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 Post subject: The Neurotic Zen of Mint
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:34 pm 
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Hello,

I created a thread like this a couple of days ago, but I had Dechen delete it because I was embarassed by its contents - I was embarassed because I had admitted on a public forum in the whiniest manner possible that not only am I not a bodhisattva nor a great practitioner but, on some level, Buddhism is making me less happy and less peaceful and more sad and frustrated. Well, it's time to overcome that pride, write down my thoughts and experience, and see if there's anyone who can relate enough to offer solid advice.

When I converted to Catholicism 4 1/2 years ago, I spent the next couple of years battling scrupulosity. I saw sin in everything I did and didn't do: tone of voice, looking at a beautiful woman, not praying the rosary everyday, buying too many books, not going to daily Mass, eating too much food, etc.. I finally got beyond that through frequent discussion with a friend in a similar situation, my priest and a Catholic therapist. Getting over the scrupulosity, though, gave me enough clarity to see that I questioned the central dogmas of Catholicism and Christianity more than I actually truly accepted them. Thus began my journey towards Buddhism - again. I've been re-familiarizing and building upon my knowledge of Buddhism since about August of this year, 2011. I've also been trying to practice.

To be honest, though, I don't know all eight factors of the Eightfold Path - I know about five out of eight by heart. I don't know what all six paramitas are. And so on. I've learned shamatha and vipashyana meditation from reading Chogyam Trungpa and Pema Chodron, among other sources. I'm still perfecting shamatha, though, and going for longer periods.

Right at the outset when I joined this forum, there were people who suggested that I should look into Dzogchen. Even though I barely understood Buddhism, much less Tibetan Buddhism, bought a copy of Namkhai Norbu's "Crystal and the Way of Light" and read it. It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I then purchased "The Supreme Source" and it made even less sense. That's when I committed myself to reading Chogyam Trungpa. I haven't read much Chogyam Trungpa, but I like to pretend around here on the forum that I've read all of his books. Stupid ego. As November 20th approached, the anniversary of Adzam Drugpa, there was a flurry of activity surrounding receiving transmission from Namkhai Norbu. Many of you know about my hesitations and eventual participation. My hesitations were because I had finally come to a certain acceptance concerning my knowledge and practice of Buddhism, and I had resolved to continue reading Chogyam Trungpa and practice shamatha/vipashyana. I participated in the transmission because I realized it was a rare opportunity and that tuning in could only be beneficial. To be honest, though, ever since receiving transmission, I've been in this huge downward spiral of commiseration, doubt and frustration. My practice is even suffering.

I've been reading more books about Dzogchen lately. I still don't understand it as my recent "Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism" thread illustrates. I thought I understood it, but that was just pride - again. I ordered a bunch of books from Shang Shung: Guruyoga, Precious Vase, Commentary on Cycle of Day/Night, Commentary on Short Tun, The Mirror, Song of the Vajra, and maybe some others that I can't remember. I wish now that I hadn't ordered them. I wish that I had just saved my money and kept on reading Chogyam Trungpa. Now that I'm reading about Dzogchen, I've become so incredibly anal retentive about remaining aware and present. I can't even enjoy a pleasant laugh with my girlfriend or any family without my mind racing wondering if I'm remaining aware and present. Then I tell myself to just relax and I can't relax because that's another thing I'm trying to remember to do. I don't smile anymore, I'm not at peace, I'm hardly ever happy, I'm always thinking about remaining present and aware, always questioning whether I'm attached to something or someone or not, asking how I can remove myself from being attached to my girlfriend, family, myself, my practice. And I just want to yell at the top of my lungs and break down in tears.

This isn't Buddhism or Dzogchen, I know, but just another face of samsara. I liked the other, more peaceful, pleasant samsara of a few months ago, prior to studying Buddhism and Dzogchen, better.

:|


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:31 pm 
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If I were you, I'd put the books and so on away and not even think about Buddhism/Dzogchen for a week or two. You need to go relax and have fun, and eventually you can come back to it when you feel interested again.

Relaxation - mentally, emotionally and physically - is very, very important for dzogchen. As Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche says: "Dzogchen could be defined as a way to relax completely."

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:43 pm 
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Paul wrote:
If I were you, I'd put the books and so on away and not even think about Buddhism/Dzogchen for a week or two. You need to go relax and have fun, and eventually you can come back to it when you feel interested again.

Relaxation - mentally, emotionally and physically - is very, very important for dzogchen. As Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche says: "Dzogchen could be defined as a way to relax completely."


Your advice is very pratical, but there is so little time to read and study even when my mind is on the subject. I'm already 30 years behind on my study and practice. I mean, it's discouraging to log on to this forum and see new members who classify themselves as "baby Buddhists" and then begin opening threads about deterministic karma and the Ten Powers. I don't even know what the Ten Powers are, and my comprehension of karma is vague. I read these forums and I think, "Wow, I really wish I had something to contribute to this discussion, but I can't even formulate a question correctly. All I do is complain and act like a skeptical ass." I could die at any moment, and I've been an asshole for so much of my life that any exposure to karma these last few months has hardly reversed the effects. It's completely hopeless.

