Practice in order to go beyond the world of the five aggregates

"In our lives we have two possibilities: indulging in the world or going beyond the world. The Buddha himself was somebody who was able to free himself from the world and thus realized special liberation."

— Ajahn Chah

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  • #buddha #buddhism #ajahn chah #wisdom #possibilities #indulgence #embrace #attachment #beyond #transcendence #non-attachment #letting go #renunciation #freedom #liberation #nirvana #suffering #enlightenment
  • 18 hours ago
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Reflection 5: Whether the mind is happy or suffering, be mindful of it — don’t fall into it

A single day lived

with conscious intention and wisdom

is of greater value than a hundred years

lived devoid of discipline and manifest wisdom.

— Dhammapada 111

"The best offering we can make to the Buddha is to live wisely. We all know the consequences of living in accordance with preferences: we feel divided, not whole. When conditions conspire to be agreeable we lose ourselves in the happiness we have gained; when conditions become disagreeable we despair over what we have lost. Wisdom ‘sees’ both gain and loss - wisdom sustains the awareness which makes us free"

—Ajahn Munindo

Reflect on this today. Remember that even the most blissful states of mind are impermanent! Don’t get lost in them.

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  • #buddha #buddhism #buddha quote #offering #discipline #wisdom #heedfulness #heedlessness #morality #virtue #sila #samadhi #panna #consequences #cause and effect #karma #kamma #preferences #opinions #views #beliefs #divided #whole #division #diversity #harmony #unity #conditions #agreeable #disagreeable
  • 22 hours ago
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Venting: Not for the weak, not for the evil, but for the misguided — What it means to ‘let go’ Version 2

Previously I had made a post called, “What it means to let go”, which describes the way which is not repression/ventilation. Its topic is actually the same as this one. This post in particular is sort of an improvement on the previous one (in my opinion), having a more detailed description on the venting process. Nevertheless, readers may find this one more understandable, or the previous one, or both, or neither. 

"Not for the weak, not for the evil, but for the misguided" — What does this mean? In modern society, when we call a person "weak", it’s more of a derogatory term used to describe people with little self control. While those who vent do lack self-control, "weak" is a poor way to describe such a person. Keeping the anger bottled up inside requires endurance but it isn’t a good way to deal with it either.

In modern society, “evil” is also quite a negative term. When describing a person as evil these days, we’re often using it as a term which sums up the person in one word. In my view, “evil” describes a person’s actions or inclination, not the person themselves. While those who vent are doing evil (in the sense that anger is an unwholesome quality and they’re letting it manifest), they aren’t a demon.

Misguided is a good term because it doesn’t have a negative social stigma around it (as far as I know). A person who vents out their anger has been deluded into thinking that it’s an effective “cure” because after venting it’s as if they dropped a load off their shoulders — thus they are misguided.

Anger and venting — How it works, and what it does

Anger is an unwholesome state of mind rooted in ignorance of things as they are. We tend to view things as we want them to be, so when the opposite happens, we get quite upset and angry. When we’re calm, we like that so we attach to it. This attachment brings up the potential to be upset or even angry when our mind gets cloudy. And when that anger arises, we might get even more angry! This same sort of thing can be applied to our expectations of a person or object. For example, we like when people are nice to us. But when they aren’t nice, we get upset or angry. In the end, it’s all because we haven’t understood that all things are subject to change and our attachment to that which changes causes stress and suffering.

But I’m not here to talk about attachment, I’m here to talk about anger and venting. Now that I’ve talked about anger and its cause, I’ll talk about its effect — cause and effect! — and why we shouldn’t vent it out or even repress it.

So there are these 3 routes of action: thought, speech, and body. These aren’t separated from each other, but are linked like a chain: thought is the subtlest way of action whereas body is the coarsest. When we don’t restrain our mind, angry thoughts lead to angry speech, and angry speech can lead to angry bodily actions.

