The practice as an obstacle

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Kelwin
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The practice as an obstacle

Post by Kelwin »

Hey everyone,

In recent years of my practice I have started to sometimes regard my sadhana practice as an obstacle to actually being wide open and aware. It's like I need to get some practice commitments done every day, before I can really relax. Only after that, can the 'real' practice begin.

Obviously, it's rather meaningless to do the daily sadhana(s) with such an attitude. Better to just relax into them, and do it with the right intent and focus. Can be very difficult though, which sometimes makes me want to just let go of the practice, and 'just sit there'. On the other hand, there is great blessing in the Vajrayana practices, and the connection they make to the Guru(s), that I certainly wouldn't want to be without.

Not a specific question here, but I wondered if others have similar experiences? Interesting online lectures or sources of inspiration? Good advice you got from your lama? Anything you do differently now that really works for you? Etc?

:namaste:
'I will not take your feelings seriously, and neither will you' -Lama Lena
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heart
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by heart »

You can reread Tulku Urgyens "As It Is volume1" and Vajra Heart (if you got it). If yidam practice stopped you from recognizing the natural state that would be a truly a sad affair.

/magnus
"We are all here to help each other go through this thing, whatever it is."
~Kurt Vonnegut

"The principal practice is Guruyoga. But we need to understand that any secondary practice combined with Guruyoga becomes a principal practice." ChNNR (Teachings on Thun and Ganapuja)
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Grigoris
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Grigoris »

Maybe you just need to understand what it is that is causing you to view your practices as an obstacle.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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deff
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by deff »

maybe in your case, that practice *is* an obstacle? :shrug: :smile:
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Grigoris
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Grigoris »

deff wrote:maybe in your case, that practice *is* an obstacle? :shrug: :smile:
You will find that in 99.99% of cases it is mind which is the obstacle. ;)
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde
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Karma_Yeshe
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Karma_Yeshe »

Sherab Dorje wrote:
deff wrote:maybe in your case, that practice *is* an obstacle? :shrug: :smile:
You will find that in 99.99% of cases it is mind which is the obstacle. ;)
I think in most cases Karma is the main obstacle.
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Grigoris
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Grigoris »

Karma_Yeshe wrote:I think in most cases Karma is the main obstacle.
And where exactly is karma to be found?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde
newbie
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by newbie »

I am not good at words of encouragement and besides it's not my call.
But hey, you don't know it from me. :emb:

I'm new to Buddhism.
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Karma_Yeshe
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Karma_Yeshe »

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Karma_Yeshe wrote:I think in most cases Karma is the main obstacle.
And where exactly is karma to be found?
Nowhere, since Karma is ultimatly empty. Relativly though, its fruit is experienced as our existence.
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Grigoris
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Grigoris »

Karma_Yeshe wrote:Nowhere, since Karma is ultimatly empty. Relativly though, its fruit is experienced as our existence.
And our existence is...
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde
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Karma_Yeshe
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Karma_Yeshe »

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Karma_Yeshe wrote:Nowhere, since Karma is ultimatly empty. Relativly though, its fruit is experienced as our existence.
And our existence is...
... our clinging to the 5 Skandhas.
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Grigoris
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Grigoris »

Karma_Yeshe wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:
Karma_Yeshe wrote:Nowhere, since Karma is ultimatly empty. Relativly though, its fruit is experienced as our existence.
And our existence is...
... our clinging to the 5 Skandhas.
And the five skhanda are?

Please feel free to stop clinging obstinately to your view...
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde
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Kelwin
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Kelwin »

heart wrote:You can reread Tulku Urgyens "As It Is volume1" and Vajra Heart (if you got it). If yidam practice stopped you from recognizing the natural state that would be a truly a sad affair.

/magnus
A wonderful book, and always good to read. Don't think I have Vajra Heart though.

The yidam doesn't stop me from recognizing the natural state. In fact, awareness and yidam coexist quite peacefully. It's the liturgy that's getting in the way. The actual sadhana practice of refuge, bodhicitta, wishes, creation, some more stuff happening, the mantra repetition, etc, until the dissolving. It's all so, conceptual.. tiring even. Just sitting, allowing awareness and deity to be there, works fine for me. Not even a mantra, maybe a syllable. That's it.

Sounds familiar? Anyone?
'I will not take your feelings seriously, and neither will you' -Lama Lena
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dharmagoat
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by dharmagoat »

Kelwin wrote:Sounds familiar? Anyone?
Absolutely. It got so bad that I had to abandon Vajrayana.
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Kelwin
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Kelwin »

Sherab Dorje wrote:
deff wrote:maybe in your case, that practice *is* an obstacle? :shrug: :smile:
You will find that in 99.99% of cases it is mind which is the obstacle. ;)
Certainly! Yet, it doesn't hurt to adjust circumstances to one's particular flavor of mind-created-obstacles. Which is this case might be the practice, or way that I practice, even if it's in accordance with tradition and all.
'I will not take your feelings seriously, and neither will you' -Lama Lena
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Kelwin
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Kelwin »

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Karma_Yeshe wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:And our existence is...
... our clinging to the 5 Skandhas.
And the five skhanda are?

