Definition of the Week

Definition of the Week 1:

The Sanskrit word dharma (Tib. cho) has two meanings:

1.Phenomenon 

2.Teaching

The definition of dharma is holding its own identity. If something holds its own identity it eliminates another identity as being itself. For example, mind holds its own identity of being clear & knowing, which eliminates the possibility for it to be matter, i.e. being atomically established.

In the context of the teachings, a dharma mind holds its own identity of virtue, which eliminates the identity of non-virtue from the mind.

☞  Purbu Chock:

Definition: That holding its own identity. 

Phenomenon is synonymous with existent. To exist it has to possess an identity, and that which does not exist does not hold an identity. 

To be empty of inherent existence, it has to possess an identity, because it has to be a dependent arising.

☞ Chandrakirti:

Any definitions of compounded phenomena [6.215]

And any definitions of non-compounded phenomena, 

The emptiness of that alone, 

It is the emptiness of definitions.

☞ The First Dalai Lama Gyalwa Gedun Drub:

Take the subject ‘the emptiness of the quintessential nature of the definitions of compounded and non-compounded phenomena alone’ – it is the emptiness of definitions – because it is the emptiness that is the lack of the true existence of definitions.

☞ The appearing desirability that gives rise to attachment, and the appearing darkness giving rise to anger, these do not hold their own identity. Running after them one is just running after one’s projections.

Have a nice week ☺️

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Empty Movies: Seeing Through Appearances

From The Debate between Wisdom and Ignorance
The reflection of illusory appearance arises 
within the mirror of the empty mind

Introduction

Two thousand years ago the Buddha taught that there are the two truths: illusory conventional truth and ultimate truth. He referred to conventional truth as illusory because conventional phenomena appear differently from the way they actually exist. There is an almost subliminal but very profound belief that both the ‘I’ and the world it lives in exist from their own side. 

Believing in this misperception is said to be the root of anger or attachment, while understanding this distortion in our perception and being able to see through it are said to be the best antidotes against all disturbing thoughts. While practising compassion bodhisattvas meditate on the yoga of viewing everything like an illusion so as not to fall under the influence of mistaken appearances.

To understand this distortion one needs to understand emptiness, which is the lack, i.e., non-existence, of the apprehended object of the grasping at intrinsic existence. 

Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsen,
Consider the subject ‘I’ – it lacks true existence – because it is a dependent arising, like the reflection of form in the mirror. 

How does the “I” exist? In the email? A challenge to every serious Buddhist.

In order to convey the subtle discrepancy between appearance and existence the Buddha used examples that are illusory even according to ordinary worldly perception, such as dreams, reflections, mirages, magical illusions, and so forth. 

By definition an example is easier to understand than the main premise, acting as a bridge between not understanding at all and perfect understanding, which makes today’s world of fiction and movies a perfect example for the illusory as well.

The Example

Even without realising emptiness one can see that for as long as one believes in the intrinsic nature of what one sees on the screen, one will get involved and generate sympathy for the protagonist and aversion for the antagonist. However, as soon as one, for example, remembers that all one sees is actually only the reflection of light on the screen, the movie can get a little boring. In fact, as in real life, there is a huge discrepancy between what is perceived and what is actually happening, and the more we meditate on the dependent arising of what we see, the less we will fall under the spell of true-grasping.

Take one of the more famous films in recent history, the Lord of the Rings, and its famous character, Frodo. There is an appearance of Frodo, his companions and his antagonists, of the world they live in and their actions to the mind, and everyone is aware that these are only appearances.  

But at the same time a (con)fusion between fiction and reality exists in the minds of the audience, because attachment is generated for the protagonist and anger at the antagonist. As in real life, on a certain level the mind strongly believes that what appears to it is true, and then different harmful emotions are generated as a result.

But what is a character in a story, or the story itself, if not a mere mental creation? We can ask the famous question, ‘How does Frodo exist’? He is certainly not on the screen, and he is also not hiding in the film reel, or somewhere else in the cinema. He also was not present at the time of filming, and he is not in the Shire or some other place in Middle Earth.

If it comes down to it, we have to say Frodo is just an artificial conceptual creation, first in the mind of Tolkien, and then in the mind of his readers. 

