Dharma Talks

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Dharma Talks

Postby Greg Jah » Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:45 pm

Hi everyone,

In another discussion it was suggested that we start a thread dedicated to Dharma talks which we have found helpful.

I would like to offer the following three...all three talks were given at The Interdependence Project, a Buddhist center based in NYC. Each talk is by a different teacher and covers a different topic. All three can be downloaded for free through i-tunes. To get to the talks, open up i-tunes in your computer, go to the i-tunes store, then type in "Interdependence Project" in the store's search field. Click on "The Interdependence Project" icon. Then scroll down to the following talks to listen and/ or download. I have numbered the talks so they are easier to find.

Here are the three, in no particular order:

1. #154 "Eight Traps of Ego"

This talk is a very modern and relevant look at the traditional teaching of "The Vicissitudes of Life" (also referred to as the "Eight Worldly Conditions" or the "Eight Worldly Dharmas"). These conditions refer to the eight things we are constantly trying to either acquire/ increase or eliminate/ decrease in our life. They are: gain & loss; fame & disrepute; praise & blame; and pleasure & pain. In this Dharma talk Ethan Nichtern refers to these as the "Eight Traps of Ego."

2. #62 "Awakening from the daydream: The wheel of life"

This talk explores the "Wheel of Life" teachings, which traditionally were interpreted as discrete realms of samsaric existence but in this talk (consistent with many contemporary Buddhist teachings) are looked at as psychological states or life spaces which we can find ourselves in.

3. #66 "Opening the present: Receiving the gift of (your) life"

This talk by Joseph Mauricio explores the ways that our mental states/ emotions can sabotage our happiness, and how we can relax into being more present and happy in our lives.

I hope you find these as helpful as I did. I am looking forward to listening to talks with others have found useful.

Best,

Greg
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Monsoon » Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:51 pm

Thanks Greg. I suspect that I will be more of a listener rather than a contributor on this thread - I feel quite out of my depth! :D

Anyway, I will have to set aside some time to listen to the talks you have listed. They all look quite fascinating.

Currently I am in the middle of "Just Walk and Heal". The dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh (24th Dec 2012) at the 90-day Rains Retreat in France. It's nearly 2 hours long and there is a lot to think about! This talk has different parts, one of which is on the internal concept of 'going home'.

Can be found, as with your links, for free on iTunes under the name of the speaker given above. Incidentally, this speaker is the one that really reaches out me.
peace and harmony

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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Greg Jah » Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:11 pm

Hi Monsoon,

Thich Nhat Han is such an amazing person. He really embodies openness and gentleness to me. I am looking forward to listening to his Dharma talk...although, like you I have a couple talks already lined up (for a class I'm taking, so there is no putting the listening off :D ).

Best,

Greg
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Greg Jah » Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:42 pm

Hi everyone,

While not a dharma talk per se, I'd like to share a link for a free e-book which I really like and have found both very easy to read and very helpful. It is a series of talks by Jack Kornfield, an American Zen practitioner. The book is called "The Eightfold Path for the Householder."

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/ritepath.pdf

Best,

Greg
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Monsoon » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:02 pm

Wooh! Finished 'Just walk to heal', and I very much enjoyed it. A large part explores the notions of birth and death, and being and non-being. Definitely worth a listen. I was also surprised by what seemed like a 10 minute section of gentle chanting/singing. I was mowing the lawn (with a push mower, not one of them noisy power things) with headphones on and the singing really helped me to find the present moment - strange but true.

I have downloaded the Interdependence Project talks and will give them a go when time permits.

And here's a musing of mine: Does anyone else find it interesting that in these discourses the speakers often describe things in terms of what they are not?

Have fun! :D
peace and harmony

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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Josh Young » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:34 am

I am not in a position at present to be able to listen to those talks, but was wondering if it would be ok to address various Sutras here and discuss them as well, my favorite being the Diamond Sutra...
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Monsoon » Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:42 pm

(I am assuming that the Dharma thread will live in the General Chat group now, and not on the General Training one).

Hi Josh, I don't see why not. I think the thread's purpose is to discuss dharma from a braod perspective. The dharma talks are simply a convenient and authoritative way into them, but does not say we cannot individually discuss Sutras separately as part of that milieu.

