Buddhism, mindfulness and wellbeing

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The Old Man and the Scorpion



One morning, after he had finished his meditation, an old man opened his eyes and saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the water. As the scorpion was washed closer to the tree, the old man quickly stretched himself out on one of the long roots that branched out into the river and reached out to rescue the drowning creature. As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Instinctively the man withdrew his hand. A minute later, after he had regained his balance, he stretched himself out again on the roots to save the scorpion. This time the scorpion stung him so badly with its poisonous tail that his hand became swollen and bloody and his face contorted with pain.

At that moment, a passerby saw the old man stretched out on the roots struggling with the scorpion and shouted: "Hey, stupid old man, what's wrong with you? Only a fool would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, evil creature. Don't you know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion?"

The old man turned his head. Looking into the stranger's eyes he said calmly, "My friend, just because it is the scorpion's nature to sting, that does not change my nature to save."


---

Was the old man foolish?

I think this is a story of Metta - unreserved loving-kindness towards all beings, regardless of who they are. Friend, relative, coworker, total stranger, it doesn't matter who. Everyone deserves a little loving-kindness. This is the way I understand Metta, though I may be wrong! :)

For example, there may be a friend or relative in our life with whom enmity has developed. Someone we may have fallen out with after an argument or disagreement. What if we showed some kindness towards this person, even though something inside is telling us that they do not deserve it? Quite often, this person will be feeling the very same way about us. But if we take the first step towards reconstructing the bridge of friendship, who knows? Maybe rebuilding halfway will motivate the other person to build their half towards us.









Anyway, that's my thought for the day. Sending some loving-kindness for the day ahead to everyone on the forum.

X
 
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Milarepa's Last Testament
as told by Lama Surya Das



After the enlightened cave-yogi and songmaster Milarepa left this world, a scrap of rice paper was found inscribed with his handwriting. His ascetic followers were astounded, for it stated that beneath a nearby boulder was buried all the gold that ascetic Mila had hoarded during his life.

A few eager disciples dug around and under that large rock. In the earth they discovered a ragged cloth bundle. Opening the knotted bundle with shaking hands, they discovered only a lump of dried shit.

There was another scribbled note as well. It said: "If you understand my teaching so little that you actually believed I ever valued or hoarded gold, you are truly heirs to my shit."

The note was signed "The Laughing Vajra, Milarepa."



:D
 
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I don't know about anyone else but that last story made me chuckle.

This thread is also about Buddhism, so I was wondering if there's anyone out there who is a Buddhist or perhaps has thought about becoming a Buddhist and decided against? If so, what were your reasons? Is there anything specific about Buddhism that caused you to abandon the idea? I'm not a Buddhist myself and I must admit I wouldn't be too keen on shaving my head (assuming that's even a requirement for men!). Is Buddism a religion or is it more a form of spirituality? (Or does it even matter if people think of it as a religion or spiritual?)

Any thoughts, insights or input would be appreciated. :)
 
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Any thoughts, insights or input would be appreciated. :)
In my view Buddhism is a Religion. There are people that practise it that are spiritual - & there are spiritual practises within it, same really as any religion. There are also the more esoteric/mystical/spiritual traditions within all religions - Gnosticism, Sufism, Kabbalah, etc - just as there is esoteric Buddhism, as well as all the Shamanic traditions. i think a lot depends on individual study/practise/awareness/advancement.

But you don't necessarily need a religion to follow spiritual principles/practises. You don't need to be a Buddhist to meditate.
 
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The Way



A person asking Ch'an Master Wei K'uan, "Where is the Way?"

"Right before your eyes."

"Why do I not see it?"

"You do not see it because you have [the notion of] a self."

"Because I have [the notion of] a self, I do not see it. Has the Master seen it?"

"[The notion of] 'you,' in addition to [the notion of] a self, further keeps you from seeing."

"If there is neither [the notion of] 'you' nor [the notion of] a self, can it be seen?"

"If there is neither 'you' nor 'a self,' then who wants to see it?"
 
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i'm not entirely convinced of 'no-self'/ego-less states, but then i'm not enlightened.

In my view there is a higher self/deeper identity. i think that Buddhism can be highly confusing in this way - there is a self/identity. Yes, it's good to withdraw identification from the 'thinking mind' - But to express that as 'no-self' - is imo misleading.
 
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I'm not sure either. Maybe using mindfulness is a way to notice when the ego-mind is at work, and continuing to practice mindfulness will lead us down the path towards an ego-less or Buddha-mind?
 
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I'm not sure either. Maybe using mindfulness is a way to notice when the ego-mind is at work, and continuing to practice mindfulness will lead us down the path towards an ego-less or Buddha-mind?
Can i be bold? i disagree with a lot of what the Buddha said. i'm not a Buddhist.

