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shadowleaver Veteran


Last Active
  • Re: When hightailing it from awful daily news, I click to...

    So during the last precepts ceremony at my Zen center, media was mentioned in the context of the precept about abstaining from intoxicants. That was reassuring for me to hear, as I have struggled greatly with Internet-powered obsessions...

    I am coming to the conclusion that the best way for me is to be extremely careful about what I expose myself to online and, indeed, minimize my time there as much as is humanly possible.

  • Re: Spiritual livelihood in the western world

    I am a programmer working for for-profit companies. I have struggled a great deal trying to reconcile spirituality and work. That at times brought intense psychological suffering. My view of this has evolved quite a bit.

    At first I really felt guilty for not being in a "helping profession" which would seem to be more "spiritual". I remember agonizing over how much debt it would put me in if I switched to something like healthcare or education. As I don't have large savings or well off family that seemed like a torturous path. Also, researching these more noble sounding professions I was dismayed at how corporate-like aspects are present in them as well, at least here in America.

    What really helped me find some peace with myself was Mahayana emphasis on being helpful to all beings combined with Zen direction of "just like this" being the Truth. Little by little it dawned on me that unless an occupation was obviously harmful (slaughterhouse, pornography, some types of Law etc ;) ) it can be integrated into spiritual practice. As long as I interact with other people, I can bring my Zen into those interactions and hopefully be of service.

    I do understand that as a tech worker I am fortunate to be exempt from some types of inhumanity found in lower wage, less skilled occupations. I do have difficulty picturing myself being anything other than miserable in a Walmart or a call center...So as long as the hours are reasonable (40-45 hours a week) and I am mostly allowed to focus on my actual work (as opposed to meetings, reports and such corporate bs), I think I can find that balance between earning money and Buddhist practice.

  • Re: Trump

    I feel the frustration, @Hozan . Listened to DJT's address in real time and felt hopelessness.

    And yet, we gotta step back and realize that we do not get to live in a world that aligns with our ideals. In fact, the powers that be have never been particularly enightened or moral. If anything, by many accounts, the world today (at least Western one) is at its best like ever, even if recently it seems like it is backtracking some.

    At any rate, these global political shifts is not something we can control any more than we can control weather (I realize the sad pun). We are dealt some set of cards and we have to play those cards and no other. That's how that goes.

    So no point in getting worked up into a frenzy by the news. If we are worked up, we cannot help even in small ways, let alone bigger ones. All we have is our immediate environment and if due to being paralyzed by negativity we can't even properly show up there, then all is truly lost for us. Let us accept that the world is a mess, step back, balance ourselves and be the best that we can be, right here, right now.

  • Re: Zen Buddhism and Rebirth?

    Rebirth is definitely in the classical Zen texts. In my school there is some reading during every retreat and the stuff is regularly mentioned.

    However, we take it more as a metaphora for what our mind does during this very life-- that is, its propensity to recreate the same states and situations over and over again. Buddhist teaching on rebirth seems to describe quite well our cyclical ups and downs, their quality, their root and the way to move beyond them.

    I don't think I know a single person who strongly believes in literal/physical rebirth. At most, I hear the "who knows what happens after we die" approach.

  • Re: Western Buddhism and "the Left"

    @Dakini : just to be clear, the alarmism I was talking about was shared by the minority of members, even though that minority was vocal and has senior members. Some folks in my Sangha seemed to also not be thrilled by the dynamics. Also, a couple of folks in the "alarmist" camp had backgrounds that make it harder for them to retain a cool not being perfectly balanced myself, I have some empathy there.

    Anyway, I think it is undeniable that the American Sangha has a strong Left bias politically (so do I but not nearly to that degree) As proof of that just read the reactions of Buddhist teachers to the election, published on Lion's Roar. While I fully understand why one, as an American, would wish for the other candidate to have won, most (but not all) of those reactions make it clear that their sources are strongly invested in Liberal causes mentally and emotionally.

    I just feel that being strongly invested in any side politically is fundamentally not Buddhist (or spiritual for that matter). I think any spiritual practice points in a very different direction- it is about acceptance, unity and clarity. Mixing religion/spirituality and politics just seems like a universally bad idea.That is what prompted me to write here.