In Buddhist psychological terms he is the mere apprehended object of the conceptual thought thinking ‘Frodo’. Not more and not less. He is a mere object of a conceptual thought, because apart from the name or label Frodo there is no Frodo to be found. And in Frodo’s case this means that he is totally non-existent, since he is not labelled in dependence on a valid base, which would have to be a combination of body and mind to make Frodo a person. Frodo exists only in our minds, and this fictional Frodo that exists in our minds is not really Frodo. Actually Frodo does not exist at all, or in other words, the object apprehended while watching the movie is non-existent.

Although obvious, this is quite significant. While it would probably never be asserted that there is an actual Frodo existing somewhere, when watching the movie that mental creation of Frodo is treated instinctively as a real person with real feelings of suffering and happiness. The mental creation has been brought to life, i.e., infused with some measure of real, intrinsic existence. 

The Meaning

Why this is significant is because we do the same in real life. According to the Middle Way philosophy everything, we ourselves, our environment, and the people in it, are merely labelled by conceptual thought; all of it is the mere apprehended object of conceptual thought. 

If we are aware that something is a mere conceptual creation of thought, without any reality of its own, then it does not worry us one way or the other. Father Christmas is only important to those who believe in him.

But our reality does worry us a great deal. We mentally create a life-story in a certain environment with different protagonists and antagonists in it, and then infuse it with intrinsic existence. 

Friends are oh so wonderful, and enemies are oh so bad, all from their own side, out of their own nature. And when we switch our view and start to hold those who were enemies as friends, and those who were friends as enemies, we again believe this new reality of ours to be naturally true, even though it is the exact opposite to what we perceived before.

There is a continuous struggle to attain happiness for the self, and different kinds of emotions such as attachment or anger are generated almost on a momentary basis for different objects because of the belief in their real existence.

Our mental creations have become real for us because self-grasping and the mental imprints of self-grasping have infused our mental creations with intrinsic and real existence. Just questioning appearances a little, taking them with a grain of salt, can help to avoid chasing the phantoms of intrinsic attractiveness and intrinsic faults with attachment and anger.

In the midst of all this is the good old self that is the centre point of everybody’s life. An artificially created self (-image) that is pervading and dominating every aspect of a person’s life, while at the same time being somewhat elusive and unfindable when looked for.

The Buddha gave as the definition of the self the mere ‘I’ that is labelled in dependence on any of the five aggregates that are its basis of imputation.

But while both the ‘I’ in one’s own continuum as well as the ‘I’ in others’ continuum are merely labelled, i.e., just the mere apprehended object of a conceptual thought, just as the characters in a movie or a story, they are not perceived as such. Rather it is believed that the ‘I’ has intrinsic existence, in the same way that the characters in a movie or a story seem to have intrinsic existence. But when that intrinsic ‘I’ is looked for then it is unfindable, just like Frodo.

Of course there is one difference between Frodo and us, which is that while Frodo does not exist at all, we do exist. Although both Frodo and we are selves merely labelled by thought, at least we are labelled relative to a basis of a body and consciousness. Our ‘I’ is labelled on a valid basis, which makes it existent, while Frodo, also a labelled ‘I’, is not labelled on a valid base, which makes him non-existent. 

That is why we become the basis for cause and effect, experiencing happiness and suffering, while Frodo does not.

The Conclusion

Movies are a good example for the way the world is supposed to be according to the Middle Way philosophy, according to which everything is merely labelled by conception but then made real to us through our grasping at intrinsic existence. 

Because we think that we ourselves, others and our world have intrinsic existence, we generate attachment for those we like and get angry at those we don’t like. 

But were we to realise that we and the world around us lack intrinsic existence, our anger and attachment would cease naturally, because who gets attached to or angry at a mere idea?

We are able to disengage emotionally from the movie when we contemplate the artificial nature of what we are watching. In fact, we might feel it to be completely pointless to be watching it, since there is nothing real there, apart from the light on the screen, and even that lacks intrinsic existence.

Similarly, the realisation of emptiness stops attachment and anger from arising because it takes away the point. Realising the non-existence of the inherent existence of the object, and its artificial nature, takes away the focus of anger and attachment.

