Navigation
9:52PM

Lojong 2.) Think all phenomena are like dreams

2. Formal Practice (2-10)

2) Think all phenomena are like dreams. (My reality depends on momentary perception)

This is one of my favorite Lojong sayings.  It means that most of the time we are no more aware of reality during waking life as we are in a dream.  When I am having a dream, things occur that ordinarily would make no sense.  In a dream, I may find myself in any number of inpossible situations, interacting with people long gone from my current world, or observing and interacting with all sorts of odd things.  However in the dream, I do not question these things.  I let them pass as reality, and in fact I do not even notice that these things are odd or impossible. 

Most of the time in ordinarly daily life, we are the same way.  We do not question our assumptions, what we think, or what we feel.  We merely accept these things as reality.  When I understand this saying, I realize that my reality depends on my monentary perception, and that this can change.  What happens when I change my perception of another person from, "he's a liar" to "he does not know"?  What happens when I wake up in everyday life?

It is very amusing to hear misperceptions of what is or is not Buddhist philosophy.  This saying has been distorted, so it is attributed that Buddhists "believe" this world is not real, but that we are all dreaming.  (Hey this would make a great movie plot... oh wait, I think it was already done as "The Matrix".) 

Remember this Lojong saying and be awake during your everyday life!

If you think others might like this article submit it to StumbleUpon by clicking Submit.

StumbleUpon.com

2:30PM

Lojong 1.d.) First, learn the preliminaries (4 of 4 parts)

1. Preliminaries (1a - d)

1) First, learn the preliminaries. (a. Appreciate life & hearing the Buddhadharma, b. Know the reality of death, c. Accept Karma, d. Accept the inevitability of pain)

This is the fourth of four admonitions defining the preliminaries:

d. Accept the inevitability of pain

In the Practical Dharma a distinction is made between pain and suffering.  Pain is inevitable in life.  This is an attempt to reconcile the statements that the purpose of the dharma is to provide release from [suffering] and one of the vehicles for this is the recognition that [suffering] is inevitable.  The slightly restated version is:

The purpose of the dharma is to provide release from suffering and one of the vehicles for this is the recognition that pain (in many forms) is inevitable.

The Five Remembrances

Everyone and everything changes

I will grow old

This body will know sickness

There is no escape from death

All I have are my actions

Suffering is that additional burden I bring on myself related to the demand that things be different than they are.  This is not to suggest I give up and make no effort to improve the world through my actions.  (In my work I'm fortunate to be able to provide service as a psychologist and healthcare administrator, and each of us can make a difference through our best efforts (see the post just below.)  It is the DEMAND that things be different than they are that causes suffering.  

How often do we hear, "I can't believe he did that" or "I can't stand it when that happens".   I will not burden you with the details, but it is clear the speakers in these cases are saying / thinking things that are incongruent with what each knows to be reality.  (i.e. He does this all the time, and I frequently "stand for it".)

The traditional cognitive behavioral approach is to argue with these thoughts and hopefully to use the power of logic to overcome them.  This sometimes works, but a better approach is two steps;  1) simply recognize, "this happened" and even "that's just a thought I had about what happened" and then 2) accept it happened and let it go.  (That is to say, not to accept that it is right and just, merely to accept that it happened.)

The Four Noble Truths

Life is suffering

The cause: craving and attachment

Release comes from letting go

Through the Eight-fold Path.

If you think others might like this article submit it to StumbleUpon by clicking Submit.

StumbleUpon.com

12:11PM

Lojong 1.c.) First, learn the preliminaries (3 of 4 parts)

1. Preliminaries (1a - d)

1) First, learn the preliminaries. (a. Appreciate life & hearing the Buddhadharma, b. Know the reality of death, c. Accept Karma, d. Accept the inevitability of pain)

This is the third of four admonitions defining the preliminaries:

c. Accept Karma

Karma is different than cause and effect.  It is also different from behavioral (contextual) psychology.  I support that the scientific principles of physics and behavioral psychology provide the mechanism that explains the phenomena of Karma, but the meaning of Karma is slightly different.  

The correct understanding of Karma is that each of our actions "plants a seed" for the likelihood of different future outcomes, to set the occasion for either more or less suffering.   Most of the time we do not see the immediate result as a manifestation of Karma.  If we see the immediate result, that is probably better described using the terms of physics.  If you touch the hot stove; it burns.  Karma is in operation when each of my acts of compassion (that did not seem to make a difference) eventually add up to less suffering in the world. And sadly, Karma is operating when each of the mean things I do, thoughts I have, etc. (that I thought no one saw) contribute to more suffering in the world.  Each of us is walking the path of the Bodhicitta (or the anti-Bodhicitta) whether we intend it or not.  

