Archive for the ‘Gautama Buddha’ Tag

Purify Mind



A human being through training and practice has the highest enlightened mental state. A human being, through the purification process of one’s own mental state, can become an enlightened being. Even Buddha too needed hard work to get the final enlightenment.

In his previous lives, Buddha like others in the Indian tradition was sometimes a human being and sometimes was an animal, but as his practice became higher and deeper, in his last birth was a human being as the son in one small kingdom. At that stage, he was enlightened.

All sentient beings have Buddha Nature. The seed of Buddha means consciousness or the cognitive power; which is the seed of enlightenment. All the destructive things can be removed from the mind and there is no reason to believe that a sentient being cannot become Buddha. Every sentient being has that seed.

Buddha in the public eye is still a human being. He acted like a human being. Sometimes he failed to influence some people. He sometimes wants to express his sort of sadness like that or disappointment. Buddha failed to perform any miracle. Buddha says, “Sadness is due to individuals’ karma.” Buddha could not change anyone’s karma. Buddha taught how to change one’s own karma. Unless we change emotion, change action, Buddha cannot do much. Unless we carry certain discipline and create a positive karma, the consequences we have to face, have to take.

In order to develop unbiased infinite love, you first need the practice of detachment. Detachment does not mean to give up desire. Desire must be there. Without desire, how can we live our life? Without desire, how can we achieve Buddhahood? The desire to be harmful is bad. Desire to self right is the concept of ego, I, self, itself is nature. To develop self confidence and willpower, we need a sense of strong self. Strong will is necessary to tackle all these biological factors of hatred and anger. Self-confidence is very important, but the ego which has no regards to other’s right is bad. The egotistic attitude based on ignorance is negative. Egotistic feeling based on reasons is positive.

Whether Buddha’s physical body is there or not, Buddha’s spirit is always there. Buddha also stated “you are your own master.” Future and everything depends on what we do now. Buddha’s responsibility is just to show the path.


Posted October 24, 2013 by dranilj1 in Buddha

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Buddha Within


Buddhist makes a distinction between what is called Big Mind, or Natural Mind, and "small mind," or ordinary, deluded mind. Big Mind is the essential nature of mind itself. This is what we call Buddha-nature, or natural mind. This is human true nature – the pure boundless awareness that is at the heart, and part, of us all.

Natural Mind is still, clear, lucid, empty, profound, simple or uncomplicated, and at peace. It is the luminous, most fundamental clear light nature of our ground of being. This is the heart of enlightenment, the Buddha within – the perfect presence that we can all rely on. Waking up to this Natural Mind, this Buddha-nature, is what meditation is all about.


Pure Perception


Voidness is nothing other than how things appear to you. If you recognize everything as the deity, the good of others is consummated. Seeing the purity of everything confers the four empowerments on all beings at once. Dredging the voidness, recite the six­-syllable mantra (Na Mo A Mi Tuo Fo). The six-syllable mantra has the power to counteract all your negative emotions and to bring you unimaginable benefit, but it cannot be fully effective if you do not recite it with the proper concentration. If you are always being distracted as you recite it by bodily sensations, different things to look at, idle talk with others, or your own wandering thoughts, the mantra’s power, like the luster of a piece of gold encrusted with dirt, will never make itself felt. Even if the beads of your rosary whirl through your fingers at breakneck speed, what use could such an empty facade of practice possible be? The point is not to accumulate a huge number of recitations at any cost, but to gain a deeper understanding of the practice and its goal.

The way we usually experience the outer world, our bodies, and our feelings is impure, in the sense, that we perceive them as ordinary, substantially existing entities. From this erroneous perception come the negative emotions that perpetuate suffering. However, take a closer look at all these appearances; you will find that they have no true existence. From a relative point of view; they appear as a result of various causes and conditions, like a mirage or a dream, but in reality nothing that arises from causes and conditions has any true existence whatsoever. In fact, there is not even anything to appear.