But at the same time bodhisattvas generate love and compassion for sentient beings and do not fall into the extreme of nihilism. They understand that sentient beings exist conventionally because of being labelled on a valid base, and that sentient beings conventionally circle in samsara and experience suffering because of their misperception of reality. 

The realisation of emptiness takes away only the basis for the mental afflictions, and through the realisation of emptiness everything disturbing in the mind ceases. But the good things stay and increase.

SARVA MANGALAM

The Essence of Wisdom Sutra

Form is empty. Emptiness is form. Emptiness is nothing else than form and form is also nothing else than emptiness.

This is the way of viewing the aggregate of form as empty of inherent existence. The aggregate of form of the person is only an appearance to the non-investigating nonHappyMonksPublication_ComentaryHeartSutra_DinA5_EN_deckblatt-vorne-analyzing nominal consciousness. Because the imputed meaning is not found when analyzed and investigated with ultimate analysis, it is empty of existing from its own side or empty of inherent existence.

For example, like:

  • the moon in the pond,
  • the face in the mirror,
  • the water of the mirage,
  • the person in a dream,
  • illusory horses and elephants.

All of these are only appearances to the nominal consciousness and do not exist as moon and so forth, from the very moment they appear. The way of looking for the imputed meaning is explained below.

Q: If something does not exist inherently, does it then not become non-existent?

A: It does not become non-existent. While in nature empty of inherent existence, it appears nominally as form, e.g., it is not contradictory for the reflection of the moon to appear as moon while not being the moon at all.

Q: Then, does this mean that, similarly to the reflection of the moon not being the moon, form also does not exist as form? If it is not like this, then what does the example refer to?

A: Although this doubt pertains to a very important point and needs to be explained in some length, I suspect it would be too much at this time and should be understood from the extensive scriptures of Lama Tsong Khapa and his sons.

If we explain it in brief however, then it is like this: The way the example and the meaning have to be linked is that, in the same way as the reflection does not exist as the form, so form does not exist inherently. Further, since phenomena like the reflection of form in the mirror can be understood by ordinary worldly beings trained and experienced in worldly conventions and signs as not existing as form, the reflection is commonly known in the world to be false. Although form does not exist inherently, that it does not exist in this manner cannot be understood by ordinary worldly beings, and therefore it appears to the consciousness of ordinary beings as existing truly.

Nevertheless, because it can be realized as not existing the way it appears with the reasoning of the Middle Way, it is known as false among Madhyamikas. Therefore, something that is not known to be false in worldly terms, is established as not existing out of its own nature, although appearing so, by taking as an example something that is known to be false in worldly terms. Then: It can be established with nominal prime cognition that form, while not existing inherently, does exist as form, similarly to the reflection of the face existing as reflection while not being the face. It can be related to the other examples in the same way.

Q: The illusory conventional nature of form is compounded and the non-inherent existence of form is an ultimate non-compounded phenomenon. Do the two, therefore, exist as being of different nature?

A: No, they do not, because the emptiness that is the nature of the form aggregate is not of another or different nature from the form aggregate. They are both of one nature. For example, the appearance of the reflection as the moon and its non-existence as the moon are of one nature and not of different natures. That the appearance of the reflection as the moon and its non-existence as moon exist simultaneously on one basis is established directly by worldly prime cognition. That form and its nature of emptiness are not of a different nature, ordinary worldly beings do not realize, but those that know the Madhyamika reasoning can. If we look at that, then not only is the emptiness that is the nature of form not of a different nature from form, but also form is not of a different nature from the emptiness that is its nature, e.g., like the reflection not being of a different nature from its non-existence as the form it appears to be. In brief, forms and so forth are of one nature, but of a different isolate, with their nature of emptiness, e.g., like produced and its impermanence being of one nature but of a different isolate.

Nagarjuna, in his Commentary on Bodhicitta:

It is not observed separately from the illusory, because the illusory is said to be emptiness and only emptiness is the illusory. One can never exist without the other, like produced and impermanence.

Although it explains in the Elucidation of the Thought four reasons why form and its lack of inherent existence are not one, and not of different nature, if we summarize, form and its lack of inherent existence are of one nature but are not completely one, because form is illusory truth and its lack of inherent existence is ultimate truth. They are not of a different nature because if they were, then they would be unrelated, and it would follow that form would not lack inherent existence.

