamma book.
Okay, so I got started after all :) As to your question, yes, we are Dhamma Pirates:
If a person get sick with illness that if caught early is curable (like cancer and many others).But if that person although knowing he has full chances to be cured ,deriberately and consciously dont undergo medical treatment for whatever reasons(maybe not much care about his life or because of ignorance)and refuse to take therapy or any medications:
1.And after some time the person die because of his disease - is that considered to be a suicide or a natural death.
2.And after some time the person feel he is near the end of his life and intentionally refuse food and/or water and eventually die because of his disease - is that considered to be a suicide or a natural death.
Sorry if this topic is unpleasant but such things happen and I am curious!
Either case may be suicide if the person intentionally forgoes food or medication for the purpose of ending their life. The difference is important, because the problem with suicide is the negative quality of the mind it is associated with.
Forgoing medication need not come from desire to end one's life, as you say; Cakkhupala is a good example of this.
Forgoing food seems to require such a desire because the natural course of the body is to take food regularly. If there is food present, but one forgoes it, one does so consciously, I should think, and this is most likely negative, i.e. based on the desire to end one's life.
What should we do if we know that someone is taking advantage of our generosity (may it be in terms of time or forgiveness or material things, etc). Eg. If someone keeps lying again and again and again knowing very well that we will forgive him/her every single time with no limit. Should we continue to give or should we stop giving to that person? Or is there another way to go about this?
Thank you in advance for your response.
Just tell them no. If they are straining you, and are themselves acting in an immoral and crude way, saying no is the best option. Stops the negative effects on your mind, and prevents them from doing bad things.
Please keep in mind I am not talking about the kind of transient depression everyone experiences from time to time. I am talking about clinical depression, with likely predisposed genetic factors being a causative or contributing factor. A poll might be a good idea as I have seen both lay and monk fall on either side of this issue. I may have to make a decision about this in the near future so opinions from people on this forum, whom I respect very much, would be most appreciated. (think)
So much great info and discussion here, I hate picking favorites but I will try for cleanliness sake. Thank you everyone. Metta. "Loving Kindness" :)
I guess what I'd say is whether or not medication "helps", maybe depression isn't the real problem; maybe its our need to find a "fix" for our emotions in things like exercise, etc.
The Buddha was pretty depressed before he left home... if he'd just taken his parents advice and gone and exercised, where would we be now? I know, you can argue that he probably wasn't clinically depressed - well, I was, and I think I dealt with it pretty well by not listening to people telling me to "get help". I helped myself.
I thought I saw a similar question somewhere but I could not find the thread, so please bear with me.
Ever since I started practising, I have lost interest in many things that I used to enjoy and things which I thought were important, for example:
- I prefer to stay at home alone instead of going out with friends.
- Going to the movies, travelling, etc.
- I used to be concerned about happenings (natural disasters, wars, politics, the economy, etc) around the world but now I do not feel as strongly about anything. "Such is life", I'd tell myself.
- I've even felt I wanted to quit everything and become a hermit!
I am starting to become passion-less and feeling-less about everything. Is this normal? Am I on the right path?
Thank you in advance for your response.
Yes, it sounds normal; the Buddha called things like dancing a form of insanity, and singing a form of wailing. So, by extension, it sounds like you've gained a measure of sanity, giving up your old insane ways :)
But the point is to find peace and, by extension, happiness. Are you at peace? From the sounds of it, what has come up is doubt. Doubt is a hindrance to peace, so rather than wondering about what has already come to pass, or what is to come in the future, focus on the doubt, reminding yourself that it is just doubt:
santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ vicikicchaṃ ‘atthi me ajjhattaṃ vicikicchā’ti pajānāti
or, when there is uncertainty within, she knows, "within me there is uncertainty."
This will allow you to go even further, thought again it sounds like you're doing fine... what good ever came from crazy things like watching movies? A hermit's life is far more sane.
My parents are Christians, and I have not told them that I am Buddhist. If I do, it will hurt them greatly, as they believe I will burn in hell because of it.
I am unsure if and how I should tell them. My mother has already quested the fact that I watch Buddhist videos, and asked why I would want to follow anything other the. "the Truth", or Christianity.
What should I do?
