Monday, March 1, 2010

Pathways to Self-healing: Class 1

Key Themes:

Suffering: The First Noble Truth
Renunciation: The First Principal Path
Three Fold Refuge
Seeking a Mentor

Class Reading:
The Three Principal Paths by Geshe Michael Roach:
Find here

First Noble Truth: Pervasive Dissatisfaction and Suffering
See earlier post

The Need for Transcendent Renunciation
See earlier post for the "Three Principal Paths"
Is not about giving up our “stuff”, being broke, lonely, board and ugly.
You don’t have to give up things “out there”.

Renunciation is a shift in attitude. Reorganize your priorities. What’s important in life? Develop a motivation for spiritual progress, which will then underlie your worldly activities like work, relationships and even entertainment.

Renunciation means getting clear on the purpose of your life.

How is renunciation traditionally defined?
When you realize there is not a single moment of true happiness to be found in compulsive living (samsara) and when you seek night and day for liberation.

The Three fold Refuge
A realistic reliance or reliable refuge is where one goes for safe direction during times of difficulty. There are three reliances:

1. Teachers. The Buddha or one’s mentor. The source of knowledge acquisition in the Buddhist tradition comes through a long lineage of masters that trace their origin directly back to Shakyamuni Buddha. Role modeling is essential, as knowledge is passed directly from mentor to student. But the ultimate teacher, is Reality itself, one's innate potential for freedom and happiness. One's own Buddha or potential Awakening. When one bows to a statue of the Buddha, one acknowledges the potential for awakening that exists in all living beings. The first refuge is in the one who realized freedom, and therefor our own freedom.
2. The Teachings and Methods. In order to develop along the contemplative path one not only needs a teacher, but also the precise science, methodologies and arts that lead to awakening.
3. The Community. Traditionally the community is constituted by those who have experienced awakening, ie. the realization of selflessness/emptiness. It can also mean anyone who values and upholds the teachings and methods that lead one to Reality. Because contemplative learning is largely counter intuitive and counter cultural, strength and support is often found in numbers.
4. The Tibetan approach is to combine the three refuges into one, by seeings one's own personal mentor (guru) as the embodiment of the Buddha's awakening, methods and living support.

Seeking a Mentor, Guide or Teacher
Learning anything requires a Master to teach you, like music, math, and architecture.
You can’t figure it out on your own, at the very least it will be slow progress.
We all need help along our spiritual journey, so seeking the guidance of one who has "already seen the other side" is essential at the outset.

Qualities of the Mentor:
Test these by direct perception and by inference.

1. Well controlled. Good Ethics. Control over their behavior.
2. At peace. Good Meditation. Control over their mind. Focus and calm.
3. High peace. Insight into the nature of reality. Wisdom.
4. Spiritual qualities that exceed. Knows more than you.
5. Great efforts. Works hard and happily for their students.
6. Rich in scripture. Many spiritual traditions.
7. Deep realization of suchness. Direct or transformative experience.
8. Master instructor. Skilled in communication. Upaya.
9. Image of love. Not teaching for money or fame. Motivated by compassion.
10. Beyond discouragement. Never gives up or gets frustrated.

Find someone who meets as many of the list as possible.
You fill in the rest by changing your own mind.

These are the Minimum Qualities list:
1. Has more virtues than faults.
2. Cares more about the future life than this life.
3. Cares more about others than themselves.

Q: How do you start to find a teacher?
A: You have to consciously want one and then created the causes through generosity.

Qualities of the Student:
The qualities of seeing a good teacher come from being a good student.

1. Free from preconceptions. Have an open mind. A beginner's mind.
1A. Free from thinking your religion is the best. Fundamentalist attitude.
2. Ethical or spiritual intelligence. Knowing the difference between good and bad. Discernment. What to give up and what to take up.
3. High spiritual aspirations. To maximize you life.

The Three Problems of the Pot:
Things to avoid.

1. The downward facing pot. Cannot be filled. No open mind. Filled with concepts.
2. The dirty pot. Contaminated by bad motivation, like fame or gain.
3. The leaky pot. In one ear out the other. Can’t retain information.

Three Characteristics of a True Dharma Teaching:

1. Taught be the Buddha or enlightened being, who has reached perfection.
2. Stood the test of time. Longevity.
3. They deliver what that claim. They have helped living beings progress.

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