Struggling with practice

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Re: Struggling with practice

Postby Nikolay » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:11 am

Konchog1 wrote:I was going to post this, but I thought it might be misunderstood as arrogant, so I decided not to. Then I thought "what the heck".

Don't worry, I would never think of someone sharing advice with me as arrogant.

Konchog1 wrote:It sounds to me like 1. You don't know that guilt doesn't exist in Buddhism. Only shame does. Shame is 'I did something bad'. Guilt is 'I did something bad and therefore I'm a bad person'. So don't become obsessed with Samaya.

Well, I have to say Tibetan authors do their best to ensure that I do become obsessed with it, in fact it seems to be their objective! :lol: I'm not really thinking in terms of guilt, but more in terms of karmic consequences.
Konchog1 wrote:2. You either lack the karma for Tantra or are obscured. So add the Four Powers to your daily practice and focus on what you do enjoy: the Lam Rim.
After all, as Phakongkha Rinpoche repeatedly says in Liberation in the Palm of your Hand, without Bodhicitta and the other things taught in the Lam Rim, success in Tantra is impossible.

Power of Regret
Acknowledgement you've done something you shouldn't have.

Power of the Remedy
Reciting Sutras (particularity the Confession chapter from the Sutra of Golden Light), mediating upon Emptiness, making images, bowing before them and so forth.
Power of the Determination

Determination never to commit the act again, even at the cost of one's life.

Power of the Object
Going for refuge to the Three Jewels and relying on them to protect your vow.

This is probably correct. At this stage, shamatha is a very advanced practice for me, I probably shouldn't rush it. I have to say that while in most things (teachers, deities, views on emptiness and such) I seem to have a closer connection to Nyingma, I have always felt that Gelug emphasis on gradual path and learning was a good idea.
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Re: Struggling with practice

Postby alpha » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:06 am

mirage wrote:PadmaVonSamba:

Thank you for sharing your advice. "Pretending" is something I am very keen to avoid, because I realize how easy it is to fall into a "Buddhist" role, surround myself with thankas, books, malas and such, and then, after a couple of years, to discover that it was just an infatuation with mysterious and exotic, an ego trip, adult role-playing. Which is why I am wary of throwing myself into practice, and locking myself into a fixed role, becoming emotionally attached to it.


This is very very important.
Some time ago Malcolm spoke about this same "buddhist" trap and how is important to understand the constant identification with this particular role of being or wanting to become something.
Ever since i started to question my own attitude about the "buddhism" i was doing and the years of "becoming" a certain something.
We are very proficient in building a precious infrastructure of the millions of methods, practices, words of wisdom which then we very "generously" like to impose on everything and everyone we come in contact with.
This "generosity" is nothing more then blindness.
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Re: Struggling with practice

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:29 am

alpha wrote:This "generosity" is nothing more then blindness.
I would say that it depends on the intention. I would say that it is probably better to identify as a Buddhist and try to live by this credo, even selfishly, thus accumulating some merit, then to identify with something which will definitely be a cause of demerit.

A rejection of identification with Buddhism may not necessarily lead to you dropping all forms of identification. Some here at Dharma Wheel have taken to identifying as "non-Buddhist", how can this possibly be helpful?

From one extreme (attachment) to the other extreme (rejection) and all the shades of grey in between. Samsara as far as the eye can see.
"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: Struggling with practice

Postby alpha » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:54 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
alpha wrote:This "generosity" is nothing more then blindness.
I would say that it depends on the intention. I would say that it is probably better to identify as a Buddhist and try to live by this credo, even selfishly, thus accumulating some merit, then to identify with something which will definitely be a cause of demerit.

A rejection of identification with Buddhism may not necessarily lead to you dropping all forms of identification. Some here at Dharma Wheel have taken to identifying as "non-Buddhist", how can this possibly be helpful?

From one extreme (attachment) to the other extreme (rejection) and all the shades of grey in between. Samsara as far as the eye can see.


That is right.
There is always the danger of becoming someone who doesnt want to become anything.That's still becoming.
I think, going beyond limits has to be rooted in direct experience and observation of ourselves and not based on a decision we take.If it doesnt come from direcly seeing into our own condition, any decision we make is based on knowledge related to our relative human vision and therefore mind.
Usually the relative knowledge based on human vission is opposable.
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Re: Struggling with practice

Postby Luke » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:54 am

mirage wrote:I don't like reciting texts in any language, but reciting in language that I do not understand is even worse because I feel that it is even less useful, because the meaning of words is not leaving any imprints in my mind.

