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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    Tidbits Almanac of the Ancients by TripleMoonGoddess News Briefs Op Ed Pearls of Wisdom by Astro Aeon Astro Care Symbols Seals Amulets Talismans The What in the World Department Trivia Life s Other Novel Moments Publisher s Corner General Information Advertising Information Opportunities The Directory Advertising Rates Premium Pages Groups 1 2 Display Advertising Rates The BookNook Advertising Rates About The Meta Arts Magazine Editorial Submission Information Contact Us Legal Notices Creating Bridges Spirituality Philosophy Spirituality in Daily Life Science Creation and Rebirth Part 1 of 4 by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron What is the relationship between Buddhism and science They have many points in common for example both depend on logic and investigation to ascertain the nature of phenomena Both discourage blind faith and encourage free inquiry on the part of the student Buddhism does not contradict current scientific theories about the origin of this universe or the physical evolution of the human species In fact His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that if scientific findings contradict what is written in Buddhist scriptures then Buddhists must accept that new information However if science cannot actively disprove what is stated in the scriptures there is no need to abandon that concept For example although scientists have not yet proven the existence of rebirth they have not been able to disprove it Both science and Buddhism use the theory of cause and effect to explain how things function Science investigates cause and effect as it functions in the physical material world whereas Buddhism explores it in terms of the mind Both emphasize the dependent nature of phenomena Things rely on causes the parts of which they are composed and the consciousness that observes and labels them Quantum physicists are becoming increasingly aware of the latter when doing experiments They recognize that the experimenter is not an independent entity who objectively observes external phenomena Rather he or she influences the results of an experiment simply by observing it This relates to the Buddha s teaching on the emptiness of inherent existence which emphasizes the dependent relationship between consciousness and the objects it perceives Many scientists believe it is impossible to find the smallest partless particles from which all matter is created Buddhism agrees that isolating these smallest independent particles is impossible Yet at meetings with scientists His Holiness the Dalai Lama has mentioned a dependently existing space particle which contains the potentials of all other elements in the universe What precisely is meant by space particle and how it relates to scientific theories and discoveries needs to be explored further The Buddhist concept of dependent arising can also be applied in the area of neurology where perception is seen not as an isolated phenomenon but as the coming together of various factors Just as scientists say it is impossible to set apart one particular cell or chemical electrical process that constitutes perception so Buddhists say that cognition is dependent on a variety of factors none of which constitutes perception in and of

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2007december/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    doesn t mean we wish for them to get everything that they want because lots of people want things that aren t good for them It doesn t mean if Osama Bin Laden wants weapons that we wish him to have more weapons that harm others That s not compassion that s stupidity Compassion wanting somebody to be free from suffering and love wishing them to have happiness don t mean that we necessarily want them to have what they want People can sometimes be incredibly confused and want things that are not good for them or for anybody else We could look at Osama Bin Laden see the pain in his heart and wish that he be free of that pain Whatever pain in him that s causing his hatred wouldn t it be wonderful if he were free from that Wouldn t it be wonderful if he had a peaceful mind Then he would have no need to harm anybody else in his confused attempt to be happy Wouldn t that be wonderful When we think this way repeatedly and work it into our meditations we discover that compassion is a more suitable response to harm than hatred is I really see this embodied in my teachers and especially in H H the Dalai Lama His Holiness was born in 1935 and in 1950 when he was only fifteen years old he was enthroned as the Fourteenth Dalai Lama because the Tibetans trusted him and wanted him to take political leadership of the country The Tibetans were having so many problems with the Chinese Communist so at fifteen he became the leader of his country Think about that remember what you were doing when you were fifteen How would you have felt having the responsibility of running a country and protecting other people Pretty amazing Then when he was twenty four years old in 1959 there was an uprising against the Communist Chinese and His Holiness had to disguise himself as a soldier sneak out of his accommodations and cross the Himalayan Mountains in March when it s really cold He went over the Himalayan Mountains into India and became a refugee It s very cold in Tibet so there aren t many viruses and bacteria there In contrast the Indian plain is hot and full of viruses and bacteria that cause illness Here he is twenty four years old and a refugee In addition he has to help tens of thousands of other Tibetan refugees I remember seeing a video of a reporter from the LA Times interviewing His Holiness She said to him You ve been a refugee since you were twenty four and there s been genocide and ecological devastation in your country You haven t been able to go back home and the communist government continually calls you negative names She listed many of the hardships His Holiness had experienced and was still experiencing Then she looked at him and said But you re not angry and you continually tell the Tibetan people not to hate the Communist Chinese for what they did to Tibet How can