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2 years ago  ::  Apr 23, 2012 - 6:49PM #91
Ferretling
Posts: 254

I would like to add this in regard to the ice cream example:


The way the Orthodox Christian dealt with the craving for ice cream and the comment that God gives us the ability to rise above the craving do indeed sound familiar, but only because that was how I was taught as a child growing up Roman Catholic to deal with things like craving. But I want to break this down from my Zen perspective.


I was thinking the other day about how great an ice cream cone would taste––especially a dark chocolate one from the gelato place downtown.



There's nothing actually wrong with this. Wanting an ice cream cone in and of itself does not necessarily lead to suffering any more than an itch on the nose leads to suffering. It might; it might not.


The more I thought about this the more is wanted to go get one.  Finally, the urge was so great I made a special trip downtown to indulge myself.



Here's where my practice differs. I do not just push the desire back, stifling it until it becomes unbearable. I acknowledge it and then either indulge if I can and want to or I do not indulge. Either way, I let it go. This is what my meditation practice is all about.


For about five minutes the pleasure was great!! Then, it was finished!



Pleasure is an impermanent state. That does not make it bad. But we shouldn't expect it to last.


In fact, since I had chosen a double dip cone, I was feeling a little heavy in the stomach and wishing I had only ordered a single dip.



I do not know why she chose a double-dip cone. It might have been because she had quashed the craving until it became unbearable and this caused her to want more than she could really eat. Or it could have simply been her misjudging how much she could comfortably eat. So it is either an issue of what happens when desire is stifled and held on to or simple lack of mindfulness. However, the discomfort itself does not have to lead to dukkha.

This is how we are distracted in life.  We have one desire after another which when satisfied only leeds to a let down and then to another desire.  This is what causes such turmoil and busyness in our lives––these unending desires.



I do not have much issue with this statement as it stands.

God has given us the ability to control these desires. If we can lift our minds above the level of desires we will find that we can observe them coming and going.  Then, we can be mindful and use our free will to make wise choices. When we have a life in God, our mind is uplifted to this higher level through the Sprit. We seek out the pleasure of God instead of pleasures in short lived earthly things.



See, now here I have issues. First of all, yes, things and "earthly pleasures" can cause distraction. But the real issue, in my mind, is not to avoid them, renounce them, or to rise above them. The thing to do in my mind is to enjoy them in moderation, and appreciate the fleeting pleasure and joy to be found of them. A cup of tea? An ice cream cone? There's nothing wrong with these. There's nothing wrong with enjoying these. The only problem is the clinging to the pleasure, the thing, the disappointment if the pleasure seems too short. In my practice, we appreciate what is for the time that it is with us, whether that be for the entirety of our lives or for the time it takes to lick down an ice cream cone. Enjoy, let go. It is what it is, and there's nothing wrong with appreciating that.


Seeking out pleasure in some eternal "God" is no more and no less of an attachment than going downtown because we "need" an ice cream cone.


So not really that much alike, actually.

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 23, 2012 - 7:10PM #92
Bob_the_Lunatic
Posts: 3,458

Apr 23, 2012 -- 6:49PM, Ferretling wrote:


I would like to add this in regard to the ice cream example:


The way the Orthodox Christian dealt with the craving for ice cream and the comment that God gives us the ability to rise above the craving do indeed sound familiar, but only because that was how I was taught as a child growing up Roman Catholic to deal with things like craving. But I want to break this down from my Zen perspective.


I was thinking the other day about how great an ice cream cone would taste––especially a dark chocolate one from the gelato place downtown.



There's nothing actually wrong with this. Wanting an ice cream cone in and of itself does not necessarily lead to suffering any more than an itch on the nose leads to suffering. It might; it might not.


The more I thought about this the more is wanted to go get one.  Finally, the urge was so great I made a special trip downtown to indulge myself.



Here's where my practice differs. I do not just push the desire back, stifling it until it becomes unbearable. I acknowledge it and then either indulge if I can and want to or I do not indulge. Either way, I let it go. This is what my meditation practice is all about.


For about five minutes the pleasure was great!! Then, it was finished!



Pleasure is an impermanent state. That does not make it bad. But we shouldn't expect it to last.


In fact, since I had chosen a double dip cone, I was feeling a little heavy in the stomach and wishing I had only ordered a single dip.



I do not know why she chose a double-dip cone. It might have been because she had quashed the craving until it became unbearable and this caused her to want more than she could really eat. Or it could have simply been her misjudging how much she could comfortably eat. So it is either an issue of what happens when desire is stifled and held on to or simple lack of mindfulness. However, the discomfort itself does not have to lead to dukkha.

This is how we are distracted in life.  We have one desire after another which when satisfied only leeds to a let down and then to another desire.  This is what causes such turmoil and busyness in our lives––these unending desires.



I do not have much issue with this statement as it stands.

