Advice for a mystic new to Buddist Practice

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by DustyFeet, Dec 11, 2018.

  1. DustyFeet

    DustyFeet New Member

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    Hello, i am interested in adding Buddist practice to my spiritual development.

    Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you in advance,

    -DF-
     
  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    There are many different Buddhist schools with a large number of very distinct practices.

    What are you interested in?

    Devotional practice? Tantra (theurgy)? Insight? Tranquility? Ethical training?

    I'm most familiar with Theravada Buddhism, the school practised in SE Asia (Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia). It has very little emphasis on Tantra, though there are traces.
     
  3. DustyFeet

    DustyFeet New Member

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    Thank u, yes, i think this is why i need help at first.

    I see a lot of potential for personal development in Buddhist practice. In general, i hope to encourage in my self: physical , intellectual, and emotional flexibility and balance.
     
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  4. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Hi Dusty,

    Do you believe in reincarnation and karma?
     
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  5. DustyFeet

    DustyFeet New Member

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    Yes to reincarnation. For karma, i don't know for sure.
     
  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    There are so many ways to present Buddist teachings and discipline.

    One very simple overview common in Theravada is the "three divisions" of ethical training (keeping precepts), mind training (meditation), and wisdom training (quest for Nirvana). It is customary to start with the ethical training, by committing to keep the five precepts of abstaining from murder, theft, sexual misbehavior, malicious speech, and mind-altering substances that lead to carelessness.
     
  7. DustyFeet

    DustyFeet New Member

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    Done. I may mess up. But i feel this is who i **want** to be.
     
  8. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    Depending on your interest, you may want to consider seeking out a monk or teacher to formally take the precepts. Net.Buddhism is only a small and very cerebral and western-centric window onto a vast and varied phenomenon.

    That said, I feel that the practice of the five precepts is never truly "done". It is, in a sense, the first and last training.

    That being said as well, besides taking the precepts, it is also customary to take refuge in the Buddha, the Teachings, and the community - Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. As with the precepts, there is a formulaic way of doing this, but it can also be also a very rich and rewarding contemplation.
     
  9. DustyFeet

    DustyFeet New Member

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    please forgive the wordy post. this is not spam. i am a warm-bodied-human with lots to say regarding karma and reincarnation as it can be compared to my jewish background.

    if you are offended by "lots of words" please ignore this post and all my future posts.

    word count = 1648
    character count = 9439

    i have been thinking a lot about your question.

    i definitely believe in reincarnation. i have been learning jewish mystism for approx. 13 years, and reincarnation is a concept which is reflected again and again and i **believe** it. Why do i believe? we would have to become friends before i explain, and i'm afraid it would take many many words.

    regarding karma? i am going from memory, but i can probably find a source if there is interest. the parallel concept in Judaism is "middah-kenneged-middah" which is loosely translated as "measure for measure".

    and now i want to speak about Buddhism vs. Judaism, why i think Buddhism is a good fit for me for flexibility and balance.

    in general, from what i gather about Buddhism... it is functionally opposite from Judaism. and therefore practicing it as a "lay practitioner" would bring balance to my jewish mystical inclinations and background.

    Why are Buddhism and Judaism functional opposites? Judaism is focused on attachment to G-d and attachment to the spiritual dimension of the material world.

    Buddhism is focused on detachment, there is no central G-d, the goal is to annihilate material attachments, where the end goal is nibbana? ( forgive my spelling, please )

    Judaism is about attachment? Why? The mitzvot... mitzvah comes from aramaic... tzavatah ( again forgive the spelling ). tzavahtah is a connection or attachement in aramaic. Mi ( pronounced Mee ) in hebrew is "who".

