Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

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Arn
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Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in Ilmateri Temple &

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Death

Death is something I contemplate often, in my life as a monk.

One of the things to understand about death is that contemplating it shouldn't be a sad or negative thing. For a follower of the Way, the purpose of it is quite the opposite. It should make you feel at ease, more comfortable, more happy. If you do it the right way, it can be a beautiful thing that frees us.

If it makes you feel negative and sad, then of course be careful about this contemplation. In my travels, a woman once told me, "You know sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I wake up terrified of dying. Terrified! While I'm sleeping, I'll wake up with this thought, terrified of dying." So we should decide if this contemplation works for us by seeing if it gives rise to peaceful states of mind, to peace, joy, and calm. Just see for yourself.

The monks of my monastery are taught to contemplate death often. Remember that this life is not forever. One of the first things this does is that it sets our priorities in life very straight. When you know that you're doing to die, you don't want to invest so much in the things that are around you. Material things, whatever you are trying to accumulate, why invest so much in things you know you will have to give up? It clarifies what is actually important in life. We're no longer deluded that the superficial things are so important. We see the world in a new light, if we think of death in a clear mind.

If you were to find out that you had a terrible terminal illness, if you knew you had just one more month to live, what would you do? What would you prioritize? All thing things you get caught up in, are they really that important, in the end? I met a man in such a situation. And he told me, "At first I was upset, but afterwards, I could see myself changing. Because I knew I was going to die soon, I stopped getting so angry with people around me. How can we get angry in the face of death? It doesn't make any sense. We're going to depart from these people soon, how can we get angry with them?"

This is a natural response in us. We don't have to make ourselves think, "Oh, I am going to die, so I shouldn't get angry." It's just an automatic response in us. Anger just doesn't make sense anymore in the face of death.

This is the case for people with a spiritual inclination. For those without a spiritual inclination, the contemplation of death can be very challenging indeed.

I have met some people on their deathbeds who were very wise, who were very peaceful and relaxed. These people had accepted their destinies, they had let go of something. They had let go of this striving we have in life, to go and do something, to move somewhere, because they knew they had nowhere to go anymore. Where is there to go when you know you are going to die in a day or two? On the verge of death, there is nothing to do. If you realize in a deep sense that there's nothing to do, there's nowhere to go, you let go. You abandon all those desires, all that attachment, you let it go. And then you feel at ease, you feel relaxed, maybe for the first time in your life.

The reflection on death is something we can do right here and now, reminding ourselves that not only are we definitely going to die, we don't even know when we're going to die. It could be next year, in a month, next week. We just don't know, do we?

When we reflect on death this way, we give up that intoxication on life. Most of us run around thinking the world is our oyster, feeling like we're the masters of our universe. We're forgetting what life is really like, when we're drunk on life this way. Just like a drunkard doesn't see straight, most of us don't see straight because of this intoxication on life. This intoxication is abandoned when we reflect on death in the right way. Suddenly, the mind becomes clear. We see things straight, understand what is actually going on. This is the purpose of the death contemplation. We stop and realize what's important, how we should be living our lives.

I might not even live to finish writing this entry, right? Bring death as close as you possibly can. It's powerful thinking; it forces you to abandon things you might otherwise be attached to. One day, your death day will come. It could be a day just like today. And if you don't make yourself ready now, you might never be ready.

Again, please make sure you don't do this in a way that is harmful to yourself. Do it so that it leads to something positive. In meditation practice, if you feel restless, agitated, ill at ease, try to think about death. Before you start meditating, remind yourself you will die, that you might not have that much further to go, and see what happens.


((Adapted from a talk by Ajahn Brahmali))
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
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Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
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Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in Ilmateri Temple &

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A Farewell

My work here is finished, and I wish you all well. May all beings follow the Way to a peaceful place.

Before I go, I would like to relay the final words of my teacher, spoken just before he passed on.


  • "Now I am frail, monks, old, aged, far gone in years. This is my eightieth year, and my life is spent. Even as an old cart, monks, is held together with much difficulty, so this body is kept going only with supports. It is only when I, disregarding external objects, with the cessation of certain feelings, attain to and abide in the signless concentration of mind, that this body is more comfortable.

    Therefore, monks, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Way as your island, the Way as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.

    And how, monks, is a monk an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; with the Way as his island, the Way as his refuge, seeking no other refuge?

    When he dwells contemplating the body in the body, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world; when he dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, the mind in the mind, and mental objects in mental objects, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world, then, truly, he is an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; having the Way as his island, the Way as his refuge, seeking no other refuge.

    Those monks, who now or after I am gone, abide as an island unto themselves, as a refuge unto themselves, seeking no other refuge; having the Way as their island and refuge, seeking no other refuge: it is they who will become the highest, if they have the desire to learn.

    Behold now, monks, I declare to you: All conditioned things are of a nature to decay. Strive on without allowing mindfulness to lapse."

((Highlighted portion adapted from the Maha-parinibbana Sutta))
Last edited by Arn on Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
-[IC Journal]
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Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
Aruna Dawnseeker - [Bio]
Meredith
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Arn
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Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

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At Doron Amar

The monk sits on the floor of a beautiful wooden gazebo overlooking a small river. With his eyes closed and his back straight, he cultivates a mind of loving friendship.
  • May all beings be happy and secure.
    May all beings have happy minds.

