Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

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Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby Jhana4 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:14 pm

I was reading a sutta on Dependent Origination the other day for a class. It reminded me of what I don't like about the Pali Canon.

I'm an atheist.

To be honest the idea of rebirth doesn't strike me as being a bummer, even being at the age I am at, having experienced unpleasant things and knowing full well that life will not be all sunshine and rainbows.

Becoming detached from the ups and downs of life does sound appealing to me, but not being beyond pleasure. I find the suttas that instruct monks on how to build an aversion to the body, sex and life to be well.......an aversion. I don't find it inspiring to think that the best I can hope for is to work hard on detaching myself from life for the reward of being completely dead when I die.

Even assuming it is all true, I don't get any benefit from it. It isn't "me" that lives on in a new body. It is a new life with my old unfinished kamma to deal with. So, what do I get of all of that work of finishing out my kamma?

Sometimes a kind of standard, man on the street existentialist view of life seems more cheerfful in comparison. You live, you have some pleasures, you learn to deal with some inevitable pain the best you can and you die.

At least you aren't dealing with a mental map of learning to have a zeal for stamping out the pleasures in life.

Am I missing something appealing in the Buddhist cosmology to look forward to?
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby Kenshou » Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:48 pm

There is more happiness in being free from the perpetual chase after pleasures and away from pain, than there is in participating in the chase. Or so they say. But I think it can take a lot of looking to figure that out, since we're conditioned really well to focus on the pleasing aspect of it all.

And though separation from "worldy" pleasures is encouraged, developing happiness based on more wholesome things is also encouraged, so it's not totally joyless and grim.
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:51 pm

For someone who doesnt find Dhamma inspiring you are spending a lot of time hanging out here.

Leaving aside Buddhist theory...what do you practice Jhana4 ?
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby Monkey Mind » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:01 pm

Am I missing something appealing in the Buddhist cosmology to look forward to?


Your namesake.. jhana. Rumored to be a really great show...
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby Jhana4 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:04 pm

PeterB wrote:For someone who doesnt find Dhamma inspiring you are spending a lot of time hanging out here.

Leaving aside Buddhist theory...what do you practice Jhana4 ?



This quote isn't a 100% fit, but then what is?:

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle


I'm inspired by meditation, I'm inspired by the Buddhist subculture in my area, I enjoy who various Buddhist teachers have become, I enjoy debate and I enjoy philosophy.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby Ben » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:06 pm

Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Yes.

As for your above post, Jhana4, my impression is that you have some things up-side down.

1. A belief in rebirth is not required. My recommendation is to merely walk the path. The benefits you experience as a result of walking the path is not dependent on whether you believe in rebirth. I also suggest that while you may not believe in rebirth, to keep your mind open.

2. The suttas don't instruct monks to develop aversion to the body or pleasurable experiences. Its about developing vipassana "special wisdom" or "seeing things as they really are" into the nature of all phenomena. When vipassana develops, one's attachment and sense of self is eradicated. If all we are doing is chasing pleasurable experiences then we cannot free ourselves from attachment and the resulting dukkha that arises when the pleasurable experience/s cease.

3. The benefits of walking the path can be experienced "here and now". Certainly there is the light on the hill of Nibbana, but every day you develop sila, samadhi and panna, you will also develop a better quality of life. At least, that has been my experience and is what largely motivates me.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:17 pm

Ben wrote:every day you develop ... a better quality of life. At least, that has been my experience and is what largely motivates me.
Me too
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby Jhana4 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:22 pm

Ben wrote:
Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Yes.

As for your above post, Jhana4, my impression is that you have some things up-side down.

1. A belief in rebirth is not required.



I disagree. The goal of Theravada is to stop dukha which is to eventually stop rebirth.


My recommendation is to merely walk the path.


I haven't missed a day of meditation in over 5 years ( I keep a log ). I live an sXe lifestyle and keep most of the 5 precepts most of the time by virtue of my natural temperaments. My life isn't about making the most money I possibly can and I try to live in a respectful, cooperative manner with those around me. I also learned young that a preoccupation with immediate gratification or material gain beyond a certain point leads to some not so nice results.

Yet, I still have these disappointments with the Pali Canon.