Adyashanti is the best Zen teacher i've come across. He cites the ego as being identification with a collection of repeating thoughts/patterns about the self (thinking is not the problem/issue, rather identification with the thinking mind is). 'His' main practise is to withdraw identification from that. The realisation is that we are Not the body/mind - But rather 'conscious spirit'. To my understanding, that doesn't mean that we don't have a self - Yes, we're not the body/mind (ego) - But we are a spiritual Being. That is how i'd see it anyway.

How many people do you know/come across that don't primarily identify as the body/mind?

It sounds a very simple proposition/practise/realisation - & it is - But to 'attain' such a realisation - Well, incredibly few really do, even the majority of 'spiritual' practitioners are caught up in ego in one way or another. Incredibly few take the final step.
 
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Please, be as bold as you like.

i disagree with a lot of what the Buddha said.
But you do agree with some things?

How many people do you know/come across that don't primarily identify as the body/mind?
Admittedly, no one I know personally.

Adyashanti is the best Zen teacher i've come across. He cites the ego as being identification with a collection of repeating thoughts/patterns about the self (thinking is not the problem/issue, rather identification with the thinking mind is). 'His' main practise is to withdraw identification from that. The realisation is that we are Not the body/mind - But rather 'conscious spirit'. To my understanding, that doesn't mean that we don't have a self - Yes, we're not the body/mind (ego) - But we are a spiritual Being. That is how i'd see it anyway.
This does make a lot of sense. We need the mind for everyday life, and the mind houses the ego. So perhaps it's unrealistic to strive for an egoless state, whatever that may mean? Not sure. Simply striving to be more humble would go a long way in my opinion. Does Adyashanti's view differ greatly from what the Buddha said?
 
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But you do agree with some things?

This does make a lot of sense. We need the mind for everyday life, and the mind houses the ego. So perhaps it's unrealistic to strive for an egoless state, whatever that may mean? Not sure. Simply striving to be more humble would go a long way in my opinion. Does Adyashanti's view differ greatly from what the Buddha said?
In essence - every genuine spiritual teacher has basically said the same thing. Think it depends on what flavour/form of teaching you want to go with?

The mind is a tool, & it has it's uses. i think that people get very confused about ego & mind. Any genuine spiritual path/practise; is concerned with spiritual awakening/awareness. You can frame it in a million different ways. It isn't really about the intellect, but rather direct experience of truth/reality, that the real I is not the body/mind. i don't know how else to put it, & it's not something that can be explained in words, only pointed to. i feel it does require a lot of work in most cases, but you can 'get there' really by a myriad of teachings/paths - & i'm not 'there' with it all either.

Very much people do 'attain/achieve/realise' ego-less states - it is simply that your no longer identified with the thinking mind; the mind is in service to the conscious spirit (not the other way around).

Some of the more modern teachers i like are Mooji, Adyashanti, & Eckhart Tolle (tons of their stuff on you tube, & also many other enlightened teachers on-line). i've also got a lot from the past life/inter life research. Some of the older writings/teachings need a lot of work & study, but are just as valid. The Upanishads & Bhagavad Gita, the Theosophical texts, The Tibetan Buddhist teachings, there is a lot of stuff out there. Also a lot of the mystical/esoteric teachings; Gnostic, Sufi & Kabbalistic - But there are many others too. Feel it's a case of finding something that resonates with you personally, & finding a specific teaching/practise to follow.

i think it takes a lot of commitment & dedication, but any movement towards a more spiritual practice is i feel very valid.
 
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Recently like CPU I've had a lot of benefits from studying the latest consciousness experiences and inter-life investigations from the liked of Pim van Lommel, Eben Alexander and Michael Newton (in that order). If you start from a strongly materialistic and scientific starting point it can really change the way you view the world, much for the better. So I would definitely advise part-time Buddhists, or those who follow meditation but not a spiritual practice, to look into that.

It's an interesting question, the whole plurality of religions. I've come to believe that the modern teachings are an improvement on the old, if you can find a modern mystic who is willing to teach and talk about his experiences you are likely to get a cleaner, more sophisticated transmission from the source than if you go back far in history. That is not to say that there is nothing to be learnt from older traditions such as Sufism or Buddhism or their ancient masters, but keep in mind that they come from a different age of mind, and what they wrote and said was intended to teach different kinds of minds than those produced by the modern educational establishment, which definitely leaves it's traces in you. Zen is probably an exception, where the old Zen koans are often as effective as the modern. Osho is interesting as a teacher as well, since he discussed many old traditions from his more modern viewpoint.

Whether all spiritual teachers genuinely have tried to teach the same thing, that I doubt. I suspect they are differing streams in spirituality, which can teach your higher self different things, and what you find most beneficial is probably going to be what resonates with you and moves you. If you feel you are being guided to something that is an impulse you should follow.
 