    Note: there is a fascinating discussion in the zohar Mi vs Mah. "who" vs "what"... but i digress...

    so .. the word mitzvah could be thought of as the conbintation of the two words "mi+tzavatah" aka "who connects" ( note this is creative, not authoritative. perhaps i am not the only one who has considered this idea that a mitzvah is one "who connects". if so, please forgive me. i do not intend to copy without giving credit. i do believe this is my on creative inventive idea. )

    and this reflects my own practical approach to each mitzvah, that each one has its own "personality", its likes and dislikes, and each one deserves its own respect; its own time; its own space. and every jew over the course of their lifetimes, i believe, should endeavor to meet and get to know each one of the mitzvot like a friend meeting a distant friend... further: a person should not focus on trying to complete all the mitzvot in each individual lifetime... this would be like trying to get to know all 613 of your neighbors in detail. a dizzying and unrealistic goal to be sure. I propose a person could be well suited to spend their whole life focusing on just 1 mitzvah, the 1st mitzvah, as ordered by the rambam. which is: "Love G-d". And i go even further... even if a person doesn't complete this lofty goal in their current mortal life.. i propose that if they can accustom their soul towards "Loving G-d", that even this preparation has tremendous value because the soul remembers these preparations and benefits lifetime after lifetime.

    all of this is relevant because: i am talking about reincarnation. a healthy constructive jewish approach to reincarnation.

    now... moving to middah-kenneged-middah. i have a bias towards this "jewish" version of karma. and i **believe** the "jewish" approach is healthy and constructive, while the Biddhist approach could become corrupted depending on the individual's inclinations.

    middah-kenneged-middah is executed by G-d... not by me... not by warm-bodied-humans.

    Karma... depending on how it is defined and applied could be a very dangerous notion... as well as the Buddhist concept of reincarnation.. as i will attempt to explain.

    Note: i am new to Buddhism. I am not a liar. I only started learning about it by accident... and i fell in love with it. Also.. i am super-duper smart and i can absorb material very very rapidly. I credit this academic fortitude to practice... the daily Torah learning... but i digress

    Since middah-kenneged-middah is executed by G-d, and not me... i do not make the choice who is right who is wrong and i am not tempted... repeat... i am not tempted to execute my own justice on others. I doubt very much that this is the intention of the Buddah regarding karma ( to execute judgement on others ). but again. without a G-d executive, a person could fall into a trap of thinking that they, the individual, **needs** to right the wrongs of the world, and this could be corrupted if a sad sick desperate person becomes the target of predatory criminals.

    And so i said, "regarding Karma, i'm not sure". because, if i read your question simply , without any assumptions of my own... I don't know what you mean? you could be asking me... "Do you, DustyFeet, believe that other people deserve to be punished for their wrongs?" Or you could be asking me, "Do you DustyFeet, believe that you are accountable your your own wrong doings?"

    Question one is asking if i am potentially dangerous and apply karma in a destructive manner.
    Question two is asking if i am a moral person who would be careful not to hurt others.

    And this is why i say that Buddhist Karma can be corrupted. Because: if i were a sick desperate person, a predatory criminal could latch onto my signs of distress, show me comfort and convince me to act out in a destructive manner against almost any perceived wrong-doer.

    Where as, Jewish middah-kenneged-middah leaves the judgement and punishment to G-d, and thus, I would never. i repeat, i would never intentionally do anything harmful to anyone. I leave that stuff to G-d.

    Buddhist reincarnation can also be corrupted, but i think Buddhism has adaqute safeties inplace to protect against them. And the Jewish approach i think is less open to corruption, but it has flaws as well.

    In the minor, a Buddhist reincarnation and the goal for detachment may possibly encourage suicide. This is supported by learning about Robin William's struggles at the end of his life.

    Jewish reincarnation has the same pitfall, but... Jewish law prohibits suicide. so there's a safety valve. In addition Judaism encourages joyful attachment to the spiritual dimension of the material world. Again, joyfulness, practiced, i think helps reduce the risk of suicide that is part of the idea that, reincarnation means, if i die. i just come back again, and so .. why not kill myself or take risks with the health and safety of my the corporal "self" or others.

    I think the Buddhist version of reincarnation has a lot going for it in the positive and constructive direction. And i think there are safety valves built into Buddhism to discourage suicide and hurting others. and that's why i said, point-blank "yes i believe in reincarnation" here in a Buddhist sub-forum asking for advice for a mystic newly exploring Buddhism.

    Note.. i repeat, i didn't lie... i am new to this. but i a have been assimilating data like a machine ;) I accept all that i have said about Buddhism in this post may be 100% wrong. If so, please forgive me. and i appreciate any and all comments, criticisms and corrections. I do respectfully request blunt honesty. I feel it is most efficient. Posts that include only questions and no answers... ( you know who you are ) are likely to be ignored as "non-productive".

