Various Views

24131524_1209964032436403_3034785074559677593_nThe various Buddhist views of reality are not competing with or refuting each other.

They are indispensable at various times and for different persons. They are necessary while helpful.

There is an orderly progression, from Vaibhasika realism, through Sautrantika subtle realism, and Madhyamika self-emptiness, to the realization of Maha Madhyamika other-emptiness. 

If we grasp at these stages as “The Truth”, we lose Right View, and become attached to blind belief.

tadyatha om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha

OM, it is thus: Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone perfectly beyond, to enlightenment!

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DolpopaThe ground of purification is the universal ground wisdom, which is like the sky.

The object of purification is the incidental stains, which is like the clouds.

The agent of purification is the truth of the path, which is like the inexorable wind.

The result of purification is the separated result, which is like the sky, free of clouds.

—Kunchen Dolpopa, The Fourth Council

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Praise the Grateful

23319424_301705026995733_4465903464870234157_nThose who know gratitude,

even while in the cycle of birth and death,

will keep intact their roots of virtue.


Those who do not know gratitude

ruin their roots of virtue and accumulate unwholesome karma.


Therefore, the Tathagatas praise the grateful and reprove the ungrateful,

and always rescue all beings from suffering, moved by compassion.

—Buddha Shakyamuni, Mahavaipulya Sutra of the Inconceivable State of Tathagatas

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Alone for the Holidays?

23032829_1190247097741430_112869590123867445_nBeing alone can be wonderful, but not if we feel lonely. Especially during the holidays, we can feel isolated and unloved, ignored and unimportant. It can feel as if the flow of social intercourse has passed us by —or worse, as if we were drowning in a river of purposeless time.

Being alone may be a situational fact, but feeling lonely is always an afflicted emotion. Loneliness is an interpretation, a conceptual proliferation based on a given experience. It is the elaboration of the meaning we impose on our present circumstance.

Habituated to the idea of ourselves as central and the creatures of our universe as bound to that centrality, it is difficult to accept that the worlds (the persons and objects) of our solar system can pull away from our gravity —to see their orbits expand, distort, and ultimately migrate to other solar systems.

We interpret this natural migration of loved ones to other relationships or locations as abandonment. We may feel resentment at their real or apparent ingratitude. Or we may turn that resentment against ourselves, feeling shame at our inability to ‘hold’ our relations in orbit, or blaming ourselves for pushing them away.

The Buddha taught: “All that live must surely die, and all that meet must part.” One way or another —through choosing different paths or the finality of death— all whom we know and treasure will leave our lives, or we shall leave theirs. Resentment, shame, and blame are not reasonable or adequate responses to reality. Aloneness is a blessing. Loneliness is a self-inflicted curse.

Human beings —and especially those with spiritual inclinations— pass through four life stages: learning, production, withdrawal, and transcendence. All of these stages have their joys and sorrows, their challenges and rewards. They have their place and time.

Aloneness, solitude, is an essential component of the third stage of life. Without solitude, we cannot begin the process of deep introspection that will allow us to recognize reality as it is, and prepare to make a peaceful transition out of this world of suffering. If we remain immersed in the busy-ness and drama of relationships, we will be prevented from contemplating our own mortality, and we will fail to prepare for the next stage of our experience.

Not everyone is suited for the same degree of solitude. If we require company, then we must reach out to others. If family is not near, available, or so inclined, then we can seek out friends and persons in our own life-stage, with similar values and spiritual interests. If we have no such friends, and company is important to us, then we must find them. They exist. We may have to search high and low, but find them we will. Lamenting our loneliness will not help.

However, when and if we find such company, we should be careful not to re-create patterns of a previous life-stage with our spiritual friends. We are walking forward together as we withdraw from the drama of duality, not reverting to a stage that is no longer possible or desirable.

Even as young lovers seek to be alone together, away from all others, cherishing their intimacy, it is now time for us to seek the company of our inner light, our Buddha Nature, whose permanent presence we have long ignored, but has never abandoned us —our kind parent, our faithful lover, our filial child, our true friend.

It is time to cherish that intimacy, without the noise and distraction of the crowds.

om amideva hrih

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22279804_1116160435180495_9004800618825953625_nFrom attachment springs grief,

From attachment springs fear.

For one who is wholly free from attachment

There is no grief, whence then fear?

From lust springs grief, from lust springs fear.

For one who is wholly free from lust

There is no grief; whence then fear?

From craving springs grief, from craving springs fear.

For one who is wholly free from craving

There is no grief; whence then fear?

—Buddha Shakyamuni, Dhp XVI, Piyavagga

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Difficult and Easy

65e9f6621ad83c2be605942ab1dafaaf (1)There are innumerable modes of entry into the Buddha’s teaching. Just as there are in the world difficult and easy paths —travelling on foot by land is full of hardship, and traveling in a boat by sea is pleasant—so it is among the paths of the Bodhisattvas. Some exert themselves diligently, while others quickly enter Non-Retrogression by the easy practice based on serene trust. […] 

All who are mindful of that Buddha’s infinite power and merit will instantly enter the stage of Non-Retrogression. So I am always mindful of the Buddha Amideva. […] 

With whatever merit I have acquired in this and previous lives, I wish to be in the presence of the Buddha Amideva and attain eternal purity of heart.

—Arya Nagarjuna, Dashabhumika-vibhasa

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Real Mindfulness

8f149c267e63931d58a5dc1f9848587d--buddhist-philosophy-bodhisattvaMindfulness is often misrepresented as the practice of “being here now”, but what did the Buddha teach?

One is mindful to abandon wrong view and to enter and remain in Right View.

One is mindful to abandon wrong intention and to enter and remain in Right Thought.

One is mindful to abandon wrong speech and to enter and remain in Right Speech.

One is mindful to abandon wrong conduct and to enter and remain in Right Conduct.

One is mindful to abandon wrong livelihood and to enter and remain in Right Livelihood.

This is Right Mindfulness. —Buddha Shakyamuni, Maha-Cattarisaka Sutta

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