:crying:


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:52 pm 
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You've met with Dzogchen so you have incredible merit. It doesn't happen by accident. If you recognise the nature of mind, then you don't need to memorise list of things. But if you don't relax and let go you're never going to have a stable experience of it as you keep covering it up. All thoughts, which includes all your worries, are ignorance - so don't bother with them.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:09 pm 
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Paul wrote:
You've met with Dzogchen so you have incredible merit. It doesn't happen by accident. If you recognise the nature of mind, then you don't need to memorise list of things. But if you don't relax and let go you're never going to have a stable experience of it as you keep covering it up. All thoughts, which includes all your worries, are ignorance - so don't bother with them.


That's pleasant - but not quite reality.

Look at all the people who have incredible merit, who've met with Dzogchen, and who have memorized lists. Sure, the lists aren't important if you recognize the nature of mind, but the lists seem to help in discriminating between what is nature of mind and what isn't. Reading the discussions on this forum, the ones who seem to have a better grasp of Dzogchen are the ones who know the lists and so much more. The lists are Plan B when a person can't remain in Dzogchen, which could be 99% of the day. And I'm never going to realize nature of mind if I can't intellectually grasp what Dzogchen even is and isn't - and that requires study and meditation. I mean, I'm never going to be able to discriminate between simple mindfulness and rigpa if I don't study. Do you know how infuriating it is to be told, "Oh, mint, you're being silly again," or "Well you're wrong" and to be spoken down to? I know it's ego, but it's still infuriating.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:40 pm 
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Mint,

There is no such thing as solid advice. There is only advice which you will use or advice which you will ignore. How you relate to what is offered to you is up to you.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:48 pm 
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Hi Mint,

It seems to me that you have a habit of comparing your own situation to what you read from others on internet discussion boards. This is a good way to tie yourself up in knots of worry and anxiety, because no one's real situation corresponds with how he or she presents on the internet. It's no basis to evaluate yourself, or your practice, or your understanding. "Neurotic Zen" is right.

If you want an antidote to the neurosis, you might try this: find a real-world sangha that you can work with. It may or may not be Dzogchen or Zen. The first consideration is whether or not you can regularly show up and practice with everything you have. Doing this with others and with a competent teacher is the best way I know to cut through the delusory nonsense, to not take perceptions of reality as though they are real, and to really engage in an authentic way with the teachings.

You have all the tools you need to accomplish the path. You have the opportunity to practice. So practice!

Shorter version: less internet, more sangha. you can do it.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:08 pm 
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Atleast you've come to the Buddhist philosophical veiw of dependent origination where you can start to avoid causes of unhappiness and start creating causes of happiness :smile:


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:16 pm 
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What about ONE teaching of those like impermanence, precious human life...

In Tibet they say: if you want to quick arrive, then you should do slowly.

This means with care and at ease you will easier understand then to try to rush to the top. It is like those wanting to do a trekking, they have to sit whole year on a bureau and then in holiday they start like a speedy gonzales a huge trekking. In few days running they are ready for the local medical help. While making the body a bit flexible and slowly going, they much easier arrive. So also with our mind.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:23 pm 
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My practice is very different from the high abstractions of Dzogchen, the rarified minimalism of Zen, or the complex intricacies of Mhayana ritual. I study mostly introductory works, run around the mala now and then and do a puja when the need arises.

But mainly, my practice consists of such things as being present while walking down the street, seeing the Buddha nature in others, corralling the wild negativities of my mind, and trying to be aware of the need to benefit others in word and deed. This practice can keep one busy for quite a long time. No need to storm the high mountain passes right from the start.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:32 pm 
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I think it's a general rule - the more intense you and your practice are the more intense your experiences are going to be.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:35 pm 
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sangyey wrote:
I think it's a general rule - the more intense you and your practice are the more intense your experiences are going to be.


Could you elaborate?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:50 pm 
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This is a passage taken from Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche and translated by the Padmakara Translation Committee -

"Even if you have not accumulated negative actions during this present life, you cannot know the extent of all the actions you have accumulated in samsara which has no beginning, or imagine their effects which you have still to experience. There are therefore people who, although they now devote themselves to virtue and the practice of emptiness, are nevertheless beset by sufferings. The effect of their actions that would otherwise have remained dormant but latter would have resulted in their rebirth in the lower realms, surfaces because of the antitode that they are applying and ripens in this life. The Diamond Cutter Sutra says:

Bodhisattva's practicing transcendent wisdom will be tormented - indeed, they will be greatly tormented - by past actions that would have brought suffering in future lives, but have ripened in this life instead."


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:51 pm 
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catmoon wrote:
My practice is very different from the high abstractions of Dzogchen, the rarified minimalism of Zen, or the complex intricacies of Mhayana ritual. I study mostly introductory works, run around the mala now and then and do a puja when the need arises.

