May 3, 2022 at 6:08 am #399419
I’m learning about Buddhism, meditating and reading various Buddhist texts. I will soon be joining my husband and meeting his teacher.
This thread is for anyone who would like to share or talk about such experiences.
Today, I am reading the Lotus Sutra. So far, my understanding of the sutra is that some people are not receptive to teaching for various reasons, including attachment to desires and ignorance.
The story about the burning house reminds me that it is difficult to change while you are experiencing great suffering. I have found that removing stressors has been helpful in my own life.
It is interesting the focus a lot of teachings have on adapting to the individual’s needs so that they can understand and benefit from the teachings.May 3, 2022 at 9:31 am #399429
You mentioned the Lotus Sutra and the story about the burning house. From online: The Parable of the Burning House is one of 5 main parables of the Lotus Sutra, a classic Mahayana Buddhist text.
I understood only part of the story: a wealthy man’s house was on fire with his kids playing inside. The father, understandingly, wanted his kids to exit the burning house. But they were playing games and did not even understand the words “fire” or “house”. So, to motivate them to exit the house, he told them that there are 3 carts outside the house, each attached to a different animal that the kids were familiar with. When they exited the house, they didn’t find the 3 promised carts. Instead, they found a cart attached to an ox (an animal that they were not familiar with?)
The 3 carts that were promised represent teachings in earlier Buddhism, and the cart that they found represent the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism adds to (does not replace) earlier teachings. Did I understand correctly? Can you explain this to me a bit?
anitaMay 3, 2022 at 10:00 am #399432
In the version I am reading the ending is different. This version, the father is wealthy and gives the children beautiful carts after they agree to play outside and leave the burning house.
Yes, I would agree that the carts represent the gifts of Buddhism.
The children were coaxed outside by their desire to play. Much like I became interested in Buddhism after learning that psychology has been heavily influenced by it and surmising that I may benefit from learning more. Unsurprisingly, I’m learning quite a lot and benefiting from these practices. So there is the cart that was promised!
I’m afraid that I don’t know much about Mahayana Buddhism. Only what I can glean from books.May 3, 2022 at 10:46 am #399438
Your take on the story inspires me to think this way in regard to the story: living unskillfully (suffering) is like being in a house that is burning. Living skillfully (no unnecessary suffering) is like exiting the burning house and having fun, is that it?
anitaMay 3, 2022 at 1:43 pm #399450
I hadn’t thought about it that way. It is a nice way to think about it!
But I wonder if living skilfully in this metaphor would be the father who knows to use this way to coax his children to safety outside?
I think also, whilst the benefits of Buddhism might be what lures us to initially practice. Perhaps fun is a happy side effect? Sometimes it will be present, sometimes it won’t, since one theme of Buddhism is overcoming desire and attachment.
I do think practicing Buddhism would include fostering good experiences and being open to happiness and fun. Freedom from suffering sounds like a nice idea.
May 3, 2022 at 1:57 pm #399453
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by Helcat.
I would think that anything that would coax children out of a burning house is skillful. “Perhaps fun is a happy side effect… Buddhism would include… being open to happiness and fun” – when I posted to you last, the thought of fun as an option occurred to me, and that by itself made me feel free of the stress I experienced just before that thought. We have to believe that something is an option for us, that something is possible for us, or available to us, before we can feel/ experience it.
anitaMay 3, 2022 at 4:15 pm #399460
It’s funny you say that because it’s directly related to the next story in the Lotus Sutra which is about Buddha’s students and enlightenment.
I would agree, not being able to imagine or understand the possibility of a different future is a large problem in the world. We live our lives while experiencing a fascinating phenomenon: we know what we know, we know what we don’t know, we don’t know what we know and we don’t know what we don’t know.
There is a certain safety in what we know, even if it ultimately harms us. Depression can provide a measure of comfort. If we tell ourselves we are going to fail so there’s no point in trying we don’t ever have to put ourselves through the stress of trying.
We all need to keep our minds open to opportunities as they arise and make an effort to expose ourselves to positive new experiences. As well as being open to discomfort that arises with the new opportunities. Sometimes it is hard to make changes. But that is okay!
I do think other people have a large influence on how we perceive ourselves and our environment. Having a supportive network is beneficial for any kind of growth. Different people have the benefit of exposing us to different perspectives.
I’m glad that thinking of fun relieved you of stress! I have really enjoyed discussing this with you. 😊
May 3, 2022 at 7:25 pm #399471
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by Helcat.
I enjoy our discussion too and hope that more (friendly) members join this discussion.
“Not being able to imagine or understand the possibility of a different future is a large problem in the world” – it makes me think of the song Imagine by John Lennon, “Imagine all the people, living life in peace”, etc.
“Depression can provide a measure of comfort. If we tell ourselves, we are going to fail so there’s no point in trying we don’t ever have to put ourselves through the stress of trying” – not trying then is a way to regulate emotions, to keep the anxiety down, and depression perhaps is the result of over-regulating anxiety.
“Having a supportive network is beneficial for any kind of growth” – social animals, including humans, need social support.
