It is easy to interpret this event at its lowest possible level, as just sexual desire, basic greed, instinctual, and so forth, dismissing it in a way that might be thought of as being honest. If you really love your children, your husband, your wife, or whoever, if it is unconditioned love, then there is no attachment.
When I was eighteen, that moment of love was a very pure experience, but the emotions were very grasping, clinging, demanding. In Buddhist meditation, then, through looking deeply and reflecting upon the way things are, we begin to understand much that has happened to us in our lives — when we were young, say, or when we had experiences that baffled or confused us.
We have to learn through contemplation and from the results of what we do, not as critics in the sense of blaming, or dwelling on the mistakes of our lives, but through a willingness to learn by trial and error. Last March 22nd saw the 11th anniversary since Godwin Samamaratne, my first Dhamma teacher, passed away. We have published the CD several times before, in 2007, 2009 and in 2010 (a reprint of the 2007 edition).
For those who are unable to get hold of a copy of the CD, don’t despair, as the whole website can be downloaded from this page. Related Posts13th anniversary of Acharya Godwin Samamaratne Unedited Archives of Acarya Godwin's Retreat Talks New Set of Godwin's Talks Available Sumathipala Meditation Centre on Photo Dharma Ven. Ajahn Amaro examines the arguments for and against the arhat and bodhisattva ideals that define and too often divide the Buddhist traditions. One of the more significant elephants in the living room of Buddhism in the West is the disparity between the stated goals of the Northern and Southern schools. The main reason for delving into this disparity is that people do make comparisons of the arahant and bodhisattva ideal and ask which path to follow. Over time, both traditions have developed critiques of each other and then passed these on as received knowledge. In addition to such personal dilemmas, the plot thickens when we look at the scriptures themselves. If compassion for other beings was his prime motivation in developing the spiritual perfections for so many lifetimes—for “four incalculable periods and 100,000 eons,” according to the scriptures—why should he feel that there was no point in even trying?
One would imagine that such incongruities would lead people to investigate their own beliefs more closely, and to ponder whether the standard views of their own and other traditions were reliable. If we look into the roots of the conflict and ponder possible resolutions, we first encounter a question: What exactly is the problem?
When reading texts extolling the virtues of the arahant and the bodhisattva, both appear to be noble aspirations. Even if the “fact” is 100 percent provable, if we use it as a weapon it becomes, as Ajahn Chah said, “Right in fact, but wrong in dhamma.” Sometimes it is devout faithfulness, rather than negativity, that generates such dualisms. It is possible to explore these various teachings and traditions in this spirit of nonpartisan openness and, hopefully, appreciate the landscape of the way of the Buddha with eyes that are “right in dhamma.” Through this kind of investigation, perhaps we can find ways to resolve these ancient conflicts. If the difficulties that have arisen over the centuries can be attributed to contentious position-taking, one way to resolve them should be through the practice of non-contention. Although the term is not being used here in this narrower sense, it is nevertheless interesting to explore what Nagarjuna’s insight was fuelled by.
There is a very close connection between this discourse, found in the Pali Canon, and the words of Nagarjuna in his Treatise on the Root of the Middle Way. Both teachings point out how to recognize the feeling of self, how to see through it, and, ultimately, how to break free from the tyrant.
These teachings point to the fact that, yes, there is the feeling of selfhood, but they also make it clear that the feeling of “I” arises due to causes.
This teaching is usually taken to be a philosophical description; however, it is most significant as a meditation tool. The dissolution of the conceit “I am” was described by the Buddha as “nibbana here and now,” and it cuts to the root of all contentions. It is said that the Buddha’s first discourse, the Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Truth, encompasses all teachings—just as the footprint of all creatures that walk are encompassed by an elephant’s footprint. The second insight refers to the fact that it’s not just me who is experiencing dukkha; there is a shattering of the delusion that my experience of dukkha could be more significant than yours. The Pali scriptures repeatedly state that the best thing we can do for ourselves and all beings is to be totally enlightened.
The Mahayana teachings arose to say, “My suffering is felt here, yet it can’t be more important than anyone else’s.