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i'm not entirely convinced of 'no-self'/ego-less states, but then i'm not enlightened.

In my view there is a higher self/deeper identity. i think that Buddhism can be highly confusing in this way - there is a self/identity. Yes, it's good to withdraw identification from the 'thinking mind' - But to express that as 'no-self' - is imo misleading.
I don't agree 100% with Buddhism or with what is attributed to the Buddha. Having said that, I think there is a big difference between self and soul. For me, not having a self means we dont have an independent self. No man is an island so to speak. Our selves are integrated into everyone elses self.

And like you were hinting at, I believe, the concept of non-self is also about our attitude towards ourselves. Once we stop striving for I, me, mine then we gain peace of mind.

IMO, Buddha acknowledged a soul in which he called it the buddha nature.
 
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IMO, Buddha acknowledged a soul in which he called it the buddha nature.
i don't know why he was so cadgey about more spiritual matters? OK, as a system of self realisation/enlightenment/development - great - But it appears very much to be like some kind of in depth existential philosophy. i find Buddhism annoying tbh, but i'm far from any kind of an expert on it all.
 
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I take what I need from Buddhism. Awareness and appreciation. Equanimity. Reduction of attachments and aversions. Bridling our chaotic mind.
 
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I take what I need from Buddhism. Awareness and appreciation. Equanimity. Reduction of attachments and aversions. Bridling our chaotic mind.
Sure - i feel that's the thing to do with anything - take what resonates, & what makes sense to us.

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

- Buddha.
 
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won't vodka do the same trick?
In a way yes, same with insanity - you are out of the mind - there are correlations/similarities (which is where the spiritual emergence/emergency stuff comes in) - But one has dropped below the mind, the other has tamed the mind/transcended the mind. There are differences within such states.
 
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i don't know why he was so cadgey about more spiritual matters? OK, as a system of self realisation/enlightenment/development - great
You know, someone once asked Osho this in one of the discourses. If I remember correctly, his answer was along these lines: that the esoteric is mainly a distraction from the task at hand in the here and now, and that many who seek that knowledge are motivated with a lust for power. People who had had their own glimpse into that realm should come to see him for one to one guidance. He did speak a little about the body's subtle energies and the different bodies in another lecture, but that was about it.

It struck me recently that this may be one of the things that enlightened teachers do, provide just enough material on the spiritual to spur development. If you read carefully through some of the case studies in Michael Newtons books where they talk about the reason for the block in memory between your past lives and in between lives, and your life on earth, it implies something similar.

Sure - i feel that's the thing to do with anything - take what resonates, & what makes sense to us
I've thought quite a bit about this, and it's probably unavoidable to do this to a certain extent. But there is a risk of ending up with a kind of quilt of beliefs and traditions, without partaking to a great extent of any one. That is fine, it can be beautiful, but you need to realise that you're taking your own development in your hands to a greater extent than you might otherwise.

It's a kind of "butterfly experience", where you float from flower to flower but only partake of the surface pollen of each one. Often the deeper lessons of a spiritual tradition take a certain amount of self discipline to develop, and you may need to initially take some things on board that don't immediately resonate, until things become clear. But that goes beyond book learning and study, into prolonged personal experience that may take a year or more to sink in.

What I'd say is be open to the impulse. If you really feel drawn to something, it may be good to go with it for an extended period.
 
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It struck me recently that this may be one of the things that enlightened teachers do, provide just enough material on the spiritual to spur development. If you read carefully through some of the case studies in Michael Newtons books where they talk about the reason for the block in memory between your past lives and in between lives, and your life on earth, it implies something similar.
Yup - be here now - it's as much about presence/embodiment, about being fully present, as it is about any esoteric of spiritual knowledge. We're here to live our lives, to learn, grow & experience.

What I'd say is be open to the impulse. If you really feel drawn to something, it may be good to go with it for an extended period.
i know what i need to do - Focus on stilling the mind & going within - & dropping all the different paths & teachings.
 
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Thanks for the replies. I feel like my questions have been answered and then some. There's a lot here to take in and a good many reading opportunities have arisen. So I'll stop any further enquiries for the time being and look more into this myself. As you say CPU - it's not something that can be put into words, only pointed to.

If you feel you are being guided to something that is an impulse you should follow.
I'm currently feeling this way about Buddhism. I looked at the website for the nearest Buddhist centre and it says all are welcome. So I'll head there at some point in the near future and learn what I can. They do hold meditation sessions, so it might be worth my going there just for that. I've never done group meditation before but I have wanted to. And it would certainly help me to be a bit more social, which is never a bad thing. Not that I don't get my fair share of social opportunities, just that they all seem to revolve around the drinking of alcohol, which isn't great when you're a t-totalist! :)
 
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