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 Post subject: Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:52 pm 
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Freedom of Choice

Early in my travels, I met a young man who was compassionate and gentle. I met him again years later, when he was working under a wealthy merchant. The young man had changed, and expressed a stubborn disregard for the well-being of others. I found myself wondering what had happened to the compassionate and gentle young man I had met before. I felt anger and resentment at the terrible and selfish things the young man was now saying.

When I spoke, my words were motivated by this anger and resentment. The young man of course perceived my words as a verbal attack, and responded as such. The beginning of our conversation was really an argument.

And then I remembered why we should respect other people's freedom of choice. Forcing one's beliefs on another, whether at swordpoint or by "winning" a heated argument, sooner or later results in regret for the "convert". Beliefs are very personal — they take root only if they are accepted out of personal conviction. We cannot force people's minds to change. But we can mindfully and compassionately carry on friendly and respectful discussions with others.

I stopped arguing with the young man and apologized for any offense I might have given. The rest of the conversation was much more cordial. Eventually, he told me he was worried for his own well-being and security. He admitted that sacrificing the well-being of others to benefit oneself was "selling my soul for material comfort". He did not say he would stop doing it, but at least he understood how self-serving it was, how it was rooted in the ego.

The ego causes a lot of suffering, doesn't it? The ego feels rather lonely and, at the same time, keeps busy trying to defend itself. The ego has to constantly work to secure itself, because fundamentally it knows that it is not real and sound.

I hope that wherever the young man is, he is living free from fear, free from the ego.


((Second-to-last paragraph adapted from the works of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche))

_________________
"These are the roots of trees,
these are empty huts.
Meditate, monks.
Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later."
-Kamma Sutta, SN 35.145

Mi-Le (弥勒) - Monk of the Old Order, influenced by the Way.

Lelande - Working for himself now.


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 Post subject: Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in Ilmateri Temple))
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:34 pm 
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True Love

True love is rare. In romantic love (as opposed to true love) we don't really love our partner, we only love the way they make us feel. It is the "high" we feel in their presence that we love.

Many of us like to think that our special relationship is true love, not romantic love. Here is a test for you to discover which type of love it is:

Think of your partner. Picture them in your mind. Recall the day you came together and the wonderful times you have enjoyed ever since. Now imagine receiving a letter from your partner. It tells you that they have fallen deeply in love with your best friend, and the two of them have run away to live together. How would you feel?

If it were true love, you would be so thrilled that your partner has found someone even better than you, and is now even more happy. You would be delighted that your partner and best friend were having such a good time together. You'd be ecstatic that they were in love. Isn't your partner's happiness the most important thing in true love?

True love is selfless love. If there is anxiety, jealousy, the desire to "have" someone, or whatever, aren't those things rooted in selfishness?

As I said, true love is rare.


((Adapted from Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung? by Ajahn Brahm))

_________________
"These are the roots of trees,
these are empty huts.
Meditate, monks.
Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later."
-Kamma Sutta, SN 35.145

Mi-Le (弥勒) - Monk of the Old Order, influenced by the Way.

Lelande - Working for himself now.


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 Post subject: Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in Ilmateri Temple))
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2016 10:57 pm 
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Enemies

You sometimes may wonder how can we wish: "May my enemies be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them; may no difficulty come to them; may no problems come to them; may they always meet with success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems and failures in life"?

For all practical purposes, if all of your enemies were well, happy and peaceful, they would not be your enemies. If they were free from problems, pain, suffering, affliction, neurosis, psychosis, paranoia, fear, tension, anxiety, etc., they would not be your enemies. Your practical solution to your having enemies is to help them to overcome their problems, so you can live in peace and happiness. In fact, if you can, you should fill the minds of all your enemies with loving-kindness and make all of them realize the true meaning of peace, so you can live in peace and happiness. The more they suffer neurosis, psychosis, fear, tension, anxiety, etc., the more trouble, pain and suffering they can bring to the world. If you could convert a vicious and wicked person into a holy and saintly individual, you would perform a miracle. Let us cultivate adequate wisdom and loving-kindness within ourselves to convert evil minds to saintly minds.

You must remember that you practice loving-kindness for the purification of your own mind, just as you practice meditation for your own attainment of peace and liberation from pain and suffering. As you practice loving-kindness within yourself, you can behave in a most friendly manner without biases, prejudices, discrimination or hate. Your noble behavior helps you to help others in a most practical manner to reduce their pain and suffering. It is compassionate people who can help others.

