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 Post subject: I need some life advice
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:34 am 
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Have you ever been so equally split on something, that you want to cry even though you are a grown man? For the past several years I've been struggling with this.

I just want a simple low stress job, and to focus full time on my meditation (it isn't Buddhist meditation or practice).

To make progress in the system I study I need really as much time as I can possibly get to dedicate to it.

So I've been toying with going back for a professional career to make more money, but I also want to pursue full time meditation, and I can't do two full time activities at once. I have to pick one or the other.

So I am faced with poverty and dreams, or money and nothing else.

I know I am going to die and material things won't come with me, but I'd like to own a home and retire early, and move to another country etc etc.

I'd also like to be able to eat lots of super healthy food and take tons of herbs and vitamins, and have more money to focus on my health.

I just don't know which path makes the most sense.

I know meditation is my calling in life, but I don't want to live in poverty to pursue meditation full time (as is required by the system I study)

I also don't want to be poor.

What do you guys think?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:54 am 
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I think unless you're in a monastic vocation of some kind the idea of 'full-time meditation' is unrealistic. Even then, few monastic orders (Buddhist, Christian or otherwise) are structured around 'full-time meditation'.

So, it might be a false dichotomy.

One of the limbs of the Eightfold Path is 'right livelihood', and if you can find your way into that - which is often a real challenge! - then there ought to be time for study and practice. So I would say a balanced approach could accommodate both aspects of life.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:06 am 
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I think it depends where you live. Poverty is relative in regard to that, as is time management. I dream of being able to finally own my own home in the U.K. so I can sell it, move to somewhere where the cost of living is much cheaper (and the food is less processed) and take a part time job teaching English so I can spend the rest of my time practicing.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:16 am 
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jeeprs wrote:
I think unless you're in a monastic vocation of some kind the idea of 'full-time meditation' is unrealistic. Even then, few monastic orders (Buddhist, Christian or otherwise) are structured around 'full-time meditation'.

So, it might be a false dichotomy.

One of the limbs of the Eightfold Path is 'right livelihood', and if you can find your way into that - which is often a real challenge! - then there ought to be time for study and practice. So I would say a balanced approach could accommodate both aspects of life.


I would be in a monastic vocation if there were any temples for what I study but there aren't. To be honest it's a very small sect. What I study requires full time meditation.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:45 am 
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maynoth wrote:
I would be in a monastic vocation if there were any temples for what I study but there aren't. To be honest it's a very small sect. What I study requires full time meditation.

Well, for better or for worse, you have a very clear choice.
If it doesn't affect anyone but yourself (i.e. you have no dependants), it doesn't matter to anyone but yourself. And it sounds like you have all the information you need, so you are the person best qualified to make the decision.
Don't dither or delay, just choose. It's your own life, and you can do with it whatever you want.

:namaste:
Kim


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:53 am 
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Statically speaking, you were rich in other lifetimes. How are you benefiting from those times now? Statically speaking, you were poor in other lifetimes. How are you suffering from those times now?

Thus, aside from logistics, I don't think you should be worried about your wealth or lack of it since it won't matter in the long run, but your practice will.

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Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:53 am 
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This is a dilemma that most of us face, eventually. In our sangha, which is densely populated with folks who have done one, two, or more three-year retreats, most people have learned a marketable profession that it is possible to drop in and out of. So, nursing, construction, and massage therapy are all common backgrounds. If you are young and don't have any debt yet, and are single, perhaps it makes sense to do three-year retreat in the next few years, then learn a trade or profession. If you could do the reverse, you might be bogged down by student loans, and not be able to do in depth retreat or study.

See the Tsadra Foundation website for funding possibilities for study or retreat.

Don't let anybody discourage your noble aspiration. :heart:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:58 am 
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jeeprs wrote:
I think unless you're in a monastic vocation of some kind the idea of 'full-time meditation' is unrealistic.


No, it's not unrealistic. There is funding out there for long term retreatants. We have a couple of people associated with our lama who have been in retreat for at least 13 years here in the U.S., and about five have done 7 or 8 years.

