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Seeing, Recognising & Maintaining One's Enlightening Potential

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Definition of a Bodhisattva ~ Tai Situ Rinpoche

 

As for some further explanation of the term “bodhisattva”, its definition is very specific. Sometimes “bodhisattva” is misunderstood as simply meaning somebody who has concern for other sentient beings, and who cares for them. Although this is very good, and constitutes one of a bodhisattva’s ways of dealing with others, it does not make a person a bodhisattva. The defining characteristic of a bodhisattva is the development of bodhichitta, the wish to attain enlightenment in order to benefit beings; once this wish has arisen one becomes a bodhisattva.

 

When we like to give people food, clothing, and shelter, this is very good; a bodhisattva should do these things if it is the best he or she can do, but through such actions alone we will not become bodhisattvas. A bodhisattva is someone who is inspired by the aspiration to realize enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. This is bodhichitta, the characteristic of a bodhisattva. To understand this definition is quite important, as it describes somebody who is wise as opposed to someone who is a very good person but not necessarily enlightened. Thus, the definition of who is a bodhisattva is directly related to enlightenment, to buddhahood.

 

The Tibetan expression for bodhichitta is ‘jang chub kyi sem’. Here, ‘jang chub’ means “enlightenment”, and ‘sem’ means “mind”; ‘kyi’ is a particle indicating that “enlightenment” describes a type of “mind”. Thus the phrase means “mind of enlightenment”, or “mind focused on enlightenment”. The word for bodhisattva, ‘jang chub sem pa’, means one who has this ‘jang chub kyi sem’. The word for buddhahood also uses these terms: it is called ‘jang chub kyi go pang’, or “the state of enlightenment”. So all these are interrelated; in this way the term “bodhisattva” is totally connected with enlightenment.

 

 

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THE IMPORTANCE OF PRACTICE AND POTENTIAL HAZARDS

 

"Do not be content with just intellectual comprehension—take the teachings to heart. Recognize the Dzogchen view, and maintain it at all times with mindfulness. Do not succumb to habitual patterns; let all thoughts come and go. See everything as a dream, as a magical display. With this understanding, perform all of your activities with bodhichitta. If you practice like this, you’re on retreat even while you’re working in the big city.

 

There are two stages of practice. The first stage is called the “practitioner chasing meditation.” This means that in the beginning and for a considerable time afterward, a great deal of effort is required. Meditation does not come easily or naturally. Our habitual patterns are still strong, and practice requires continuous acts of will. But if we continue on this path with courage and commitment, we will certainly reach the second stage known as “meditation chasing the practitioner.” At that time, there will no longer be a need for effort—no more, “Oh, now I must meditate.” Now practitioner and practice have merged. Whether we’re walking, talking, sitting, or sleeping, we’ll always be unwaveringly in the meditation state. Even if we try, we won’t leave the meditation state. But until that time comes, we must exercise diligence. We must keep up our practices. We must continue to chase meditation until meditation catches us.

 

While we’re chasing meditation, progress will be made and some realization will come. But if we mistake this for the final attainment and discontinue our practice, whatever realization we have attained will be blown away like a rainbow the moment the stormy winds of habitual patterns return. The teachings say that we must maintain our practice with powerful, hook-like mindfulness until our realization is absolutely stable.""

 

~ Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind Dzogchen:
Lineage of the Great Master Shigpo Dudtsi (pg 177)

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"Shigpo Dudtsi speaks here of another possible hindrance for Dzogchen practitioners, known in Tibetan as Yadral ma. Yadral ma means “lonely or isolated meditation.” This occurs when you diligently cultivate nonduality, but forsake compassion. Your mind is strong, but you feel separate and distant. You might even become indifferent to the suffering of others. To avoid this problem, continue to generate bodhichitta. At the beginning of each practice session, say from the heart, “I am meditating for the welfare of all beings.” Then meditate on the true nature, with hook-like mindfulness. At the end of your meditation session, re-activate your bodhichitta and dedicate the merit, praying that all beings enjoy peace, happiness, and ultimately full realization. Guru Padmasambhava said, “Without compassion, the root of Dharma is rotten.” A rotten root cannot produce full, ripe fruit. Therefore, do not neglect bodhichitta. Continually integrate it with your Dzogchen meditation.