Remember that your thoughts are transformed into speech and action in order to bring the expected result. Thought translated into action is capable of producing tangible result. You should always speak and do things with mindfulness of loving-kindness.


((Adapted from Mindfulness in Plain English, by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana))

_________________
"These are the roots of trees,
these are empty huts.
Meditate, monks.
Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later."
-Kamma Sutta, SN 35.145

Mi-Le (弥勒) - Monk of the Old Order, influenced by the Way.

Lelande - Working for himself now.


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 Post subject: Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in Ilmateri Temple))
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 12:49 pm 
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Views and Opinions

One person asks, "Why is the flag fluttering? It must be because there's wind." Another person says, "It's fluttering because there's a flag." This sort of thing never comes to an end. The same as the old riddle, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" This never comes to an end. It just keeps spinning around in its circles.

All these things are simply suppositions. They arise from our supposing. So you have to understand suppositions and conventions. If you understand them, you'll understand inconstancy, stress, and not-self. This is a preoccupation that leads straight to liberation.

Training and teaching people is really hard, you know. Some people have their opinions. You tell them something and they say No. You tell them the truth and they say it's not true. "I'll take what's right for me; you take what's right for you." There's no end to this. If you don't let go, there'll be suffering.

If you asked a chicken, "Are you a rooster?" it wouldn't answer. If you asked, "Are you a hen?" it wouldn't give any explanation. But we have our conventions: These features are the features of a rooster; these features, the features of a hen. The rooster's crow is like this; a hen's squawk is like that. These are suppositions that are stuck in our world. But in truth there's no rooster, no hen. To speak on the level of the world's suppositions, it would be right to call a rooster a rooster, but to argue to the point of crying doesn't serve any purpose at all. That's all there is to it.

The basic principles of my monastery's teachings aren't much: just suffering arising and suffering passing away. That's why these things are called noble truths. If you don't know these things, you suffer. If you argue from pride and opinions, there's no end to it. To get the mind to relieve its suffering and be at ease, you have to contemplate what's happened in the past, what's in the present, what's going to be in the future. What can you do not to be worried about birth, aging, illness, and death? There will be some worries, but if you can learn to understand them for what they are, suffering will gradually lessen, because you don't hug it to your chest.


((Adapted from the works of Ajahn Chah))

_________________
"These are the roots of trees,
these are empty huts.
Meditate, monks.
Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later."
-Kamma Sutta, SN 35.145

Mi-Le (弥勒) - Monk of the Old Order, influenced by the Way.

Lelande - Working for himself now.


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 Post subject: Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in Ilmateri Temple))
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:51 pm 
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The Way and the Afterlife

Many believe that those who follow a deity will spend the afterlife in the divine realm of that deity. This may certainly be the case. But I wonder how many realize that even such a desirable reward cannot be eternal?

The Way teaches that all things in the universe affect and are affected by all others. This sounds simple, but think about it for a minute. If all things affect each other, then nothing can be permanent and unchanging, right? Even the gods are subject to this law: they are subject to change, they come into being and they can pass away. Gods may be "immortal", but they are not absolute or unchanging. Consider Karsus's Folly or the deity that the Old Order once worshiped.

So when deities pass on, will their divine realms remain behind? Is there any guarantee that their followers will be able to stay? There is this automatic assumption that one's god will always be there, that one will always be able to rely on his god, but this is not necessarily the case.

By following the Way, we can rise above the suffering of impermanence, above whatever happens in the afterlife. We can rise to wisdom and a transcendent understanding, instead of grasping at existences as if they're self.

_________________
"These are the roots of trees,
these are empty huts.
Meditate, monks.
Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later."
-Kamma Sutta, SN 35.145

Mi-Le (弥勒) - Monk of the Old Order, influenced by the Way.

Lelande - Working for himself now.


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 Post subject: Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in Ilmateri Temple))
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2016 8:33 pm 
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Calm, Clear Seeing, Purity

Monks who begin to meditate at my monastery are taught about concentration and insight. Some of them emphasize one over the other, as if they were two separate things. But really, they are two sides of the same coin.

Concentration, Calm

    Concentration meditation can also be called "calm" meditation. As you watch the breath, the mind becomes calm, and it gains successive stages of peace that you didn't even know could exist. This is a relative thing. You think are calm after meditating a bit. Then you become more calm, look back and realize, "Wow, I wasn't calm at all!" And you keep going.