2. The suttas don't instruct monks to develop aversion to the body or pleasurable experiences. Its about developing vipassana "special wisdom" or "seeing things as they really are"


I don't agree with that. I've read suttas instructing monks to meditate on rotting corpses and reflecting on how that is what the body is. I've also read other similar suttas about contemplating the body and other pleasures in life in a similar manner. That is only one side of the story and looking at only one side of the story isn't seeing things as they are.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:28 pm

Hi Jhana4,

If you want to get a good overview of the Canon, I'd advise ordering:
In the Buddha's Words,An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon by Bhikkhu Bodhi,
who has organised a wide selection of Suttas in a logical sequence.

You can read the Introduction and Chapter 1 as a PDF here, along with a review:
http://www.wisdompubs.org/pages/display ... n=&image=1

Reading that book and other Suttas certainly inspired me...

:anjali:
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:30 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
PeterB wrote:For someone who doesnt find Dhamma inspiring you are spending a lot of time hanging out here.

Leaving aside Buddhist theory...what do you practice Jhana4 ?



This quote isn't a 100% fit, but then what is?:

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle


I'm inspired by meditation, I'm inspired by the Buddhist subculture in my area, I enjoy who various Buddhist teachers have become, I enjoy debate and I enjoy philosophy.

Oh well thats me off the bus. Lifes too short.
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby perkele » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:31 pm

Jhana4 wrote:To be honest the idea of rebirth doesn't strike me as being a bummer, even being at the age I am at, having experienced unpleasant things and knowing full well that life will not be all sunshine and rainbows.

What do you mean, it doesn't strike you as being a bummer, despite ...? Being at the age you're at, having experienced unpleasent things, ..., what does that have to do with rebirth? And with rebirth being a silly idea/not so silly idea?

Becoming detached from the ups and downs of life does sound appealing to me, but not being beyond pleasure. I find the suttas that instruct monks on how to build an aversion to the body, sex and life to be well.......an aversion. I don't find it inspiring to think that the best I can hope for is to work hard on detaching myself from life for the reward of being completely dead when I die.


It's not about being beyond pleasure, nor about being beyond pain. It's about being beyond desire and aversion.
As a meditation teacher at a retreat told us: Desire is not necessary to experience pleasure. Aversion is not necessary to experience pain.
The contemplations on the foulness of the body are just a means for overcoming desire, not for getting totally sick of it and building up aversion to the level of imbearable disgust. It is difficult in our world of extremes to understand this in the right way. One should contemplate these things with equanimity, or striving towards equanimity as best as possible, becoming detached and uprooting the subtle seeds of re-emerging desire by knowing their undesirable outcomes and aspects. When you are beyond all that you are beyond any reward. You don't ask for that anymore. And that is freedom.
That is the theory to my best understanding. As for the practice I am none the wiser of course (as you might know by reading another thread that I started where I mentioned how I left that retreat...)
Becoming "attached to aversion" and hating all life and pleasure and beauty is of course not the goal.

Even assuming it is all true, I don't get any benefit from it. It isn't "me" that lives on in a new body. It is a new life with my old unfinished kamma to deal with. So, what do I get of all of that work of finishing out my kamma?


You leave the person that comes after "you" with less of a burden to carry around and make the world a more peaceful place. That is a very liberating knowledge. You can be happy about that.

Sometimes a kind of standard, man on the street existentialist view of life seems more cheerfful in comparison. You live, you have some pleasures, you learn to deal with some inevitable pain the best you can and you die.

At least you aren't dealing with a mental map of learning to have a zeal for stamping out the pleasures in life.

Am I missing something appealing in the Buddhist cosmology to look forward to?


I'm not a philosopher. Every situation in life may be suited for different ways of thinking. But the thought that it is "you" who has to deal with life's situations, and then this "you" just disappears, knowing nothing anymore, seems ultimately very dire to me. And even quite mysterious. Where has this self-existence gone? Disappearance into blackness? Not even blackness... who could say that it is black?
Now I'm at loss for words. Maybe I even missed your argument. I have the bad habit of trying to convey my understanding without knowing any expression. :rolleye: It's easy to get hung up on discussions without communication. If I ever find enlightenment then probably as a paccekabuddha. :tongue:
Those who are ashamed of what they should be ashamed of, and are not ashamed of what they should not be ashamed of -- upholding true views, they do not go to states of woe.
(suggested by SamBodhi)
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:38 pm

Contemplation of repulsiveness is not for the purpose of developing aversion, which would just be replacing one defilement (lust) with another (aversion). Its about the removal of lust, and the cultivation of disenchantment, insight into impermanence, and arousing of spiritual urgency (samvega). With insight gained, one can see that beauty and repulsiveness are both just habitual perceptions — without it, one will be swept away by the perception of beauty and lust will overwhelm the mind.

