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The Digestion of Buddhism

JeroenJeroen Do it with a smileNetherlands Veteran

Have you ever felt that Buddhism needs to be digested? That it takes a certain time before it is absorbed and becomes part of you, and that in that process a few things are lost, and it becomes clear to you what truly made an impact and what only seemed important?

I once read that one of the great painters had said “one only becomes a great painter by painting for ten years, and then stopping with painting altogether for another ten years.” It always struck me as a significant insight, the role of the fallow period after a time of being busy.

While one is reading about or listening to the dharma every day one is essentially convincing oneself, while the fallow period is a time of contemplation and re-evaluation where the subconscious is doing it’s work.

personlobstermarcitkoAlexDavid

Comments

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited December 2020

    100%. If our knowledge and understanding remain at an intellectual level then I don't think one is really practicing spirituality. Its more of an academic exercise.

    Something I heard Mattieu Ricard say years ago that has really stuck with me is when he makes the analogy of meditation as being like watering a plant. In day to day life we may often have glimpes of impermanence or love but then our minds move onto the next thing and the feeling is lost. Those insights are like watering the plant but then tipping the plant over before the water can soak in, in meditation we stay with the insight to allow it to seep into our being. And I'd add I think its why repeated listening and learning of things we already know is beneficial.

    lobster
  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    Have you ever wondered if this temporary compellation of vibratory momentum we call a self, having spent its life in denial of its own ethereal may fly existence, should continue to be offered a controlling lead role over the only moment where any practice of selflessness is ever possible to do.

  • コチシカコチシカ Veteran
    edited December 2020

    I think it took me one year to finally get the jist of Buddhism which means less showing to others and more self-practice, to then realise that the self part isn't necessary anymore. And then constantly falling into problems with daily life.

    I sometimes wish I could become a monk, but I know I would last 2 days / end up being kicked out. Also, Samsaric cereals are delicious for breakfast (partner, computer, entertainment, studies).

    lobsterShoshin1Alex
  • Also, Samsaric cereals are delicious for breakfast

    Last time I was in a monastery we had gruel for breakfast. No croissants, no egg and beans, no muesli.

    We also used to have a little soup for supper ....

    Bless the Sangha o:)

  • The Digestion of Buddhism

    When it comes to the Dharma....there have been parts which I found somewhat hard to swallow....after a while I came to understand that (for me) it's best to never bite off more than I can chew, take small bites and chew well, makes it easier to digest and work its way through the system...and work its magic...

    Jeffreylobster
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Have you ever felt that Buddhism needs to be digested? That it takes a certain time before it is absorbed and becomes part of you, and that in that process a few things are lost, and it becomes clear to you what truly made an impact and what only seemed important?

    A rather emphatic "yes". And another "yes please"

    I once read that one of the great painters had said “one only becomes a great painter by painting for ten years, and then stopping with painting altogether for another ten years.” It always struck me as a significant insight, the role of the fallow period after a time of being busy.

    Greatness is usually in the eye of the beholder but that's on to something. When something you enjoyed in younger days comes back then it usually brings some new tricks with it.

    While one is reading about or listening to the dharma every day one is essentially convincing oneself, while the fallow period is a time of contemplation and re-evaluation where the subconscious is doing it’s work.

    Every little bit helps I think. I like reading different interpretations of the same discourse so I can see the similarities and how different perspectives can come from it.

    @how said:
    Have you ever wondered if this temporary compellation of vibratory momentum we call a self, having spent its life in denial of its own ethereal may fly existence, should continue to be offered a controlling lead role over the only moment where any practice of selflessness is ever possible to do.

    I think if we are aware of the interconnectedness then it's all good. The conventional self can be very useful.

    "True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself, less."

    -C.S. Lewis

    personlobster
  • The Digestion of Buddhism

    I feel we need to be digested.

    In other words as we sit, so we mature, so we mellow, unfold and ultimately. Wait ... that may be cheese ... ;)

    I bow to the big cheese (Buddha)
    I bow to the rind (Dharma)
    I bow to the crackers (Sangha)

    Yum!

    Jeroen
  • @lobster said:

    The Digestion of Buddhism

    I feel we need to be digested.

