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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Collecting Pieces of Information

We should not merely expend all our energy collecting pieces of information, but make an effort to experience their validity through insight in our daily life.

-Geshe Rabten, in Advice From a Spiritual Friend

Copyright Wisdom Publications 2001. Reprinted from "Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations," edited by Josh Bartok. Reprinted with permission by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm St., Somerville MA 02144 U.S.A,

James's Comment: In other words, avoid spiritual materialism. This is an obstacle that I often come across.

I LOVE to learn but often times I find myself reading books instead of actually sitting on the cushion to meditate. It is sometimes easy for me to get "caught up" with ideas in my "mind" instead of just breathing or going for a mindful walk to take in the fluid aspect of nature.

At times my "mind" attempts to make the teachings of the Buddha a lot more complicated then they really are. Concentrating on knowing a bunch of information gleened from the suttras and books written by noble teachers. I catch myself memorizing "teachings" in hopes of being more "Buddhist."

As if I am trying to prove to myself and others that I am indeed a valid "Buddhist" (Whatever a "Buddhist" is anyway). In the beginning I was fascinated with Buddhism and saw it as an "exotic" religion. I quickly, however, had to realize that Buddhism is much more then just wearing a mala, chanting some mantras and burning incense. At the same time, however, I had to realize that is was nothing special and quite simple.

This was finding the middle way. I crashed through the forests of "spiritual materialism" for awhile and then crossed the stream to crash through the forests of nihilism before I finally just sat down in the middle of the stream, relaxed and let the current take me along.

I still struggle with falling into extremes but I am trying to spend more time now just breathing and being at one with change. Riding the waves of existence and clinging to nothing.

P.S.~I am slowly wading through a "book" ironically about "spiritual materialism" but it is excellent. It is Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

-Peace to us all-

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Gareth said...

I know exactly what you mean, for me this involves too much time browsing the e-sangha as well. It's all good stuff, but sometimes I need to remind myself to just sit.

This is a good reminder for us all.

Gareth said...

I've found an artile I wanted to link to in my first comment info mania, this was linked to by Robert on Beginner's Mind

The fact that regularly checking email, can lower your IQ by taking you off task. I think that this sifting of information is a similar thing.

Anyway - I thought you might find it interesting, if you haven’t seen it already.

best wishes


isaiah said...

"At times my "mind" attempts to make the teachings of the Buddha a lot more complicated then they really are."

Yes, it is our nature to not believe in simplicity. With the popular culture screaming that we should be, have, and do more, more, more, it isn't too hard to see how we can get 'off message'. This is why meditation is so important.

I'm learning that I can meditate and clear my mind in some of the strangest places and under the most unusual of circumstances...and then, when I sit to meditate, as I have been taught, my mind wanders off until some time passes and I can again return to breath.

I, too, could do with less collecting and more wonder with what I already posses.

"You are all Buddhas! There is nothing you need to achieve. Just open your eyes."
Siddhartha Gautama

shadow_dancer said...

Those who haven't heard of the mystic, Osho should look into his writtings; he has inspired me greatly...instead of listing sutras and quoting previous masters, he quite simply instructs upon a concept in such a way that it is to be used or discarded...thus keeping the reader from "collecting stagnant pieces of information"

shadow_dancer said...

Sitting on your mat with insence burning is only the most most base of meditations. Allow life itself to become a meditation. Watching is all it takes... pay attention to all the little details of life. Everything from the tatse of a fine meal to the sensation of feeling the ground beneith your feet. Nor does this have to be a passive meditation! Observe your actions as they are happening(in a third person way), as you are participating in life. A person who meditates only while sitting becomes a stone buddha.

"James" said...

Gareth: I don't doubt it. The computer is a lot like the t.v. in that regard.

Isaiah:Yeah, I sometimes even meditate while I'm stopped in traffic!! Hehe.

Shadow: I agree about the "stone Buddha" reference. Great way to put it. I will be looking into Osho's stuff for sure. Thanks for the recommendation.

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