We have been looking at this question from a large-scale social view, but all movements are composed of individual human beings. Ajahn Chah detected there was a nihilistic view rather than dhammic detachment behind Ajahn Sumedho’s comment. In considering this encouragement toward a more expansive attitude, it is highly significant that the four bodhisattva vows are actually an explicit extension of the four noble truths. Probably the most well-known teaching in the Northern Canon, the Heart Sutra has been recited for centuries from India to Manchuria, from Kyoto to Latvia, and nowadays throughout the world. The Heart Sutra reminds us that the four noble truths are essentially transparent; they are relative, not absolute truths. The conflict essentially arises as a result of conceiving the arahant and the bodhisattva in terms of self-view. If we reflect closely on this verse, another layer of meaning opens up: as long as space and identity are held to have substantial reality, the mind has not realized enlightenment.
So the aspiration can validly be as it is in the verse; but if space no longer remains, if no beings remain, if their nature is recognized as conditioned and therefore empty, what does that say about the “I” who would be “staying”? The irony is that upon knowing that time, space, and beings have no substantial reality, the “I” is “gone” too—gone to suchness, come to suchness: Tathagata.
Sri Ramana Maharshi once remarked, “A good man says, ‘Let me be the last man to get liberation, so that I may help all others to be liberated before I am.’ Wonderful!
Experience shows that in order to realize a fulfillment that maximally benefits all, we need to know our traits and learn how to balance them out. From this place of realization, we can see that there is a reader here and a page out there, but we can also recognize that this is all just patterns of consciousness.
The more we learn to hold this play of forms gently—not clinging to any view—the more there is an attunement.
We commit ourselves to our chosen spiritual practices with 100 percent sincerity, but at the same time know that all of these conventional forms—Northern and Southern—are utterly without substance. When a piece of music moves us we say, “It’s perfect!” But even in the saying, we’ve almost lost the feeling. In 1979 Ajahn Amaro was ordained a monk in the Thai Forest tradition in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. But when I reflect on such experiences now, I can’t say it was all just sexual desire, even though that certainly did follow.
And I can see that the moment of that is where there is no sense of selfish interest any more.

The Buddha is like a legend, but Luang Por Chah was a living, breathing, human being, like myself. I was so identified with the emotions and so caught up in them that, of course, I didn’t have a clue as to how to deal with them.
It is confusing, isn’t it, to love somebody and then to act in a way that just alienates that person from us, and gives them the wrong messages? Every year around the time of his anniversary there are a couple of rememberance occasions held at the two centres he founded, the main one at Nilambe, which is still a flourishing retreat centre, and the other at Godwin’s place in town, Lewella Meditation Centre.
The CD contains most of Godwin’s talks in mp3 format as well, so even if a computer is not available, it is possible to listen to the talks on your mp3 player.
May Godwin’s teachings long inspire those who seek for the Dhamma in these confusing times!
In the Northern tradition, the goal is often formulated as the cultivation of the bodhisattva path over many lifetimes for the benefit of all beings, culminating in buddhahood. The aim here is not to argue a particular position and defend it, but rather to shed a little more light on the goals of Buddhist practice and to recount some of what the scriptures and traditions have said about this landscape over the centuries.
A wide spectrum of Buddhist teachings is available, and many people have been inspired by masters of different lineages. When all we have to go by is the established outlook, these critiques seem to be reasonable judgments. On examination we find some curious and significant anomalies in both the teachings of the Northern and Southern schools. Unfortunately, it’s more often the case that such anomalous elements are ignored or dismissed, and one’s preferred version of reality re-established.
Even though the intent of an exchange might be very noble, the emotional tone permeating it can be deeply instinctual and aggressive, as well as territorial. What probably began as an amicable spiritual discussion somehow evolved into a bitter rivalry a few centuries later. Once, when Ajahn Chah was visiting England, a woman long connected to the Thai Forest tradition came to see him. The Buddha once said that his entire teaching could be summarized as, “Nothing whatsoever should be clung to.” Such a spirit of non-contention and non-clinging approaches the core principle of the middle way. Predictably, in later years and in certain regions, it came to be emblematic of one particular school—that based on the Madhayamaka philosophy of Acharya Nagarjuna. For it is in this central principle of the middle way—and particularly in the analysis of the feelings of existence and of “self”—that we find the means to harmonize conflicting views.
Without veering towards either of these extremes the Tathagata teaches the dhamma by the middle way.
This latter text is considered a cornerstone of the Mahayana movement, and it has informed the approach of the Northern school for the past 1,800 years.
They both indicate that clinging to the sense of self is what primarily obstructs knowing the middle way.