    In other words as we sit, so we mature, so we mellow, unfold and ultimately. Wait ... that may be cheese ... ;)

    I bow to the big cheese (Buddha)
    I bow to the rind (Dharma)
    I bow to the crackers (Sangha)

    Yum!

    That's so cheesy @lobster ;);)

    lobster
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    I think I'm lactose intolerant. All that cheesiness gives me tummy troubles. 😟💨

    Shoshin1lobsterNerida
  • Swiss Cheese Paradox
    Swiss cheese has lots of holes. The more holes you have, the less cheese you have. The more cheese you have, the more holes you have. Thus, the more cheese you have, the less cheese you have.

    Have you ever felt that Buddhism needs to be digested?

    Like @person I feel this is important.

    The momentary acceptance @how mentions can only occur and continue if we are immersed in a stillness from the distractions that @Shoshin illustrates.

    That is why Buddhism sets the tone but we walk the walk or perhaps sit the cushion. Mindfulness does not happen in a vacuum ... oh wait ...

    It does.

    personJeroen
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    For me, the temptation is to keep consuming wisdom of different schools, and then there is the possibility that a lesson that was absorbed earlier gets swamped with later material before it can be properly digested. It’s a pickle, because in order to prevent that one needs to build in periods of rest or ‘doing nothing’ with the brain, and I find that quite hard. I get uncomfortable, a disquiet comes over me when the mind doesn’t get fed.

    As long as I am reading or researching or experimenting, things are fine. There is movement, an unending stream of fascinating things to look at. When that stops... I suppose it is my variant of restlessness that comes and visits me.

    howpersonlobster
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited December 2020

    @Kerome said:
    For me, the temptation is to keep consuming wisdom of different schools, and then there is the possibility that a lesson that was absorbed earlier gets swamped with later material before it can be properly digested. It’s a pickle, because in order to prevent that one needs to build in periods of rest or ‘doing nothing’ with the brain, and I find that quite hard. I get uncomfortable, a disquiet comes over me when the mind doesn’t get fed.

    I am just getting over something like that. I was like the overwhelmed gatherer and just had far too much going on. I'm in the midst of making sure but my solution is easy because my tradition is non-sectarian in regards to Therevada and Mahayana. Plum Village is about what they collectively teach.

    It was also kind of easy because of all the years that it wasn't though. Also, there is so much to it. There is the local Sangha, the Plum Village itself and the the Earth Holder Community so there is always something to research or practice. Now, when I am researching two branches or more at once, I am actually studying a sutta, sutra or discourse for similarities but it does require concentration which is tough when multi-tasking.

    I find that when I am spiritually multi-tasking, many things get overlooked or misconstrued due to differing representations of the same dharma. It's like using 2 different fingers pointing to the moon to see it. There are 2 fingers pointing so we try to figure out the center distance between them to get our moon. The result is a shakey and blurred representation of an approximation between 2 already imperfect ways if seeing the moon.

    Ok, sorry if that was long winded and stupid. It was fun to type regardless so I'm leaving it, lol.

    As long as I am reading or researching or experimenting, things are fine. There is movement, an unending stream of fascinating things to look at. When that stops... I suppose it is my variant of restlessness that comes and visits me.

    Do you not have a regular, daily meditation practice?

    Even just a 10 minute Shikantaza at the end of the night can help incorporate (and so empty the cup of) past teachings so it is fresh to receive the next day.

    personlobster
  • @Kerome I had / have a similar problem. I tried to engulf Rinzai, Theravada, Vajrayana and Hare Krsna in one big bowl.... it was... sighs

    I've decided to settle for Zen and Theravada for the time being... just sitting and sutta study mix quite well. Like milk and cereals -changes his voice to an American 1950s ad- NEW SAMSARA CEREALS! Now with extra Dukkha! Chocaaapiiiic!

    ...

    lobster
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran
    edited December 2020

    @David said:
    Even just a 10 minute Shikantaza at the end of the night can help incorporate (and so empty the cup of) past teachings so it is fresh to receive the next day.

    Lately it seemed to me that meditation was not helping me, so I decided to take a break from my practice. I wasn’t reaching any properly meditative states, and I’ve been doing some other things instead, such as Wim Hof Method breathing. I’ll change back at some point...

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited December 2020

    Shit!.... Now you tell me there's proper meditation states?