you not be angry Imagine someone saying that to Yassar Arafat or any other leader of a displaced people What would he have done He would have taken the mike and really used the opportunity to blame the others Yes they did this and they did that It s unfair we are unjustly victimized Grrrrrr That s what any leader of oppressed people would have said but that s not what His Holiness did When the reporter said How come you re not angry His Holiness leaned back and said What good does it do to be angry If I were angry it doesn t free any of the Tibetan people It doesn t stop the harm that is going on It would just keep me from sleeping My anger would keep me from enjoying food it would make me bitter What positive result could anger bring me This reporter looked at His Holiness with her jaw agape totally blown away How could somebody say this with such total sincerity I ve lived in Dharamsala and have heard His Holiness repeatedly say to the Tibetan people Do not hate the Chinese Communists for what they did to our country He has compassion he s not angry But he doesn t say that the Communist regime is fine that what they did is okay He doesn t say Fine You occupied my country and killed a million people come and do it again No he opposes the oppression in Tibet and directly states what the injustice is He speaks and tries to draw the world s attention to the plight of the Tibetan people He opposes injustice in a completely non violent way Having compassion for somebody that harms us and letting go of the anger is much better for ourselves and others than holding onto a grudge and seeking revenge We can still say that something is wrong that world attention must be brought to a situation and that improvement and resolution is needed Compassion doesn t mean we become the world s doormat Some people have the wrong idea about compassion thinking it means being passive For example if a woman is being beaten by her husband or boy friend compassion does not mean she thinks Whatever you did was fine You beat me up yesterday but I forgive you so you can beat me up again today No that s not compassion That s stupidity His beating her is not okay She can have compassion for him and at the same time she must take steps to stop further abuse Compassion means that we want somebody to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering That doesn t mean that we say everything they do is good It doesn t mean we give them what they want if they want something harmful There s a clarity that comes with compassion that can enable us to be very assertive when assertiveness is needed Patience doesn t mean you roll over and hum a song it means you re able to remain calm in a situation when you re confronted with harm or suffering Instead of your mind being overwhelmed by hurt anger or self pity you remain calm and clear mentally That gives you the ability to look at the situation and consider What is the best way to approach this How can I act in a way that will be most effective for everyone involved in this situation Compassion and patience may not be the way the world looks at things but it s nice not to look at things the way most people do especially if their way causes more suffering Let me pause here and see if you have questions or concerns topics you want to bring up Q Sometimes painful memories come on very strong I m not choosing to think about an event from the past but it just comes in my mind and I feel like I m stuck there in the middle of the situation again It s as if it were happening all over again and so many old feelings come up again I don t understand what is happening or how to handle it A We ve all had that happen It s not something that can be repressed and it s not something we can necessarily make go away quickly When this happens we have to sit there with it and keep breathing Remind yourself that the situation is not happening now Try to press the stop button on the thoughts so that you don t get lost in them When strong memories come up our mind is telling us a narrative it s describing the event in a certain way it s looking at the event from a particular perspective This situation is going to destroy me It is terrible I m worthless I did the wrong thing and don t deserve to be happy That narrative is not true We usually get trapped in the story so it s helpful to just focus on your breath focus on physical sensations and observe the emotion itself What does that emotion feel like Make sure not to get involved in the story that your mind is telling you That story isn t true The event is not happening now You are not a bad person If you just observe the feeling in the mind and observe the feeling in the body then whatever it is will automatically change This is the nature of everything that arises it changes and passes away We have a stockpile of those painful situations They re like computer files that you can t delete Something that I have found very helpful is when I m not in the situation and not stuck in the middle of my emotions to consciously remember one of those situations and practice looking at it in a different way Try to use one of the antidotes the Buddha taught to work with whatever emotions are arising I talked about some of these antidotes different ways to see the situation tonight so remember them and practice them Also read Shantideva s Guide to a Bodhisattva s Way of Life or my book Working with Anger There are a lot of techniques in there To show one we talked about tonight here s an example Let s say I m sitting in meditation I think about somebody who betrayed my trust a few years ago somebody whom I really trusted and they turned around and stabbed me in the back Somebody whom I never expected to act that way turned around and harmed me I sit there in meditation and know I can easily start telling myself the story again he did this and he did that and I m so hurt but then I think No that story s not true That person was in pain that person didn t actually have the intention of hurting me Although it might have seemed at that moment that he did want to hurt me actually what was happening was he was overwhelmed by his own suffering and under the control of his mental afflictions What he did didn t really have much to do with me What he did