I would not go and tell them all at once as if it were a shrift. Being Buddhist needs no credo. Don't fight against your parents for being a Buddhist. And do not loose your love and kindness toward the parents when they happen to ask you about your belief. And you would do good not to try to convince them that Buddhism is better than Christianism. Even if it were so , you would close the doors of their hearts. Have respect for them and their belief and don't discuss yours with them, if not absolutely necessary.
Some, in fact quite a lot, of things the Buddha taught has been said similar by Jesus later. You could point out the similarities first. Then your parents will not fear so much you will follow an evil path.
The more you learn about Buddhism, the more you meditate you will develop good qualities (if you take being Buddhist serious and try to follow the precept of laypeople). When your parents are not Christian fanatics, they might with time not question your belief because they see what you do is wholesome, beneficial and good.
Do not develop worries about what could happen if, develop a loving heart and wisdom by meditation and studying the suttas,
When i was around 5 or 6 years old i've killed a cat by kicking him. I was a small foolish kid. I dont know why i did it, maybe i was bored and searching for some fun, but i did it on purpose, he suffered in agony and then he died. Now i'm 25 and i regret it. I feel very sorry for this cat, he was so young and cute. I think about him very often. When i was around 10 i've set a wasp on fire with a lighter, i probably did it out of boredom too. I've killed countless amount of flies, mosquitos, spiders and worms. I was engaged in fishing for some time and i've caused death for many fish. I've killed some other animals in my life, but not on purpose. I killed a pigeon bird some time ago while i was driving a car, but it was an accident. I was driving very fast and he crushed on my windscreen. What can i do to purify my karma? I love animals and i cant forgive myself for commiting such acts. I was unconcious back then. Is there any chance for my to atone for those deeds or i will go to hell or reincarnate in some lower realm? I've done a lot of other bad things in my life like stealing cigarettes from my brother or lying to my boss. I still do lie sometimes, there are situations in which i just cant help, otherwise i would be fired. Im working on these things, but ... life is weird and complicated sometimes.
Karma refers only to actions done with an intention. Pure accidents do not count.
You were not unconscious back then. You simply did not understand reality well enough.
Being unable to forgive yourself is not going to help anyone, least of all yourself.
The way to avoid rebirth in lower realms (such as hell) for certain is to become enlightened, even just partially ("stream entry"). Enlightenment can be attained by people who have intentionally killed in the same life, such as Angulimāla.
The way to enlightenment does not depend on what you did in the past. All you need to do is simply practice the Noble Eightfold Path. Start following it now. Don't worry about atoning or purifying your karma. Do one thing only: Purify your mind. This is what matters, nothing else.
One practical approach to this purification of the mind could be the following:
Take the five precepts and try to always observe them. Whenever you break one of the precepts, try to find out why the incident happened and try to find a way to decrease the chance of something similar happening in the future.
Whenever you keep the five precepts for the entire day, take a moment to reflect on that. From this blamelessness comes gladness, which is necessary for successful meditation.
Practice meditation daily. If you can sit still for only 5 minutes, then sit for 5 minutes and try 6 minutes the next day. Eventually you would want to get to the point where you sit once to three times every day, 20 to 60 minutes for each session. Once you get to this level, the right technique (Mahāsi style noting with the guidance of a qualified teacher such as Bhante Yuttadhammo) can actually lead to (at least partial) enlightenment within weeks or months rather than years. If it takes longer, so be it. It's still never a step in the wrong direction.
Two more thoughts that are loosely connected to your question:
If you love animals and don't want to see them hurt, you can actually do something wonderful by avoiding animal products. Rather than having animals tortured and killed by the dozens for just your own food and clothing, you could eat only plant based foods and stop buying leather etc. There is a chicken—alive now or about to be mass-produced—whose suffering you can prevent by not buying a chicken carcass for your meal today.
An animal's lifespan is determined by that animal's karma. The reason why that cat lost his life when he was young was his own karma. Yes, what you did was unskillful, and you have been suffering as a consequence, but karma is bigger than the relatively simple concepts of sin and absolution, where it's all about having done something evil and now needing to be punished or to work out some sort of deal. In general, this type of thinking is not very helpful. What you should do instead is purify the mind.