In that way, because all phenomena are dependent arising, there is no phenomenon that does not exist interdependently. Because that does not exist, there is no phenomenon that does not lack inherent existence.

Lama Tsong Khapa in the Praise to Dependent Arising:

Therefore, since there are only phenomena that arise interdependently, that is why it is taught that only phenomena that lack inherent existence exist.

Relating this reasoning also to the other four aggregates: Likewise, feeling, recognition, compositional factors and primary consciousness are empty. In accordance with how the meaning of the example was explained in relation to the form aggregate, also the other four aggregates of feeling and so forth are empty of inherent existence. Although feeling and so forth are empty of inherent existence, they nominally appear as feelings and so forth. The emptinesses that are the nature of feeling and so forth are not of a different nature from feeling and so forth, and feeling and so forth are not of a different nature than their emptiness, because they are of one nature. This is how these points should be related.

Lama Tsong Khapa in the Three Primary Aspects of the Path:

They who see cause and effect of all phenomena of samsara and nirvana as totally infallible, and who fully destroy any focal object, have entered the path that pleases the buddhas. Interdependet appearances are infallible and empty; the two understandings accepting this, for as long as they appear separately, one has not realized the Able One’s intent. Once they are not separate but simultaneaus and merely by seeing interdependency as infallible, ascertainment destroys any apprehending of the object, then the analysis of the view is complete.

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Some Words Which May Be Useful For Your Life

Geshe Doga: It is traditional to offer something when you meet friends and I intent to offer something to you. What I intend to offer from within a good state of mind and with a good motivation are some words that may be useful for your life. With a good intention I offer that as a present.

Finding Out How Happiness and Sorrow Depend on the Mind 

Geshe Picture
The venerable Geshe Doga teaching in Warrnambool

One point to make, when details of any religion are presented and you adopt parts of the religion’s techniques, you do not need to feel obliged to take on the religion.

When I came to the West, His Holiness the Dalai Lama advised me not to go with the intention of converting people to Buddhism. What I am implying is that if you find meditation useful then you can join in with the group here and do meditation, but not necessarily feel you have to be Buddhist to join.

The significance of engaging in meditation is to have a more subdued mind, a calmer and focused mind. If we don’t have a calm mind, that is because our mind is very distracted and this is a result of the mind not being subdued. These distractions cause the mind to feel weary and even depressed. We appear to have formed a habit of allowing our mind to run anywhere it wants, thus we don’t have our minds focused and centred. Initially we can start with a target of fifty percent of the time to not let our minds be completely distracted.

 

When we pay attention to our state of mind, we see our minds are easily influenced by things around us and occupied with so many distractions. When we investigate internally, it becomes evident that something appears to be lacking within us and we are not content within ourselves.

We may wonder what is wrong with having a distracted mind? When we leave the mind in a distracted, day-dreamy state we come up with all sorts of unrealistic ideas and plans. If these were achievable then we could say it is worthwhile, but these ideas are usually unrealistic, and result in us feeling down and uncomfortable so they are not worthwhile. As a result of our mind being distracted not only is our mind in an unclear and unstable state but this also affects our health, our body feels heavy and health complications can arise.

How can meditation help? The meditation technique is to intentionally withdraw our mind from distraction and focus entirely on the chosen object, then, as our mind gets released from distraction we experience a joyful and peaceful feeling in our mind. Having applied the technique of even a brief meditation, we notice it is possible to bring joy and happiness into our minds. We can all experience this, feeling a sense of joy and calmness in our minds serves the purpose of being human beings. But if distraction dominates our minds and we get into a depressed state, we may wonder ‘what’s the point of being a human being’?

Another important point is that having been introduced to meditation, if we wish to get a rm and stable result we need to practise on a regular basis. If we don’t do this, we will lose the joy and happiness we initially obtained. A short session every day focusing on the meditation object will lead us to feeling joy and happiness more naturally. Begin by sitting in a relaxed, upright and comfortable posture and generate a positive attitude. Reminding ourselves of the real purpose of meditating we make a commitment to withdraw from distractions and begin meditating by focusing on our breath, keeping our mind on the breath.

 

Some people may be familiar with Buddhist techniques and know that there are other objects to focus on. However, the texts particularly recommend we focus on the breath to settle down the mind when it is distracted with many objects.