Insight, Clear Seeing

    With insight, it might be better to call it "clear seeing" or "discernment." The word "insight" makes it seem like it's some sort of sudden understanding that you do in some circumstance, something you grasp when you didn't grasp it before. But it's just a matter of seeing clearly; you can see clearly at any moment.

    When you are more calm and peaceful, you can see yourself more clearly. You can see inside yourself, your mind states. Instead of rushing from one mental state to another, you can see them. And you can do something about it because you can see it. You become aware of what is happening in your mind. You don't just see defilements, you see causality, you see minute details. This goes deeper, stage by stage.

Purity

    Purity is important. Both calm and insight come from purity. Purity of mind, purity of heart. The purer you are, the less defilements you have, and the more ability you have to see things clearly. And what takes you away from calm, peace, and tranquility? Impurities such as desires, attachments, and thinking about the past.

    We can purify ourselves by being kind, by meditating, by contemplating certain themes. Contemplate death, for example. You're going to die, life is very limited, death could happen at any time! You could get cut down or shot by an archer, and just like that, you're done. Make it real; death is ALWAYS in our presence. It is always so close, it is always possible, it could happen now, it could happen today. When you think about death this way, it becomes incredibly real. And it puts life into incredible perspective. It gives powerful perspective in how you deal with people. If you hear something upsetting from someone, and you remember you could die and this could be the last time you see this person, would you become so upset? I met a man who left home everyday thinking he could die, and because of this he always made sure to say goodbye to his family in a good way. This could be the last time you see everyone.

So purify yourself, and calm and insight follow. When you are calm, you see clearly. When you see clearly, you are calm.


((Adapted from the works of Ajahn Brahmali))

_________________
"These are the roots of trees,
these are empty huts.
Meditate, monks.
Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later."
-Kamma Sutta, SN 35.145

Mi-Le (弥勒) - Monk of the Old Order, influenced by the Way.

Lelande - Working for himself now.


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 Post subject: Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in Ilmateri Temple))
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:03 pm 
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If You Want True Happiness, Disappear

We can’t let go because we’re holding on to our body and mind: we think we own them. We are no more willing to let them go than people are willing to let a thief take their coin. Think of how easy it is to let go of something that doesn’t belong to you. If something has nothing to do with you and it goes, then that’s all there is to it—it goes.

When you practice the Way, you’re slowly disappearing. If you understand the idea of vanishing and disappearing—that is, stillness and calm—you’re beginning to understand nonself. This is because the calmer you are, the less you exist—the less there is of a sense of self, a sense of being. This might seem scary, but it’s actually beautiful. In fact, it’s the only real happiness there is, because the more you let go of the sense of self, the more you’re free from suffering in all its forms. And it’s that inclination to be free from suffering that drives you deeper on this path. It may take many years or just a few, but in the end the only sensible thing to do is to be patient, stay on this path, and find release in the happiness of disappearing.

In monastic life, part of that disappearing is wearing identical robes and having the same hairstyle. We don’t have any insignia to set one monk apart from another. We also tend to keep quiet. Why do people talk? They talk to say, “Here I am.” By being silent we disappear and fade into the background, until hardly anyone knows we’re there, including ourselves. The more you disappear, the happier you are; the more you vanish, the more joy you experience; the less you exist, the more bliss you feel. This tells you what the Way is all about. But the words count for nothing compared to the profundity of the experience.


((Adapted from The Art of Disappearing, by Ajahn Brahm))

_________________
"These are the roots of trees,
these are empty huts.
Meditate, monks.
Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later."
-Kamma Sutta, SN 35.145

Mi-Le (弥勒) - Monk of the Old Order, influenced by the Way.

Lelande - Working for himself now.


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 Post subject: Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in Ilmateri Temple))
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 11:36 pm 
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The Dangers of Sensual Pleasures

I would like to discuss sensual pleasures and how to think about them while practicing the Way. Sometimes people think that sensual pleasure is something to be discarded, abandoned, pushed aside, forced out of your mind. But by thinking these things, people cause enormous suffering for themselves.

Of course, if you look at the ideal of the enlightened person, then it might look like you have to discard sensual pleasures. But the problem is, you can't become enlightened by pretending to act like it. That's not how the Way works. The Way works by doing the practice. If you try to become enlightened without following the Way, you will just cause suffering for yourself, and it is very likely you will give up before you even get started.

