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View Diary: I sucked at Buddhism last night (257 comments)

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  •  I've heard this (4+ / 0-)

    and wrestled with it often. Tried it both ways and the eyes closed method seems to get me more focused on my breath, but I can see the point of why eyes should remain open.

    I don't think the teacher specifically said to close our eyes, that may be me misremembering or just using creative license. I was most critical of the emphasis of his talk on compassion for those with trivial sufferings, rather than the perspective to see our suffering from a larger view.

    The opposite of life is not death, but indifference. -- Jaki Gefjon (A.A.Attanasio)

    by Max Wyvern on Thu May 02, 2013 at 11:33:05 AM PDT

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    •  many practices involve closing the eyes (15+ / 0-)

      many do not.  I am not sure why one would dogmatically insist on one or other other.  (Closing eyes or open does not particularly relate to attention, only to which particular sensory inputs arise in the mind to attend to.  Quiet and loud, similarly.  What matters is the relation to what arises and awareness of it)

      I would have to suggest that returning to basic principles can shed some light here.

      Remember among the four noble truths is that there is dukkha (translated as suffering or unsatisfactoriness most frequently) that arises from attachment.  Now, I suspect most would agree it doesn't matter what it is you are attached to, be it coffee creamer or climate change, it is the attachment that gives rise to the suffering.  It is a bit as yoda says "size matters not."  As an illustration, the creamer is probably a good teaching method precisely because it is so very trivial and people can easily recognize it as trivial, in which case why would it make sense to create suffering for yourself over it?

      So, it may be that you have missed the meaning of the lesson, in which case it would seem not to have been a particularly effective lesson for you.

      There is a tension between unattachment and engagement, and it sounds like the speaker scheduler is among those who do not find a connection between the compassion that arises and action.

      Perhaps you might get the Ayya Santussika to come give a more basic question of how her practice gives rise to engagement. I'm guessing she has more than a passing connection to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, who is a well known teacher of engaged buddhism.  (here's an interview of him for a flavor  In it, he is asked about the mindset you describe:

      John Malkin: People often feel that they need to choose between being engaged in social change or working on personal and spiritual growth. What would you say to those people?

      Thich Nhat Hanh: I think that view is rather dualistic. The practice should address suffering: the suffering within yourself and the suffering around you. They are linked to each other. When you go to the mountain and practice alone, you don't have the chance to recognize the anger, jealousy and despair that's in you. That's why it's good that you encounter people—so you know these emotions. So that you can recognize them and try to look into their nature. If you don't know the roots of these afflictions, you cannot see the path leading to their cessation. That's why suffering is very important for our practice.

      best of luck, but it is a complex and subtle thing that you are trying to get a hold of.

      Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

      by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 02:48:05 PM PDT

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    •  Eyes open, eyes closed doesn't matter. What (5+ / 0-)

      matters is what you need at the moment.  Sometimes I need to close my eyes to focus on breathing to quiet my mind.  Sometimes I open my eyes because I feel the need to expand awareness of my surroundings, to be more "awake".

      -7.38, -5.38 (that's a surprise)

      Why must we struggle to protect the accomplishments of Democrats of the past from Democrats of the present? -- cal2010

      by 84thProblem on Thu May 02, 2013 at 03:28:18 PM PDT

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    •  Close Your Eyes?! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal, AoT

      Then you tend to follow a winding trail into the depths of consciousness...when you should be focusing on the breath.

      I always found gazing at the flames dancing in the butter lamps to be helpful. Note -- don't focus on the flame, just see it and watch the breath.

      (Oh and chanting mantras for a while before trying to meditate often helped still my mind.)

      •  it's a good way of putting it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT
        Then you tend to follow a winding trail into the depths of consciousness...when you should be focusing on the breath.
        I'll keep it in mind.

        The opposite of life is not death, but indifference. -- Jaki Gefjon (A.A.Attanasio)

        by Max Wyvern on Thu May 02, 2013 at 08:05:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Is it possible this teacher was more profound (0+ / 0-)

      than you gave them credit.

      Meat for the men, milk for the boys?

      Perhaps this talk was meant to comfort those capable of nothing deeper, and cause deeper thoughts on suffering for those more than capable.

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