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first letter to Dharma Students -

ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

Some time ago we used this letter as a first communication.

As an introduction and opening of this group on Buddhism, it is convenient that some points are made clear.

The first is that Buddhism is not a religion, nor is it a philosophy.
Some would consider it to be a way of life, but, fortunately, this is not true either.
Buddhism is a way to find the true human being, his own nature; a nature that is hidden under the masks and games of this life.
Buddhism is a way of putting aside your own confusion, your greed, your hostility. This path that is Buddhism has a consequence, and this consequence is the elimination of suffering. Note that I say that it is a consequence, not a goal, nor an objective to be sought.
Usually, those who approach Buddhism thinking of themselves and their own suffering tend to arrive with a great weight on their shoulders, which is not easy to get rid of. But, on the other hand, if you come to Buddhism with the idea of ​​finding in it a help for human beings and a correct and natural path, you will arrive at Buddhism with a good approach.

The second point is that there are not different forms of Buddhism. There is only one Buddhism. There is a Theravada path, an Avatamsaka path, a Yogacara path, multiple Tibetan paths, a Chan path, a Zen path, a Pure Land path, and many more… but all these paths lead to the same point: discovery through direct experience.
The direct experience of the truth of suffering, of compassion, of joy, of loving kindness, of equanimity, of the non-existence of the ego, and the truth of non-duality, of the unity of consciousness and, naturally, of the impermanence and death. This is a great direct experience, but there is much more, because once you have accepted these experiences, it is necessary to build a bridge between them and this life of the senses in which error reigns.

The third point is that the essence of Buddhism is this direct experience, and this experience has nothing to do with knowing things intellectually or academically. Right now I am writing academically, and you are reading academically. Obviously this is not enough, but it is the best way to start. If you talk to Buddhist teachers, especially if they are Mahayana, they will tell you not to read anything without the teacher having approved or accepted it. The reason for this is that you will not understand the essential truth that is beyond words, for it is necessary to cut first with the way you live and understand words and concepts to enter the first of the ten vows of Dharma. It is very easy to believe that you understand something when your intellect considers that it has understood it, but the human mind is tainted, and it works with its attachment to misconceptions and incorrect ideas, removing from it what is not in accordance with its ego.
Does not exist no substitute for direct experience, always remember this.

The fourth point is that certain paths and practices can be very attractive to you, and you can easily fall from attachment to your path and criticism of everything else. But any teacher who has really received the experience and the benefit of the path, and has accepted that important emptiness, really magnificent, but without any courage, can explain to everyone that the vajrayana path, which is mystical and secret; the mantras and mandalas of chenyen; the evolution of the pure land; the severe path of zen and the flexible path of chan are all the same. It is just different forms, designed to suit different human beings, with different personalities, customs, behaviors and temperaments, but all Buddhist paths must be respected equally: none is better or worse than other.

Finally, what prevails is that there are two great pillars of Buddhism: wisdom and compassion. Wisdom without compassion is worthless, and neither is compassion without wisdom. There are four characteristics that distinguish the human being from the rest of the the creatures: wisdom, compassion, creativity and a sense of humor. Let us use this list with wisdom that includes humor, with compassion that includes creativity, for the benefit of all human beings. Compassion and love for all the participants of this list, and welcome.

BunksFleaMarketShoshin1lobsterpersonDavidKotishka

Comments

  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran

    @ShanJieshi2 said:
    It is very easy to believe that you understand something when your intellect considers that it has understood it, but the human mind is tainted, and it works with its attachment to misconceptions and incorrect ideas, removing from it what is not in accordance with its ego.
    Does not exist no substitute for direct experience, always remember this.

    I really enjoyed this read. I have one question that has been nagging at me for some time now and I have yet to find satisfactory understanding.

    How does one confirm direct experience is accurate to the teachings and not mind-tainted? Is one only able to detect truth to the extent to which they are still conditioned?

  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    @FleaMarket
    It is a bit long but I will try to summarise.
    Direct experience creates an impression in the memory. (the eighth consciousness)
    Then with external Yoga practices (Zazen in contentment mode at various levels) your consciousness can touch that stored experience. The problem is that as soon as it touches it, it is destroyed. And then the account of that experience suffers from the impediments of the interpretation of the receiver.
    It is much more extensive, but academically it is of useless use.

    If you are interested in understanding the bridge between experience and the world of the senses, we can try it.

  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran
    edited February 25

    @ShanJieshi2 said:

    Direct experience creates an impression in the memory. (the eighth consciousness)
    Then with external Yoga practices (Zazen in contentment mode at various levels) your consciousness can touch that stored experience. The problem is that as soon as it touches it, it is destroyed. And then the account of that experience suffers from the impediments of the interpretation of the receiver.
    It is much more extensive, but academically it is of useless use.

    If you are interested in understanding the bridge between experience and the world of the senses, we can try it.

