Dharma practice is a placebo.

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Re: Dharma practice is a placebo.

Postby catmoon » Sun May 20, 2012 10:09 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Uuuuuummmmm... it was a joke! Obviously that didn't occur to you either? :tongue:


Huh? Wat? Occur? Wat?
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Re: Dharma practice is a placebo.

Postby muni » Mon May 21, 2012 9:30 am

Placebo deleting the root of suffering;

When a lamp is shining on the imagined but strong protected castle between the two ears, how remarkable, there is nobody home!

"Mind is empty radiant lucid space cannot be grasped or named, its' spacelike adornments cannot be grasped or named".
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Re: Dharma practice is a placebo.

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon May 21, 2012 10:04 am

Except by using the terms "empty radiant lucid space" and "spacelike adornments" Longchenpa is naming and thus presenting an object of grasping. ;)
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One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Dharma practice is a placebo.

Postby muni » Mon May 21, 2012 10:27 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Except by using the terms "empty radiant lucid space" and "spacelike adornments" Longchenpa is naming and thus presenting an object of grasping. ;)


Since these words are adornments of own mind, it is only our own clinging which is deluding. Therefore the metaphor: write it on water, as then words are only means to transcent themselves...in speechless. :anjali:
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Re: Dharma practice is a placebo.

Postby simhamuka » Wed Jun 06, 2012 3:11 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Well, the "problem" is mainly regarding the Vajrayana view of the two truths. It is not 100% compatible with that of Dzogchen, wouldn't you agree? :smile:


From the dzogchen point of view the two truths are inseparable, per Jetsunma. So it's not really incompatible so much as things look different from the ground as compared to how they look from the top of the tower.

The real trick is what can one put into practice? I think it was Dudjom Rinpoche who, when asked for dzogchen teachings, asked those students to eat a pound of their own sh*t. If they couldn't eat it with same relish they'd have for a pound of chocolate, then he said they really didn't have dzogchen view. The necessity for the placebo becomes evident based on the actual RL view of the student.
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Re: Dharma practice is a placebo.

Postby oldbob » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:48 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
muni wrote:In ultimate truth, where is conventional truth?
Have you ever seen a one sided coin in your life?



Sorry Greg, I know you had something else in mind.

Just discovered this great post. Made me laugh.

My reaction was: sure I have one right here on my shelf, next to my uncarved block, sky flower, and barren woman's child.

I use it to pay my Dharma bills. Works for me. :smile: No placebo here! :rolling:

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Re: Dharma practice is a placebo.

Postby oldbob » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:19 pm

simhamuka wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:Well, the "problem" is mainly regarding the Vajrayana view of the two truths. It is not 100% compatible with that of Dzogchen, wouldn't you agree? :smile:


From the dzogchen point of view the two truths are inseparable, per Jetsunma. So it's not really incompatible so much as things look different from the ground as compared to how they look from the top of the tower.

The real trick is what can one put into practice? I think it was Dudjom Rinpoche who, when asked for dzogchen teachings, asked those students to eat a pound of their own sh*t. If they couldn't eat it with same relish they'd have for a pound of chocolate, then he said they really didn't have dzogchen view. The necessity for the placebo becomes evident based on the actual RL view of the student.

simhamuka wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:Well, the "problem" is mainly regarding the Vajrayana view of the two truths. It is not 100% compatible with that of Dzogchen, wouldn't you agree? :smile:


From the dzogchen point of view the two truths are inseparable, per Jetsunma. So it's not really incompatible so much as things look different from the ground as compared to how they look from the top of the tower.

The real trick is what can one put into practice? I think it was Dudjom Rinpoche who, when asked for dzogchen teachings, asked those students to eat a pound of their own sh*t. If they couldn't eat it with same relish they'd have for a pound of chocolate, then he said they really didn't have dzogchen view. The necessity for the placebo becomes evident based on the actual RL view of the student.


Hi Simhamuka all and All,

Simhamuka is exactly correct. It looks complicated but it is not: things look different from the ground than they look from the top of the tower.

A great Dzogchen Master like HH Dudjom Rinpoche was teaching Dzogchen all the time with his being. That, and through the pointing out instruction, is how Dzogchen is taught. Words about Dzogchen, concepts about Dzogchen are not Dzogchen, nor are they placeboes for anything. You can't swallow the Dzogchen corpus and then be able to eat shit with equinimity. No Dzogchen Master presents it this way. From the Dzogchen point of view, the two truths are inseparable, per the Great Being Jetsunma. When you have this view of inseparability then you can eat shit, or anything, with equanimity, because whatever arises in your continuum has one taste, it is all flavored by instant presence. Note: if you eat actual shit, because it has harmful bacteria in it, you will get sick and you may die, even if you are a Dzogchen Master. You don't practice to get sick and die! :smile:

When you make a tsog, you can visualize the various items as various items. Then, if you can eat everything with equanimity (as a visualization) then you can understand what HHDR was talking about. So in the quote, HH is saying I am not going to teach you Dzogchen view unless you have Dzogchen view, and this knocks down to the 12 vajra laughs and the 8 amazing things. Sounds like, "you can't get there from here."

