Seeker of Wisdom

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Everything posted by Seeker of Wisdom

  1. Chundi mantra

    I've started using the zhunti mantra. "NAMO SAPTANAM SAMYAKSAMBUDDHA KOTINAM. TADYATHA: OM! CALE, CULE, CUNDI SVAHA!" So far I'm seeing some effect in my heart and 3rd eye chakras, this mantra is good stuff. Bill Bodri says: Is there anyone here who's recited this for a while - if so, what is your personal experience?
  2. Stream entry, pleasant feeling

    Hi there! It sounds like you're following the method of Leigh Brasington? Personally I've found his method very helpful and have entered first jhana as he teaches it*. if you haven't read his book 'Right Concentration', I would definitely advise you to do so. (*Some people disagree with his methods and/or state that what he teaches is not 'true' jhana. This debate is essentially the debate between 'sutta jhana' and 'visuddhimagga jhana', which has been going on for a thousand years and will not be resolved in this thread, so I'll just say that I think Brasington is a good guide for some very useful attainments and leave it at that.) From the title of this thread you seem to be conflating the jhanas with stream entry a bit. One can be a master of the jhanas and not be a stream entrant, not be trying to become a stream entrant, have no idea that stream entry is a thing. The pleasure one experiences in access concentration does not come about from thinking of an experience or from trying to create pleasure! Brasington mentions that some people may find that smiling helps them to tune in to the pleasure. If you don't find this helpful, don't do it. Pleasure will come about as a natural result of access concentration, with your mind being calm and clear and settled. Once you have access concentration, nothing else is needed to cause pleasure to come - in fact, trying to cause it will push it away. Why? Because then you're not resting your focus on an object without clinging. If you're trying to get something, your mind won't be calm/clear/settled so the pleasure won't come. The pleasure of access concentration is mild but noticeable (you won't be in doubt about it). The mental pleasure is a peace and happiness sort of like waking up on a sunny Sunday morning. The physical sensation can vary but is basically a nice energetic sensation - nothing mind-blowing. To enter the first jhana, stop watching the breath and instead watch the pleasure - just watch it like you watched the breath, don't try to increase it or manipulate it. It will pick up and take you into the first jhana, which is like access concentration but with deeper focus, and rapture and joy (stronger forms of the access concentration pleasure). This is very pleasant and obvious, though perhaps not as dramatic as you may be imagining it. What is the 'darkness with no thought'? Are you sure there's absolutely no thought? For how long can you sustain this? It sounds like you might be suppressing your thoughts, using a very forceful type of concentration - if this is the case, you really need to loosen up. Relax. Soak into the breath, watch it come in and out, whenever you're distracted don't clench down or push away anything, instead gently let go and return to the breath. I'm sure you'll be able to enter access concentration and the first jhana. I managed it after ~6 years, so don't worry that you aren't there yet after 3. In fact, don't worry too much about the attainment. Go into each session with an attitude of beginner's mind.
  3. No-Self? Who or what is reborn?

    True, but it is stated that all views of self are a cause for dukkha. Attachment to views of self is listed as one of the four fundamental forms of attachment, and belief in a self is said to be one of the fetters cut by a stream-entrant. As Ralpola Rahula says:
  4. No-Self? Who or what is reborn?

    My understanding is that, the question as you're framing it is sort of the wrong approach. To ask 'what is reborn?' is to rely on an underlying concept that there must be one lasting object that gets reborn. Like asking 'why did you beat your wife?' relies on the assumption that you did. A person is basically a process. Rather than a single object (or subject) persisting through time, each of us is a process. Compare fire burning along a rope to a stone rolling down a hill. The stone is a single, substantial object, it's the same stone at the bottom as it was at the top. The fire... well, we can say that the fire at the start and the fire at the end of the rope is the same fire, because there's casual continuity there. But it's not the same flame at one point and the next. The process has continued, the parts have changed. So let's ask a different question: 'what goes to sleep, and what wakes up in the morning?' Well, the process has continued overnight. What goes from last night to this morning? I'd say there isn't a thing that goes from last night to this morning... it's just that the process of 'you' has continued. Now imagine a fire burning along a rope, reaching the end of one rope, and igniting a new one and carrying on. What goes from one rope to the next? Misguided question. It's a process of combustion continuing, except some component parts have changed. There isn't a thing that goes from one to the other. I think your confusion is that you're imagining rebirth as something like pouring water from one glass into a new one, where the water is an object quite simply going from one vessel to the next - and naturally this doesn't square with anatta. Hopefully I've made sense, and you see what I mean about how fire burning from one rope to the next is a different situation.
  5. Awareness is exhausting!

