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Switch to Forum Live View Buddhist Service Anyone?
10 years ago  ::  May 20, 2008 - 12:49PM #1
ronnewmexico
Posts: 490
This post is by a layperson and a layperson with little spiritual knowledge or advancement, and not a qualifier as to what is Tibetan Buddhist thought as a lineage holder certainly is. Just a laypersons observations and comments.


In Tibetan Buddhism aleviateing bloated sense of self importance may quite a necessary part of the spiritual path. This may be done in very many means, prostration, mantra, prayers wheel useage, prayer and devotion and serveral others to include service to others.

This thread is about service to others(if anyone makes it into a thread on theism I will cease to reply and advice others to not as well)

I find it absolutely necessary being not a fan of the physical things, such as prostrations(having enough physicality in my daily life to suffice) to perform service. I create a self concept situation which alleviates to some extent through service, this self bloat and this directly effects more effective meditation

My personal form of service at the present time is community oriented political work, with specific direct aim. Though I have done many things as variable as cleaning out toilets at a homeless center to running a bookstore at a Kagyupa temple.

The question for discussion is what do you do?
Does your form of Buddhism emphesize service in any similiar manner?
Do you likewise find such service helps your meditation, helps you as well as others?

Or the inverse.

To qualify service does not include such mundane pursuits as running our mouths on internet boards but actual service to others, actual things that help others in real verifiable ways.
  .
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10 years ago  ::  May 20, 2008 - 2:51PM #2
vacchagotta
Posts: 298
I value service as you do.  I think we tend to think of service in terms of social volunteering, and these things are good, but there is also service as an attitude of mind and not just the hours of working for some organization or cause.  Helping when you can, and thinking of others' feelings (and acting compassionately on those thoughts) in our daily interactions.  I guess ultimately I'm talking about the four abidings of friendliness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.  So maybe I am saying service, while it has its own good, is best and most effective when we talk about it in the spiritual realm as the expression of or development of the four abidings.  This means there is truly good foundation and good result of service and does honor to the teachings of the Buddha.  In that way it can help meditation by calming and gladdening the mind in everyday activities so that when intensive meditation is undertaken there is less worry, anxiety, and conflict of conscience. 

What I'm getting at is service does not always lead to good, because sometimes it has bad roots.  Serving others does not always lessen egoistic self-regard, sometimes it inflates it.  "Look how good I am being, look how I am stooping to do this work that is beneath me out of the goodness of my heart"... you get the idea.  Or also we may serve people in ways that actually harm them, we help them to engage in harmful thoughts, speech, or action.  Maybe in that case we think we must erase our ego from the scene and help them as a way of equanimity, but we should hope that equanimity does not get in the way of true friendliness, friendliness that encourages others to do good and avoid wickedness.  In that case we shouldn't mistake our friendliness for ego and serve wickedness with what we think is equanimity but do what we can to not help the person harm themselves. 
Or finally we might serve with judgementalism and try to say that because I am helping you, you have to listen to my sermonizing or should consider my religion to be a superior one.  That would be a case of forgetting compassion and equanimity at the service of an imagined "friendliness" that is more of an ego-projection of my identity as a Buddhist. 

Just some thoughts.

in friendliness,
V.
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10 years ago  ::  May 20, 2008 - 3:25PM #3
ronnewmexico
Posts: 490
Sorry

To be clear I am talking about formal acts of service, not simply interacting with people in a compassionate manner and having good results, but actually engageing in a  activity with specific purpose of serving others. Could be personal as per personal action(calling a elected representative perhaps on a issue) or some such, but not just interacting in a compassionate way with others.

Acts of service, but not necessarily being just for a volunteer group but not just interacting routinesly  in a certain way also. AS I mention with the internet comment flapping our gums on the internet may serve in some fashion as compassion and may be conducted in a compassionate manner but service......this is generally not a formal act of service, that is with specific and primary intent of serving others. Could be I guess....but commonly is not  thought of as a act of service(in the oontext described a formal act of service).

To clarify.

On the second part...I find service in a formal sense(as what is being discussed) hardly ever leads to bloating our sense of self. Could be I guess(as described) but I personally have rarely seen it. Seems to reinforce the equality of all more than anything else.
And thusly may serve in Tibetan Buddhism in a equal fashion of sorts with other activities that reduce bloated sense of self. Not that that is a superior view.


So your school of Buddhism then does not consider such valuable in such manner and then does not generally emphasize such....is this what you are saying? If so what school of Buddhism is this?   

This all to my limited understanding.i
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10 years ago  ::  May 20, 2008 - 3:28PM #4
ronnewmexico
Posts: 490
I would assume then that the last question I pose is to the negative?
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10 years ago  ::  May 20, 2008 - 3:33PM #5
ronnewmexico
Posts: 490
i have personally never heard of Buddhists doing
f(formal) acts of service in this manner....