    Whatever living beings there may be,
    without exception: weak or strong,
    long or large,
    middling, short, subtle, or gross,

    visible or invisible,
    living near or far,
    born or coming to birth—
    may all beings have happy minds.

    Let no one deceive another,
    nor despise anyone anywhere.
    Neither in anger nor ill-will
    should anyone wish harm to another.

    As a mother would risk her own life
    to protect her only child,
    even so towards all living beings
    one should cultivate a boundless heart.

    One should cultivate for all the world
    a heart of boundless loving-kindness,
    above, below, and all around,
    unobstructed, without hatred or resentment.

    Whether standing, walking, or sitting,
    lying down or whenever awake,
    one should cultivate this mindfulness.
    This is called a divine abiding, here and now.

    By the power of this truth,
    may I always have well-being.
He turns his attention to the breath. As he watches the breath, its coarseness disappears and the breath becomes subtle. As he watches the subtle breath, the meditation stabilizes.

As thoughts arise, he relaxes the body and mind.
  • Let go, let go, let go...
The roughness of thought falls away, and there is only breath. Joy and happiness arise.

A point of light appears in the mind...

Some time later, the monk rises and continues on his way.

((For clarity's sake, this post is not part of the IC journal))
Last edited by Arn on Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
-[IC Journal]
-[Bio]


Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
Aruna Dawnseeker - [Bio]
Meredith
User avatar
Arn
Posts: 824
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:44 pm

Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

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Willpower in Meditation

My teacher once said:

  • "...Volitional formations are nonself. For if volitional formations were self, these volitional formations would not lead to affliction, and it would be possible to have it of volitional formations: ‘Let my volitional formations be thus; let my volitional formations not be thus.’ But because volitional formations are nonself, volitional formations lead to affliction, and it is not possible to have it of volitional formations: ‘Let my volitional formations be thus; let my volitional formations not be thus.’ ..."
Volitional formations includes things like the will, volition, your choices, thoughts. If you look closely, you can see that these things are non-self; even these things are not subject to your total control. Look at your own life and see how conditioned you are. See how much you are a product of the causes and conditions of the world around you. Consider this very moment. What lead you to read this entry right now? What causes and conditions lead to this moment?

When you take this into account, you see that meditation is not something that needs to be done by force of will. In fact, those who have meditated know that the "monkey mind" will often come up, even if we wish otherwise. The mind gets distracted and runs off in a different direction, and then you judge yourself for losing focus, and you force yourself back to the breath, and you have this attitude of determination and willpower, but then the mind wanders again, and you judge yourself again... Have kindness for yourself. In meditation, relax, be gentle with yourself, and let yourself naturally watch the breath. There is no need to force the process, no need for a great exertion of volition. As my teacher said:

  • "Monks, for a virtuous person, one whose behavior is virtuous, no volition need be exerted: ‘Let non-regret arise in me.’ It is natural that non-regret arises in a virtuous person, one whose behavior is virtuous.

    “For one without regret no volition need be exerted: ‘Let joy arise in me.’ It is natural that joy arises in one without regret.

    “For one who is joyful no volition need be exerted: ‘Let happiness arise in me.’ It is natural that happiness arises in one who is joyful.

    “For one with a happy mind no volition need be exerted: ‘Let my body be tranquil.’ It is natural that the body of one with a happy mind is tranquil.

    “For one tranquil in body no volition need be exerted: ‘Let me feel pleasure.’ It is natural that one tranquil in body feels pleasure.

    “For one feeling pleasure no volition need be exerted: ‘Let my mind be concentrated.’ It is natural that the mind of one feeling pleasure is concentrated.

    “For one who is concentrated no volition need be exerted: ‘Let me know and see things as they really are.’ It is natural that one who is concentrated knows and sees things as they really are.

    “For one who knows and sees things as they really are no volition need be exerted: ‘Let me be disenchanted and dispassionate.’ It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate.

    “For one who is disenchanted and dispassionate no volition need be exerted: ‘Let me realize the knowledge and vision of liberation.’ It is natural that one who is disenchanted and dispassionate realizes the knowledge and vision of liberation.

    “Thus, monks, the knowledge and vision of liberation is the purpose and benefit of disenchantment and dispassion; disenchantment and dispassion are the purpose and benefit of the knowledge and vision of things as they really are; the knowledge and vision of things as they really are is the purpose and benefit of concentration; concentration is the purpose and benefit of pleasure; pleasure is the purpose and benefit of tranquility; tranquility is the purpose and benefit of happiness; happiness is the purpose and benefit of joy; joy is the purpose and benefit of non-regret; and non-regret is the purpose and benefit of virtuous behavior.

    “Thus, monks, one stage flows into the next stage, one stage fills up the next stage, for going from the near shore to the far shore.”
This is why virtue, kindness, and compassion are so important. Without these things, meditation becomes more difficult, freedom from suffering becomes a distant dream. Virtue, kindness, and compassion are not just simple lessons for school children. They are absolutely essential for deeper states of meditation, for the ultimate liberation from suffering.

