Being a bad Buddhist

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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yinyangkoi
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Being a bad Buddhist

Post by yinyangkoi »

I feel horrible for not being a perfect Buddhist. I am not a monk, I don't meditate everyday. I give in to desire, I eat food for the taste, I have sex, I watch TV and sometimes play videogames. I want to earn more money, have a family, a house, a car, friends. I desire status and respect. I have samsaric goals and I am actively pursuing them. I took the 5 precepts. But I still feel not good enough. It scares me that I am doing those things, even though I understand it's samsara and delusion. I feel really bad. Is this normal? What can I do? Become a hermit?
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Nov 30, 2022 7:34 pm I feel horrible for not being a perfect Buddhist. I am not a monk, I don't meditate everyday. I give in to desire, I eat food for the taste, I have sex, I watch TV and sometimes play videogames. I want to earn more money, have a family, a house, a car, friends. I desire status and respect. I have samsaric goals and I am actively pursuing them. I took the 5 precepts. But I still feel not good enough. It scares me that I am doing those things, even though I understand it's samsara and delusion. I feel really bad. Is this normal? What can I do? Become a hermit?
Practice a vehicle that does not require you to be a renunciate, focus on how you can help others in your situation. Turn your samsaric situation into something that progresses your path and allows you be be of benefit.

Beyond that, understand that feeling the way you do -is samsara-, learn a way of seeing your life that is not so invested in hope and fear.
Don’t you see what’s wrong with the world today? Oh Everybody wants somebody to be their own piece of clay.

-Marvin Gaye
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Nov 30, 2022 7:34 pm I give in to desire, I eat food for the taste, I have sex, I watch TV and sometimes play videogames. I want to earn more money, have a family, a house, a car, friends. I desire status and respect. I have samsaric goals and I am actively pursuing them.
Dharma of desire,
Dharma of food,
Dharma of sex,
Dharma of TV,
Dharma of videogames.
Dharma of more money,
Dharma of a family,
Dharma of a house,
Dharma of a car,
Dharma of friends.
Dharma of desire status and respect.
Dharma of samsaric goals,
Dharma of actively pursuing them.

You have so many opportunities to practice!

Buddhist practice isn’t something abstract or separate from your own reality. It’s not about being a “good Buddhist”. Just start observing, be one more mindful of self-grasping, and go from there.
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anagarika
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by anagarika »

Ah don´t worry, I´m an absolutely terrible Buddhist too :) I don´t bother studying the suttas in depth, I don´t learn Pali, I sleep around 8 hours a day, I sometimes eat after midday, I don´t shave everyday, I hold heterodox views... I´d say it´s pretty normal :)
Kai lord
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by Kai lord »

yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Nov 30, 2022 7:34 pm I have samsaric goals and I am actively pursuing them.
You can have samsaric goals, nothing wrong with that. As long as you remain mindful of your actions, speeches and thoughts while trying your best to avoid the ten unvirtuous deeds and follow the ten virtuous deeds, you are fine.

Renunciation from worldly life is not an easy mentality to cultivate, it takes years of accumulation and special circumstances to develop. Its almost like a realization, when you get it, you get it. When that happens, dharma practices will become more and more natural.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

I once heard a funny term: ‘boyscoutsattva’ to refer to Buddhist practitioners who cling to the idea of some kind of spiritual purity. A Boy Scout is supposed to embody all sorts of virtues (loyalty, honesty, etc.) and is imagined to spend all their time running around doing ‘good deeds’ like helping old ladies across busy streets. Boyscoutsattvas are obsessed with all of the things that they should and shouldn’t do, and they end up experiencing fluctuations of excessive pride or guilt all. It all just becomes another ego trip, and after years and years, even if they become perfect humans, they find that they are no closer to attainment and liberation than when they first started.

While Buddhism does emphasize the importance of ethical conduct, there is a tendency among some people to miss the point about applying Dharma practice (observation and reflection, analysis, meditation) to whatever one is doing, and instead, to become good little angels. For people raised with the concept of avoiding ‘sin’ in Abrahamic religion, it’s easy to transfer that idea to Buddhism, but it’s not the same thing at all.