    Does it lead to understanding if what I experience and what you experience when we both practice the same teaching with the same understanding are the same experience?

    It can be a bit of a roadblock to experience something learned through a text and assume it is how someone else experienced it but with no real way of knowing.

  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    @FleaMarket exactly..it is no different and not the same..but two people who have accepted the experience can recognise it and also recognise when they have not.

    there is undoubtedly a lot of misunderstanding and deserves further development.

    (haha I have to be very careful when translating my words because we use different terminology and it can get complicated if we don't get it right in the smallest detail.)

    lobster
  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran
    edited February 25

    @ShanJieshi2 said:
    exactly..it is no different and not the same..but two people who have accepted the experience can recognise it and also recognise when they have not.

    there is undoubtedly a lot of misunderstanding and deserves further development.

    (haha I have to be very careful when translating my words because we use different terminology and it can get complicated if we don't get it right in the smallest detail.)

    Yeah it is difficult to attempt to put a specific feeling into words. Even more difficult when going through translation. So many steps from someone's feeling to another person's feeling. It is easy to lose the meaning along the way. Similar to touching the stored experience and destroying it with impediments of the interpretation of the receiver.

    Maybe similar to being in love? There is a moment when one who is falling in love has fallen to the deepest level of that feeling they are capable of feeling in that circumstance. All attempts to remember that feeling after that moment are met with impediments by the one remembering. If you remember a beautiful feeling from yesterday while you are in a bad mood today, the depth of the feeling will be harder to access and now has been smudged with the attempt.

    lobster
  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    we can use love as an example of the starting point.
    benevolent love arises from action without identity.

    The complete cycle consists of Attitude, Intention, Action and Equanimity.

    And at each step there is then Joy, Compassion, Love and finally Wisdom.

    This is clearly not on an ordinary level, but is a cycle of Karma.

    When you advance in the practices you eliminate Confusion, Greed and Hostility and only your Sensitivity, your natural Discrimination and your Intelligence remain.

    It is a beginning, I hope you understand

    lobster
  • Is one only able to detect truth to the extent to which they are still conditioned?

    Yes. Just as one is only able to detect sham science to the extent one has studied science. Just as one is only able to detect anything real according to our capacity …
    Who would have guessed …

    yagr
  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran

    @ShanJieshi2 said:
    This is clearly not on an ordinary level, but is a cycle of Karma.

    Can you elaborate on this? You make it sound like the feelings associated with right attitude, intention, action and equanimity are a result of Karma?

    I am currently attending a weekly gathering and have been practicing what I learn here, so understanding the connections between the components helps me apply it. It has been working quite well so far.

  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    wich is the natural human state...??
    The correct response is a state of equanimity. This equanimity is different from what in Buddha Dharma we call intellectual indifference. True gladness, compassion –which is related to intentions– and benevolent affect –which is related to actions– all are part of a chain of personal development. If you add equanimity to this series, you will have the complete sequence, because equanimity increases the development of correct attitudes; in fact, this is what positive karma is.

    If any of the first three components of the chain is formed by the identities or if there is no equanimity, karma will be negative or incorrect and you will be unable to experience correct gladness,correct compassion, or correct benevolent affect.

    lobster
  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    we must talk later about Alaya and suchness..and blablablabla.

    but first...zuòchán/zazen

    Shoshin1
  • It’s mentioned that there is no goal in Buddhism. I’ve heard this quite a lot, and wonder if it’s related to a modern interpretation of Buddhism.

    If it is true, then what is the reason for the 4th Noble Truth and the Eightfold Path, if not the purpose of authenticating and fulling the 3rd Noble Truth?

    If there is no purpose, then wouldn’t the 4th Noble Truth actually be untrue making the 3rd Noble Truth reciprocally untrue?

    Bunks
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited February 27

    @Silouan
    There is no goal in Buddhism that offers anything to the ego, selfish self, or identity.
    For this reason, the only goal that the Buddha offered was the goal of goalessness.

    There are our habituated impulses to acquire what we believe we are innately lacking, which the Buddha called our dream...and there is the possibility of an awakening from this dream through learning how to practice a transcendence of those habituated impulses.

    Hence, the path towards suffering's cessation is less about any acquisition or a goal and could more accurately be called a path of renunciation or the goal of goalessness.

    lobster
  • @how Right, but you are providing a description of awakened mind. Is it not correct to say that preceding this awakening and the cessation of suffering there must first come belief in the possibility and purposeful struggle?

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited February 27

    @how Right, but you are providing a description of awakened mind. Is it not correct to say that preceding this awakening and the cessation of suffering there must first come belief in the possibility and purposeful struggle?

    Yes, you can correctly say that as long as you can see that either a goal or a purpose if one attaches to it, will eventually be the cause of more suffering.