It helps us to see that questions such as “Do I exist?” or “Do I not exist?” are irrelevant. This is said not only by followers of the Southern school but also by Mahayana and Vajrayana masters such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This first insight indicates that the statement “There is dukkha” describes a relative experience. Dukkha became regarded as an absolute reality, and thus a narrower diameter for the footprint emerged. If that intention is grasped in the wrong way, however, the breadth of its scope can be lost. Don’t you care about those who’ll be left behind?” In one stroke he had teased his disciple by suggesting that Ajahn Sumedho was the more spiritually advanced and then alluded to the value of a “caring for all beings” approach.
In the Chinese version of the Brahmajala, or Brahma Net Sutra, it addresses this quite directly. In the same epoch, a parallel teaching arose that also spelled out the strictly relative nature of the four noble truths: the Heart Sutra. It is the natural counterpart to the bodhisattva vows, and indeed, they are often recited together.
Sometimes people faithfully proclaim, “Everything is suffering,” as if dukkha were an ultimate truth, but that’s not what the Buddha taught, as is evidenced in the scriptures of both the Southern and Northern schools.
Ironically, even though the reformers aimed at dispelling the self-centeredness they saw, the problem nevertheless persisted. The “ending of rebirth” ideal will tend to get co-opted by the nihilist view, whereas the “endlessly returning for the sake of all beings” ideal will tend to become permeated with the eternalist view.
Whether we talk in terms of emptiness of the arahant of the Pali Canon, or in terms of the absolute zero of the Heart Sutra or the infinite view of the four vows, these are merely modes of speech.
It appears to run completely counter to that principle to get out of the burning house as soon as one can.
True insight involves recognizing that space, time, and being are imputed qualities that have no absolute existence. Similarly, the Northern view of “this individual being will persist through infinite time for the sake of other beings” has also fallen into wrong view. If we’re a wisdom type—intent on realizing nibbana to get out as quickly as possible—then it’s necessary to develop compassion.
Among the many panels and presentations, some teachers have come to give workshops as well.
As Ajahn Chah would sometimes say to the whole assembly at his monastery, “There are no monks or nuns here, there are no lay women, no men; these are mere suppositions, conventional forms—that’s all. Once you observe attachment and have that intention to let it go — which doesn’t mean you get rid of your kids — you let go of demanding and blackmailing them and so forth. You try to stop it, try to suppress it, feel embarrassed by it, indulge in it, throw tantrums, get emotional, just try to hold it all back, or run away from it. Its scriptures and liturgies are thickly populated with the bodhisattva principle, and for those who practice in this tradition it is normal to take bodhisattva vows. When studying with a spiritual teacher, it is the most natural thing in the world to want to emulate that person and the path that he or she has followed.
It’s like a biography of Winston Churchill that fails to mention a couple of stints he had as prime minister. He saw that worldly attachment was so great and the subtlety of his realization was so refined that others simply would not understand.
Clearly it is not the ideals themselves that are the root of any conflict; rather, the root of the problem is people—more specifically, the issue of tribalism. We might observe the appropriate etiquette and protocols, but nevertheless be taken over by the reptile brain. The skillful refusal to pick one particular viewpoint and cling to it reflects right view; it also expresses the effort that is essential to arrive at resolution.

In this investigation, the term denotes the fundamental principle that the Buddha realized at his enlightenment. In the Buddha’s first discourse, he equated the middle way with the noble eightfold path, thus defining it as a quality that embodies the entire spiritual training. That school was distinguished from other groups such as the Chittamatrans, Vaibashikas, and Sautrantikas. Ironically, it makes no mention of such characteristic Northern elements as bodhisattvas and bodhichitta. There might be the feeling of “I,” yet, like all feelings, it is transparent and empty of substance—merely a pattern of consciousness that arises and ceases. Instead the perspective shifts to one of cultivating and maintaining a mindful awareness of the feeling of “I” arising and ceasing. It also appears, according to some historians, that because of this shrinking footprint the impulse for renewal arose, initiating what became known as the Mahayana movement. Our own suffering can drift into seeming more significant than that of others, simply because it’s what we have the power to resolve.