Fire away!
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Inga » Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:54 pm

Hi Greg,

Great thread, thanks. I moved this to the General Chat as it's not strictly a YMAA theme. I am currently enrolled in this course :

http://www.calm-and-clear.eu/nangiintro.html

I have to admit, at the moment I'm mostly downloading the modules and skimming the material, I haven't started heavy discussion on the forum yet, but I am enjoying it very much
: )

As someone new(ish) to dharma studies I would say I'm drawn to the Heart Sutra
Ancora Imparo
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Monsoon » Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:42 pm

Hi Inga,

I too was drawn in by the Heart Sutra. It is a beautiful, deep and yet clear Sutra that repays much on study. I can recommend Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra by Thich Nhat Hanh. Here's a link to a cheap copy! Although there are other commentaries out there, and Red Pine leaps to mind, this one is (in my humble opinion) by far the clearest in expression. Your mileage may vary, as the the saying goes, but worth a look.

I have no local sangha in the Pure Land practice that I follow. Although there is a local Diamond Sangha (Soto Zen I think) that I may approach. In light of this I have been looking around online for further instruction but am a little put off by how much is Tibetan oriented. I do wonder how much of the original teachings of the Buddha are flavoured by Tibetan cultural practice and how much is retained as unflavoured (as it were). I have no interest in being taught Tibetan-specific practices.

Would you be so kind as to comment on this aspect of your online course, please?
peace and harmony

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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Greg Jah » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:55 pm

Hi everyone,

Monsoon, thanks for suggesting the Thich Nhat Hanh commentary on the Heart Sutra. I've requested a copy from the local library and look forward to reading it.

I love the idea of exploring sutras together. I have to admit, though, that sometimes reading deep philosophical texts (especially ones dealing with fundamental emptiness) can make me a bit crazy. Maybe that's why I was drawn to Zen...or perhaps it's a result of my Zen practice - maybe a bit of both.

Best,

Greg
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Monsoon » Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:01 am

Hi Greg, hope you enjoy the book recommendation. The author has, at times, been accused of too much simplicity and repetition. Personally I think he writes the way he does because the Sutras are meant to be understood and used, not to be some sort of philosophical puzzle.

I also mentioned Red Pine, and his commentary is far more detailed, but while interesting I do not think that it necessarily gives the practitioner any advantages. It is also a good book though.

Later!
peace and harmony

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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Inga » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:21 am

Hi Monsoon,

You asked if my course is “Tibetan oriented”. I must confess I probably don’t know enough to tell otherwise, but I’ll tell you what I know. The course is prepared by Ken Holmes, who has come to his knowledge through a Tibetan lineage. He did lay out in the introductory letter, “…you may assume what you are reading is the way the topics were presented in Samye Ling [the Scottish Tibetan monastery] during the past forty years by our great Kagyu masters…” although he goes on to say there are other sources provided as well as his personal comments from time to time. The modules I have dipped into so far seem to me to be background and history of the Buddha, and the development of dharma. Here are the titles :

Module One : The Life of the Illustrious One The Totally and Perfectly Enlightened Buddha; Guide and Protector for All Beings

Module Two: The Rare and Sublime Dharma An Introduction to the Three Turnings of the Dharma Wheel…Truth One : Beings, Worlds and Suffering

Module Three: The Second Truth: The Causes of Suffering

Coming up I have

Module Four: The Third Truth: The Cessation of Suffering & The Fourth Truth: the Path of Peace – Part 1

Module Five: The Fourth Great Truth: the Path of Peace – Part Two, The Sangha, Taking Refuge

Module Six : A Closer Look at Mahayana and the Second Turning

Module Seven: A Closer Look at the Third Turning and the Two Truths

Module Eight: Essential Contemplations: The Precious Human Existence, The Three Types of Dharma Person, The Four Dharmas of Gampopa

I’m not sure it this answers the question, but I think the answer is probably, yes, there is Tibetan influence. If I hear of other online courses I shall pass on the information. I chose this one because I’ve been to the monastery, and was very moved by my experience there. I was curious to learn more.

The two Thich Nhat Hanh books I have are The Miracle of Mindfulness which is about meditation and The Heart of Buddha's Teaching. I think I need to add the Heart of Understanding.