((Highlighted portions adapted from the Anattalakkhana Sutta and Aṅguttara Nikāya 10.2: Volition, respectively))
Last edited by Arn on Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
-[IC Journal]
-[Bio]


Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
Aruna Dawnseeker - [Bio]
Meredith
User avatar
Arn
Posts: 824
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:44 pm

Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

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A Dialogue at the Shrine of Eldath

A couple tendays ago, I had a conversation with Tarina at the shrine of Eldath in the Reaching Woods. Tarina is in touch with the spirits on a rather deep level. I suspect that it is her experience with a world that most people don't see that has given her wisdom and insight. I found our discussion fruitful, and so I relate it here:

Wanting to explain why I invited her to the shrine of Eldath, I said, "You know how you said most of the spirits you know are similar to animals?"

"Yes?" she replied.

"I simply thought you might like to meet a couple more who are not like that. That is all." I smiled and shrugged.

"They are, though," she said.

"Oh?"

"A spirit of peace's food is peace," Tarina explained. "That's what they feed on, what they want. So they want to... bring more peace to the world. That's, well, it's still fighting. Against spirits that don't want it. And it kills those spirits if peace wins."

I thought about my teacher's cautionary words about the spirits, spoken to me years ago. He had warned against becoming attached to even benevolent spirits. "You might be right, Tarina."

"Mine are quieter here," Tarina continued. "Because the ones here are quietening them.

"But I believe there is wholesome desire and unwholesome desire," I said. "Are the ones here attacking yours?"

"I would say they are. But it's not like... you know, it's not... violent. Different sort of attacking," she explained. "Like a mother who hugs her baby to keep him from crying. That's... an attack. But not-"

"But it is still an exertion of control over someone else." I thought of the desire to control; even if one's intentions are relatively pure, desire is still there.

".... yes," she said.

I nodded. "In that case, I think I quite understand what you mean." By living and existing, we inevitably bump into other beings. Eventually, there will be suffering. It's the nature of conditioned existence. "It's a thing that is impossible to avoid, no matter who you are." I thought of the beings I rendered unconscious on the way to Eldath's shrine. "Why, even our journey to come here..."

"I see a world where everything wants to survive and thrive. Don't matter what concept. They all do it. Just... what they thrive on, what they eat, that's different." Tarina was not wrong. "And it can get bad always, if too far. When peace wins... completely... A person would let an animal kill them. Instead of fighting back. Like what you do... but not even as much as you did. Just... lying down. And letting them."

I smiled. "That, I think we can both agree, will never happen. Peace will never win completely." Tarina nodded; we both knew this to be true. "But within this reality, there are still differences in the quality of one's desires."

Tarina nodded again. "It's because... people, or powerful spirits, things with many different qualities, they have different desires, all fighting. It's the... uh, purer ones, that get like that. And they... rarely stay pure."

"It's true," I said. "The desire for peace is still a desire. And it can conflict with other desires."

"Conflicts with different spirits. All battling for influence. And the... and what comes out of that battle, well... We're the battlefield." Tarina paused. "I'm sorry, you don't like these metaphors. Don't know better ones."

I almost shook my head. "I like them just fine."

"Really?"

"Oh yes," I said. "We describe the space between feeling and desire as a crucial battlefield, for example. And conquering oneself, as the most important victory."

"But you believe in peace," Tarina noted. "Battles aren't peaceful."

I looked down, taking a moment to consider my next words. She was right, but that wasn't my point. " . . . I remember not so long ago, I told Michael Dunn that I am not a pacifist, strictly speaking."

"You're not?" Tarina asked.

"I do believe in peace. Or the value of peace. But only because it is useful for the final goal. If I were a strict pacifist, would I have struck at the wolves and the gnolls?" I thought again of each being I had left unconscious that day. A better outcome than to let them be killed by Tarina's spirits, but they suffered at my hands nonetheless.

Tarina shook her head. "Or you've have killed them. That's a... a kind of peace too. Darker spirits of peace. Oblivion is a peace."

"No." I shook my head. Hers was an idle statement; she knew I would not entertain the thought of killing. "While I am not a strict pacifist, I will not kill. Never that."

Tarina nodded. "Weren't saying you were. Just were saying... there's bad and good even in peace."

"I agree. That is why I do not believe in peace simply for peace's sake. A completely peaceful world is impossible."

"You want to acknowledge the conflict. And then put it aside." Tarina smiled. I thought of how putting something aside is so often confused with rejecting it. I put the thought aside.

"Is there any use in dwelling in it?" I asked.

"It can be hard not to," she replied.

"It can be." I nodded. "And yet sometimes, here we are." I looked around at our surroundings. The shrine of Eldath stood quietly in the clearing. Trees swayed gently in the breeze. Nearby, I could hear water trickling over rocks.

"It is very beautiful." Tarina noted.

"And if we understand that even this peace is impermanent, and will end at some point, we will know to value it while we can and make use of it."

Stabbed into the ground, not too far from the clearing in which Eldath's shrine sat, was a crude animal skull totem. It had not been there the last time I visited the shrine. I looked at the totem, thinking of the gnolls that had taken up residence in the Reaching Woods.