 

Here the great master Shigpo cautions us about yet another potential problem, which he calls “no ownership meditation,” or gom dagme ma in Tibetan. In this scenario, you received instructions, practiced well, and made some progress. But then you stop practicing. It’s as if your meditation suddenly becomes meaningless to you. Do not let this happen. It is important to complete what you started. Practice is precious, and the rewards of practice are profound. If you are ever tempted to stop, re-invigorate yourself by reflecting on the lives of the great masters who took their practice to completion. Also, do not use the excuse that there are outside forces that make practice impossible, because all external circumstances can be used for meditation. You yourself are the ultimate power who determines whether your practice develops or dissolves.

 

Shigpo Dudtsi also mentions the problem known in Tibetan as gom rejogma, which means “meditating once in a while.” This manifests in two ways. In the first way, we meditate regularly, but the power and integrity of our practice is inconsistent—it is strong in some sessions, and weak in others. In the second way, we practice very intermittently, either when the mood strikes, when the teacher is present, or on special days. The remedy for the first problem is simply to keep practicing. With joyful effort our practice will eventually become strong all the time. The remedy for the second problem is discipline. We should keep a regular, strong practice schedule that does not bend for mood swings and changing outer circumstances.

 

Shigpo Dudtsi teaches that the aim is gom khoryug ma, which means “meditation all the time,” or “continuous meditation.” Good practice in the day flows into the night; it even flows when we’re asleep. When day comes again and we rise, the practice continues. It keeps flowing and never stops. When we reach this level of practice, we are supreme yogis and yoginis. We will have attained what the Dzogchen tradition calls the “stage beyond effort,” and what the Mahamudra tradition calls the “no- meditation state.”

 

To get to this stage, we must continuously monitor ourselves. When our Dzogchen meditation becomes shaky, we should reinvigorate ourselves by accumulating merit. Every time we do something that benefits ourselves and others, whether a formal practice or an action in the relative world, we should re-activate our Dzogchen understanding. Towards the same end, some of us will find that the Tsalung and Tummo practices are very effective. There are many powerful practices that we can utilize. The essential point is to remain steadfast on the path until we attain complete realization."

 

~ Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind Dzogchen:
Lineage of the Great Master Shigpo Dudtsi (pg 178-179)

Edited by C T

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Ah, fortunate sons and disciples gathered here,
This body of ours is impermanent, 
Like a feather on a high mountain pass,
This mind of ours is empty and clear,
Like the depth of space.
Relax in that natural state,
Free of fabrication.
When mind is without any support,
That is Mahāmudrā.
Becoming familiar with this,
Blend your mind with it—
That is Buddhahood.

 

~ Extract taken from Machig Labdrön's final instructions

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When literature is taken to its highest level,
There is nothing particularly extraordinary about it:
It is simply appropriate.
When human character is developed to its fullest,
There is nothing particularly wonderful about it:
It is simply natural.

 

~ Hung Ying-ming

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Most of us experience a life full of wonderful moments and difficult moments. But for many of us, even when we are most joyful, there is fear behind our joy. We fear that this moment will end, that we won’t get what we need, that we will lose what we love, or that we will not be safe. Often, our biggest fear is the knowledge that one day our bodies will cease functioning. So even when we are surrounded by all the conditions for happiness, our joy is not complete.

 

We may think that if we ignore our fears, they’ll go away. But if we bury worries and anxieties in our consciousness, they continue to affect us and bring us more sorrow. We are very afraid of being powerless. But we have the power to look deeply at our fears, and then fear cannot control us. We can transform our fear. Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.

 

The first part of looking at our fear is just inviting it into our awareness without judgment. We just acknowledge gently that it is there. This brings a lot of relief already. Then, once our fear has calmed down, we can embrace it tenderly and look deeply into its roots, its sources. Understanding the origins of our anxieties and fears will help us let go of them. Is our fear coming from something that is happening right now or is it an old fear, a fear from when we were small that we’ve kept inside? When we practice inviting all our fears up, we become aware that we are still alive, that we still have many things to treasure and enjoy. If we are not pushing down and managing our fear, we can enjoy the sunshine, the fog, the air, and the water. If you can look deep into your fear and have a clear vision of it, then you really can live a life that is worthwhile.

 

The Buddha was a human being, and he also knew fear. But because he spent each day practicing mindfulness and looking closely at his fear, when confronted with the unknown, he was able to face it calmly and peacefully. There is a story about a time the Buddha was out walking and Angulimala, a notorious serial killer, came upon him. Angulimala shouted for the Buddha to stop, but the Buddha kept walking slowly and calmly. Angulimala caught up with him and demanded to know why he hadn’t stopped. The Buddha replied, “Angulimala, I stopped a long time ago. It is you who have not stopped.” He went on to explain, “I stopped committing acts that cause suffering to other living beings. All living beings want to live. All fear death. We must nurture a heart of compassion and protect the lives of all beings.” Startled, Angulimala asked to know more. By the end of the conversation, Angulimala vowed never again to commit violent acts and decided to become a monk.