Well, then have you ever considered learning some Tibetan? That would clear this problem right up! :D It's just another human language after all. Not all Tibetans are magical bodhisattvas. If you're committed to Tibetan Buddhism, then it seems logical that learning more about the Tibetan language and Tibetan culture would be at least helpful (although I admit that I never learned more than a few words and phrases in Tibetan). And just because you understand more about the Tibetans doesn't mean that you have to entirely transform yourself into a Tibetan and lose your identity as a westerner. It's like an African who knows French: He's still an African, but he is just able to communicate with and understand more people.

mirage wrote:Here, unfortunately, circumstances outside my control make it difficult. My lama visits my country only once in a year, so it is rather difficult to have much contact. And the only active sangha in my city, as far as I know, is Ole Nydahl's Diamond Way, which I am... not very attracted to.

Again we have similar feelings! lol I went to a Diamond Way sangha once and the members were very nice, but I wasn't very attracted to their approach either.

Is that the only Buddhist sangha in your city? Or is that just the only Tibetan Buddhist sangha in your city? If the second is true, then maybe you could hang out with some non-Vajrayana Buddhists like the Theravada or Pure Land Buddhists who could be very nice to spend at least a little time with, as well.

And at the end of the day, I think you just need to remember to be realistic and be patient and kind with yourself: You are trying to learn a very complicated religion which comes from a very different culture. Succeeding at this simply takes a lot of time and effort. Most people don't transform overnight. Just keep studying, practicing, meeting with your lama, and asking questions, and maybe, slowly, you will figure things out in a way which you finally find satisfying.

Do you recite the 7-line Prayer daily? If you are a Nyingma, then that's very much a central practice and should be a great source of blessings and merit. You can't really go wrong with that, and the prayer has many different levels of meaning. Although of course, your own lama's instructions are really the most important ones to follow in Vajrayana.
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Re: Struggling with practice

Postby Nikolay » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:14 am

Luke wrote:Well, then have you ever considered learning some Tibetan? That would clear this problem right up! :D It's just another human language after all. Not all Tibetans are magical bodhisattvas. If you're committed to Tibetan Buddhism, then it seems logical that learning more about the Tibetan language and Tibetan culture would be at least helpful (although I admit that I never learned more than a few words and phrases in Tibetan). And just because you understand more about the Tibetans doesn't mean that you have to entirely transform yourself into a Tibetan and lose your identity as a westerner. It's like an African who knows French: He's still an African, but he is just able to communicate with and understand more people.

Oh, I have considered it, but I am already taking classes in Japanese! I'm afraid trying to study both at the same time will do weird things to my brain.
As I explained earlier, I'm not exactly committed - I am simply unwilling to give up some useful things, even if other aspects of the tradition do not resonate with me. In fact, this thread - viewtopic.php?f=65&t=11736 - has given me the idea that maybe I do not need to give up anything. I can simply continue my Tibetan practice while I investigate the other paths to find what works for me. As long as I observe the "do not mix practices" part it should be fine.

mirage wrote:Is that the only Buddhist sangha in your city? Or is that just the only Tibetan Buddhist sangha in your city? If the second is true, then maybe you could hang out with some non-Vajrayana Buddhists like the Theravada or Pure Land Buddhists who could be very nice to spend at least a little time with, as well.

And at the end of the day, I think you just need to remember to be realistic and be patient and kind with yourself: You are trying to learn a very complicated religion which comes from a very different culture. Succeeding at this simply takes a lot of time and effort. Most people don't transform overnight. Just keep studying, practicing, meeting with your lama, and asking questions, and maybe, slowly, you will figure things out in a way which you finally find satisfying.

Do you recite the 7-line Prayer daily? If you are a Nyingma, then that's very much a central practice and should be a great source of blessings and merit. You can't really go wrong with that, and the prayer has many different levels of meaning.

I think they are the only active Buddhist sangha.

Generally, I recite the 7-line prayer. This, refuge, bodhicitta and dedication of merit basically make up my entire daily recitation, apart from Green Tara mantra, which I try to recite 108 times each day.
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Re: Struggling with practice

Postby Luke » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:29 am

mirage wrote: In fact, this thread - http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=65&t=11736 - has given me the idea that maybe I do not need to give up anything. I can simply continue my Tibetan practice while I investigate the other paths to find what works for me. As long as I observe the "do not mix practices" part it should be fine.

Yes, that sounds fine. You should read about how eclectic Chinese Buddhism is! Chinese Buddhists in one temple often study many different schools of Buddhism and may do many different practices: Chan, Pure Land, Huayen, some esoteric Buddhism, some qi gong energy exercises, etc.
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Re: Struggling with practice

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:55 am

I struggle too, although I have realized that I am my own worst obstacle, which somehow makes it seem a little less awful.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Struggling with practice

Postby Nikolay » Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:41 pm

Luke wrote:
mirage wrote: In fact, this thread - viewtopic.php?f=65&t=11736 - has given me the idea that maybe I do not need to give up anything. I can simply continue my Tibetan practice while I investigate the other paths to find what works for me. As long as I observe the "do not mix practices" part it should be fine.