If you continue investigating, you will find that there is nothing anywhere, not even a single atom that has a verifiable existence. Now, to see things otherwise, as truly existing, is the deluded perception underlying voidness, but even that deluded perception itself has never actually left the realm of unawareness. Ignorance, therefore, is no more than a transient veil devoid of intrinsic existence. When you recognize this, there is no impure perception; there is only the limitless display of the Buddha’s body, speech, mind, and wisdom. Then there is no longer any need to try to get rid of the three worlds of voidness or to suppress suffering, because neither voidness nor suffering actually even exists. Once you realize that voidness as void as a mirage, all the karmic patterns and negative emotions that lie at its root are severed.

Voidness, however, is not just nothingness or empty space. Form is voidness, voidness is form; voidness is no other than form, and form is no other than voidness. When you realize this true voidness of phenomena, you will spontaneously feel an all-embracing, non-conceptual compassion for all beings who are immersed in voidness’ ocean of suffering because they cling to the notion of an ego.

This troublesome ego which is so concerned about itself has in reality never begun to exist, it does not exist anywhere now, and so it cannot cease to exist. Not the slightest trace of it can be found. When you recognize the void nature, therefore, any notion of there being an ego to dissolve vanishes, and at the same time the energy to bring about the good of others dawns, uncontrived and effortless.


Triple Gem


Triple Gem in Buddhism implies: The Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

Buddha is the ‘Enlightened One’ who rediscovered for himself the liberating path of Dhamma, after a long period of its having been forgotten by the world. According to tradition, a long line of Buddhas stretches off into the distant past. The most recent Buddha was born Sidhartha Gautama in India in the sixth century BCE. A well educated and wealthy young man, he relinquished his family and his princely inheritance in the prime of his life to search for true freedom and an end to suffering (dukkha). After seven years of austerities in the forest, he rediscovered the "middle way" and achieved his goal, becoming Buddha.

Dharma in Sanskrit, Dhamma in Pali are universal laws that govern human existence and is usually regarded as law, truth, or anything Buddhist. It is used in the sense of all things, visible or invisible. In Buddhist tradition, it is generally referred to as the teaching of the Buddha. It is the teachings of the Buddhas in totality. Damma connotes Duty, law, doctrine. Dhamma is things, events, phenomena, and everything.

Sangha literally suggests harmonious community. In the Buddhadharma, Sangha means the order of Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, Sramaneras and Sramanerikas. Another meaning is the Arya Sangha, made up of those individuals, lay or monastic, who have attained one of the four stages of sanctity. Sangha also suggests the Bodhisattva Sangha.


Posted April 8, 2013 by dranilj1 in Indian Culture

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It Is Itself Now


Reading about non-dual, mystical approach to spirituality you will find many obvious and deep resonances not only with the Buddha’s teachings but with the depth teachings of all the great systems of awakening and non-duality. You appreciate deeply of Buddha Dharma and also investigate into emptiness, into the very practical and immediate application of emptiness in meditation and in opening up the mind and heart

If love leads one to the point of the extinction of personality in the fire of truth, awareness can lead him to the point of seeing that ego does not really exist, and hence achieve the same goal of selflessness. Love melts the lover into the ocean of truth; there remain no traces of an “I”. Awareness, on the other hand, cuts through the illusion of a separate identity. It exposes the lie of ego: that it exists as a reality. Love melts ego away, while awareness is like turning on the light and seeing that there is nobody there. The outcome is the same in both cases, but the flavor of the path is different. One is more emotional, the other more insightful. The vocabularies of the two paths differ as a result. The path of love seeks union with the Beloved, while the path of awareness seeks the seeing of naked Reality. Just as prayer is the central practice in the path of love, meditation is the central practice in the path of awareness.

Meditation is a very fine art. Meditation is the center and the heart of all Buddhist schools. Without meditation there is really no Buddhism. Buddhism has more of a mental flavor than most other religions. It deals with the mind. Buddhism discusses mind. Sufis speak more of the Heart. This does not mean that the Buddhist Mind and the Sufi Heart are two different things. When Buddhists say Mind they don’t mean what we usually understand to be mind. When the Sufis mention the Heart they don’t mean what we call heart. The flavors of the two approaches are different because for the lower levels of spiritual experience there is a distinction between mind and heart.

