Tuesday, December 9, 2014

When the world is coming down, meditate

Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly; Sasin Tipchai (Bugphai)
Storm clouds conceal the dawning Sun as the Buddha looks on in Thailand (Bugphai)
Protect the heart like precious concentration (absorption), and gain self-control like a golden Tara. What is it to be like a bodhisattva, a "being bent on enlightenment"? (SF Museum/Sherrie Thai/ShaireProductions/flickr)
In a time of turmoil a Thai Theravada Buddhist monk retreats to a quiet cave to read a Dharma book and practice what the Buddha taught.

Paradoxically, it is easier to practice now than it will be when everything is placid, peaceful, and sunk in the mire of sensual delights. The disturbances make the problem of disappointment obvious, bring it to the fore.

Living in Jewish-Christian hypocrisy...
Yet there are those who will not practice now nor then, whereas they will condemn those who do. Is it "selfish" to better oneself in the world?

There is so much help we can give others, but there are somethings they can only do for themselves. We can provide for their meditation, but we cannot do their meditation. We can give the requisites, but if they squander them, that is on them. We can practice virtue but cannot practice restraint for them.

Thai Theravada Buddhist monk reading a Dharma book inside a quiet cave (Bugphai).
The Bodhisattva Ideal
That is to say, others can provide for us, but they can neither meditate for us nor cultivate virtue. The making of merit is a tricky thing because one will be condemned for "greed" along the way. Whether motivated by greed or anything else, do what is virtuous, do what benefits self and others, do what brings profit and lasting benefit.

There are those who condemn merit-making who themselves fail to cultivate merit, who fail to develop beneficial actions, karma, who fail to restrain themselves.

With the accrual of merit by virtue -- upholding the Five Precepts, Eight Precepts, the suppressing and overcoming of obvious manifestations of greed, hatred, and delusion -- come many benefits.

"Perfection is the enemy of good," it is said. Yet, people pat themselves on the back pontificating their JudeoChristian wrong view that all must be done with no regard to oneself.

Sasin Tipchai is a top photog! (Bugphai)
Indeed, pride, showing off, self-aggrandizement are harmful and subtle motivations to root out, but they are as nothing compared to failing to do what is profitable and good. Whatever the motive, doing good for oneself-and-others will be good.

Is it good to meditate? Is it good to restrain oneself? Is it good to strengthen concentration? Is it good to be mindful? Is it good to be quiet -- internally and externally -- to withdraw into mental and physical solitude? Yes. Do it.

The world will criticize. The job of the world is not to allow one to do good. The world pulls us in selfish, aversive, and deluded ways. Stand still. Sit still. Still the heart and mind.
"Hinayana" schools no longer exist, but the ancient Theravada school is sometimes condemned a Hinayana (Lesser Vehicle) school by those with little knowledge of either Mahayana or Theravada Buddhism.

There is no dichotomy between helping oneself and helping-oneself-with-others-in-mind.

It is quite possible to help-others-with-self-in-mind and help oneself.
Why is Mahayana Buddhism so popular? In practical terms, even the historical Buddha [Shakyamuni, Gautama] is overshadowed by the bodhisattvas, who are people who vow that they will forgo or delay their final enlightenment until all creatures are “saved” (Ref. 1, Ref. 2 “Mahayana”... [This is how Vedantic Brahmanism undermined the Buddha's message, as continues today with Hindu notion mistaken for Buddhist teachings, even those the Buddha strenuously rejected and spoke out against.]
The Story of Mahayana (Part I) The essential premise of the bodhisattva ideal is to generate the thought of enlightenment to fulfill the vow to become a buddha, foregoing entrance into nirvana in order to remain in the world as long as there are creatures to be saved from suffering (which the historical Buddha did not do). With that vow the aspirant begins the career of a bodhisattva, which traverses 10 stages...
A New Buddhism? (Netherlands) There is still adherence to the bodhisattva-ideal, but nirvana (or some unique reinterpretation of it) is said to be available in an instant. Other schools, other paths, other.... Publication Society Best Buddhist writings (BPS.lk) ...
Buddhist Economics: money and interest Many of the changes are related to transformations in Mahayana understandings of nirvana/samsara, enlightenment, and the bodhisattva ideal (delaying one's salvation to save others)....

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