In this interesting video, Venerable Chodron talks about the Buddhist approach to sexual energy. She begins by explaining how to separate what happens with the mind, and what happens with the body.
For many, taking on the practice of vegetarianism is done with the idea of reducing harm to other beings. Having been a vegetarian for many years, this was also one of my principle motivations (the principle one being that I found more personal happiness and peace by not eating meat).
Does Vegetarianism Reduce Harm?
It is commonly argued that while vegetarianism does reduce harm in some ways (preventing the slaughter of animals and not actively causing another person to kill an animal for one’s meal), it is argued that there is still a great deal of harm caused.
As Lama Zopa argues in this interview:
Also, of course, many insects die in the growing of food itself. When gardens are dug and fields are plowed, so many insects get killed. As I always say, think how many die for even one grain of rice. Paddies are dug, flooded and drained; many sentient beings die at each stage of growing one crop of rice. And that rice came from a previous crop, and that from the one before and so forth back to the time when rice began to be harvested, perhaps thousands of years ago. So how many beings have suffered and died during that incalculable period? And how many people have created negative karma harming others in that way? These are unimaginable numbers. For one grain of rice.
The Bigger Solution
Vegetarianism can be a good starting point in tweeking one’s intention towards not harming others, but it obviously isn’t the main goal. One of the great things about Buddhism is the greater viewpoint it offers, showing to really help others, one has to look at the bigger picture and work for it. As Lama Zopa states in this interview:
So you can see, there’s basically no pleasure or comfort we enjoy that does not involve numberless sentient beings’ suffering, death and negative karma. That’s why it’s so urgent that we practice Dharma. It’s the most important thing we can do, more important than anything else.
If you don’t attain liberation from the ocean of samsara or enlightenment in this life, then you need to get an upper rebirth in your next life, meet and practice Dharma, develop your mind, and in that way achieve liberation from samsara and eventually the full enlightenment of buddhahood.
So achieving liberation from samsara is the main answer, the most important thing for your own sake and that of other sentient beings, for them not to suffer or die. Freeing yourself from samsara is the solution to all that. And then, of course, on top of that, achieving enlightenment so that you can liberate numberless sentient beings from the ocean of samsara and bring them to full enlightenment too. This is your greatest purpose and the best way to benefit others: achieve enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.
Thus you can see how achieving enlightenment in order to liberate numberless sentient beings from the ocean of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment is of the greatest urgency, the most important thing in daily life. Wow!
In this video, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche discusses how someone can practice seriously and become a yogi. He says that meditating is often seen as something fashionable, that something someone strives for during a period of time, but is easily dropped once the fashion wears out. He addresses this issue and gives suggestions on how to make practice steady.
A couple months ago, Geshe Gyalten made an interesting point by mentioning that how limited someone becomes depends on what they identify with. If someone identifies with limited phenomena like their body, thoughts, and feelings, they themselves become limited. For example, if someone identifies with their emotions, if a happy emotion appears, they say “I’m happy”, and if a sad emotion appears, they say “I’m sad.” By identifying with limited phenomena that is constantly in change, a person’s identity becomes bound to conditions they don’t necessarily have control over.
If someone identifies with something larger and more expansive, for instance their mind and its potential, then one’s own potential expands.
Qualities of Mind
To help drive the point, he explained four qualities of mind.
- By nature, mind is primordially free of stains
- By nature, the mind has an infinite capacity to know
- By nature, the mind has an infinite capacity to give and receive love
- By nature, the mind has infinite potential to create change
Even though mind is broken down into these four basic points, mind in actuality has infinite qualities.
Running the Spiritual Track
Many people want to practice a spiritual path and to make progress on it. According to Geshe-la, unless someone knows the potential of mind and understands what it is we’re identifying with, it becomes difficult to practice a spiritual path. There will always lingering feelings of doubt, wondering if we’re practicing the right things, or sometimes even less joy in practice. By understanding the potential of mind and knowing to identify with its basic nature, we create a solid foundation of spiritual practice that is rooted in joy.
As he mentions, once this understanding has been made, someone finally is on the spiritual racing track and is ready to run.
Mahayana Buddhism often says “everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering.” Even though this is the case, as Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche states in this video, people still don’t get the result they want. This leads to a simple question, like “what impedes happiness?” In this video, Khandro Rinpoche explores this topic.
Since Buddhism doesn’t pray to a creator God, some people equate Buddhism with atheism. Here’s an interesting video with Ajahn Braham, and he address this question. He also runs interesting parallels with Buddhism and early gnostic Christianity.
Here is an interesting video about living a mindful life. It deals mainly with the beautiful Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada.
The topic is about mindfulness, an important foundational practice of buddhism. Ajahn Chah makes an apperance in this short documentary, who was a teacher to many influential western teachers of buddhism. He speaks about happiness and buddhist practice that help’s life not be so confusing. This is a classic film on mindfulness. Continue reading
Doing Time, Doing Vipassana is a classic documentary made from within an overcrowded prison in India. To help rehabilitate the prison population instead of merely “housing” them, they started doing 10 day silent sit vipassana courses within the prison walls. Continue reading
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The Tibetan Book of the Dead has made been an interesting appearance in popular culture over the past couple years. I think many people fear death because of not understanding it. People want to know what happens after death, so a book like the Tibetan Book of the Dead naturally becomes a source of curiosity. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is well known for describing in detail the sometimes pleasant and other times horrifying visions that are described during the transition time between death and the next life, know as the bardo. Continue reading
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was a well-known buddhist teacher and yogi, and was at one point the head of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. I had heard about his larger than life reputation, but when I read his autobiography Brilliant Moon: The Autobiography of Dilgo Khyentse, I started to really wonder how he was able to do so much within one life time. He spent some 20 years in retreat, authored 12 large commentaries on Buddhist philosophy, and the whole time was receiving teachings, initiations, or giving them, and building monasteries. It seemed like he never rested and lived a life compassion and service for others. Continue reading
After one has taken the refuge vows, someone can proceed to take the bodhisattva vows. The bodhisattva vows differ accordingly to traditions, so I’ll explain what I know and my experience from within the Tibetan buddhist tradition. Continue reading
Here is an interesting short clip with Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, one of the few high-ranking female incarnate lamas. She talks about buddhism and its relationship to the modern being, or western Buddhist practitioners. She also addresses the issue of being “selective” when it comes to the issue of “westernization of Buddhism.” Overall a lot of good dharma insights and things to contemplate during our daily life
Why Keep Ethics?
When I think about vows and precepts, it reminds me of one time when Jhado Rinpoche came to Seattle. 2 other monks came with him: Geshe Tashi (his interpreter), and a younger monk that was his attendent. They were staying in a flat with a familiy of 3. Jhado Rinpoche once remarked, how amazingly kind the family was. They opened up their entire home to them and never locked any of their doors or cabinets. He said that the family trusted them because the monks were living in their vows.
I think what he meant by this, is that people who live in ethics, give others the gift of fearlessness or a feeling of safety. Continue reading