Birch Tree

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  1. Question for Taoists and Buddhists

    Thank you, my friends, for your responses. I am sorry that I have had to be away from this thread for several days now--that was not my intention but rather I was called away unexpectedly but should have a bit more time in the coming days to post more detailed responses. As always, I sincerely appreciate the pearls of wisdom that you share with me. So many times you all have helped me on my spiritual journey and I am very grateful. Please accept my humble and sincere thanks for your responses, and I hope to respond on this thread in further detail in the next few days. I hope this is agreeable. Sincerely, Birch Tree
  2. Question for Taoists and Buddhists

    Hi Lucky7Strikes, I've never heard Krishnamurti, but I have a couple of his books. I've read "This Light in Oneself" which was great. I also have "The First and Last Freedom" on my bookshelf and it is a couple of spots down in my reading queue. I'll have to see if I can find some tapes of his somewhere. I really enjoy his discussions. All the best, Birch Tree
  3. Question for Taoists and Buddhists

    My friends, thank you for sharing your wisdom and insights with me. Forgive me if I do not offer a personal response to you, some of the posts have similar ideas that I will try to address. Stigweard: Good to hear from you again my friend. I am still benefiting from the wisdom you shared with me from the last thread that I started (several months ago now). Unfortunately, I still find myself falling into the old duality traps. I know that on some level there is no self and no distinction known as the individual, but I am unsure how strongly I believe this because in my own writing, words and actions, I still find myself making these distinctions. For me, this is certainly an area that I need to work on and when I read your posts they make so much sense to me--you have a gift for explaining difficult concepts such as these. If you have any ideas to help me diminish the duality of thinking in my own mind (eg. meditations or exercises that worked for you), I would be greatly appreciative. Marblehead: Good to hear from you again my friend. I hope that all is well with you. Athanor: Thanks for drawing the distinction between good and bad karma and the idea of getting rid of all karma. I have heard it both ways, but you have provided an excellent discussion of the difference between these and it is now much clearer to me why one might want to get rid of all karma altogether. Because of your unique perspective, I would like to ask whether or not you think the Taoist concept of "wu wei" is the same as what you are referring to when you say that you are living in the present? forestofemptiness: Thanks for your thoughts. I personally have heard Taoism with and without the idea of rebirth as well and was wondering what members of these boards think about the issue. My reading of the TTC also points to eliminating attachments but sometimes I get the impression that some Taoists become attached to certain types of energy work, Tai Chi, internal alchemy practices, etc. Of course many of these methods are worthwhile for mind/body/spirit development, but I suppose the lesson is that they are tools or "rafts" as 3bob stated. 3bob: I appreciate the words of Buddhist caution. Is what you are referring to the practice or meditation of "killing the Buddha" (which I've heard about from Zen Buddhists)? durkhrod chogori: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with your individualistic ideas regarding spiritual development. I've recently just finished Krishnamurti's "This Light in Oneself" and I completely agree that one's own spiritual and meditative experiences are individually experienced. However, in writing this, I realize that I may indeed be falling into a duality trap (the type that I talked about above in my response to Stigweard). Would you agree with this assessment? This is a struggle for me personally--how to maintain an individualist view of spirituality while at the same time realizing that all things are one in the Tao? Any insights you have on this would be greatly appreciated. de_paradise: I agree that the language "offerings for all sentient beings" does seem a bit stilted and pedestrian. I am wondering if you think a more emotional response would be appropriate? If so, do you think this would make it more difficult to avoid attachment? I am thinking that if I were to reflect on suffering around the world when making a sacrifice, I could certainly become more emotional, but might I also run the risk of becoming attached to the sacrifice itself? Also, there is a chance that I could be completely missing the point of what you were saying--if that is the case I apologize and hope that you will clear things up for me. innerspace_cadet: I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of other religions as well. I had never heard the phrase about the greatest warrior conquering oneself, but that makes a lot of senses. Lucky7Strikes: Thanks for clarifying this. I had never really considered this distinction as deeply as I should have. Cultivation practices that I have engaged in have always on some level been about cultivating the self--but as you point out this seems like a misplaced emphasis. Cultivation of being indeed seems to be cultivation without center. baiqi: Death and rebirth appear true and empirically this is the case. I am curious to know if you think the spirit (Shen as it is sometime called) continues after death? Everyone: My friends, thank you for sharing your wisdom and responses with a poor seeker like me. Your answers have been very helpful and give me much to think about. With sincere thanks, Birch Tree
  4. Question for Taoists and Buddhists