Oh, I almost forgot one of the most important things I wanted to say: Metta (loving-kindness) is an extremely powerful antidote for ill-will. The guilt you are feeling is really ill-will toward yourself and as such susceptible to the power of metta.
Is fishing allowed by buddhism? It is my hobby for a long time. I do not kill and eat fish - i let them go but i obviously make harm to them because they swallow the hook.
I find it as a very meditative activity...
Yes ,many people go fishing or similar activity because it allows them to connect with nature and go to peaceful places.. But there IS a "Buddhist" way of fishing...
Just don't put a hook on the end of the line :) . Yes your reputation as a good fisherman may drop drastically ..but it doesn't matter ! :)
All the best!
Hi Sirimangalo, thanks for your helpful movies!
we give lots of love to all street animals, esp. dogs. they love us back and follow us everywhere in herds... what causes a bizarre reaction in a muslim country like Turkey where most people are considering dogs as "dirty" and avoid them with disgust.
Sometimes I buy leftover bones and meat from the butchers and feed them to dogs that look too thin and not able to find enough food.
Am I creating more Dukkha / bad karma?
Blessings and thanks from the heart ... from Turkey!
The only warning I would have is that too much support for lower states of existence makes beings more inclined towards lower rebirth. There is a story in the Dhammapada commentary about a hungry man who saw a dog eating cow's milk and thought what a great life it would be to a dog. He soon after died of indigestion and was born as a puppy in that dog's womb.
The same probably goes for the beings in lower states themselves; if they become complacent, they will likely be content to be reborn in that state again.
So, of course it is good to give charity, even to animals; to go out of one's way to support them, though, is something I would be cautious about. It is very difficult to care for lower beings; they have much bad karma and so suffer a lot; some human beings spend thousands of dollars on their "pets", just to keep them free from discomfort. Something to be wary of, as such people are mostly quite distracted from meditation practice and mental development, and wind up sad and depressed when their pets die.
Didnt want to post it before so i wont make someone stop meditating - but now i changed mt mind and think it ok so :
i keep this as short as i can but i hope this will be a discussion and more people will ask and answer :
what if we are a bunch of skin,bones,muscles and nerves who makes thoughts and also makes "awareness" ?
maybe life is bad and good - with more bad than good and we should try to minimize the bad and maximize the good - maybe we should deattch from bad feelings - and enjoy good things and when they end not to be deattch to the bad feelings then ?
maybe we are meant to move from body to body and that is the natural thing ?
if there was "powers" to monks shouldnt they show people to convince them to meditate to stop there suffering ?
i have much more question but i will keep it short as i said
edit : the that i decided to ask this was i really started to be fully aware all day and do lots of tiny formal meditation all day 5 minutes meditation - but something like 30 each day - so i should be sure of what i do
These doubts would be removed if you meditate deeply. You will know through direct experience, not the logic.
I am 14 years old, but do not know much about Buddhism, and want to know more about it. How can I learn more about Buddhism at 14?
Here are the two main video playlists for learning about Buddhism & meditation by Bhante Yuttadhammo:
Video's on the meditation practiced here:
How to meditate
Why we should meditate
Also here is even more videos on Buddhism & meditation(almost 600 videos altogether):
Bhante Yuttadhammo's Youtube channel:
Out of all the "religions" I find Buddhism the most peaceful, its teachings most helpful and its wisdom best suited for modern times. I take no issue to what I have just listed. Not that it takes away from the teachings and my gained happiness through Buddhism in anyway but it is troublesome that such wise beings can say in absolute confidence that reincarnation and an afterlife are indeed a reality. I simply would like evidence for these claims.
"Reincarnation is really a Hindu concept, though the Buddha used it to explain his teaching to Hindus. Reality, from a Buddhist standpoint, is somewhat different, both from the Hindu religious concept, and from the modern concept of death and birth.
It’s really hard to understand, and I’ve tried explaining it to several people before, to no avail – if you haven’t trained your mind in just being mindful, it is difficult to see. But, anyway, here’s my small change on reincarnation:
Close you eyes and forget all of your beliefs and ideas, forget science and culture and what your parents taught you. You will come to see after a short while that there is, scientifically, only a maximum of six different kinds of phenomena – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, and thinking. This realization is made much easier by fixing the nature of the phenomena firmly in your mind simply as “seeing”,"hearing", etc., according to Buddhist meditation practice. It is clear from this exercise that so many of our ideas about space, time, and reality are just concepts or, at best, extrapolations of reality.