Thank you for starting this thread and I hope that you continue to post here whenever you feel like posting.
anitaMay 3, 2022 at 7:25 pm #399472May 4, 2022 at 11:38 am #399507
Anyone is welcome! I don’t mind a little disagreement. It just means that they are passionate about the topic. I plan on posting daily.
I am still reading the Lotus Sutra. There are many chapters about the Buddha and his students. Today I learned about the leader in the desert metaphor. He knows the way through the desert and many people follow him. But they get tired following. So he creates a mirage so they can rest. Except it was the idea of resting that refreshed them. The mirage was dispelled and they continued the journey.
Very much similar to what Anita was saying yesterday about the idea of fun relaxing her.
This idea chapter made me feel both happy and sad. Sad because I’m tired and have difficulty relaxing. But happy because I’m hopeful that I can learn. It is like trying to meditate when I’m stressed. Difficult to find the off button to focus.
On a side note, my cats love it when we meditate and always try to sleep on our laps. I read that cats sleep for a large part of the day. I wonder if they meditate?May 4, 2022 at 2:45 pm #399514
I just looked at the desert metaphor in lotus happiness. com/ seven metaphors of the Lotus Sutra. According to this website, the first parable is the one you wrote about yesterday, the Parable of the Blazing house, and the fourth is the Parable of the Imaginary City- you wrote about it today.
“This idea chapter made me feel both happy and sad. Sad because I’m tired and have difficulty relaxing. But happy because I’m hopeful that I can learn” – unlearning is part of learning, unlearning what we erroneously believed was true.
Here is a quote from the website I mentioned here: “have no further doubts and let your hearts be filled with immense joy!” – what if this very moment, I have no doubt that I am a good person; no doubt that I am okay, that you are okay, and that we can help each other, (not hurt each other but help each other). What if this would be the basis of human interactions.
“On a side note, my cats love it when we meditate and always try to sleep on our laps. I read that cats sleep for a large part of the day. I wonder if they meditate?” – I read that they sleep because unlike animal who eat grass and such, just standing there and chewing grass that is not going anywhere, cats have to work hard hunting and chasing mice and such, so they need to rest a lot.
Do you know, by the way, how to coax a cat that is scared and will not move from under the bed in an apartment that needs to be evacuated (a current problem)?
anitaMay 4, 2022 at 3:03 pm #399515PeterParticipant
I’ve enjoyed following the conversation.
“He knows the way through the desert and many people follow him. But they get tired following”
When Gautama becomes Buddha and returns he recognizes his task is to teach what cannot be taught. I think he knew we tend to mistake the path and teachings as the destination. Meditation by a still lake, so wonderful who would not want to stay but meditation is not the destination. The teaching is not the destination.
In Christianity I often wonder how many worship a book as being G_d. The words as the destination. But I do not find that a moment of rest though it may be a necessary part of the journey. As goes the saying one must lose God to find G_d. Similar I think to “If you meet the Buddha, kill him.”
Dancing is a great teacher. When learning to dance your are not dancing, that ok learning is necessary. Dancing happens when you get to forget what you leaned and Dance. What you learned will be their if you trust the body, ears… the body always new how to dance. The mind only necessary to notice the moment. But the mind will want to step in, judge it. the mind is too slow to dance. So easy to mistake the studio, the community the classes, the learning as the destination.
Next time you are meditating and stressed watch parts are you are not relaxed, where does your stress rest on your body? Where is your mind, where is your breath. There is no judgment, just noticing, the mind quiets or it doesn’t, you are not your mind.
Being relaxed when Meditating is great Meditating while not relaxed is better. 🙂May 4, 2022 at 3:33 pm #399516
Thank you for the link. It is very helpful!
Yes and like the parable of the medicinal herbs we all have different stages of learning and unlearning.
I think that would be a wonderful way to interact with the world.
One thing I have noticed is that I am becoming more aware of thoughts and emotions that disturb my mind.
I think because of the difficulties that I experienced for many years I was used to heightened states of stress. Over the past few years I have been working to steadily lower my stress response. But I still have a habit of an excessive anxiety response to small issues.
Haha my cats do not work for their food. I have a very lazy cat who would be content to never exercise or go outside. The other one isn’t so lazy and likes to exercise. She even gets upset when the weather isn’t good.
The easiest way I can think of would be to buy some tasty wet cat food or a favourite treat. If you sit and wait patiently the cat should calm down and go eat. Good luck with the scared kitty!May 4, 2022 at 3:40 pm #399517
Good to read your reply just as I am about to head for a walk to where the scared cat is, will get to him in an hour. His name is Simon. Will reply further later.
anitaMay 4, 2022 at 7:33 pm #399518
You are welcome in regard to the link. Simon comes out for food (dry cat food), water and litter box when no one is present in the apartment. I will try your tip of offering him some tasty, wet food... sardines come to mind, tomorrow and let you know if he comes out of hiding when a person is there, thank you!
“I think because of the difficulties that I experienced for many years I was used to heightened states of stress… I still have a habit of an excessive anxiety response to small issues” –
– I want to research tomorrow what Buddhism says about this problem.
Did you notice Peter’s post above?
- This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by anita.