My monastery sometimes talks about things in terms of three categories or aspects, and we can talk about sensual pleasure in terms of those categories as well. The first category is the pleasure of something, or the advantage that something gives you. The second category is the danger or disadvantage of something. The third category is liberation from that something.

So let's discuss the first category, the pleasure of sensuality. The pleasure of sensuality is somewhat obvious. We don't have to discard sensuality, although it is a lower form of pleasure. But even though it is a lower form of pleasure, the Way doesn't say that it is bad, or that we have to get rid of it or discard it. There IS happiness to be had in sensuality. It is very important to just appreciate that; there is a certain happiness there. That's what makes sensuality so enticing. This is the first thing to realize, and for most people, that's all they know. So you can see why people get worried about becoming a monk, when they think that pleasures are going to be taken away. And we need happiness in life, to be sure.

So don't cut off sensuality too fast. If you do that, you suffer, and that's not what the Way is about. But at the same time, focus on spiritual happiness. Think on your past generosity, your past good deeds. If you're a good person, you close your eyes and you feel peace. You feel generally good about yourself. There's a certain tranquility there. That's the spiritual happiness the monks of my monastery recommend.

The dangers of sensuality are not quite as obvious as the pleasures. Sensuality drives a lot of thoughtless action. We follow sensuality blindly, we don't see what's going on, and we do something stupid. And sometimes it gets even worse. People kill each other over sensuality, don't they? And so the precepts that a monk follows act as warning signs, telling where there is danger. There are wonderful benefits to be had from being moral and kind. You feel good about yourself; this is a very basic essential thing. If you do something bad, your state of mind becomes agitated and dark. Morality frees you from these states of mind.

Sensuality is a type of happiness that blocks you from achieving higher types of spiritual happiness. There is a higher happiness available to us, and sensuality blocks us from that. Perhaps you have felt this higher happiness before. A sense of peace, a sense of not needing anything, a sense of feeling fulfilled. And when you feel that, you know this is much more than the sensual pleasures we get in the world. And yet we still pursue sensual pleasures. Sensuality takes you away from the beautiful potential of the spiritual path.

Sensual pleasures almost always have an aspect of craving and desire, except for the moment you actually get what you want. But then you think, "big deal," and then you move onto the next craving. So reflect on that, and you see that sensuality takes you away from the beautiful potential of the spiritual path. Sensuality distorts your perception of the world, you get intoxicated, and things get turned upside-down.

Because of sensuality, we get attached to things, don't we? Consider that there is always the potential to lose things. Maybe our things will be taken away today, or tomorrow, or in the next few years. But at the very least we know everything will go when we die. So the more attachment we have, the more suffering we'll feel. Sensual pleasures are like a debt - there is always repayment later. When you attach to something, you know you'll have to give it up later, and you know it's going to be painful. With debt, there's interest, isn't there? The interest is the pain of separation. Everything you own is borrowed.

So what do we do when we see the dangers in sensuality? The first thing we DON'T do is throw out all the sensual pleasures and think this will somehow give us happiness. It won't. The first thing we do is to just reflect and see the danger of sensuality. When we see the danger, we tend to loosen our grip on sensuality.

The second thing is to just start to practice spiritual happiness. As you practice spiritual happiness, you start to feel fulfilled. That fulfillment inside finally gives you the thing that craving was promising to give you. Craving promises to fulfill you if you follow it, but it never really works. That void inside can't be filled by the external things we crave for. But if instead we start to practice for spiritual happiness, if we develop the joy that comes from kindness and generosity, the hole inside starts to fill up. We feel complete, and there's no more need for craving. The craving is no longer there, and there's no need to get anything anymore. And what a wonderful thing that is!

As you practice the spiritual path and change the way you see the world, the sensory realm gradually becomes less important to you. And THAT is how you overcome sensual pleasures. Not by throwing them out, but by finding something far superior. And what a powerful thing that is, when you see that.

Eventually, you get to a state where you feel so content, completely fulfilled inside, and at that point sensuality makes no sense anymore. You have abandoned sensuality altogether, and you see that sensuality is completely opposed to the spiritual path. They're opposed because sensuality is about going out to something else, chasing something in the future. The spiritual path is about going in, inside yourself and into the present moment. The spiritual path is about feeling good here and now.