God has given us the ability to control these desires. If we can lift our minds above the level of desires we will find that we can observe them coming and going.  Then, we can be mindful and use our free will to make wise choices. When we have a life in God, our mind is uplifted to this higher level through the Sprit. We seek out the pleasure of God instead of pleasures in short lived earthly things.



See, now here I have issues. First of all, yes, things and "earthly pleasures" can cause distraction. But the real issue, in my mind, is not to avoid them, renounce them, or to rise above them. The thing to do in my mind is to enjoy them in moderation, and appreciate the fleeting pleasure and joy to be found of them. A cup of tea? An ice cream cone? There's nothing wrong with these. There's nothing wrong with enjoying these. The only problem is the clinging to the pleasure, the thing, the disappointment if the pleasure seems too short. In my practice, we appreciate what is for the time that it is with us, whether that be for the entirety of our lives or for the time it takes to lick down an ice cream cone. Enjoy, let go. It is what it is, and there's nothing wrong with appreciating that.


Seeking out pleasure in some eternal "God" is no more and no less of an attachment than going downtown because we "need" an ice cream cone.


So not really that much alike, actually.




I just wanted to touch on this, directed at you ferret, I haven't found theists to have developed any listening skills:   Here is an example of the diversity of Buddhism, however note:  I doubt any of them (except Pure Land) would agree with the above description as being a "similarity", as it is not.


Here is why in my sect, which also differs from your view:  First, there is no "mindfulness", that is... you don't get rid of weeds by cutting their heads off-you must get the roots.  This means, one has to change their life, their karma-such that their desires transform.  

For example, I once mentioned to Bob0 that there are no rules in my sect.  I understand the truth of it:  A Pure Teaching, needs NO rules as it should arouse the wisdom to accomplish rules from within-rather than try to cram rules INTO my self.  When I first began practicing, and had a big experience, which is what led me to know this Buddhism is true... I also quit smoking, quit a variety of other behaviors, and gave away much of my possessions.  There was no "mindfulness" about it-I looked at the pack of cigarettes and knew it belonged in the trash, and never thought about them again for years.  Likewise with my possessions, I looked and saw what I actually needed and gave the rest away-which was about 90% of it.


The point is, from my sect's view, "Earthly Desires ARE Enlightenment".  I've demonstrated how-that by simply focusing on faith, and practice, and study, one's life changes.  As one's life changes, so do one's desires.  From within, rather than battling with one's own mind which is an attachment in itself in my opinion (the mind as well as the concept of battling with it over desires).  


That said, it is not easy.  The six lower worlds (hell to heaven), are the most common place for us to be.  They are lower, PRECISELY because our life condition is determined by outside circumstances, instead of the truth within.  Upon basing our life on the truth within, we are now capable of the 4 Noble Worlds (10 worlds total note), ie life conditions, (learning, realization, bodhisattva, and buddhahood). 


Lastly, I would want to explain further:  No life condition we have is static.  I myself am deluded again-wisdom cannot be owned.  I even started smoking again and now have way too many possessions.  My practice is weak.  But I know the truth of the theory, I simply am not living it right now.  So in my opinion:  Fighting against one's desire is futile.  INTERNAL cause is what leads to EXTERNAL cause in karmic theory.  Thus, unless one's action is based on truth, it is a false action anyway... so I really doubt avoiding the ice cream does one any good.  I might be misunderstanding you-if so, I apologize and will read your correction with a quiet mind.  But if I understand this right, it reminds me of "Fake it, 'Til you make it" which I believe is a poor strategy as until one actually changes their life, these desires really won't change much.


And my story also points out.... only THIS moment matters.  And at THIS moment, I'm failing.  So it doesn't matter what truth I had yesterday, and so forth.  


Again-this is directed at Ferret, I really don't care what christians and knock offs with agendas have to say as they have no sincere interest in real dialog.  Ferret does.  And I hope I've made my disagreement sound reasonable, and thus encouraged you to respond in kind Ferret :)

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 23, 2012 - 7:37PM #93
Ferretling
Posts: 254

Well, sometimes avoiding ice cream is good. Sometimes it is just necessary. For example, if I need to lose a lot of weight, avoiding ice cream might be a good thing. I am lactose intolerant, so unless I have some Lactaid or similar supplement, avoiding ice cream is a good thing. I have friends and family who are diabetic, so for them avoiding ice cream is a good thing. Or it might be 3am (I don't drive) or I just might not be able to afford ice cream at the time. Or I may be working or doing something else that just does not permit going to get ice cream. So in these cases, it isn't so much that avoiding ice cream is good or bad; it simply is necessary.


Either way, there are cases where my desire for ice cream cannot be fulfilled, or really should not be fulfilled. So what do I do? I acknowledge that ice cream would be really wonderful to have right now. I may actually indulge in the pleasure of wanting ice cream. I can enjoy the sensation of wanting, the inevitable imagining of the taste of my favorite ice cream on my tongue. Having acknowledged it, having accepted I want ice cream, if I cannot or should not get it, I can then acknowledge that. And then there might be a feeling of amusement or wistfulness or longing. Now, if I am strong in my practice, I can acknowledge all of these, feel them, feel them fully, and then let it go. Having ice cream, not having ice cream, really, they're so fleeting one way or the other.


