Book: Pema Chödrön - No Time to Lose.

This book is a commentary on “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva. Although this classic text was written twelve centuries ago, Pema Chödrön asserts in her introduction that it “remains remarkably relevant for our times”. She says: “I regard this text as an instruction manual for extending ourselves to others, a guidebook for compassionate action…we can read it to encourage our wisdom and compassion to grow stronger…”

Her introduction concludes with “We have no time to lose. When I look at the state of the world today, I know his message could not possibly be more timely.”

s.
 
Developing a Clear Intention (verses 1 – 36).

Bodhi means awake, chitta means mind. Bodhichitta, “awakened mind”, holds the key to happiness and peace, according to the Buddha. It has two aspects, intention and active; aspiration followed by practice.

Aspiration bodhicitta “bears rich fruit”, as it leads to the realisation that selfless action liberates us from fear and sorrow. This is what Pema calls the “happiness of egolessness.”

Active bodhicitta means to work on our own behaviours, our conditioned habits that cause unhappiness yet we seem doomed to repeat over and over (samsara) “…we have to work compassionately with our own unfortunate tendencies.”


Pema Chödrön has a very clear style of writing and skillfully explains and expands upon the verses of the original text, whilst making regular references to everyday situations we experience today. I’m enjoying this book very much.

s.
 
Preparing the Ground (Ch. 2 verses 1 – 65).

This chapter begins to introduce the practices that prepare the mind and heart for awakening. These are (briefly) offerings, prostrations and confessions. Confessions involve the reviewing of sins, a term that is culturally loaded in the west. Instead, the Tibetan word dikpa is translated by Trungpa Rinpoche as “neurotic crime” rather than sin. Without reviewing our past we will continue to reinforce our “neurotic crimes”. This perhaps is being punished by our sins, rather than for them.

Shantideva then goes on to shock us into considering how fleeting our lives are, yet we live them as if we are immortal. Pema says that “Shantideva infers that seeking refuge in the ungraspable, inconceivable heart and mind of bodhicitta will pay off at the time of our deaths.”

This chapter has a lot about sin and confession in it, which in my ignorance of Tibetan Buddhism, I was quite surprised by. So a note of comparative religion there!

s.
 
Hi Snoopy. This post bring Tao Te Ching 1 to my mind...
Preparing the Ground (Ch. 2 verses 1 – 65).

This chapter begins to introduce the practices that prepare the mind and heart for awakening. These are (briefly) offerings, prostrations and confessions. Confessions involve the reviewing of sins, a term that is culturally loaded in the west. Instead, the Tibetan word dikpa is translated by Trungpa Rinpoche as “neurotic crime” rather than sin. Without reviewing our past we will continue to reinforce our “neurotic crimes”. This perhaps is being punished by our sins, rather than for them.
"...Always without desire we must be found,
If its deep mystery we would sound;
But if desire always within us be,
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see..."

Shantideva then goes on to shock us into considering how fleeting our lives are, yet we live them as if we are immortal. Pema says that “Shantideva infers that seeking refuge in the ungraspable, inconceivable heart and mind of bodhicitta will pay off at the time of our deaths.”
"The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and
unchanging Tao..."

This chapter has a lot about sin and confession in it, which in my ignorance of Tibetan Buddhism, I was quite surprised by. So a note of comparative religion there!
"...The name that can be named is not the enduring and
unchanging name...."

Sorry if this is wandering too far off topic, and that it is both slippery and fuzzy, (not to mention nearly ungraspable.) :eek:
 
Developing a Clear Intention (verses 1 – 36).
Active bodhicitta means to work on our own behaviours, our conditioned habits that cause unhappiness yet we seem doomed to repeat over and over (samsara) “…we have to work compassionately with our own unfortunate tendencies.”

Excellent point. This resonates with some of the work I am doing in my own life at the moment. I may have to read this book someday.
 
Sorry if this is wandering too far off topic, and that it is both slippery and fuzzy, (not to mention nearly ungraspable.) :eek:


I should point the finger for going off topic?! :p Without the book you can just use my outline as a springboard of course. Feel free, I was beginning to think I'd set myself this task for my own benefit! In a dash now, but will come back to this again in a day or two.

s.
 
