Need help with a problem I am having learning Buddhism.

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Jack
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Need help with a problem I am having learning Buddhism.

Postby Jack » Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:03 pm

I am currently just starting my path in exploring spirituality, an aspect of life that I've never really looked into but have recently felt a calling to do so. I've begun studying Buddhism because it's teachings and philosophies are things that really hit home and I've already made plans to connect with my local Buddhist community shortly to learn even more.

Today I continue my studies and practice meditation and meditative reflection, which has already begun to make me view things in a way I never really have before. But I find myself at a roadblock when it comes to afflictive emotion. I care about many things, both people and objects. And insight into how I am exaggerating my emotions for material objects and the suffering that does come along with it makes sense. However I am curious if part of the path of Buddhism is to ultimately remove all emotions that one may have towards objects that bring happiness, replacing it completely with the happiness of love and compassion. Or can one live with both as long as they have the insight to not exaggerate feelings towards objects that bring happiness thus minimizing afflictive emotions?

DGA
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Re: Need help with a problem I am having learning Buddhism.

Postby DGA » Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:08 pm

Jack wrote:However I am curious if part of the path of Buddhism is to ultimately remove all emotions that one may have towards objects that bring happiness, replacing it completely with the happiness of love and compassion. Or can one live with both as long as they have the insight to not exaggerate feelings towards objects that bring happiness thus minimizing afflictive emotions?


Hi Jack,

Welcome to DW. Glad to hear you're working on this.

I'd advise you to take it SLOWLY when it comes to working with afflictive emotions. You will hear different answers to these questions depending on the approach taken by the different members in the forum. Some will argue that the best you can do is renounce them; some will argue that the best you can do is transform them in a certain way into forms of wisdom; others will advocate yet other approaches.

To my mind, the best you can do is find a teacher you can work with, and then follow the advice of that teacher and do your best. The reason there are different approaches is that there are different people with different needs. Good medicine for one person may not help another very well. That's why you need a teacher who knows you enough to give the right medicine at the right time.

Does that help?
DGA's PhD dissertation, a history of "mindfulness," is available here:

https://www.academia.edu/25482900/WHAT_ ... _OF_STRESS

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Jack
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Re: Need help with a problem I am having learning Buddhism.

Postby Jack » Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:57 pm

Indeed it does. I havn't been working on afflicting emotions at the moment, it just happened to be one of the first things I learned as I learn more about Buddhism which has been at the back of my mind. Believe me, there are aspects, such as non-existence for example, that I will definitely require a teacher for. Alas, I'm not quite sure when I'll find a teacher due to the size of my community, which brings up another question. It's one thing to learn about what Buddhism is, but another to begin slowly walking the path of self-improvement (at least I believe this to be the case). I'm sure this may be a question that has differing opinions, but when currently lacking a teacher to assist in the start of the journey, well, where does one start? Or to be more precise, is there a particular, thing, such as practicing meditation, that should be the focus at the beginning?

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Konchog1
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Re: Need help with a problem I am having learning Buddhism.

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:58 pm

Jack wrote:First Post
"The problem is not enjoyment, the problem is attachment."

-Tilopa
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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underthetree
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Re: Need help with a problem I am having learning Buddhism.

Postby underthetree » Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:55 pm

You might say that if you've been struck with the urge to practice as a Buddhist, you know more about Buddhism than you think...

As the path is ultimately experiential my own recommendation - and I'm a rank beginner with no understanding at all - would be to sit and learn how to still your mind. Any decent book on meditation will give you methods to start on this. Then just do it. It's a wonderful path. May your first steps be auspicious!

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Tilopa
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Re: Need help with a problem I am having learning Buddhism.

Postby Tilopa » Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:43 pm

Konchog1 wrote:"The problem is not enjoyment, the problem is attachment." -Tilopa

Correct.

Andrew108
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Re: Need help with a problem I am having learning Buddhism.

Postby Andrew108 » Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:49 pm

Jack wrote:Indeed it does. I havn't been working on afflicting emotions at the moment, it just happened to be one of the first things I learned as I learn more about Buddhism which has been at the back of my mind. Believe me, there are aspects, such as non-existence for example, that I will definitely require a teacher for. Alas, I'm not quite sure when I'll find a teacher due to the size of my community, which brings up another question. It's one thing to learn about what Buddhism is, but another to begin slowly walking the path of self-improvement (at least I believe this to be the case). I'm sure this may be a question that has differing opinions, but when currently lacking a teacher to assist in the start of the journey, well, where does one start? Or to be more precise, is there a particular, thing, such as practicing meditation, that should be the focus at the beginning?