The practicing of just bare attention, being mindful of my experience is the main meditation practice that I have done for years. This meditation is not an easy practice by any means, although it sounds so. Just attending to whatever I experience puts me right away in touch with the first noble truth of Buddhism, the truth of suffering. Almost all this time there is suffering in my experience, whether in me or in the world around me. This suffering and pain is a prime cause for the lowering of awareness in each of us. We just want to avoid pain at any cost, and being asleep and unaware is the most effective means. But we cannot avoid pain without lowering our awareness. So cultivating awareness brings me face to face with suffering, mine and everybody else’s.

But suffering and pain are not the only difficulties in the practice of meditation. Beyond all the tricks and defenses of ego, lie levels of experience and consciousness that are so subtle and so intangible that the meditator can be stuck for years without even knowing it. An accomplished and experienced meditation teacher is necessary, for this is a person who knows the terrain from experience and can guide the person who has never been to such places.

Insight meditation develops and cultivates insight. At the beginning insight is psychological in nature. I see my ego patterns, my ways of handling my experience, my ways of avoiding reality, my conflicts, my emotional problems, and so on. So it is awareness of my personality or my ego. This is natural for this is what is there at the beginning.

However, awareness does not stop here. In fact, awareness does not need an object. It can be just pure awareness. It can be only aware of itself. So after a while, sometimes a very long while, the content of experience starts to slow and quiet down. With consistent practice thoughts calm down, emotions quiet down, and we become very calm, very still, very peaceful.

The level of experience shifts now that there is enough stillness for us to see more clearly. We become aware of this observer in us who is paying attention. We cannot pay attention without somebody paying attention to something. First I think this is ordinary and okay. I learned, however, that this observer is not really needed. The need for an observer is the need for ego to have a center, to make itself into a center of experience. So the observer is really none other than ego, or part of ego.

I start seeing that awareness cannot develop more if it is centered. A center of awareness, an observer, always limits awareness, for it is always aware through a certain perspective, a certain point of view, from a certain direction. This somehow has a cramping effect on me. I become tense instead of relaxed. An observer means there is tension in my awareness, it’s not open and free. Now I turn my awareness backward and look at the observer. It jumps around, and awareness keeps following it. But awareness never finds any substantial reality to this observer. Regardless of how much I look there is really no observer. Sometimes it feels that it is only a thought, or an idea, or a place in my body, or a belief in its existence, but never a consistent identity. Not finding this observer makes it less real. The center of awareness relaxes its tense grip on awareness. The ego-center or the observer in this case, relaxes, spreads thinner, and slowly dissolves into the stillness. There is no more need for an observer.

Only stillness is left fresh, clear, crisp and empty. Thoughts pass through it. Emotions pass through it. Experiences pass through it. But the stillness stays immaculate, just as the clear sky stays untouched as the clouds pass through it. The winds blow. The rivers flow. The fires gnaw, but stillness is still, still.

There is a feeling of lightness, of joy, of freedom. There is a sense of naturalness with a crystal kind of clarity, just as snow-covered mountains feel natural and clear. Awareness is no longer tense. It loses its attachment and active bent. It becomes more passive, like a receptacle. Everything comes to it. This is an important transition; for usually we exert a lot of effort to pay attention, and letting go and just being feels scary. I always thought before that I would miss seeing something if I did not actively look. But I saw that I only created strain this way, and also this active awareness is really more paranoia than anything else. When I let go, and trust that awareness is naturally there and I don’t have to make an effort, awareness becomes bigger, brighter, and easier. It’s like seeing everything, being aware of everything at the same time, effortlessly. It’s like a panoramic view, but not from above, nor from any direction. It’s like awareness is everywhere, and nothing is missed or overlooked. There is no concern or fear of missing something.

All kinds of experiences happen in many new regions and spaces of the mind. Deep spaces, empty spaces, spacious spaces, soft spaces, dark spaces, light spaces, and joyous spaces happen in mind. The space itself, like stillness, becomes the object of awareness, and awareness goes deeper and deeper into it. Sometimes there is an uninterrupted space of stillness, or openness, without thoughts or feelings or any kind of content. It’s like a totally empty sky. Yet, slowly I discover that there is something like an atmosphere when the experience is happening. This atmosphere somehow colors the experience, gives it a certain flavor, which is reminiscent of myself. This insight cuts through the mental atmosphere and more openness manifests.

