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 BG and CK))

Unread post by Arn » Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:35 pm

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Wholesome Desire

Ignorance, craving, and clinging do not control the actions of those who have fully realized the Way. Such people act with a free mind and with wisdom, clearly understanding cause and effect. They don't cling to ideas of right or wrong, which for other people are connected to a sense of personal identity or gain.

So one might ask how it is possible for such enlightened people to act when they have abandoned craving? Without a motivating force, don't they remain passive and idle? Even if they do no bad deeds, isn't it true that they do no good deeds either? The answer to these questions is that craving isn't the only motivating force for action. Reasoned consideration is also a motivating force.

Our lives are dependent upon dynamic forces. Unless other factors interfere, the way we live our lives is directed by knowledge. A lack of knowledge gives craving the opportunity to distort or dictate life's course. These two forces, of selfish craving and reasoned understanding, are often in conflict with one another. At times selfishness has the upper hand, at other times sound judgment prevails. When a person is released from the controlling power of craving, life progresses without restraint. Life progresses in harmony with knowledge. Wisdom becomes the motivating force.

Craving doesn't just dictate our actions. It can also hinder action when wisdom encourages us to act. Inaction in such a case is a kind of action: an act of inaction. So we shouldn't just consider the absence of a motivating force for action. We should also reflect on the motivation for inaction: craving in the form of laziness, aversion, or pleasure directed towards other objects, and which has a greater pull on attention. A habitual dependence on craving creates a secondary struggle, between the urge to act and the urge not to act. Whichever selfish motivation is stronger wins. When wisdom is the dominant motivation this struggle is absent.

Simply speaking, we have two kinds of motivation. The first kind is driven by craving and is based on our feelings. It is comprised of desires, wishes, and needs that follow sensation. If something is pleasurable, we want to acquire it. This kind of desire requires no knowledge of whether the object of desire is correct or incorrect, beneficial or harmful.

The second kind of motivation springs from wisdom. This is comprised of desires, wishes, and needs that accord with reasoned understanding and a true comprehension of what is correct. When one sees an overgrown trail, one knows that according to its purpose it should be clear and unobstructed. One wishes to clear it. In contrast with the motivation of craving, this second kind is called the "motivation of wholesome enthusiasm (欲, pronounced yù)."

Yù (欲) refers to desires, wishes, and needs that are in line with reality. One wishes for something to be as good, fine, complete, upright, or fulfilled as it naturally should be. This is independent of one's likes and dislikes, or of wanting to either acquire the object or wanting it to disappear, in order to satisfy one's personal sentiments. Indeed, the desire of wholesome enthusiasm is cultivated alongside the development of wisdom.

When this form of desire, of wanting things to exist in an ideal, natural state, extends outwards in relation to other human beings, it manifests as a wish for others to be well, complete, strong, bright, respected, and happy. Morever, one wants them to be established in righteousness, established in the Way, free from faults and shortcomings.

When the heart is not oppressed, it becomes expansive and is fully sensitive to the suffering of others. There is empathy, understanding, and a wish to free others from suffering. If craving does not interfere (as self-concern, a fear of losing an advantage, or laziness, for instance), life will be guided by wisdom and the wish to help others will transform into compassionate action.

Yù (欲) is the desire of those whose minds are clear and free, who are ready to truly receive other people, responding to them with an understanding of their suffering. And their altruistic intentions, of wanting other people to be released from suffering, are readily extended outwards into active deeds of compassionate assistance.

This all-embracing compassion, of wanting to assist others and free them from suffering, is a potent force in the lives of those who have realized the Way, for whom no lingering sense of a ‘self’ - no fixed identity - remains which needs to be protected and gratified.

My teacher said that craving should be eliminated. On the other hand, wholesome desire, yù (欲), should be performed or accomplished.

It is equally accurate to say that both craving and wholesome desire should be abandoned. But craving should be abandoned or eliminated right at the point where it arises. Yù (欲), on the other hand should be abandoned by completing the action that is motivated by wholesome desire. When this is accomplished the person will no longer require yù (欲) and it will end automatically.

Craving is a desire that one should eradicate or abandon immediately and without exception; it should not be sustained or preserved. Yù (欲) is a desire that one should sustain and bring to fulfillment, at which point it will end on its own. Craving ends by abandonment; yù (欲) ends by accomplishment.


((Adapted from Buddhadhamma: The Laws of Nature and Their Benefits to Life, by P.A. Payutto))
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]

Ghātikā

Crafters: Wands, alchemy, scrolls
Wendi - Haggling wizard. [Bio]
Meredith Olma - Druid
Jehane - Cleric
Monad - Ranger

User avatar
Arn
Posts: 793
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:44 pm

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

Unread post by Arn » Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:25 pm

((
  • "The followers of the Way are known as Chung Tao,
    or Guides of the Way....

    A Chung Tao priest is actually something more of a
    wizard than a monk or scholar..."
))


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Theory Versus Practice

Long ago, after the first monks of my lineage established our monastery in Shou Lung, the wizard-priests of the Way came to share their teachings. The ancient monks of my lineage learned the philosophies and theories of the Way from these wizard-priests, and then put those theories into real practice.

In my own life, whatever teachings I accepted I took on board straight away, directly where they pointed to renunciation and letting go. What I did, I did for renunciation and letting go. We don’t have to become experts in the theories and scriptures. We’re getting older with every day that passes, and every day we pounce on a mirage, missing the real thing. Practicing the Way is something quite different from studying it.

You see, the whole reason for studying the Way is to search for a way to transcend suffering and attain peace and happiness. Whether we study physical or mental phenomena, the mind or its psychological factors, it’s only when we make liberation from suffering our ultimate goal that we’re on the right path; nothing less. Suffering has a cause and conditions for its existence.

Please clearly understand that when the mind is still, it’s in its natural, normal state. As soon as the mind moves, it becomes conditioned. When the mind is attracted to something, it becomes conditioned. When aversion arises, it becomes conditioned. The desire to move here and there arises from conditioning. If our awareness doesn’t keep pace with these mental proliferations as they occur, the mind will chase after them and be conditioned by them. Whenever the mind moves, at that moment, it becomes a conventional reality.

So my teacher taught us to contemplate these wavering conditions of the mind. Whenever the mind moves, it becomes unstable and impermanent, unsatisfactory, and can not be taken as a self. These are the three universal characteristics of all conditioned phenomena. My teacher taught us to observe and contemplate these movements of the mind.

It’s likewise with the teaching of dependent origination: deluded understanding is the cause and condition for the arising of volitional formations; which is the cause and condition for the arising of consciousness; which is the cause and condition for the arising of mentality and materiality, and so on, just as we studied in our scriptures. My monastery separated each link of the chain to make it easier to study. This is an accurate description of reality, but when this process actually occurs in real life, the wizard-priests and scholars aren’t able to keep up with what’s happening. It’s like falling from the top of a tree and crashing down to the ground below. We have no idea how many branches we’ve passed on the way down. Similarly, when the mind is suddenly hit by a mental impression, if it delights in it, then it flies off into a good mood. It considers it good without being aware of the chain of conditions that led there. The process takes place in accordance with what is outlined in the theory, but simultaneously it goes beyond the limits of that theory.

There’s nothing that announces, ‘This is delusion. These are volitional formations, and that is consciousness.’ The process doesn’t give the wizard-priests or scholars a chance to read out the list as it’s happening. Although the wizard-priests analyzed and explained the sequence of mind moments in minute detail, to me it’s more like falling out of a tree. As we come crashing down there’s no opportunity to estimate how many feet and inches we’ve fallen. What we do know is that we’ve hit the ground with a thud and it hurts!

The mind is the same. When it falls for something, what we’re aware of is the pain. Where has all this suffering, pain, grief, and despair come from? It didn’t come from theory in a book. There isn’t anywhere where the details of our suffering are written down. Our pain won’t correspond exactly with the theory, but the two travel along the same road. So scholarship alone can’t keep pace with the reality. That’s why my teacher taught us to cultivate clear knowing for ourselves. Whatever arises, arises in this knowing. When that which knows, knows in accordance with the truth, then the mind and its psychological factors are recognized as not ours. Ultimately all these phenomena are to be discarded and thrown away as if they were rubbish. We shouldn’t cling to or give them any meaning.

I’ve told you a few brief stories about how I practiced. I didn’t have a lot of knowledge. I didn’t study much. What I did study was this heart and mind of mine, and I learned in a natural way through experimentation, trial and error. When I liked something, then I examined what was going on and where it would lead. Inevitably, it would drag me to some distant suffering. My practice was to observe myself. As understanding and insight deepened, gradually I came to know myself.

Practice with unflinching dedication! If you want to practice the Way, then please try not to think too much. If you’re meditating and you find yourself trying to force specific results, then it’s better to stop. When your mind settles down to become peaceful and then you think, ‘That’s it! That’s it, isn’t it? Is this it?,’ then stop. Take all your analytical and theoretical knowledge, wrap it up and store it away in a chest. And don’t drag it out for discussion or to teach. That’s not the type of knowledge that penetrates inside. They are different types of knowledge.

When the reality of something is seen, it’s not the same as the written descriptions. For example, let’s say we write down the words ‘sensual desire’. When sensual desire actually overwhelms the heart, it’s impossible that the written word can convey the same meaning as the reality. It’s the same with ‘anger’. We can write the letters on a blackboard, but when we’re actually angry the experience is not the same. We can’t read those letters fast enough, and the heart is engulfed by rage.

This is an extremely important point. The theoretical teachings are accurate, but it’s essential to bring them into our hearts. It must be internalized. If the Way isn’t brought into the heart, it’s not truly known. It’s not actually seen. I was no different. I didn’t study extensively, but I did do enough to pass some of the exams on the theories of the Way. One day, before I had begun my formal training with my teachers, I had the opportunity to listen to a talk from a meditation master. As I listened, some disrespectful thoughts came up. I didn’t know how to listen to a real talk. I couldn’t figure out what this wandering meditation monk was talking about. He was teaching as though it was coming from his own direct experience, as if he was after the truth.

As time went on and I gained some first-hand experience in the practice, I saw for myself the truth of what that monk taught. I understood how to understand. Insight then followed in its wake. The Way was taking root in my own heart and mind. It was a long, long time before I realized that everything that that wandering monk had taught came from what he’d seen for himself. The Way he taught came directly from his own experience, not from a book. He spoke according to his understanding and insight. When I walked the Way myself, I came across every detail he’d described and had to admit he was right. So I continued on.

Try to take every opportunity you can to put effort into practicing the Way. Whether it’s peaceful or not, don’t worry about it at this point. The highest priority is to set the wheels of practice in motion and create the causes for future liberation. If you’ve done the work, there’s no need to worry about the results. Don’t be anxious that you won’t gain results. Anxiety is not peaceful. If however, you don’t do the work, how can you expect results? How can you ever hope to see? The one who searches discovers. The one who eats is full. Everything around us lies to us. Recognizing this even ten times is still pretty good. But the same old things keep telling us the same old lies and stories. If we know they’re lying, it’s not so bad, but it can be an exceedingly long time before we know. The same old things come and try to hoodwink us with deception time and time again.

Practicing the Way means upholding virtue, developing mental stillness (定), and cultivating wisdom in our hearts. Remember and reflect on the Way. Abandon absolutely everything without exception. Our own actions are the causes and conditions that will ripen in this very life. So strive on with sincerity.

Even if we have to sit in a chair to meditate, it’s still possible to focus our attention. In the beginning we don’t have to focus on many things - just our breath. While focusing attention, resolve not to control the breath. If breathing seems laborious or uncomfortable, this indicates we’re not approaching it right. As long as we’re not yet at ease with the breath, it will seem too shallow or too deep, too subtle or too rough. However, once we relax with our breath, finding it pleasant and comfortable, clearly aware of each inhalation and exhalation, then we’re getting the hang of it. If we’re not doing it properly we will lose the breath. If this happens then it’s better to stop for a moment and refocus the mindfulness.

If while meditating you get the urge to experience psychic phenomena or the mind becomes luminous and radiant or you have visions of celestial palaces, etc., there’s no need to fear. Simply be aware of whatever you’re experiencing, and continue on meditating. Occasionally, after some time, the breath may appear to slow to a halt. The sensation of the breath seems to vanish and you become alarmed. Don’t worry, there’s nothing to be afraid of. You only think your breathing has stopped. Actually the breath is still there, but it’s functioning on a much more subtle level than usual. With time the breath will return to normal by itself.

In the beginning, just concentrate on making the mind calm and peaceful. Whether sitting in a chair, riding in a wagon, taking a boat ride, or wherever you happen to be, you should be proficient enough in your meditation that you can enter a state of peace at will. When you get on a carriage and sit down, quickly bring your mind to a state of peace. Wherever you are, you can always sit. This level of proficiency indicates that you’re becoming familiar with the Way. You then investigate. Utilize the power of this peaceful mind to investigate what you experience.

At times it’s what you see; at times what you hear, smell, taste, feel with your body, or think and feel in your heart. Whatever sensory experience presents itself - whether you like it or not - take that up for contemplation. Simply know what you are experiencing. Don’t project meaning or interpretations onto those objects of sense awareness. If it’s good, just know that it’s good. If it’s bad, just know that it’s bad. This is conventional reality. Good or evil, it’s all impermanent, unsatisfying, and not-self. It’s all undependable. None of it is worthy of being grasped or clung to.

If you can maintain this practice of peace and inquiry, wisdom will automatically be generated. Everything sensed and experienced then falls into these three pits of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and not-self. This is insight meditation. The mind is already peaceful, and whenever impure states of mind surface, throw them away into one of these three rubbish pits. This is the essence of insight: discarding everything into impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and not-self. Good, bad, horrible, or whatever, toss it down. In a short time, understanding and insight – feeble insight, that is, will blossom forth in the midst of the three universal characteristics.

At this beginning stage the wisdom is still weak and feeble, but try to maintain this practice with consistency. It’s difficult to put into words, but it’s like if somebody wanted to get to know me, they’d have to come and live with me. Eventually with daily contact we would get to know each other.


((Adapted from The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah))
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]

Ghātikā

Crafters: Wands, alchemy, scrolls
Wendi - Haggling wizard. [Bio]
Meredith Olma - Druid
Jehane - Cleric
Monad - Ranger

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