But mainly, my practice consists of such things as being present while walking down the street, seeing the Buddha nature in others, corralling the wild negativities of my mind, and trying to be aware of the need to benefit others in word and deed. This practice can keep one busy for quite a long time. No need to storm the high mountain passes right from the start.


This is sort of the neutral zone that I reached with my Catholicism. I became less concerned with dogma and more concerned with being human. This naturally led me to an investigation of the humanity of Jesus until I came to the conclusion that Christianity, while great in its intentions, wasn't something I could claim to have faith in.

I continued reading the Bible, but mostly the Jewish Wisdom books of Ecclesiastes and Job which, in turn, reignited an earlier spark I had had with Buddhism. Ecclesiastes and Job are intimately tied up with the impermanence of life. That's all Buddhism was supposed to be, I thought: a philosophy which taught about the impermanence of life and how to live virtuously before dying without having to believe in any gods, rituals, or any of the baggage I had just gotten rid of! What I've found is a very, very rich tradition with a lot of people who know (and disagree) about a lot of different things. Moreso, though, I've encountered a challenge in Buddhism in the form of recognizing duality and striving for non-duality that is almost on par with living virtuously and not sinning. I mean, I spent so much energy ranting against the Catholic Church's unrealistic presentation of the saints as pious examples of the virtuous, sin-free life only to dive right into something else and be exposed to realized masters and buddhas as examples of the virtuous, non-dual life.

Sometimes I think my time would be better spent reading the Tipitaka and doing lojong and tonglen rather than worrying with tantra or Dzogchen or anything abstract, as you say, which seems to be beyond my capabilities at the present.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:22 pm 
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A suggestion:

Start out by doing Guru Yoga everyday, a Short Tun, Shamatha/Zhiné Meditation, and a short Ganapuja; and just study when you have time.

Best to do Yantra Yoga everyday too, or if it's too complex to learn right away, then look up some Hatha Yoga Asanas such as from an authentic source like Swami Sivananda, and do a handful of them consistently everyday.

Samael Aun Weor taught a short and simple to learn set of Yantra too, although as a student of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, it would be better to eventually learn the Yantra Yoga as taught by him.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:28 pm 
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Lhug-Pa wrote:
A suggestion:

Start out by doing Guru Yoga everyday, a Short Tun, Shamatha/Zhiné Meditation, and a short Ganapuja; and just study when you have time.

Best to do Yantra Yoga everyday too, or if it's too complex to learn right away, then look up some Hatha Yoga Asanas such as from an authentic source like Swami Sivananda, and do a handful of them consistently everyday.

Samael Aun Weor taught a short and simple to learn set of Yantra too, although as a student of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, it would be better to eventually learn the Yantra Yoga as taught by him.


Thanks for the suggestion, but I'll have to leave it as a suggestion.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:34 pm 
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It's all good.

Was just suggesting what I did because it contains everything we need right now as Dzogchen practitioners, and they're all simple practices that don't require too many visualizations, ritual implements, etc.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:39 pm 
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mint wrote:
Sometimes I think my time would be better spent reading the Tipitaka and doing lojong and tonglen rather than worrying with tantra or Dzogchen or anything abstract, as you say, which seems to be beyond my capabilities at the present.



There are are many thing that are beyond my capacity at the moment. So I work on what is within my capacity. That seems to mean the cultivation of virtue, sila if you like. As I understand things, a certain amount of virtue, or accumulated merit as some put it, is a prerequisite to jhana, which really opens the doors of possibility. I'm quite content to work on that. And I think I'm happier as a result. By working within my capacity, I see actual results from time to time, which is encouraging.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:46 pm 
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Lhug-Pa wrote:
It's all good.

Was just suggesting what I did because it contains everything we need right now as Dzogchen practitioners, and they're all simple practices that don't require too many visualizations, ritual implements, etc.


I currently have about 45 minutes in the morning to do some sort of practice. Then it's off the to office, then to the gym in the evenings, then home to make dinner and do any needed chores, then I get a little spare to time to spend with my girlfriend or family before doing it all over again. Weekends provide more opportunity, of course, but I've found the getting the motivation to do any sort of sitting practice on weekends is much more difficult.

catmoon wrote:
There are are many thing that are beyond my capacity at the moment. So I work on what is within my capacity. That seems to mean the cultivation of virtue, sila if you like. As I understand things, a certain amount of virtue, or accumulated merit as some put it, is a prerequisite to jhana, which really opens the doors of possibility. I'm quite content to work on that. And I think I'm happier as a result. By working within my capacity, I see actual results from time to time, which is encouraging.


Ya know, I'd follow right along with you, honestly - but when you spend about $170 on restricted Dzogchen books and DVDs, you sort of feel a certain obligation. If I could return this stuff for a refund or sell it, I think I would.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:02 pm 
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I would guess that the mere possession of such books, if you treat them with a modicum of respect, entails some merit in itself. Exposure to material that you have permissions for is hardly going to be harmful. They have a certain spritual backing, in the sense that the beneficial intentions of the authors, editors, translators, lamas, and countless unseen beings lie behind them. Keep 'em around. :thumbsup:

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