was an expression of his own pain and confusion If he weren t overwhelmed by these emotions he would not have acted in that way We know that this is the case for us whenever we ve betrayed someone else s trust Or maybe there s someone here who has never betrayed another s trust before Come on we all have at one time or another When we look in our own mind after we ve betrayed somebody s trust we usually feel horrible about it We think How could I ever have said that to this person I love so much Then we realize Wow I was in pain and I was confused I didn t really understand what I was doing I thought that by acting in that way I would release my own internal suffering but boy I didn t That was the wrong thing to do I hurt someone I care about and even though apologizing is hard on my ego I want and need to make amends When we understand the confused emotions and thought processes inside of us that prompted us to betray someone else s trust we know that when others betray our trust it s because they were under the influence of similar emotions and thoughts They were overcome by their own pain and confusion It wasn t that they really hated us or really wanted to hurt us it s that they were so confused they thought that doing or saying whatever they did was going to relieve their stress and pain They would have acted in that way to whoever was in front of them at that moment because they were stuck in their own story When we understand this about them we can say Wow They re hurting We then let go of our own hurt and anger and let compassion for them arise in our mind because we know that their behavior really had nothing to do with us To work through some of these situations especially the ones where our mind has been stuck in a negative emotion for a long time we need to do this meditation repeatedly We need to familiarize our mind with a new way of looking at things We have to retrain our mind and set up new emotional habits It s going to take some time and effort on our part but if we put in that time and make that effort we will definitely experience the result Cause and effect operate and if you create the cause you will experience the effect If you don t create the cause you won t get that effect When we really practice it is possible to change I can say that from personal experience I m still very far from Buddhahood but I can say that I m much better able to deal with many of the painful things in my life now than I was years ago I ve been able to let go of a lot of anger simply through repeatedly practicing these meditations When you repeatedly start looking at previous painful or stressful situations in different ways it helps the next time you re in a similar situation Then instead of our mind getting stuck in the same old emotional habits we ll be able to call that other way of looking at the situation to mind and practice it We ll remember it because we ve familiarized ourselves with that new perspective during meditation Here s another example I was at a retreat that one of my teachers was leading One nun there loved arranging the flower offerings on the altar She took such joy in it she would design beautiful flower offerings on the shrine near the Buddha s image and near our teacher But she was unable to stay for the entire retreat and left early One day after she had left at the end of the day when I was leaving the meditation hall to walk back to my room another person joined me She says to me Ven Ingrid left and nobody is taking care of the flowers It s the nuns responsibility to take care of the flowers and now all the flowers have wilted and look so ugly and disarrayed since Ingrid left The nuns are being disrespectful to our teacher because they re not taking care of the flowers She is going on and on about this Inside of me I m going I don t remember a rule saying that the nuns had to take care of the flowers Are you trying to guilt trip me Yes you are guilt tripping me But you re not going to succeed No way I m not going to care for the flowers just because you re saying that I m getting pretty worked up about this I didn t show it on the outside but inside I was getting really mad As she goes on and on with this guilt trip I m getting madder and madder A little background on this retreat My teacher doesn t let us sleep very much sessions last late into the night and begin early in the morning so we re all sleep deprived The conversation with this other retreatant is going on as we re walking to our rooms to go to sleep The problem is that when you re angry you can t go to sleep Suddenly the thought came to my mind Ahw If I keep on being angry I m not going to get to sleep and I really cherish my few hours of sleep So I ve got to let go of this anger because I really want to go to sleep So I said to myself This is just her opinion I don t need to get mad at her Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I don t need to be so reactive when someone s opinion differs from mine The flowers look okay to me If they were really bad I would do something but they looked fine to me I ll check tomorrow and if they look bad I ll take care of them In that I just let the whole situation go and I got some sleep that night After practicing looking at things in a different way when you re not in the situation it becomes easier to catch yourself in the situation and not get angry Here s a story about when Ven Robina and I had a problem I don t know if she remembers it It was during the same retreat I had been talking to another nun about a topic and during the break time we asked our teacher about it After that Ven Robina came up to me and said Why did you ask that ridiculous question You already know what he thinks Just because you don t agree why do you need to keep harping on it Well I don t like being talked to that way I m getting mad and the bell rings for us to come back into the meditation hall I felt misunderstood I had asked a sincere question to our teacher and my mind was saying It wasn t her business She wasn t supposed to be listening to that conversation I didn t know what she was getting riled up about but I was sure getting angry Then I thought Where am I ever going to go in this world where everybody