The way of repression usually involves noticing these thoughts of anger and trying to deny them or push them away. This method leads to the “build up” because even when we try to deny anger, it’s still there. However, this doesn’t completely describe why it builds up. If all we’re doing is denying, then it should just stagnate in the mind. In other words, it shouldn’t get much weaker or get strong enough to manifest through speech, it should just stay in the realm of thought. But something else is going on when we try to deny this anger. We have this idea that we shouldn’t be angry. This is a way of judging the anger negatively. This negative judgement is based in ill-will, which is a subtler form of anger — it’s just disliking. So anger arises in the mind, and we get negative and start denying it in negativity. Thus, the anger grows stronger in the mind, because anger itself is supported by ill-will. This is the way of repression.

The way of repression, since it causes the anger to grow, is thus part of the way of venting. We think it’s going in the opposite direction, but really it’s just the preliminary stage.

When the anger gets really prominent in the mind as a result of repression, it becomes incredibly stressful on the mind. This is why people go to venting for relief — instead of keeping it in the mind, we let it go forth into speech and body. The anger’s out of the mind, and into the body. All that was built up inside has been expressed. Thus, we feel relief.

This is the immediate effect of venting, and in this way it is seen as an effective stress reliever — by the foolish! Why is it foolish to see it in such a way? We haven’t looked at the long run. The body is the route of action for intentions which are strong, like the anger we have been building up. We don’t make anger weaker by repression and venting, we make it stronger. When anger manifests through the body, it has passed through the gates of thought and speech and has taken over the mind entirely.

When we know no other way than repression and venting, we’ll always be expressing our anger, because it relieves us! Eventually (if we’re not careful), instead of keeping the anger inside until breaking point, we’ll immediately release it. So instead of hiding our anger, we openly express it. Thus, we develop serious issues in both our behavior and social relationships with others.

This principle does not only apply to anger. We can apply it towards the things which are viewed positively by society as well. Passion, for example. When men see a beautiful woman, they may get sexually aroused. Although sexuality is seen positively today, it is actually sometimes viewed negatively (like anger) so we may try to repress it and deny it. Like I said, this is based in ill-will (sexual frustration), so it will lead us to vent through masturbation or even rape. 

So, in short, the effect of repression and venting is the strengthening of whatever it is we’re repressing or venting: passion and aversion. 

What should we do?

Well, when we aren’t repressing, we aren’t denying or being averse to the qualities of mind which are unwholesome. When we aren’t venting, we aren’t expressing them. So, what happens when you don’t repress, and you don’t vent? You’re just aware of the phenomena before it goes out to speech or body. It’s just there in the mind. You aren’t upset by it, you aren’t embracing it. If you’re just simply aware, you’re not attached to it. When we’re not attached, we’ve already “let go”. The thought doesn’t need to fade away in order for it to have been let go of, but the natural fading away is a result of the letting go.

So at this point, we can let it just fade away. This “letting it fade away” was what I talked about in the previous post (explained in the intro). The thought is there, and our non-attachment to it just makes it go away. While this is wholesome, it doesn’t really get to the bottom of things. It’s a good exercise for beginners in the practice of mindfulness, but in order to prevent unwholesome qualities from arising, we need to  go deeper: we need to understand them and their cause. 

So if you’re used to letting the thoughts fade away, now’s the time to actually start investigating. Let’s apply the four foundations of mindfulness: body, feeling, mental quality, and mental phenomena.

When the thought arises, first investigate the feeling it causes in your body. That’s the foundation of the body.

For the foundation of feeling, investigate the feeling-quality of the phenomena itself — does it feel pleasant, unpleasant, or neither?

For the foundation of mental qualities, you can investigate the state of mind when the thought arises — is there desire, passion, aversion, hatred, or ignorance of things as they are in the mind? Those are unwholesome qualities of mind, and you may need to investigate those things as well in order to understand them. You need to contemplate “wholesome” and “unwholesome”. To do so, investigate the causes and effects of your actions via reflection. Next time you act, find out if it was based in greed (aka passion or desire), hatred (aka aversion or ill-will or anger), or delusion (aka ignorance or unawareness). Also try to find out if it was based in their direct opposites. Then, try to see where those actions have taken you in terms of relationships, behavior, etc. You can also investigate the gratification (pleasant result) and drawback (unpleasant result) of the action. Other mental qualities may be cloudiness, “contracted”-ness, or open-ness.