Peace, Inga
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Josh Young » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:58 am

http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/sacredte ... sutra.html

http://www.hermetics.org/pdf/The_Diamond_Sutra.pdf

Subhuti, what do you think? Does a disciple who has
entered the Stream of the Holy Life say within himself: I
obtain the fruit of a Stream-entrant? Subhuti said:
No, World-honored One. Wherefore? Because "Streamentrant"
is merely a name.
There is no stream-entering. The disciple who pays no
regard to form, sound, odor, taste, touch, or any quality, is
called a Stream-entrant.
Subhuti, what do you think? Does an adept who is subject to
only one more rebirth say within himself: I obtain the fruit of a
Once-to-be-reborn? Subhuti said: No, World-honored One.
Wherefore? Because "Once-to-be-reborn" is merely a name.
There is no passing away nor coming into existence. [The
adept who realizes] this is called "Once-to-be-reborn."


Can someone explain what this means?

"merely a name"
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Monsoon » Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:53 pm

Hi Josh,

I am not very familiar with the Diamond Sutra (yet!) but will offer my first guess at your question. Although this seems a superficial explanation I wonder if this passage is, in part, an admonition and a caution against the act of labelling. I base this interpretation on the understanding that throughout the Buddha's teachings there is much talk about seeing into the true nature of things, and that the true nature is not encapsulated by the name of the thing but by its own reality.

Edit: Also, in the act of labelling the practitioner may find themselves snared by the label, which may inhibit further progress.

I'm a bit of a tyro at this as you can see. :D
peace and harmony

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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Monsoon » Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:07 pm

Thanks Inga, it will be interesting to read of your progress and thoughts throughout your course.

I suspected that there would be overt Tibetan influence. I am not saying this is bad or wrong, but my own practice doesn't involve any of the Tibetan-specific parts and at this time I would rather not confuse myself. Hence, given my personal circummstances, background and wider family, I am staying within the Chinese Pure Land and Ch'an practice circle.

all the best for the studies though, I am a little envious that you have found a course that appeals to you. :)
peace and harmony

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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Josh Young » Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:15 pm

Intruiguing!

Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Tathagata attained the
Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment? Has the
Tathagata a teaching to enunciate? Subhuti answered: As I
understand Buddha's meaning there is no formulation of truth
called Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment.
Moreover, the Tathagata has no formulated teaching to
enunciate. Wherefore? Because the Tathagata has said that
truth is uncontainable and inexpressible. It neither is nor is it
not.


If a
Bodhisattva cherishes the idea of an egoentity, a personality, a
being, or a separated individuality, he is consequently not a
Bodhisattva, Subhuti. This is because in reality there is no
formula which gives rise to the Consummation of
Incomparable Enlightenment.


It is my favorite sutra, but I am not sure I understand it and would love to know what others think of it.

This short poem (likely a creative translation) is from it:
Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.


Through the Consummation
of Incomparable Enlightenment I acquired not even the least
thing; therefore it is called "Consummation of Incomparable
Enlightenment."


What is the relationship of context to thought and statement?
I am yearning to understand.
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Monsoon » Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:59 pm

Stumps me too, Josh!

The part concerning separation of an individual perhaps relates to the separation from the universe. maybe it is a way of reinforcing the notion of interdependence.

As for the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment, I have no idea :D , but it sounds a bit like how Daoists talk about Dao being both everything and nothing, yet is indescribable. Truth is what it is and only what it is. As for there being no formula for it, perhaps this relates to the need for realisation within one's being rather being applied from without. Not sure at all.

Fascinating stuff though.
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Josh Young » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:29 pm

I have my own belief about this... but it is my own and so I am hesitant...

I would ask first the question, "what is self"
And answer, just a term.

If I use the word "I" it is still not me.
If I say "I am hungry" have I become or personified hunger?
In terms of the statement, yes, but not really.

We refer to self, but what is self?
It is context specific and not actually anything.

I believe there is a subtle truth in this Sutra, but I don't like to share it because it contradicts a lot of the teachings and methods and formulas that now exist in the very broad religious category of Buddhism, much like the archaic vedic teachings contradict the modern ones as well.

As for the similarity of the teachings to Dao, I find them identical and can find no distinction between the ultimate concepts in Veda, Buddhism and Taoism. I find that only the terms, languages and regions vary, while the teachings do not.

On a fun note, the taiji symbol is known as two fish... there is a story of Jesus feeding a crowd with just two fish... I like that.
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Monsoon » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:24 pm

You know, I was going to say they were identical, but decided against it because I thought everyone would jump up and down on me and call me an idiot for suggesting it.