    In light of all these words.. i am concerned that someone may miss-interpret this post as spam. It's not. Please forgive spelling, grammar, punctuation errors. Please forgive the use of non-english transliterated hebrew words. And please forgive the word count. In this post i am choosing to be complete. If this post is too verbose, please ignore me in the future. I don't want to offend nor give anyone a head-ache, G-d forbid.

    Now on to the final topic for this post and then i will be "gone".

    Why am i interested in Buddhism if i see the apparent flaws and i think the Jewish approach to reincarnation and karma is better.

    1) Judaism is about attachment.. I've got that already... maybe the medicine i need is in detachment.
    2) Judaism does not have a physical fitness component. I can run miles and miles and swim like a.... like a fish, but yoga... LORD help me. Balance and flexibility are lacking for me. I have tried to do yoga with my wife... and it is a disaster. But in the past i was doing it only for fitness and my personality flaws relating to patience and consistent practice were not part of it at the time. I hope that by applying myself to Buddhism not just yoga in a more spiritual and academic way, that i will stick with the yoga to get past the learning curve and my physical lack of flexibility and balance.
    3) emotionally i am turbulent, Judiasm seems to encourage this turbulence. Not for everyone, but for me. I think Buddhism applied in a healthy constructive way would offset my own "volatility" and help me be who i **want** to be.
    4) I am a recovering major league pothead. Lucky for me, that's all i got into, not drinking, not commercial party drugs. just pot. and i quit a long time ago...best thing i ever did for myself and my family. But all my friends use it recreationally... like 100% of my friends. They love me cause i'm their safe legal sober driver. But i was ( past tense ) tempted every day, like all addicts are tempted. Judaism never discouraged me from using Pot. In fact many of my friends how use are Jewish mystics like me, and they love to use before bringing in the shabbos. As i was learning about Buddhism a few weeks ago, for the first time, i read about the 5 precepts. And ya know what? I stopped having daily cravings. Like they 100% stopped. and i was like. this is really cool. Why did they stop? i don't know? maybe i was a monk in a past life, and my soul was remembering it's vow. To me "why" doesn't matter. What matters is... maybe by practicing Buddhism i will be further encouraged to stay away from the POT forever... and i can keep on making my friends happy and being the clean sober driver... cause like i said... i never drink either... it was never my thing.

    So I hope this explains myself further to y'all who i hope will one day consider me friend-DF.

    hopefully i didn't offend,

    with much love and great respect,

    -DF-
     
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  10. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    Wow, that was quite an interesting read! Thanks.
     
  11. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi DustyFeet —

    Interesting read indeed. It did pose a couple of questions for me.

    I have written at length here on my views of this subject with regard to Buddhism (or rather with regards to popular and contemporary western ideas which I think are ill-founded. I am guided by Marco Pallis on this, a Tibetan Buddhist and a voice of the Sophia Perennis.)

    The question for me always revolves around 'what reincarnates?' and the paradoxes that arise is one assumes the individual soul (as an Abrahamic would have it) reincarnates, yet without any of the aspects that determine its individuality, and in effect is rewarded/punished for it knows not what.

    I'd be interested in any info you have on this. (Probably to be discussed elsewhere, if you wish.)

    +++

    On that the Buddha said:
    As an Abrahamic, I recognise the Uncreated.

    And is not the way to pursue God and not material gain?

    (Karma for me is a whole other debate.)
     
  12. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    I have also noticed how the Unborn, Uncreated, Unformed resonates with some views about God.

    On the other hand, this (Theravada Buddhist) concept is starkly impersonal, unlike Abrahamic descriptions of God.

    Very interesting parallels nonetheless!

    Now I'm in the mood to share my favorite scriptural quote about this concept, which is a verse summary of much of the passage Thomas posted:

    Where water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing:
    There the stars don’t shine, the sun isn’t visible.
    There the moon doesn’t appear. There darkness is not found.
    And when a sage, a brahman through sagacity, has realized [this] for himself,
    then from form & formless, from bliss & pain, he is freed.

    (from a text called the Bahiya Sutta, Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)
     
  13. DustyFeet

    DustyFeet New Member

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    please note: rich rewards discourages me from Buddhist practices.
     
  14. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    Treat the rewards like you would any other dark night of the soul then.
     
