What is Enlightenment? Ask a Dog!

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Making Noise: Builder of the House inspired by spiritual construction

http://www.pressherald.com/life/go/builder-of-the-house-inspired-by-spiritual-construction_2012-02-23.html

Ask a Buddhist: My Boss is Stressing Me Out! by Jason Gots

Your shoulders bunch. Your jaw clenches. 

Enjoy the video!

 

When Buddha was a woman – A radio talk with Sandy Boucher

2600 years ago, the Buddha created an order of women nuns, but it disappeared after only 1,000 years. 

 

 

The Third Jesus by Deepak Chopra – The New World of Jesus

To understand just how radical Jesus’s vision was, we must consider its entirety.

  1. Nature – the fallen state of nature would be restored to perfection. Paradise would return to Earth; Eden would open its gates once more
  2. Society – war and strife would disappear. Human beings would live in a community based on God’s grace, without the need for laws and punishment
  3. Relationships – people would relate to one another, regardless of wealth and social position
  4. Psychology – Individuals would be motivated chiefly by love of God and a sense of worth based on God’s love for his children
  5. Emotions – in place of anger, fear and doubt, people would sense directly that they were loved, safe and blessed
  6. Behaviour – living in a state of grace, people would no longer mistreat one another. Behaviour would become peaceable and loving, not just within the immediate family, but toward neighbours and even strangers.
  7. Biology – the human body itself would be transformed, no longer beset with illness
  8. Metaphysics – God would no longer be aloof from human affairs. He would become present on earth.
E.g. consider relationships, Jesus asked his followers to see themselves as souls rather than fallible individuals whose desires conflicted with one another. The equality of souls banishes the differences between rich and poor, men and women, the weak and the powerful. Souls receive everything directly from God.
It’s easy to see why the New World Christ envisioned was quickly abandoned after he died. It had to be modified by realists.
Yet Jesus himself was the very model of his teachings. Buddha said “Whoever sees me sees the teaching” and the same is true for Jesus. He lived in Christ-consciousness, and his teaching grew directly out of his own state of awareness.
Enlightenment and consciousness-raising are considered Eastern concepts, not Christian ones. consciosness is universal, and if there is  such a thing as God-consciousness, no one can be excluded from it.  
Jesus rose to the highest level of enlightenment , Buddha may be his equal. “

Part 2: Contentment day course, Sydney

This morming we spoke about the need to train the mind of discontent. It is impossible to satisfy the desires of the craving mind as it is a bottomless pit! The mind is flooded with negative thoughts and insatiable desires.

Discontent is an aspect of attachment. When we are able to control our attachment we realise that external objects cannot satiate us we must DIRECTLY OPPOSE ATTACHMENT by training in non-attachment.

I have to look within and note that it is not non-attachment but CORRECT VIEW. Contentment is an aspect of non-attachment. A mind being satisfied with our inner and outer conditions motivated by virtuous intentions.

 “Being happy whatever happens” Geshe-La.

Happiness comes from within. Contentment is a decision. Not I will be content when I achieve ….

Don’t be passive, happiness is not going to fall in your lap; it is a state of mind. You have to develop it internally; we don’t have it naturally. We haveto decide to be content.

We must meditate on the feeling of acceptance for eg to transform your mind into contentment. Happiness is not to be found in a set of external circumstances.

  • Decide I AM CONTENT.
  • What I have is enough.
  • I will not desperately seek for external pleasures.

Think “What I have is enough” to oppose the mind of desire. There are valid reasons to change your job  for a better one for eg to have more time to spend with cherished people, kids etc NOT to make changes for (perceived) improvement or because we need to improve prospects or to achieve more. We make changes externally of there is a genuine reason to do so! Not to get MORE happiness due to external changes we make.

The mind of contentment is

  • free from wanting and craving
  • not concerned with externals
  • not vulnerable to frustration

When you are trying to control your mind you are not vulnerable to desire. Control your mind and your power is back.  You are satisfied with what you have each day. Inner wealth is best of all possessions. Inner wealth is not boring, it is a blissful mind.