During his early years in Thailand, Ajahn Sumedho once declared to Ajahn Chah, “I’m totally committed to the practice. Ajahn Chah reflected that attitude back to him by tilting the view in the other direction, highlighting the self-centered negativity. These divisive politics are like dubious family heirlooms—hard to discard, being so much a part of our collective histories. However, the practice of the middle way involves taking up compassion teachings along with their partner, the emptiness teachings. The practice of the middle way dissolves the illusion that “I” can “go” and “others” can “stay,” or vice versa.
Though the heart might incline to compassion, it’s only when we cultivate this wisdom element as well that there is going to be true spiritual fulfillment. One such elder is an eminent Tibetan lama; he has been giving instruction on The Praise to the Twenty-One Taras.
We are not dismissing the faith we have in our favored path, but we are not condemning those who have made other choices. Rather, it’s the still point that is the center of movement, the axis that the pendulum pivots from. He didn’t become superman, even though the legends and stories tend to make him look like one. I observed and contemplated my life and the way I reacted to this other human being, Luang Por Chah. The letting go is something inside; it is a relinquishment of that horrible thing, that emotional demanding. In the Southern tradition, the spiritual ideal that is extolled instead is the realization of arahantship—the realization of nibbana and the ending of rebirth, in this very life.
However, in the Pali Canon, the subject of the Buddha’s bodhisattva training never comes up. It’s the great “mine” field: through a misguided faithfulness to our origins—this is my team, my lineage—we co-opt the intellect to defend our group, often bending the facts and the philosophy for the sake of winning the argument.
It’s humbling, though, to see how easily we’re pulled into this kind of deluded certainty and position-taking based on our attachment to views and opinions. The question then arises: how exactly do we find this mysterious middle—the place of non-abiding, the place of non-contention? It refers to the insight of awakening that transcends the later categories of Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Thus, although it began as a universal principle, the meaning of “middle way” shrank somewhat, within this sphere, to become another tribal insignia.
Indeed, scholars such as Kalupahana and Warder have pointed out that there’s actually nothing particularly “Mahayana” in what it says. They are simply expedient formulations that guide the heart to attunement with the reality of its own nature. These two elements are like the wings of a bird—they can’t function properly without each other. Or, if we’re an altruistic type, feeling, “I’ve got to stay around until everyone else has been saved,” then we need to incline toward the emptiness of things. I am very willing to do the pujas, the visualizations, the prostrations, but it is very hard to have the whole heart in it, because I have this doubt: Tara, is she really there? We reflect on the benefits that have come from the practices and principles we know, but we question them and are ready to see them differently, if wisdom indicates a shift of attitude.
But, then, being eighteen I didn’t know how to handle the experience; my emotions were still very immature and I ended up being possessive, demanding and jealous. But then we have to deal with our emotional natures which are usually not developed or evolved. I prefer to think of him as the example of a human being who had realized ultimate truth, who had unconditioned love for all beings. The bodhisattva principle is hardly ever spoken of, apart from its mention in the Jataka Tales, stories of the past lives of Gotama Buddha. By “some overreach,” he means nihilists who rejoice in the idea of non-being, asserting that when the body dies, this self is annihilated.
If there were living beings taken across by the Tathagata, then the Tathagata would have the existence of a self, of others, of living beings, and of a life. Sometime you talk like she is a real person, but sometimes you say she is the wisdom of Buddha Amoghasiddhi, or just a skillful means. There is a deep, intuitive familiarity with this, and this is what we need to sustain and trust. Knowing the difficulties of our human state, knowing how stubborn and foolish we can be, the Buddha managed to establish something that has survived 2,500 years. There is gratitude to the Lord Buddha, the legendary Buddha, to the disciples who followed, and especially to the teacher whom I found to be most helpful and useful to me in my life.
Subhuti, the existence of a self spoken of by the Tathagata is no existence of a self, but common people take it as the existence of a self. I thought, ‘If I have this girl, if I possess her, then I’ll get this feeling all the time.’ There was a kind of mystical moment of selflessness, but the emotions were unprepared.
If I am expecting you to respect me, or give me something, or if I demand something, then I would say that is attachment. I simply reverted to the old habits of grasping, possessing, feeling jealous, making a general nuisance of myself and making myself totally unlovable.

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Comments to «Dhamma setu»

  1. NATHASA writes:
    Succesful to attain the consequence that.
  2. Elnur_Suretli writes:
    Getting out of sitting nonetheless for lengthy durations, however I was.
  3. Lapula writes:
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