We need serious long term retreatants in this world, and -- to inspire us -- we need them in the West. :soapbox:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:04 am 
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If you practice 4 hours a day then that is enough. Do you think meditation is about achieving something? If the group you belong to think that you need more than 4 hours a day meditation then I have serious doubts about the depth of wisdom that they are passing on to you.
Meditation is a kind of training to help you see your true nature. It's not an end in itself. Your meditation doesn't stop when you are off the cushion or when you go to work. You need to be able to integrate the insights you gain in meditation with the worldly distractions you encounter.
That being said, if you have a job that is very stressful and that you find brings about a lot of dissatisfaction then of course why not change your job? Or why not take two weeks holiday and do a retreat? Life is just as easily wasted as a full-time meditator if you have no genuine insight.

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The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:12 pm 
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My friend, if you believe in cause and effect, then start giving now (especially money), and you will receive money. Do it for 3 years, and do it as often as you can. Be mindful of a good thought (wishing for others to be able to fulfill their dreams) when you drop 50 cents in a charity box. But don't go out of your way and give what you cannot afford. The thing about money is it is really funny. It always finds ways to leak out from your account when you try to save. To remedy this, you have to give some out to help others in need. From experience, I have been able to manage my money and keep it from leaking out by doing so. Also, try your best to save money.

I don't know about you guys, but I cook my own food and rarely eat out. Since I am single, I try to spend less than $ 5 per week on food. I would cook fish for example and eat with brown rice for a week since I have to share the kitchen. I live in an ethnically diverse area, and go to ethnic supermarkets because it's much cheaper. If I want to eat chicken, I would go to Whole Foods (organic shop) and get some drum sticks that costs about $4 per tray and curry it. I personally don't drink coffee or tea, and definitely no IPHONE or smart phone. I also invest in supplementary 'super' food (preferably organic) such as goji berries, chia seeds, etc. I shop at thrift shops for jeans, also Ross and Marshall (borderline thrift shops). I don't own a lot of things. I am saying you can save money if you know how and be willing to live minimally and a little uncomfortably. But I strongly recommend start giving money to help people out. You can do it local or worldly. To give in order to receive, benefit others will benefit self. So start thinking about what you can cut down things like-cigarettes, coffee, tea, or anything else that you don't really need and give to help others. I used to smoke and have stopped cold turkey. Just a suggestion.

I make 15.76 per hour.

Peace and take care.

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NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Linjii
―Listen! Those of you who devote yourselves to the Dharma
must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―


Last edited by LastLegend on Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:15 pm 
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Andrew108 wrote:
If you practice 4 hours a day then that is enough.


Yes I agree for most people in most sects it would be more than enough, however were I to start over at age 18 and could dedicate 12 hours per day every single day for the rest of my life, most likely I would not be able to complete the system I study, in it's history only 2 people have.


Andrew108 wrote:
Do you think meditation is about achieving something?


For most people it isn't, for the sect I study there is a goal though.


Andrew108 wrote:
I have serious doubts about the depth of wisdom that they are passing on to you.


It isn't a wisdom tradition.


Andrew108 wrote:
That being said, if you have a job that is very stressful and that you find brings about a lot of dissatisfaction then of course why not change your job? Or why not take two weeks holiday and do a retreat? Life is just as easily wasted as a full-time meditator if you have no genuine insight.


I wish this were applicable, but insight, wisdom, and equanimity etc aren't what I am shooting for. A two week retreat once per year will not help. I appreciate it though, thank you.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:44 pm 
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On one hand you wish to devote yourself to your intensive practice. On the other hand, you have a desire for a home purchase, that you can later sell and use the funds you've saved and from the sale of assets in your home country to teach overseas. Both are great ideas, and not necessarily mutually exclusive.

With right livelihood in mind, you can embark on a vocation that truly represents Right Livelihood. It's not clear from your post what your employment or vocation currently is, but surely you can choose a vocation that compensates reasonably, be frugal as another poster described, and over time, you'll have that house in your home country.