Things WILL go wrong if we are passive, wanting for stuff to settle, to go to plan, for people to settle for eg for kids to settle in good jobs etc You will never start living if oyu wait for all and everyone to settle! You think happiness round the corner…. but there is an endless list of discontent … soon, soon I will be happy…

How do we  hold a mind of contentment?

Conditions that are not ideal will keep arising. If contentment came from external conditions people in the West would be happy compared to people in the East! Most people in the West live in clean, rich, beautiful surroundings and have more freedom when compared to India/Tibet people but have more discontent and mental suffering! People in the West have less internally. We have no understanding of science of happiness. Our civilisation is based on materialism. Happiness depends on developing the mind. Our focus at the moment is not working individually and as a society to give us happiness.

If we have inner wealth we don’t feel so attached to external objects eg in a clothes shop you see beautiful clothes but not pulled to buy more than you need! Good for mental freedom, bank account etc  We have a smoother life. we appreciate beautiful objects but not attracted like a moth to a flame to burn; appreciate beauty from afar! How many times has attachment driven us into a flame? e.g. a fling? attraction to a person we focus on that person and exaggerate their good qualities … denial… like a moth to candle flame through lack of clarity. We dive into the flame and are unfaithful and destroy relationships and families as not everyone can forgive transgression. Appreciate beauty from afar! Do not exchange a perceived “poor” condition for short term contaminated pleasure to end up in a worse one!

With a mind of contentment we obtain external objects with realistic expectations – life is simpler! We don’t need to buy, go places, improve etc just for the sake of it just because we feel discontent within ourselves expecially living in hedonistic Sydney; a pleasure garden, full of beautiful objects, beautiful people, a fixation with propertry etc

We do appreciate a beautiful home for eg but we do not believe that living there creates happiness e.g. a Sydney real estate agent working in one of the most prestigious and rich suburbs of Sydney told me his clients are usually grumpy unhappy people!

Don’t be compelled to jump in the flame. When we are motivated to act by desire this will bring suffering. Desirous attachment is the worst delusion; when you follow it, it is a distorted, incorrect mind and  things go wrong; you get frustrated and exhausted.

Contentment avoids filling lives with stuff; we know stuff won’t fulfill me.
Whilst doing menial tasks for eg. if your mind is mixed with contentment you can feel happy! Instead of wanting to be somewhere else. Nothing is boring; we can change everything into an act of giving, to transform mundane and menial tasks into something beautiful; with a mind of contentment you are activating happiness within ANYWHERE!

How to get this mind? Through meditation by acquainting the mind with virtuous objects. Initially we reduce conceptuality to remove impure thoughts then in that spaciousness we cultivate virtuous minds eg the mind of contentment, non-attachment, love, compassion, patience, giving, concentration, faith, moral discipline, effort.

Through meditation we familiarise the mind and transform the mind into contentment. I am satisfied with what I have, I don’t need extra things. Talk yourself into it.

We contemplate say for e.g. for 10 mins a day for e.g. the faults of discontent, the reasons why we must  abandon discontent; we gradually cultivate a determination to abandon the mind of discontent. Then for the last 5 mins  we stop the contemplation and we bring the virtuous object to mind;  when we find the virtuous object we keep it in mind and stay with the feeling of contentment: I am satisfied with my inner and outer conditions. Your mind BECOMES contentment.  Your mind is balanced and positive.

To be happy in a relationship you have to change your mind. You have to TRAIN in contentment. Marriages break up becasue people do not take responsibility to train. Our human minds do not make it easy for us! You need this, I want that etc

Transform your habits. Build new pathways in your mind like forging a new path through the forrest to the sea. Meditation creates new habits but it is not easy at first as the groove of discontent is deep. So making a new groove is not easy. As you meditate you create pathways on a neurological level by concentrating on virtuous objects. Meditating calms the mind and stillness can be developed.

The more you enjoy the internal sources of happiness the more you feel fulfilledd and content and satiated. You feel good and desirable shiny objects don’t have a hold on you. You will discover a beautiful mind within. The more you let go of attachment to external stuff the more freedom you start feeling and also joy from positive minds. Acquire real test of Dharma instead of meaningless pleasures.

