December 11, 2014 at 6:43 am #270piersParticipant
I’ve recently fallen for the buddhist approach of Cheng Yen…I find her practice (via kindness action) very inspiring. But it makes the tibetan/thai/zen/insight focus on meditation seem rather self-indulgent. I’d be interested to know what other people think and whether anyone would be interested in discussing this further.
Here is a link to her talking (it’s 40 min long):
Also, a good book introduction is
I have a copy that I can lend to anyone interested (firstname.lastname@example.org).
February 11, 2015 at 4:54 pm #272RagtimeParticipant
I know this is somewhat late, but better than never.Not having ever studied Chen Yen, I cannot comment on her approach. The idea that all meditation should be self-indulgent I find strange. I’m sure some people do meditate for self improvement ,and maybe they need to, who knows. the long tradition of meditation in the various Buddhist schools has always been understood as an important element of the “raft” to traverse samsara.It is a skilful means and also a wonderful way to study the self. And as Dogen said “to study the self is to forget the self and be awakened by all things”
February 22, 2015 at 8:15 am #273piersParticipant
Thanks for your reply.
So meditating has caused you to be awakened? If so, why do you continue to meditate? And if not, then perhaps you should try a different raft. Surely, once awakened, you want to be out in the world performing boundless loving kindness. What value to the world are you sitting on a cushion?
And what is this awakening? I think we should talk about that more. I believe that inner turmoil and suffering offer opportunity for psychological transformation. Yet people beaten down with inner suffering cannot believe that transformation is possible, and perhaps think that a sufferers’ support group is enough. Authentic talk and sharing of spirit nourishment is what’s needed.
Of course meditation can be great in many different ways, but I it’s more authentically done in solitude. As a group thing it seems less so. Why would you want to meet in a group and waste the opportunity to talk? I think meditation has come to be overvalued for historical reasons. The buddha had no choice but to adopt a band of celibate followers to spread his message…there being no Facebook in those days. Perhaps for monks, meditating to suppress lust sometimes created turmoil that opened them to transformative experience. But meditating monks contribute nothing to society, which perhaps explains why buddhism fell out of favour. And these days I think there’s danger that the practice merely dulls and suppresses the inner life of turmoil, thereby missing the potential for awakening.
For what it’s worth, Cheng Yen talks of living meditation…when every action and thought in everyday life is done in meditation. She’s an inspirational woman. Sadly, she’s fettered by reincarnation belief.
I interpret the raft metaphor as saying that all teachings are disposable. They are simply attempts to communicate the uncommunicatable.
Each of us has a little of spirit within us. When we realise that, it becomes our responsibility to nurture it and care for it, for the good of the world. Only though our actions can we express our spirit. There are countless examples of great courage all around the world. Take heart from them. Have courage to be true to your authentic spirit, and it will reward you. As the buddha said in his final words, “go by the light of your own lamp”.
Finally, apply the CIA test: is this a practice that the CIA would be happy to support? And if so, are you happy with that?
Comments gratefully received. Best wishes…
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