Eventually, sensuality has to be given up completely, but that's a long way down the path. In the meantime, don't throw them out too fast. Enjoy them to a limited extent. Don't allow them to become obstacles on the path, but still enjoy them in the right way. As you practice the Way, you will see how spiritual happiness tends to rise up and sensuality diminishes. Sensuality becomes less important and starts to fade away into the background.

Ultimately, you will see why you can't enjoy sensuality while practicing the spiritual path to its full potential. They're completely opposed. There comes a point when you have to choose, but it will be a natural choice.


((Adapted from the works of Ajahn Brahmali))

_________________
"These are the roots of trees,
these are empty huts.
Meditate, monks.
Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later."
-Kamma Sutta, SN 35.145

Mi-Le (弥勒) - Monk of the Old Order, influenced by the Way.

Lelande - Working for himself now.


Last edited by Arn on Sun May 29, 2016 6:55 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in Ilmateri Temple))
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2016 7:53 pm 
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Meditation and Reality

In meditation we cultivate a special way of seeing life that leads to insight and to full understanding. We train ourselves to see reality exactly as it is, and we call this special mode of perception "mindfulness."

This process of mindfulness is really quite different from what we usually do. We usually do not look into what is really there in front of us. We see life through a screen of thoughts and concepts, and we mistake those mental objects for the reality. We get so caught up in this endless thought stream that reality flows by unnoticed. We spend our time engrossed in activity, caught up in an eternal pursuit of pleasure and gratification and an eternal flight from pain and unpleasantness. We spend all of our energies trying to make ourselves feel better, trying to bury our fears. We are endlessly seeking security. Meanwhile, the world of real experience flows by untouched and untasted.

In meditation we train ourselves to ignore the constant impulses to be more comfortable, and we dive into the reality instead. The ironic thing is that real peace comes only when you stop chasing it.


((Adapted from Mindfulness in Plain English, by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana))

_________________
"These are the roots of trees,
these are empty huts.
Meditate, monks.
Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later."
-Kamma Sutta, SN 35.145

Mi-Le (弥勒) - Monk of the Old Order, influenced by the Way.

Lelande - Working for himself now.


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 Post subject: Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way ((IC in Ilmateri Temple))
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2016 10:52 am 
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The Meaning of Life

The topic of this entry is nothing less than the meaning of life.

The Way has a lot to say about the meaning of life. People have debated this forever, haven't they? We often discuss the meaning of life, which makes sense. After all, if we figure this out, everything else falls into place, comes into perspective. It becomes easier to decide the big things in life, because you have a good idea of what this existence of ours is all about.

But people see this question from a perspective of "Where is society going? Where is the world headed? Are we going in the right direction?" But according to the Way, if you look at the question this way, you're never going to find the answer to the meaning of life.

Because we have a sense of self, we have this sense of self-importance, a sense that there is a "me" that is moving through the universe. We think we must be a small cog in the great machinery of existence. Otherwise, why do we exist? Why wouldn't we have a purpose?

But according to the Way, there isn't any purpose to this universe. It just goes on according to causes and conditions. The same is true of our lives. We go from birth to death, according to causes and conditions. We aren't really moving towards anything; we're just in constant flux, dependent on conditions. So we have to look for the meaning of life elsewhere.

I would ask what the purpose of life is, rather than what the meaning of life is. Look inside yourself and ask, what is it that we all desire? What is it that we all want? Because if we can find out what it is we all want, then the fulfillment of that want is really the purpose of life. If you can fulfill the most profound yearning you have, then you're also finding the purpose of your existence.

So for a few moments, think about what you really want. Take your daily life situation. It's not really hard to understand. How do we make decisions in our daily life? Just think of the small little things in daily life. What do you choose to eat? What do you choose to wear when you get up in the morning? Which people do you choose to talk to? What do you read? All these little decisions we make throughout the day, they are made on the basis of whether they will make us happy. What is more pleasurable, what is beneficial for us, what will give us the right energy to endure throughout the day? This is how all our decisions are made throughout the day. Ask yourself about the longterm decisions of your life, too. What is the driving force behind these decisions? And again, it's what is going to give us contentment and satisfaction, in the long run. Why are you reading this journal? You think it might give you something in your life, or even just relieve a bit of boredom.