I CAN be content by controlling my mind and the rest will fall into place! Everything becomes better when you apporach your day with a mind of contentment.

You don’t get excited e.g.stalking a new partner, sending 100s of texts a day. In reality if we can be content you can be with anyone! We see beauty in everyone not in just a ‘soul-mate’ and we  don’t have unrealistic expectations. I have capacity to love many people and am not focussed on 1 person. Marriage is a practice of contentment. Resist changes for the sake of changes. Not because other people expect me to (pressure from society to achieve more, have more and more money etc)  e.g. ambition can be a very ugly mind. We should value our achievement of inner peace. Don’t buy into things e.g. big wedding, advancing career prospects, bigger house, whatever society ‘expects’!

Practice contentment and set an example, show you are happy with your conditions instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses – this is madness! You get strength in being part of a spiriutal community. Don’t get more stress for eg if you are making a good living with 1 shop and you are apporached by a businessman to invest and grow to 3 shops don’t give in just to change, when you have enough – you will have more money, but more stress and less time. It is important to know when to stop! e.g. plastic surgery, surfing the internet, eating. Self-control – dosesn’t sound attractive but life is more enjoyable by exercising control over haibits;. LIFE IS SIMPLER. Enough shopping,enough eating etc

If you do not sit to meditate, meditate at the traffic lights,, in a waiting room for eg while you are going about your day, think about contentment. Peace for yourselves and set example to others.

 

 

Part 1: Contentment day course, Sydney

This Sunday was my centre’s day course on Contentment. The following are some notes I took – I hope the words inspire you to change to a happier you!

This course resonated with me profoundly especially since I am reading the 2nd book called Affluenza (When too much is never enough) by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss. From this book I learnt a new word:  ” downshifter” someone who voluntarily reduces their income.

A few of my favourite lines from the book:

