Is Rebirth Relevant?

As I become more of a skeptic everyday, I’ve been re-contemplating concepts, theories and teachings I’ve read and heard. One thing I keep coming back to is rebirth and or reincarnation, whatever you choose to call it. I’m starting to look at it all in a different way, without the goggles of a tradition or something a teacher may have told me. Doing so, has felt like the training wheels are coming off a bit.

To be honest, for a while I was feeling it necessary to have a teacher. Things started changing though, as you know from a previous post, things started to get stale and feel like I was just going through the motions. It didn’t feel real, and the goal that was set didn’t seem like much of a goal, never mind an end. As I slowly slid down the wall, like a piece of melting cheese on a hot summers day, my mind was analyzing the things I have been taught, and thought that I understood as concrete. But, as we know, nothing is concrete or permanent. It feels great to be stepping back and looking at things fresh again.

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Ngöndro?

I’ve had a few people on Twitter and Facebook ask me what a ngöndro practice is. I’ve mentioned on both sites that I have started one. I asked a Lama to become one of his students and in order to do so, he asked me to start this basic ngöndro.

They do vary depending on the teacher and the lineage, what I was asked to do was 100,000 prostrations (either full or half), 100,000 refuge vows, continue doing the samatha the Lama recently taught and to recite Green Tara mantra when not engaged in any other activity. It has not been simple so far (a few days in and I’m only at 1,100 of each) , but that’s not really how it is supposed to be. The ngöndro is basically a dedication, it shows the Lama you are serious in receiving his teachings and serious about this path and the goal.

I do not have a concrete understanding of other ngöndro practices, so I am going to link something here for you: Ngöndro Practice Explanation

If you are interested in keeping up with the practice I am engaged in, I post about it via Twitter and you can find me here: @PreciousMetal

I hope the link above helps explain things to those that asked, I hope the information you find is valuable and helpful!  _/|\_

The Kind Man

A Tibetan folk-tale, author unknown

Once there lived a very kind, generous man. He was loved and admired by many for his good works and kindly deeds. One day, a very famous lama came to his village. The man wished to speak with the famous lama, and when his wish was granted he prostrated himself at the feet of the holy man, and spoke to him thus:
“I would like to become an enlightened being, compassionate and wise, so that I may help all living beings, and devote my life to the teaching of the Buddha. What should I do?”

The lama saw that the man was sincere in his motives and told him to go to the mountains and spend his life praying and meditating. He gave the kind man a special prayer to chant, and told him if he did this constantly and with great devotion, then he would surely become an enlightened being, able to help all others through his wisdom and compassion.

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A Day of Bliss, Thenthuk and Samatha Meditation

Yesterday, Lama Migmar once again conducted a teaching here on Cape Cod. Previously, he had come to do empowerments (Green Tara) before, and the usual audience for those were not even close to the amount of folks that turned out this time. The empowerment maybe had 30-40 folks, there were at least 50-60 this time, or at least it seemed that way. I think the reason for this is, this was just a meditation class, the people there didn’t feel like they were being “turned into” something, if you know what I mean.

The meditation he taught was śamatha, which translates loosely to calm abiding. It can also be compared to a certain extent to Vipassana insight meditation. He had us go through 5 stages, each stage being a short meditation. With each stage he explained the thought process and what our minds were doing.

He compared each stage to degrees of water. The first stage being like a waterfall, the waterfall consisting of droplets of water, and our mind being quite scattered. This continued on, from a spring that has bubbles coming forth to an ocean that has waves. His explanations were so profoundly clear, and he gave us all a very good foundation to go back to when we’ve become lost.

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Book Review: The Buddhist Path

The Buddhist Path: A Practical Guide from the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism
Written By Khenchen Palden Sherab, Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
Published by Snow Lion Publications

As the title presumes, The Buddhist Path: A Practical Guide from the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, is an extremely clear depiction of this lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The book, although a guide, does not read like a guide or instruction manual. The authors write in such a way it seems as though the reader is sitting in on a talk by these masters and receiving the teaching, rather than reading it.

The chapters are broken down into a variety of topics, such as meditation posture and breathing, taking refuge, advice on visualization and cultivating bodhichitta. The instructions on an array of meditation techniques are clear, and can be very helpful to those who are new to Tibetan Buddhism and even those that have experience. I found the following snippet to be valuable and quiet palpable…

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The Eightfold Path Pt. 3: Right Speech

Right Speech would seem like the easiest part of the Eightfold Path, but for me, it’s probably the hardest. The words that come out of my mouth are so attached to habitual profanity, often I have to reflect on the words I’ve said, because they come out quicker than I can be mindful enough to stop them.

So, what is Right Speech? Here’s a quick list I’ve “borrowed” from The Big View

Buddha explained right speech as follows:
1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully
2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others
3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others
4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth

Seems simple enough right? Yeah, you try it!

Let’s get into them a little deeper.

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Burnt Out? No Worries, It’s Ok!

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
~Vince Lombardi

I was watching tv last night and heard someone paraphrase the quote above by football great, Vince Lombardi. It got me thinking a bit about “burning out” a la practice fatigue. It can strike anyone, anytime.

It doesn’t matter if you are a n00b or an advanced practitioner, we all get to a point where we just need to have a break, to step away and contemplate what we’ve been contemplating, you know? We sometimes need to reflect on our lives, on this life that we are presently creating and what good it is serving us and others.

Every day we go about it the same way. This is our morning, this is our job, this is our home, this is our practice, this is our bedtime, wash, rinse, repeat… Yes, I understand, for the most part, that it is great to have such a practice, a schedule to go by. But sometimes it feels rigid, like it is confining us into a small box.

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Patheos Announces “Buddha” Book Club Discussion

I was asked to participate in a brand new book discussion, based on Deepak Chopra’s “Buddha” over at Patheos.com. The book may not be “new”, but the online group is and the idea behind it is fantastic. Many thanks to Dan for dropping a line to make me, and now you, aware of this book discussion group.

I read “Buddha” a couple of years ago, but am re-reading it now on my pc, using the Kindle software for netbooks. For those that have not read the book, until September 21st you can download the e-book free in various formats @ http://bit.ly/cl6JLY (you’ll see the option to get the e-book under the pic of the cover, either from B&N or from Border’s). The e-book also has some additions that were not in the original text of the book, so I’d recommend downloading it before they pull it.

Although Chopra’s version is more of an embellished story of the Buddha’s life, obviously for more of a novel like read, the core of the Buddha’s real life, as we know it, is in there. It is a nice, quick read, which is helpful so we are enabled to participate in this book discussion.

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“The Oil Lamp”

“If a monk or a nun, a devout man or a devout woman, lives in accordance with the Dhamma, is correct in his life, walks in conformity with the Dhamma — it is he who rightly honors, reverences, venerates, holds sacred and reveres the Perfect One (tathagata) with the worthiest homage.” – a quote attributed to Buddha