  15. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Dusty, you said

    i definitely believe in reincarnation. i have been learning jewish mystism for approx. 13 years, and reincarnation is a concept which is reflected again and again and i **believe** it.


    Reincarnation is an important part of my belief system too.

    Note: i am new to Buddhism... I only started learning about it by accident... and i fell in love with it.

    This is probably because you were Buddhist in a previous lifetime. I believe that, as soon as you came across Buddhism in this lifetime, you “remembered” it from your previous lifetime and you were attracted to it.

    in general, from what i gather about Buddhism... it is functionally opposite from Judaism.

    If you study the deep principles of both religions, you will see they are fundamentally the same.

    Why are Buddhism and Judaism functional opposites? Judaism is focused on attachment to G-d and attachment to the spiritual dimension of the material world.

    Buddhism is focused on detachment, there is no central G-d, the goal is to annihilate material attachments, where the end goal is nibbana? ( forgive my spelling, please )


    The two religions are fundamentally the same. However, some religions emphasize god-worship whereas other religions do not. This is an important different between modern-day Judaism and modern-day Buddhism. But if you study the deep principles of both religions, you will see that both religions agree on many of these points.

    There are different forms of Buddhism. Today's Buddhism is divided into Northern Buddhism and Southern Buddhism. The word “Nibbana” is from Southern Buddhism and the word “Nirvana” is from Northern Buddhism . The differences in spelling are not important. (You many be interested to study some of the differences between Northern Buddhism and Southern Buddhism.)

    ...if they can accustom their soul towards "Loving G-d", that even this preparation has tremendous value...

    There are different kinds of people. Some people like to worship God, so there are worship-oriented religions for these kinds of people But some people do not “need” to worship God, so there are non-worship-oriented religions for these kinds of people too. We need different kinds of religions for different kinds of people.

    i do not make the choice who is right who is wrong and i am not tempted... repeat... i am not tempted to execute my own justice on others. I doubt very much that this is the intention of the Buddah regarding karma ( to execute judgement on others ). but again. without a G-d executive, a person could fall into a trap of thinking that they, the individual, **needs** to right the wrongs of the world...

    So you are saying that if a person does not believe in God, or if a religion teaches that there is no God, then the idea of karma does not make sense because there is no God to deliver justice to people who make bad karma. I see where you are coming from. But I would say that “true” Buddhism does not say there is a God or there is no God, it is just not an important question in Buddhism. Buddhists do not worry about whether there is a God or not. The question is not important in Buddhism. But this does not mean (in “true” Buddhism) that Buddhism teaches there is no God who can punish people who make bad karma.

    Question one is asking if i am potentially dangerous and apply karma in a destructive manner.

    No one who believes in karma believes that it is human beings who decide what kind of karma is dealt out.

    And this is why i say that Buddhist Karma can be corrupted. Because: if i were a sick desperate person, a predatory criminal could latch onto my signs of distress, show me comfort and convince me to act out in a destructive manner against almost any perceived wrong-doer.

    No. According to karma, the predatory criminal would be punished for what he did, and karma would not be deceived in this way.

    In the minor, a Buddhist reincarnation and the goal for detachment may possibly encourage suicide.

    It does not.

    This is supported by learning about Robin William's struggles at the end of his life.

    Anyone who justifies suicide is going against the teachings of Buddhism.

    ...Judaism encourages joyful attachment to the spiritual dimension of the material world.

    But Buddhism teaches that being mistakenly attached to the material world may cause the person to remain in the material world when they should be moving on to the “heavenly” world. Being mistakenly attached to the material world is a quite involved topic.

    ...reincarnation means, if i die. i just come back again, and so .. why not kill myself or take risks with the health and safety of my the corporal "self" or others.

    Because these things will create bad karma for the person, and cause them more suffering in their next lifetime.

    ...but yoga... LORD help me.

    Yoga is more connected to Hinduism than Buddhism, but many yoga principles are also Buddhist principles.

    I hope that by applying myself to Buddhism not just yoga in a more spiritual and academic way, that i will stick with the yoga to get past the learning curve and my physical lack of flexibility and balance.