    コチシカJeroenlobster
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    Well, kinda... what I meant is that I haven’t been able to reach any kind of meditative depth for some time.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Well, kinda... what I meant is that I haven’t been able to reach any kind of meditative depth for some time.

    You haven't reached the point where you like to meditate just because you like to meditate.

    I just had a great session this weekend and my teacher really helped me in this regard. It had been having problems with my monkey mind where being aware of it only made it swing faster so that before long, the monkey turned into two monkeys and there was a soundtrack in the form of an earworm (little ditty stuck in the head) so now three monkeys. Each seemingly trying to trick my awareness into thinking it is one of them.

    It may sound funny but add deafening tinnitus and I was actually frustrated near the point of tears. I remembered the mantra my teacher showed us a few days earlier and started in clear and solid thoughts "I come back to my true home" "I come back to my true home" "I come back to my true home".

    It worked. Sweet Buddha, it worked. Not for the tinnitus but for everything else.

    Maybe it could help you get to whichever state you're looking for. I think it's better to find a way to make sitting practice enjoyable though. Buddha woke up in Siddhartha when he was like 35 but he kept practicing sitting meditation until his dharma body or conventional self was no longer useful 50 years later.

    lobsterJeroen
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited December 2020

    @Kerome

    Much of a meditation practice is the disentangling oneself from judging one's meditative depth. In fact, the deliberate mentality involved in our judgmental activities of our meditation is usually just our identity's habituated empire building strutting around against the threat of our practice.

    There are endless states of different feelings within meditation, just as there are some other specific meditative depths that can present themselves as a distinct absence of such feelings. These states can even last for years.

    This might not have anything to do with where you actually are right now but it is a description of a relatively common obstacle that most sincere meditators eventually come up against in their practice. More turn away from it than continue through it.

    Some Meditation teachers have said that they think their primary purpose as a teacher is to simply encourage those in their care to keep practicing through such states where those students would otherwise not.

    Continuing to sit, when the meditation no longer provides the stimulation one associates with the practice, for those that eventually persevere through it, is often spoken of in hindsight as one of the most profoundly liberating lessons they've experienced to date.

    Many meditation students when talking about their movement from teacher to teacher, describe an eventual re-finding again of this same obstacle, which when one is not prepared to fully face, simply precipitates another switch toward the next teacher or form of practice.

    in Gassho

    lobsterJeroenDavidperson
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited December 2020

    @how said:
    Shit!.... Now you tell me there's proper meditation states?

    Tee Hee!
    I was augmenting my improper states with a bit of healthy pranayama using a youtube guru on our smart (allegedly) TV. Was some way through my 'fire breath' for curing practically everything and generating peace of mind. I was interrupted by google AI (own youtube) who forced a compulsory ad break ...

    Que? How can I attain anything during ads? Obviously my fire breathing peace of mind had not kicked in ... [fume, rant ... angry lobster]

    ... and now back to the cure for indigestion ...

    Jeroen
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    Thanks guys, I really appreciate your support. I did a little meditation session yesterday.

    I think what snuck up on me was the feeling of being meditative all the time, and so no longer having to meditate. It was a bit strange. I’ll wait and see what happens.

  • Rob_VRob_V North Carolina Explorer

    @person said:
    100%. If our knowledge and understanding remain at an intellectual level then I don't think one is really practicing spirituality. Its more of an academic exercise.

    @Shoshin1 said:

    The Digestion of Buddhism

    When it comes to the Dharma....there have been parts which I found somewhat hard to swallow....after a while I came to understand that (for me) it's best to never bite off more than I can chew, take small bites and chew well, makes it easier to digest and work its way through the system...and work its magic...

    I once read, in a Christian setting, that the best way to study the bible was to read a passage, and then meditate on it for awhile. Mull it over. See where and how it fits into your own life. Then apply it accordingly. There's no reason to think Buddhist Dhamma is any different. I think 'digesting' is not only part of - it's an absolute necessity.

    @David said:
    It may sound funny but add deafening tinnitus and I was actually frustrated near the point of tears.

    Ajahn Sumedho suggests using that tinnitus as your meditation object. I've had tinnitus for all of my life, I can attest that meditation is about all its good for...

    personlobsterJeroenShoshin1
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited December 2020

    @Rob_V said:

    @person said:
    100%. If our knowledge and understanding remain at an intellectual level then I don't think one is really practicing spirituality. Its more of an academic exercise.