    Sometimes this can be the sort of thing that's supposed to happen... as you gain clarity about the simple reality of things, it can rub up against your concepts and attachments, and make you more sensitive to your own resistance and the existential strain (dukkha) caused by that resistance. If this is the case - no problem, keep up the practice, be patient and just watch whatever comes up. It could also be the case that you're just tensing up or straining yourself, in which case you'd need to loosen up. Just be gently curious about what's going on, rather than trying to stare it down.
  6. What is Dalai Lama doing?

    From that wikipedia page: I lack the knowledge or experience to comment on Kalachakra, though I will add that I find it hard to imagine the Dalai Lama trying to make an army.
  7. Detachment and immersion

    Often one way people compare paths is by whether they aim at detachment from the world, or a full engagement/immersion in the world and its cycles. But I've been thinking, this could be a false dichotomy. It depends exactly what you mean by 'detachment'. One way to 'detach' is to leave behind the world. Drop all this for something transcendent which can only be experienced in the absence of everything making up the world. But another way is to drop a certain way of relating to the world, detaching from views and cravings towards the world. And this seems to actually imply a deeper immersion in the world as it truly is, since self-made perceptual or conceptual barriers have been removed. Thoughts?
  8. Detachment and immersion

    I wouldn't say we should, but it's a working hypothesis which fits into the rest of the Buddhist path. At the beginning anatta may make no sense whatsoever - that's fine, in that case just be open to it. Over time ime it becomes increasingly apparent that 'why should I blindly believe in self?' (I haven't had actual realization of anatta yet, but it just seems straightforward that it's true) Subjective experience is the key thing to deal with here... any conscious, conceptual idea we have about 'self' comes after the instinctive grasping onto some aspect of experience as 'self', which is why any attempt to 'get rid of' the view of self without seeing experience as it actually is clearly (in the seen just the seen, etc) doesn't succeed. So long as experience isn't seen clearly, the mind will construct a 'self' regardless, and trying to convince it that it's mistaken just through thinking about it is like trying to run away from your shadow. Trying to just believe in anatta will not produce the necessary direct understanding imho (and could end up in depersonalisation/derealisation if misunderstood) though reflecting on it definitely does help you see it as a reasonable working hypothesis, which makes it easier to go on to see directly. Exactly, it takes a method like vipassana... you have to 'come and see'.
  9. Is the way to heaven through hell?

    Some 'dark night of the soul' idea seems to come up in various paths. It makes sense, in any attempt to change things there must be some inertia, and when one's sense of identity comes into question it can be uncomfortable. I've had times of a few hours or days when negative emotion is bubbling up seemingly without reason, or during vipassana the insubstantial-ness of 'selfhood' feels a bit scary or creepy. Dan Ingram:
  10. Dhp 153 - 154

    Here's now Gil Fronsdal translates these verses: In the notes, he comments: I think one of the most interesting things here is that the house-builder, craving, is stopped through being seen. In the suttas, Mara is often dispelled when people say 'I see you, Mara,' and he vanishes. IMHO craving is stopped not by force of will to let go, but by seeing it, understanding it, getting the mind to see that it causes dukkha and so freely let it go. Craving relies on our ignorance of what it's really doing.
  11. Night Will Fall