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2007november/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    motivation What are our emotions What are our thoughts What is going on inside of us Our mind is what generates a motivation When the mind has a motivation then the mouth moves and the body moves Deliberately cultivating a good motivation is an essential part of Buddhist practice This is something that really appealed to me when I first met the Dharma It put me very squarely in front of myself I couldn t wiggle out by trying to look good You can try to look good all you want and impress people all you want but getting them to think well of you doesn t mean you re creating virtuous karma Manipulating people so that they ll do something for you doesn t mean you re putting good energy into your mindstream It s quite the contrary a motivation in which we re looking out only for our own pleasure now puts negative karmic seeds on our mindstream Our motivations and our intentions are what leaves karmic seeds on our mindstream It s not what other people think about us not what they say about us not whether we re praised or blamed What is going on in our own heart and mind is what determines the type of karmic seeds we re depositing on our mindstream One example I like to give is someone is building a clinic in a poor neighborhood They re collecting donations to build this clinic There s somebody who is really rich and they give a million dollars The thought in their mind when they give the million dollars is My business is going really well I m going to give this million dollars When they build the clinic in the foyer where you walk in they ll have a plaque with my name I ll be chief benefactor That is their motivation There s somebody else They don t have much money so they give ten dollars Their motivation the thought in their mind is It s fantastic that there s going to be a clinic here May everyone who comes to this clinic be instantly healed from all of their diseases and ailments May they abide in happiness We have one guy giving a million dollars with one motivation and another guy giving ten dollars with a different motivation In general society who do we say is the generous person The one who gives a million dollars right That person gets so much credit and everyone goes Ah look at so and so how generous he is and how kind he was They make a big deal out of that person and the person who gave ten dollars everybody just ignores When you look at their motivations that they had who is the generous one It was the one who gave ten dollars Was the person who gave the million dollars generous From the point of view of his motivation was there any generosity No the guy was doing it completely for his own ego benefit he did it to gain status in the community He came out looking good in people s eyes and everybody thought he was generous But in terms of the karma he created it was not a generous action In Dharma practice we have to face ourselves honestly Dharma is like a mirror and we look at ourselves What s going in my mind What s my intention What are my motivations This kind of investigation into the workings of our own mind and heart is what produces real change in us This brings about actual mental purification Being a spiritual person is not about doing things that look spiritual it s about actually transforming our mind The majority of the time we are totally unaware of our motivations people live on automatic They get up in the morning eat breakfast go to work have lunch work some more in the afternoon have dinner read a book watch TV talk with friends and collapse into bed There went a whole day What was the motivation underlying all that They have such incredible potential human intelligence and the human rebirth What was the person s motivation for everything they did They probably had motivations for what they did but they weren t aware of their motivation When they went to breakfast their motivation was probably I m hungry and I want to eat Then they ate with that motivation Maybe the motivation switched after a few bites and became I m eating because I want pleasure When we wake up in the morning what is our motivation for living that day What s the thought that gets us out of bed in the morning We wake up and what are our first thoughts What are our motivations What are we seeking in life when we wake up We roll over and we think Ugh that alarm that bell again I want to stay in bed Then we think Coffee oh coffee that sounds good some pleasure I ll get out of bed for coffee breakfast To get pleasure I can get out of bed Many of our motivations are seeking pleasure something to make us feel good ASAP If somebody gets in our way when we re trying to get some pleasure we get mad and take it out on them You re interfering with my pleasure You re preventing me from getting what I want How dare you These thoughts of ill will and malice put karmic seeds in our mindstream These thoughts motivate us to speak harshly or behave aggressively That creates more karma As the ones who create the karma we are also the ones who experience the results of our own actions We wake up in the morning instantly seeking our own pleasure Is that the meaning or purpose of human life It doesn t seem very meaningful does it We just seek pleasure help our friends and harm our enemies If people give us pleasure they re our friend if people get in our way they re our enemy That s how dogs think What do dogs do If you give him a biscuit the dog considers you his friend for life You re giving that dog a little bit of pleasure and now he loves you Then if you don t give him the biscuit he ll consider you an enemy because you re depriving him of pleasure The mind grasps onto pleasure It gets upset when someone interferes with our pleasure Our slogan is I want what I want when I want it and we expect the world to cooperate We make friends and help them because they do things that benefit us We get upset when people do things we don t like we call them enemies and want to harm them This is how most people live From the Buddhist point of view we have a much greater human potential than just seeking pleasure and getting mad at the people who interfere with that This is not the meaning or purpose of life Since all of these