Friday, July 16, 2010

The first one

p.72 of the Survey:

"It is not when we merely do a thing, but when we do it for the first time, that the most formidable obstacles are encountered. We therefore honour the Master not only as an Arhant, or one by whom, having qualified himself for the superhumanily difficult task by practicing the Ten Perfections for an incalculable number of lives, without a teacher and without a guide breaks through the obstacle that block the road to Nirvana and throws it open once more to the traffic of humanity."

(italics in the original, not mine)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The comfort of the Dharma

From Drop Box

Above is a photo of a friend watching and listening to Robert Thurman on DVD.

On the issues of beer, as seen in the above photo, I have found that I can remain mindful while drinking a few beers, but I'm more impulsive, and it drains me of energy after the initial lift in energy.

Alcohol is an disinhibitor, so what you lose is inhibitions and that's why we drink in social settings, because we're a bit inhibited. When I was a teacher and I had to chaperon the prom, I ended up dancing for the first time without alcohol, and it wasn't that hard actually, I had hitherto used alcohol to disinhibit myself. (There's a silly picture in my high school yearbook of me dancing.) I my desire for a beer isn't always matched with what I get from it. Spiritual progress is about growing up, not so much depriving yourself.

I've never been to an AA meeting but I've had a lot of patients talk about it and I've read a few books. I've read the book below with a patient.



I think my biggest regret in life is substance abuse, before I found the Dharma. I value mindfulness, and sitting in meditation, I have learned to tolerate my emotions and face them. That has erased my need to drink. (I met Paul on his travels through the USA, who is one of the cofounders of a recovery and Buddhism site.)

But like vegetarianism, you swim against the grain of society if you don't have a beer, if you don't eat meat. Not drinking is easier than not eating meat in our society, I think.

Speaking of vegetarianism, Bodhipaksa (Guided Meditations: For Relaxation, Acceptance, and Insight) has a good post in response to Dayamati.

And since I'm linking it up, check out this link on the value of relationships, that mentions psychotherapy and Buddhism.

I spend a fair amount of time listening to talks on Free Buddhist Audio. That was why I put that picture up, but I had to explain the beer first. I listened to The Sound of Reality yesterday, it's a wonderful talk that debunks the idea that followers of the Dharma have to close off their senses. There's also an essay by Sagaramati that talks about Tanha, which is craving.

I've run straight into confrontation in my early journey with the Dharma, but I'm OK with consolation these days, I think it's OK to get the support you need, you don't have to be macho and grin and bear it all the time.

I also wonder if effort is just like a rubber band that snaps back. Somehow I want to break through. There is a danger that I use the Dharma to just reinforce my rigid self, so I think confrontation has to be in the mix, even if comfort is also necessary at times.

khanti or patiece part 1

A spiritual friend suggested to me that I focus on patience in my practice.

At the time I didn't think that was sexy enough, but it's percolated down into me. At the time I said, "should I try to put the Fonzie in forbearance?!"

It is part of the ten or six perfections.

So the first step for me in working on something in my practice, is to decide to work on it. There is a kind of gathering momentum, a kind of preponderance of evidence, that leads to feeling that this is what I most need to work on now. I open up a file in my hard drive called patience. I monitor when I feel impatience and investigate. What story am I telling myself.

I can work on patience in meditation. I noticed in the first stage of the mindfulness of breathing I rush to count the breath. I must wait till it is done.

In metta bhavana meditation, the 5th stage you equalize and spread out metta. The various visualization I rush through. Slowing down my visualization is an act of patience.

One day I was doing a puja with my 4 and 6 year old sons fighting in the background. My youngest cried. I did not see how to clearly intervene, so I just monitored. I could not continue, with my son crying. I felt impatience. And I was not reactive. When he was done I resumed. I hope I'm helping my boys to develop emotional intelligence by accepting, naming and not trying to modify their emotion. Helping them to learn to negotiate and compromise, grasp and work towards the possible, to communicate and advocate for what you want, all these things are long term projects, sophisticated skills. It takes patience to develop them. Parenting takes patience. It means putting off meditation for a while, unless you have really supportive conditions.

The internet and computers are a great place for patience. When things don't load up quickly or you can't figure out how to find a file.

Even further in thinking about impatience to know, to have answers. I think about Buechler's dichotomy of contrast between paranoia and curiosity, and she often quoting Rilke about living the questions instead of rushing to an answer. When you explore you don't focus on right and wrong. We can get locked up in the rigid need for certainties. In a way that's what's so hard about being a therapist--what is the value when objectivity is dead?

I think about Sangharakshita warning about a premature synthesis. Tolerating and having patience in ambivalence and in the face of the unknown is an essential part of the spiritual life.

I think about the following quote from The Big Lebowski:

"This is a very complicated case, Maude. You know, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous. And, uh, lotta strands to keep in my head, man. Lotta strands in old Duder's head."

In the end, patience is about tolerating unpleasant emotions and not trying to do something to get rid of the unpleasant emotions. Can I not make things worse by resisting my experience? Can I weather the unpleasant storms with grace and mindfulness? Can I allow things to unfold the way they really are?

So I'm just going to post on my riffs of thoughts. Upcoming, hopefully sometime, I will delve more into the cannon to get more info on khanti.




(Patience is also about waiting for money to come your way. By the way, I will donate everything I earn from monetizing my blog to the NYC sangha. When I search the perfections, Amazon gives me a book by Boorstein. I haven't read the below book, though of course Sylvia Boorstein is a good writer, who I have read. When I wikipedia her name, seems she doesn't have an entry, but that did lead me to another interesting looking book.)





Thursday, July 08, 2010

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Here's how to say the new name

Chogyam Trungpa

“Sometimes, the world becomes a nuisance, and the path of meditation becomes more of a nuisance as well. The whole journey is just driving us crazy — such a nuisance, such a problem. That’s where the need for bravery comes in. If we can be brave, we will be able to see how phenomena work. That is to say, we will really see how phenomena work, rather than having an intellectual or case-history of understanding phenomena. We will see how phenomena work, how the world works, how things operate in our lives. At that point, experience becomes very penetrating.”



Usually I don't like to relink what's out there, but this above quote really struck me. It's from Shambhala SunSpace.

I have read Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, so that's the only book I can truly recommend. I do want to get others. I have read a bit of his wife's memior which is really interesting.



I want to read Fabrice Midal's memior too.