But you can!

This is why we practice: so when we take the pointing out instruction, or just even come into the presence of a realized Master, such as HHDR, then we will have the capacity to be in the same state as he is.

The key point for understanding, (and putting your mind at rest), is that from the view of Dzogchen, the accumulation of relative and absolute merit does not “earn” instant presence. Instant presence has no cause and does not depend on anything.

At the same time, it is also true, that from the viewpoint of the normal mind, the earning of relative and absolute merit could be said to plant the causes of entering instant presence, but not through the activity of the earning of relative and absolute merit.

The causes that provide for easing the way into instant presence are the building up of the association with the Dzogchen Master, and your atuning to him/ her over time.

This is why Guru Yoga is said to be the main practice of Dzogchen.

Some people arrive to the teachings with a greater or lesser capacity for going into the state of instant presence, perhaps because of practice in a past life. Some get instant presence on just walking into a room where a Dzogchen Master is staying. Some get instant presence the first time they take a pointing out instruction: others take longer.

Does this means that relative practice is a placebo for instant presence or for anything else?

No!

If a placebo works, it is not a placebo. Norman Cousins is said to have cured himself from Cancer by watching humor films. A happy person is full of lots of good causes which create good health. An unhappy person is full of lots of bad causes which create bad health. By watching the humor films, Norman Cousins was replacing his normal mind filled with his usual activities, with the humor, “story," of the films. His body responded by laughing. Ask Norman Cousins if the films, or laughter were a placebo for a cancer medicine and he will laugh: he will laugh informed by profound gratefulness that he is still alive to laugh. He took the pill of humor and the pill of laughter and it cured his disease.

We are doing exactly the same thing when we replace our normally distracted mind with sadhana practice. The cohesive activities of sadhana practice organize the actions of our body, speech, and mind to develop new habits of acting, talking and thinking. Developing the capacity for contemplation replaces monkey mind with peaceful absorption in the Jnanas.

I would not talk of creative visualization /absorbtion, as being a placebo for anything. The earning of relative merit / absolute merit has real actual benefits, such as developing a capacity for concentration, developing a wholesome outlook on life (practicing the 4 immeasurables and the 10 golden things), having a strong body through prostrations and tsa lung practice, and a peaceful mind through developing the capacity for going into the absorptions.

Nundro, Lama, Yidam, and Khandro practices are not placebos for anything. They are the medicine of Lord Buddha, curing the disease of wrong activity, wrong speech and wrong views.

Please, anyone, correct me if you have a different view. I haven’t ever thought about this before and I am making it up as I go along.

If you want a really excellent presentation of the “Two Truths” in the Nyingmapa, I would refer you to “The Treasure of the Various Essential Necessities of General and Extraordinary Buddhist Dharma that are in the very concise book, The small Golde Key by the incomparable Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, may he always stay over my head.

Chapter eight explaines the Two Truths, very well.

http://www.amazon.com/Small-Golden-Key- ... Golden+Key

Hope this is of help to someone and that no one feels that I am stepping on their toes.

Long life to the Dzogchen Masters, in good health and with success in all things.

ob
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Re: Dharma practice is a placebo.

Postby pema tsultrim » Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:33 am