pleasures end very quickly what s the use of greedily chasing after them or of retaliating if someone gets in our way How long does the pleasure of eating breakfast last It depends on if you re a fast eater or a slow eater but either way it doesn t last longer than half an hour and it s over We run around struggling for pleasure but the pleasure doesn t last very long We do all these things to have a feel good experience and we retaliate against those people who obstruct our feel good experiences But these experiences last a very short time Meanwhile the motivations we re operating under put negative karmic imprints in our mind When we operate under the influence of jealousy hostility and resentment it puts karmic seeds in our mind These seeds influence what we experience in the future These seeds ripen and influence what situations we encounter and whether we ll be happy or miserable Sometimes the seeds ripen in this life other times in future lives It s ironic that even though we want happiness we create the causes for unhappiness when we act motivated by the self centered thought My happiness now is the most important thing in the world Whenever we act with a selfish and greedy mind we re putting that energy into our consciousness Is the selfish and greedy mind relaxed and peaceful Or is it tight and clinging The Buddha said that we have incredible human potential That Buddha potential is what allows us to become fully enlightened beings Enlightened beings may seem very abstract to you What does it mean to be a fully enlightened being One of the qualities of a fully enlightened being or Buddha is that the seeds of anger and resentment have been totally eliminated from the mindstream in such a way that they can never reappear What would it feel like not to have even the potential for anger or hatred in your mind Can you even imagine what that would feel like Think about it No matter what somebody says to you no matter what somebody does to you your mind is peaceful You calmly accept what s happening and have compassion for the other person There is no possibility for anger hatred or resentment to arise When I think about that I go Wow Anger is a big problem with a lot of people Wouldn t it be wonderful never to get angry again And this not because you re stuffing the anger down but because you are completely free from the seeds of anger in your mind Another quality of a Buddha is that a Buddha is satisfied with whatever there is A Buddha doesn t have greed possessiveness clinging craving or any other attachments Imagine what it would be like to be totally satisfied It wouldn t matter who you re with or what s going on your mind wouldn t crave for more and better Your mind would be satisfied with what is in the moment How different that would be from our present state of mind I don t know about you but my mind is continually saying I want more I want better I like this I don t like that Do it this way and don t do it that way In other words my mind loves to complain What a pain in the neck that mind is When we think about a Buddha s qualities we get an idea of our potential There is the possibility to be completely free from craving dissatisfaction and hostility We also have the potential to develop equal love and compassion for every living being This means that anytime you meet anybody your instant reaction would be one of closeness affection and care for that person Think about that wouldn t it be great to have that be your automatic reaction to everyone It d be so different from how our out of control mind acts now Now when we meet somebody what s our first reaction We ask ourselves What can I get out of them or What are they going to try to get out of me There is a lot of fear and distrust in our reactions Those are the thoughts in the mind They re only conceptual thoughts but they sure create a lot of pain inside of us Aren t fear and distrust painful What would it be like even here in prison to be able to greet each person you meet with an open heart What would it be like to have a heart that feels kindness and closeness instantly towards everyone How wonderful it would be if you could see that one nasty guard that you normally can t stand and be peaceful Wouldn t it be great to be able to look into his heart and have a feeling of kindness and affection for him We wouldn t lose anything by doing that Instead we would gain a lot of internal peace Don t immediately tell yourself it s impossible Instead try being less judgmental try being more pleasant to others Give it a try and see what happens not only to your inner sense of well being but also to how others treat you in return We have such incredible potential inside of us We have the ability to transform our mind in this way to become a fully enlightened Buddha Now that we ve seen our human potential we should want to live our lives in a very meaningful way Now can you see how just looking out for my pleasure ASAP and getting my way as much as possible can be a dead end It s a waste of time not because it s bad but because it doesn t make much sense to put so much time and energy into doing things that bring such little happiness Instead we see we have great human potential for magnificent happiness that comes from purifying our own mind and developing a kind heart We d prefer big happiness to small happiness wouldn t we We d prefer long lasting happiness or peace to a quick fix that left us feeling empty afterwards wouldn t we Then let s have confidence in our potential to follow the path and become an enlightened being and let s act on that confidence by being more respectful and kinder to others Let s develop that confidence by studying the Buddha s teachings and increasing our wisdom Right now though the mind is very much externally orientated We believe that happiness and suffering come from outside of ourselves This is a deluded state of mind We assume that happiness comes from outside so we want this and we want that We re always trying to get something one person wants smokes another person wants cheesecake but everybody wants something different Ultimately though we are looking outside of ourselves for happiness We end up sitting here our entire life mentally clinging to stuff that we think is going to bring