It won't be an easy path, but if you choose in a sense a career and a meditation 'vocation' you might not have time for marriage, or to raise a family, and if you're a young adult you'll need to consider what to prioritize in your life.

It's my feeling that in some respects Buddhism in the West needs to find resonance with the lay working class....it's just so hard for practitioners to migrate to a monastery and practice 24/7. For those that do, it's a beautiful and valuable life. My sense is that you can choose a Right Livelihood vocation, devote yourself to practice, and give yourself 10-20 years to realize these practice and financial goals you have set for yourself.

Then, go to India, Tibet, Japan or Thailand, and teach English, and fully realize your Bodhisattva Path.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:06 pm 
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Sorry I didn't mean to imply I wanted to teach. I just want to move away from the USA. Norway, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, Australia. Canada looks the most realistic at this point.
Mostly for political reasons.

I fantasize a lot about having a home in a very very rural area, and enough money to pay the property taxes till I die, with an 20-30 years worth of food stored away, all solar, with enough money and necessities tucked away to just focus on my training till I die.

My problem is my time is running out, I'll be 50 before I can start working in my chosen career if I start now, and I'll be 60 or 70 before I can leave the USA.

Or I can just forget about it and focus on my training living in extreme poverty.

Those are my options and I don't really like either of them.


BuddhaSoup wrote:
On one hand you wish to devote yourself to your intensive practice. On the other hand, you have a desire for a home purchase, that you can later sell and use the funds you've saved and from the sale of assets in your home country to teach overseas. Both are great ideas, and not necessarily mutually exclusive.

With right livelihood in mind, you can embark on a vocation that truly represents Right Livelihood. It's not clear from your post what your employment or vocation currently is, but surely you can choose a vocation that compensates reasonably, be frugal as another poster described, and over time, you'll have that house in your home country.

It won't be an easy path, but if you choose in a sense a career and a meditation 'vocation' you might not have time for marriage, or to raise a family, and if you're a young adult you'll need to consider what to prioritize in your life.

It's my feeling that in some respects Buddhism in the West needs to find resonance with the lay working class....it's just so hard for practitioners to migrate to a monastery and practice 24/7. For those that do, it's a beautiful and valuable life. My sense is that you can choose a Right Livelihood vocation, devote yourself to practice, and give yourself 10-20 years to realize these practice and financial goals you have set for yourself.

Then, go to India, Tibet, Japan or Thailand, and teach English, and fully realize your Bodhisattva Path.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:31 pm 
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Formal meditation on the cushion is a necessity for most of us.
But meditation does not only happen on the cushion.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:46 pm 
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Simon E. wrote:
Formal meditation on the cushion is a necessity for most of us.
But meditation does not only happen on the cushion.



That is true, but what I study is a specific form, an extremely deep state of trance and suspended animation for hours on end, If I had 10 hours to devote to it, I might get to spend an hour tops in actual meditation.


Last edited by maynoth on Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:53 pm 
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Excuse me...but that does not sound like any kind of Buddhist practice.

Sorry I have just read your op and see that indeed it is not Buddhist practice.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:54 pm 
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maynoth wrote:
Simon E. wrote:
Formal meditation on the cushion is a necessity for most of us.
But meditation does not only happen on the cushion.



That is true, but what I study is a specific form, an extremely deep state of trance and suspended animation for hours on end, If I had 10 hours to devote to it, I might get to spend an hour tops in actual meditation.

Then my advice is to give up this type of practice because it won't bring you any genuine benefit.

_________________
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:03 pm 
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May I ask what system of meditation you are studying?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:26 pm 
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Quote:
Those are my options and I don't really like either of them.


Maynoth, respectfully, I am sure there are other options available to you, but perhaps you're feeling a bit blue about this question, and not seeing the options.

I have a concern about what you describe as your meditation or "trance" practice. I'm not making a value judgment, but if 'suspended animation and hours of trance' is a way to disconnect from your daily life, that may not be the healthiest path to take. I've always felt that meditation practice is an integral part of our life, not an escape from it. I hope that your practice helps you along the Bodhisattva Path, versus taking you away from it.