When we consider what we are striving for and working towards, whatever goals we have, they all lead up to the goal of being happy and wishing to not have any suffering.

We are all the same in seeking this goal of wishing to achieve happiness, it is a goal of everyone whether rich or poor. Whether we have an abundance of wealth or nothing, whatever culture we may belong to, and whether we have a religion or not or what type of religion we may follow, we are all the same in wishing to experience happiness.

Understanding this brings a deeper understanding of oneself and others. The deeper the understanding we can get from this, all wishing happiness and wanting to be free of every type of pain and suffering, then the more we can relate to others based on our shared common goal. When we recognise everyone is the same in this regard then a real sense of nurturing, care and compassion can come. With that understanding we can begin to really respect others and be concerned for and understand their needs as well. This is not an obscure point but a basic human experience, we all have the sense of clinging to our own interest; we all have the sense of ‘I’ and ‘me’.

In relation to the grasping to a self-identity, grasping to what ‘I’ wish for and don’t wish for, this grasping to our own self-interest leads to the minds of attachment and aversion. We generate attachment towards the things we want and anger towards those we dislike, both these states of mind stem from a strong grasping to ‘I’ and ‘me’. When we consider how these two states of mind function in our lives we see with attachment we get close to some people making them exclusive as ‘my’ friends and relatives. Then with anger there are others that we call ‘enemies’ and to whom we want to distance ourselves from. Due to these states of mind we generate tension and turmoil in our minds.

We can notice, in terms of external conditions, we are not much different to others, but in terms of our experience we do have different experiences that affect our minds. This relates to the earlier point that if our mind is unsubdued then it is in turmoil. A troubled mind is affected by the delusions of attachment and anger. This is what an unsubdued mind means.

The main point to emphasise is if we look into our life, what we are striving for whether we consider ourselves religious or not, or believe in an afterlife or not, what we are striving for is physical and mental well-being. Whatever we want and whatever we do, work, associations et cetera is all to contribute to our well-being. So whatever we do should serve that purpose of contributing to our physical and mental well- being. If we nd at any time we lack physical or mental well-being, then we need to consider what is going wrong? We need to look to see what is causing our lack of physical or mental well-being.

Having considered and accepted that what we need to pay attention to is our physical and mental well-being it is reasonable to ask ‘what are the causes of physical well-being’? Good external conditions do contribute to physical well-being. I advise young people to really put e ort into studying because this enables them to get good physical conditions more easily. Study enables them to get the skills to acquire good physical conditions. Some who I have advised have listened to this and have put it into practice and bene ted. I give this advice with a practical consideration of the young wanting companionship. Too much socializing will take away from their studies so I advise them to ensure that companionship does not obstruct their studies. This can be an issue later in life. As mentioned earlier many of the factors for physical well-being are due to external factors. However we seem to put all of our time and energy in merely acquiring external conditions.

 

So having put time and energy into acquiring good physical conditions then we come to a point where we do have good physical conditions, but many then feel something is lacking, we are not fully happy. When we look into the real cause of that we see that something is lacking internally. The lack of internal conditions to have joy and happiness is because we don’t know what internal conditions are needed for these. We haven’t paid any attention to this at all. I advise the younger generation to pay attention to the internal conditions needed to be happy and joyful. Ultimately by paying attention and acquiring the necessary internal as well as the external conditions, becomes a real factor to making us happy. Joyful and happy feelings are attributed to our mind so when we look for the causes of these we will see that the causes will also be internal mental causes.

In relation to ourselves as an individual entity it is evident that we have a body, a mind and our speech. We are connected to these three aspects of ourselves all the time, we cannot be separated from them as they are always with us. Atisha, a great Buddhist master, said that within these three attributes of body, speech and mind, the best instruction is to check one’s mind. Master Atisha further said, the best friend for ourselves is mindfulness and introspection, the best instruction is to look at one’s own mind and the best protection is love and compassion for others. Regarding the best instruction to look at one’s own mind, this means doing an internal investigation to understand every thought and emotion within ourselves. When we investigate as to what motivates us to engage in what we do on a physical and a verbal level, we will nd that it is really due to what goes on in our mind. Our physical and verbal actions are the by-product of what goes on in our mind.