 

How could the Buddha remain so calm and relaxed when faced with a murderer? This is an extreme example, but each of us faces our fears in one way or another every day. A daily practice of mindfulness can be of enormous help. Beginning with our breath, beginning with awareness, we are able to meet whatever comes our way.

 

Fearlessness is not only possible, it is the ultimate joy. When you touch nonfear, you are free. If I am ever in an airplane and the pilot announces that the plane is about to crash, I will practice mindful breathing. If you receive bad news, I hope you will do the same. But don’t wait for the critical moment to arrive before you start practicing to transform your fear and live mindfully. Nobody can give you fearlessness. Even if the Buddha were sitting right here next to you, he couldn't give it to you. You have to practice it and realize it yourself. If you make a habit of mindfulness practice, when difficulties arise, you will already know what to do.

 

- Thich Nhat Hanh

 
 
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Dissolving the Confusion 

 

'The true, real view is the indivisible unity of emptiness and compassion. Confusion arises when something seemingly is, but actually isn’t, like mistaking a rope for a snake. That is a clear mistake, because in reality the rope is not a snake, no way.

 

How do we actualize this view? We have a lot of thoughts, one after the other, involving the duality of subject and object. When the subject latches onto or grasps the object, that is what is normally called mind, the thinking mind. When there is this subject-object clinging, that creates karma. When karma is created, there is confusion.'

 

~ Tsoknyi Rinpoche

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Three limitless seeds of virtue
 

The three poisons continually arise in connection with three objects. Compulsive attachment arises for objects that are pleasant or useful; aversion arises for objects that are unpleasant or harmful; and stupidity or indifference for other objects. Recognize these poisons as soon as they arise. Then, for example, when attachment arises, think: "May every bit of every sentient beings' attachment be contained in this attachment of mine. May all sentient beings have the seed of virtue of being free of attachment. May this attachment of mine contain all their disturbing emotions and, until they attain buddhahood, may they be free of such disturbing emotions."

 

Aversion and other emotions are used in practice by working with them the same way. Thus, the three poisons become three limitless seeds of virtue.

 

~ Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

from the book "The Great Path of Awakening"

Edited by C T
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If you attain anything at all, it's conditional. It's karmic. It turns the Wheel. And as long as you're subject to birth and death, you'll never attain enlightenment. To attain enlightenment you have to see your nature. Unless you see your nature, all this talk about cause and effect is nonsense. Buddha's don't practice nonsense. A buddha is free of karma, free of cause and effect. To say he attains anything at all is to slander a buddha. What could he possibly attain? Even focusing on a mind, a power, an understanding, or a view is impossible for a buddha. A buddha isn't one-sided. The nature of his mind is basically empty, neither pure nor impure. He's free of practice and realization. He's free of cause and effect.

 

~ Bodhidharma

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He's free of cause and effect until he eats a piece of bad pork...

Bodhidharma was not referring to Shakyamuni, Tibetan Ice. Read it again. He said, "A buddha...". Leave the bad pork out of it. 

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Bodhidharma was not referring to Shakyamuni, Tibetan Ice. Read it again. He said, "A buddha...". Leave the bad pork out of it.

Are you saying that Shakyamuni wasn't a buddha?

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Are you saying that Shakyamuni wasn't a buddha?

Do all buddhas eat bad pork? 

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Do all buddhas eat bad pork?

Do all Chan masters claim that Buddhas are exempt from karma, exempt from cause and effect and then they get sick and die just like the rest of us?

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CT,

Why do you post quotes from contradictory schools, all claiming to know what the Buddha taught, all in their own terminology and perspective, when in actuality nobody really knows what the Buddha taught? You are starting to remind me of simple jack.

Don't you have one school or teacher that you follow? How is that going for you? Is it that you can't commit to one body of teachings or one set of practices? Or is your practice to dig up a bone a day and place it on your doorstep?

Edited by Tibetan_Ice

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CT,

Why do you post quotes from contradictory schools, all claiming to know what the Buddha taught, all in their own terminology and perspective, when in actuality nobody really knows what the Buddha taught? You are starting to remind me of simple jack.