As far as emigrating to another country, I sort of get that...I was born in the US, and live and work here (and feel myself lucky to do work in a chosen vocation), but in my next life I might wish to be born in Japan, or Ireland, or some other country with fewer gun deaths, less income and wealth disparity, less poverty in the face of extreme wealth at the other end of the spectrum, and as new Secretary of State John Kerry just alluded to a German audience: less stupidity. I'm lucky to have been born here...can you imagine having been born a Rohingyan Muslim in Burma, and now be setting out on a boat to face death at sea, because no country wants you, or your children?

On the subject of feeling without options: I spent some time in 2010 in northern Thailand in a monastery. Shaved head, robes, alms rounds...the whole deal. Part of my daily practice was teaching English to Shan hill tribe parents and kids who fled the war in Burma, walked across mountains on foot, and live a hand to mouth existence in remote parts of Thailand. They have no recognition by Thailand, but the Thai government allows them to settle, and the adults and older kids harvest by hand in the hot sun the citrus crops for 30 bhat a day. My point in this story is that with these Shan parents and kids, I saw smiles far brighter than the crabby faces and frowns I see in this country every day. I saw true friendliness, gratitude and happiness among people who had few possessions and little hope for a better future. You are lucky: you have options.

I any case, I feel you have myriad options that perhaps you're not seeing right now. Maybe talk with a vocational counselor, or a trusted teacher in your sangha, a therapist or life coach, or a combination of these, and see if there are options available to you that you're not picking up on. At 50, you have a lot of life in you, and these days, 50 is just a halfway point for many of this generation.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:37 pm 
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Andrew108 wrote:
Then my advice is to give up this type of practice because it won't bring you any genuine benefit.





If I were to say the same about what you practice, I'd venture to guess you and most others would be offended by it, so I won't.

I will however say the results I am looking for are only offered by what I am studying, so it makes sense to pursue it in lieu of other forms of meditation.

What I study get's results, and is what I am looking for. We are all free to choose our own paths as we see fit.



Quote:
"How long has your guru been teaching?"

"Well, uh, over thirty years."

"And how many of his students have achieved enlightenment?"

"Well, uh..."

"That you know of personally?"

"Well, uh, I never..."

"That you've heard of?"

"It's not"

"That there were rumors of?"

"I don't think..."

"What is it they're doing, Martin? The recipe for enlightenment they're promoting - what is it?"

"Uh, well, meditation and knowledge, basically."

"And in thirty years they've never held someone up and said, 'Look at this guy! He's enlightened and we got him there!' In thirty years, they don't have one? Don't you think they should have, like, an entire army of enlightened guys to show off by now?"

"Well, it's not..."

"After thirty years they should have a few dozen generations of enlightened people. Even with only a quarter of them becoming teachers, they should have flooded the world by now, mathematically speaking, don't you think? I'm not asking all this as a teacher myself, mind you. I'm just asking as a consumer, or a consumer's advocate. Don't you think it's reasonable to ask to know a teacher's success rate? The proof is in the pudding, right? Didn't you ask them about the fruit of their teachings when you started with them?"

"Well, that's not..."

"Don't you think it's reasonable to ask? They're in the enlightenment business, aren't they? Or did I misunderstand you? Do they have something else going?"

"Nooo, but they..."

"If Consumer Reports magazine did a report on which spiritual organizations delivered as promised, don't you suppose that the first statistic listed under each organization would be success rating? Like, here are a hundred randomly selected people who started with the organization five years ago and here's where they are today. For instance, thirty-one have moved up in the organization, twenty-seven have moved on, thirty-nine are still with it but not deeply committed and three have entered abiding non-dual awareness. Okay, three percent - that's a number you can compare. But this organization of yours would have big fat goose egg, wouldn't they? And not just out of a hundred, but out of hundreds of thousands - millions, probably. Am I wrong?

- Jed McKenna - 'Spiritual Enlightenment:The Damnedest Thing'


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