Epistemes wrote:Yet again, esotericism trumps Buddhism.
Chaz has good advice. A CD is no sub for a teacher. Yet, I respectfully disagree with him on this point. For a practice like this, there is no rule that one must receive from a teacher. All you need is a text or a good book that explains it in some detail.
This is one of the places that I learned the practice:http://www.lamrim.com/riburrinpoche/
I appreciate your comments; however, the feedback I've gotten is quite varied. Perhaps that variance is due to the impersonal nature of these forums and my own personal characterization of "novice." How much of a novice am I, really? That word really doesn't make any sense. We're all novices until the day we die and then we rinse and repeat.
I asked about tonglen because my partner suffers. I can't say she suffers more than other people - but sometimes it seems like she can't catch a break. When she was 2, she was diagnosed with leukemia, relapsed, and beat a .01% chance of survival. Her latter medical history is complicated as a result of the radiation and chemo she received as a child. Needless to say, there is almost always physical discomfort of some sort whether mild or somewhat intense. Recently, she just got past a pretty bad bug bite which had all of her joints inflamed, leaving her unable to walk or move. For the past week, she's woken up with sore muscles, swollen digits, and more nausea.
She's not an abstract thinker - not in the least. I think it's more of an inability than an inclination. And she has some psychological issues accepting aging and death given the fact the leukemia almost killed her. She was almost deprived of life at an early age - so she's reluctant to accept that a day will ever come.
Our relationship is built on a sense of balance. I talk to her about some of the more basic premises of Buddhism, but she's not a particularly religious or spiritual person. I try to live by example more than anything else. She's a good person, though, with good karma, I believe.
I want to help her. I wish there was a way I could give her all my good karma so that she'd end the cycle of samsara (even though I understand that nirvana entails escaping all karma). I want her to be happy and to stop suffering. I want her to catch a break.
Realizing her suffering, I better understand the suffering of all beings.
During my days as a Catholic, I tried to be mindful of a important practice known as "redemptive suffering." Where I see lojong and tonglen encapsulating the heart of the dharma, redemptive suffering was Christianity (especially Catholic Christianity) in a nutshell. Redemptive suffering is an "offering up" of one's own sufferings for the welfare of other people who suffer just like one's self (or worse) with the prayer that they will eventually be redeemed and set free. At the heart of the practice is loving-kindness, compassion and equanimity - for the very intention of "offering up" one's suffering for the suffering of others entails all three virtues.
So, tonglen seems like a natural dharmic extension of a principle with which I am already familiar. It also seems like the best way that I can help my partner and, by extension, all beings.
I mean, if Pema Chodron can travel around the country and teach tonglen on the spot and then feel conscientiously secure in releasing these talks on CD for the benefit of the public, what's to be protective or hush-hush about?