It was taught to monks who were observing full-time chastity, not for lay persons observing five precepts. It can also be practised by lay people, but is not often taught these days, except perhaps in forest monasteries.

One should always choose a meditation suited to one's temperament — that is why there are many different methods included in the Satipatthāna Sutta. Try mindfulness of breathing or analysis of the four elements if contemplation of repulsiveness doesn't work for you. For cultivating tranquillity, one can use recollection of the Buddha's qualities, or the Brahmaviharas — loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic-joy, and equanimity.
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby Ben » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:40 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
Ben wrote:
Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Yes.

As for your above post, Jhana4, my impression is that you have some things up-side down.

1. A belief in rebirth is not required.



I disagree. The goal of Theravada is to stop dukha which is to eventually stop rebirth.

I don't have my copy of B. Bodhi's Majjhima with me, but there is a great sutta in there that is a discourse the Buddha gave to a number of people who were sceptical of rebirth. In the sutta, the Buddha did not say that his interlocutors were wrong or tried to convert them to a belief in rebirth but by reason led them to the conclusion that it was better to live a life as though one did believe in rebirth than a life of one who did not believe.

Jhana4 wrote:
My recommendation is to merely walk the path.


I haven't missed a day of meditation in over 5 years ( I keep a log ). I live an sXe lifestyle and keep most of the 5 precepts most of the time by virtue of my natural temperaments. My life isn't about making the most money I possibly can and I try to live in a respectful, cooperative manner with those around me. I also learned young that a preoccupation with immediate gratification or material gain beyond a certain point leads to some not so nice results.

Yet, I still have these disappointments with the Pali Canon.
I think your efforts are very commendable. I'm sorry that you have disappointments with the Pali Canon. Personally, there are things that I don't understand, but I have confidence that my vipassana practice will lead me to deeper understanding.


Jhana4 wrote:
2. The suttas don't instruct monks to develop aversion to the body or pleasurable experiences. Its about developing vipassana "special wisdom" or "seeing things as they really are"


I don't agree with that. I've read suttas instructing monks to meditate on rotting corpses and reflecting on how that is what the body is. I've also read other similar suttas about contemplating the body and other pleasures in life in a similar manner. That is only one side of the story and looking at only one side of the story isn't seeing things as they are.
Respectfully, I disagree with you. I maintain that those suttas are not about developing aversion. Certainly the message can be interpreted as aversive to pleasure and the body, but they are things which we have incredibly deep and subtle attachments to. I know from my own experience that developing equanimity towards the unpleasant is so much easier than developing equanimity to the pleasant. The pleasant can be so subtle and seductive that when craving begins its like a runaway train. In fact, the experience of craving for the pleasant can seem indistinguishable from equanimity. Again, I'm talking from personal experience atm, and unfortunately I don't have time and nor am I proximate to my beloved texts to provide textual support.
Anyway, as personal experience,it is really just my perspective.
kind regards

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby Nyana » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:44 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Contemplation of repulsiveness is not for the purpose of developing aversion, which would just be replacing one defilement (lust) with another (aversion). Its about the removal of lust, and the cultivation of disenchantment, insight into impermanence, and arousing of spiritual urgency (samvega). With insight gained, one can see that beauty and repulsiveness are both just habitual perceptions — without it, one will be swept away by the perception of beauty and lust will overwhelm the mind.

It was taught to monks who were observing full-time chastity, not for lay persons observing five precepts. It can also be practised by lay people, but is not often taught these days, except perhaps in forest monasteries.

One should always choose a meditation suited to one's temperament — that is why there are many different methods included in the Satipatthāna Sutta. Try mindfulness of breathing or analysis of the four elements if contemplation of repulsiveness doesn't work for you. For cultivating tranquillity, one can use recollection of the Buddha's qualities, or the Brahmaviharas — loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic-joy, and equanimity.