The teacher is Buddhism. There is no getting around the fact. The path is to be inspired by your teacher. The only goal is to realize what your teacher has realised. You can't work with afflicted emotions unless you are working in partnership with a teacher. Books and dharma forums are no substitute. How do you find teacher? That's the important question.
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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underthetree
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Re: Need help with a problem I am having learning Buddhism.

Postby underthetree » Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:03 am

In terms of books, I feel I was helped in my own questions about afflictive emotions by reading Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

In my limited understanding it isn't that we have to wipe out our emotions. Tilopa's advice is exact. It's about attachment.

Teachers are everywhere. Examine, for instance, those afflicting emotions...
Last edited by underthetree on Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

dharmagoat
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Re: Need help with a problem I am having learning Buddhism.

Postby dharmagoat » Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:07 am

Tilopa wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:"The problem is not enjoyment, the problem is attachment." -Tilopa

Correct.

:tongue:

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seeker242
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Re: Need help with a problem I am having learning Buddhism.

Postby seeker242 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:26 am

Jack wrote: However I am curious if part of the path of Buddhism is to ultimately remove all emotions that one may have towards objects that bring happiness, replacing it completely with the happiness of love and compassion. Or can one live with both as long as they have the insight to not exaggerate feelings towards objects that bring happiness thus minimizing afflictive emotions?


The Dalai Lama commented on this in his book "Healing Anger", he said:

What premises or grounds do we have for accepting that mental afflictions can be ultimately rooted out and eliminated from our mind?
In Buddhist thought, we have three principal reasons for believing that this can happen.
One is that all deluded states of mind, all afflictive emotions and thoughts, are essentially distorted in their mode of apprehension, whereas all the antidotal factors such as love, compassion, insight, and so on not only are undistorted, but they also have grounding in our varied experience and in reality.
Second, all these antidotal forces also have the quality of being strengthened through practice and training. Through constant familiarity, one can enhance their capacity and increase their potential limitlessly. So the second premise is that as one enhances the capacity of these antidotal forces and increases their strength, one is able to correspondingly reduce the influences and effects of delusory states of mind.
The third premise is that the essential nature of mind is pure; in other words, there is the idea that the essential nature of mind is clear light or Buddha-nature.
So it is on these three premises that Buddhism accepts that delusions, all afflictive emotions and thoughts, can be ultimately eliminated through practice and meditation.


So we practice cultivating the antidotes to these afflicitive emotions, which minimizes them as we practice. And as the practice progresses, they become lessened and lessened and lessened, until the point that they are lessened so much, that they disappear entirely. But that does not necessarily mean that all emotions disappear entirely. It's just that the emotions are no longer "an affliction" that cause suffering. So to answer your two questions above, it's really not an either/or type of situation. I would say the answer is yes to both, minus the "remove all emotions" part.



Jack wrote:'m sure this may be a question that has differing opinions, but when currently lacking a teacher to assist in the start of the journey, well, where does one start? Or to be more precise, is there a particular, thing, such as practicing meditation, that should be the focus at the beginning?


I would say the place to start would be simply to familiarize yourself with the basic teachings, a good "introduction to Buddhism" books would cover the basics if you haven't read something like that already. And start doing breathing meditation. Many meditation teachers, regardless of the type of meditation they teach, like to start people out with breathing meditation as the first practice. It's very simple and also of great benefit. You really can't go wrong with simple breathing meditation. But, it's not really a beginners practice even though it's very suited for beginners. "Advanced" practitioners also practice this breathing practice because it's very beneficial for every stage along the path. The Buddha himself put great importance on breathing meditation.

:namaste:
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

Mal
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Re: Need help with a problem I am having learning Buddhism.

Postby Mal » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:23 pm

Jack wrote:I am curious if part of the path of Buddhism is to ultimately remove all emotions that one may have towards objects that bring happiness, replacing it completely with the happiness of love and compassion. Or can one live with both as long as they have the insight to not exaggerate feelings towards objects that bring happiness thus minimizing afflictive emotions?


What objects bring permanent happiness? Does happiness only come from love and compassion? When I manage to dislodge craving for an object, through mediation or just convincing myself, in Socratic fashion, that the object is a silly thing to crave for, I often feel happier.


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