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Switch to Forum Live View Too much in 'the now'?
2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 10:01AM #1
allen-uk
Posts: 25
I've been trying to reconcile this in my own mind for some weeks now, and having failed, thought I'd ask the forum for its views.

The venerable Sarah Thresher, a Tibetan nun, in a talk on Buddhism which is very interesting and uplifting, tells one story which disturbs me.

She talks of a Guru she knows in Australia, whom she praises to the skies for his great adherence to the eight-fold path, saying what a wonderful Buddhist he is, etc. One example she gives is this. The Guru lives so completely in 'the now', that he can't be relied on to attend lectures, even where he is the speaker, because other things occur to him which he does 'instead'. Sarah Thresher seems quite overwhelmed by this exciting way of life, as if this state of being is one to which we should all aspire.

To me, it seems like 'hippy' thinking of the worst kind. Surely it is not right to ignore other people, to see THEIR lives as so utterly unimportant that you haven't got to give them any consideration. It certainly does not accord with my understanding of Metta; loving-kindness, thought and caring for others above all.

If I'm interpreting this wrongly, I really would like to know.


Allen.
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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 12:05PM #2
Ferretling
Posts: 254

Huh. That seems very very strange to me. In Zen we try to balance out living in the moment with mindfulness. So while it might be in the moment to skip a lecture, is it mindful? Other things "occur" to him. To me, this sounds more like "doing whatever the heck you want and screw the consequences" than living in the moment.Not knowing the man or the specific circumstances I cannot make a judgement. Perhaps there are valid reasons, or perhaps Tibetan Buddhism sees this somewhat differently. But.... to me that does not sound like a ringing endorsement of living in the now.

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 1:52PM #3
Bob0
Posts: 485
I've heard similar stories about Thich Nhat Hanh. I have read that he would miss airplane flights because he insisted on walking mindfully rather than hurry to the plane. It flashed through my mind that this is another form of clinging, possibly contrived mindfulness. Or possibly these are stories from over zealous admirers pumping up their gurus. Or perhaps they are on to something that I don't comprehend.


I wouldn't worry too much about it. Your understanding, your path, your unique trajectory through the stream of being. Right view. Right effort. right resolve. Right action. Right concentration. Right mindfulness. Right speech. Right livelihood. 


Link for right mindfulness. Scroll down to right mindfulness. www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/truths...


I hope this helps.

Bob
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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 3:28PM #4
allen-uk
Posts: 25

Thanks ferretling, Bob0 - things to do (in the now) this evening, but tomorrow I'll post a link to the audio version of that talk, so you can judge for yourselves, but thanks for your thoughts so far.




Allen.

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2 years ago  ::  May 05, 2012 - 8:31AM #5
allen-uk
Posts: 25

On relistening to the talk, my memory is obviously a bit faulty. The bloke concerned was in fact her teacher, and (I think) lives in the USA.


Anyway, the whole talk can be found here:


www.lamrim.com/archive/misc/mp3/16k/02.0...


The relevant part is 59 minutes in, in answer to a question about 'being open' to things.


Here is my transcription of it, to save you ploughing through what is not in fact a very good recording:


My teacher's amazing - he misses aeroplanes, doesn't care. How many aeroplanes has he missed? He doesn't care. He doesn't arrive at public talks on time - he doesn't do anything you think he's going to do. You think he's going to do something? He doesn't do it. If he goes to do something, he does it. I've just spent a month with him; it's unbelievable.


You think he's going to come? He writes you a little note, "Oh, I don't think I'll come. Maybe later. Let's see what happens." It comes a point where it's like 'well maybe he'll come, maybe he won't come, let's see what happens. And you have to begin - because you can't work any other way with him, because that's how he is. Isn't it? And he's the most amazing compassionate being, quite extraordinary, but he doesn't do what you'll think he'll do, and you'll never know what he's going to do, and he's amazing, but he always does the right thing, he always does what's absolutely perfect, that you just couldn't have dreamt of, because he's totally open - to everything. So anything can happen, and it's really fun being around him. And it's really fun watching all your ideas and opinions and shoulds and shouldn'ts just tumble. And it's painful, cos he doesn't do what you want him to do.....


Not quite as I recalled it, but similar, and it still strikes me that ONLY a single man could live his life that way! You could argue that those of us with responsibilities ought to get rid of them and live more simply, but somebody's still got to cook the beans, do the washing up, wash the robes, haven't they? And I'm suspicious that if you get to be a Guru you don't get your hands dirty any more. Not what I thought the Buddha taught...




Allen.

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2 years ago  ::  May 05, 2012 - 2:31PM #6
Bob0
Posts: 485

Allen:


The Buddha taught suffering, that suffering existed, it had a cause, that it could be extinguished and the path that leads to extinguished suffering. The cause of suffering is clinging, desire.....


Remember that The Buddha left his family...parents, wife and child to pursue his quest to answer his questions, what is suffering, what is it's cause and how to end suffering.


How does our life compare to the Buddha? Most of us are lay Buddhists. We have a family, jobs, mortgages, etc....entanglements. Our children and spouses have expectations of us. They expect us to love them, provide for them and not abandon them. And when we say we will be at the daughters dance recital or the son's ball game we are expected to be there.


Did The Buddha's wife, Yasodhara, think it was a good idea for the Buddha to leave her and Rahula to work in isolation for his awakening? The stories tell us yes. Knowing my own wife I think this is one of the many inflated tales. Either that or The Buddha just kept leaving the toilet seat up and couldn't change.


Where am I going with this? I think it is very hard for a man or woman, encumbered by family responsibilities and societal expectations to achieve awakening. Possibly one or two cases in a century? But you can still live your life in an awakened trajectory. Increase your knowledge, work on awakening in small bites and understand just where you are in the endless stream of life. When stress hits, follow your breath. Possibly you can be that sea of calm when all around you is chaotic.


Even though you may understand the path to awakening your responsibilities are a hindrance. Job pressures and financial worries are great causes of stress and an obligation that the lay Buddhist willingly accepts. Are your responsibilities real or imagined? That is a decision each person makes and then creates karma from their actions. And as your wisdom builds, your stresses will decrease, even in the middle of societal and family pressures and chaos. Just stop and follow your breath, and patience.


As you age your children will leave you and establish their own lives. After nearly 44 years of marriage my wife and I are still best friends, the rock that each can depend on. We are both retired and we spend less than we take in. Our worries have naturally diminished. It is amazing how much time we spend each day laughing. This is our time to make great progress toward awakening. But as all karma demonstrates, you spend your whole life preparing for that time when awakening is possible.


Many Japanese follow the 1/3 plan. The first third of their life they use for growing, education etc. The second third for employment, raising a family etc. The final third for contemplation, meditation and things spiritual.


I wouldn't worry about being so mindful that you are undependable. I'm not sold that it is something to aspire to. But you seem to have a good firm placement on the earth and you are capable of making wise decisions in life.


Wishing you small tranquil days,

Bob
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