Dealing With Desire

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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby oushi » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:28 am

Malcolm wrote:Well, yes it does, and anyone sufficiently educated in Mahāyāna knows this.

And you think what, if not education, is the cause of so few arhats nowadays? :roll: Knowledge is the finest grasp, the strongest binding chain. You are probably more educated then any arhat ever was... so you are perfectly aware of Mahayana teachings that go beyond rejection, or acceptance of any dharma.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:45 am

Malcolm wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote: Please try to avoid the sweeping generalisations.

Why? You don't.
Two wrongs don't make a right! ;)
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Astus » Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:02 am

The idea of the decline of Dharma has been around since the beginning. Piya Tan explores the concept in his The Dharma-ending Age (PDF) within the Pali Canon. In China the Three Stages School (Sanjie jiao 三階教) founded by Xinxing (信行, 540-594) was among the first to propagate the end of Dharma (mofa 末法) and based on that claim that its own teachings are the most appropriate and viable. The idea that only this or that path is the available one in this age has been in use for a while now, so any statement with such a reasoning has little weight, just like the grandiose claims for superiority.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:08 am

I'm reminded of the Japanese Pure Land folks who believed enlightenment was completely impossible after a certain date (11th century if I recall), so you could only pray for rebirth in the Pure Land.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:35 am

oushi wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Well, yes it does, and anyone sufficiently educated in Mahāyāna knows this.

And you think what, if not education, is the cause of so few arhats nowadays?


Most arhats were highly educated brahmins, but not all.

so you are perfectly aware of Mahayana teachings that go beyond rejection, or acceptance of any dharma.


From the perspective of ultimate truth; but Mahāyāna practice is not merely confined to the perspective of ultimate truth. The rejection of sense objects is a key component of the Mahāyāna path, and why it is defined, along with the Nikāya schools, as a path of renunciation.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:49 am

Astus wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
wisdom wrote:In essence the Mahayana approach goes beyond accepting and rejecting objects of the senses as inherently good or bad...
Well, no, it doesn't — Mahāyāna regards sense objects as negative, something to be rejected.


This is from a Theravada teacher (who was also a Vinaya specialist),

"For the really earnest student, the more sensations the better. But many meditators shrink away from sensations, they don't want to deal with them. This is like the naughty schoolboy who won't go to school, won't listen to the teacher. These sensations are teaching us. When we know sensations then we are practicing Dhamma."
(Venerable Ajahn Chah: Living Dhamma)



This is quite different.


The doctrine that "affliction is enlightenment" (煩惱即菩提) is well known in East Asian Mahayana schools like Chan and Tiantai.


You can find such statements in Mahāyāna sutras, but such statements do not constitute the path of Mahāyāna.


In Vajrayana they say that the sutra path is renunciation, the tantra path is transformation and the dzogchen path is self-liberation (e.g. here).

And here is what a Chan master said,

"There are many methods in practicing Buddhism. The Lesser Vehicle practices “eradicating afflictions.” The Great Vehicle (Mahayana) “transforms afflictions.” In the Ultimate Vehicle “afflictions are bodhi.” Each method is centered on the mind. In the end, they all enable sentient beings to attain unsurpassed complete enlightenment."
(Grand Master Wei Chueh: From Bodhi Mind to Ultimate Enlightenment)


In Vajrayāna one does not transform afflictions. That is not what "path of transformation" means in Vajrayāna. You don't experience anger, for example, and then try to change it into the mirror-like wisdom.

Further, we have to examine what is meant by "affliction" is bodhi.

Trotting out slogans does not produce understanding. In fact, it can show that one has not understood anything of what the other person is getting at, as in this case.

Although there are different traditions they are aware of the various methods that can be used in order to deal with desire, anger and ignorance. In a single teaching the Buddha gave five different methods to deal with unskilful thoughts, and these techniques could be matched with the above three: Vitakkasanthana Sutta (MN 20).


Perfect example of the path of renunciation in toto. I do not see at all how, for example, this relates in anyway to the path of transformation. I can see very clearly where all five paragraphs of that sutra are as applicable in Mahāyāna as they are in the Nikāya Buddhism.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby dude » Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:57 am

oushi wrote:
Indrajala wrote:
oushi wrote:When you are done with desire for relationship, try removing thirst and hunger...


I think there's a difference between a physiological desire and mental desire. Desire in the context of achieving liberation is understood more as the latter. Physical processes in the body for example can prompt sexual desire when one is exposed to pheromones perhaps, but that's different from reacting to a sense object either in a sensory field or constructed in the mind.