    @Shoshin1 said:

    The Digestion of Buddhism

    When it comes to the Dharma....there have been parts which I found somewhat hard to swallow....after a while I came to understand that (for me) it's best to never bite off more than I can chew, take small bites and chew well, makes it easier to digest and work its way through the system...and work its magic...

    I once read, in a Christian setting, that the best way to study the bible was to read a passage, and then meditate on it for awhile. Mull it over. See where and how it fits into your own life. Then apply it accordingly. There's no reason to think Buddhist Dhamma is any different. I think 'digesting' is not only part of - it's an absolute necessity.

    @David said:
    It may sound funny but add deafening tinnitus and I was actually frustrated near the point of tears.

    Ajahn Sumedho suggests using that tinnitus as your meditation object. I've had tinnitus for all of my life, I can attest that meditation is about all its good for...

    A fine suggestion and I actually do that when it becomes bothersome. Sort of like how I used nic fits to my advantage when I quit smoking.

    Usually though, it is best to ignore the tinnitus I find.

  • I think 'digesting' is not only part of - it's an absolute necessity.

    Yes.
    It is not how much we eat but how little we need to digest for nutrition. Some of us may be used to mindful eating, particularly important in Theravada. This aspect of slowed activity/mindful nutrition is the basis of everything being a dharma. Everything contemplated down to a grain of sand, a drop of ocean, a blade of grass ...

    Eat well. Eat everything. Shit dharma ... oops [light shines from nether regions]
    Lotus

  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    @Rob_V said:
    I once read, in a Christian setting, that the best way to study the bible was to read a passage, and then meditate on it for awhile. Mull it over. See where and how it fits into your own life. Then apply it accordingly. There's no reason to think Buddhist Dhamma is any different. I think 'digesting' is not only part of - it's an absolute necessity.

    Although I don’t think I would recommend living according to the Bible, or even trying to live according to the Buddhist sutra’s. There is definitely a translation process to be done, to try and see the timeless essence of a teaching loose from its cultural setting. That all happens before even the process of digestion begins.

    lobsterRob_V
  • Rob_VRob_V North Carolina Explorer

    @Kerome said:
    Although I don’t think I would recommend living according to the Bible, or even trying to live according to the Buddhist sutra’s. There is definitely a translation process to be done, to try and see the timeless essence of a teaching loose from its cultural setting. That all happens before even the process of digestion begins.

    Well stated. I didn't mean to suggest living by any particular dogma, although I'm the first to admit that all wisdom is good, regardless of its source. I was focusing on a particular method of spiritual and/or intellectual ingestion/digestion. As with any other digestive process, the organism takes viable nutrients from the mass and discards the rest.

  • I get uncomfortable, a disquiet comes over me when the mind doesn’t get fed.

    Fast.

    ... but slowly ...

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited December 2020

    @コチシカ said:
    I sometimes wish I could become a monk, but I know I would last 2 days / end up being kicked out. Also, Samsaric cereals are delicious for breakfast (partner, computer, entertainment, studies).

    I was once very seriously considering joining the Tendai priesthood. Then I reflected and decided I would not be able to handle the vanity traps. People bowing to you and calling you "Reverend." I don't think it would make me a better person. In fact, I think I am the worst sort of person to become a priest. I am full of intellectual vainglory. I can't even abide a spelling mistake that I make sometimes. I don't know if you decided not to ordain for similar reasons.

    Also, don't forget the essentials of samsaric breakfast cereal: depression, drug dependencies, thoughts of suicide, impotent rage. Aaaaaaah, that's samsara alright. Tastes of pain.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited December 2020

    When I considered the question of whether to practice as a monk or a layperson, the challenges of actually practicing within this present fleeting moment, superseded the need of adorning it with any declarations or oath takings.
    Sometimes questions are just ways of not really facing what is right in front of us.

    lobsterJeroen
  • Sometimes questions are just ways of not really facing what is right in front of us.

    Tee hee!
    You mean there are answers? Nobody tells me nothing ...
    I iz putting on wait [weight ... just heard garden fox ... must be sitting around ...]