    I'm not saying that that passage is a perfect understanding. And I don't think Nanavira would have said so either, it was just the start of his path. Him seeing life as meaningless lead him to start to understand why the Buddha was all about dukkha (of course, you're right that this doesn't mean just 'suffering'), its cause, its cessation, and the way to its cessation. That is meaningful, and compassion absolutely comes in here as well. IMHO there is a middle way here, between the falling night and rising dawn. Best wishes, Orion.
  12. Night Will Fall

    A person is just a bunch of processes, but just because 'substantialist' ideas are wrong doesn't mean nihilist ideas are right. You can see people as important (to you and to themselves) at the same time as seeing them as a bundle of narratives. I would argue that the desire for wellbeing, in various forms, is a key component to all these bundles of narratives walking around in the world. And it's that same desire which prompted you to bother posting this thread, to an extent. I think there's something significant in that. Even the most nihilistic person imaginable holds to their philosophy because they think they get some benefit from it, so their philosophy contradicts itself. 'There is no meaning, so I'll spend all my time thinking about it and trying to convince others of it' - see how that's absurd? How about 'there is no meaning (to the universe), but I can't do anything without it being related to this 'wellbeing' thread anyway, so let's investigate that'? Yeah, the universe doesn't give a shit. But just because nothing matters to the universe doesn't mean things can't matter to you. Things will in fact matter to you regardless (though what things and in what way may well change). If there's no goal, why did you post this thread? Why abide in any given moment? What do you want to do with your freedom? I'm not sure what you mean by 'it', but in any case, I don't think the answer is to swing back into a substantialist lie like 'oh there actually is a soul and it's inherently meaningful in a cosmic way and permanent and special' whatever. The abyss is showing you a side of things people shy away from, and I think you really have the opportunity to go somewhere from here without denying its lessons. When I read your post, I thought of this quote from Nanavira Thera's Clearing the Path:
  13. where to start ?

    You might find my post thoughts for beginners helpful. I would suggest to focus on getting to grips with Theravada - without it, you likely won't fully appreciate where Mahayana and Vajrayana pov's and practices are coming from. So basically, learn about the Four Noble Truths, 8fold Path/Three Trainings, Three Characteristics (especially anatta, which trips people up in the start) and get used to doing some shamatha and vipassana before you really look into stuff like emptiness, Buddha-nature, tantra... I haven't read it properly myself, but I hear good things about What the Buddha Taught as an introduction. This translation of the Dhammapada is solid, and the introduction is a quite good intro to Buddhism. (Gil Fronsdal also has a great translation of this text.) In terms of practice, a great place to get started imo is with a shamatha practice such as mindfulness of breathing. Here's a practical guide for getting started on that. (I'd also recommend looking into Leigh Brasington). It's a practice which is easy to get started with and relaxing, but really develops you, goes to profound places in itself, and builds an important foundation for other practices. (Later on, when you feel you've got good shamatha skills, look to Daniel Ingram for vipassana). Best wishes in your toe-dipping!
  14. No, learning to still the mind is part of the 8fold path as 'right concentration'. The Buddha talked about jhanas and advocated becoming skilled in them a great deal, as they are beneficial states and help prepare the mind for wisdom. But in themselves they don't bring awakening. Awakening comes through wisdom. If you just sit in jhana all the time, and never use your strengthened mind to gain wisdom, it's like getting in a ferrari and then... just sitting there. Zen state? I'm no expert on Zen, but I wouldn't say it's just about having a state where your mind is still. Or any state in particular. States are just states, they come and go - wisdom is seeing them as they are, whatever they might be. Not well suited for cultivation. I can imagine someone wanting to be the formless realm for a sort of long holiday, but why would you want to be an animal? Would you choose to lose most of your understanding and ability to reflect on things; to be a predator or prey? Getting your ferrari ready, and then actually driving somewhere. Get skilled in jhana, and then use your strong mind in vipassana to gain wisdom to progress on the path.
  15. What is a Buddha?

