Proper care & feeding of bodhisattvas

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Proper care & feeding of bodhisattvas

Postby Jikan » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:41 pm

topic split and selected from here:

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Sara H wrote:The Buddha was against practices that pushed the body to the point of being potentially lethal, or making oneself ill or injured, or damaging the body. Such as the types that He Himself had practiced, and the types that the Tendai sect are now practicing.
He said they were unnecessary and unhelpful. He likened it to a string on a musical instrument being tightened to the point of snapping (see heart attacks from the Tendai practice)

Having one meal a day is fine if you are doing a more gentle practice.

Having one meal a day when you are traveling potentially more than twice the distance of an olympic marathon, with only 2 hours of sleep a night is suicidal.

The Buddha would not have endorsed a practice that caused people to have heart attacks from sheer exhaustion and malnourishment in ratio to the energy and calories expended.
Bodhidharma sat meditating facing a wall for 9 years...

I sincerely doubt that Bodhidharma spent nine years facing the wall without adequate food to keep him alive.


How much or how little ought a bodhisattva to eat? Are their circumstances under which extended periods of fasting or feasting are appropriate?

Can one fairly say that improper attention to nutrition or self care in one direction or another amounts to suicide for a serious practitioner?

Finally, are there ways in which capable yogins can indeed practice intensively for a period of years without conventional food? (I'm thinking of yogins such as Nyala Pema Dundul...)
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Re: Proper care & feeding of bodhisattvas

Postby Zhen Li » Fri May 10, 2013 12:29 am

If the Bodhisattva is living in a monastery, this isn't an issue.

Also, in the modern day if a Bodhisattva were to not eat for an extended period of time, someone would likely offer them food, which they would most likely not deny. The Bodhisattva would likely not deny any offering of food because the act of offering food to a Bodhisattva, in fact, generates enough merit to ensure the giver will be reborn in a Buddhafield.

Assuming the Bodhisattva is hidden away enough, sometimes fasting is useful for meditation because it helps to clear the mind. But on the other hand, it is generally established that only eating one meal a day is sufficient to produce that clarity.

Of course, starving yourself to death is contrary to the Bodhisattva path.

But regarding surviving without conventional food present, I asked a Kagyu Lama this question, and he said there are a number of approaches taken in his tradition. Firstly, if you are practicing an intense meditation which involves mastery of your prana, like Tummo, you can go longer than humanly possibly without food - the same may be true of other meditation techniques not expressly controlling prana. Meditating in the 4th Jhana may allow one access to similar techniques. Secondly, you can eat stuff which you didn't expect would be satiating as food: certain types of rocks, wild plants and your own or animal feces.

As for how this enhances one's specifically "bodhisattva" practice, I know not! It reminds me of the kind of "freak show" reputation of "yoga" in the early 20th century, where yoga was thought of not as a spiritual practice but as the exercise of extreme physical feats.
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