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Interesting tradition of lay people wearing robes. In 17 years of active Buddhism (within dharma communities) I have not encountered this before.
One piece of advice .. neither the robes nor a dharma name make you a Buddhist, nor do they hasten your learning. In fact, the more attached we become to having a dharma name or to robes or to these things defining ourselves, the more these things will obstruct our progress. Use with care, I guess.
Btw, the dharma name is usually a quality the teacher perceives us as lacking .. so it is something we need to work on. It helps to not invest our ego too much into our dharma name, but rather to invest humor and humility to it.
That makes sense. Im a ritual person. If I could become a monk, I would but my circumstance and mindset right now would make it inappropriate. Im sure monks arent attached to their robes either.
I think it has more to do with culture. The other temple I practiced in for three years did not give us robes. The priest had robes, though. I didnt become an inititate at their temple because they literally have a "you Must follow our rules". It was literally political in nature. No other religion I know has this onetheless Buddhist.
What was nice is the sister who invited me to the monastary invited me to stay the night o the holidays since I live so far out. Also, she says if I need help with keeping the precepts I took refuge in, just let her know. I dont know about other temples outside the other I practiced in above, but they really put emphasis on cultural appropriate in relation to the Dhamma. I wish I knew Vietnamese to have a good conversation with our master. We did get a chance to ask questions before taking the refuges (intepreter present). The master didnt know me to give me a name more associated with what I need and dont. Though, it is nice because that is the one aspect of many of the Dhamma I would practice.
I was reading about monks taking the vow of povety and laity help monks and the poor. They receive marits in return. The Sangha gave me a lot just that one day I ca t find a way to give back my gratitude.
It goes beyond meditation. Its a real lifestyle.
I am starting a new quest to regain my beginner buddhist mind. I had so much fun. Everything was exciting. I remembered what I would always tell myself: Simplify!
As I've walked the path, I think I've taken on too many expectations from buddhism. What was once an escape from stress has become in some ways another source of stress.
So now I will simplify once more. And try to ask less questions. Questions bring parameters answers must fit into. Am I a bad buddhist? Well, what is a buddhist? What is bad? I give myself headaches these days.
I am going to breathe, and listen, and be still and simple. I think more about my practice and spend less time practicing. Oh jeeze.
Call me an un orthodox Buddhist newly initiated, but having the beginner's mind is pretty overrated (and probably a oldies mind as well) because the practice is still the same.
I think it's good to do what's best for yourself. For example, The Buddha talks a lot about attachments. I took formal precepts and refuges at our local monastery. They gave us two booklets one on meditation (according to Zen Vietnamese practice) and a repentance booklet. We received blue robes to wear during worship, celebration, study, and whenever visiting a monastery. People call these attachments, but to a beginner's mind, these actually are helpful.
Beginner's minds usually have a difficult time wondering how to sit on the cushion for more than five minutes. If you're out of practice meditating, start back at five minute intervals, ten mins, etc. Do it at times you feel refreshed. With me, I do it after I come off from work and exercised. For some reason I can't just "go worship" I need some energy first.
Depending on the tradition, depends on what emphasis your school puts practice on. The beginner's mind is pretty stuck in where the emphasis is placed and not just what the meaning is behind it. For example, full moons in May (so told by our master) signify the big life events of The Buddha. Maybe start off with just observing the full moons in general and take the precepts and refuges again and again. Not repetitive but just to remind you to put these things into everyday practice. Yes, we can talk about impermanence all day long, but what does it mean without talking about our experiences that make these theological discussions come to real life in a discussion.
Keep yourself physically healthy. No or less alcohol, limit the types of foods you eat that drain your mind, get proper sleep, and don't stress too much. It's not just about meditation but how you take care of yourself so you won't blame your monkey mind and attachments as if you're blaming the devil when it's just you slept in till 3a.m. in the morning because of a hungover from clubbing. Anything that helps the mind be clear.
Right now, I'm pacing myself. Our sister said I can call her if I'm having trouble keeping the precepts I vowed to keep. The monastery, while there all day, donated me money since I took a cab to get there and to get back 'round trip was about sixty dollars if I didn't get a ride which I did.
On that note, give donations and help others. In our tradition, it's generally respectful to help the monks out from time to time since they live a vow of poverty. Simple things like giving your old clothes to a nearby church (we have a lot of christian churches here. The monastery is way out in the middle of nowhere's land).
Walk in gratitude and be appreciative. Bow-the act of bowing is pretty powerful. It's not an attachment just a way to show your appreciation for The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Many ways to be a beginner and/or stay in a constant state without beginner and oldie. Keep an easy pace and it may become second nature to you without missing the fun in giving, receiving, and saying thanks from time to time.
Do you think about the karmic consequences of your thoughts words and deeds, on a daily bases ?
In other words...does karma factor much into your everyday activities ?
Kinda like a built-in "Thought" Police Force.....
Karma factor always plays in my everyday thoughts and deeds. I don't understand why it cannot. I mean, I think of how what I do will affect other people and the environment. If I put my finger in the river, which way will the wave go? Yes, I can say "I don't care or it's not important which way the ripples run" but that's not the point-to figure out the patterns of karmic direction. It's more if you are contributing to or creating negative karma that doesn't need to be. So, I do have it in my day to day activities.
I am also learning about it from an studying level as that is how I find my true self is not just from "sitting still" but in action and knowledge. I find karma has an effect with that. I mean, things I plan a month ahead of time always goes wrong. I mean, always. If I plan a day ahead of time, it doesn't flop (probably a 80 perent change). Maybe because during that month, I or we put karma into action and it may or may not affect us down the line.
Anyway, I like to talk. Karma plays so much a part in my life that a Bodhisattva can't live without the knowledge and practice of what he or she does will affect other individuals and himself. It's, well, second nature.
The Buddha sat in front of Shariputra with other gods, devas, sevankas, monks, and lay buddhists. His disciple (and the sounding followers) asked The Buddha a question about the nature of life. The Buddha repeated the question in rhetorical form; and then he said nothing. Both sat in silence.
Then The Buddha says, as he looks at his disciple, "now you know."
~I can't remember which sutta I read this from, so it's an adaption from memory. It''s one of my favorite ones as well.
@Carlita Refuge and precepts aren't the same thing. Refuge is just recognition of the 3 Jewels. Precepts are the "rules" or guidelines, like no lying, no stealing, etc. The idea of sleeping or sitting on beds/furniture too high is a precept, nothing to do with refuge.
Often when one takes refuge, they take the 5 precepts. When I did it, the precepts given by my teacher were different from the standard 5 and we only did 4.
I do both every day, refuge and precepts. Sometimes I do more precepts than other days. For me it helps to do it every day after my meditation because it helps set my intention for the day and puts me in a good place to keep them rather than to just have them rambling around in my head. Then I look back on how things went during the day. Neither are a requirement by any means, not in general and not from my teacher. For me, refuge vows were required in order to later take bodhisattva vows though.
Aah. I havent taken refuges from a teacher. I will when it gets warmer since we have ti before staying during the silent retreat. Relating to SGI, they dont take the refuges and precepts as in given by teach or said vocally. Its all wraped up in Daimoku (Nam..).
I honestly dont know where to place the organization and even more so my place within it.