us pleasure Some of us try to control the world around us to make everyone and everything be the way we want it to be so that we can be happy Has that ever worked Has anyone ever succeeded at making the world and everyone in it conform to his idea of how they should be No no one has ever succeeded at controlling everything and everyone We keep trying to make other people what we want them to be After all we know how they should be don t we We have really good advice to offer all of them We all have a little advice for everyone else don t we We know exactly how our friends could improve so that we could be happy how our parents could change how our kids could change We have advice for everyone Sometimes we give them our wonderful and sage advice and what do they do Nothing They don t listen to us when we know the truth of how they should live and what they should do and how they should change so that the world would be different and we ll be happy When we give others our wonderful and wise advice about how they should live their lives what do they say to us Mind your own business and that s if they are being nice When they are not being polite well you know what they say Here we offered them our wonderful advice and they just disregard it Can you imagine Such stupid people Of course when they give us their advice do we listen Forget it They don t know what they re talking about This world view that thinks that happiness and suffering come from outside puts us in the situation of constantly trying to rearrange everybody and everything to make it the way we want it We never succeed Have we ever met anyone that has succeeded in making the world everything they wanted it to be Think of someone you are really jealous of have they ever succeeded in making the world what they wanted it to be Have they found any kind of lasting happiness by getting everything they want They haven t have they We look at others lives and we feel that something s missing in our life This comes from these views that believe happiness and suffering come from outside These views make us try to rearrange everybody and everything But what we re missing is inside because the real source of our happiness and suffering is not other people The real source of our happiness and suffering is what is going on inside of us Have you ever been in a beautiful place with the right people and been totally miserable I think most of us have had that experience at one time or another We finally find ourselves in a wonderful situation but we are completely miserable That s a perfect example of showing how happiness and suffering don t come from the outside As long as our mind has the seeds of clinging ignorance and hostility we re never going to find any kind of permanent or lasting happiness because these emotions will always continually arise and interfere All we have to do is look at our life and we can see that has always been the story It doesn t matter whether you re in prison or outside this is what is going on inside all of us The Buddha said that actually happiness and suffering aren t dependent on the outside They re more dependent on the inside on what is going on inside your own heart and mind How you perceive the situation is

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2007october/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    my aim in life is to emulate his mental verbal and physical activities Tibetans grow up with Buddhism and monastics They know what the life of a monastic entails and when they ordain they are welcomed into a monastery where they live with monastic relatives and others who are from the same area of Tibet as they are While Tibetan monastics in general are not rich the senior monastics take care of the juniors providing them with room board and teachings and together they share the experience of living in community The situation for Western monastics is considerably different There are very few monasteries where they can stay in the West They may live in a Dharma center in which case they often spend long hours doing volunteer work building the center or planning activities for the lay people They usually do not receive special training as monastics because the Dharma centers are designed principally for lay people Tibetan monastics are sponsored at Dharma centers and receive offerings and stipends most of which they send to support their disciples in India and Tibet However many Western monastics have to work at jobs in the city in order to support themselves as some Dharma centers ask the monastics to pay in addition to volunteering their services They do not have time to study and practice the Dharma which inhibits their ability to serve the lay people by teaching and setting a good example Keeping their vows is very difficult for those who must work in the city and many do not survive as monastics While living as a monastic is wonderful candidates need to be properly prepared before ordaining They should first form a mentor disciple relationship with a teacher who will train them as monastics and request that teacher for ordination They should arrange to live at a monastery or a Dharma center with other monastics and have savings or monthly support so that they can live a monastic lifestyle without having to work in the city It is also good training to live in the eight precepts for a year before taking monastic ordination The booklet Preparing for Ordination gives other guidelines and points to contemplate for those considering ordination The Buddha said that his Dharma flourishes in an area where the four fold assembly is present These four are fully ordained women and men and female and male lay followers Traditionally the monastic community has been charged with preserving the teachings and passing them down to future generations They have followed the example of the Buddha living a simple life style with few needs devoting their lives to study practice and teaching others For the Dharma to flourish in the West the existence of the monastic sangha is essential But for an indigenous monastic sangha to exist in a country there must exist not only those who wish to ordain but also those who wish to support them The Buddha set up the relationship of monastic and lay