."Or finally we might serve with judgementalism and try to say that because I am helping you, you have to listen to my sermonizing or should consider my religion to be a superior one.
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10 years ago  ::  May 20, 2008 - 4:26PM #6
vacchagotta
Posts: 298
[QUOTE=ronnewmexico;512472]Sorry

To be clear I am talking about formal acts of service, not simply interacting with people in a compassionate manner and having good results, but actually engageing in a  activity with specific purpose of serving others. Could be personal as per personal action(calling a elected representative perhaps on a issue) or some such, but not just interacting in a compassionate way with others.

Acts of service, but not necessarily being just for a volunteer group but not just interacting routinesly  in a certain way also. AS I mention with the internet comment flapping our gums on the internet may serve in some fashion as compassion and may be conducted in a compassionate manner but service......this is generally not a formal act of service, that is with specific and primary intent of serving others. Could be I guess....but commonly is not  thought of as a act of service(in the oontext described a formal act of service).

To clarify.

On the second part...I find service in a formal sense(as what is being discussed) hardly ever leads to bloating our sense of self. Could be I guess(as described) but I personally have rarely seen it. Seems to reinforce the equality of all more than anything else.
And thusly may serve in Tibetan Buddhism in a equal fashion of sorts with other activities that reduce bloated sense of self. Not that that is a superior view.


So your school of Buddhism then does not consider such valuable in such manner and then does not generally emphasize such....is this what you are saying? If so what school of Buddhism is this?   

This all to my limited understanding.i[/QUOTE]

I'm just saying we should think of service on a deeper level than the  merely formal.  Anybody can sign up and do the work but that doesn't mean the mind is in condition of enlightenment factors.  I'm not saying what you are calling "formal service" are unnecessary, invalidated, or inherently dangerous to mind training.  But it in itself is not, in my opinion, what "service" should mean for the Buddhist.  Absent enlightenment factors, however, it's empty.  And by the way, all the egoisms I mention are things I have personally encountered in the sphere of "formal" service, and thats why I mentioned them. 

in friendliness,
V.
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10 years ago  ::  May 20, 2008 - 4:28PM #7
vacchagotta
Posts: 298
[QUOTE=ronnewmexico;512500]i have personally never heard of Buddhists doing
f(formal) acts of service in this manner....

."Or finally we might serve with judgementalism and try to say that because I am helping you, you have to listen to my sermonizing or should consider my religion to be a superior one.[/QUOTE]

It is funny how subtle these egoisms can be.

in friendliness,
V.
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10 years ago  ::  May 20, 2008 - 8:36PM #8
ronnewmexico
Posts: 490
So

I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it appears the answer to the three  Questions which is the purpose and intent of the thread is ..


The question for discussion is what do you do?
Does your form of Buddhism emphesize service in any similiar manner?
Do you likewise find such service helps your meditation, helps you as well as others?
   

Nothing  no, and no

For a point of differentiation as is somewhat expressed in question 2 what form of Buddhism then is this?

Perhaps I should have explicitedly stated that.

My personal observation judgeing by my personal experience is that it is next to impossible to inhance ones sense of self when performing a duty such as cleaning toilets frequented by the homeless who occasionally suffer not only from poor aim, but sometimes a lack of understanding of basic plumbing principal  such as how to differentiate between a toilet and a sink. But I digress' as interesting as that may be, the intent of this thread is to answer the three questions. After that I or other may bloviate or prostilicize to our hearts content.  .
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10 years ago  ::  May 20, 2008 - 8:38PM #9
ronnewmexico
Posts: 490
And perhaps then this thread will go unanswered, though viewed which is a answer of sorts in itself.
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10 years ago  ::  May 20, 2008 - 11:25PM #10
vacchagotta
Posts: 298
If you didn't want to put words in my mouth, then why did you?

You should read more carefully before coming to your conclusions.  I actually can't see how my posts possibly could have suggested "nothing, no and no" to you.   Rereading them, it seems impossible to me, yet you accomplished it. 

And yes, even volunteering to clean toilets can inflate the ego.  It's not the nature of the job that matters, it's the attitude of the mind.  I've literally known it to happen in that specific case.  I'm not exaggerating when I say I've never seen a job so humbling that it is anywhere close to impossible for the egoic mind to use for self-inflation.  The egoic mind can turn anything, literally anything to the purposes of its conceit, not any less in activities that are supposed to be "virtuous".  The Buddha was aware of this and spoke to the danger.  Any religious pursuit, and I think of service be it public or private as a very potentially religious pursuit, can paradoxically (or not so paradoxically) serve the pride of the pursuer if they are so inclined.  Fame and gain, he called it.  I'm just saying in our service we have to be aware of this and be purehearted in the four abidings.  It would be quite dangerous to think we are immune or that the nature of the activity we are involved in somehow precludes the temptation of pride. 

Not wanting to be a total downer, I have to conclude by saying that fortunately for us the enlightened mind can alternatively turn anything to the purposes of bodhicitta.

in friendliness,
V.
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