Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby Osho » Wed Jul 02, 2014 9:49 pm

:good:

'Inconceivable' kinda says it all.
No point in trying, simply trust.

:smile:
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

" A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake."
(Dogen).
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:47 am

Great post, Porkchop :cheers:

You might read that we are swept up in Other-Power, that Amida doesn't let us fall away, and so forth.
Sounds kind of abstract, so here's an example from my own life.

For a long time, I would become quickly discouraged with whatever I was doing, religion-wise and even daily life stuff.
I bounced endlessly between belief systems, activities, books, friends...
I had been depressed before, and Buddhism seemed to help. But doubt about my capacity to be happy or love just shifted to my practice instead.
It became very hard to find any kind of relief. I didn't want to fall back into depression and nihilism again, but I found endless problems with everything. Instead of going straight to "I feel bad", I was stopping by the way station of "I don't know what to do, none of this makes any sense, how worthless my effort is."

Luckily once the moon is pointed out to you, it's pretty hard to miss. You see it actually shines on everything. Not only that, but it was up there this whole time. Our eyes just become fixated on some very specific shadows. The shadows may seem very dark.

Similar feelings of confusion have come up again of course. But now, the moonlight nature of the nembutsu is apparent, and it's like Osho says... if you TRY to be despondent while saying the nembutsu, it's very difficult, even comical. I've laughed out loud at my insistence on being miserable before :rolleye: The immensity of Amida is right there, lovingly saying "Namu Amida Butsu" in this very room, and we're like little kids putting our fingers in our ears going "LA LA LA LA LA I'd rather be sad!"

My doubt has many times compared the nembutsu to saying "cheeseburger cheeseburger cheeseburger" or like praying to an inscrutable god.
I want to make some logical-sounding argument that the nembutsu is empty, so it has no real meaning and I'm indulging in wishful thinking, chasing the fetter of rites and rituals, and so forth.
Other-Power is very intimate. It embodies even this doubting, nitpicking mind.
In a single unguarded moment, we see ourselves fully lit up.
It doesn't take a genius or a morally impeccable person to notice.
It's no extravagant spiritual feat: simply seeing moonlight, all around.
Such is inconceivable Grace. We call it Amida's, but it's not limited by what we understand "Amida" to mean.

I really like what steveb1 says... the inconceivability soothes the rational mind.
It's like we can't see the roots of a tree so we somehow think there aren't any. The nembutsu nonetheless has deep roots.
We can't count the raindrops of Other-Power so we crazily think "one, two, three... jeez, okay there are three." :pig: The rain falls uncountably nonetheless.

Just rest for once and say the nembutsu.
Let that poor doubt and suffering be at ease :group:
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby PorkChop » Thu Jul 03, 2014 1:56 am

duckfiasco wrote:Just rest for once and say the nembutsu.
Let that doubt and poor suffering be at ease :group:


Sorry to focus only on these few words, but they're what really hit deep for me.

When I was younger, living on an island, frequently engaged in water sports like bodyboarding, it was common knowledge that fighting the ocean was how you got in trouble. If you wiped out on a particularly vigorous wave, as long as you relaxed, rolled with it, let it take you down as far as it needed to, eventually you'd rise back up. If you struggled against it, tried to keep it from pushing you under, that was how you tired yourself out, how you risked exhausting yourself, how you risked cramping up, and even how you risked drowning.

One time, I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I went bodyboarding in a typhoon, a little less than sober, all by myself (buddy system is a must in strong weather like that). I was doing fine at first, paddling out there around the breakers. Then I caught a huge wave, lots of force, too much actually, but didn't carry my far enough out. I had cut right and rode it to the edge. Unfortunately there were more behind it. They kept coming. Crashing down. Lost my board. Had to just let go. Dragged me down. Swam out underneath to way outside the break. Tried to swim back in, in-between sets. Got caught in a riptide. Kept swimming for everything I was worth, was going nowhere. Waves started coming back in. Had to just let go. Let them pound the crap out of me. Washed me up on the concrete, step-type typhoon jacks. They were slick, so I slid back down a few times. Clawing my way out wasn't going to work. Wedged my knee into one of the gaps in the jacks and just rode it out 'til a break between waves. That worked. I could see Japanese fishermen handing each other money at the top of the step-jacks. Guess they were betting on me. I was lucky. 3 people died in that typhoon elsewhere on that island.

Sometimes you gotta realize when something's bigger than you and learn how to flow with it. I'm a deluded being and I realize that. It's when I tell myself I'm not that I tend to get in trouble. It's when I fight against conditions and try to assert my will that I exhaust myself and collapse in failure. It's when I entertain doubts that the mind is never settled. Nembutsu gives me a way to relax, a way to rest, a way to practice naturalness, そのままで, "just as I am". Board the large ferry of the Nembutsu and just let go. Honen is described as having said "no working is true working".