Excellent point. This resonates with some of the work I am doing in my own life at the moment. I may have to read this book someday.

There's no time like the present. Literally. :)

OK, I'll read you extrapolate!

s.
 
So samsara does not have to mean the literal wandering forever in cyclic rebirths, it can also be taken to mean this "endless" (i.e. cyclic) repetition of unskilful behaviours.

s.
 
So samsara does not have to mean the literal wandering forever in cyclic rebirths, it can also be taken to mean this "endless" (i.e. cyclic) repetition of unskilful behaviours.

s.
Hmm.
Instead, the Tibetan word dikpa is translated by Trungpa Rinpoche as “neurotic crime” rather than sin. Without reviewing our past we will continue to reinforce our “neurotic crimes”. This perhaps is being punished by our sins, rather than for them.

Well, isn't doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results a pretty good demonstration of insanity, or a "neurotic crime," as
Trungpa Rinpoche puts it?

 

Well, isn't doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results a pretty good demonstration of insanity, or a "neurotic crime," as
Trungpa Rinpoche puts it?


I'm not sure we're expecting different results neccesarily, we aren't analysing our behaviour and outcomes in order to affect a change. I think what you suggest would mean we are all insane. :eek:

s.
 
I'm not sure we're expecting different results neccesarily, we aren't analysing our behaviour and outcomes in order to affect a change. I think what you suggest would mean we are all insane. :eek:

s.

We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Didn't Buddha say something about 'purify the chitta?' ;)
 

We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Didn't Buddha say something about 'purify the chitta?' ;)

I wouldn't put it past him. ;)

I'm afraid the Goethe notion doesn't exactly resonate with me...

s.
 
Hi Snoopy. This post bring Tao Te Ching 1 to my mind...

"...Always without desire we must be found,
If its deep mystery we would sound;
But if desire always within us be,
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see..."

"The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and
unchanging Tao..."


"...The name that can be named is not the enduring and
unchanging name...."

Yes, the Tao and bodhicitta do seem to be both referencing the ultimate, the ineffable. A good comparison, I think sg.

s.
 
Transcending Hesitation (Ch. 3 verses 1 – 34).

Chapter 3 of The Way of the Bodhisattva is the final one on preparation, following on from offerings, prostrations and confessions. The final four practices are rejoicing, requesting the teachers to present the dharma, asking them to remain with us, and dedicating the merit.

Regarding rejoicing, for me, Chödrön makes a good insight that at first may seem rather paradoxical. Essentially she points out that the practicing of “positives” can demonstrate to us the level of “negatives” still within us, to act as a barometer of our practice. So rejoicing in the happiness of others can highlight the envy that still resides within us. Likewise, practising generosity shows us how much we still hold back and practising patience illustrates to us the level of anger that we can still be holding onto.

Regarding dedicating merit, Chödrön notes that this word / term is problematic for some westerners. According to Trungpa Rinpoche merit cannot be understood with a business-deal mentality, it’s not like putting away savings for the future; it is the opposite of this, it is the giving up of possessiveness. “Merit can only be accumulated by letting go.”

The final fourteen verses of chapter 3 are known as the “bodhisattva vow.” This is the step by step, constantly renewable intention to awaken bodhicitta for the benefit of all sentient beings; (even though this may be unachievable). (As an aside these fourteen verses do not contain what I know as the bodhisattva vow, which is obviously how I’ve come now to see that it varies across the Mahayana; but the spirit is of course the same). According to Shantideva, the commitment to this spiritual path is what makes us bodhisattvas, we’re already “the buddha’s child and heir.” This contrasts with some schools of thought in which this doesn’t occur until off in the distant future.

Every morning Chödrön recites the two verses (23 and 24) that constitute the heart of the bodhisattva vow, the commitment to “on-the job training” as she calls it:

“Just as all the buddhas of the past
Embraced the awakened attitude of mind,
And in the precepts of the bodhisattvas
Step by step abode and trained,

Just so, and for the benefit of beings,
I will also have this attitude of mind,
And in those precepts, step by step,
I will abide and train myself.”

s.
 
Transcending Hesitation (Ch. 3 verses 1 – 34).

