Saturday, May 21, 2016

VESAK: Dharma talk on Dependent O. (audio)

Ajahn Brahm; Amber Larson, Bhante, Teri Mei, Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

Golden Buddha in a Wat (temple) in Ayutthaya, Thailand (nattapan72/
The day began with a Dharma talk in a room filled with 120 people dressed all in white.

Sri Lankans and Westerners sat on cool ergonomic meditation seats listening to the urbane Ven. Chandananda's talk on how our cravings lead us to being dissatisfied.

I always thought "desire = suffering" in Buddhism, but that's not right at all. It is on account of not seeing things as they truly are -- falling away, unable to satisfy, and impersonal -- that we crave and cling to them. This disappoints, leaves us miserable, even when we get what we thought we wanted. When we don't get it, we cry. What are we crying about? It wouldn't have satisfied us anyway!

Setting in motion the Wheel of the Dharma
Except mine. I want some cool shoes, and a frayed t-shirt, oh and that iPhone thingy FitBit keychain watch with the detachable face and phone option add-on. Then I'll be happy. Look, even if I'm not happy, I'll be satisfied. Well, until the 2.0 version comes out.

(Ajahn Brahm) What does Dependent Origination mean, and what does it have anything to do with me being happy, meditating better, and becoming enlightened?

If only I were in S.F., I could meditate! (John Gillespie)
But the venerable was talking about much deeper things than the material junk we all try to collect. What most of us want are relationships -- the perfect relationship, The One, the person who knows what we want without us saying so and gives it to us! Oh, dream lover, wherefore art thou?!

Dependent Origination sounds crazy hard, but how many people knew that that's how the prince became enlightened?

Ask this: Why am I suffering? The answer? I must be suffering because I was born. I must have been born because of [12 causal links that include] karma. That was because this had been; when this ceases, that will also cease. This is the universal law of conditionality. All things depend on conditions. What are the conditions for my suffering? Karma (actions), engaged in because of ignorance, led to my being here and to things happening and all the rest of it.

Why do I crave? I crave because of pleasing sensations (pleasant feelings). Why is there feeling? Because there are senses. The eye, ear, nose, tongue, skin, and mind crave -- all on account of pleasant feelings. We reject unpleasant feelings and are bored by neutral ones, and we cling to anything pleasurable. Only it isn't, it isn't, it isn't at all what it seems.

Here, Eve, it's really good. Now you take a bite.
That's the thing! The prince -- having lived in the utmost pleasure of hedonism -- years later sitting in the forest as an ascetic saw it for what it was. Whatever pleasant thing arises dependent on feeling (which is based on the senses, which are based on birth, which is based on karma, which is based...all the way back to ignorance) falls away, is utterly incapable of satisfying, and is impersonal. It's not me, it's not mine, and it never was. That's one good Vesak to learn all that.

Then we ate great, exotic island fare. Sri Lankan cuisine is the best with so many flavors. Then a nun led us in meditation, and the Westerners gobbled it up. There's a way to walk to develop insight or vipassana. Very interesting. Anyone can visit the L.A. Buddhist Temple at the corner of Mountain Ave. and Summit, two blocks east of Fair Oaks in Pasadena. It's easy to spot with the giant Indian Buddha in the front and all the Buddhist flags.

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