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 Post subject: How to practice?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:00 pm 
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Hello Dharma-folks,

I have been fascinated by buddhism for quite some time, and have attended some meditations with the local community (karma kagyu), but only a few meditation on the 16th karmapa.
My whole self-exploring journey started some years back, after reading "a new earth" and I started reading buddhist material soon thereafter. I have had breaks from working with the self, but I always return, and at this point I would like not to take any breaks again (they have not been conscious). I am married and have to children, my wife is not particularly interested in buddhism, but likes the idea of clarity of mind that it may bring. - I haven't been able to find any communitites besides the karma kagyu around the place where I live, and I feel I exhausted the possibilities of this place, even though the people where very sweet, it was mostly infrequent talks about introductory stuff, and there wheren't a possiblity to meditate regularly with any guidance.

What troubles me is this:
How do I go about getting started on a practice? - I would like a healthy combination of meditation and "knowledge" ... I do simple mindfullness meditations at the moment.

Is it wrong to use the mantra "om mani padme hum" (or maybe karmapa chenno which I learned at the karma kagyu) during these small meditations? - I read it would be good, and I also feel as if it is.

Best regards from
Jakob


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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:20 pm 
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Location: East Coast of Canada
I am not sure I understand what you mean by having exhausted the possibilities of your local Karma Kagyu group. Do they not hold regular meditations? If they do, that would be your best opportunity for regular guided practice.

Of course, it is always good to practice on your own as well. Daily mindfulness meditation is highly recommended. Saying the mantra of compassion, "Om mani padme hum", is always appropriate. It is a practice that is suitable for anyone, at any time.

Om mani padme hum
Keith


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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:01 pm 
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KeithBC wrote:
I am not sure I understand what you mean by having exhausted the possibilities of your local Karma Kagyu group. Do they not hold regular meditations? (...)

Om mani padme hum
Keith


That was what I meant, there are no regular meditations. Perhaps I should elaborate :) - The local group has a small room for meditation, and all the members have a key, but there are no scheduled meditations, meetings or anything of the sort. So it's more of a place for members to come and meditate. I contacted them not too long ago, with sort of the same troubles/questions as I have posted here, and I was informed about weekly lectures about introductory stuff which I have attended already, two years back. - other than that they meet for coffee and a meditation on the 16th karmapa, on sundays, which is impossible for me since I have kids and we are always doing stuff on the weekends.

Anyway, this all sounds a bit like whining on my part, and perhaps I should just be more persistant in my approach. - howeverm, meanwhile I gather my guts to be so, I was hoping to find some guidance on this forum aswell.

And thank you for your answer Keith, that makes me happy :)

best,
Jakob


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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:27 pm 
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Hi KeithBC (and others),

Could you say more about the mantra "Om mani padme hum"? What is the purpose of reciting it; what are the beneficial effects? Is it associated with any particular bodhisattva, Tara for instance?

Is it useful for non-Vajrayana practitioners to recite it? And is there a correct way to do it?

Thanks for any help,

LE

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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:07 am 
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Location: British Columbia
Om mane padme hum is associated with Avalokiteshvra. I'm no expert, but I do use this mantra in my practice. I often do a visualization along with the chant.
If I'm in a contemplative mood, I will ponder questions such as "What is the jewel in the center of the Lotus?" "Is Avalokiteshvra different from Buddha?" "How does kindness arise?"

I do believe there is some merit associated with this mantra practice, though my faith is small. For instance, it is good to spend time with the mind fixed on virtuous objects, and it is good to generate a mind of compassion, because such a mind inevitably will act for the benefit of others. And it's kind of fun to keep a running total of recitations. The numbers can get quite large quite fast.

Others, who have more faith than I, will say that the benefits are really enormous and that the practice can directly affect the world around us. It may be so, for all I know. I hope it is.

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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:52 am 
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Lazy_eye wrote:
Could you say more about the mantra "Om mani padme hum"? What is the purpose of reciting it; what are the beneficial effects?

I already posted an explanation of the mantra here. It may be helpful.
viewtopic.php?f=40&t=3527


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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:49 am 
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Lazy_eye wrote:
Could you say more about the mantra "Om mani padme hum"? What is the purpose of reciting it; what are the beneficial effects? Is it associated with any particular bodhisattva, Tara for instance?

It is the mantra of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezi in Tibetan). The literal meaning of the Sanskrit "mani padme" is "the jewel in the lotus". ("Om" and "hum" are not generally considered translatable.) The jewel in the lotus refers to Avalokiteshvara himself, who was said to have been born from a lotus blossom. So, saying the mantra is like calling his name.