Hi everyone,

If I might add something to the conversation, I feel that by talking about Dzogchen and all of this so much, it ironically seems we are actually over thinking DKR's statement about Dharma being a placebo. It's true as the good doctor in the earlier posts said, that the real meaning of a placebo is that the person who gives the placebo has reason to think that the recipient will get no benefit from the medicine; there should be no effect because it contains no medicine per se, it's usually just a sugar pill and the other group gets the actual "medicine" which is supposed to have some beneficial effect at treating the illness. Repeat: a placebo in it's strictest sense doesn't do anything. However, the majority of people use the term placebo and "placebo effect" in almost the opposite way: the person takes the sugar pill believing they are taking the pain-reliever and the headache goes away. The cancer patient receives the placebo treatment thinking they are receiving chemo-therapy and they go into remission. Take it a step further: a person has chronic pain but the doctors can't find anything wrong to diagnose as a cause. But a wise, skillfull and compassionate doctor knows it's psychosomatic (perhaps the person has some deep emotional trauma, low self esteem, or a strong perception of himself as ill and this belief creates very real physical suffering for the person.) The doctor knows the person won't believe he is in perfect physical health. After all, he is in constant physical agony. He can barely walk or get out of bed. You tell him he's not sick and now he thinks he's being called crazy. So the doctor says, "You have acute samsaritis. Here. This is a miracle drug I've been working on and I think it's nearly perfected. So far, it seems to have no negative side effects and seems to work on everyone who takes it properly. Take two of these with a glass of water, sleep at least 10 hours and call me in the morning and tell me how you feel." The person is so happy to hear this news that he goes home, take the two sugar pills, and wakes in the morning for the first time in his memory with no pain at all. Crying tears of joy, he reports this to the doctor asking what he can do to repay the kindness." the doctor says simply to go out and do good in the world with his regained health. The rest is history. In the conventional usage, this is the placebo effect: A man who is not really sick takes a fake pill believing he is sick and that the pill cures him. He experiences the benefit as real and experiences that he was sick and now he is healthy again, when all along it was his belief in the illness that created the symptoms in the first place. From the point of view of the patient, whether or not the pill was sugar or a pharmaceutical makes absolutely no difference. What matters is that it worked.

I believe this is what DKR is talking about. The Buddha can and certainly does lie in order to bring his students to realization. This isn't Vajrayana even, it's pure Sutra Mahayana in the Bodhisattva vows we've all presumably taken and studied. Remember the mustard seed story. The Buddha said he would revive the grieving mother's dead child as soon as she brought him a mustard seed from every family in the village who's home had not been touched by death. This isn't an overt lie, but it qualifies as a non-truth because it is deliberately misleading the woman to think He would bring back her son. The woman came away healed from her grief by realizing that not only she, but everyone is touched by the death of a loved one and so is able to come to terms with the death of her child when she felt she was wrongly robbed of him. The Buddha's statement was a placebo: If he had said, "Get over it lady. You think you're the only one who ever lost a loved one? THis is samsara, it's suffering and life is impermanent and it happens to everyone," this would have been true but we know very cold, and not very skllful. We know if anyone has ever tried to tell us something similar, out of "love" for us.

From the point of view of ultimate truth, I think in higher Sutra and surely in Tantra (correct me if I'm wrong), there are no beings who have ever wandered or suffered in samsara. From the point of view of ultimate truth, there are only Buddhas and buddhafields, etc. So the dharma can accurately be likened to a placebo that offers a placebo effect, in the commonly used sense that it is all a bunch of highly skillful means that are simply developed as convincing tools to cure us Buddhas of our delusions of suffering and of being sentient beings who wander in samsara, and make us realize fully that we were never suffering all along, but were in fact as we are: Buddhas.

To say it is placebo is not to call it useless or unskillful, as some here seemed to have taken it. In fact, I think DKR is underscoring the brilliance of the placebo: it's completely harmless and It's completely unnecessary with respect to the illness because there isn't even an illness. just the perception of and belief in an illness. But that is enough to make beings suffer the misery and torment of the six realms so very very intensely, like feeling the real fear and physical pain of being tortured and mutilated in a dream while asleep safely in bed. One bad dream can traumatize us for years or decades. However it's totally effective and very necessary with respect to the experience of illness because it relieves us of the very undeniable (yet non-existent) experience of suffering. So in this respect, it doesn't need to be real. It just needs to work. The placebo works. The dharma works. The analogy is about as apt as any dharma analogy can be (when taken in the context in which the placebo is popularly understood, which again is the only way DKR could have meant it).

Peace,

Petsul
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Re: Dharma practice is a placebo.

Postby pema tsultrim » Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:53 am

Correction: If DKR says that the dharma is a placebo, then its not an analogy. It's a metaphor. Sorry. High School English teacher here.

Also: This metaphor is very important and helpful to think about as an "antidote" if you will, to sectarianism or buddhist fundamentalism, or just plain defensiveness (the vow in Thich Nhath Hanh's lineage about not clinging to views, even Buddhist views), if someone insults our religion, our lineage our teacher, or our philosophical viewpoint and to prevent us from having negative attitudes toward other faiths and traditions that are not overtly violent (dare I say, perhaps even those ones). We remind ourselves that after all, the Buddhadharma is a pharmacy of placebos, none of which are real in an ultimate sense, so what's the point?

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Re: Dharma practice is a placebo.