    I described a sleeping mind/heart and an awakened mind/heart and the transition from one to the other. The first is filled with innumerable goals, the latter with none.
    The practice is about learning how not to be attached to anything (that includes goals). Some Buddhist schools lead one through a succession of ever subtler goals while other schools just have you approach any goal as a potential attachment. Either way, they all end up at the same summit.

    lobsterSilouan
  • @how Right, by persevering on the path, one would eventually let go and the struggle, which is a form of suffering, ceases.

  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran

    I feel my goal of reaching no goal is what has kept me progressing. I understand to some extent I have to shed even that if I go far enough but without it right now I don't know if I would keep progressing.
    Maybe because I still have other attachments pulling me backward does having this one attachment help keep me pointed in the right way.

  • Buddhist letters A-Z
    for eg.
    https://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=44

    Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask …

    Bunks
  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    @Silouan said:
    It’s mentioned that there is no goal in Buddhism. I’ve heard this quite a lot, and wonder if it’s related to a modern interpretation of Buddhism.

    If it is true, then what is the reason for the 4th Noble Truth and the Eightfold Path, if not the purpose of authenticating and fulling the 3rd Noble Truth?

    If there is no purpose, then wouldn’t the 4th Noble Truth actually be untrue making the 3rd Noble Truth reciprocally untrue?

    Of course, the key is even one step ahead.
    The origin of the Second Noble Truth is, in the Mahayana is Duality.

    Everything that is said here must be studied and practiced in depth.

    howBunks
  • @ShanJieshi2 Okay, so there is a goal or purpose. It was also said that Buddhism is not a philosophy or religion. What happens if one dies and mind is not awakened?

  • ShanJieshi2ShanJieshi2 bahia blanca Veteran

    @Silouan said:
    @ShanJieshi2 Okay, so there is a goal or purpose. It was also said that Buddhism is not a philosophy or religion. What happens if one dies and mind is not awakened?

    well.it deserves more than a sunday morning dharma talk but...lets see...

    Imagine a lit candle. This candle represents your body and life energies. Little by little, the candle burns itself away, right? When it has almost gone out, if you grab another candle and light it with the last flame from the old one before it goes out, you have a new candle with life, isn’t that so?
    But the new candle is not the same as the previous one; neither is the flame the same flame. Thus, neither does your identity pass from one life to the next nor do your problems. What passes is simply the energy of positive or negative karma; after that, it doesn’t belong to you anymore.

  • @ShanJieshi2 I’m familiar with the notion of anatman, and I agree that topics such as these require in-depth discussion.

    That being said, whether one places an emphasis on them or not, the law of karma, rebirth (not reincarnation), realms of existence, etc are part of Buddhism and provide the framework in which the practice operates.

    If not considered a philosophy, then because of this framework, I think Buddhism would qualify as a non-theistic religion.

    I also think there is a tendency in the west to de-emphasize certain aspects of Buddhism and present it in a way that is more agreeable to the western mind. Whether this approach will help or hinder, I wouldn’t know for certain, but my intuition tells me the latter is more probable.

  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited February 28

    There is definitely a goal just as the Buddha had a goal that led to the noble search for answers.

    The solution to aging, sickness and death! Who doesn't want that?

    "I, too, monks, before my Awakening, when I was an unawakened bodhisatta, being subject myself to birth, sought what was likewise subject to birth. Being subject myself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, I sought [happiness in] what was likewise subject to illness... death... sorrow... defilement. The thought occurred to me, 'Why do I, being subject myself to birth, seek what is likewise subject to birth? Being subject myself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, why do I seek what is likewise subject to illness... death... sorrow... defilement? What if I, being subject myself to birth, seeing the drawbacks of birth, were to seek the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Unbinding? What if I, being subject myself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, seeing the drawbacks of aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, were to seek the aging-less, illness-less, deathless, sorrow-less,, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Unbinding?'

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.026.than.html

    The solution is through being awake or aware of the real truth/reality through the cessation of greed, hatred and delusion.

    "And so, Anuradha — when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life — is it proper for you to declare, 'Friends, the Tathagata — the supreme man, the superlative man, attainer of the superlative attainment — being described, is described otherwise than with these four positions: The Tathagata exists after death, does not exist after death, both does & does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death'?"

    "No, lord."

    "Very good, Anuradha. Very good. Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn44/sn44.002.than.html

    You pick it up, it's yours to carry.

    You could say the goal is to reach a state where the goal has been achieved and there are no more goals left.

    The Blessed One said, "And which is the burden? 'The five clinging-aggregates,' it should be said. Which five? Form as a clinging-aggregate, feeling as a clinging-aggregate, perception as a clinging-aggregate, fabrications as a clinging-aggregate, consciousness as a clinging-aggregate. This, monks, is called the burden.

    "And which is the carrier of the burden? 'The person,' it should be said. This venerable one with such a name, such a clan-name. This is called the carrier of the burden.

    "And which is the taking up of the burden? The craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming. This is called the taking up of the burden.

    "And which is the casting off of the burden? The remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving. This is called the casting off of the burden."
    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.022.than.html

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