    In order for yoga to be truly beneficial, it needs to have a spiritual component. Such components can be found in Hinduism and Buddhism.

    emotionally i am turbulent, Judiasm seems to encourage this turbulence. Not for everyone, but for me. I think Buddhism applied in a healthy constructive way would offset my own "volatility" and help me be who i **want** to be.

    Buddhism specifically teaches these things. I would also add that you need to deal with your emotional turbulence before you can move onto enlightenment and then move onto Nirvana.

    ... maybe by practicing Buddhism i will be further encouraged to stay away from the POT forever...

    Buddhism definitely has non-addiction teachings.

    By the way, there is fair amount of literature written by Jews about being both Jewish and Buddhist, which you may want to search for and read.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Another interesting parallel:

    "Your Holiness," someone asked (the Dalai Lama), "your Buddhist tradition has so wonderful a way of overcoming suffering. What do you have to say to the Christian tradition that seems to be preoccupied with pain?" With his compassionate smile the Dalai Lama gave an answer that went straight to the common ground of the two traditions. "Suffering," he said, "is not overcome by leaving pain behind. Suffering is overcome by bearing pain for the sake of others." (Br David Steindl-Rast OSB, in his preface to Meister Eckhart, from Whom God Hid Nothing
     
  17. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Just watched a clip on YouTube.

    In an adaptation of Alice on Wonderland by Jonathan Miller, there's a scene where Alice, accompanied by a frog footman (John Bird), is knocking on the door of the kitchen, but can't get it.

    "I'll tell you what I'll do for you, nothing," the footman said. "That be any good for you?" He goes on. "I can't do it straight away, because I've got all these things cropping up. If I was to do nothing for you, I'd have to find the time to squeeze it in."

    Miller observes this bit of brilliant improvisation in that the footman is using the word 'nothing' as if it were 'something'.

    The theologian Denys Turner replies: Classic apophatic theology treats this issue in the sense that God is not some kind of thing, because if God were a kind of thing, God would be just one kind of thing among every other kind of thing, albeit a different kind of thing altogether.

    But in God we're not talking about some thing that's on the map of things, something in creation Rather we're talking about something that's entirely other than creation, and all created things. Something that we don't know anything about (outside of revelation), becaue we have no comparable thing to compare it to.

    So theologians understand, per Wittgenstein, how we can talk about things, but understand that what underlies things cannot itself be said. And that's what we call God.

    +++

    "There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical." (Wittgenstein, Notebooks, 6.522)
    Dionysius, the anonymous 6th century Syrian monk, founder in that sense of apophatic theology (hinted at in Paul and John) addressed this very matter in his 'Divine Theology', a dialogue that comes to a particular fruition in the works of Meister Eckhart. (As it does, in a different sense, in many other mystics' utterances and commentaries).

    +++

    What this reflects us back into is that while, on the one hand, 'detachment' is, according to Eckhart, the prince of virtues on the mystical path, this detachment cannot be absolute in the sense that the mystic has no attachment to anything at all, else s/he would have nothing in mind. Rather, the mystic must be involved and interested in all things equally; attached to all things without the desire ti possess them. S/he must be immanent – open – to all things in the way that God is immanent in and to creation.

    Without attachment, the mystic would have no aim, no goal, no purpose, no meaning, no reason to be, no question, no seeking, no path. Rather, the mystic is attached to all things, but first and foremost to their ontological source, which gives them their their true being, meaning, purpose and value.
     
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  18. DustyFeet

    DustyFeet New Member

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    i give all my extra money to charity. it's a beautiful practice is see most often from christians and chatholics. incredibly powerful and inspiring. Judiasm and Islam both speak about charity. For Jews it's called tzedakah for muslims it's called zakat. i think you will especially appreciate the islam approach because 'zakat' is one of their "5 pillars". 5 is special in jewish mystism... buddhists have 5 precepts. jews have 5 attributes of justice... there's an underlying symmetry that's beautiful.

    i am most familiar with jewish tzedakah, and i think it's beautiful because:

    1) it's the only mitzvah that operates independent of intention; if i give someone charity in anger, it still counts and is a valid completed mitzvah
    2) the amount of money given is less important; giving consistently is more important
    3) the giver is encouraged to remain hidden from the receiver and the receiver is encouraged to remain hidden from the giver
    4) a wealthy person is encouraged to run after the poor ( the source of this is a mystical tale of the two consecutive hebrew letters gimel and dalet )
    5) some people say, that charity is one way that the jewish people will merit the jewish messiah; in addition, another theory is that if all jews observer the shabbos properly all at once, that will also render the jewish messiah, therefore... charity is as important as observing shabbos
    6) chairty converts and sweetens transgressions and renders the "accusing" angels inert; a very powerful concept if it's true
    7) the word tzedakah could be deconstructed and understood as "feminine righteousness". "tzedek" is rightousness; a "tzadik" is a holy righteous person. Adding 'ah' sometime connotes feminine in hebrew ( not always, but sometimes, and this is not an authoritative approach, it is meaningful to me, maybe to others... calm yourselves rabbis, you know who you are ). And so, "tzedakah" could be considered feminine aka a nurturing form of righteousness.

    hmmm 7 things about charity... and jewish mysticism teaches that 7s are holy and treasured above...

    and in light of all of this... most jews i know never give any charity

    but i do

    we give a lot

    more and more each year

    and i'm always looking for new charities

    i've asked several friends this year for charities to include in my 2019 tzedakah project. please, feel free to post ideas here, or send them to me in my the profile... that is.. if i don't get the boot for exposing a certain animated rabbi as a bully... but i digress

    the interesting thing about charity is

    i have to say

    in my life, it's worked

    the more charity i give, the more successful i am financially. and this is something i hear from christinas about tithing? i think? i'm not super knowledgeable about christian practices. Maybe someone else can comment.

    but from what i have heard, the idea is... the more you give, the more you get... and in my life, it's true. hard to believe, but true for me.

    the other spiritual group that i borrow from in my practice of charity, is the navajo. they avoided money, and bartered for everything, and they avoided as many material comforts as possible. i think they believed this helped maintain their purity and assisted in their healthy constructive spiritual attachments. i assimilate this into my life in the form of: i don't charge anyone for anything anymore. i have enough, and anything i make, i give as gifts. any services i do, i do for free. and somehow... i always seem to make enough money from investments for me and my kids and wife. and once the kids are grown.. my wife and i could live in a tent, or in a hand made shack, and grow a beautiful garden, and live simply and hopefully in purity and balance with nature and with ourselves. and maybe we would give up spoken words for a while... to me this seems heavenly...

    and that's why the idea of a buddhist seeking rewards is such a turn-off. cause i understand buddhists as working to avoid material rewards. and the idea of chasing spiritual rewards is just... unholy to me and counter productive for me. if that's buddhism to you, cino... you go, my friend, and chase that dream... and if i'm wrong about buddhist detachment? fine? maybe it's not for me... no biggie.

    and btw, a dark night soul is high praise to me. darkness is not pejorative, my friend, darkness is not evil. darkness is the shade of a willow tree. darkness in the desert is a blessing. especially in pursuit, or in survival-evasion-resistance-escape... ya know... SERE :)

    with much love and great respect,

    -DF-
     
  19. DustyFeet

    DustyFeet New Member

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    venerable sir,

    i would be happy to research this and report back. if you can elaborate with more questions and/or specifics, that will help me focus. :)

    no pressure or rush from me...

    personally, i agree. i think pursuit of material gain interferes with my spiritual goals. but i have heard conflicting positions in Judaism about what it means when you meet someone who is materially successful. Some say it is a sign of holiness, some say it is a sign of unholiness.

    respectfully yours,

    -DF-
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
  20. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    Buddhism has this practice, you will be interested to learn: in Theravada Buddhism, it is called dana, "generosity". It's what the mendicant monks and nuns life off, after all, or the Buddha himself. Very foundational practice.

    In between the ethical precepts, generosity, and your thoughts about birth and existence, and the pros and cons of material belongings, you got the basics of (at least Theravada) Buddhism down nicely.

    Next on the syllabus: Wisdom! Encapsulated in the formula of the Four Noble Truths.

    Aw, that's very nice of you! And I'm not even Buddhist - just studied it for cherry-picking.

    But which kind of Buddhist do you mean? There are so many... Western converts tend to be into this kind of hard-core equanimous spiritual materialism you describe.

    I agree! It is not evil, the dark night of the soul. It is painful and confusing and humbling.

    Big Love!
    Cino
     

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