The great Korean soen (zen) teacher, Dae Haeng Sunim, wrote:
“Believe in your foundation, Juingong, and entrust it with everything that confronts you. Then go forward while observing and experimenting with what you experience. All things constantly change every instant, so there is nothing to cling to. By entrusting everything to your foundation, every aspect of your daily life can become part of your practice.” Juingong is original mind, the true nature of mind that all beings are already born with. That is why she calls it the foundation.

She used to say, ‘throw everything into your juingong’. It means that first, you have to trust that original mind is there, that’s what you are dealing with. Then, it’s like making soup. Everything is an ingredient, and you toss it into original mind and let it cook. That’s when you truly find out that some ingredients are good and some are bad to use. Then ethical conduct isn’t just some abstract goal, not a matter of ‘l should do this and I should not do that’ like trying to build the perfect robot, trying to create something that didn’t exist before. Buddhist practice should bring you back to where you never left, back to your original mind. Everything else, food, sex, games, are all simply external distractions.

Of course, this also takes some focus and attention. You have to put a little effort into it. “Who is the person wanting to play video games? Where does that craving occur?” If one’s biggest fault is that they don’t even bother getting started, then they aren’t much different than someone who isn’t on the Buddhist path at all.
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Agent Smith
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by Agent Smith »

:consoling:

How very unfortunate that you feel that way. Some of the posters/members have offered some very good advice/suggestions. What about looking at from a level perspective? In video games you grow (collect XP points) as you play - you'll be a champion in no time mon ami! Keep at it! Best of luck.
anagarika
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by anagarika »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 2:02 pm I once heard a funny term: ‘boyscoutsattva’ to refer to Buddhist practitioners who cling to the idea of some kind of spiritual purity. A Boy Scout is supposed to embody all sorts of virtues (loyalty, honesty, etc.) and is imagined to spend all their time running around doing ‘good deeds’ like helping old ladies across busy streets. Boyscoutsattvas are obsessed with all of the things that they should and shouldn’t do, and they end up experiencing fluctuations of excessive pride or guilt all. It all just becomes another ego trip, and after years and years, even if they become perfect humans, they find that they are no closer to attainment and liberation than when they first started.
:good:

I very much agree. This stems partly from unskilful tendencies to try to emulate the examples of practitioners in scriptures. These are somewhat schematic and very condensed accounts of how one proceeds towards liberation, but it is exactly the schematic nature of such stories which makes them hard to copy perfectly. The story usually goes something like "so-and-so hears the dhamma, shaves their head, goes forth to the forest, attains the jhanas and is released". It´s like an ideal map of a long and arduous journey - for obvious reasons: Oral teachings require concise formulas, not comprehensive descriptions of various hardships and setbacks encountered on the path. Moreover, we don´t live in a culture where spiritual search is ubiquitous (such as in ancient India) and going forth is simply something extremely foreign to our mentality. As was already mentioned above, renunciation is a fruit of cultivation, not granted to be easily attainable and certainly not expected from lay practitioners.
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 2:02 pm She used to say, ‘throw everything into your juingong’. It means that first, you have to trust that original mind is there, that’s what you are dealing with. Then, it’s like making soup. Everything is an ingredient, and you toss it into original mind and let it cook. That’s when you truly find out that some ingredients are good and some are bad to use. Then ethical conduct isn’t just some abstract goal, not a matter of ‘l should do this and I should not do that’ like trying to build the perfect robot, trying to create something that didn’t exist before. Buddhist practice should bring you back to where you never left, back to your original mind. Everything else, food, sex, games, are all simply external distractions.
Bang on again. I would be careful about the "original mind" (the Buddha was very cautious about using such expressions and I don´t think they are found in the Pali canon), since even this original mind would probably be conditioned (the only unconditioned dhamma is said to be Nibbana), but from the practical point of view, this is the goal of our practice and the only possible source of peace - the knowledge that there is mind, there are mind objects and these two have nothing in common - i.e. the mind is separate from its objects and is not ultimately defiled by them. If one starts to realise this, the sila stops being a matter of externally enforced rules or restrictions, but becomes more similar to a diet (you don´t consume certain foods because they are bad for your health, not because it´s "immoral")...
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