Avalokiteshvara is the bodhisattva of compassion. When you call on him, you are invoking the compassion that is within yourself. The purpose of the practice is to generate limitless compassion for all sentient beings.

It can be helpful to visualize Avalokiteshvara while saying the mantra, especially if you have received the corresponding initiations.

Om mani padme hum
Keith


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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 5:37 pm 
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You can start practicing by looking at your own mistakes and correcting them and not looking at others' mistakes. This is no difference than cultivating a field full of green vegetation without any weed. Practice here means maintaining conducts and following precepts. Everything you do and encounter every day is practice. For example, you have wasted a lot of paper towel just to wipe your hands. Now use less. Why because you care for the environment and the sentient beings who live in the environment. Practice of letting go of self by thinking and acting to benefit others. We always have been selfish-this is the reason for suffering and cycle of death and rebirth. Now practice compassion or letting go of self is the key to happiness. Treat every thing and people you encounter with respect and equally for all has Buddha Nature and all is one. When people do well in life, be happy for them with sincerity. When people become successful, be happy for them with sincerity. When people suffer, offer support or help within your abilities. Also make small donations to charities, organizations, etc. Always look at your own mistakes and not at others' mistakes. When you are pure, you no long see mistakes in others. Learn good deeds from others and do not remember any bad deeds. When others make mistakes, look at yourself to see if you make those mistakes. If not, tell yourself that you still need to do better.

Find a meditation, a tantra/mantra, or something not too complicated to practice to keep your mind pure. If you can't find one suitable, let me introduce you to Namo Amitabha which is very easy to practice and bring a lot of benefits and changes within person's life from inside out.

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

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


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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:16 pm 
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Thank you for your answers, they are well received :) - I went ahead and contacted the local karma-kadjy people again, and unfortunately they only have meetings and meditations once a week, and I am not able to attend at this specific time. Rather than being dissappointed, I have decided to study and practice on my own (with the help of forums such as this). I like the idea of everyday life being the source of practice, since this is where my life unfolds anyway :)

As I might have mentioned I do some simple meditations, but would very much like to know about the Namo Amitabha which you mention in your post LastLegend.

Thank you very much!

Jakob


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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:20 pm 
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Perhaps the most fundamental practice you can do is the one you do by yourself. When you can attend group practice, fine, but don't worry too much about it. Some people even prefer to attend the teachings of visiting masters and then practice mostly on their own, staying clear of Dharma centers.

I would like to recommend a book for you to start practicing shamatha meditation (it is a good way to start).
It's called "The Four Immeasurables: Cultivating a Boundless Heart", by Alan Wallace, followed by "The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind", by the same author. These two books can set you in the right direction for quiescence meditation (I think you should start there and then, along the way, join vipashyana practice).
Here's Alan's website http://www.alanwallace.org/. He's a very reputable author, completely trustworthy, and has a great style of communication.
I hope it helps. You can always place your doubts in the forum, but whenever you can try to contact a teacher by scheduling an interview, if possible.

It's not mandatory that you attend group practice (although it may be beneficial) as long as you have a qualified teacher that you can see say 2 or 3 times a year.
If you have some more difficult doubts, there's a fellow here in the forum who is quite qualified to answer. Search for the alias Namdrol (Acharya Malcom Smith). He is also reliable, meaning that you won't get BS as being Dharma from him. There are probably others, but Namdrol is who comes to mind right now.

Goof luck for your journey!


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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:22 pm 
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Thanks Dechen Norbu for bringing my attention to Alan Wallace. His podcasts are really really great..


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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:57 am 
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They're great, aren't they? I'm glad you've liked.


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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:48 am 
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Jakob82 wrote:
What troubles me is this:
How do I go about getting started on a practice? - I would like a healthy combination of meditation and "knowledge" ... I do simple mindfullness meditations at the moment.

Study and meditation is great practice. Mindfullness meditation can be a great challenge.
Often people start with calmness meditation (shamata) accompying study which I think is good.

Jakob82 wrote:
Is it wrong to use the mantra "om mani padme hum" (or maybe karmapa chenno which I learned at the karma kagyu) during these small meditations? - I read it would be good, and I also feel as if it is.

I never heard about "Mindfullness meditation" using these things but if you derive benefit from mantras then why not use them?

Kind regards


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 Post subject: Re: How to practice?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:04 pm 
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TMingyur wrote:
I never heard about "Mindfullness meditation" using these things but if you derive benefit from mantras then why not use them?

Kind regards



It is a kind of Buddhānusmṛti.

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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen


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