Self-Reflection

Discovering the Jewel of the Sangha: Clarifying the Purpose of Sangha & Community

 It is said that the bond between sangha members who have the same Root Guru is among the most profound and deep relationship one can possibly have with another human being. Only the relationship between a student and their Root Guru surpasses this. That means the bond between sangha members is said to be far greater than that found between parents and children, friends, relatives and so on. Why is that so? Because the sangha is based upon a mutual vision of realizing the enlightened path. Since the goal is the most profound goal possible for beings to strive for, the community which supports such a vision is built with bonds that surpass all others.

Taking Refuge in the Sangha: Growing into Peace

The prevalence of technology in modern society presents us with a dilemma: the more dependent we become, the more we begin to see technology as a sort of savior, as something that will become our ultimate friend, our source of joy and comfort. Our love affair with technology increases day by day, and we rely on it far beyond its original, practical application; it’s place in our lives is at this point beyond our control. At this moment, human society is at risk of losing its moral and ethical basis as we work less and less with one another as fellow human beings. Unless something changes dramatically in this co-dependence between people and technology, the isolation between fellow human beings will only increase. The prevalence of technology in modern society presents us with a dilemma: the more dependent we become, the more we begin to see technology as a sort of savior, as something that will become our ultimate friend, our source of joy and comfort. Our love affair with technology increases day by day, and we rely on it far beyond its original, practical application; it’s place in our lives is at this point beyond our control. At this moment, human society is at risk of losing its moral and ethical basis as we work less and less with one another as fellow human beings. Unless something changes dramatically in this co-dependence between people and technology, the isolation between fellow human beings will only increase. 

Universal Tender Heart & Universal Responsibility

As human beings we share in common our universal tender heart. Every move and response we make comes from our tender heart.  This responsiveness has no beginning nor end.  As we begin to generate some awareness of our universal tender heart, but are not yet able to extend ourselves to others, my advice is: at least try to stay humble.  Aspire to stay within the boundary of not consciously ignoring the fact that we are all in the same boat and same shoes, and instead notice that our universal tender heart is always, moment-to-moment trying to call us and aspire to respond to it's call.

Living Life in Accordance with Natural Power: Part 2: Karma, Equality and Guaranteed Rights

As human beings, we naturally desire to be happy and free from suffering.  In America, this desire translates into an expectation of guaranteed rights:  the right to happiness, prosperity, freedom, and so forth. This guarantee of rights is an idealistic view, and it fosters a lot of resentment among Americans.  We assume we have the Constitutional rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  How do we interpret these rights?  Does it mean we have the right to own a machine gun if that makes us feel content and secure?   Does it mean we have the right to a decent place to live with a decent job? These “rights” in the Constitution are open to wide interpretation, they do not mean the same thing to all people. “Equal rights” is a nice concept, but it does not correspond to reality at all.  We have different responses when there is a seeming inequality of rights, but it is due to our karma that there is no such thing as a guaranteed right of equality. If we understand the laws of karma, the causes and conditions, we can become more comfortable with our limitations and strengths and not be so frustrated or resentful towards the seeming inequalities. And instead work towards cultivating the right causes and conditions for change.

Bearing Chyoshe: Experiencing Sadness as Freedom

Chyoshe is often translated as sadness, but we might better describe it as a very deep melancholic experience of seeing samsara clearly, within our own mind . For a practitioner, however potent and unbearable this experience may feel at times, chyoshe in fact fuels our realization. So in the long-run, this deep melancholy experience of chyoshe can bring us great freedom and happiness.

Taking Refuge in the Sangha: The Training Ground for Harmony with the World

 In  mainstream American culture, there is no real sense of community. People prefer to live in isolation in their own cocoon so they can feel protected, so that no one can actually bother them. The whole setup of ones life is geared towards isolation. But in isolation, the mind itself becomes a greater danger and threat, becoming more lonely and depressed. Society is like a wild field where any kind of crops can grow, both positive and negative. The field of conflict and difficulties, where and pain, suffering and negative karma arises, is the result of being in society and in close contact with other people.  

But in the case of Sangha, that self-centered mind turns around because there is no escape,  no hole you could disappear, and so one’s mind begins to work with the teachings.  You feel challenged and the more challenge that comes your way, the better off you become by having the opportunity to work with your mind, and test your limits.  By training within the small community of sangha, one becomes inscrutable in one's state of peace and harmony with others and in harmony with the world. 

 

Finding Compassion Through Pain

When you hit the bottom of all your resources of trying to apply so many kinds of remedies to the pain, and all of them have failed, then there comes a sense of fearlessness. A fearlessness to directly engage with the pain in a very naked way. A courage to experience the pain as it is, without any layers over it, becomes more accessible to you. At that point, what you have longed for so many times in your life — to be brave and free of fears — finally, through pain, it happens. And you feel liberated.

Dropping the Show Business: Shrinking Our Persona

Wherever we go we carry the "bigness" of our persona. We take up so much space with all the things we do not want to give up, whether it is our aggression, our pride, our critical mind and all the other things making up our persona. Anything else in our space threatens us, and makes us feel unwelcome, so problems arise continually. We need to think how to actually shrink our persona and be an ordinary, decent person. Some people come to the Dharma and manifest in such grandiose ways, it is all about being attractive to others.  But being a practitioner is about being peaceful with with yourself, not about constantly being noticed by others. That is what showbusiness is about, being attractive and recognized to others. There is a lot of confusion around this. 

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