So I don't deny myself things. Now, in the view of my sect, it isn't necessarily that desires change. It is that desires rather float like leaves on top of a pool. They're easy enough to skim off, and the water is clear underneath. So though they might (or might not!) float through your mind, they don't trouble it.


I understand where you are coming from, and I can see where it would work.


I agree with you that battling the mind does not work. Training the mind, working with it, acknowledging it, working with it, and doing again, that's what works. My sensei said that we should be compassionate with ourselves in practice.


I hope that clarifies. I'm coping with a throbbing headache, so my thoughts are more muddled than normal.

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2 years ago  ::  May 02, 2012 - 12:20PM #94
Kartari
Posts: 2,151

Seraphim,


Apr 23, 2012 -- 12:36PM, SeraphimR wrote:

Apr 22, 2012 -- 7:49PM, Kartari wrote:

I am not convinced that they are using similar techniques.  To a degree, perhaps.  Certainly, I'd surmise, there is some degree of common ground.  But a Buddhist would not use anger as a tool towards "cleansing the mind," as the Wikipedia article you linked to stated hermits use.  This is more akin to suppression than what a Buddhist would term cleansing or purifying the mind.  Suppression does not remove suffering, it suppresses it, thereby causing more suffering in the process.  Suppression does not fundamentally solve the problem of suffering.  A Buddhist monk would instead regard any degree of anger as something to honestly and deeply explore, in terms of overcoming it as a hindrance to the path.  Not as a means towards removing suffering, which would be counterproductive from a Buddhist vantage point.  Through mindfulness training, the cause of suffering is gradually and actually removed, rather than suppressed.



Either that, or the Buddhists have missed a trick.



Check out my response below, and the new topic I started on Anger and Buddhism.


Apr 23, 2012 -- 12:36PM, SeraphimR wrote:

Apr 22, 2012 -- 7:49PM, Kartari wrote:

So two people from two different traditions could use the same term, cleansing, and still have two different ideas in mind of what is actually being done.



But there are many more parallels.  Dispassion is the most obvious.  That is a major goal of both Buddhism and Hesychasm and the word means identical states of mind, so far as I can tell.  Both traditions also speak of stillness in very similar ways.



I do not know enough about Hesychasm to speak more on the matter.  But like I said earlier, the mentioned use of anger suggests to me a significant difference in core understanding, despite other similarities.  Buddhists recognize anger as a hindrance, a poison.  If a practitioner of Hesychasm uses anger, they are limiting the efficacy of their practice towards enlightenment from a Buddhist perspective.  And therefore, they are not attaining the same state of mind.  While it arises in the best of us, anger is never something that is encouraged or fed in Buddhism since it is understood to be a fetter.


As for dispassion, in Buddhism, my understanding is that detachment from desires is what is sought.  It is not concerned with fighting the self and one's desires, just about observation and mindful detachment from them.  Control of the self is not repressive or suppressive to the Buddhist, but comes about naturally, with patience and practice.  Does dispassion mean the same thing in Orthodoxy, or is it more about controlling desire more aggressively?


Apr 23, 2012 -- 12:36PM, SeraphimR wrote:

Apr 22, 2012 -- 7:49PM, Kartari wrote:

Perhaps there is more to Christian contemplation practice than I know, since I have not really participated in or learned much about it.  However, I find it peculiar that, in the 12 years of Catholic school I endured as a child, I have no recollection of any Catholic practice which approaches what Buddhism incorporates.  Instead, church attendance, undergoing the sacraments, regular prayer, and trying to adhere to a code of moral behavior were alone prescribed.  The pastor I grew up with, in fact, was evidently one of the most stressed out people I've ever known, lol... he was quite obviously frought with much dukkha.



Western Christianity has gotten rid of Hesychasm, much to its loss.  If you look up Hesychasm in the Catholic Encyclopedia you will see the idea denigrated.  The contemplative life in Catholicism still exists but is not widely appreciated.



I'd agree that time spent in genuine silence or meditation would certainly have been most helpful to some of the Catholics I grew up with, imho.  I found Catholicism to be much more concerned with angrily whipping the self (sometimes literally) and guilting the self into conforming to certain behaviors and mental opinions, and far less interested in any inward journey.  Though this may differ from parish to parish.

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 08, 2012 - 5:02PM #95
TRUECHRISTIAN
Posts: 765

So far as I know most if not all religions have religous adherents who do "meditate". 


I also feel certain that both Buddhists and Christians have a "desire" for ice cream and that an excessive desire for ice cream is.....frowned upon. 


What I would be interested in knowing is what similarites do Buddhism-Buddhist share with Christianity-Christians that are NOT shared between any other religion. 

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