"You were worried, for a little while." Tarina said.

"Yes."

"Afraid it'd be gone." She was referring to the shrine of Eldath. She was perceptive.

"Yes."

"And that's the attachment," she noted.

"Yes." I couldn't help but smile at myself. "Even now, after I have given up Her powers and Her servants, I still feel attached to the Green Goddess."

"Is that wrong?" Tarina asked.

"Wrong... No, I would not say that. But there is suffering in any attachment. The greater the attachment, the greater the suffering."

We began to discuss the spirits and their powers, and why I gave up speaking with them. At one point, when we were discussing attachments and emotions, Tarina told me, "you're consuming yourself to protect yourself from being consumed."

Truth be told, I would not characterize the Way as any sort of consumption of self. But not wishing to debate, I said only, "The idea is not to avoid feeling, of course."

The discussion turned to why I gave up the power of the spirits. "One day, I caught myself thinking of the powers as 'my powers,'" I said.

Tarina nodded. "You told me." Indeed, we had discussed this before, some time ago.

"You know, better than most, how misguided that is."

"It... bothers me," Tarina said. "Sometimes. A lot of times."

"You think of them that way, too?" It is such an easy thing to do.

"I..." Tarina paused. "I'm afraid they'll take it away. I'm afraid they'll leave me, and I'll be nothing again."

I nodded, understanding the sentiment. In my decades of experience dealing with the spirits, such thoughts had entered my mind.

"Because it's not mine. It's not me," Tarina continued. "It's stuff... given to me."

"No, it's not yours. It's not you. But to think that it is, that is the beginning of much suffering." To want anything to be yours is to create suffering, because that is not in accordance with the way things are. Even though the spirits were not truly mine, I had begun to think of them that way. Once I recognized that delusion in my mind, I saw the corresponding danger. I acknowledged to Tarina that I withdrew from the spirits out of fear. "But to me, it is the same fear that one might feel when they realize they are holding a hot iron."

"That holding on will do more hurt," Tarina responded.

"In the long run, yes." In some ways, it was almost as if I were speaking to myself. "I began to feel the same fear you have. The fear of being lesser, or even nothing, without the power of the spirits."

Tarina closed her eyes and laid back on the grass. "It seems weird, you feeling that. You don't... seem like the person who'd care."

"I don't think it was as complete as your feelings," I said. "They were small enough that I could ignore them, pretend they were not there. But when I realized that the powers came from Eldath.... that is when it all fell into place. It all clicked together. All the old lessons from my monastery, about the supposed dangers of worshipping a god... I remembered them, and realized I was going down just that same road, with the spirits. Relying on them, identifying with them, making them me, mine, I... And even so, there is still attachment, even now." Thinking of it made me chuckle at myself. "You don't need to be afraid of being nothing, you know."

"It's why I found them," Tarina answered. "So I could be more. It's why I looked."

"Wasn't that an act of fear, as well?" I asked.

"Yes. I were afraid of being nothing, being stuck where I were," she replied. "So I called out until something answered."

"And now that you've found power?"

"It's not enough."

"Do you think it ever will be?"

"No."

I looked at the statue of Eldath. A beam of sunlight gently illuminated the sculpture of the Green Goddess. Even though I do not worship Her, I respect and venerate Her as I would any great teacher. For I know She sees and understands the Way. Only one who truly knows the Way would teach peace as She does. Only one such as Eldath could show the Way by example. Were I so skillful.

"If you see that a chase will never end, you can choose to stop," I said to Tarina. "If you want."

"Then what do I do?" Tarina asked.

To answer this question for her was impossible.
Last edited by Arn on Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:40 am, edited 3 times in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
-[IC Journal]
-[Bio]


Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
Aruna Dawnseeker - [Bio]
Meredith
User avatar
Arn
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Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

Unread post by Arn »

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Sometimes our thoughts seem to be so profound and special that we feel they should be magically preserved so that they last forever. Unfortunately, even these special thoughts are impermanent. Knowing this, we realize that holding to any thought, however lofty, ends in suffering. This awareness prompts us to let go. Letting go of mental formations frees us from the burden of possessing them.

((Adapted from Meditation on Perception, by Bhante Gunaratana))
Last edited by Arn on Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
-[IC Journal]
-[Bio]


Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
Aruna Dawnseeker - [Bio]
Meredith
User avatar
Arn
Posts: 824
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:44 pm

Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

Unread post by Arn »

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Feelings

Like the body, feelings can be subdivided. At any given moment, we are able to notice only one kind of feeling - pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feelings. As with forms, feelings arise, remain present for a time, and pass away.

We train ourselves to regard feelings in an impartial way to undercut the mistaken belief that feelings are solid and reliable, or that pleasant feelings will always remain pleasant. Instead, we develop simple awareness of whatever feeling is arising in the present moment. We recognize that any feeling is just one feeling among many feelings that arise and pass away. In this way, we demonstrate to ourselves that feelings are not "me" and not aspects of "myself."