  • コチシカコチシカ Veteran
    edited December 2020

    @Vimalajāti said:

    @コチシカ said:
    I sometimes wish I could become a monk, but I know I would last 2 days / end up being kicked out. Also, Samsaric cereals are delicious for breakfast (partner, computer, entertainment, studies).

    I was once very seriously considering joining the Tendai priesthood. Then I reflected and decided I would not be able to handle the vanity traps. People bowing to you and calling you "Reverend." I don't think it would make me a better person. In fact, I think I am the worst sort of person to become a priest. I am full of intellectual vainglory. I can't even abide a spelling mistake that I make sometimes. I don't know if you decided not to ordain for similar reasons.

    Also, don't forget the essentials of samsaric breakfast cereal: depression, drug dependencies, thoughts of suicide, impotent rage. Aaaaaaah, that's samsara alright. Tastes of pain.

    According to our genes / karma we end up buying our cereals from different stores. I enjoyed the self-loathing, low sense of self and cannabis dependency for over a decade. But now I think I will buy my goods from Edeka. It makes the tummy less turbulent. But...I think I accidentally slip some Rage-against-the-flatmate kefir from time to time.... deliciously demonic! :anguished:

    "There are these five benefits in rice porridge. What five? It still hunger, dispels thirst, settles wind, cleans out the bladder, and promotes the digestion of the remnants of undigested food. These are the five benefits of rice porridge."

    -from Anguttara Nikaya 5.207, Bhikkhu Bodhi

    https://simplesuttas.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/buddha-says-to-eat-your-porridge/

    Eat your porridge! Determine your own Samsara!

    Vimalajāti
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran

    @コチシカ said:
    According to our genes / karma we end up buying our cereals from different stores. I enjoyed the self-loathing, low sense of self and cannabis dependency for over a decade. But now I think I will buy my goods from Edeka. It makes the tummy less turbulent.

    I'm pretty sure I spent two entire years of university baked. I'm almost not exagerrating. Luckily I've avoided more serious and lasting habits, but I definitely have an inherited addictive personality.

  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    Well, just to return to the topic of digestion of Buddhism, I have not read any spiritual books since the time I first posted this thread, so my spiritual book “fast” has been going for nigh on four months. I have found the habits of my mind have settled in a slightly different pattern in that time, its like a tendency to be subconsciously busy with spiritual topics has disappeared, and the surface of my mind has necessarily become more focussed around everyday topics.

    I came across this quote of Osho the other day on a blog which I found myself agreeing with...

    “One thing: you have to walk, and create the way by your walking; you will not find a ready-made path. It is not so cheap, to reach to the ultimate realisation of truth. You will have to create the path by walking yourself; the path is not ready-made, lying there and waiting for you. It is just like the sky: the birds fly, but they don’t leave any footprints. You cannot follow them; there are no footprints left behind.”

    It’s that uniqueness, that personal aspect of the spiritual journey that I intend to focus on for a while going forward. I intend to go slow.

    In terms of what Buddhism has meant for me over the past five years, I am still trying to make up a balance of what has really sunk in. The fast has helped with this, but a lot of dharma is still close to the surface of my memory. Ajahn Chah’s emphasis on letting go and on knowing oneself has made a mark, the Tibetan teachings on death and on the three poisons have been great pointers, and Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness will never leave me, I think. Just sitting has also been an excellent find. I’m sure other important markers will also come along.

    There are also many parts of Buddhism that haven’t touched me deeply, perhaps the majority. It’s been like sifting through the most highly recommended texts in search for diamonds, and every once in a while finding one, and then really learning from it, without imitating a teacher wholesale. At the same time all of the lesser material kind of ‘persuades’ you to follow along, creating for you a stream of personal dharma. I’m unsure how much of this will stick.

    But I think I will end the fast here, and start thinking about some new literature.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited March 29

    I heard some body (probably Thay but I cannot remember) once explain it like the rain on dry and cracked earth. That if at first we don't understand it is ok. The first bit of rain on the cracked and dry earth doesn't penetrate but if the rain keeps coming down unimpeded, it will eventually work its way in to nourish the soil.

    That's why I think it is good to go over some teachings many times and even from many perspectives. Especially the ones where we think we may have it but where good and respected teachers sometimes seem to contradict each other in their interpretations.

    Fun stuff.

    JeroenJeffreyShoshin1
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