anagarika wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 3:56 pm I would be careful about the "original mind" (the Buddha was very cautious about using such expressions and I don´t think they are found in the Pali canon), since even this original mind would probably be conditioned (the only unconditioned dhamma is said to be Nibbana), but from the practical point of view, this is the goal of our practice and the only possible source of peace - the knowledge that there is mind, there are mind objects and these two have nothing in common - i.e. the mind is separate from its objects and is not ultimately defiled by them.
This is a good point to clarify. I think ‘original mind’ in this context refers to basic, unconditioned awareness.
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Könchok Thrinley
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by Könchok Thrinley »

Just do what you can. Good buddhist, bad buddhist who the hell cares. There is no god to judge you, you yourself will carry your actions. That is the base of buddhist ethics. With that in mind do your best.

Add a pinch of love, compassion or maybe even bodhicitta and you are bound to be enlightened one day. :smile:

You and all sentient beings have the buddhanature, that means you are capable of limitless love and most importantly worthy of limitless love just like everybody.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

For those who do virtuous actions,
goodness is what comes to pass.
For those who do non-virtuous actions,
that becomes suffering indeed.

- Arya Sanghata Sutra
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明安 Myoan
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by 明安 Myoan »

In Jodo Shu, part of a sincere heart is not putting on a false front, being inwardly foolish while appearing outwardly wise.
Falsity, equivocation, and fickleness are examples. These tendencies make it hard to wholeheartedly take on Buddhist practice.
When you look inside and watch yourself, you notice what a mess your mind and life are. Always undercutting your own happiness and that of others.
We have the sources of true refuge available to us, however, so you never have to look far.
Every situation can be motivation.

It's said bodhisattvas fear causes while sentient beings fear results.
Namu Amida Butsu
anagarika
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by anagarika »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 4:39 pm
This is a good point to clarify. I think ‘original mind’ in this context refers to basic, unconditioned awareness.
This would be something for another debate, but is there such a thing as unconditioned awareness? :smile: :shrug: Going by the original suttas from the Pali canon, the answer would be probably no. Or it could be that the unconditioned awareness would fall under the things "left undeclared" by the Buddha. I do believe there is a citta outside of the 5 aggregates, but I don´t think it is unconditioned as the only dhamma that is explicitely declared as unconditioned, unoriginated etc. is Nibbana itself... Anyway, I´m keeping an open (original) mind about that :twothumbsup:
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

anagarika wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 9:51 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 4:39 pm
This is a good point to clarify. I think ‘original mind’ in this context refers to basic, unconditioned awareness.
This would be something for another debate, but is there such a thing as unconditioned awareness? :smile: :shrug: Going by the original suttas from the Pali canon, the answer would be probably no. Or it could be that the unconditioned awareness would fall under the things "left undeclared" by the Buddha. I do believe there is a citta outside of the 5 aggregates, but I don´t think it is unconditioned as the only dhamma that is explicitely declared as unconditioned, unoriginated etc. is Nibbana itself... Anyway, I´m keeping an open (original) mind about that :twothumbsup:
It depends on whether one regards nirvana as the mind’s pure state unobstructed by kleshas.
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yinyangkoi
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by yinyangkoi »

Thanks everyone for the answers. I think I actually experience some sort of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand I am a buddhist and have been for years, on the other I believe some things are just not that serious or wrong as other's might think. I don't think it's bad to watch TV, at least I haven't noticed any serious consequences. I understand watching TV is because I'm bored or something else, but honestly I don't care. I don't care about it, being bored and watching TV is not my definition of suffering. I get it, it is on a subtle level, but it's not enough for me to care. I only suffer when my mind goes "bad Buddhist, don't watch TV, go meditate". And usually that would not be a problem, but it's important to me to be a good Buddhist. And yes I know there is no one here to be a buddhist, but it happens quickly ( maybe if I wasn't watching TV and just meditate all day, I would catch it).