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2007september/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    Beyond Spirituality Toward the Complete Human Being by Martin Lass Emissary Tarot Moment to Moment by Gigi Miner Author Tarot Consultant Teacher Reviews T arot Cartomancy Oracle Decks Books Software by Bonnie Cehovet Tarot Educator Tidbits Almanac of the Ancients by TripleMoonGoddess News Briefs Op Ed Pearls of Wisdom by Astro Aeon Astro Care Symbols Seals Amulets Talismans The What in the World Department Trivia Life s Other Novel Moments Publisher s Corner General Information Advertising Information Opportunities The Directory Advertising Rates Premium Pages Groups 1 2 Display Advertising Rates The BookNook Advertising Rates About The Meta Arts Magazine Editorial Submission Information Contact Us Legal Notices Creating Bridges Spirituality Philosophy Spirituality in Daily Life Impermanence and Suffering Part 2 of 2 by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron Do we have to suffer to attain liberation nirvana Must we renounce the world to become a Buddha Practicing Buddha s teachings brings happiness not pain The spiritual path itself isn t painful and there is no special virtue in suffering We already have enough problems so there s no sense in causing ourselves more in the name of practicing religion However that doesn t mean that we won t have any problems while practicing the Dharma While we re on the path previous destructive actions that haven t yet been purified may ripen and bring problems When this happens we can transform the situation into the path to enlightenment by using the various techniques the Buddha taught Sometimes our anger attachment or jealousy may arise strongly and be very disquieting when we re trying to practice This happens because our disturbing attitudes haven t yet been eliminated After all we don t become Buddhas after practicing the Dharma for just a short time We can apply the Buddha s teachings to subdue these unpleasant emotions while being patient with ourselves and recognizing that pu rifying our minds takes time Although the English word renunciation is often used in Bud dhist translations it doesn t convey the precise meaning It is more accurate to say that we must develop the determination to be free from cyclic existence and to attain liberation We don t need to renounce people and things Rather we need to give up our clinging attachment to them There is nothing inherently wrong with the world the real problem lies in our disturbing attitudes For example money isn t the problem it is merely sheets of paper However our clinging to and craving for money cause big problems These erroneous and harmful attitudes are to be given up Of course if we are very attached to something it s a good idea to distance ourselves from it for a while to calm our clinging If we re attached to ice cream it s better not to go to an ice cream parlor Later when we ve developed a more balanced and altruistic motivation we can actually use the objects of our previous attachment to benefit others Buddhism talks about accepting our suffering

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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    experience This is what is meant by unsatisfactory experiences dukha or suffering The Buddha merely described our present situation Therefore he was being realistic not pessimistic His motivation for describing this was to help us seek the means to free ourselves from it The purpose of contemplating impermanence death and unsatisfactory experiences isn t to become depressed and have the joy taken out of life Rather the purpose is to rid ourselves of attachment and false expectations If we become emotionally afraid or depressed when thinking about these things then we are not contemplating them correctly Meditating on these subjects should make our minds calm and lucid because it decreases our clinging attachment and the confusion that attachment causes in our lives At present our minds are easily overwhelmed by the false projections of attachment We see people and objects in an unrealistic way Things are changing moment by moment but they appear to us to be constant and unchanging That is why we are upset when they break We may say All these things are impermanent but our words aren t consistent with our innate view which mistakenly considers our body and our loved ones to be unchanging This unrealistic conception causes us pain because we have expectations of things and people that cannot be fulfilled Our loved ones cannot live forever a relationship doesn t remain the same the new car will not always be the shiny model just off the showroom floor Thus we are perpetually disappointed when we must part with the people we care for when our possessions break when our body becomes weak or old If we had a more realistic view of these things and accepted their impermanence not just with our words but with our heart then such disappointment would not come Contemplating impermanence and death also eliminates many of the useless worries that prevent us from being happy and relaxed Ordinarily we become upset when we are criticized or insulted We are angry when our possessions are stolen and feel jealous if someone else gets the promotion we wanted We are proud of our looks or athletic ability All of these attitudes are disturbing emotions that leave harmful imprints on our mindstream and bring us problems in our future lives as well as in this life However if we contemplate the transient nature of these things we accept that our life will end and that none of these things can accompany us at death Understanding that we will stop exaggerating their importance and they will no longer be so problematic for us That doesn t mean that we become apathetic towards the people and environment around us On the contrary by eliminating the wrong conception of permanence and the disturbing attitudes that stem from it our minds will become clearer and we ll be able to enjoy things for what they are We ll live more in the present appreciating things as they are now without fantasies about what they should