    If you're just starting to learn what Buddhism is about, perhaps you'll find these tips helpful:
  16. Jivanmuktas and Bodhisattvas

    So in Buddhism there's two main branches of meditation - shamatha (for training the mind to be clear/concentrated/calm/etc) and vipassana (for gaining insight into the four noble truths). Both are necessary: shamatha (as well as being great in itself) makes the mind better suited to doing vipassana well. Shamatha basically involves placing attention on an object such as the breath, and bringing it back when it wanders. In vipassana, you observe experience closely and objectively. Moment-to-moment, what's going on? Really it's incredibly simple, so simple it might seem pointless, though it's not always easy. As you investigate (by looking, not intellectual reasoning) you see that things are impermanent, arising and ceasing rapidly. You see that things are not self, or owned by one. You can get to see the four noble truths. One method of vipassana which is fairly popular is 'noting', where you apply a short label to things to help you see them in the most objective, simple sort of way, without spinning any extra ideas. Hear a sound - 'hearing'. Headache - 'pain'. Feel bored and frustrated and want to do something else - 'boredom', 'desire'.
  17. Jivanmuktas and Bodhisattvas

    Yeah the Buddha was called Siddhartha Gautama. He practiced (shamatha - concentration) meditation until he mastered advanced states of mind, the jhanas. He didn't become awakened, so then he tried harsh austerities instead. After giving up that (deciding on a 'middle way'), he combined concentration meditation with a new approach, vipassana (insight) meditation. Insight meditation showed him the four noble truths, and concentration meditation made his mind sharp enough to do that. I think you mean 'four noble truths', the last of which is the eightfold path. The Buddha did not create these, they are intrinsic to the way experience works - he discovered them. He wasn't necessarily the first being anywhere ever to discover them, nor did he claim to be. 'Buddhism' wouldn't exist without the Buddha, but that which it describes (Dharma) would still be true. Someone else could've found the exact same things, and used different terminology and expressed themselves differently.
  18. Generally true. There is something to be said for not being hasty to claim things or showing off, but that has swung so far now that it's become sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy where people exaggerate how high various attainments are and how impossible it is to achieve them, and thus don't achieve them. The Pragmatic Dharma folks have a better attitude about these things.
  19. Jivanmuktas and Bodhisattvas

    Haven't read it, but judging by parts of the wikipedia summary: "Siddhartha does not follow, claiming that the Buddha's philosophy, though supremely wise, does not account for the necessarily distinct experiences of each person. [...] Siddhartha realizes that time is an illusion and that all of his feelings and experiences, even those of suffering, are part of a great and ultimately jubilant fellowship of all things connected in the cyclical unity of nature. [...] Siddhartha replies that for every true statement there is an opposite one that is also true; [...] Siddhartha simply urges people to identify and love the world in its completeness." -Siddhartha from the book isn't Siddhartha Gotama (the Buddha). They are different people with different understandings. -Buddhism deals with the fundamental structures of experience, so while people do have distinct experiences and need to adjust their practice accordingly, all experience follows the same framework (as ice and steam and water are all H2O). -Whether or not time, as a metaphysical thing, is an illusion, is irrelevant. The experience of things arising, changing and ceasing is real. -'Ultimately jubilant fellowship of all things' contradicts the first noble truth. -The opposite of a true statement is false. -Loving sentient beings is good, but 'loving the world in its completeness' sounds like attachment to an idea of a mystical Absolute sort of thing. By all accounts it's a cool book, but I wouldn't consider it Buddhist teaching.
  20. Looking for a Practice

    I'd suggest mindfulness of breathing... a profound practice in itself, and sets a foundation for anything else you might want to do. Here's a good guide to get started:
  21. Emotions and the skandha's

    Yes, emotion is elaborated from feeling. For example the exact same situation could cause many people to have the same type of feeling, but based on their differing life histories and way of thinking and so on they could all have a subtly or not-so-subtly different emotional response. Well the sound itself is just sound. Other factors lead to a certain feeling in response, further factors elaborate that into the emotion. Emotions, like everything else, arise from a complex interplay. Certainly attachment and aversion have roles. All this is just how I see the idea of the skandhas. I can't see quite where your book is coming from on this. Bhikkhu Bodhi also seems to say that emotion involves the forth skandha: I don't see how emotions not arising from conditioning could even be a thing.
  22. Emotions and the skandha's

