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It's nearly New Years, and with New Years I usually reflect how I spent my year. The darkness of December also makes me naturally more contemplative and pensive. Brings out some darkness before the light shines brightly again in nature. Last night I was reminded of three years ago where I came across a picture of a book online entitled Vasistha's Yoga by Swami Venkatesananda. I read the first chapter and remember how the very first chapter on dispassion moved me very powerfully. I would like to discuss with anyone interested the importance (or lack thereof) of renunciation and seeing things for what they are. I believe in various traditions - the view of reality is different. For instance in Buddhism's "lower" or foundational vehicles like Theravada one is taught to see non-self and suffering in the five clinging categories with an emphasis on renunciation and dispassion. In the Mahayana vehicle, one is not only taught non-self but also about the nature of the great One Mind outside the five skandhas which is what, arguably, the prajnaparamita sutras are all pointing to as I see it. In Master Nan Huai Chin's words: "When the Hīnayāna speaks of no self, it is in reference to the manifest forms of presently existing life; the intent is to alert people to transcend this level, and attain Nirvāṇa. But when this flowed into the world of learning, especially when it was disseminated in the West, some people thought that the Buddhist idea of no self was nihilism and that it denied the soul, and they maintained that Buddhism is atheistic. This is really a joke."- Nan Huaijin. Working Toward Enlightenment: The Cultivation of Practice. pg.139 In the Vajrayana path and especially Dzogchen, the view is the most important - an emphasis on Mind alone and clear-seeing is paramount for the practice. In the prelimaries however, even in Vajrayana, the faults of samsara are explained and emphasised and I'd argue even to this day renunciation is still an important and vital part of the tradition with an emphasis on retreat and renunciation for genuine progress. One must not forget one of the crowning jewel's of the Tibetan tradition is the example set by the practictioner Milarepa himself - enlightenment in one lifetime. On towards the text itself, the Vasistha's Yoga, a text presented by Valmiki, the poet-sage - who is also said to have written the epic Ramayana; it is about the prince Rama's conversation with the sage Vasistha. In the first chapter entitled Dispassion, the prince is deeply moved and appears depressed and suffering in having realised the impermanence of the samsaric joys that are based on the body-mind's sense-impressions that are ultimately not-self, suffering and impermanent. In the first chapter here below, Rama explains in details what this realization entailed for him: That was super long, so apologies if you did not wish to read it all. I really enjoy this chapter and reflecting on prince Rama's words here. As this is the daobums, what do you think of his view of the world? True, false, exagerrated, neither? Is it important to be reminded of such a view to cultivate properly on the Way? Is the suffering one experiences in this world, or that which is part of the first noble truth, necessary for genuine spiritual progress to occur? Do we need to witness suffering in ourselves and in others to see the world for what it really is? Is dispassion the first step to genuine progress in these arts? Or is it something else? Perhaps curiosity or simply a joy of explorating what else there is? Let's discuss! And to everyone, I wish you a great New Years!