For mental phenomena, that’s where you investigate the thought itself. What’s it about? What events led to its arising? What was my reaction to it? 

The foundations of mental qualities and mental phenomena, as you may have noticed, go quite deep. They really try to get to the bottom of things. This is what leads to understanding, and that’s what leads to the end of unwholesome qualities — and the end of repression and venting! 

We need to take a light hold of those mental phenomena and learn about them rather than deny them or express them. This is mindfulness practice based in the intentions of letting go and harmlessness, and it leads to wisdom, right-understanding of cause and effect, and peaceful living

It’s like you have weeds in your garden. Repressing them is kind of like just shoving them deep in the dirt or just cutting off the part you see — they’re still going to ruin the garden, aren’t they? This doesn’t solve the problem at all! Eventually, because you’re tired of doing the same thing over and over again, you just let the weed grow, and it takes over the garden — that’s like venting. We feel better at first because we don’t have to keep stuffing the weeds away or cutting them at the surface, but the weed keeps growing and then we feel worse!

Investigating is like discovering the weed, finding its root, and then removing it completely. Of course, there may be other weeds too, so we aren’t done yet! We still need to work on investigating the garden, or the mind. It is clearly the superior way. It is the way of understanding and problem-solving. We don’t have to feel annoyed when removing weeds from a garden, it’s just work that needs to be done. If you have a garden, don’t expect weeds to not grow. If you do, then you won’t deal with them correctly — unless you’re willing to learn! In the same way, in life, don’t expect your mind to be perfect. If you do, then you’ll deny its imperfections and that’ll be the way of repression — unless you’re willing to learn about the mind.

So I hope this post helps everyone, even though it was initially targeted towards those who don’t know a way out of anger other than repression or venting. For more “science-friendly” information, here’s an abstract to a study about venting (“rumination”): http://psp.sagepub.com/content/28/6/724.abstract

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  • #buddha #buddhism #dhamma #venting #anger #repression #passion #sexual frustration #depression #letting go #renunciation #mindfulness #investigation #wisdom #understanding #awareness #enlightenment #suffering #peace #calmness #meditation #vipassana #samatha
  • 1 day ago
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Instead of just reading Buddhist teachings or thinking about them, put them into full-hearted practice.

"Compare practice to a bottle of medicine a doctor leaves for his patient. On the bottle is written detailed instructions on how to take the medicine, but no matter how many hundred times the patient reads the directions, he is bound to die if that is all he does. He will gain no benefit from the medicine. And before he dies he may complain bitterly that the doctor wasn’t any good, that the medicine was worthless, yet he has only spent his time examining the bottle and reading the instructions. He hasn’t followed the advice of the doctor and taken the medicine.

… Doctors prescribe medicine to eliminate disease from the body. The teachings of the Buddha are prescribed to cure disease of the mind; to bring it back to its natural healthy state. So the Buddha can be considered to be a doctor who prescribes cures for the ills of the mind. He is, in fact, the greatest doctor in the world.”

— Ajahn Chah

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  • #buddhism #buddha quote #ajahn chah #practice #dhamma #belief #ignorance #wisdom #tools #medicine #bottle #sickness #teachings #suttas #sutras #suffering #path #advice #life
  • 1 day ago
  • 13

Sense-restraint does not mean resistance and denial

"The Buddha taught restraint, but restraint doesn’t mean we don’t see anything, hear anything, smell, taste, or think anything. That’s not what it means. If practitioners don’t understand this, then as soon as they see or hear anything, they cower and run away. They don’t deal with things. They run away, thinking that by doing so, these things will eventually lose their power over them and they will eventually transcend them. But they won’t. They won’t transcend anything like that. If they run away not knowing the truth of them, later on the same stuff will pop up to be dealt with again."