Awareness becomes sharper, brighter. There is a feeling of less crowdedness, as if the atmosphere got thinner and lighter. I learn that such mental atmospheres are the action of concepts. I view reality through certain concepts. That’s what I have been doing all my life, and so has everybody else. We always experience reality through the filter of our concepts of reality. Even when thoughts, feelings, and sensations subside there remains the conceptual atmosphere through which I look at reality. It’s like instead of reflecting reality in a clear mirror; I do so using a colored mirror; so I believe that reality has that color instead of seeing that it is my mirror that is colored.

At superficial levels the concepts are in words and thought. Awareness can see through these easily. However, on subtler levels there are mental concepts without even thoughts. They are beliefs about reality taken as aspects of reality, so they become imperceptible. They are very subtle for they are all-pervading. It’s like being in a colored atmosphere that colors everything in it with the same color, including me. So I naturally believe that this color is an aspect of reality. There is no way to discriminate this color, this concept, this filter. The result is that reality is not seen directly, perception is still veiled. Reality is still not totally naked.

Here intuitive awareness starts to develop. It is like a light that pierces through these concepts. Intuitive awareness is sometimes called discriminating wisdom, for it has the capacity to discriminate those subtle concepts that veil what is. Development of intuitive awareness is really the aim of being mindful of my experience. Here, real insight starts to mature. It is no longer insight into the dynamics of the personality. It is insight into the nature of reality and the nature of consciousness. Gradually, intuitive awareness cuts through these concepts, like the sword cutting through the veils, revealing reality as it is—naked existence. No coloration, no filtering. It is direct perception. It is the experience of emptiness, the void.

Void does not mean empty of content like an empty container. It is just what is without the conceptual framework on top of it. It is direct perception without the naming or labeling of reality. It is reality without the presence of ego, without the presence of a center for experience. Experience is totally open. Experience does not have a center. Experience does not have a boundary. Everything is the same as before except that it is without my prejudices or beliefs. It is itself now.


 

PRACTISE AND CREATIVITY CAN OPEN LOVING ATTENTION

I do formal loving attention every day, as well as loving attention in the moment. It feels good to set aside a special time to give loving attention with so many others. I feel there is really good vibe in my work today, similar to what one often feels in meditating or praying with a group of people or Sat Sangha.

While there are many formal forms for the steps in loving attention in various traditions, in general there is a basic expanding progression of attention. First giving loving attention to oneself, then a close or dear friend, then a neutral person; someone we know but don’t really have a relationship with, and then, the difficult person, and then all of these equally, and then in expanding spheres of loving kindness, one eventually embraces all beings everywhere and finally, the entire universe.

If you find it hard to give loving attention to yourself, as many of us seem to, then start with loving attention for a beloved pet, or plant, or even a place that evokes warm and loving feeling in you. This is a skillful means of getting around stuck places, like the inability to love oneself. To light a fire, start with kindling someone or something you love.

In general, when doing loving attention, follow the steps of expanding love, but sometimes my loving attention is very free form, like a good jazz improvisation, and I listen to what is calling to me from the world and to what my heart seeks to address. This helps give loving attention and well-wishes a specific focus. But after some time, you may feel a shift, and your heart might be drawn to new affirmations and intentions. For example, while contemplating “May All Beings Be Free from Suffering,” I found new loving attention focal points arising in my mind. Trusting my heart, I stayed with each until I felt I had established a clear sense of loving presence and embrace of those involved. Here is what arose for my todays loving attention like let those struggling to be born, be born and live. May those struggling to give birth, give birth safely and without pain. Let those in danger, find safety and see how to find safety. May those struggling with death, be free of fear and feel loved. Let those struggling with death, let go of life and death, and find refuge in presence and being.