Take time, for instance. In reality, there is only one moment – neither the past nor the future exists outside of this one moment. And this moment is eternal – whether we die, or are born, these are just concepts, like the word “wave” is just a concept used to describe a movement of part of the ocean. But no matter how often the waves crash against the shore, it is still the same ocean. Death is only the crash against the shore – really, nothing has died, it is a physical process which is simply the dissolution of a collective structure of matter. In reality, there are still only six phenomena, just as the wave is still only water.
And just as the waves come again and again, so to does the process we call “death” come to beings again and again. At that moment, the clinging mind simply continues its search for happiness among the six senses, and follows after new experiences as they arise, just as it always has. The experiences change, of course, but they are still the same six phenomena. The functioning of the six senses in the present moment never ceases for one who still seeks after more pleasureable phenomena. So, really it is not that Buddhists believe in rebirth, it is that they don’t believe in death
The attainment of Enlightenment simply means realizing that this world is made up entirely of an endless process of arising and ceasing phenomena that is entirely unsatisfying, and thereby not falling into suffering when the beloved disappears or the unbeloved appears. This realization also leads to final freedom from the process of: arising and ceasing phenomena, as no more craving means no new fuel to create new seeking out and new phenomena. Or, in the case of a mind that merely craves less, less fuel, less phenomena and a simple life, free from gross forms of suffering.
There. That was two cents worth, surely."-Ven. Yuttadhammo
I know this depends on the individual and on commitment, but as I am - to be honest - still in doubt about my future (with choices as far apart as having a family or ordination as a monk), my question: How long should one expect to "need" to practice with reasonable commitment (see below) to get results which help one to see if this the "right path" for the person, ie to really experience results which make you confident about the path?
I think I have been walking the (what Ven. Yuttadhammo calls) the "half way" for several years now, and I am at a point where I begin to realize that this is not getting me far, I see some results (like a bit more clear seeing and detachment) but there is also a lot of confusion and doubt, eg if it wouldn't be better to just "have fun" in an ordinary sense. With "half way" I mean that I have a lot of interest in buddhism for serveral years now, did a 10 day retreat, listen to a lot of dhamma talks/videos or read things, practice (on an erratic basis unfortunatly), try to be mindful in daily activities. But on the other hand I am a person with a lot of doubt and uncertainty (in all areas, couldn't commit to a long-term romantic relationship either), a lot of anxiety, worry, clinging, anger, drinking often .. all of the that stuff. I hoped things would be sorted out a some point, but it seems like the half way will not get you anywhere soon.
So I am thinking about going the way more fully, eg. with 3h of formal practice per day (longer times would probably not be realistic besides work and other layman obligations), mindfulness whenever possible in daily life, studying the dhamma more intensely, and last but not least commitment. With commitment I mean not always being in doubt if one should meditate (or rather relax and watch tv after a hard days work) or if one should socialize or have a date or whatever -- be aware of and avoid the dangers as far as possible.
I plan to do this for half a year -- and then see where it gets me. Is this a good plan? :-)
Sounds like a great idea. The five precepts are to be taken more seriously (esp to avoid drinking) for concentration to build up and lead to discernment. These are some of the factors I think are helpful in really developing the Noble Eightfold Path as a lay person.
1) Slowing down - Our usual pace of washing the dishes, putting on clothes and shoes etc, if slowed down to gentle movements can be efficient in increasing mindfulness.
2) Patience - Mindfulness is difficult to sustain in ordinary life and instead of looking at it as a difficulty, one can turn in to an opportunity for insight. For instance, if we are not able to mindful in a flowing and smooth manner whilst carrying out daily activities, noting the moments of distraction and seeing mindfulness as dependently arising and uncontrollable is beneficial.
3) Seclusion- This is probably the most important factor but if one cannot live alone, allotting a specific time to be away from the crowd is optimal.