— Ajahn Chah

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  • #buddhism #buddha #ajahn chah #restraint #senses #feeling #seeing #hearing #smelling #tasting #thinking #practice #understanding #run away #fear #aversion #denial #non acceptance #acceptance #transcendence #abandonment #renunciation #letting go #truth #dhamma #repression
  • 1 day ago
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Reflection 4: Commit yourself to mindfulness, and examine suffering

It is hard to live the life of renunciation;

its challenges are difficult to find pleasant.

Yet it is also hard to live the householder’s life;

there is pain when associating with those 

among whom one feels no companionship.

To wander uncommitted is always going to be difficult;

why not renounce the deluded pursuit of pain?

— Dhammapada 302

"The Buddha uttered this verse to a monk who had been indulging in deluded feelings of self-pity: ‘Surely nobody is having as hard a time as I am.’ Fortunately for him, this monk received a wise reflection in just the right way, at just the right time, so that he could see what he was doing and let go. When we are not attentive in the present moment, we tend to blame our misfortune outwardly, or we blame ourselves inwardly. Either way we increase the pain by forgetting to expand awareness and fully accommodate the suffering. Suffering is the right response to resisting reality. If we don’t cling, we don’t suffer. Suffering is the message. It is not something going wrong. We don’t have to get rid of suffering; we need to listen to it." 

— Ajahn Munindo

Reflect on this throughout the day

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  • #buddha #buddhism #dhammapada #suffering #renunciation #letting go #challenges #difficulties #companionship #self-pity #reflection #mindfulness #awareness #here and now #present moment #present #misfortune #blame #blame others #blame ourselves #clinging #attachment #craving #desire #dukkha #tanha
  • 1 day ago
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Any moment or state of mind can be used for spiritual development

"The Dhamma arises within the practice. If you know it, you know it in the practice. If you doubt it, you doubt it in the practice."

— Ajahn Chah

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  • #buddha #buddhism #theravada #ajahn chah #dhamma #practice #arise #within #peace #doubt #mindfulness #wisdom #awareness #let go
  • 2 days ago
  • 13

The present moment is always moving

This moment is not the idea of this moment. If you see it as a concept, it becomes frozen. But the real moment is not frozen.”

— Dainin Katagiri

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  • #Buddha #buddhism #zen #wisdom #moment #present #concept #frozen #still #static #moving #movement #permanent #impermanent #flowing #dynamic #ever changing #ignorance #ideas
  • 2 days ago
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Reflection 3: We must understand our greed, hatred, and delusion in order to abandon them.

There is no fire like lust,

no distress like hatred,

no pain like the burden of attachment,

no joy like the peace of liberation.

— Dhammapada 202

"How can we stay focused on the path that leads to clarity and unshakeable peace? Greed, aversion, and delusion distort are thinking. Lust can appear attractive; we are pulled into its vortex. Hatred can appear attractive; we feel compelled to do harm. Attachment is rooted in the false belief that clinging makes us happier. The truth is that lust burns, hatred obstructs intelligence and attachments spoil that which is beautiful in life. We might begin to see this truth for ourselves when we train our attention to see through the outer appearance of things. A deeper understanding of these three poisons encourages us to hold back from following their impulses. This is the understanding that leads to liberation."

— Ajahn Munindo

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  • #buddha #buddhism #buddha quote #dhammapada #greed #hatred #delusion #passion #aversion #ignorance #lust #sensuality #ill-will #unawareness #defilement #attachment #clinging #grasping #desire #craving
  • 2 days ago
  • 26

Zen itself is not relaxation

"Everyone likes zazen at first. They feel that in zazen, they can relax. But actually zazen is beyond tension or relaxation. If you do zazen, forget about relaxing and just sit down."