Many more specific focal points come to mind as we open up our heart, and there is often a tremendous sense of flow and feeling directed to where the loving attention is needed, but sometimes, there is clearly a need to stop and really zero in on some place of resistance, or pain, or sorrow, or hurt. Often, when recalling some suffering in the world, I would be led back to giving loving attention to suffering in myself and vice versa, often working through pain and stuck places in my own heart. I naturally move outward to share that loving attention clarity and open up my heart to those in the world who might be having similar struggles.

The truth is we can’t really separate our own happiness and well-being from that of others. To be human is to live in relationship. As my teacher likes to say, we have inter-being and we inter-are with all things and all things with us, for even as we are individual and unique, we are also individual and unique in relationship to what is not our self. Indeed, we are literally made up of not self elements, for that is the very nature of what the Buddha called dependent origination or co-origination. In my own practice, I have found that loving attention practice is every bit as skillful a means as meditation in helping to break down the painful barriers between self and other.

So, with loving attention, as with all of the multifarious facets of the Buddha Dharma, the big idea is to practice, to just do it, and regularly. Like a good musician, to improve, we will do a lot of formal hard work—what the great jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis calls “going to the shed and “chopping wood.” There’s just no way around it! On the other hand, in the practice of loving attention, if you start with the formal sequence, be open to some improvisation. Listen carefully to your heart and pay attention to where there is contraction and tightness, and where there is opening up and spaciousness.

Listen also to where your heart or personal, or family, or world events may be calling you to give loving attention. You may want to go there or you may not! Sometimes, the monkey-mind wants to flit from object to object, with no depth, no feeling, no real heart. Giving loving attention is not a filibuster! It’s not positive thinking or is it rote mindless repetition of “may you be happy” or any other phrase or mantra. Loving attention is in fact, meditation, wherein the “object” of meditation is not one’s breath, or other anchor, but the loving attention itself—the feeling of well-being and love being given to and embracing another.

The loving attention embracing its object is itself the focus of attention, and when our mind drifts off, as it surely will, countless times—no problems!—our mindfulness will eventually note that and help us bring our focus of attention back to our object of loving attention. When you bring it back, bring it back with a smile to yourself, as the Buddhist teacher Bhante Vimalaramsi always says. Smile and relax, letting go of any tightness or tension that may have arisen when we lost our attention

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Where We Go In Zazen Practice

 

In zazen practice, we might have set out with various ideas but now are just practicing, having forgotten why we came. That may be a good thing – just doing it – but practice may also have become a kind of unconscious habit; we’re just going along with the routine because that’s what we do. For Zen practitioners, it may be helpful sometimes to stop and reflect: What is this path really all about? What is growth on the path, deepening of practice, spiritual evolution? Asking such questions could arouse thoughts of self-judgment or self-centered striving, or a stronger selfless aspiration to live in accord with truth for the benefit of all.

Three qualities of mind, and three practices, deepen as practice deepens: renunciation, compassion, and devotion. Most spiritual traditions have many classic forms of renunciation, basically limiting or restricting the things we tend to habitually hold on to, such as comfort, food, sleep, sex, entertainment, possessions, choice, and control. Such renunciations are very similar in most traditions, and those classic forms can be really helpful at different phases in our practice, depending on what we’re especially caught up in, which things pull us out of our present experience of contentment. Another less intimidating name for renunciation is simply “letting go.” Letting go might take those traditional forms, or it might even take opposite forms.

Zazen practice is like we can do them in order to look like or feel like we’re renouncing something, but actually we are building up a sense of self or identity; though actually the whole purpose of renunciation practice is to let go of a strong sense of self and its supposed needs, if we are not paying attention, such practice can have the opposite effect. So over time it becomes a kind of renunciation practice to let go of some of those classic renunciation practices. This is kind of a tricky business because renunciation practice is never static. It’s a constant balance. The middle way is very elusive – we let go of something and then we get attached to “letting go,” so we let go of that way and we think we won’t fall back into our old habits because we’ve already let them go. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite that way! In fact it’s very easy, after really having let go of something, to then get a little lazy. Suddenly we notice, there it is again; the habit has redeveloped itself.