Why do I bother writing this? The reason is the same. In the long run, I think it will be beneficial to me, and maybe for others too.

So there's a happiness underlying all of these decisions. Even very small things, like when you're sitting and fidgeting and scratching. We're trying to get away from a little bit of pain, a little bit of irritation, trying to find comfort in this body. And again, it's trying to move towards pleasure, towards contentment, towards happiness. Everything which drives us in life is basically a movement towards finding happiness, contentment, satisfaction in life. Let's just call it happiness. The purpose of life is to satisfy that happiness that we're yearning for. It's obvious.

The reason we forget this is because this happiness is so elusive. It's so hard to get to. It's hard to know what it is, and even if you know what it is it's so hard to get a hold of it. And that is why we forget about the fact that happiness is the purpose of life.

So what is the happiness that we desire? It's hard to understand because there are different kinds of happiness. There are the pleasures of life: eating nice food, relationships, obtaining wealth. Then there is the happiness of being tranquil, peaceful, content, the joy in the mind we can sometimes have. So where should we seek for happiness? Everybody is pursuing happiness, but people are still grieving over loss. It's because they're looking in the wrong place.

The Way makes a distinction between worldly happiness and spiritual happiness. I have discussed this before, but I find it such an interesting topic that I would like to talk about it again.

Worldly happiness is all the happiness of the five senses, the happiness that you get from seeing things, hearing things, touching things, and so on. It is the happiness you get from getting paid a large amount of coin, when you get into a powerful position or get famous, or even when people say good things about you like "Mi-Le is such a nice person." All of these things are worldly happinesses.

On the other hand, you have spiritual happinesses. These are the happinesses that come from a spiritual lifestyle. Happiness that comes from being moral, doing good, from being kind or generous, from being peaceful, having loving-kindness in your life, from doing meditation practice. All of those positive qualities that we develop inside our mind, that happiness is spiritual happiness.

This distinction is very important. Why is it that one of these happinesses is to be sought for, whereas the other is not so important, according to the Way?

What happens when people enjoy sensual pleasures? If you think about it, you might find that you start off at a certain baseline level of happiness. And when we have an experience or some kind of sensual pleasure, like a meal, or we see something exciting, or we have a nice encounter with someone we're attracted to, then there is a sort of peak up from that plateau of happiness where we normally are. And soon after we've had that meal, or had that nice encounter with the attractive person, it comes down again. And this is what happens with sensual pleasures. We come down to exactly where we were before. We're searching for these pleasures, but we come down to exactly where we were before. Or take a bigger example. You earn enough coin to buy some land and a home, or something which is much more important in your life. The happiness goes up, it lasts for a longer time, but slowly and surely, that excitement of the new land or home comes down again. It comes down, down, down, back to where you were before. This is how it goes on. Happiness after happiness, but slowly but surely, that happiness comes down and down again, to where you were before. Such happiness is ephemeral. It disappears, it doesn't remain.

And when something doesn't remain, what happens? You look back at that happiness and you think, "Oh, I wish I had that happiness again." You feel a little empty. And so craving and desire arise within you to get that happiness again. Again and again, and each time you do it, the same thing happens: happiness goes up, and it goes down. Always leading to the same disappointment, and because you feel disappointed, you try to get happiness again and again. And this is how most people live their lives, from beginning to end, up and down, up and down, never really getting anywhere at all.

Even the feeling of falling in love, some of the highest happiness that some people experience, comes to an end sooner or later. You cannot be in love forever and ever.

And of course, there is the opposite problem with the sensual realm. We can feel sensual disappointment. But even with these, your happiness goes back up again. So we keep spending our lives going up, going down, going up, going down. And at the end of the day, we're back where we were.

And some people ask what it's all for, right? It's a good question to ask, because this is how it leads us to spiritual happiness. People who are good people, who meditate, who practice spirituality more, turn out to be generally happier. This happiness is not the sort of happiness that fades away. It is a happiness that stays imprinted in your mind. It's the result of long-term practice, not the result of some gratification.

With spiritual happiness, you start off at that certain baseline level of happiness. Then you might feel like doing something nice, not out of superficial ego, but because of a sincere genuine wish to be nice. You don't worry about getting rewarded or recognized, you just want to be nice; we all know that feeling. So you do the nice thing, and your happiness goes up, of course. And sure enough, that happiness comes back down. But when it comes down again, it doesn't come down precisely to where it was before. It leaves a little residue in your mind. The mind is lifted up a small stage. When you are virtuous, your mind is lifted up just a fraction. Slowly but surely, our minds are lifted up, stage by stage. Each time we do meditation, we become more peaceful, we lift our minds up.