Why do we need to posit the operation of Karma, when the underlying laws of physics and behavioral psychology explain all of the variance?  Karma is a shorthand, just like words such as self, I, ego, etc. Buddhism often uses words this way to explain complex concepts.  (One of my favorites is using the phrase, "The Lords of Form" to explain reification - but back to Karma before I completely loose the "thread".) We use the word Karma because we would have great trouble communicating the actual process and events if we demanded that the explanation be precisely scientific and correct.

I hope many more will learn the third part of the preliminaries to start on the path of the Bodhicitta.

If you think others might like this article submit it to StumbleUpon by clicking Submit.

StumbleUpon.com

9:26PM

Lojong 1.b.) First, learn the preliminaries (2 of 4 parts)

1. Preliminaries (1a - d)

1) First, learn the preliminaries. (a. Appreciate life & hearing the Buddhadharma, b. Know the reality of death, c. Accept Karma, d. Accept the inevitability of pain)

This is the second of four admonitions defining the preliminaries:

b. Know the reality of death

When I started posting Lojong sayings on Twitter, I began with #2 primarily because I thought this saying was too Buddhist and would turn people off.  (I have plenty of skill at doing that despite my best efforts, so I probably should not have worried about that issue.)  This part of the saying, mentions death which unfortunately feeds the stereotype that Buddhism is negative or even nihilistic. Knowing the reality of death, is understanding that there is no self.   

I find it amusing that many who are initially attracted to Buddhism come looking for the opposite reassurance related to the issue of death.  By this I mean, those who are seeking reassurance that the self they are so attached to will not die, but that he or she will be reincarnated into another life. 

This saying is making it clear, attachment to the belief in the existence of a self consistent with philosophical dualism is better replaced with knowledge of the reality of death, as a step toward release from suffering. As long as I cling to a faulty conceptualization of self, I will be prone to suffering, and it will be a barrier to my correct understanding.   

Insisting that I have a self (that lives forever) may provide a momentary reassurance (until I have to convince myself over and over this is true), but it does not provide the release from suffering that Right Understanding provides.  It is a little like insisting that having possessions or money provides release from suffering, because in the same way we have to constantly support this proposition with more stuff.  Getting more stuff only sets the occasion for more worry like "what if I lose my stuff".  And the same is true of anything like this that we insist is the source of our happiness, like love, respect, connection to others, etc.  All these things are good things, but release from suffering only comes when I realize my happiness does not depend on them.  In fact, the demand that death not be real is another of these temporary fixes, that bring momentary happiness while setting the occasion for the next bout of suffering.

By the way, the Buddha was clear he did not know what happens after death.  Likewise, I do not need to convince myself that there is no life after death.  This is not the point.  If I had to convince myself of this (like a devout atheist) to assure my peace of mind, I would be stuck in the same faulty loop as the demand that it be the opposite.  

I merely have a correct understanding of the nature of the self.  I do not know what comes after death, and do not need to know, to achieve peace of mind in this life.

If you think others might like this article submit it to StumbleUpon by clicking Submit.

StumbleUpon.com

2:16PM

Lojong 1.a.) First, learn the preliminaries (1 of 4 parts)

1. Preliminaries (1a - d)

1) First, learn the preliminaries. (a. Appreciate life & hearing the Buddhadharma, b. Know the reality of death, c. Accept Karma, d. Accept the inevitability of pain)

This is the first of four admonitions defining the preliminaries:

a. Appreciate Life & hearing the Buddhadarma

Anyone with access to this website has to admit he or she has many affordances and benefits from living in the modern world. Those of us fortunate enough to be reading this live like gods, or at least like royalty. In the Practical Dharma it is suggested that we appreciate the blessings we have been given, rather than engage in ostentatious renunciations that push burdens on others. ("#22 Transform your desires, & remain who you are. Avoid being ostentatious in the "realization" of the dharma", but this is covered in another saying.)

In a practical matter for example, I don't pretend I can be separate from the reality of the modern food chain. Instead, before I partake of the bounty that comes to me beyond what I deserve, I honor the sacrifices of the many who made it possible for me. In the tradition of Native America, I thank the animals (and all the others) for their give away.

And in the same way I am grateful for the many other opportunities I have been given such as hearing the teachings of all the philosophers, scientists, spiritual leaders, psychologists, and others who paved the way for me (and you) to enjoy our understanding of how the world works.  I am especially grateful for the opportunity to hear the Buddhadharma, which can provide release from suffering (NOT relief from pain).

If you think others might like this article submit it to StumbleUpon by clicking Submit.

StumbleUpon.com