When something doesn't make sense as a whole, lets divide it into parts...

Itivuttaka 54
Centered,
mindful,
alert,
the Awakened One's
disciple
discerns searches,
how searches come into play,
where they cease,
& the path to their ending.

With the ending of searches, a monk
free of want
is totally unbound.


Itivuttaka 55
Sensual search, becoming-search,
together with the holy-life search
i.e., grasping at truth
based on an accumulation
of viewpoints:
through the relinquishing of searches
& the abolishing of viewpoints
of one dispassionate to
all passion,
and released in the ending
of craving,
through the ending of searches, the monk
is devoid of perplexity &
desire.


Sensual desire in one line with desire for holy-life, both binding in the same way. Dropping desires is still a desire. Drop all or nothing. If you drop all you drop nothing, if you drop nothing you drop all. This is going beyond desires.



Oh give me a break.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby oushi » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:01 pm

Malcolm wrote:From the perspective of ultimate truth

Sorry to disagree, but there is no perspective of ultimate truth. All this talk about ultimate is just paddling in conventions. Dream within a dream.
"The buddhas are of one appearance, the inconceivable appearance. - Buddha in MPPS"
How would you find a perspective of the inconceivable? By imagining it? hm...

dude wrote:Oh give me a break.

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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:12 pm

kirtu wrote:
What about the reintroduction of the Gomin path (lifelong lay renunciates). Or even one day vows or serious Nyungne practice? This begins to get a little tricky. Malcolm can't just reject Nyungne practice because it is lower tantra (except that from memory he might also reject lower tantra practice). But for some people these are necessary practice paths (necessary for the individual).


I don't reject any practice, not even taking ordination. If someone is dead set on becoming ordained, that is their business. I simply think that conditions are not conducive in this age for paths of renunciation, and that other paths are more effective for people.

The very nature of renunciation changes somewhat from yana to yana but renunciation is still a component even of higher tantra.


There is renunciation, the wish to be free from samsara. That is one thing. Then there are paths of renunciation, where for example, you follow many rules about what and who you can touch, and what and who you cannot touch and so on, what you should wear, what you should wear.

The former [renunciation] is necessary in every path, and especially it is necessary in the Kali Yuga. The latter [a path of renunciation of sense objects] is not necessary at all, and is especially difficult to follow in the Kali Yuga — and not, in my opinion, a particularly effective path in modern society.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Clarence » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:29 pm

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:
What about the reintroduction of the Gomin path (lifelong lay renunciates). Or even one day vows or serious Nyungne practice? This begins to get a little tricky. Malcolm can't just reject Nyungne practice because it is lower tantra (except that from memory he might also reject lower tantra practice). But for some people these are necessary practice paths (necessary for the individual).


I don't reject any practice, not even taking ordination. If someone is dead set on becoming ordained, that is their business. I simply think that conditions are not conducive in this age for paths of renunciation, and that other paths are more effective for people.

The very nature of renunciation changes somewhat from yana to yana but renunciation is still a component even of higher tantra.


There is renunciation, the wish to be free from samsara. That is one thing. Then there are paths of renunciation, where for example, you follow many rules about what and who you can touch, and what and who you cannot touch and so on, what you should wear, what you should wear.

The former [renunciation] is necessary in every path, and especially it is necessary in the Kali Yuga. The latter [a path of renunciation of sense objects] is not necessary at all, and is especially difficult to follow in the Kali Yuga — and not, in my opinion, a particularly effective path in modern society.


First of all:

Thank you Malcolm for participating in this thread.

Secondly: you mention in another post that the path of transformation is not about experiencing anger and then transforming it. Would you mind elaborating on what you think it really is then?

Thirdly: you say a path of renunciation of sense objects is not necessary in these times but does that mean retreat is not necessary either? Wouldn't it be better to do a 3-year Thogal retreat than a 3-year The Big Bang Theory Marathon retreat?

Many thanks to everyone else as well. It is highly informative so far.

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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:37 pm

While Malcolm is entitled to his opinion, I fear some might assume that enjoyment of wine and women/men is not really problematic and instead think they see it all as bodhi while actively engaging in such sense pleasures in a way that proves detrimental.