Of course, we're not always able to be kind or generous. Sometimes it goes wrong. So we can go down, of course. But we can catch ourselves, and keep lifting ourselves up. And so at the end, when it comes time to say goodbye to this life, we're at a different level. That's the beauty of the spiritual life. It takes you somewhere! When you look back, you say, "This life was worthwhile. I've changed myself for a better person, and I am more satisfied than when I came into this world. I've done good in this world, and brought other people with me on this spiritual journey."

So you can start to see what life is all about. It's to find this true happiness, this real satisfaction which can be gained by practicing a spiritual life, practicing good, doing what is right, so we can actually go somewhere in our life, and end up somewhere different than where we started out.

So this is the Way's answer to the question of what the purpose of life is. And you may even agree with me. And yet, so many people continue to pursue sensual worldly pleasures. They turn their back on all sorts of spiritual teachings, they don't make the progress they could. Myself, sometimes I sit by myself and wonder why am I not putting more effort into my practice? And one of the reasons is because we have a sense of permanence inside of us, a sense of who we are. So we don't see the potential for change and transformation inside ourselves. And because we don't see our true potential, we don't put in sufficient effort to actually transform ourselves.

If you take the idea of a self completely out of the equation and see that we are conditioned beings, that external conditions work on us, suddenly you take away the limits of potential for change. Suddenly, there is no limit anymore for how much happiness and peace you can find in your life. You understand the potential of the spiritual is enormous. It is beyond our wildest dreams. That is what is at stake: the end of suffering. It is a truly wonderful thing.


((Adapted from the works of Ajahn Brahmali))

_________________
"These are the roots of trees,
these are empty huts.
Meditate, monks.
Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later."
-Kamma Sutta, SN 35.145

Mi-Le (弥勒) - Monk of the Old Order, influenced by the Way.

Lelande - Working for himself now.


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 Post subject: Re: Mi-Le: Reflections on the Way
Unread postPosted: Mon May 23, 2016 11:17 pm 
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Seclusion

Renouncing violence
for all living beings,
harming not even a one,
you would not wish for offspring,
    so why a companion?
Wander alone, like a rhinoceros.

For a sociable person
there are allurements;
on the heels of allurement, this pain.
Seeing allurement's drawback,
wander alone, like a rhinoceros.

One whose mind
is enmeshed in sympathy
for friends and companions,
neglects the true goal.
Seeing this danger in intimacy,
wander alone, like a rhinoceros...

    If you gain a mature companion,
      a fellow traveler, right-living and wise,
      overcoming all dangers
        go with him, gratified,
        mindful.

    If you don't gain a mature companion,
      a fellow traveler, right-living and wise,
        go alone
      like a king renouncing his kingdom,
      like the elephant in the wilds,
        renouncing his herd.

We praise companionship
    — yes!
Those on par, or wiser,
should be chosen as friends.
If they're not to be found,
    living faultlessly,
wander alone, like a rhinoceros.

Avoid the evil companion
    who disregards the goal,
    intent on the discordant way.
Don't take as a friend
someone heedless and hankering.
Wander alone, like a rhinoceros.

Consort with one who is learned,
    who follows the Way,
    a great and intelligent friend.
Knowing the meanings,
subdue your perplexity,
then wander alone, like a rhinoceros...

Unstartled, like a lion at sounds.
Unsnared, like the wind in a net.
Unsmeared, like a lotus in water:
wander alone, like a rhinoceros...

At the right time consorting
with release through loving kindness,
          compassion,
          sympathetic joy,
          equanimity,
unobstructed by all the world,
    any world,
wander alone, like a rhinoceros.

Having let go of passion,
          aversion,
          delusion;
having shattered the fetters;
undisturbed at the ending of life,
wander alone, like a rhinoceros.


((Adapted from the Khaggavisana Sutta))

_________________
"These are the roots of trees,
these are empty huts.
Meditate, monks.
Do not be negligent, lest you regret it later."
-Kamma Sutta, SN 35.145

Mi-Le (弥勒) - Monk of the Old Order, influenced by the Way.

Lelande - Working for himself now.


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