“In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away” – Shing Xiong

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sangha Meeting

I didn't intend to write about the meeting but saw this quote shortly afterward:

"Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power." -Lao Tzu

The Taoist sage encapsulated a foundational teaching of the Buddha Dhamma with that pithy statement. Many will disagree but my opinion is that the two paths parallel each other in several respects. People like to see similarities among many of the world's religions and there are, no argument here. When Taoism and Buddhism combined in China, which came about because of the cultural inclination to include rather than replace, and was of course not intentional but an organic influence upon both, the result was magical. We are so fortunate to be present to enjoy the two flavors of dhamma together.

At the sangha meeting this morning we talked briefly about Dhamma being real - palpable, verifiable and useful, not just quotable theory. The Buddha taught how to master self and why mastering others is without value not just in the teachings but also by example through speech and action. Sensei elaborates and illuminates further self mastery tools in the workbook, the missing peace.

We also talked about the gradual path, and how meditation changes over time. About the value of methods in training on and off the cushion with the recognition that methods are just methods and attachment to any particular method is not beneficial, how this applies to all aspects of duality and the development of discernment.

Venerable spoke about a book she read recently in which the author advocated discarding all methods and just dropping judgement at once and altogether. Then we talked about the value of methods in training so long as they are recognized for the training tools they are. No need to keep the training wheels on the bike after we can keep our balance without them. Present moment awareness is stabilized by training in the roots of happiness - generosity compassion and wisdom.

From my perspective as a junior almsperson this is where authentic deportment is cultivated, right along with 'supernatural' powers. Stamping behavior with a certain brand of deportment is a curious reaction to not being in the moment. Sensei remarked (I paraphrase) "there can be no harm done when one is purely present without judgement, in non-duality." However for average humans living daily lives the present moment is removed from awareness and obscured with preferences. That brought about the disciplinary guidelines of Vinaya and Emily Post and every culture on earth. It is also the motivation for training in the fourth noble truth, to avoid the stamp and embark on an exploration of the wonders that enfold us.

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