Don't you have one school or teacher that you follow? How is that going for you? Is it that you can't commit to one body of teachings or one set of practices? Or is your practice to dig up a bone a day and place it on your doorstep?

Why is that a problem for you? Just concentrate on your own practice, and desist from critiquing stuff you dont even have any basic understanding about. 

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Do all Chan masters claim that Buddhas are exempt from karma, exempt from cause and effect and then they get sick and die just like the rest of us?

If you have nothing of substance to offer, why not refrain from offering your opinions? It would be to your best interest. 

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Why is that a problem for you? Just concentrate on your own practice, and desist from critiquing stuff you dont even have any basic understanding about.

Now you insult me and say I have no basic understanding.

Instead of posting a mishmash of quotes, tell me in your own words which Buddhist school is better.

Is Zen the best? Is confounding the mind, falsely posing as a master and making stuff up where it's at?

Did Buddha teach how to stop suffering and enter in Nibanna through right views, right practice, like the Theravada?

Is is true that Nibanna is the same as samsara, and that Dzogchen is right and Theravada is wrong?

Why do so many Buddhist schools have their own meaning of bodhicitta, buddhahood, enlightenment...etc etc etc

According to each Buddhist school, their own way is the best, the fastest, the surest. At some point you have to ask yourself, they can't all be the best. Can they?

So, CT, which is the best? Or are you still trying to figure that out?

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Now you insult me and say I have no basic understanding.

Instead of posting a mishmash of quotes, tell me in your own words which Buddhist school is better.

Is Zen the best? Is confounding the mind, falsely posing as a master and making stuff up where it's at?

Did Buddha teach how to stop suffering and enter in Nibanna through right views, right practice, like the Theravada?

Is is true that Nibanna is the same as samsara, and that Dzogchen is right and Theravada is wrong?

Why do so many Buddhist schools have their own meaning of bodhicitta, buddhahood, enlightenment...etc etc etc

According to each Buddhist school, their own way is the best, the fastest, the surest. At some point you have to ask yourself, they can't all be the best. Can they?

So, CT, which is the best? Or are you still trying to figure that out?

 

The fact that you ask these questions is proof that you dont hold and not even know what the supreme view is.

And your talk about mesmerizing experiences , views, lights and bullshit is all an ego trip.

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The fact that you ask these questions is proof that you dont hold and not even know what the supreme view is.

And your talk about mesmerizing experiences , views, lights and bullshit is all an ego trip.

Anderson, most of what you post on this forum is dull, uninspiring and negative. Why would I expect your post here to be any different?

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Moderation Message


 


This tit for tat my way is better than your way bickering, which has become standard practice in the Buddhist Discussion Section, adds nothing to the discussion and is boring to the extreme. Please keep to the topic and refrain from point scoring.


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My intentions are not to cause more bickering but I did find TI's argument interesting and it reminded me of this fact: The Buddha has been poisoned several times. Each time he lived. This is why some scholars say that he chose to enter nirvana at that time.

Edited by malikshreds

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When the state of sāmatha has been achieved our minds are able to concentrate on the object with great equanimity and perceive it exactly as it is without the least distortion. But this achievement does not mean that we have reached absolutely reality or have realized the ultimate truth of the phenomenon. We have to go much further if we want to arrive at that point. But what has been achieved is a power of mind, which can concentrate on an object with great equanimity. When sāmatha has been achieved the meditator can greatly reduce his efforts at concentration for the danger of scattering of the mind or slow sinking down of the mind has now been overcome. Also, once the meditator has gone through the process of harmonizing his mind and body he need no longer keep his powers of recollectedness and recognition on the alert. This can all be dropped because these disturbances will not occur again. Moreover, he will also find that no inconvenience, such as tiredness of the body stiffness in the legs, will arise while practicing meditation, for the body will have learned to adjust itself and will make no demands to be fed or to be exercised at a certain time. It is now capable of doing any work for any length of time.

 

The achievement of sāmatha is indeed a landmark in meditation. We must not forget however that it is not the ultimate goal; it is the point from which real meditation starts. Until its achievement we are only training our minds to concentrate without being disturbed by thought, or getting into the sinking condition. Eventually, the serious person perseveres with his meditation for the sake of meditation only and enters into the eight types of samādhi; that is to say the four types of rūpa samādhi and the four types of arūpa samādhi; it is a real luxury for the meditator to explore these different grades of samādhi. But let us not go too far ahead; let us stay with the meditator who has achieved sāmatha and who is about to explore the first stage of rūpa samādhi.

 

~ Prof. Samdong Rinpoche

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