Khandro Rinpoche asks the question “What is Buddhist philosophy?” She says that if this question arises, one would have to posit that it is the Buddha’s realization of the Four Noble Truths. She talks about how the Four Noble Truths can be viewed from the context of our daily experiences, and how it relates to understanding our own true nature.
Keeping a consistent, sustainable Buddhist practice requires a lot of time and effort. During a visit by Venerable Rita Riniker to our local Dharma center, she spoke of 5 ways that were explained by the Buddha that could be done to protect one’s practice.
Protecting and Cultivating Land
To explain this, the Buddha used the analogy of land that was being used to grow things. In order to protect land, one must
- Set up a fence or hedges to protect it from wild animals
- Water the land
- Break up the hard soil
- Remove the weeds
- Keep away insects
Protecting and Cultivating One’s Practice
This analogy, is similar to how we would protect our practice. In our practice
- Setting up a protective fence corresponds to protecting ourselves by keeping good ethics.
- Watering the land is equivalent to attending and listening to teachings.
- Breaking up or loosening the land corresponds to having the support of spiritual friends
- Removing the weeds is equivalent to being mindful of our actions of body, speech, and mind
- Protecting against small insects is equivalent to not being attached to subtle states of mind, like blissful states found in meditation.
For a more detailed look into these 5 protections, you can read Sharon Salzberg‘s articles:
One of the most difficult things to do is continuing a constant, committed daily practice. Keeping the right motivation and inspiration can be difficult, and sometimes can lead to people losing their practice after a while. For those that have been practicing for a while and have paused, maybe these instructions by Lama Zopa Rinpoche could prove helpful in restarting practice.
These series of advice were given to former monks and nuns that returned their vows, dropped their practices, and were looking to restart again. I think this advice could be helpful for anyone. One part that could be of interest was advice on how to sustain practice in the long term:
It is very important to meditate every day, continuously. You need to plan to do this for eons, not just for this lifetime, not just for 100,000 lifetimes, but for eons. Make the determination and plan to do lam-rim meditation. This is the antidote. This is the medicine. This is the safest way to protect your mind from negative karma, from the lower realms, from suffering in the hell realms; this is the most important thing to do for liberation from samsara and to achieve enlightenment. If you think that you only have to do it for a few years or months, then you will collapse, get discouraged, etc. As it is mentioned in the teachings, a chilli plant is hot, and by adding just a few drops of honey, just a few times, it doesn’t make it sweet.
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
I think one interesting aspects of Buddhist practice is the voluntary acceptance of precepts and vows, both within the monastic and lay community. I think for someone who isn’t familiar with this practice, it seems like something very restrictive and unwanted. However from an experiential standpoint, I’ve noticed that taking precepts and vows have actually brought freedom and mental space. Continue reading
I’m going to be doing a post soon on my experience of Refuge Ngondro, but I should probably go over some thoughts on refuge in the three jewels first.
One Thing You Should Know
Since I practice within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, most of my thoughts on refuge will be colored by this perspective, according to the stages of the path teachings of Dipankara Shrijana (Lama Atisha) and Losang Drakgpa (Lama Tsongkhapa).
This means most of this will be colored by views on rebirth. Not every tradition emphasizes rebirth as strongly. You can read a post that Deb did on rebirth from the view of the wonderful Theravada tradition, called Preservation of the Teachings and Birth/Rebirth Continue reading
Deb of Dhamma Matters recently put up a nice meditation practice for developing love and compassion, by his Holiness the Dalai Lama. It’s very easy to do, doesn’t require much time, but the benefit for your own personal happiness and for the happiness of others is boundless.
For a while, Dharma Friendship Foundation, a center in Seattle, has been renting space in a building. The owner was a former yoga teacher and used to have her yoga studio on the bottom floor. Since she’s been battling ovarian cancer for the past 5 years, at one point she closed down her studio and let the center move into the space. Unfortunately recently she passed away. The spiritual director of the center, Venerable Yangsi Rinpoche, has requested that we do practices for her, and then dedicate the merit for her fortunate rebirth and enlightenment.
I’ve found that the past few years, someone I know dies every couple 4 or 5 months and I end up doing practices for them. I think we all live in impermanence and everyone around us will eventually die. I thought I would place some of the recommended Tibetan buddhist practices for her in this post, because they’re applicable to really anyone who might need prayers done for them. Continue reading