4) Tranquility - Doing a retreat and trying to meditate after a busy day at work is quite the opposite. While in a retreat, samatha practice is not needed per se to establish mindfulness and sustain clear-headedness. Doing walking meditation and Anapanasati before Vipassana is highly beneficial as a lay practitioner having limited time for formal meditation.
5) Fortune favors the brave- As a lay person, it is easy to drift into a mode of contentment with little meditation and other distractions of the world. So whenever a couple of off-days are available, doing meditation all day with a few hours of sleep is a great way for sustaining the insights and deepening awareness.
However, things work differently for different people depending on one's paramis. Best to remain mindful, eating the right amount and letting things take their natural course.
Bhante, I just saw your video of how you became a monk and at the end you said that after you became a monk starts the craziest part but you did not explain it because no one asked about it, so now I'm asking, what happened after you became a monk?
I have been meditating and studying the Tipitaka for quite a while now and I have found that the practice has opened my eyes to the truth of the mind and reality. I am in college at the moment and while I do enjoy it and learning new things, I find the environment a hindrance to my practice. I am 100% sure that one day I will renounce the world and become a bhikkhuni. I have seen what ignorance has done to the world; the polluted earth and minds. I wish so much to just go off and practice. Should I stay in school and finish my education or should I start my journey toward the path?
Why not try and start out slow by going to a residential retreat? Do a few of those and then move on to a residential stay at a monastery during the summer. You don't have to give it all up right now. The Dhamma will wait for a few more years while you figure it all out!
My brother told me to "make sure I make money" and I told him that I wasn't interested in doing such. He then said "are you interested in eating" and I replied saying "I will choose to live of the kindness of others".... he said that's called being a bum.
How should I explain the process of alms to him?
I know in the discussion forum you said you were at some point hoping to ordain. I don't know if the conversation the two of you had was about when you become a monk or how you plan to live before that happens.
If it's how you live before you ordain, I might explain that since you aren't openly soliciting people to give you food, that they are giving of their own free will. That when they do this, it brings them happiness to be able to help someone and how could that be wrong?
If it's about after you become a monk, you could explain that within Buddhist communities, lay Buddhists see the monks' life and practice as the right way to live. Even though they themselves cannot or will not ordain, they believe that by supporting that lifestyle, they themselves will receive merit for aiding these people to increase their own goodness. Tell him that these people give willingly and happily, and that if the roles were reversed, you would be happy to do the same for them.
Ultimately though, he has his own views, and you can't change them for him. If you explain to him why you do what you do and he doesn't understand or disagrees, you have to be able to let him do that without it bringing you down.
Easier said than done, I know. I hope it works out for you as it's always better when there's no tension in family relationships. Best wishes.
unfortunately I haven't have the opportunity to participate on a meditation retreat , or know much about it. how important is it for a meditator to participated on a intense meditation retreat ?, what do they consist of?
if you can share your experience Id appreciate it.
thanks in advance
A good question - at the very least as a chance to hear about retreat experiences from different people :)
I started meditating seriously in Thailand, without ever having developed a daily practice prior. I think it would have helped me a lot to prepare if I had done as @francesg and practiced and studied more in advance, but it was my first real experience of Buddhism as well, so it more or less had to happen that way.
I spent most of a month in intensive practice, walking and sitting up to 16 hours in a day (and night!); it was probably the most difficult thing I've ever done, but I can't imagine taking up the path I'm on now if I hadn't done it.
There is something quite different about an intensive course like that; the experience of reality is so much deeper, clearer and intense. In daily practice it's easy to fool yourself into thinking you understand reality; it is only when you commit yourself to intensive practice that you realize how shallow your previous understanding was.
That being said, I've come to value the integration of my practice into the reality of daily life as well; it's easy to develop a "light switch" mentality, where you become a meditator when you walk in the centre door, and on the last day, you revert back to your old ways. I think this comes most often when we focus on results rather than skills - when you think a seven day or fifteen day or thirty day retreat is going to fix all your problems, you lose sight of the fact that the real benefit of a retreat lies in the skills that you develop during your time apart.
So, in short, the skills you can gain during a retreat are priceless, but they should be seen as skills, not badges or prizes. Wisdom is only useful if you put it into practice :)