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Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Ideas about Ancient Principles part three

The suffering human condition and what needs to be resolved are the same today as 10,000 years ago, 5,000 years ago, 50 years ago, yesterday, and even today. That is because each individual needs to be healed and must discover the deep remedies. The answers to perennial problems and deep questions are ancient principles that remain fresh and untainted by time passing. The difficulty of recognizing ancient principles is because there is no musty odor to these advices that could degenerate into sentimental attitudes toward the past.

One of the continuing issues humans face is the need to learn how to get along with others. Interestingly, there are only two reasons why you arrived in the human realm. Number one is to learn the true nature of compassion, and number two is to learn how to get along with others. All of the relationship complications that you, I, and others make are subsidiary, permutations and confusions of these two main issues. If we are not working on either one of these, then what are we doing? We are wasting our life.

Spiritual practitioners might think that relationships are so hard to do correctly or just not worth the effort and want to go away from them and just live in a cave somewhere. However, do we really think that going away in a cave will prevent us from interacting with others? Where are these others? They are inside us living in a different way within our own minds. We are still talking and interacting with them by the perceptions even isolated in a mountain cave or a tent in the middle of a forest! We can go away to a cave for years and meditate on some high tantric practice, and still be just as tortured and angry with others by our unskillful meditation.

What are some of the other common principles in human existence? What are the big questions?
How do we become happy? This is number one question.
Another question comes often for many people wondering why are we here?
In addition, we think that the question of wanting to know yourself generally comes later as one develops a meditation practice, but I accept that some people have this burning question even as a child.

As we mature and take responsibility for the care and guidance of others we also become alert, asking why is there so much suffering, poverty, and disease? This is a very good inquiry. How shall we humans stop everyone from suffering is one part of this conflict.

We could worry for humans everywhere when we begin to notice that some people are close and dear while others are distant, because we are making distinctions where none actually exists except for our perceptions and clues we are given by our culture. The more taboos a sick society develops, the more we must be socially careful because this other person is wearing a certain kind of costume or has a certain appearance by color, gender, national origin which makes them either friend or enemy without regard to individual qualities.

How to stop fear from damaging others and oneself is another problem that has not changed in more than 10,000 years! There are many world spiritual traditions that have this as a primary focus by redirecting the perceptions from fear based life and protecting ourselves to loving others and protecting them. To feel safe in a perceived dangerous world has concerned all people over thousands of years. Part of this important problem includes resolve to stopping fear of death. People want to know where they will go after they die and how to be unafraid of death.

The classic Buddhist problem is how to be peaceful, not just happy, but how to be peaceful.

The general answer to these problems is that we meditate. This is ancient principle number one! Over untold thousands of years, the sages have meditated on the big problems of the people of their time and discovered wisdom guidance that caused them to encourage others to still their minds and be part of the inner life that is superior. By practicing meditation, we also reduce stress and anxiety while we become competent in the remedies of healing the energetic wounds inflicted by the misalignment of our being by daily life.

Empty philosophy derived without meditation is just like sitting in a bar talking politics, drunk on the alcohol of his or her own point of view, whether it is logical or not. Politics, to me, means wasting life energy about something temporary, which has no value, and is self-referent to its own existence. Devoid of transcendent values, it is a permeating wrongness and a destructive power of taking the temporary to be permanent.

This healing principle of returning to quiet mind, transcends culture, time, and economic conditions. We receive healing wisdom medicine in the form of helpful strategies alive to the time and place. In other words, we apply strategies that will actually resolve the issue rather than worrying about a philosophical conundrum. Ancient principles are not based upon the hopelessness of the nature of the problem but instead upon methods to overcome the issues. We still rely on the scriptures of ancient meditators such as the Buddha, Jesus, and the saints of all traditions to encourage us to follow their example of meditative life as the core of resolution of life’s difficulties. To be continued…

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Ideas about Ancient Principles part two

We need to connect to a more natural and organic process of inner development by using good common sense in our spiritual seeking. A very good method is to think about the commonalities of human existence, aside from the specifics of what the Dutch or Indians were doing 300 years ago or what Egyptians were doing 3,000 years ago or what was happening fifty years ago or 10,000 years ago. There are certain hallmarks of common needs over long stretches of human existence and human activities.

