This is the first post of a series, not sure how many. I need to read more. I do. The stress of my life has stopped me. It is not healthy to be in the mind set that if it is not worth money, do not do it. Actually I do not think I want to be stuck in a job where my goal is to just read. I crave action. I crave experience. My mind has been so bruised by attacks on social media and in life I can not enjoy the things that in the past helped me cope and deal.
So I now turn to reading what I have to help me turn this around
I saw a meditation teacher named Geoffrey DeGraff talk in my neighborhood about 2 years ago. I liked his discussion. It was on western romanticism and buddhism. Degraff also known as Thanissaro Bhikkhu is a Master of Forest Buddhism. I became attracted to the idea of finding inner peace in the woods. I had met a guy in a Thai chi class who had spent time in a forest monestery. However this is something else I stopped doing. Hiking. Im finally getting my legs back into it. I am breakable. I also know that being breakable is a beautiful thing. But it is also a target for others to attempt to destroy. To break me is sport.
“Gifts he Left Behind” was originally written in Thai. It is what is left of the teachings of a Master known as Luang Pu or “Venerable Grandfather.” The 116 page books contain a collection of one page stories of lessons from this Master. Reading it makes me aware of my flaws but also that the choice Ive made is right. I may not take the path of a nun/ monk, but I am building a foundation I need to deal with the world around me.
I call myself Zen or Cheng but I like the writing of DeGraff. He apparently has translated the canon from pali to English. I have much of his work as digital but the book “gifts he left behind” I have as an actual book. I want to give it away. I am cleaning house. I am writing this though to remember key passages.
The Four Noble Truths
“The mind sent outside is the origination of suffering.
The result of the mind sent outside is suffering.
The mind seeing the mind is the path.
The result of the mind seeing the mind is the cessation of suffering.”
The four truths are achieved by an eight fold path not really detailed in this book. There are also the five precepts.
Much of this little book is a dicussion of dealing with suffering and the mind. “When you understand your own mind, that, in and of itself, will make you understand everything else.”
I especially like this interesting view on silence. “But when you say you stopped speaking, that simply can’t be. … everyone’s speaking all day and all night long. And especially those who vow not to speak: They talk more than anyone else, simply that they don’t make a sound that others can hear.” Apparently only noble ones can reach stop speaking. Not sure I agree with that.
I turned to buddhism to heal my mind from abuse. But I have learned that I agree with the first buddhas view on classicism. I do not like the chaste system of India or our growing monetary based classicism in America.
The book a few pages later actually talks about different views on things. Luang Pow stated, “People, as long as they’re run-of-the-mill, have their pride and their opinions. As long as they have Pride, it’s hard for them to see in line with one another. When their views aren’t in line with one another, it causes them to keep quarreling and disputing.” A view on any political conversation in the United States. Ok maybe not all.
This Masters response is rather inspiring. “Monks, what ever the wise people of the world say exist, I too say exists. And whatever the wise people of the world say doesn’t exist, I too say that it doesn’t exist. I don’t quarrel with the world; the world quarrels with me.”
I’ll end this blog on a response to their being different ways to do meditation.
“When you start practicing meditation, you can begin with any method at all, because they all lead to the same result. The reason their are so many methods is because people have different tendencies. This is why there have to be different images to focus on or words to repeat — such as ‘buddho’ or ‘arahang’– as means of giving the mind a point around which to gather and settle down as the first step. When the mind has gathered and is still, the meditation word will fall away on its own, and that’s where every method falls into the same track, with the same flavor. In other words, it has discernment as its surpassing state and release as its essence.”
Having practiced with various people I find the above quote true. I do not use any words spoken aloud. I think phrases or numbers or focus on my breathe or just let all of it go.
I kind of disagree with a passage a few pages later. P. 44
“When you go to a lot of centers and study with a lot of teachers, your practice won’t get results, for when you go to a lot of centers, it’s as if you go back to the beginning over and over again. You don’t gain any sure principles in your practice. Sometimes you get uncertain and bewildered. Your mind isn’t solid. Your practice degenerates and doesn’t progress.”
I think I needed to explore to find paths to take right for me. Im also not one to follow one way. I need to explore and find my own answers. I like to read and learn on my own and learn from others. Thus far I have discovered certain forms of Buddhism do not suit me. I am not hindu. But I do feel Buddhism is my religion and legally so.