  • “in the coming decade most of our income growth will be spent on consumer products the craving for which has yet to be created by advertisers
  • “the 1960s and 1970s saw a flood of literature predicting a future in which technological progress would allow us to work only a few hours a week and our main problem would be how best to enjoy our leisure… a society able to devote itself to activities that are truly fulfilling”
  • “instead of our growing wealth freeing us of our materialist preoccupations, it seems to have had the opposite effect”
  • “people in affluent countries are now even more obsessed with money and material acquisition, and the richer they are the more this seems to be the case”
  • “no matter how much money people have they feel they need more”
  • “striving to become richer even at the expense of their own happiness and that of their families”
  • “most people cling to the belief that more money means more happiness”
  • “raising the threshold of desire creates an endless cycle of self deception”
  • “hedonic treadmill”
  • “the only way to win is to stop playing the game”
  • “Australia is in a collective psychological disorder – we indulge in the illusion that we are deprived”
  • “we complete ourselves symbolically by acquiring things that compensate for our perceived shortcomings… marketers understand much better than we do how we want to create an ideal self”
  • “increasing levels of materialism that characterises affluent societies has been shown to be associated with declining well-being and a rise in pathological behaviours”
  • the famous anon quote “in rich countries today, consumption consists of people spending money they don’t have to buy goods they don’t need to impress people they don’t like”
  • “Big houses serve to keep family members apart because there is less need to be together”
The teachings:
We all long for happiness and to be free from suffering. But we make the mistake of believing happiness is outside ourself; this belief causes us to create so much suffering.
Our mind has been mis-programmed! We crave for things and objects of desire. We need to rectify this mistake. Even if we can decrease this attachment just a little we will experience some freedom and liberation. Try to decrease attachment a little, which is more realistic than complete renunciation!
Our craving mind is a source of discontent. We must develop a determination to decrease that mind! It will be enough at first to decrease the excess attachment. Craving minds finally will not arise. We have a mind of desirous attachment.
We need a multi-pronged attack on our delusions. With 2 motivations:
  1. aversion to experience suffering and
  2. to pursue happiness.
Contemplating these ways, how to overcome our mind of discontent we experience results that make a difference in our minds.
The basic human wish is to be happy and free from suffering – it is an innate wish. The question is not if we want to be happy the question is where does happiness come from?  We are not experiencing the happiness we long for, we work so hard to achieve it! We turn to various objects: relationships, our career, people, friends, family, material possessions, homes etc
The satisfaction is what we desire but it seems like whatever our circumstances are, it eludes us …. sometimes short lived pleasure arises eg a new relationship but it wears off .. we don’t experience the same satisfaction we thought we would. We have a restless discontented mind that jumps from 1 situation to another hoping to find satisfaction but eventually we want something better. We get the desired object but we don’t get the satisfaction we thought we would. This is the tragedy of the discontented mind. We are human beings with limitation but we have spiritual potential which is capable of freeing the mind from limitation. We need to train the mind to be free from obstructions and faults until one awakens. Practice Buddha’s teachings to improve your life even if you do not want to be enlightened. When we start a relationship we are happy and excited and after a while we get bored; we say we chose the wrong person! I chose wrong house .. I should have waited for a better one, with better view !
We believe problem lies outside ourselves, that we we are innocent victims that we are surrounded with wrong objects. We look at our clothes in wardrobe and can’t find anything nice to wear … I need to buy more clothes.
Wrong mind – relationship between subject (mind) and object (world) is of a dreamlike nature; emptiness.
What the situation is for us depends on our mind, if it is a restless mind it is coloured by our mind, objects we perceive by this mind appear imperfect, not right, because nature of mind craving … we don’t have capacity, a mental muscle we never used. We need an intensive mental boot-camp on contentment. Wake up to the truth! we have a restless mind and this can be proved. Look at your own mind, situations in your past, objects you acquired, life changes, pursuit of happiness. But why don’t we experience contentment : I have enough, I have what I need, I can relax, I am at peace, settled. We won’t reach that point with the mind we have now, even if we are close to conditions we deem ‘perfect’ because of our discontented mind. Mind doesn’t let us recognise this. You can transform your life, give yourself ability to enjoy life instead of “this is not enough”. We always want something … we say “when I pay off debts I will be happy” … we manage to pay off and more may arise! We are anxious and dissatisfied. To do lists …. if we fulfill wishes we buy home etc then it is not long before we want something more. Temporary cessation of previous sufferings.
The late Sir James Goldsmith, on marrying his mistress, Lady Annabel Birley, declared, “When you marry your mistress, you create a job vacancy.”
You fulfil 1 desire you automatically have more unless you oppose the desirous mind. We know this from our life; we change goalposts for ourselves. We say when we make $1 million we will be happy … that is the nature of the mind. Basic contradiction in seeking happiness: we create causes of suffering.
We experience a life of desire and with it experience associated problems – attachment, anger…..
We develop negative minds when anything arises between us and our desire; we hurt other people in the process. the strong desire to fulfil our wishes causes us to experience anger towards anything that arises to stop us. We manifest  anger and aversion towards what stands between us and our wish. We end up feeling bad, regret, fracture in relationships. This arises due to strong attachment to the result – negative karma. WE WILL ALWAYS WANT
Buddha said we are “desire realm beings; beings of the unforgettable world” : we have inability to forget object of desire even for a moment.
Dust is covering our eyes – we can’t see the truth: humans always want. It is not a problem to desire happiness, it is wanting it from outside ourselves that is the problem. My human condition is to WANT.
Geshe-La, on seeing some cows in a field during an ordination ceremony at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre, Ulverston, UK, said
 “see those cows? they have more contentment than you!”.
We want so many things! Unlike cows who want and need shelter, food and to reproduce. We want gadgets,  jewellery, fancy cars, reputations, status etc we have ENDLESS DESIRES: it is exhausting. Animals are more content. We have to learn to SEE this mind. We are like a thirsty man in the desert.
Atisha said “Friends, there is no satisfaction in the things you desire. It is like drinking sea water to satisfy thirst. Therefore be content.”
Practice contentment. Drinking sea water makes you thirstier. we search for the satisfaction  to fill the gap we feel inside us but we turn to the wrong things! We think: he/she will complete me! But they can’t! The gap is in our mind of discontent. We need to identify mind of discontent to stop searching for things outside ourselves. Whatever we have externally doesn’t matter. It is important to remember and share with others.
We know of examples of famous, wealthy people committing suicide. They think: “I’m not capable of being happy”. Because they have everything money can buy and still do not feel happy they despair.
Living with a mind of discontent is having a life characterised by a state of waiting. The mind of dissatisfaction and discontent: life hasn’t started! We desire something and if we get what we want, then we find something else to want. DESIRE BREEDS DESIRE.
Obtaining our wishes never leads to end of desire. In getting 1 thing we create conditions for more desire e.g. we get a bigger home and we have more rooms to fill and decorate ….Nature of desire: like gremlins, they multiply. Life becomes hard, overwhelming. The more we have the more we want.
When you are content with what you have and you know this is enough,, then you can focus on what is REALLY IMPORTANT … it doesn’t matter if you are single, unemployed etc as this cannot complete me. So we have a healthy focus – turn within: meditation.
Novelty wears off eg a new girlfirend ,after a while you realise you cannot chase other girls now, you have to be faithful…Doesn’t matter what we have, what we get.
We can enjoy life no matter what situation we are in; instead of desperately searching for happiness. Life becomes balanced and healthy and we have a healthy relationship to external objects as we know they don’t make a difference. As contentment is in my own mind. We get the external  object but don’t derive feeling of satisfaction FROM IT. We are after feeling of satisfaction. With our mistaken view we think this object is equivalent to satisfaction but it weans off. We are left with desire. Satisfaction is an INNER EXPERIENCE. An external object cannot give rise to feeling of satisfaction. Cause and effect. Pure and positive feelings from the mind are not external. Concentrate on love and patience. Internal not external : don’t fool yourself. Fundamental mistake. External objects can’t make a difference to your internal feeling. Western civilisation was founded on this! Rise above these impurities/mistakes of society.
Practice contentment to be rich!
FAULTS OF DISCONTENT
Recognise within your life that all unpleasant things arise from the mind of discontent.  We are always convinced the grass is greener. Things WILL go wrong!
Make changes in your life with wisdom and realistic expectations. LEARN from situations – E.g. you buy something you do not really need or afford and then you get a massive credit-card bill – say “look what mind of discontent has brought me to!” Bad habits, addictions, war : instead of enjoying life.