The ancient principles are not apparent to us, guiding us to deeper knowledge as soon as we get the wake up alarm clock inside that something needs to happen. There seems to be a roller coaster of culture interfering with that by inviting us to ride, directing our attention to certain important activities concerning our individual participation in current culture. In general, however, we all have made the usual choices acceptable to culture in how we dress, hairstyles, probably in the car that we drive, or our choices of colors following which colors are more fashionable this year. In so many ways we have accepted the burden of culture without much questioning, isn't that so?

For example, if this was 1950, the ladies among you would probably be wearing a hat, and what kind? If you went out for a lecture in the evening, you probably had a cocktail at home before you left. Would you be wearing a hat? Just imagine. If we could take you back to 1950, you would be the same normal person that you are, but you would not look anything like you do now. Even so, your sense of participation in culture by doing what is acceptable and understanding how to fit in with your culture would cause you to make decisions about how you dress, how you act, and what kinds of friends you accept or reject. These decisions are part of the roller coaster of culture careening through the centuries with a fresh load of people on each trip.

Sadly, the roller coaster of war and hatred is something that we are forced to get on. We have become indoctrinated or influenced in hatred toward others; then switching to now we love them, and again, we hate them. We are first told that a particular society is dangerous, and then later told that now they are the most peaceful society. We must ride the roller coaster unthinkingly. For example, Americans were told that anyone of Japanese origin is an enemy, even though they were born in the United States. They put these people into concentration camps, and nearly everyone supported that decision. The automatic acceptance prevents us from using our own general common sense about our place in society, how we judge others, as well as being a spiritual seeker, someone who wishes to attain perfection, beyond the reaches of ordinary society pressures. How do you fit in?

There is also a roller coaster of pride of technology. We have the nuclear bomb and they do not therefore, we are superior. We have the computers, and the latest cameras. We have all of the objects of technology, whereas other societies do not. Now, it does not matter whether those societies have careful behaviors and processes, which were valuable in the past. You know, we Tibetans felt very funny after producing and experiencing more than 1,000 years of high technology in the mental sciences, to be looked at as though we were practically like monkey-people! We were barbarians because others had pride of technology, and we had nothing.

Like that, even in the earlier times we were trying to explain the nature of reality and other important dynamics about the real reasons why people were alive. However, due to the superior position that other societies held toward us, we could not be heard, and so we turned up the alarm clocks through prayer for all spiritual people to wake up!

There is also the roller coaster of the pride of education. Although everyone reading this probably has a very good education, you are probably also infected with a certain kind of closure of your mental capacities. I am not saying everyone, but society and your peers encourage a certain pride of education, which allows you to feel superior, and that makes others inferior to your knowledge by comparison. This produces a sense of superiority in the individuals that causes them to misunderstand when the personal alarm clock rings.

You know, Lord Buddha Shakyamuni was a well-educated and alert person with a great deal of potential. He also had an alarm clock inside, and what did he want? He wanted enlightenment. He could have had pride of status, but he did not. The very thing that harms ordinary, educated people is a false sense of superiority that makes them incapable of hearing the very same call that Lord Buddha Shakyamuni heard and responded to when he sought enlightenment.

The roller coaster pushes on our worldview and changes us causing us to become sectarian. Not in the religious sense, but sectarian in the education, technology or cultural sense and various other ways that I have not even mentioned. This further causes us to believe that we have all the answers, and become separated from the potential benefits of the human condition. To be continued…

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Ideas about Ancient Principles

I am struck by the audacity of our discussion here today, which is about ancient principles, as thought I knew everything about ancient principles and was going to reveal them in some sort of bolt of lightning! Therefore, in advance, I apologize. However, these are some of my thoughts on this interesting topic.

Many concepts and desires have been indoctrinated into us by our modern world that did not even exist fifty years ago. For example, the Internet has substantially changed the way we communicate and how we gather knowledge. I personally find it delightful and convenient. I am especially happy to be able to stay in close contact with students and answer their many questions. I have even times on the computer late in the evening when an email arrives from a student in the middle of a spiritual experience wanting to tell me about it. I email back, "Why do you not go back and continue meditating for a while longer?"

There is immediacy to Internet lifestyle. It has become something we depend upon to be fast and reliable. There are also new needs that arise in conjunction with this new communication device. If we did not have the Internet, we would certainly not need spam blockers. Who heard of spam blockers twenty years ago or even ten years ago? Now you would not think of logging onto the Internet unless you have a web safety program.

As I am writing this article, my friend Namkha Rinpoche, who I am visiting in California, came to sit with me outside at the sunny morning table wearing white earphones. Smiling, he sat down and announced that he was participating in his prayer practice on his MP3 player in Tibetan. Soon, his interpreter arrived barefoot carrying a skype phone calls from the orient. Rinpoche so delighted to see his family and another from a student.