If our mind is positive and imbued with kindness and caring, then our physical mannerisms and speech are imbued with kindness. When we have a state of mind imbued with kindness and compassion we experience the positive results for ourselves, and our physical actions and speech that come from that kindness bene ts other. This ensures good results for ourselves and others. When we relate to others with kindness then the natural reaction from others is love. They see our kindness as positive and are drawn to it, and a genuine sense of companionship is fostered. Because of the genuine companionship that it generates, I usually say that fostering a genuine sense of love and compassion will overcome loneliness.

 

The opposite to having love and compassion in our heart is to fall prey to anger. How does this feel, does anger have a positive effect on us? As we noticed from our own experience with anger and attachment we don’t feel good when we are angry; our mind is troubled, our physical expression is not pleasant, our face is not appealing and our speech is not pleasing when we are in the turmoil of anger. So we see how true it is that when we are in a negative state such as anger it is destructive of our own joy and happiness, and is also destructive for others. The more we become aware of this fact of anger being self-destructive and destroying our joy and happiness, the more we accept anger as a negative emotion. That acknowledgement can diminish the anger within oneself.

There are specific techniques to overcome anger, but if we are not familiar with these, even recognising the destructiveness of anger, just this awareness can reduce anger within ourselves. This is because one generates the intention not to be influenced by anger as it is destructive of one’s own happiness and is destructive to others. When we become angry the unpleasant gestures, unpleasant facial expressions and speech come spontaneously. We can relate to our own experience, when we are angry we don’t have control over what we say or do. Seeing this helps us to understand others and see that they also don’t have control of themselves when they are angry and so we should not blame them due to their anger. This helps us not to be upset with them.

When we really consider these points of how others, in exactly the same way, when under the influence of anger will say and do things uncontrollably, it is with this understanding that we can even develop compassion for our enemies. Understanding that as we want happiness and don’t want suffering then on that basis we can develop love and compassion for others, hence becoming more patient.

 

I often say when one partner comes home from having a difficult day, it is best not to question them about what is wrong, but rather to encourage them to relax, make dinner, cup of tea for them or suggest they have a shower. This will allow them to let their problems subside. The Buddhist definition of anger is: by focusing on an unappealing object to generate a mind of agitation with an intention to harm the object. So with the earlier example, asking a lot of questions when someone has just come back from a challenging day, would definitely be regarded as unappealing. In contrast, saying soothing words, cooking a meal and suggesting for them to just relax will be very appealing and helps to reduce their agitation, which will prevent them from getting angry.

We can all agree on the point that what we really wish for is happiness. The experience of happiness and joy of good companionship with others is based on developing love and compassion for others, genuine concern for others, this is the contributing factor. Anger and aversion are the damaging factors to the relationship. I’m not suggesting that all anger can be stopped right away, but I am encouraging you to see that anger is destructive to the relationship. So keeping anger in check, is beneficial to the relationship. When anger is expressed from the other’s side and we respond with the like mind of anger then it escalates. Anger cannot be used to combat anger; it doesn’t work that way. Tolerance is what combats anger and so we need to begin practising this with those we consider close and dear.

The main points I am emphasising here is that seeing we do have relationships then what we need to cultivate is genuine love and compassion. This then overrides infatuated attraction. It is the genuine sense of caring, showing love and compassion that helps when times are difficult and someone has problems or difficulties. The person with just an infatuated attraction will not be there when times are difficult. It is genuine caring love and compassion that seeks to help when the other is in difficulties. I am not saying that it is possible to remove all attachment from your relationship, as ordinary beings attachment is a strong element in relationships. What I am suggesting is to cultivate genuine love and compassion as this is the means to develop beneficial companionship. Some people who had relationships but are now separated have confided in me that because the relationship was based on strong attachment and attraction, the relationship didn’t last. But because there was some love and care then even though they have split up and have no desire for each other, due to the caring concern, love and compassion, their relationship seems better now after they had separated.

 

We will conclude here. I have shared what I feel would be beneficial with a good attitude in my mind, so if you think you can use it in your life, please use it. If you think it is irrelevant then just leave it aside. I have shared with you what I have found useful in my life, so I have shared part of my life with you. I want to thank everyone for making the effort to come along and listen. To summarise, the main point is to implement in life, to extend whatever beneficial help we can to others, not to harm others and to cultivate this attitude in our lives. This attitude will be a good companion in life.