    Hi, new member! My understanding - the second skandha, vedana (feeling - positive/negative/neutral), refers to something more basic than emotion. It's the immediate liking/disliking/indifference that comes before or alongside the emotion, which is more complex. Emotion is an aspect of the fourth skandha. For example, you hear someone say something unpleasant about you and the process is something like this (numbers = skandhas 1-5): Sound enters ear[1] and ear consciousness arises[5]. The sounds are perceived as words and understood[3, 4]. Negative feeling[2]. Depending on interpretations based on who is talking and the wider social context[4] there may be emotions of sadness or anger or embarrassment, etc[4]. Hopefully that makes things clearer? Though a more important point imo is to bear in mind the purpose for this teaching about the skandhas. The idea isn't to give the one and only way you can put all the stuff that makes a person in different categories. There are lots of ways you could do that. The simplest way would be to use just two categories: 'physical' and 'mental'. Or you could think up as many categories as you wanted. This set of 5 is just a way to be comprehensive but not ridiculously complicated. It doesn't matter as such whether a particular thing is this skandha or that skandha. This is just to help us understand anatta - it makes it easier to see that we are a bunch of processes, and all these processes interacting account for our entire being - without there being any central 'self' or 'perceiver' or 'subject' independent from the rest. As the Buddha says to Bahiya:
  23. Advice for Mindfulness