Now, I mentally remove myself as they switch to Spanish for another one of his students and return to my musings about …oh yes…. Ancient principles.

There is a fluid quality to culture that carries us along on a wave demanding us to desire objects of a different quality than fifty years ago. Since we rarely analyze our role in this, we simply participate by desiring what we are supposed to need.

For example, there was a strange new ladies fashion some years ago; fashion pants were really, really low, and tops were really high, and the results was precariously frightening. For someone wearing long pants, how very little clothing they were wearing! The first year, all the little, skinny girls were wearing it, and then the next year it that was not so. Everything that was beautiful or interesting about the first year “display of open skin” dissolved. This is the point when fashion overcame caution and even going to the grocery store was a dangerous visual odyssey.

On our way to the actual discussing about ancient principles, I somewhat incongruously am thinking about cell phones and how they have freed us from stationary life. Now we can go anywhere and be with them, feeling like they are in the same room with us. A very nice family in Thailand a while ago, hosted me. Even then, in Thailand, the cell phone was everywhere. A doctor friend and her assistant were showing me around. Wherever we were and whatever conversation we were involved in, as soon as a phone rang, suddenly their body was there but they we absent. Have you ever really looked at someone when they are on the telephone and you are across the table from them? They are not even there. It is the strangest feeling. They completely disappear off radar, participating in a virtual world other than the location where they are physically with you or their own bodies. Check sometime while you are on the cell phone in public, you do not see others or your environment, you do not see the people you are with, but are fully occupied with what is happening on the telephone. It is just the way things are now a days.

Ancient principles cannot be divorced from how they are applied in our world, either skillfully or unskillfully. Another thing that I was curious about is Second Life. This virtual reality activity on the Internet gives a feeling that we are interacting with others with a created persona that allowing us to play-act our fantasies. I was curious to see how people act with each other, so I went in, and moved around Second Life for a short time. I wanted to see what people are doing. I found that people in Second Life are purchasing virtual land, building virtual houses, and shopping for virtual furniture with money earned in virtual businesses as well as chatting with each other.

With the technology induced environment we live in, it seems as though our world is so different than it was in earlier days. However, in 1593, tulips were brought from Turkey and introduced to the Dutch. The novelty of this new flower made it widely sought after and therefore fairly pricey. After a time, the tulips contracted a non-fatal virus known as mosaic, which did not kill the tulip population, but altered them, causing flames of color to appear upon the petals. The color patterns came in a wide variety, increasing the rarity of an already unique flower. These tulips, already selling at a premium, began to rise in price according to how their virus alterations were valued or desired. Everyone began to deal in bulbs, essentially speculating on the tulip market, which was believed to have no limits.

Prices were rising so fast that people were trading their land, their life savings, and anything else they could liquidate to get more tulip bulbs. Many Dutch people persisted in believing that they would sell their hoard to hapless and unenlightened foreigners, thereby reaping enormous profits. Somehow, the originally overpriced tulips enjoyed a twenty-fold increase in value in one month.

Needless to say, the prices were not an accurate reflection of the value of a tulip bulb. A domino effect of progressively lower and lower prices took place as everyone was trying to sell and not many were trying to buy. The prices began to dive, causing people to panic and sell regardless of losses. In this way, the Dutch people received a wake up call to common sense, isn't that so? This was in 1593 to the early 1600s, when the tulip panic and tulip craze was going on.

Like that, many spiritual seekers today are alive, meaning something is happening inside. They are experiencing a special kind of an anxiety feeling, and hear the alarm clock ringing inside, with a wake up message calling them back to a balanced and careful review of their life. There is not much time, and we have been wasting time and energy on what will not have the desired result. Like the people during the time of tulip mania, rushing here and there, investing time and money and activities in doing things which will not have the desired result, spiritual seekers need to have a special kind of wake up call aware from trying to find something that is not producing the desired result.

Part of returning to balance, returning to the natural and organic process of evolutionary development, should create in you a wish to return to uncomplicated basics. To be continued…..

Monday, September 7, 2009

How to Be Who You Want to Be

Within a Buddhist context, deciding who you want to be and how to achieve that, is very little discussed and might seem a bit too worldly. It might even seem inappropriate for someone on a transcendent path. I thought about this subject for days, and realized that I had no idea what this meant until I finally realized that perhaps we were asking the wrong question. Then we can proceed with several steps and questions to the discovery of how to be what we want to be or become.

My first question is: By what criteria did you decide who you wanted to be? The obvious answer to this question of who you want to be is enlightened, isn't that so? However, before we can even explore that, let's look at some fundamental dynamics already alive in you. Later we will turn to spiritual goals, but in order to understand spiritual goals, it is good to understand strategies used to create the flow of logic that influences your decisions. So, I ask you, by what criteria did you decide who you want to be?

Rinpoche: You wanted to be just like your mom. You had a role model to emulate. In fact that was my first answer: Parents. I meant it in a different way, though. You meant it as an inspiration. On the other hand,  I meant that mom and dad told you what you were going to be. This is a little different read. Parents have a profound and far-reaching influence on their children, While you received that from your parents, you influenced your children by pushing, pulling, and prodding them to make them into someone that you could be proud of in your old age. There are dynamics alive in you that are your parents still telling you what you are supposed to be doing.

Student: Well, in the West, enlightenment is a fairly new concept and not well understood, and there are lots of ideas about it, so we really just wanted to be the best that we thought was achievable given the possibilities. It may have been our parents that said what was the best possible, and it could have been our schoolteachers, friends or television.

Rinpoche: Schoolteacher. Okay, let us take those one at a time. One of my answers was teacher encouragement. Maybe you had a teacher who was enthusiastic about watercolor painting. Let us say, one of your English teachers is enthusiastic about watercolor painting. Perhaps he or she wanted to mold you into an English teacher/ watercolor painter, in the future or something else that reflects their efforts toward you. This could be a high school teacher or college professor seeing something in you and wants to draw out a talent.

I have seen movies where someone with long fingers is steered toward playing piano. If someone is tall, you are destined to become a basketball player.

Student: If you see students in nursing, and maybe they are not particularly great in science, but they are really good at communicating with patients, then we might encourage them to go toward psych nursing as opposed to intensive care nursing.

Rinpoche: So teacher encouragement definitely affects decisions about who you want to be. Now, remember back to your childhood. Some of you are just barely out of it, so this is not so bad, and others of you are going to have to take a while to go back. Think back to some teacher who encouraged you to be something, or for your life to go in a certain direction. Sometimes it was something that you did not do or something that changed your mind, isn't that so? This could be strong criterion in molding your decision about who you want to be.

Student: I am thinking it through, and I have not settled on the criteria, per se, but I remember that the process had two components. One of them was that I wanted to be of help, and the other one was I felt that there was some discrepancy between who I thought I was and who I really was. I wanted to know who I was so that I could be who I wanted to be.

Rinpoche: The criterion that you used was a dynamic between who you thought you were and who you were, as well as? You wanted to be of benefit, so this is coming from an inner motivational idea, good. What are some of the other criteria?

Student: One of mine was school peers or classmates. Everyone was going to become a veterinarian, or a rocket scientist.

Rinpoche: Everybody in your group wanted to be what?

Students: A movie star. Mountain climbers. Religious leader and teacher.

Rinpoche: okay. Who else remembers in high school at the age of 15, 16, or 17 years old, what you wanted to be? Another one of my answers is role models, such as sports heroes. These are strong, determining influences at a formative age when young people are deciding who they want to be, even if they are not capable of being a sports hero themselves. For example, these black ladies, two sisters called Williams, who wear beads in their hair. How they hit the ball with these strong beads, I do not know. I worry for them, but this is okay because they are very good. Even though you do not play tennis, still you have the beads. The decisive factor is acting like a sports hero.

Many of my students are involved in men's groups, such as New Warriors where this standard has not had happy outcomes. It makes you want to be like a sports hero, but you actually make a living doing drywall, or fixing computers. However, inside you are a sports hero. When you go home, the family had better know that you are a sports hero. These are early influences often used to mold the personality into personal identity. Inside, you want that feeling of being worshiped as that sports hero, true, true. To be continued

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What is a Sentient Being?

Who are the objects of the care of a great compassion bodhisattva? Perfected in wisdom, buddha emanated bodhisattva’s activity is toward sentient beings of different categories. Sentient beings, or living beings, are those who are not yet enlightened or awakened to the illusory nature of ordinary reality. Sentient beings exist in many forms, realms, and locations and even in formless realms. The lost ones, the suffering sentient beings, are not actively being nurtured in development because they are not prepared enough to receive specialized care.
As healing by myriad methods reverses damage to inner levels of suffering beings, gradually all of them will become capable of receiving direct care. In a technical sense, a careful practitioner is in a category of beings that are cared for and nurtured in the development stage and is therefore not a sentient being. However, sometimes a practitioner is a sentient being, and sometimes a practitioner is not a sentient being. The one who is strongly practicing is lifted to higher development temporarily, but easily falls back into samsara.
Due to samsara and individual karma, this higher state is not continuous for them, and bursts of practice enthusiasm are often followed by periods of inappropriate suffering. Because of this, practitioners are generally also called suffering sentient beings.

This is an excerpt from Mystery of Emptiness & Love
Hermitage Buddhist Publishing
Available through your local bookstore, or on Amazon - these are a couple of reviews from Amazon

5.0 out of 5 stars The Nature of Reality Explained, August 11, 2009
By (CC) Have you ever asked yourself, "Why am I suffering? Why is this happening to me?" Or perhaps, "How did I get into this predicament again?"
Mystery of Emptiness and Love by Domo Geshe Rinpoche defines the problems sentient beings face with understanding the nature of reality. She begins by exploring the "innate view" or the programming keeping us in the unenlightened state. The Tibetan Buddhist Rinpoche then leads us down a new road of understanding, shedding light on the illusory or hypnotic nature of our every day lives. The reader feels guided as they are shown how to dismantle the incorrect views that keep one from inner freedom.
Domo Geshe Rinpoche continues to illuminate the reader with her commentary based on Chandrakirti's Twenty Emptinesses. She describes what the harmony of true emptiness means, making this a book that a person of any religion or `no religion' can identify with. One does not have to be Buddhist to relate to finding freedom from the overwhelming innate views we hold.
Midway through the book, the reader is feeling very sated. Yet, the author continues to balance our new view with teachings of compassion and spiritual love. How did the great bodhisattvas, the enlightened beings, train themselves in love after they let go of the innate view? "When we no longer hold the grasping, contaminated view, we become capable of experiencing the supreme events possible for a human being." The Rinpoche explains the state of bliss-love as a vital part of our development.
This book is a refreshing spiritual journey, filled with warmth and great wisdom. It is only 181 pages, yet when one lifts it, the weight of it feels heavy... as though it were bursting at the seams to teach each and every one of us how to find "love and emptiness, a true compassion state."

5.0 out of 5 stars Makes emptiness easy to understand, August 29, 2009
By K L I had tried reading other books on emptiness but had difficulty understanding it. I found this book very easy to read and understand. It made this esoteric subject very accessible for me. I really enjoyed the sections on the innate view as well. I am recommending it to all my friends and the people in my meditation group.

"Was ist ein fühlendes Wesen?
Wer sind die Objekte der Fürsorge eines Bodhisattvas des großen Mitgefühls? Vollkommen in der Weisheit richten sich die Handlungen der aus Buddhas emanierten Bodhisattvas auf Wesen aus verschiedenen Kategorien.... Fühlende Wesen, oder lebende Wesen, sind diejenigen, die noch nicht erleuchtet oder wach für die illusorische Natur der gewöhnlichen Wirklichkeit sind. Fühlende Wesen existieren in vielen Formen, Bereichen und an vielen Orten, selbst in formlosen Bereichen. Die Verlorenen, die leidenden, fühlenden Wesen werden nicht aktiv in ihrer Entwicklung umsorgt, da sie nicht ausreichend auf den Empfang besonderer Fürsorge vorbereitet sind.
Durch die Heilung mithilfe unzähliger Methoden wird die Verletzung innerer Ebenen der leidenden Wesen rückgängig gemacht und nach und nach werden sie alle in der Lage sein, direkte Fürsorge zu empfangen. Technisch gesehen befindet sich ein sorgfältig Übender in einer Kategorie von Wesen, die in der Entwicklungsphase umsorgt und gehegt werden und ist deshalb kein fühlendes Wesen. Allerdings ist manchmal ein Übender ein fühlendes Wesen und dann wieder kein fühlendes Wesen. Jemand der stark übt wird vorübergehend zur höheren Entwicklung emporgehoben aber fällt leicht wieder ins Samsara zurück.
Aufgrund von Samsara und individuellem Karma ist dieser höhere Zustand für ihn nicht von Dauer und Praxisschübe wechseln sich oft mit Phasen unangemessenen Leidens ab. Aus diesem Grund bezeichnet man Übende im allgemeinen auch als leidende fühlende Wesen.

Dies ist ein Ausschnitt aus 'Mystery of Emptiness & Love
Hermitage Buddhist Publishing" DGR