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Non-Generation from Other

Veil Nebula.jpg
Generation from other, the generation of an inherent result from an inherent cause,
The intrinsic progression from cause to effect.
Movies are  empty of intrinsic progress from scene to scene.
Similarly, our actions and their results lack existence from their own side,
Only because of this they produce their definite result,
Only because of this they can be purified,
Only because of this we can produce new understanding and intent,
Only because of this we cannot transgress the boundaries of karma.
Every happiness, from the cool breeze on a  hot day
Up to the happiness of enlightenment depend on karmic causes,
And because karma is empty of existing from its own side,
We can produce these causes every minute if we wish.
Not that I really understand any of this, it just sounds nice.

The Mythical Mental Reboot

If it were just that easy, we would all be enlightened.

I Want Change

To get away from destructive patterns some put their hopes into the idea of the mental reboot, thinking that by taking oneself away from harmful objects, and through other methods, the mind will return to a neutral state, and that through this alone a mental reboot will happen – a reboot of the mind in a more wholesome manner, perhaps a manner one knew earlier in life. If it were just that easy, we would all be enlightened.

What this does not take into consideration is that mind is a creature of habit, that one cannot undo past actions and that one can never start from scratch. Without having a strong inner antidote or counterforce to one’s afflictions and inner demons, upon returning to one’s usual environment one’s old habits arise again strongly in one’s mind, and soon one is acting in the same way as before all over again.

The Buddha taught that there are things to be abandoned, and that there are things to be cultivated. Examples for that to be cultivated and internalized are the positive qualities of love, compassion, generosity, patience, renunciation and wisdom. The more we have of those, automatically the less we have of the opposite.

  • The more love, compassion and patience, the less anger.
  • The stronger the generous mind wanting to give, the less greed,
  • The more renunciation, the less grasping and clinging desire,
  • The more wisdom, the less ignorance just living in the moment, without awareness of cause and effect.
  • The more mindfulness of the kindness of others, and the more gratitude, the less pride and isolation.
  • The more altruism, the less self-cherishing, the less anger, the less anything negative.

It is like switching on the light, the darkness goes away automatically at the same time, without having to focus on it.

This is the path of the antidote.

URBAN MEDITATION SKILLS

Progress in meditation depends on many factors and cannot be forced.

How To Be A Happy Meditator

Introduction

When you meditate, don’t squeeze yourself. Just sit comfortably and let your breath energy flow naturally; be just as you are. Don’t think, “I’m a meditator”; don’t think, “I’m humble”; don’t think, “I’m an egotist.” Don’t think anything; just be.

Lama Yeshe

Success in meditation is often elusive, even for those of us that have meditated for a long time. It depends a great deal upon the fact that we actually practice meditation, and with a regularity and continuity that cannot be attained through mere discipline alone. We need to have the comfort factor in our practice, and take care that we are a happy meditator.

Here are some ideas about how one can have greater success in one’s meditation practice by adapting a few simple principles concerning place, time, posture, object, and mind, and an analysis of some common traps one could fall into.

One’s feeling for meditation should be such that one is happy just remembering one’s meditation cushion. If one just pushes, following a concept of how one’s practice should look like, without experiencing any joy, and without considering what kind of meditation one needs, then eventually one will simply feel nauseous just at the sight of one’s meditation cushion.

Progress in meditation depends on many factors and cannot be forced. Even high-level bodhisattvas who have already realized emptiness directly and have gone over to the other side, who have unbelievable qualities, can only progress along the path proportionally to their merits. Why should it be any different for us?

One can only meditate according to one’s merits, and to try to go beyond creates inner tension, which then often causes one to break the continuity of one’s practice. It is therefore important to be a happy meditator, doing happily what one can, and just let one’s meditation practice evolve naturally over time. Grasping becomes counterproductive.

To be a happy meditator, it is important that over time the meditation becomes an antidote against disturbing thoughts, because only a lessening of disturbing thoughts can produce the inner happiness that one is looking for. The meditation needs to hit the spot. Otherwise our meditation will drive on one side of the highway, and our delusions happily on the other side of the highway in the opposite direction, leaning out of the windows, waving and jeering at us.