When they are viewed with ardent, fully aware mindfulness, even feelings of intense pain can be experienced without aversion and without desire for conditions to be different. In a similar way, we train ourselves to regard feelings of joy and happiness that arise as a result of our meditation as simply "mental formations" that become "tranquil" when we perceive them with pure mindfulness.


((Adapted from Meditation on Perception, by Bhante Gunaratana))
Last edited by Arn on Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
-[IC Journal]
-[Bio]


Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
Aruna Dawnseeker - [Bio]
Meredith
User avatar
Arn
Posts: 824
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:44 pm

Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

Unread post by Arn »

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The Monastic Precepts

The monastic precepts that advise renouncing liquor, renouncing sex, and so on are not pointing out that those things are inherently bad or immoral, but that we use them as babysitters. We use them as a way to escape; we use them to try to get comfort and to distract ourselves. The real thing that we renounce is the tenacious hope that we could be saved from being who we are. Renunciation is a teaching to inspire us to investigate what's happening every time we grab something because we can't stand to face what's coming.


((Adapted from When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron))
Last edited by Arn on Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
-[IC Journal]
-[Bio]


Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
Aruna Dawnseeker - [Bio]
Meredith
User avatar
Arn
Posts: 824
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:44 pm

Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

Unread post by Arn »

Dealing With "Enemies"

Just yesterday, I heard a cleric give a talk to a gathered crowd. The talk reminded me of the divisions that run so deep among people everywhere. I think you're wrong, you think I'm wrong, everyone points a finger at someone else and says, "I'll show you!" And on and on it goes. It's endless, isn't it? Our need for resolution to the things we perceive as problems, our desire to change people, our need to control the worlds we live in, even though we can't ever be in total control.

The reality is that everyone has bad qualities, and everyone has good qualities. And we have limited perspectives, so there are aspects to people that we may never see. It is like seeing an object; we only ever see one side of an object at a time, and it is impossible to see an object from all angles at once.

Because of this limited perspective, we often think that we are agents in our own life. And if somebody else is an agent in their own life and they willfully go out and make life difficult for other people, of course they deserve your anger perhaps, and punishment, and all these kind of things. But according to the Way, we are not so much agents in our own life. We are conditioned beings.

I would like to make a suggestion. Look at your own life and see how conditioned you are. See how much you are a product of the circumstance and the world around you. The more you understand that, the more easy it is to forgive other people's ignorance and wrongs. They're not doing it because they really want to do it. They're doing it because they have habit patterns that have carried on for years, and they're trapped by those habit patterns, and they're incapable of doing anything else.

They may even want to be good and kind. But they're not able to do it. Once you start to see that, you're able to have compassion. You're able to see things with more understanding. And then instead, you focus on the good qualities. And you say, "Wow, it's amazing that they have all these good qualities. What a wonderful thing that is!"

It's not about being blind to people's flaws, but it's about understanding people in a different way than how we normally do. The problem is that we think of people as agents in control of their lives, and if they are agents willfully doing bad stuff, of course they deserve to be punished or whatever. But if you look at people in accordance with the Way, you're actually able to forgive and let go of things much more easily. And maybe you can wish your enemies well, wish for their true happiness. Because, for all intents and purposes, someone who is well and truly happy is not an enemy to anyone.

Of course, all this is not a way to excuse evil actions. Although we are conditioned by many factors, we are nonetheless heir to our actions. We should always strive to do good, but we can understand that even such striving is itself conditioned.


((Parts adapted from a talk by Ajahn Brahmali))
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
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Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

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The Dart

A monk of the Long Death visited me in the meditation hall yesterday. Actually, it was not the first time we'd met. We knew each other from an encounter over a decade ago in the eastern part of Thesk. But the details of our encounter yesterday are not important. I would like to share something the encounter brought to mind.

Even if you believe you can avoid the consequences of killing, even if you do not think killing is morally repugnant, there is something you may not have considered.

When people kill, they're trying to exert control over the world. It's a very drastic and often desperate attempt to control things. But ultimately, we're not in control, are we?

We want to be in control, we want things to be a certain way, because we think then we can be happy. But things don't really work that way, do they? Even if we get things to be a certain way for a little while, they won't stay that way. They can't. And then when things inevitably change, we go trying to control things again.

The desire for control is a lie, a delusion that lures us with false promises. The promise is that if we can make things a certain way, we'll be satisfied and happy. But that's not where true happiness comes from. We won't find it out in the world, we can only find it within.

If you want to kill someone, what are you really trying to accomplish? Do you think you can mold the world to your liking by killing? Maybe you can, for a while. But it will not change the fact that the world is full of danger and pain. What will you do if something else comes up? You can meet each undesirable thing with violence and killing, but when will it end? It won't really change how the world is. When you kill, you buy into the delusion that you can be in control. But in the end, the only thing you can "control" is how you react to the world. You can react unwisely, or you can react wisely.

My teacher once said,

  • "Monks, suppose they were to strike a man with a dart, and then they would strike him immediately afterwards with a second dart, so that the man would feel a feeling caused by two darts.

    "So too, when an unwise man is being contacted by a painful feeling, he sorrows, grieves, and laments; he weeps beating his breast and becomes distraught. He feels two feelings— a bodily one and a mental one.

    “Monks, suppose they were to strike a man with a dart, but they would not strike him immediately afterwards with a second dart, so that the man would feel a feeling caused by one dart only.

    "So too, when a wise man is contacted by a painful feeling, he does not sorrow, grieve, or lament; he does not weep beating his breast and become distraught. He feels one feeling— a bodily one, not a mental one."
If you're thinking about killing someone, you've already been hit by the second dart. You're already suffering. Take it as a warning sign: you've been hit! Get out of there! Change what you're doing, for your own happiness.

((Highlighted portion adapted from Saṃyutta Nikāya 36.6))
Last edited by Arn on Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
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Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
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Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

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Five Hindrances to Meditation

My teacher pointed out five hindrances to meditation, forces in the mind that hinder concentration and insight. These are:

  • 1. Sense-desires
    2. Ill-will
    3. Sloth and torpor
    4. Restlessness and remorse, anxiety
    5. Doubt


It's important not to have an adversarial relationship with these hindrances. Cultivate an attitude of friendliness towards them. There's nothing wrong with them; the five hindrances are natural and everyone experiences them. Instead of trying to get rid of them or push them away, turn them into objects of meditation. Don't fight them, don't get wrapped up in them, but acknowledge them. Watch them. Look at their duration. If you're angry, examine the sensation of anger, see how long the anger lasts. When it starts to fade, watch it fade. Note when it ceases. Then you can note the absence of anger, the still mind.

If the mind is still enough, you can even see hindrances as they arise. Sometimes, that is enough for them to cease right there.

My teacher gave similes for each of the hindrances:

Sense-desires

  • "Imagine a bowl of water mixed with dye: lac, turmeric, blue or crimson dye. If a man with good eyesight were to look at the reflection of his own face in it, he would not know or see it as it really was. In the same way, when a man dwells with his heart possessed and overwhelmed by sense-desires, and does not know, as it really is, the way of escape from arisen sense-desires, then he cannot know or see, as it really is, what is to his own good, to the good of others, to the good of both."
Ill-will
  • "Imagine a bowl of water, heated on a fire, boiling up and bubbling over. If a man with good eyesight were to look at the reflection of his own face in it, he would not know or see it as it really was. In the same way, when a man dwells with his heart possessed and overwhelmed by ill-will, and does not know, as it really is, the way of escape from arisen ill-will, then he cannot know or see, as it really is, what is to his own good, to the good of others, to the good of both."
Sloth and torpor
  • "Imagine a bowl of water covered over with water plants and algae. If a man with good eyesight were to look at the reflection of his own face in it, he would not know or see it as it really was. In the same way, when a man dwells with his heart possessed and overwhelmed by sloth and torpor, and does not know, as it really is, the way of escape from arisen sloth and torpor, then he cannot know or see, as it really is, what is to his own good, to the good of others, to the good of both."
Restlessness and remorse
  • "Imagine a bowl of water ruffled by the wind, so that the water trembled, eddied and rippled. If a man with good eyesight were to look at the reflection of his own face in it, he would not know or see it as it really was. In the same way, when a man dwells with his heart possessed and overwhelmed by restlessness and remorse, and does not know, as it really is, the way of escape from arisen restlessness and remorse, then he cannot know or see, as it really is, what is to his own good, to the good of others, to the good of both."
Doubt
  • "Imagine a bowl of water, agitated, stirred up muddied, put in a dark place. If a man with good eyesight were to look at the reflection of his own face in it, he would not know or see it as it really was. In the same way, when a man dwells with his heart possessed and overwhelmed by doubt, and does not know, as it really is, the way of escape from arisen doubt, then he cannot know or see, as it really is, what is to his own good, to the good of others, to the good of both."
----------------------------
  • "Imagine a bowl of water, not mixed with dye... not heated on a fire... not covered over with plants... not ruffled by the wind... clear, serene, unclouded, set out in the light. If a man with good eyesight were to look at the reflection of his own face in it, he would know or see it as it really was. In the same way, when a man dwells with his heart not possessed, not overwhelmed by sense-desires... ill-will... sloth and torpor... restlessness and remorse... doubt, and knows, as it really is, the way of escape from arisen sense-desires... arisen ill-will... arisen sloth and torpor... arisen restlessness and remorse... arisen doubt, then he knows and sees, as it really is, what is to his own good, to the good of others, to the good of both himself and others.”
((Highlighted portions adapted from the Sangaravo Sutta))
Last edited by Arn on Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
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Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
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Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

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The Meditative States: Chán (禪) / Zen (禅)

The deeper meditative states are called Chán (禪) in the Shou language and Zen (禅) in the Kozakuran language. The meditative states have benefits that can be applied in many ways. I have seen Kozakuran archers practice what they call "Zen archery," using a form of meditation to clear their minds of distraction and thus improve their aim. I have even seen this practice in Faerun, although I sometimes wonder if the "Zen" archers here are aware of the Kozakuran word.

However, the true benefit of the Chán/Zen states is not found in warfare and combat. The true benefit of these meditative states is the insight that comes with serenity. With Chán, we can clearly see reality for what it is.

And how does one practice Chán? One practices Chán through right concentration. My teacher said the following about right concentration:

  • “Monks, I will teach you noble right concentration with its supports and its accessories. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak. What, monks, is right concentration with its supports and its accessories? There are: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness. The one-pointedness of mind equipped with these seven factors is called noble right concentration with its supports and accessories.”
These words refer to the eight factors of the Middle Path, which I have written about before. Here, the idea is that the first seven factors of the Path support the development of the eighth. In other words, living a wise and moral life supports your meditation practice.

My teacher once explained the eight factors of the Middle Path as such:

  • “And what, monks, is the Middle Path? Right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

    “And what, monks, is right view? Knowledge of suffering, knowledge of the origin of suffering, knowledge of the cessation of suffering, knowledge of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: this is called right view.

    “And what, monks, is right intention? Intention of renunciation, intention of non-ill will, intention of harmlessness: this is called right intention.

    “And what, monks, is right speech? Abstinence from false speech, abstinence from divisive speech, abstinence from harsh speech, abstinence from idle chatter: this is called right speech.

    “And what, monks, is right action? Abstinence from the destruction of life, abstinence from taking what is not given, abstinence from sexual misconduct: this is called right action.

    “And what, monks, is right livelihood? Here a noble disciple, having abandoned a wrong mode of livelihood, earns his living by a right livelihood: this is called right livelihood.

    “And what, monks, is right effort? Here, monks, a monk generates desire for the nonarising of unarisen evil unwholesome states; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. He generates desire for the abandoning of arisen evil unwholesome states; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. He generates desire for the arising of unarisen wholesome states; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. He generates desire for the maintenance of arisen wholesome states, for their nondecay, increase, expansion, and fulfillment by development; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. This is called right effort.

    “And what, monks is right mindfulness? Here, monks, a monk dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating mind in mind, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. This is called right mindfulness.

    “And what, monks, is right concentration? Here, monks, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a monk enters and dwells in the first Chán, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. With the subsiding of thought and examination, he enters and dwells in the second Chán, which has internal confidence and unification of mind, is without thought and examination, and has rapture and happiness born of concentration. With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences happiness with the body; he enters and dwells in the third Chán of which the noble ones declare: ‘He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’ With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and displeasure, he enters and dwells in the fourth Chán, which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by equanimity. This is called right concentration.”
((First highlighted portion adapted from Maggasaṃyutta 28 (8): Concentration. Second highlighted portion adapted from Maggasaṃyutta 8 (8): Analysis.

"Chán" (禪) and "Zen" (禅) are the Chinese and Japanese words for the Pāli word "Jhāna." I did not know that until I did the research for this journal entry earlier today! Oh Mi-Le, will you ever stop teaching me? :P ))
Last edited by Arn on Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
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Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
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Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

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The Arising of Sensual Desire; Those Accomplished in Virtue

My teacher once said the following about sensual desire:

  • "Monks, just as this body, sustained by nutriment, subsists in dependence on nutriment and does not subsist without nutriment, so too the five hindrances, sustained by nutriment, subsist in dependence on nutriment and do not subsist without nutriment.

    “And what, monks, is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen sensual desire and for the increase and expansion of arisen sensual desire? There is, monks, the sign of the beautiful: frequently giving careless attention to it is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen sensual desire and for the increase and expansion of arisen sensual desire."
Think about someone you used to have feelings for. How did those feelings come, and how did they go? What happens when you dwell on someone, and what happens when you don't?

What happens when you hear a higher calling, or remember what's really important? My teacher thought that skilled monks can play an important role in this respect:

  • "Monks, those monks who are accomplished in virtue, accomplished in concentration, accomplished in wisdom, accomplished in liberation, accomplished in the knowledge and vision of liberation: even the sight of those monks is helpful, I say; even listening to them is helpful, I say; even approaching them is helpful, I say; even going forth after them is helpful, I say. For what reason? Because when one has heard the Way from such monks one dwells withdrawn by the way of two kinds of withdrawal — withdrawal of body and withdrawal of mind.

    “Dwelling thus withdrawn, one recollects the Way and thinks it over. Whenever, monks, a monk dwelling thus withdrawn recollects the Way and thinks it over, on that occasion the enlightenment factor of mindfulness is aroused by the monk; on that occasion the monk develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness; on that occasion the enlightenment factor of mindfulness comes to fulfillment by development in the monk.”
((First highlighted portion adapted from Saṁyutta Nikāya Part V: The Great Book, Chapter II: Bojjhaṅgasaṁyutta 2 (2) The Body. Second highlighted portion adapted from Saṁyutta Nikāya Part V: The Great Book, Chapter II: Bojjhaṅgasaṁyutta 3 (3) Virtue.))
Last edited by Arn on Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
-[IC Journal]
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Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
Aruna Dawnseeker - [Bio]
Meredith
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Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

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Change

The essence of our experience is change. Change is incessant. Moment by moment life flows by, and it is never the same. Perpetual fluctuation is the essence of the perceptual universe. A thought springs up in your head and half a second later, it is gone. In comes another one, and then that is gone too. A sound strikes your ears, and then silence. Open your eyes and the world pours in, blink and it is gone. People come into your life and go. Friends leave, relatives die. Your fortunes go up, and they go down. Sometimes you win, and just as often, you lose. It is incessant: change, change, change; no two moments ever the same.

There is not a thing wrong with this. It is the nature of the universe. But culture has taught us some odd responses to this endless flowing. We categorize experiences. We try to stick each perception, every mental change in this endless flow, into one of three mental pigeon holes: it is good, bad, or neutral. Then, according to which box we stick it in, we perceive with a set of fixed habitual mental responses. If a particular perception has been labeled “good,” then we try to freeze time right there. We grab onto that particular thought, fondle it, hold it, and we try to keep it from escaping. When that does not work, we go all-out in an effort to repeat the experience that caused the thought. Let us call this mental habit “grasping.”

Over on the other side of the mind lies the box labeled “bad.” When we perceive something “bad,” we try to push it away. We try to deny it, reject it, and get rid of it any way we can. We fight against our own experience. We run from pieces of ourselves. Let us call this mental habit “rejecting.”

Between these two reactions lies the “neutral” box. Here we place the experiences that are neither good nor bad. They are tepid, neutral, uninteresting. We pack experience away in the neutral box so that we can ignore it and thus return our attention to where the action is, namely, our endless round of desire and aversion. So this “neutral” category of experience gets robbed of its fair share of our attention. Let us call this mental habit “ignoring.”

The direct result of all this lunacy is a perpetual race to nowhere, endlessly pounding after pleasure, endlessly fleeing from pain, and endlessly ignoring nine-tenths of our experience. Then we wonder why life tastes so flat. In the final analysis this system does not work.

Sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it? Luckily, it’s not — not at all. It only sounds bleak when you view it from the ordinary mental perspective. Underneath lies another perspective, a completely different way to look at the universe. It is a level of functioning in which the mind does not try to freeze time, does not grasp onto our experience as it flows by, and does not try to block things out and ignore them. It is a level of experience beyond good and bad, beyond pleasure and pain. It is a lovely way to perceive the world, and it is a learnable skill. It is not easy, but it can be learned.

You can’t ever get everything you want. It is impossible. Luckily, there is another option. You can learn to control your mind, to step outside of the endless cycle of desire and aversion. You can learn not to want what you want, to recognize desires but not be controlled by them.


((Adapted from Mindfulness in Plain English, by Henepola Gunaratana))
Last edited by Arn on Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
-[IC Journal]
-[Bio]


Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
Aruna Dawnseeker - [Bio]
Meredith
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Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in BG and CK))

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"What Will You Think About That?"

I am forty-two now, and have been a monk for practically all of my life. I was a young monk when I first left my monastery on the journey that would eventually bring me to the Sword Coast. Before I departed, my teacher spoke to me; I was sixteen at the time.


  • “Mi-Le, the people of other lands can be wild and rough. If they abuse and revile you, what will you think about that?”

“Master, if the people of other lands abuse and revile me, then I will think: ‘These people of other lands can be excellent, truly excellent, in that they do not give me a blow with the fist.’”

  • “But, Mi-Le, if the people of other lands do give you a blow with the fist, what will you think about that?”

“Master, if the people of other lands give me a blow with the fist, then I will think: ‘These people of other lands can be excellent, truly excellent, in that they do not give me a blow with a clod.’ That is what I will think.”

  • “But, Mi-Le, if the people of other lands do give you a blow with a clod, what will you think about that?”

“Master, if the people of other lands give me a blow with a clod, then I will think: ‘These people of other lands can be excellent, truly excellent, in that they do not give me a blow with a rod.’ That is what I will think.”

  • “But, Mi-Le, if the people of other lands do give you a blow with a rod, what will you think about that?”

“Master, if the people of other lands give me a blow with a rod, then I will think: ‘These people of other lands can be excellent, truly excellent, in that they do not stab me with a knife.’ That is what I will think.”

  • “But, Mi-Le, if the people of other lands do stab you with a knife, what will you think about that?”

“Master, if the people of other lands stab me with a knife, then I will think: ‘These people of other lands can be excellent, truly excellent, in that they do not take my life with a sharp knife.’ That is what I will think.”

  • “But, Mi-Le, if the people of other lands do take your life with a sharp knife, what will you think about that?”

“Master, if the people of other lands take my life with a sharp knife, then I will think: ‘There have been some followers of the Way who, being repelled, humiliated, and disgusted by the body and by life, sought for an assailant. But I have come upon this assailant even without a search.’ That is what I will think.”

  • “Good, good, Mi-Le. Endowed with self-control and peacefulness, you will be able to dwell in other lands. Now, Mi-Le, you may go at your own convenience.”

And so I rose from my seat, paid homage to my teacher, and departed.

((Adapted from Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.88))
Last edited by Arn on Tue Feb 02, 2021 4:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Mi-Le (彌勒) - "Meditate, monks. Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later." ((-Saṃyutta Nikāya 35.145))
-Monk of the Old Order and the Way. Will not kill.
-[IC Journal]
-[Bio]


Āṇatti - Monk of the Black Way, follower of Kwan Ying.
Wendi - Haggling crafter. [Bio]
Aruna Dawnseeker - [Bio]
Meredith
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