    ralis: Ok, I think I may have missed the point you were getting at but let me try again. I've thought about what you said and I am wondering if you were referring to a question of epistemology. I made the claim in my original post that empirically we can observe the "ten thousand things" and see that they are not permanent. But if I am reading what you are saying correctly, you are cautioning against leaning too hard on one's own empirical observations. However, your final line suggests that you also believe in the impermanence of the "ten thousand things" ("...the only absolute is change."). Athanor: Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate your explanation of selfish-selflessness--this helps a lot. If you don't mind my asking, do you suppose a person who makes offerings for the benefit of all sentient beings creates "good karma" (or gets rid of "bad karma") for themselves? If so, would this in turn give them a better chance at a favorable rebirth (or help them in some way toward enlightenment)? Also, I am wondering if such an offering would help others gain favorable rebirths (or help them toward enlightenment in some way)? I am curious to know your thoughts on these matters. Thank you both for taking the time to consider my questions and to help further my understanding. Sincerely, Birch Tree
  5. Question for Taoists and Buddhists

    Hi ralis, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I personally have come to see Jiddu Krishnamurti's view of meditation and insight as informative--which fits with your assertion that the individual defines the experience, subjective as that experience may be. I am not sure what you mean about the stories. I apologize in that I am unfamiliar with the story of the discussion between a God and Buddha. Generally speaking, I am not a "literalist" in my interpretation of texts like the Pali canon, and also I currently have no physical teacher other than myself and the world. This is also in keeping with Krishnamurti's idea of meditation and insight, but I would like to save a discussion of Krishnamurti for another time unless you (or others) think it relevant in the current context. If you are willing to share some more of your time, I would welcome further explanation on the God-Buddha story you are referring to and how it connects to the questions I posed in my original post. Peace ralis, Birch Tree
  6. Hello friends, I would welcome your thoughts on a couple of things that I have been thinking about. First of all, I have been reading selections of the Pali Canon (an English translation). At any rate, I have been struck by a couple of things as I have been reading. First of all, I have been thinking about the Buddhist idea of impermanence. I find this idea to be quite appealing as empirically it seems that all things in this world are indeed impermanent. Thus, severing attachment to these things also appears to be spiritually and psychologically beneficial. I like this idea quite a bit and I've been thinking about it from a Taoist point of view. From my own personal readings, it does not appear that this idea is inconsistent with Taoist precepts. The Tao is unknown to us, but the manifestations that flow from the Tao (the "ten thousand things") are temporary, are they not? If this is true, then does it not follow that Taoist would also find refuge in the severing of attachments to the "ten thousand things"? Secondly, I am curious what some of my fellow Taoists think about karma and rebirth. Obviously these are central ideas in Buddhism, but I am curious to know what others think about these things. Lastly, I have a question for my Buddhist friends on these boards. As I have been reading these selections from the Pali Canon, I have a question that I ask in all seriousness about Buddhism: Is there a tension between the self-interest in attaining nirvana (enlightenment) and offerings for the benefit of all sentient beings? Let me explain what I mean by this question with an example: Suppose I just finished meditating and doing some mantras on my mala and I offer this up for the benefit of all sentient beings (which from what I can tell seems to be a fairly standard thing to do among Buddhists). Now to my question: why would someone do this--why offer for the benefit of all sentient beings? Obviously the pure of heart would do it out of love for others and I get that. However, I have also heard that doing this generates positivity for the practitioner and aids them on their journey to enlightenment (quite possibly through favorable rebirths). So is the idea to help oneself by helping others? Or is it merely an afterthought that one might actually help him/herself by offering for the benefit of all sentient beings? OR is this a way to get less developed practitioners into the habit of thinking about helping others? I also recognize that I could be way off on all of this as well and I implore your patience with me. My friends, I hope you will aid me by sharing your thoughts and wisdom on these matters as I try to clear up these questions in my own mind. I ask these questions in all seriousness and humility as I continue on my own spiritual journey. Peace and thanks, Birch Tree
  7. I would probably sit quietly with them.
  8. Today I tried to live simply and frugally

    The best advice I can give you is don't be discouraged. Just because you went back to the habits you want to break doesn't mean that the day was a failure. No doubt you have learned something about yourself from yesterday's experience. You can use that knowledge to help govern your actions today and tomorrow. Also, the first step is often one of the most difficult--that being a true desire to change. Concentrate on purifying your desire for self-improvement and desirable behavior will follow in time. Don't be discouraged even you revert back to your bad habits from time-to-time. If your desire to change is true, and your struggle is honest, then each day is a success (no matter how the day went). Hang in there!
  9. My experience with Chunyi Lin

    I just finished Level 2 of SFQ and plan to take the level 3 class with him the next time it is offered.
  10. Magic?