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2007june/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    This is what is meant by unsatisfactory experiences dukha or suffering The Buddha merely described our present situation Therefore he was being realistic not pessimistic His motivation for describing this was to help us seek the means to free ourselves from it The purpose of contemplating impermanence death and unsatisfactory experiences isn t to become depressed and have the joy taken out of life Rather the purpose is to rid ourselves of attachment and false expectations If we become emotionally afraid or depressed when thinking about these things then we are not contemplating them correctly Meditating on these subjects should make our minds calm and lucid because it decreases our clinging attachment and the confusion that attachment causes in our lives At present our minds are easily overwhelmed by the false projections of attachment We see people and objects in an unrealistic way Things are changing moment by moment but they appear to us to be constant and unchanging That is why we are upset when they break We may say All these things are impermanent but our words aren t consistent with our innate view which mistakenly considers our body and our loved ones to be unchanging This unrealistic conception causes us pain because we have expectations of things and people that cannot be fulfilled Our loved ones cannot live forever a relationship doesn t remain the same the new car will not always be the shiny model just off the showroom floor Thus we are perpetually disappointed when we must part with the people we care for when our possessions break when our body becomes weak or old If we had a more realistic view of these things and accepted their impermanence not just with our words but with our heart then such disappointment would not come Contemplating impermanence and death also eliminates many of the useless worries that prevent us from being happy and relaxed Ordinarily we become upset when we are criticized or insulted We are angry when our possessions are stolen and feel jealous if someone else gets the promotion we wanted We are proud of our looks or athletic ability All of these attitudes are disturbing emotions that leave harmful imprints on our mindstream and bring us problems in our future lives as well as in this life However if we contemplate the transient nature of these things we accept that our life will end and that none of these things can accompany us at death Understanding that we will stop exaggerating their importance and they will no longer be so problematic for us That doesn t mean that we become apathetic towards the people and environment around us On the contrary by eliminating the wrong conception of permanence and the disturbing attitudes that stem from it our minds will become clearer and we ll be able to enjoy things for what they are We ll live more in the present appreciating things as they are now without fantasies about what they should be

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2007may/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    Aeon Astro Care Symbols Seals Amulets Talismans The What in the World Department Trivia Life s Other Novel Moments Publisher s Corner General Information Advertising Information Opportunities The Directory Advertising Rates Premium Pages Groups 1 2 Display Advertising Rates The BookNook Advertising Rates About The Meta Arts Magazine Editorial Submission Information Contact Us Legal Notices Creating Bridges Spirituality Philosophy Spirituality in Daily Life Meditation Part 3 of 3 by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron Is it better to do just one type of meditation or a variety This depends on the specific Buddhist tradition we follow and on the instructions of our spiritual teacher Those in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition train in several different types of meditation because many different aspects of our character need to be cultivated Thus we may do breathing meditation to calm the mind loving kindness meditation to generate compassion and altruism for others visualization of the Buddha or a deity along with mantra recitation to purify nega tive karmic imprints and analytical meditation combined with concentration to develop the wisdom realizing emptiness When we have developed a general overall view of the gradual path to enlightenment we ll understand the purpose of each meditation and where it fits in along the path Then we can gradually develop many different abilities and sides of our character Can one develop clairvoyant powers through practicing Buddhism Is this a worthwhile goal to pursue Yes one can but that isn t the principal goal of Dharma practice Some people get very excited about the prospect of having clairvoyance Wait until I tell my friends about this Everyone will think I m special and will come to ask me for advice What an egotistical motivation for wanting to be clairvoyant If we still get angry and are unable to control what we say think and do what use is running after clairvoyance Desiring clairvoyant powers because we want to be famous and well respected is not only a distraction to our practice but antithetical to it Becoming a kind and altruistic person benefits both ourselves and others much more Once a child asked me if I had clairvoyance Could I bend a spoon through concentration Could I stop a clock or walk through a wall I told him no and even if I could what use would it be Would that lessen the suffering in the world In fact the person whose spoon I ruined may suffer more The point of our human existence isn t to build up our egos but to develop a kind heart and a sense of universal responsibility working for world peace Loving kindness is the real miracle If one has a kind heart then developing clairvoyant powers could be beneficial for others However sincere practitioners do not go around advertising their clairvoyance In fact most of them will deny they have such abilities and will be very humble The Buddha warned against public displays of clairvoyance unless they were necessary to benefit others Humble people are

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2007april/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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