Chapter 3 of The Way of the Bodhisattva is the final one on preparation, following on from offerings, prostrations and confessions. The final four practices are rejoicing, requesting the teachers to present the dharma, asking them to remain with us, and dedicating the merit.

Regarding rejoicing, for me, Chödrön makes a good insight that at first may seem rather paradoxical. Essentially she points out that the practicing of “positives” can demonstrate to us the level of “negatives” still within us, to act as a barometer of our practice. So rejoicing in the happiness of others can highlight the envy that still resides within us. Likewise, practising generosity shows us how much we still hold back and practising patience illustrates to us the level of anger that we can still be holding onto.
This part reminds me of The Five Buddha Wisdom Families.
You did say she was a Tibetan nun, right?

Regarding dedicating merit, Chödrön notes that this word / term is problematic for some westerners. According to Trungpa Rinpoche merit cannot be understood with a business-deal mentality, it’s not like putting away savings for the future; it is the opposite of this, it is the giving up of possessiveness. “Merit can only be accumulated by letting go.”
Back to the Tao Te Ching 1:
"...Always without desire we must be found,
If its deep mystery we would sound;
But if desire always within us be,
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see..."​
 
This part reminds me of The Five Buddha Wisdom Families.
You did say she was a Tibetan nun, right?

I did. And I agree, I think you're right to make this comparison. Also I think you're managing to jump ahead somewhat, you precocious child :)p) cos the next chapter expands on this. I'm just reading it now, so how about you read through all your link (it is 43 pages!), I'll read and post on the next chapter and then we can meet back up here again? How about that? :)

s.
 
Whenever you are ready, Snoopy. (Meanwhile, I'm going to see if I can find a copy of Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva on the web. :)

Well, heck. That was easy:
Shantideva Online ::: Your Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life

Most excellent! That practically makes this a book group! (Is two a quorum for a group :confused:)

No reading ahead cos that's cheating! I'll post on the next chapter in the next day or two...:)

(when I've gone through all my scribbles in the margins...tut tut...)

s.
 
Using Our Intelligence (Ch. 4 verses 1 – 48).

Chapters 4 to 6 are intended to provide methods to ensure that the passion for bodhichitta does not decline. This chapter focuses in particular on two topics: attentiveness and working skillfully with emotions.

Attentiveness helps us to deal with our attachments. We can all be habitually attached to strong emotions, that invariably lead to suffering (such an emotion is known in Sanskrit as a klesha). If we do not deal with them they will cause us to act unintelligently. They result in the likes of aggression, jealousy and envy. They can however be diffused by our own attentiveness (which is a significant component of self-reflection). Attentiveness helps us to refrain from the repetition of the same mistakes, which otherwise reinforce unskillful habitual behaviours.

Chödrön says: “From moment to moment, we can choose how we relate to our emotions. This power of choice gives us freedom, and it would be crazy not to take advantage of it.”

Shantideva then details the five faults of the kleshas, the problematic aspects of these “defiled emotions.” These are: we are enslaved by them; we welcome them (as familiar); without attentiveness they will continue to harm us for a very long time; give kleshas an inch and they’ll take a mile; and finally as long as people are enslaved by them there will never be peace in the world. As an (ex-) prince in the warrior tradition he uses analogies of war and says that we need to use weapons of determination, intelligent awareness and compassion to defeat kleshas.

Chödrön says that there are three attitudes that prevent us from receiving a continual flow of the Buddha’s blessings. She compares them to three pots: a full pot, a pot with poison in it and a pot with a hole in the bottom. The full pot is a mind full of opinions; we know it all; our opinions and ideas are all fixed in place and so we are unable to receive anything new or question our assumptions. The pot with poison in is a cynical and judgmental mind that allows nothing to challenge our righteous, dualistic stance. The pot with a hole in it is a distracted mind; our body is present but our mind is not in the present, it is lost in thoughts elsewhere.

This analogy reminded me of a Zen story from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones compiled by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki:

A university professor went to meet Nan-in, a Japanese Zen Master, to learn about Zen. Nan-in served tea; he poured the professor’s cup full but then kept on pouring. The professor watched until he could contain himself no longer and blurted out “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

s.
 
Back
Top