Postby underthetree » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:30 am

pema tsultrim wrote:Hi everyone,

If I might add something to the conversation, I feel that by talking about Dzogchen and all of this so much, it ironically seems we are actually over thinking DKR's statement about Dharma being a placebo. It's true as the good doctor in the earlier posts said, that the real meaning of a placebo is that the person who gives the placebo has reason to think that the recipient will get no benefit from the medicine; there should be no effect because it contains no medicine per se, it's usually just a sugar pill and the other group gets the actual "medicine" which is supposed to have some beneficial effect at treating the illness. Repeat: a placebo in it's strictest sense doesn't do anything. However, the majority of people use the term placebo and "placebo effect" in almost the opposite way: the person takes the sugar pill believing they are taking the pain-reliever and the headache goes away. The cancer patient receives the placebo treatment thinking they are receiving chemo-therapy and they go into remission. Take it a step further: a person has chronic pain but the doctors can't find anything wrong to diagnose as a cause. But a wise, skillfull and compassionate doctor knows it's psychosomatic (perhaps the person has some deep emotional trauma, low self esteem, or a strong perception of himself as ill and this belief creates very real physical suffering for the person.) The doctor knows the person won't believe he is in perfect physical health. After all, he is in constant physical agony. He can barely walk or get out of bed. You tell him he's not sick and now he thinks he's being called crazy. So the doctor says, "You have acute samsaritis. Here. This is a miracle drug I've been working on and I think it's nearly perfected. So far, it seems to have no negative side effects and seems to work on everyone who takes it properly. Take two of these with a glass of water, sleep at least 10 hours and call me in the morning and tell me how you feel." The person is so happy to hear this news that he goes home, take the two sugar pills, and wakes in the morning for the first time in his memory with no pain at all. Crying tears of joy, he reports this to the doctor asking what he can do to repay the kindness." the doctor says simply to go out and do good in the world with his regained health. The rest is history. In the conventional usage, this is the placebo effect: A man who is not really sick takes a fake pill believing he is sick and that the pill cures him. He experiences the benefit as real and experiences that he was sick and now he is healthy again, when all along it was his belief in the illness that created the symptoms in the first place. From the point of view of the patient, whether or not the pill was sugar or a pharmaceutical makes absolutely no difference. What matters is that it worked.

I believe this is what DKR is talking about. The Buddha can and certainly does lie in order to bring his students to realization. This isn't Vajrayana even, it's pure Sutra Mahayana in the Bodhisattva vows we've all presumably taken and studied. Remember the mustard seed story. The Buddha said he would revive the grieving mother's dead child as soon as she brought him a mustard seed from every family in the village who's home had not been touched by death. This isn't an overt lie, but it qualifies as a non-truth because it is deliberately misleading the woman to think He would bring back her son. The woman came away healed from her grief by realizing that not only she, but everyone is touched by the death of a loved one and so is able to come to terms with the death of her child when she felt she was wrongly robbed of him. The Buddha's statement was a placebo: If he had said, "Get over it lady. You think you're the only one who ever lost a loved one? THis is samsara, it's suffering and life is impermanent and it happens to everyone," this would have been true but we know very cold, and not very skllful. We know if anyone has ever tried to tell us something similar, out of "love" for us.

From the point of view of ultimate truth, I think in higher Sutra and surely in Tantra (correct me if I'm wrong), there are no beings who have ever wandered or suffered in samsara. From the point of view of ultimate truth, there are only Buddhas and buddhafields, etc. So the dharma can accurately be likened to a placebo that offers a placebo effect, in the commonly used sense that it is all a bunch of highly skillful means that are simply developed as convincing tools to cure us Buddhas of our delusions of suffering and of being sentient beings who wander in samsara, and make us realize fully that we were never suffering all along, but were in fact as we are: Buddhas.

To say it is placebo is not to call it useless or unskillful, as some here seemed to have taken it. In fact, I think DKR is underscoring the brilliance of the placebo: it's completely harmless and It's completely unnecessary with respect to the illness because there isn't even an illness. just the perception of and belief in an illness. But that is enough to make beings suffer the misery and torment of the six realms so very very intensely, like feeling the real fear and physical pain of being tortured and mutilated in a dream while asleep safely in bed. One bad dream can traumatize us for years or decades. However it's totally effective and very necessary with respect to the experience of illness because it relieves us of the very undeniable (yet non-existent) experience of suffering. So in this respect, it doesn't need to be real. It just needs to work. The placebo works. The dharma works. The analogy is about as apt as any dharma analogy can be (when taken in the context in which the placebo is popularly understood, which again is the only way DKR could have meant it).

Peace,

Petsul


:good:

Samsara: the ultimate psychosomatic disease?
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Re: Dharma practice is a placebo.

Postby pema tsultrim » Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:12 am

Samsara: the ultimate psychosomatic disease?


Better than a thousand meaningless words is one word, rich with import, upon hearing which one attains understanding. Thanks for summing it up so nicely: Dharma is the ultimate placebo for the ultimate psychosomatic disease, samsara.

Peace,

PT
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