— Dainin Katagiri

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  • #buddha #buddhism #zen #relax #tension #zazen #forget #sit #meditation #mindfulness #acceptance #awareness #let go #wisdom
  • 3 days ago
  • 4

Living harmoniously is not limited to only yourself

"The sense that your practice is just your individual practice is really egotistic. You ignore people who, like you, want to have peaceful and harmonious lives. You only focus on your peaceful and harmonious life. This is a big mistake”

— Dainin Katagiri

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  • #buddha #buddhism #practice #individual #self #development #ego #egotistic #ignorance #compassion #peace #harmony #life #mistake #kindness #open #open mind
  • 3 days ago
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Reflection 2: Harmony and diversity

Blessed is the arising of a Buddha;

blessed is the revealing of the Dhamma;

blessed is the concord of the Sangha;

delightful is harmonious communion.

— Dhammapada 194

"Harmony is a pleasing resonance born of diverse elements: notes struck on an instrument; colors combined in an image; views shared in a dialogue. Diversity is not in itself an obstruction to harmony and concord. Indeed, contrast can bring a richness and depth to experience. Living mindfully, we learn where the potential for beauty lies. Imbalance too can be beautiful if there is harmony; wisdom, skill, and sensitivity come together and beauty is manifest. This is a rare blessing."

— Ajahn Munindo

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  • #buddha #buddhism #buddha quote #music #color #photography #art #views #opinions #debate #discussion #diversity #harmony #peace #concord #dhamma #sangha #contrast #depth #experience #life #mindfulness #beauty #imbalance #balance #blessing
  • 3 days ago

Future reflections

I recently stayed at a Buddhist monastery, and every day before the work period began, one of the senior monks would give us a reflection. They would encourage us to use the reflection throughout the work period as a theme of contemplation. For example, we once used the six sense bases as our “theme” during the work. If we got distracted by a sound, we’d contemplate the ear-sound base.

So I got a book which contains Dhammapada reflections by Ajahn Munindo. Each page has a verse and his reflection on it. I think it would be a great idea for me to post one pair per day, so all of my followers here can use it as a sort of theme to reflect on — just as was done during my stay at the monastery.

So read the verse and the reflection, and then reflect on both throughout the day. This is a way to relate to the verse and thus discover the meaning for ourselves which can be a guide for peaceful living.

You can find the first reflection here: 

http://worldlynoblethoughts.tumblr.com/post/95751063769/few-are-those-who-reach-the-beyond-most-pace

I hope this will be a useful tool for tumblr-ers :) 

Toodles

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  • #buddha #buddhism #reflections #dhammapada #theme #wisdom #contemplation #practice #mindfulness #development #spirituality #life #tool
  • 4 days ago
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Desire in Buddhist practice

Tanha(craving for becoming, non-becoming, sensual pleasure) in practice can be friend or foe. At first it spurs us to come and practice — we want to change things, to end suffering. But if we are always desiring something that hasn’t yet arisen, if we want things to be other than what they are, then this just causes more suffering.”

— Ajahn Chah

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  • #buddha #buddhism #dhamma #ajahn chah #suffering #craving #desire #wanting #change #stress #dukkha #tanha #four noble truths #impermanence
  • 4 days ago
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Few are those who reach the beyond.

Most pace endlessly back and forth,

not daring to risk the journey.

— Dhammapada 85

"To imagine anything truly new is not really possible. Most of what we think is a rearrangement of the past. If our goal is ‘the beyond,’ freedom from suffering, we need a distinctly new approach. The predictability of what we find familiar can make us feel safe, even if it is tedious. This is the endlessly pacing back and forth. And this is how we live with clinging. What would it be like to not cling, to trust in here-and-now awareness, informed by Dhamma? It takes courage to let go of the familiar and open up to the unknown. Our commitment to the precepts and our training in mindfulness are our protectors. With these in place we can dare to take this new journey."

— Ajahn Munindo

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  • #buddha #buddhism #ajahn munindo #dhammapada #dhamma #open mindedness #bravery #trying new things #letting go #renunciation #back and forth #stagnation #stubbornness #ignorance #journey #path #spirituality #awareness #bodhi #enlightenment #unknown #nirvana #precepts #mindfulness
  • 4 days ago
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