You can outwardly say afflictions are bodhi, but how that reflects in your behaviour is another matter.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:11 pm

Indrajala wrote:While Malcolm is entitled to his opinion, I fear some might assume that enjoyment of wine and women/men is not really problematic and instead think they see it all as bodhi while actively engaging in such sense pleasures in a way that proves detrimental.


Enjoyment of wine and sexual partners is not a problem if you have a proper method.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:14 pm

Malcolm wrote:Enjoyment of wine and sexual partners is not a problem if you have a proper method.


Therein lay the danger: thinking you're successfully carrying out the method when in reality you're just excusing behaviour you know is discouraged by your religious tradition, or at least a good part of it for many many centuries.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:38 pm

Indrajala wrote:I'm reminded of the Japanese Pure Land folks who believed enlightenment was completely impossible after a certain date (11th century if I recall), so you could only pray for rebirth in the Pure Land.


That is a pretty good analogy.

Why is Malcolm wrong wrt renunciation? He doesn’t just want people to shy away from the Path of Renunciation, he wants people to abandon entry into the monastic sangha as well. He has claimed in other conversations that people are more or less incapable of holding vows and thus the taking of vows sets people up for the cultivation of demerit instead of merit.

Why is Malcolm wrong? He is wrong because as trainees in the Buddhadharma the very first step is to restrain one’s behavior and refrain from performing harmful actions. This protects other beings and yourself as well. It protects yourself by immediately accumulating merit and refraining from committing actions that create negative karma.

Taking the five or eight or getsul or higher precepts permits people to apply mindfulness to restrain behavior that naturally creates demerit (this is esp. true in the case of the five precepts). HH Sakya Trizen has said that once one begins behaving in the right way, they naturally create merit. What is behaving in the right way? Of course this involves abandoning killing, stealing, deception (lying), sexual misconduct and harsh, divisive speech. HE Ratna Vajra (the designated successor to HH Sakya Trizen) has emphasized the application of renunciation in the Buddhist path. Why have these two lamas (and many others) not leapt directly to Malcolm’s solution of maintaining transcendent awareness or constantly dwelling in the Bodhi mind? One reason is that as beginners on the path, we can easily deceive ourselves and claim that our view trumps our behavior. But as Padmasambhava said: "Although my view is higher than the sky, attention to my behavior is finer than flour." The precepts at any level are meant to move us closer to the outward behavior of a Buddha but are also meant as touchstones for mindfulness that we keep in mind throughout the day. People begin with outward restraint and gradually use that to refine their inward state of mind and awareness until they are able to progress to maintaining direct transcendent awareness all the time. But even this degree of awareness is far away from the higher bhumis. And in fact even on the 10th bhumi, Bodhisattvas gradually refine their view and actions (this is directly said of Sukasiddhi in "Timeless Awareness").

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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:48 pm

Malcolm wrote:
oushi wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Well, yes it does, and anyone sufficiently educated in Mahāyāna knows this.

And you think what, if not education, is the cause of so few arhats nowadays?


Most arhats were highly educated brahmins, but not all.


And some Arhats were completely uneducated. Education itself wasn't highlighted in the suttas as a factor in attainment. Diligence and the right teaching (sometimes a teaching specific to the individual [The Anthill Sutta]) were.

so you are perfectly aware of Mahayana teachings that go beyond rejection, or acceptance of any dharma.


From the perspective of ultimate truth; but Mahāyāna practice is not merely confined to the perspective of ultimate truth. The rejection of sense objects is a key component of the Mahāyāna path, and why it is defined, along with the Nikāya schools, as a path of renunciation.


The point apparently alluded to is the explicit inclusion of the Bodhisattva path thus supplying trainees with methods that go beyond simple renunciation. Renunciation is added to somewhat in the progressively higher yanas. Principally the Bodhisattva Path sees the beginning of transformation of the perception of sense objects presaging the flowering of that theme in the Vajrayana ("The Wheel of Sharp Weapons" for example).

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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:51 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Enjoyment of wine and sexual partners is not a problem if you have a proper method.


Therein lay the danger: thinking you're successfully carrying out the method when in reality you're just excusing behaviour you know is discouraged by your religious tradition, or at least a good part of it for many many centuries.


Enjoyment of wine, meat, sexual partners and so on has never been discouraged in my spiritual tradition.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 2:05 pm

kirtu wrote:Why is Malcolm wrong wrt renunciation? He doesn’t just want people to shy away from the Path of Renunciation, he wants people to abandon entry into the monastic sangha as well. He has claimed in other conversations that people are more or less incapable of holding vows and thus the taking of vows sets people up for the cultivation of demerit instead of merit.