I believe there is a subtle truth in this Sutra, but I don't like to share it because it contradicts a lot of the teachings and methods and formulas that now exist in the very broad religious category of Buddhism, much like the archaic vedic teachings contradict the modern ones as well.


You cannot very well make a statement like this and then leave it hanging! The thread was for exploration. Put it out there and we can thrash some ideas around. Doesn't matter if you think it contradicts received wisdom - we're not rabid fundamentalists here :D (honest!)

On a trivial level to say "I am hungry" is nothing more than the convention for saying that you recognise your body's need for sustenance. Attributing special meaning to the "I" implies that there are two distinct parts to the statemtent: the part referring to self and the part referring to need. Can these be discussed in any sense as separate parts? I would say that 'need' cannot arise when there is no object suffering from loss. Is then the self the object, the physical body only? Or are the physical body and the higher self to be considered also as separate. Perhaps this is the way of our dualistic modern society.

However, if the self is ineffable then what purpose does the question of self serve?

That's one of the big problems facing people who are new to buddhism - there are a hell of a lot of questions and very few meaningful verbal answers.

Part of the fun really!

I
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Re: Dharma Talks

Postby Josh Young » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:38 pm

Then I must ask you to please forgive me for this:

Each thought is incarnation.
In each action of mind, self arises, and yet does not, for it is neither a thing or non-thing.

One cannot maintain past mind, present mind, or future mind.

Endless incarnation after endless incarnation.
Each identity distinct and yet influencing the next...

Every desire, every attachment, being rooted in mind and perception.

Until the realization, which is not a realization, occurs... sort of.
Words can point to it, but cannot describe it.

"Once-to-be-reborn" is merely a name.
There is no passing away nor coming into existence. [The
adept who realizes] this is called "Once-to-be-reborn."


It has nothing to do with previous or future lives.

Samsara is not a cycle of birth and death of spirits and bodies, it is the cycle of the mind.
Mantra does not work to liberate a soul for an afterlife to prevent reincarnation as a living being, it frees one from the constraints of mind that arise from the nature of mind. Thus nothing is obtained, nobody obtains it, and nothing changes:
This is altogether everywhere,
without differentiation or degree; therefore it is called
"Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment."


The term is Once to be reborn (or other similar translations) because it becomes understood, and thus the cycle of self incarnating over and over ends, and yet nothing changes and there is no method or formula. The word incomparable holds a clue, it is not about something better than another thing insofar that nothing can compare, it is about an inability for comparisons to be made.

A state of Awe can be considered. Have you ever seen the stars, or some other sight and had your mind go completely blank from awe? That state, right there...

One declares that
notions of selfhood, personality, entity and separate
individuality, as really existing, are erroneous - these terms are
merely figures of speech.


Labels are tools, thoughts are labels. We make use of them, but we are not them.
I am not my name, I am not my persona, I am not my habits, I am not my emotions, I am not my experiences. I am a context, fleeting and ephemeral. Incarnating with each label that is perceived as anything but a label. Attached to the language of mind, we perceive that which does not exist as if it does...

It has to do with the part of mind that never moves.
We are like an ocean (wuji), but notice the distinction of the waves (Yin and Yang) and thus because we note the distinction, we cannot keep track of the indistinct.

Words can point at it, but cannot describe it.

It is the same truth as all truth: I am that I am, this is the last rebirth, the once-to-be-reborn. It may be also said as: I am that.

It is the jewel of the lotus, the child beyond time, Kala and Kali, Wuji, Amitābha at rest, two fish, the swastika, heavenly mother and heavenly father. There is not self, there is not deity of any form, that is merely an illusion, a symbol.

It has no label, it neither is nor is not.

We can label it as the mother of all things, but as the mother of all things, it is without property, it has no aspect.

Poof!

(please forgive me)
There is a lot more to this, but why go into the symbols and teachings?


it is not a negation of existence, it does not say that the universe does not exist, nor does it say that it does exist. It is not to say that nothing matters for nothing is real
only that differentiation arises from unity
a wave arises from an ocean
and neither is, nor is not

Formerly one would chop wood and carry water
Now one must grocery shop and file tax returns!

It is called a mystery because that is what it is, not like a whodunnit
but like a mystery whose answer is itself mystery and this makes perfect sense

I am sorry that this is the understanding I share.
I do not wish to disturb anyone or argue points of belief.

I am only a fool who sees the stars and whose mind goes... blank.
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