The Sure Heart’s Release An Interview with Jack Kornfield by HELEN TWORKOV

It is I who must love myself. No one else can make me feel whole. Only I can provide that love. Now I know that wholeness is always accessible to me and all beings everywhere. This knowing allows me to live with a new peacefulness and kindness to myself and others. In the simplest way, it has changed my whole life.

Dharma teaching @ Bondi Junction : Inner Strength, week 1

This week’s Dharma teaching

There is only one way to achieve happiness and that is to start to control and purify our mind. We cannot control others, the weather, our employees, our employer etc.
We achieve inner strength by focussing on the quality of patience and thus develop a mind of inner strength.

Our basic human desire is to experience happiness. Consciously or unconsciously we have this thought: I want to be happy and free from suffering. Whatever we do is a manifestation of this wish/need. When we awake everyday we hope that today is the day we will experience only happiness; we have an expectation not a hope as when suffering arises we don’t accept it! When things go wrong in life we get disappointed! We are perpetualy overwhelmed, disappointed so we have unrealistic expectations. We expect people to cherish us, to never let us down, that everything goes according to our wishes and desires …. How do we react to what happens? By accepting that difficulties are a part of life it gives us freedom to take control of our happiness and well-being. Difficulties are a part of life it is useless suppressing them. for e.g. when someone is doing something we don’t like, we tell them to change (if we
feel it is socially acceptable for e.g if we know the person well) or resent them. Has it worked? Controlling our external world is exhausting… our homes,possessions, partner… manipulating externals is unproductive and unsatisfying and ends up by creating more problems. Suffering arises from our mind. Looking outside of ourselves is doomed to fail. It is easier to wear leather shoes than to cover whole ground with leather! By relying on a mind of patience, contentment, love….. we will always find a place where we  are comforted becasue we are controlling our inner environment – well-balanced and positive. We do not feel overwhelmed and stressed and we feel we want to run away from the situation.