Indeed.

All the best,

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Re: Do you really find the Dhamma inspiring?

Postby nobody12345 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:13 pm

Hi friend.
The ironic thing is, sometimes, when you feel like you can't take it anymore or throw towel and give up all together, usually that's the time you are very VERY close to a breakthrough.
Metta.
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Letting go of longing for a relationship

Postby Jhana4 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:50 pm

Alex123 wrote:Also, the human body is disgusting. It is full of excrement, urine, meat, bones, blood, fat, and all other kinds of filth. Why would anyone want more of it?\

When I think about woman, I remember that I am full of excrement & urine myself. Why get another filthy bag of meat near me?


Alex, I recently started a thread about how while I find meditation and some Dhamma teachers truly inspirational, I have found the suttas only interesting. The following comment has nothing to do with you personally. People who responded to my thread might correctly say what you wrote above is only your view and not a reflection of the intentions of the authors of the Pali Canon. That being said, quotes in the past, similar to yours, in the Canon have made the suttas only philosophically interesting to me, not inspirational. Absolutely no offense meant. My apologies for making your post an example of what I have encountered elsewhere.
Last edited by Jhana4 on Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Letting go of longing for a relationship

Postby A_Martin » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:15 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
Alex, I recently started a thread about how while I find meditation and some Dhamma teachers truly inspirational, I have found the suttas only interesting. The following comment has nothing to do with you personally. People who responded to my thread might correctly say what you wrote above is only your view and not a reflection of the intentions of the authors of the Pali Canon. That being said, quotes in the past, similar to your, in the Canon have made the suttas only philosophically interesting to me, not inspirational. Absolutely no offense meant. My apologies for making your post an example of what I have encountered elsewhere.


well it seems you do not know the suttas, where the Lord Buddha is teaching asubha, the loathsomness of this body, in one sutta after teaching it, 500 bikkhus killed themselves, in another sutta, he mentions how to contemplate and approach a charnel ground, where corpses where laid to rot away. But the one interesting in this case is where one of his bhikkhus fell in love with a courtesan, that died soon after and he not only advised the bhikkhu but the laypeople to go and visit, then he gave a reflection to the laypeople and bhikkhus, and told the bhikkhu to stay and contemplate until the corpse of this courtesan rots away
--- we only like to read the nice things, we do not want to be confronted with truth ---
The west is like the palace of siddharta, we hide the dead, we keep the sick in the hospitals, we keep the old in old age homes -- just to not see the truth about this body!
Good Luck Martin
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Re: Letting go of longing for a relationship

Postby Jhana4 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:49 pm

A_Martin wrote:--- we only like to read the nice things, we do not want to be confronted with truth ---
The west is like the palace of siddharta, we hide the dead, we keep the sick in the hospitals, we keep the old in old age homes -- just to not see the truth about this body!
Good Luck Martin


Venerable A_Martin;

I grew up watching my mother slowly die from complications related of multiple sclerosis. Last spring a friend of mine chose to give up chemotherapy and die a natural death from cancer. I visited her in hospice care and watched what happened to her. A few weeks ago my father had a triple bypass operation. I tell ya, you don't have an appreciation for those things until you meet someone has had one. This weekend I am going to a memorial for a friend who died of hereditary cancer. She was 29. I knew her for about 7 years. When I met her she was a radiantly beautiful fitness nut. I witnessed her get emaciated and come to terms knowing what her low odds of survival were.

I don't what your life experiences have been, but mine have been that people beyond a certain age are not children about the realities of life. Even in the United States, a grieving mother will not find a mustard seed from knocking on the doors of strangers.
Last edited by Jhana4 on Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Letting go of longing for a relationship

Postby PeterB » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:54 pm

A_Martin is a monk. It is considered an act of good etiquette in the Theravada to address monks as Bhante.
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Re: Letting go of longing for a relationship

Postby Jhana4 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:59 pm

PeterB wrote:A_Martin is a monk. It is considered an act of good etiquette in the Theravada to address monks as Bhante.


I have no problem with that. How is somebody supposed to know he is a monk from his alias?
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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