And I think this not caring and pleasure seeking behavior is what makes me experience cognitive dissonance, because you shouldn't do that (it's one of the 3 poisons).


It's like smoking cigarettes, you know it's bad but you still do it.
Kai lord
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by Kai lord »

yinyangkoi wrote: Fri Dec 02, 2022 8:08 am I only suffer when my mind goes "bad Buddhist, don't watch TV, go meditate".
Then it might make you feel better if I tell you that even Buddhist monks watched world cup on TV.
It's like smoking cigarettes, you know it's bad but you still do it.
And yeah, monks do that as well, smoking........
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by bowsamic »

yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Nov 30, 2022 7:34 pm I feel horrible for not being a perfect Buddhist. I am not a monk, I don't meditate everyday. I give in to desire, I eat food for the taste, I have sex, I watch TV and sometimes play videogames. I want to earn more money, have a family, a house, a car, friends. I desire status and respect. I have samsaric goals and I am actively pursuing them. I took the 5 precepts. But I still feel not good enough. It scares me that I am doing those things, even though I understand it's samsara and delusion. I feel really bad. Is this normal? What can I do? Become a hermit?
This is why I became a Pure Land Buddhist. Here is a quote (supposedly) by Shinran from the Tannishō:
I really do not know whether the Nembutsu may be the cause for my birth in the Pure Land, or the act that shall condemn me to hell. But I have nothing to regret, even if I should have been deceived by my teacher, and, saying the Nembutsu, fall into hell. The reason is that if I were capable of realizing Buddhahood by other religious practices and yet fell into hell for saying the Nembutsu I might have dire regrets for having been deceived. But since I am absolutely incapable of any religious practice, hell is my only home.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

yinyangkoi wrote: Fri Dec 02, 2022 8:08 am I don't care about it, being bored and watching TV is not my definition of suffering.
Technically, on the grand scale if things, Dukkha includes the basic restlessness of the mind, which includes boredom.

That being said, specific things are problems for some people and not for others. Sort of like alcohol. One person may have anger issues, and for another person, anger isn’t a problem at all, and so they don’t have to devote time to dealing with it. If you aren’t greedy, you don’t need to meditate on the problem of being greedy.

In a way, it’s a forest-or-the-trees sort of thing. Broadly speaking, we are all suffering from the need to be entertained in one way or another. But on a tree-by-tree level, as they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. In the morning I meditate and stick my nose into everybody’s business on DharmaWheel. I also play Super Mario for an hour in the afternoon, and I watch old movies at night (I’m a hopeless film buff). Should I spend more time meditating and studying sutras? It would hurt if I did, and sometimes that does become my main activity.

Simply put, if none of these specific things are really distractions, if watching TV or whatever doesn’t cause attachment and self grasping, and ultimately samsaric rebirth, then a person probably shouldn’t make an issue of it. But even thinking, “I’m probably a bad Buddhist” makes one a good Buddhist. If you didn’t take notice, that would be the klesha, the poison of ignorance that you mentioned.
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Toenail
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by Toenail »

It seems to me like you have not a good idea of what is meant by suffering in buddhism. Maybe read the wikipedia article on dukkha? Once you see it, my experience is that you cant unsee it.
yinyangkoi
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by yinyangkoi »

I have been thinking about it, and I came to the conclusion that it's a long path, and I will cut the chains step by step, small steps. It's not as scary, as cutting everything at once. Of course the goal is the same, but one path is easier
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Re: Being a bad Buddhist

Post by Kim O'Hara »

yinyangkoi wrote: Sun Dec 04, 2022 1:13 am I have been thinking about it, and I came to the conclusion that it's a long path, and I will cut the chains step by step, small steps. It's not as scary, as cutting everything at once. Of course the goal is the same, but one path is easier
:twothumbsup:

That's certainly the way to do it.
Much of our life is habitual, and breaking habits in such a way that we're not going to flip back into them is a gradual process.

:namaste:
Kim
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