Yes, that sounds fine. You should read about how eclectic Chinese Buddhism is! Chinese Buddhists in one temple often study many different schools of Buddhism and may do many different practices: Chan, Pure Land, Huayen, some esoteric Buddhism, some qi gong energy exercises, etc.

I am very inspired by the example of Chan master Nan Huai Chin. He was not only one of the greatest Zen masters of 20 century, but also an accomplished master in Tibetan Kagyu tradition, and an expert on Taoism. His books are amazing, their detail and depth matched only by the best of Tibetan authors, in my opinion. Completely changed my perception of what an authentic Zen teaching can be, and of East Asian Buddhism as a whole.
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Re: Struggling with practice

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 5:32 am

mirage wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:It sounds to me like 1. You don't know that guilt doesn't exist in Buddhism. Only shame does. Shame is 'I did something bad'. Guilt is 'I did something bad and therefore I'm a bad person'. So don't become obsessed with Samaya.

Well, I have to say Tibetan authors do their best to ensure that I do become obsessed with it, in fact it seems to be their objective! :lol: I'm not really thinking in terms of guilt, but more in terms of karmic consequences.
Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel said it is better to receive an initiation and break all the samaya and vows connected to it, than to not receive the initiation. Because after you have suffered in the hells for eons you will meet with Secret Mantra and that deity again. Eventually you will practice the deity properly and eventually attain Enlightenment.

I think that you should be mindful of your samaya and your vows, perform Tsog twice a month and recite a mala of Vajrasattva every night. If you do that, relax. Samaya breakage won't be a problem. As Malcolm said, you have to intend to break samaya or a vow and rejoice about the breakage afterwards to completely break samaya. If you do that for some reason, just receive an initiation to purify it.

Also, the Lam Rim exists in the Nyingma but it's not as focused on.
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: Struggling with practice

Postby Nikolay » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:38 pm

Konchog1:
thank you. Like I said, I have no intention of abandoning my TB practice, whatever conclusions I ultimately reach.

Nyingma Lamrim texts do exist, and they are quite good, but I would still say Tsonkhapa's is the most comprehensive one.
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Re: Struggling with practice

Postby Luke » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:43 pm

mirage wrote:I am very inspired by the example of Chan master Nan Huai Chin. He was not only one of the greatest Zen masters of 20 century, but also an accomplished master in Tibetan Kagyu tradition, and an expert on Taoism. His books are amazing, their detail and depth matched only by the best of Tibetan authors, in my opinion. Completely changed my perception of what an authentic Zen teaching can be, and of East Asian Buddhism as a whole.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nan_Huai-Chin

Wow! He does sound awesome! Feel free to start a thread about him in the Zen or Chan forum! :D
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Re: Struggling with practice

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:54 pm

One thing on 'faith', I think maybe a part of that in Buddhism is just unconditional acceptance of how you are feeling, which is in itself an act of bravery...if you can sustain that then there is a kind of "faith" that doesn't rely on just getting reinforcement or trying to read signs from the thought bubble you are constantly trapped in.
"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits
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Re: Struggling with practice

Postby seeker242 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:35 pm

mirage wrote:I feel like I have to build for myself a "core" of Buddhism, the philosophy behind it that is independent of any cultural trappings


The thing that people refer to when they say "enlightenment", is present in every tradition, independent of any cultural trappings. If it could be bound by cultural trappings, then it could not be called enlightenment to begin with. Of course there are many different names for it and different descriptions of it and non-descriptions of it, and non-explanations of it, but at it's very core, the essence is the same. Since this is my "core" so to speak, I don't feel a need to identify as zen Buddhist or Tibetan Buddhist, etc., but simply "Buddhist" and that's it. All these different traditions are all pointing at the same thing. Enlightenment, whatever that word actually means. This one thing that everyone is pointing at, this is the real core IMO. :smile:
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Re: Struggling with practice

Postby Nikolay » Wed May 01, 2013 7:07 am

viewtopic.php?f=34&t=12539&view=unread&sid=83c425654a7674522b4c554c1ef3307b#p163741
viewtopic.php?f=34&t=12539&view=unread&sid=83c425654a7674522b4c554c1ef3307b#p163789

I must say that I find it rather troubling that, despite the whole "snake in the bamboo tube" thing, Vajrayana empowerments are freely given basically to anyone who walks in, and people (like newbies on this forum) are encouraged to take one without second thoughts.

Anyway, what does keeping the samaya mean exactly, if the only empowerment I ever got did not have any practice commitments?
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