    Steve f is right--which is why Magik is not limited to any one belief system.
  11. Magic?

    Hi Spirit Ape, Before I became a Taoist, I practiced Wicca. I was a solitary practitioner and practiced what is known as "low Magik" or "kitchen Magik". Basically, this is the creation of Magik through the use of intention with very limited use of tools and/or ritual ("high Magik" is very ritualistic but is generally not any more or less effective). When casting, I did do some basic ritual like casting the circle three times. Also, I did have a book of shadows (which I still have) as well as a wand and a couple of other items but I kept it pretty simple. However, I avoided entering a coven as there are pros and cons when it comes to coven practice, and for me at the time the cons outweighed the pros. As for the Magik itself, I myself did not cast many spells, but the few that I did cast were very effective. It is important if you are going to practice Wicca that you do so with pure intention. Your Magik should not do anything to harm anyone else nor should you try to use Magik to influence or curtail the free will of others. Love spells and stuff like this are generally not a good idea as they have a way of backfiring on you. Also, I avoided summoning spells--I didn't want to summon something that I couldn't get rid of. If you cast spells for the benefit of others--that is for the best. You can cast generic spells of protection for yourself--that is generally ok to do. For the most part, my time practicing Wicca taught me to be more selfless and considerate of others. If you are serious about getting into Wicca, I would recommend starting out by buying a set of Tarot cards. Cast a cleansing spell on the Tarot cards each time you read them (use a Celtic Cross tableau to start--it is simple enough) and don't read for anyone other than yourself or friends and family whom you trust. The cards will absorb the energy of those you read for, so if you read for individuals who harbor ill will in their heart, your cards will begin to take on that kind of energy and will provide deceptive readings. Positive energy and good thoughts will help your Tarot deck stay true and clear (providing trustworthy readings). Having said all of this, I myself have left all of this behind. I do not practice Wicca or Magik to any appreciable extent anymore since I have become Taoist (though I may still read Tarot on rare occasion). The best advice I can give you is don't be afraid of the unknown. Give it a try and see if it is right for you. If it is, that's great--if not then at least you know that and can go forward from there. I hope this helps you on your journey. Sincerely, Birch Tree Edit: Typos.
  12. .

    Hi everyone, I have been practicing the techniques in Taoist Yoga for a little while now--I've had some pretty intense energy experiences but nothing yet that I would consider dangerous. I'm past chapter 1 and to the point where I get spontaneous MCO energy movement and when I practice the MCO I have energy moving up and down my front and back simultaneously. I sometimes feel energy emit in what feels like a concentrated way from my face and head at seemingly random times during the day and that feeling gets more pronounced and regular when I do sitting meditation. I'm not sure if this is to be expected or not. That is all I can offer. I am sorry that I can't say definitively that the techniques in Taoist Yoga are safe or dangerous. Also, something to ponder: It seems there is some similarity between the method of turning the light around in Cleary's translation of the Secrets of the Golden Flower and Taoist Yoga (chapter 1 in particular). Anyone else noticed this? Sincerely, Birch Tree
  13. Death

    Hi Seth, I wish you strength and peace during this difficult time. There is something about being there that is important--it is healing in some way. Your father seems like a remarkable person. I wish you and your family well during this time of sorrow. Sincerely, Birch Tree
  14. Auras and your experience with them

    Hey sister! Yes, you are right--all of the mice died after I cast that spell...14 died that same night and the other 8 died by the end of the week. I'm sure I'll be paying for that in my next life. I did do an offering of apology to the mice, so maybe that will burn a little of my bad karma. As for your binding of your manager, I wouldn't see it as restricting his freedom any. Like you said, he's like an energy vampire that feeds on negativity--you don't want him feeding of your energy--that's just going to lead to him having a greater ability to feed off the energy of others and cause more harm. Indeed, I can't see that there is any harm in keeping that proverbial clove of garlic (binding spell) around your neck when you are around him. If you think about it, he still has the freedom to wreak havoc on the staff and if he has enough energy to overcome your binding (it is doubtful that he does) he still could possibly unleash his fury on you--your binding spell is just making it so he has to swim against the current if he wants to try to torment you. No freedom is lost, you've just made it much more difficult for him to feed off your energy. I'll try to call you later tonight. I've been having some interesting third-eye experiences and would like to talk with you about them. Don't worry, I won't call during ghost hunters. Later sis! Birch Tree
  15. Auras and your experience with them

    Tree04: Hey sis, I can't remember--do you work tomorrow night? If not, I'll try to give you a call. Birch Tree