    It helps to stay mindful if you approach it with a mood of investigation... for example, get curious about the impermanence of everything you're experiencing. The experience of breathing can be broken down into many pulses of air, muscular movements, all really rapidly arising and passing. Each thought - many pulses of mental experience. Same with everything! Does anything last for over a moment? Be curious, try to get to know firsthand how experience works in a nonconceptual, direct, moment-to-moment way. Hope that helps. Welcome to the DB's.
  24. I've been into this stuff for roughly 6 years now. So far I've changed a fair bit and came to see things very differently - partly from just life, of course, but also very much through this path. The first year or two were very interesting and challenging times as I tried to figure things out, adjusting to ideas and practices I'd never encountered before and often found very confusing at first. Looking back on those first steps, here's some of the things that might have helped me find my bearings quicker. If you're starting to be interested in Buddhism, maybe you'll find this helpful. Starting meditation. There are various options for where to start. IMO the most important thing for a beginner is to learn to relax, and make practice a habit. This has all you need to get a shamatha practice going: Better 15-20 minutes every day then an hour intermittently. There's no rush. Don't think you're a failure for being 'bad' at this. Meditation is the process of training your mind to be more focused than before. Someone who wanders into a gym for the first time and can't lift like a bodybuilder hasn't 'failed'. Saying 'I can't meditate, I'm too distracted' is a fundamental misunderstanding of the process. The whole point of going to the gym is to get stronger. So what you can't lift twice your body weight yet? Do the practice each day, enjoy it, and see how your mind changes. Try to resist the urge to switch practices too much, or think 'oh this looks cool', 'wait this seems more advanced', 'oh actually this one'... You'll want to try out different things until you find your groove, but give a practice at least 40 days. And don't think that there's some practice out there that fits you perfectly and will make you instantly a Buddha. Focus on the foundation. When I first started looking into these things, I tried to learn everything at once. In retrospect, it's much better to leave emptiness and Buddha-nature and so on to the side until you have a reasonable understanding of the basics underpinning them. Focus primarily [not saying it has to be exclusively] on Theravada/the first turning for a while. Right now I find 'the basics' suit me fine anyway, and others who do practice Zen or Vajrayana or whatever will tell you to learn and respect the first turning anyway. There's no rush to understand everything - get your foundation. Nobody is going to make you sit an exam in two weeks. Learn about the Four Noble Truths. Does 'dukkha' really mean 'suffering', or something more sophisticated than that? What is dependent origination? Are 'craving' and 'desire' the same thing? What is 'sense craving', 'craving for being', 'craving for nonbeing'? It's important to resolve any doubts you have about anatta (you've probably misunderstood something). Why is "what gets reborn" a misguided question? How does all the theory tie together and link to practice? Ask people questions! Translations and reading. If you're reading an old - or even a modern - text, it's using English to get across the meaning as well as possible, and it won't be 100%. There often aren't exact English equivalents for key terms. A lot of people get thrown off by 'suffering', not realizing that this isn't an ideal translation for 'dukkha' because English doesn't have an equivalent word. It can be a good idea to check alternate translations sometimes, and look up the original terms. At some point you'll probably want to read the Dhammapada. For some reason there are really bad high-selling translations out there which really twist the meaning. Two excellent translations are Acharya Buddharakkhita's and Gil Fronsdal's. Go only for translations by practicing Buddhists who know Pali. When it comes to the rest of the Pali Canon, you only really need the suttas: IMHO, the abidhamma and commentaries are more trouble than they're worth. When it comes to modern writing, I recommend Ven. Thanissaro, Leigh Brasington and Daniel Ingram. Assumptions to watch out for. You almost certainly carry a lot of preconceptions from pop culture's version of Buddhism and from your own ideas about all sorts of topics. Many of them are so ingrained that you don't know they're there or think that they're just obviously true. For example, when I first looked into Buddhism I took 'no-self' to mean 'no individual self because we are all one' and 'dependent origination' to mean 'because everything is connected we should identify with the whole' - essentially 'there must be a self really' and 'a spiritual tradition must have some sort of ontological absolute'. Reading, asking questions, and most importantly doing practice will gradually set this straight. Be open-minded, curious and skeptical. You will often assume that you understand something fully, or think 'well this is just saying an obvious thing everyone knows', and then over the next few years come to see whole new angles and depths. Phenomenology. I.e. this is primarily about first-person experience [phenomena], not the nature of external reality. This principle will help you understand why Buddha rejected certain questions, like the origin of the universe, as fundamentally beside the point. It will also help you see the theory in a much deeper and more practical light. For example, instead of seeing impermanence in terms like 'someday the sun will run out of hydrogen' or 'the seasons change', see it in terms like 'this itch on my elbow is actually made of many brief flashing sensations'. If you can see impermanence like that, you'll gain the level of insight needed to awaken. I spent a lot of time confusing myself trying to figure out how the mind relates to the body. It took me a long time before I thought to ask myself what I was really hoping to get out of that. Practice > intellect. I'm not saying that intellectual understanding doesn't matter at all - a lot of the advice here is about it. Your intellectual understanding helps prevent you completely getting the wrong end of the stick, guides your practice, clears false ideas and doubts out of the way, and gives you confidence. This is all important, but you can't think your way to awakening. If you find yourself getting stressed about whether X or Y is true, or stressed about a doubt you have over some arcane bit of doctrine that you don't know how to apply to practice anyway, maybe leave it aside, at least for a little while. If you find yourself just having to argue with someone on the internet, or defend yourself against someone arguing with you on the internet, take a breath, cultivate some metta, and let it go. You can do this! Don't put the jhanas and awakening in a magic box labelled 'someday, in a far-flung land of mystery and wonder'. A lot of people - past-me included - by default, without quite thinking about it, treat the attainments described in the texts as things that they don't expect to happen to them, not really. People meditate for 'calm' or 'clarity' or 'insight' - all well and good - but don't actually aspire to personally experience the jhanas or stream-entry. Which is a very strange thing, isn't it, because the Buddha wandered around for 40-odd years teaching people how to get awakened. Of course there is a sense in which trying to 'get' jhanas like they're trophies is spiritual materialism, and who 'gets' awakened anyway, yadda yadda yadda, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. You can do this! --- What do you wish someone had told you when you'd started out?
  25. The 'money' mantra

    IMHO this sounds like superstition hitched onto Buddhism to give it 'authority'... No different really from Christians deciding that there's something magical about the water at Lourdes. I think the basic question for anything claiming to be Dharma that feels 'off' is - does this, do the qualities involved here, foster virtue/concentration/wisdom? AN 7.79: