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Are you making progress?

These 3 articles come from Lion's Roar's weekend reader - I found all are thought provoking.

Just do it

There Is No “I” Who Is Sitting

Signs of Spiritual Progress

Comments

  • smarinosmarino florida Explorer
    edited December 2016

    If I wasn't making progress I wouldn't do it. Perhaps "seeing positive changes" is more accurate than making progress. I'm not making spiritual progress though, and don't think any such thing exists. If anyone thinks they are, then they're not.

    I know that there is no "me" sitting, and at times there is no me, except that of course there IS a me. Me is the source of most of my problems. To know there is no me and to be no me are not the same thing. Shambhala doesn't really understand Zen meditation (I belong to a Shambhala sangha, but my discipline is of 20+ years of Zen), but they do try. It's not an easy thing to grasp because it's so simple and straight forward. I highly recommend any of the books that have been made up of Shunryu Suzuki lectures or The Compass of Zen by Seung Sahn for some good info on Zen meditation, but by themselves they're not so much. They should be read, but true understanding comes from sitting zazen, chanting, mindfulness, walking meditation.... all the usual stuff. If we do that, then they will resonate.

    The quality of the meditation experience is irrelevant. The mind quiets down after 5-10 minutes, but that is a side effect and not the purpose. Even if we get lost in our thoughts 100 times during a sit, if we see that and go back to our breath then that is correct meditation. We do need to understand the proper posture and where to place our focus. If we're not doing it correctly then that's a problem. At Shambhala, I will see people come in the meditation hall w/ their drinks in a thermos cup and drink out of them while meditating. One day I saw one of the teachers w/ her phone out checking stuff and looking over some notes on paper, and this was during a meditation sit! You learn patience at this place.

    We have a collection of the original incarnations of the Lion's Roar at our center, and those publications are fundamentally different than the new magazines. A gentleman at our place is one of the editors of Lion's Roar, along w/ Elephant Journal. The earlier magazines called Shambhala Sun had really good Zen teachers writing articles, and these are high quality publications. Over the course of time it morphed into the current incarnation and started filling up w/ a lot of more trendy articles and lots of advertising for $100 sitting cushions ala Tricycle. It's still a good magazine, but the writing isn't the same (what is?) and you have to just deal w/ all the yuppie money stuff.

    wojciech
  • @smarino, do you think you could ask your friend to go back to the early articles to see if any can be republished? It would be great to have the opportunity to read some of the earlier dharma texts. I'm reading Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism and it's a fabulous book. There's something generous in the way it's written that I don't feel is there anymore. I can't quite put my finger on it but maybe it's less succinct or there's more variety in the words. Not sure.

    I don't have access to a Shambala centre where I live but when I looked at it, it looked very expensive to go on retreat. I guess the retreat costs are just the way of the world. Fear of litigation drives up insurance etc.

    I'll keep an eye out for Suzuki Roshi's books. I've heard of them but never read any. Is he the one who wrote Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind? Is that a good place to start?

  • smarinosmarino florida Explorer
    edited December 2016

    Yes, everything at Shambhala costs money. You can usually just offer what you can pay though and they'll go w/ that. I could ask him, but I know for a fact from talks w/ the couple that founded our center that Shambhala is run strictly from the Boulder headquarters, and whatever the head mucky muck says is what they do. A lot of what they do I consider nonsense, but as long as I limit my activities to sitting zazen and participating in the Sunday lunch and things like that then there are no conflicts w/ my Zen discipline.

    In Sakyong's defense, he has made Shambhala more mainstream "Buddhist" and gotten away from some of Trungpa's more questionable crazy wisdom ideas (which eventually killed him). He's not at all the charismatic personality like Trungpa was and that's probably a lot better although far less entertaining :]

    Yes, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is from Suzuki's lectures. I actually enjoyed Not Always So more. Writing Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism is the best thing Trungpa ever did in my opinion.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/192021301702?ssPageName=STRK:MESINDXX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1436.l2648

  • @smarino, thanks for the recommendation. Santa will be coming soon so perhaps I could write a letter (how old-fashioned!).

    As for buying books, there's an aggregator site which lists books and shipping costs. It's called booko (.com.au, .co.uk, .us, you can change the country by clicking on the flag at the top). It helps to avoid the Darth Amazon where possible.

  • smarinosmarino florida Explorer

    Thanks for the info. I usually buy on eBait because I'm a seller here in the Colonies (not that I get any deals or anything). Amazon is OK w/ me too. I'll essentially buy from anyone if the price is right! Not a big fan of paypal though.

  • @smarino, here's the book (which I guess you already have) - booko

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @smarino you might want to consider not talking in absolutes so much. Just a suggestion. I have a hard time reading many of your posts because you put forth that what you observe, think and experience obviously applies to everyone. That isn't the case and it makes your posts unpalatable. At least for me. The world is not nearly so black and white, even within meditation or practice. Some examples:

    "I'm not making spiritual progress though, and don't think any such thing exists. If anyone thinks they are, then they're not."
    Just because you don't think it exists, doesn't mean everyone who thinks otherwise about their progress is wrong.

    "The mind quiets down after 5-10 minutes, but that is a side effect and not the purpose. Even if we get lost in our thoughts 100 times during a sit, if we see that and go back to our breath then that is correct meditation."

    Lots of people cannot get their minds to quiet in that time, and there are lots of different types of meditations that do not focus on returning to the breath. Assuming everyone has the same experience makes it difficult for new people who often worry they are doing things wrong already.

    "One day I saw one of the teachers w/ her phone out checking stuff and looking over some notes on paper, and this was during a meditation sit!"
    This is not unusual. They often meditate quite a lot, and use the time the students are meditating to prepare for what is coming next in their teaching. I don't think I've been on a retreat with any teacher who does not do this. Once again, it doesn't make them wrong just because they aren't doing what you think they should be doing.

    DhammaDragon
  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    Yes...

  • Are you making progress?

    Tee Hee!
    We are making progress. The Buddha stressed good company:

    Particularly critical to our spiritual progress is our selection of friends and companions, who can have the most decisive impact upon our personal destiny. It is because he perceived how susceptible our minds can be to the influence of our companions that the Buddha repeatedly stressed the value of good friendship (kalyanamittata) in the spiritual life.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_26.html

    If a group with differing qualities and understanding can share, then we have rapid progress ... In a sense we are arriving contually ... wisdom, compassion, generosity, kindness all can be shared ...

    silverTiddlywinds
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Particularly critical to our spiritual progress is our selection of friends and companions, who can have the most decisive impact upon our personal destiny. It is because he perceived how susceptible our minds can be to the influence of our companions that the Buddha repeatedly stressed the value of good friendship (kalyanamittata) in the spiritual life.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_26.html

    If a group with differing qualities and understanding can share, then we have rapid progress ... In a sense we are arriving contually ... wisdom, compassion, generosity, kindness all can be shared ...

    I love all the people in my life: the nice, the ugly and the uglier.
    They all have something to teach me.
    So I guess that's why my progress is so slow.

    But then, I prefer a couple more rounds in the samsaric laundry with imperfect people such as me, than with holier-than-though soi-disant (or soi-pensant) arahants...

    Am I making progress?
    I'm at peace with myself and my shortcomings, accepting of dukkha, always in awe and open to what the moment brings, willing to learn from my mistakes...
    And now and then, it's back to square one and climbing up again.
    But I am enjoying the view, so who cares?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    ....Quicker than I thought I would...
    But not as fast as I'd like......

  • TiddlywindsTiddlywinds UK Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @DhammaDragon

    But I am enjoying the view, so who cares?

    I spent a lifetime thinking that no-one cares.

    Now that I think about it, it was a time when I was most harsh with my words. It was also a time when I was most opinionated and needed to speak out.

    I've come to realise that people care, and care a lot - but it's sometimes hard to find a way to express it especially with competing pulls and pushes that make up our lives.

    lobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    I don't think it's important to choose one's words carefully on a forum.
    In fact, I don't even think it's doubly important.
    Triply important just about covers it.

    Intention.
    Speech.
    Skill.

    Those three should cover the basics.

    Other considerations, the frills, the side bits, the embellishments if you like, include courtesy, consideration and Kindness.

    If these three are not brought into consideration, from the get-go, i tend to get a little bit twitchy...
    Sure, occasionally discussions get a bit heated, and people have a difference of opinion.
    But I step in when it stops being topical, and starts being personal.

    The minute any of the above factors - frills included - get sidelined, I get Moderational.....

    lobsterdhammachickDhammaDragon
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @Tiddlywinds said:
    @DhammaDragon

    But I am enjoying the view, so who cares?

    I spent a lifetime thinking that no-one cares.

    Now that I think about it, it was a time when I was most harsh with my words. It was also a time when I was most opinionated and needed to speak out.

    I've come to realise that people care, and care a lot - but it's sometimes hard to find a way to express it especially with competing pulls and pushes that make up our lives.

    I meant that I was enjoying the view, so I do not care...
    None of this...

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Are you making progress?

    No...I seem to be stuck at the beginner's stage :)

    federicaDhammaDragon
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @Shoshin said:

    Are you making progress?

    No...I seem to be stuck at the beginner's stage :)

    Me too.... it's awful long, innit....?

    ShoshinlobsterDhammaDragon
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited December 2016

    We're doing OK. No need for lectures.

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    Are you making progress?

    No...I seem to be stuck at the beginner's stage :)

    If you manage to keep a beginner's mind, you will be faring pretty well, @Shoshin

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @DhammaDragon said:

    @Shoshin said:

    Are you making progress?

    No...I seem to be stuck at the beginner's stage :)

    If you manage to keep a beginner's mind, you will be faring pretty well, @Shoshin

    It's the short term (and very selective) memory that helps :lol:

    DhammaDragondhammachick
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited December 2016

    Intention.
    Speech.
    Skill.

    Those three should cover the basics.

    :)
    Considered pausing and contemplation of ones over reactive monkey mind is one of the benefits of a forum. Right speech is slow to react. Careful in delivery. Powerful in effect. Wise for all the beginners, arhats, Buddha realms and garudas to enjoy and employ ...

    OM MANY PERME TA TIONS

    Tiddlywinds
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited December 2016

    Are you making progress?

    Only enough to understand the in-jokes. Hasn't stopped me trying thus far
    _ /\ _

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I have made progress in realising in which areas I do not need to make progress, in which areas progress is irrelevant, and in understanding in which areas I could do better. I feel blessed to have some resources of insight.

  • More importantly, how do you make progress?

    Association with people of integrity is a factor for stream-entry.
    Listening to the true Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
    Appropriate attention is a factor for stream-entry.
    Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
    — SN 55.5

    DhammaDragonlobster
  • Well quoted @pegembara

    I like the word integrity/honourable rather than 'honest' that is often used in such translations. It may be honest to present a truth. However it takes skill, wisdom and integrity to know how and when to present it for the benefit of those beginning to understand the nature and requirements of The Middle Way.

    I only made genuine progress in Dharma once I stopped trying to get something - peace of mind, a happy life, insight etc. I realised I would have to change and put effort in. Ay caramba!

    For each individual this development of genuine aspiration is different and usually on going.

    DhammaDragon
  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    Are you making progress?

    No...I seem to be stuck at the beginner's stage :)

    -Beginners mind is an open mind...

  • @Will_Baker said:

    -Beginners mind is an open mind...

    if i say:
    each moment is a 'beginners mind is an open mind'

    problem is do we aware of 'it'?

    if we aware of 'it' the next step is to acknowledge that 'we are aware of it'

    the next step is to know that 'awareness and acknowledgement' came within

    if we know whole process was happening 'within' then it is futile to turn toward 'outside'

    that means

    we are wise enough not to react to whatever arisen

  • What of the progress of enlightenment/Nirvana ...

    One day the Master announced that a young monk had reached an advanced state of enlightenment. The news caused some stir. Some of the monks went to see the young monk. "We heard you are enlightened. Is that true?" they asked.
    "It is," he replied.

    "And how do you feel?"

    "As miserable as ever," said the monk.

    http://truecenterpublishing.com/zenstory/enlightened.html
    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/18865/enlightened-or-not-nothing-changes-and-the-earth-still-spins

  • @Will_Baker said:
    -Beginners mind is an open mind...

    Indeed.
    Open and fresh. Something like childhood, difficult to return to. However as an attitude it is the basis of the fluid mind required to dissolve our rigidity.

    The opened mind can be overwhelmed. It needs stability, a cushion if you will. A ritual framework of grounding. That framework can be through our persona, sila, practice or the humility found in other religious traditions.

    Eventually we are not 'making progress', we are allowing things to progress ... Very subtle difference that @genkaku suggests we allow to settle without disturbing ...

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