Maybe this method doesn't sound consistent with the "against the stream" motif of the "early" suttas. But a big part of the anatta doctrine is realizing what you don't have arbitrary control over and then letting it go, by telling yourself "it's not me, it's not mine, it's not what I am." This includes the 5 skandhas... form, feelings, recognition, impulses (& thoughts), discernment... "Not my circus, not my monkeys"... So I let go of that, relax into the interconnected & interpenetrating web of causes and conditions that support me in every moment of my life, feeling grateful for that infinite compassion, and I rely on it, learning to flow with conditions without resistance (suffering, dukkha) like learning to roll with the crashing nature of the waves. By the same token, how can I not want to help those around me? When even those I don't like teach me valuable lessons about my deluded nature?

They say when those who have the 3-fold heart of entrustment hear the Pure Land teachings, they leap for joy. This has maybe caused some doubt for me, because I tend to get a different feeling. For me, when I really think about it, I get choked up. Like a man who's been carrying a heavy burden for so long, who finally sees his destination and knows he can finally set it down. Like the Crow at the end of that movie, after he's finished his horrible task in the world of pain and can finally find consolation in a tender embrace. Like finally getting to go home again. Like nearing the finish line with all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas cheering you on, knowing that the struggle is almost over, knowing that once you cross that line, you'll turn right back around and offer the same encouragement to those coming after...
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:51 pm

:good: Thanks for sharing, PorkChop. This is exactly the kind of thing people in the desert of doubt need to hear, including me these days.

The Promise of Amida, pg. 305 wrote:Honen-shonin also said, "The threefold devotional heart will be cultivated as a matter of course if one without pretension continuously practices the karmic act [nembutsu] for attaining birth in the Pure Land. To illustrate, one cannot see the refelction of a full moon in a reedy pond from far away. However, if one draws close to the pond, one can see the reflection of the moon among the reeds. The moon of the threefold devotional heart reflects with certainty on the pond, even though the reeds of illusory thought grow thick."
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby PorkChop » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:37 pm

Just found a pic online of the spot where I was bodyboarding.
Thought I'd add it for context...

Image
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Aug 01, 2014 6:22 am

It's been a difficult year and especially difficult month, friends.

I've been thinking of something I always set aside as pointless: the teachings of the Dharma ending age. I now feel like it can happen even in one's own lifespan. Buddhism may cease to have meaning; trying to practice may be like using a sieve to drink water. Even so, no matter if we understand it or not, Amida has taken us up. What a relief.

---
turning away again and again
i cling to this little ball of thorns
(i've gathered up the most painful things)
the world sends gifts of bread and love
i spurn them all, one by one

full of concern, Amida stays close as a shadow,
he clings to my skin like morning chill
he burns my scalp like noon sun.
such Love doesn't force itself on anybody
he doesn't need to; he just goes on working

my arms and legs pierced to the bone,
this ball of thorns overtaking the house,
i can scarcely believe that even here,
even now,
"namu amida butsu"
"namu amida butsu"
"namu amida butsu"

---

the western land is merely west,
no matter if you lie like a bloated carcass
or soar like a gilded cloud,
westward, just turn a little for heaven's sake!
even now the sun warms your cheek,
it's so easy to do.
then ah,
the stars! the trees!
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby steveb1 » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:49 am

Thanks for sharing another heartfelt poem. I hope the difficulties decrease for you soon.
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby Jesse » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:42 am

Why do I even have to ask such questions?
When the answers float in front of me,

What makes life a gift, or a curse? Is it circumstance?
Is there a choice in the matter at all? Or has this moment simply
been waiting to be since the beginning.

As haphazard as I am, even I find good days,
Even on the days Im withering away inside.

I ponder my circumstances with the vigilance of a soldier
waiting for a stray bullet to pass by his head.

What a way to live, what a way to write poetry.
Let me tell you, poetry is about as good as ash
tossed in the sea.

It serves as a fossil, a reminder of the past, but through
the binoculars of a different person.

It doesn't explain a thing either, it's just text, an empty shell
Once the shell falls away, what remains is what we sough after, but never wanted.

Let me tell you, When pleasure is followed by pain
there's nothing but destruction
but when pain is followed by understanding,
well, maybe, just maybe.
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Finding Faith and Gratitude Again

Postby PorkChop » Sun Aug 03, 2014 5:15 pm

duckfiasco wrote:It's been a difficult year and especially difficult month, friends.

Sorry to hear duck.
Hope things get better.
At least the teachings of impermanence remind us that things won't always be like this.

duckfiasco wrote:I've been thinking of something I always set aside as pointless: the teachings of the Dharma ending age. I now feel like it can happen even in one's own lifespan. Buddhism may cease to have meaning; trying to practice may be like using a sieve to drink water. Even so, no matter if we understand it or not, Amida has taken us up. What a relief.

I've always preferred the interpretation of Mappo on an individual basis and not a statement of a priori fact about the status of the Dharma teachings in the world. Mappo manifests when our capacities are particularly low, when we don't have the supporting causes and conditions to perform austere practices, and that's why this Dharma gate is appropriate for us.

Beautiful poem btw. :twothumbsup:
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