In fact they more or less are so incapable, which is why the Sakya hierarchs actively discourage people from seeking to ordain. But I don't want people to do anything. If people are all fired up to become monks and nuns (mostly because they are having a fantasy that they will be able to practice more and better) then they are free to do as they please.

Why is Malcolm wrong? He is wrong because as trainees in the Buddhadharma the very first step is to restrain one’s behavior and refrain from performing harmful actions. This protects other beings and yourself as well. It protects yourself by immediately accumulating merit and refraining from committing actions that create negative karma.


Whoever said I was advocating that people go out and harm sentient beings? Your point is wildly and completely off the mark.

HH Sakya Trizen has said that once one begins behaving in the right way, they naturally create merit. What is behaving in the right way? Of course this involves abandoning killing, stealing, deception (lying), sexual misconduct and harsh, divisive speech.


But this has nothing to do with my point, once again.

Why have these two lamas (and many others) not leapt directly to Malcolm’s solution of maintaining transcendent awareness or constantly dwelling in the Bodhi mind?


Now you are projecting -- I never proposed such a solution. I merely pointed out what HH Sakya Trizin taught so many years ago when I first took teachings from him: that in this day and age, the path of renunciation was not effective anymore, and practicing Vajrayāna teachings such as Hevajra which did not involve giving up sense objects was more effective in this epoch.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 2:09 pm

kirtu wrote:The point apparently alluded to is the explicit inclusion of the Bodhisattva path thus supplying trainees with methods that go beyond simple renunciation. Renunciation is added to somewhat in the progressively higher yanas. Principally the Bodhisattva Path sees the beginning of transformation of the perception of sense objects presaging the flowering of that theme in the Vajrayana ("The Wheel of Sharp Weapons" for example).


When it comes to the Bodhisattva path, we have six or ten perfections, correct? Not one of the six or ten perfections can be construed as enjoying sense objects and sense pleasures for our own benefit. The basis of the bodhisattva path is not enjoyment of sense objects for our own benefit and never can be.

This [enjoyment of sense objects and sense pleasures] is however the basis of the Vajrayāna path in toto.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jun 07, 2013 2:31 pm

Malcolm wrote:Enjoyment of wine, meat, sexual partners and so on has never been discouraged in my spiritual tradition.
"Your" spiritual tradition or the spiritual tradition that you are currently practicing in? Not meaning to be a pedant or anything, but you sound just a little too "Jim Jonesish" when you make statements expressed in that manner! :tongue:
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 2:32 pm

Clarence wrote:
Thank you Malcolm for participating in this thread.

Secondly: you mention in another post that the path of transformation is not about experiencing anger and then transforming it. Would you mind elaborating on what you think it really is then?



The path of transformation involves transforming our impure vision into a pure vision. The basic theory underlying this that when everything is perceived as gold, one stops desiring gold. So we are to understand through empowerment and then sadhana, for example, that all of our aggregates are buddhas, all of the elements are female buddhas, our sense organs and sense objects are bodhisattvas and offering goddesses and so on. But it is not a psychological technique of antidotes i.e. I am experiencing anger, but this is really Akṣobhya, for example. The path of transformation means transforming our relationship with the world, sentient beings and our own body (through empowerment and sadhana) from an impure relationship into a pure relationship. The path of transformation involves taking the result as the path -- for Buddhas, sense objects are not toxic, they are not afflictive, they are pure goddesses. When sense objects and consciousnesses are purified through the process of sadhana, the afflictive power of sense objects is lessened, and the links between sensation and craving is weakened and finally severed. For example, we replace our sense of identity with a Buddha identity -- the so called "divine pride" which is the essence of the creation stage, etc. In the course of working with pure vision, it is necessary to engage sense objects in every different way, smells, colors, tastes, sounds, sights, and so on.

Thirdly: you say a path of renunciation of sense objects is not necessary in these times but does that mean retreat is not necessary either? Wouldn't it be better to do a 3-year Thogal retreat than a 3-year The Big Bang Theory Marathon retreat?


Of course retreat is important. Yes, it would be better to do a three year retreat on one deity like Hevajra, than a retreat where you do tons of different sadhanas. If you are a Dzogchen practitioner, it would be better to do a three retreat on Dzogchen preliminaries like rushan, etc. on up through tregchö and thögal. But one does not need to do a three year retreat.
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