Please feel free to stop clinging obstinately to your view...
I wasn't really looking for any debate about karma, emptiness, skandhas, etc, but glad to see you people enjoying yourselves :tongue:
'I will not take your feelings seriously, and neither will you' -Lama Lena
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Kelwin
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Kelwin »

dharmagoat wrote:
Kelwin wrote:Sounds familiar? Anyone?
Absolutely. It got so bad that I had to abandon Vajrayana.
Really now? That's very interesting to me. Would you care to elaborate please?
'I will not take your feelings seriously, and neither will you' -Lama Lena
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dharmagoat
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by dharmagoat »

Kelwin wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:
Kelwin wrote:Sounds familiar? Anyone?
Absolutely. It got so bad that I had to abandon Vajrayana.
Really now? That's very interesting to me. Would you care to elaborate please?
I started practicing zazen in my 20s, I was self taught, and it was going fairly well. I continued reading about the various traditions of Buddhism and became fascinated by the story of Milarepa and his solitary life of meditation in the mountains. This was the way I decided I wanted to practice, so in my 30s I took up the opportunity to go for refuge with a Kagyu Lama with the aim of practicing the Mahamudra tradition of Milarepa. I was given the prerequisite Ngöndro practices and my troubles started right there, in ways very similar to what you describe. After several years of persevering to find ways to bring myself to actually practice, with virtually no assistance from my Lama, I noticed my aversion steadily growing, and eventually I became very unhappy and extremely discouraged. I lost my will to the extent that I neglected my health and became very ill as a result of what was either a vitamin deficiency or an auto-immune disorder. At that point I abandoned my practices, renounced my vows, and began to slowly recover. In my 40s I returned eventually to zazen practice but still suffered an overbearing sense of failure and doubt. Only now at 51, still feeling the lingering effects of my period of illness, do I feel free of the burden of guilt and obligation that hung over me for so long.
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Kelwin
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by Kelwin »

dharmagoat wrote:I started practicing zazen in my 20s, I was self taught, and it was going fairly well. I continued reading about the various traditions of Buddhism and became fascinated by the story of Milarepa and his solitary life of meditation in the mountains. This was the way I decided I wanted to practice, so in my 30s I took up the opportunity to go for refuge with a Kagyu Lama with the aim of practicing the Mahamudra tradition of Milarepa. I was given the prerequisite Ngöndro practices and my troubles started right there, in ways very similar to what you describe. After several years of persevering to find ways to bring myself to actually practice, with virtually no assistance from my Lama, I noticed my aversion steadily growing, and eventually I became very unhappy and extremely discouraged. I lost my will to the extent that I neglected my health and became very ill as a result of what was either a vitamin deficiency or an auto-immune disorder. At that point I abandoned my practices, renounced my vows, and began to slowly recover. In my 40s I returned eventually to zazen practice but still suffered an overbearing sense of failure and doubt. Only now at 51, still feeling the lingering effects of my period of illness, do I feel free of the burden of guilt and obligation that hung over me for so long.
Wow, thanks for sharing that. I recognize a few bits, including the health trouble unfortunately.

So now, looking back, what would you have done differently? What could have been done to avoid this situation? And how do you feel about Vajrayana nowadays?

Happy to hear you're in a better place now!
'I will not take your feelings seriously, and neither will you' -Lama Lena
tingdzin
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Re: The practice as an obstacle

Post by tingdzin »

Kelwin wrote:I wasn't really looking for any debate about karma, emptiness, skandhas, etc, but glad to see you people enjoying yourselves :tongue:
:twothumbsup:

It is possible that you started Vajrayana practice without a real understanding of what might be called the technology of it -- what is supposed to be going on and how your practice leads towards that goal. For some people, this understanding is not necessary; they can just practice with faith and sincerity until they can feel the effects start to take place. Many people, though, especially Westerners, cannot just start Vajrayana practice and keep it up without some sort of conceptual understanding of the process, or their practice, like yours, will devolve into mechanical mumbling of mantras and working the mala.
"
Trungpa Rinpoche's book "The Dawn of Tantra" has a chapter on visualization that speaks to this problem and the attitude necessary to overcome it. More traditional approaches to this dead end include thorough contemplation and internalization of the four thoughts that turn the mind, a topic many or most Western students think about perfunctorily if at all. Sometimes thorough examination of the motivation that started one on the Vajrayana path is useful.

Parenthetically, the sense of "guilt" that dharmagoat talks about is absolutely misplaced and less than useful. If you have such feelings, it's time for a realistic assessment of your motivations for spiritual practice.

On the other hand, you could just do the minimum formal practice required to keep up your samayas, and then do the "real" practice that you seem to prefer, whatever that might be. But this approach is not without its own pitfalls.
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