Transform life’s difficulties to a practice.

Meditation works by familiarising and acquainting our mind with virtue which is a cause of happiness. Suffering arises from negative minds of anger, selfishness, jealousy etc. Meditation is a method to abandon these thought patterns, delusions and negative minds and replace with positive, virtuous minds.
If our own mind is acquainted with love and patience instead of anger, aversion etc we are able to find happiness even in difficult circumstances. Meditation is a potent medicine: 10-15 minutes/day of meditation on a positive quality is like a medicinal. The nature of meditation is concentration, single pointedly placed on a virtuous object e.g. contentment, patience… We transform our mind by holding a feeling. Mixing our mind with the virtuous object. You talk yourself into it and allow the feeling to arise e.g. thinking how much patience would benefit us, talking yourself into a mind of patience, when
an accepting mind arises, fully and happily – we stop thinking of reasons and we stay with that feeling of patience: this is meditation. In contrast to negative thoughts – the mind stream (the mind is a formless continuum) of thoughts – if the thoughts are dark and bad – like a stream bubbling away – if you pour in some dirt it gets murky without the dirt the stream is clean and pure, undefiled. The mind is like this when it is free from delusions. Negative minds are not our actual nature, just like the stream, it is not intrinsically weak, impure or disturbed but only when we allow ourselves to foucs on the negative does it become impure. Meditation re-trains the mind … quality of life depends on the quality of our mind. No better gift to give yourself and to others! You become a source of strength to others. We can deal with our own problems and others’ as we are strong inside ourselves.

A mind of patience helps us develop inner strength. If we only can be happy when things are going well we will never be happy! A set of conditions – perfect home, partner, job, based on things will go well for us, it is not the nature of life things will still go wrong. How often does everything all come together? There’s always something going on. Inner strength is a  mind that is happy when things go well or badly! If we realise life is characterised by suffering – mental pain usually more than happiness arises – learn to accept difficulties in the same way as we accept wordly enjoyments. Our mind is impure due to
delusions, so we create an impure world. Mindset of creating our happiness not happiness for all! We need to learn to accept happy mind when difficulties arise. We think suffering arising for eg from difficult boss or happiness arises from new job but it is all a state of mind not in external things. Practice of patience decreases all our sufferings.Suffering is an internal phenomenon, part of our mind, a feeling, an internal experience for eg when you are sick, when you have a nightmare boss but these are external; our own suffering is a feeling, an internal problem so they are different. If you don’t allow situations to trigger in your mind negative feelings you have an outer problem not an inner problem and only an inner problem is our problem. Two people in same situation react differently depending on their mind people respond differently depending on the quality of their mind: is it experiencing pain or calm? An accepting mind is inner strength. We cannot avoid challenging situations but we can avoid unpleasant feelings! Through meditation we create a force field to protect us like a suit of armour to deflect negativity; a mind of patience protects us with armour of patience. Your heart is open but you don’t allow negativity to affect your mind, we protect ourselves from difficulties. Protect mind through patience, mind happily accepts. Change your expectations get more realistic e.g. how we expect a date to turn out, how our life turns out etc based on a wish of happiness. True freedom: cast out unreaslistic expectations, accept and change your mind. Accept difficulties readily to avoid mind of aversion , mind of anger etc.

“The heart of Dharma practice is meditation. The purpose of meditation is to make our mind calm and
peaceful. If our mind is peaceful, we will be free from worries and mental discomfort, and so we will
experience true happiness; but if our mind is not peaceful, we will find it very difficult to be happy,
even if we are living in the very best conditions. If we train in meditation, our mind will gradually
become more and more peaceful, and we will experience a purer and purer form of happiness. Eventually,
we will be able to stay happy all the time, even in the most difficult circumstances.”
~ How to Solve Our Human Problems, p. 121

‎”Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” -Dalai Lama

Must we all suffer? by Luna Kadampa

Suffering is optional