Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

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Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby CrawfordHollow » Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:16 pm

Hi all,

I have been involved in a large number of activities over the years, such as rock and ice climbing, skiing, and playing music. I started playing music at an especially young age, and at one point I would have called it my life's calling. As my commitment to Dharma practice grew, my interest in these hobbies waned, and I virtually stopped playing music altogether. I realize that these are all samsaric activities, and therefore cannot bring me lasting happiness. However, I feel like they did enrich my life in a positive way, and I would like to start becoming more involved in my old hobbies. So my question is: are hobbies a distraction and an opposition to Dharma practice? I think the problem arises when we start to identify ourselves with what we do, such as labeling ourselves "musician" or "rock climber." But I also feel that in a way I just traded labels, rather than being Troy the musician, I became Troy the Buddhist. I guess if my practice was more mature, I would be able to integrate these activites into my life without becoming attached to them.

I would like to hear what some of you guys do for fun outside of Dharma practice (not that we practice for fun). Do you feel like your hobbies are in conflict with your practice? Skiing season is coming up, and assuming that winter still exists, I would like to tear it up this year. Should I feel guilty for being completely psyched for a powder day instead of being psyched to do prostrations? I would also like to start playing music again. Now, I realize that playing music and skiing won't really be of much benefit to sentient beings, and there are some people out there who would say I should give them up and just focus on practicing as much as possible. How can I integrate my practice into things I do for fun? I'm not going through the easiest time in my life right now, and there are certaintly things that I should be focusing on besides skiing and climbing. Please give me your thoughts on this. Thanks guys.

Peace,
Troy
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby Matt J » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:51 pm

If done with awareness and by cultivating compassion, I don't see how hobbies would interfere with the dharma. Real practice, in my mind, doesn't happen in a safe, secure, sacred part of the world, in the meditation hall or on retreat. These are places where practice can be deepened, for certain. But for me, the real gold in practice is found in dealing with real life situations. If old Zen masters could practice in a brothel, I would think one could practice on a snowy mountain.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

http://zenanddao.blogspot.com/
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby plwk » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:53 pm

Image
Where to practice Zen
One day, a student ask a Zen Master: 'What kind of person practices the Way?'
The master replied: 'Someone just like me'

The student: 'Master, you have to practice the Way too?'
The master: 'Practising the Way concerns changing one's clothing...and eating...'

The student: 'These are but mundane tasks. What kind of mind study can be considered practice of Zen?'
The master: 'What do you think I do everyday?'

Commentary: Practice of Zen comes from everyday conversation, washing your face, eating and that sort of things. One must do them with full awareness. Perception into the nature of things comes from doing such things wholeheartedly


What is not the Dharma?
A disciple was taking leave of the Tang Dynasty Zen Master Daolin (also called the 'Bird Nest Master' because he used to practice meditation up a tree)

The student: 'Thank you for your guidance. I am leaving.'
The master: 'Where are you going?'

The student: 'To wander all over the world and learn about the Dharma'
The master: 'Regarding the Dharma, I have a bit of it here....'

The student: 'Where is it?'
The master pulls out a thread from his robe and shows his student... 'Is this not the Dharma too?'

Commentary: The essence of the universe is not to be found in a faraway place but in one's own mind. Everything has Buddha nature, so what is not Dharma? This is so only if one sees the truth.
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:48 pm

If your hobby is torturing small defenceless animals (including yourself) to death, yes, it is in conflict with Dharma practice! The stuff you listed doesn't sound like it is. I have a number of hobbies: swimming, cycling, weight lifting, trekking, watching good movies, etc... I just make sure that I am not sacrificing practice time for hobbies.

As far as I am concerned we need some down time anyway, otherwise we just replace worldly addiction with spiritual addiction: Oh my goodness, I didn't do my prostrations today! Lash-lash!

Spiritual burn-out is quite real. Hobbies that keep your body healthy will benefit your mind too.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:11 pm

"Enjoyment isn't the problem, craving is the problem."

-Lord 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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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby Jikan » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:26 pm

I like running outdoors, hiking, mountain biking. I do these in such a way as to make a meditation of them. I also like to read widely, particularly in philosophy, history, and literature (not just Buddhist material). I hope these activities support my practice and not detract from them.

I suspect this is representative of many other lay Buddhists you'll meet.
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby Nemo » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:29 pm

For most people Dharma is their hobby not the other way around,...
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby duckfiasco » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:47 pm

Thinking the dharma is a form means you're not practicing whenever you're not doing that form. It means enlightenment is still not here. Something to feel bad about, more division between samsara and nirvana. I know I'm really good at turning the Three Jewels into another guilt trip. We all know someone who could receive a literal wish-fulfilling jewel then say, "Gosh I don't deserve this." :techproblem:

I was actually thinking about a related question this morning... if nirvana is unconditioned, why does a conditioned practice matter at all? And related to this, how is one conditioned activity better than another? I think I read a Zen story that gets at the issue, where a student posed the same question to his teacher. The teacher paused a moment, then took off his sandal and slapped him across the face. "That's why!" As long as suffering exists, regardless of if it's a daydream or a funny mistake, then the work of a bodhisattva isn't done :) Silly answers to deal with the silly things we do to ourselves. :rolleye:

Whether any activity is actually beneficial is individual. Working with our greatest defilements first, we notice that their branches reach many parts of our lives. Ideally, you try to cut defilements as close to the root as you can. That's the need for specific forms of practice. But if you're overrun with blackberries, you don't just cut the root and leave the dried up briars all over your garden. That's the need for post-meditation practice, by the fence, around the cucumbers, on the ski slopes... :cheers:

Just be honest with yourself about hobbies. The danger isn't necessarily in having down time or from a puritanical viewpoint "wasting time", but in finding new things to make into the ol' Big Deal© and therefore forget our commitments. Our duty is to work tirelessly out of love for our countless mothers and children lost in suffering. I can think of no better way than marrying practice with everyday life, where these beings actually live!

And since you asked... :) I enjoy taking walks, painting landscapes, playing piano, writing terrible poetry, working on my constructed language... :geek: I'm also deep in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin.
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby Yudron » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:41 pm

Downhill skiing meditation sounds really cool to me!
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:50 pm

Beats the hell out of uphill skiing meditation! :tongue:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby wisdom » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:53 pm

You can integrate your practice with anything you do!
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:38 pm

Yes, well...
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby Yudron » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:44 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Beats the hell out of uphill skiing meditation! :tongue:


Maybe it depends on whether you hit a tree or not.
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:53 pm

I feel like as a householder, if I go too far into severing activity not directly related to Dharma, I start to create an ego-construct that is just based on "being a Buddhist" instead. Worth keeping in mind, thinking I am being a Buddhist, and actually being one maybe aren't always the same thing..thinking about practice, having a personality based on practice isn't actually the same thing as practice, and in some cases can just be an excuse to not actually practice, but just to kind of hoard ideas about Buddhism.

Another way to look at it, many "hobbies" are a way to give a part of "yourself" away into something or someone, and I think that can be a healthy practice, maybe even one that can be directly related to Dharma..especially if you are in a position to teach someone how to do something, whatever it is. If I remember Chogyam Trungpa has a section on Generosity in Meditation in Action that covers a similar idea. So maybe don't bother 'becoming a musician' again, just be someone who gives away music.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby CrawfordHollow » Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:32 am

Thanks for the replies guys.

Actually, I do a fair amount of uphill skiing, I do the backcountry thing, so that usually involves hours of skinning up some remote peak to get one or two runs while dodging avalanches. I guess something that makes these activities difficult for me is that the people I share them with have no interest or understanding of the Dharma. I spent a lot of time in a very traditional monastary when I was first starting out, and these things seemed to be frowned upon. Maybe that's where my concern stems from. I think integtration and awareness are the key points while doing anything. I also agree with Greg that excercise and recreation are important for maintaining overall health. Your a weightlifter, eh Greg? Ever try rock climbing? I think that there is some good seaside sport climbing over there in Greece. Climbing for me has always had some spiritual signifigance. Probably because it is such an intense experience, and there is absolutely no doubt about your own mortality when you are hanging from your fingernails hundreds of feet above the ground. I've had some real crazy adventures out on the rocks.

I know this isn't the most serious of threads, but I am really interested in what you guys like to do. Besides cracking out on internet forums. Keep the stories coming, its actually uplifting for me to hear right now. Thanks.

Troy
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:38 am

Heh, I do and teach martial arts...talk about something that's not always easy to square with Dharma, whole can of worms there!

At one time I also did music, mainly experimental/drone electronic stuff, and painting, mainly oils.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby futerko » Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:43 am

:oops: I thought "uphill skiing" was a euphemism!!! :rolling:
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby tomamundsen » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:54 am

My hobbies are weight lifting, watching movies, and surfing (in the ocean). I occasionally go hiking and/or camping too, maybe once or twice a season. I don't feel that any of these activities conflict with Dharma practice. However, I have had a lot of internal discussion with myself lately on how to ration my time; i.e., how much hobby time to trade for Dharma practice and vice versa.

As nemo mentioned, I do definitely feel like Dharma is a hobby of mine in the sense of how much time I put into it, not my view. I actually had a teacher once that considered Buddhism to be just one of his hobbies. :shock: I would like to make that less true.
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:10 am

Nothing wrong with wholesome hobbies. We (most of us here) are not monks and nuns. Especially sports and fitness activities are very good hobbies. They provide some entertainment, fun, and fitness provides better health. You can think of jogging or running as a "fast" walking meditation and still try to maintain as much mindfulness as possible during the exercise and similarly with other events.
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Re: Do hobbies conflict with Dharma practice?

Postby Ayu » Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:31 pm

My hobby is also to make music. I participate in too very different bands.
The dharma-practice changed this passion very much. Before i was very eager for everything, now i'm quiet calm and just do the music without willing and wanting. It becomes much better through this.
Also i was considering to stop making music at all...
I left my four bands last year and it took me one month to decide wether i should leave music for ever or find something new.
I decided to stay a musician, but now i can have it without too strong attachment. I think what one does is not the point, but how one does it - as long as it is decent.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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