In the end, letting go comes down to being present and aware of what we’re holding onto, and releasing our grip in that moment. Zazen is like an all-encompassing renunciation practice. Since we emphasize a particular upright posture, if we sit still long enough we’ll find some holding on; one has to let go of the wish to move or to do something more interesting. It’s renunciation to just patiently let go of those urges to move or do something else. To do this may seem like a small thing, especially for people who’ve been doing it for awhile, but it’s actually profound to just sit still and let go, not only of moving physically, but also mentally. Zazen is letting go of moving, letting go of thoughts about past and future, and ultimately letting go of all conceptual elaboration, and this is an endless lifetime practice. Nobody finishes zazen practice, ever! In Zen they say “practice and realization are not two.” We don’t do practice over here, and then have realization over there. Renunciation is a moment-to-moment practice of letting go, and a moment-to-moment realization of the freedom of having let go, a process that we can check on to see how it’s going. Do we have any deeply held habit patterns that for many years the practice hasn’t seemed to reach? We probably do, and they present the place to practice, the very place to let go, whatever the habit is – whether its impatience or conceptual thinking.

Another practice and quality of mind to develop, closely related to renunciation, is compassion. Compassion is bringing in the element of other living beings, opening our hearts to others. In Buddha-Dharma, compassion is defined as the wish or desires that living beings be free from suffering and discontent, and the willingness to help however we can. Since we are living beings, we can have compassion for ourselves as well as others, and again the practice and realization of compassion are not two. We can cultivate it and develop it, and the way we do that is quite related to renunciation. By just letting go of our own habitual holdings, letting go of our own self-concern as well as our resistance to experiencing our own discontent, our compassionate heart naturally starts opening to others more and more, is able to relate to others’ pain more intimately, and naturally wants everyone to be free.

One important connection between renunciation and compassion is to see that letting go is freedom and ease. If we want others to be free from suffering, what do we really want for them? How are they going to be free from discontent? Though we can give them food if they’re hungry or help in other ways, to be completely relieved they actually have to let go. So we could say that compassion is actually the wish for others to renounce. This is one way the two practices are very connected. If we want to have com­plete compassion for others, if we want them to be completely free from discontent, then we wish for them to be able to let go of whatever they are holding on to so that they can be free. If we want that realization for others, but then hold onto our own fixations, that’s a little funny, isn’t it? So in order to fully practice compassion, we have to continuously let go of our own self-cherishing, not only in order to be open to others, but also to verify our trust that letting go is freedom from discontent. The more we verify that for ourselves, the more sincerely we can wish for others also to be able to let go. In this way, renunciation and compassion are the same mind – renunciation arises from contemplating one’s own discontent, and compassion arises from contemplating others’ discontent.

A third practice and quality of mind to develop is devotion to Buddha. The Buddha is the historical teacher who set the wheel of Dharma in motion – who first taught the path to complete liberation – as well as all Buddhas throughout space and time who have fully developed renunciation, compassion, and devotion. Buddha is unhindered effortless complete practice and realization of awakening for the benefit of us all. We can think of Buddha as a particular person or people, or we can think of Buddha as Buddha Nature itself, which is inconceivably permeating all of us, all the time. Buddha is our true nature, which is already fully let go, fully compassionate, and fully devoted. We can be devoted to this inconceivable all-pervading spontaneously present Buddha Nature that we seem to be temporarily obscuring with our conceptual thinking, habitual self-cherishing, and doubts. Though we feel as if we’re not quite in touch with Buddha, through hearing about Buddha Nature, contemplating it, and opening to it more and more, we begin to trust more and more that the sun behind the clouds is always shining, and that experiencing its light and warmth is just a matter of renouncing our fixation on the clouds. Part of letting go of grasping the clouds is opening the heart of compassion, and both of these are fueled by the practice and realization of devotion to Buddha. We can also be devoted to the practices of letting go and compassion. We can walk down the street with the intention to be totally devoted to walking without thinking of doing something else, devoted to everybody that we pass on the street as expressions of Buddha Nature who also may seem to be not quite content, and devoted to offering each foot­step we take to Buddha.

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