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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Liberation Through Personal Experience and Meditation

However much we may pray to the Buddha we cannot be saved. The Buddha does not grant favors to those who pray to him. Instead of petitional prayers there is meditation that leads to self-control, purification and enlightenment. Meditation is neither a silent reverie nor keeping the mind blank. It is an active striving. It serves as a tonic both to the heart and the mind. The Buddha not only speaks of the futility of offering prayers but also disparages a slave mentality. A Buddhist should not pray to be saved, but should rely on himself and win his freedom.


James's comment: Buddhism is not a religion of revelation rather it is a religion of personal experience. The Buddha has shown us the path and it is up to us to walk it or not walk it. There are going to be pit-falls along the way but no one is going to "save us." In point of fact, the Buddha is within us therefore we already have the tools needed (the Dharma) to get out of those traps. If someone were to save us then we would not learn the lessons that we need to learn. Not unlike the chick being kicked out of the nest so that it will learn to fly for itself. It is the chick who must do the work itself to fly and so the same is for us.

When we find ourselves trapped in a deep pit we need to sit, meditate and contemplate the teachings of the Dharma until we figure a way out of our hole or a path beyond our obstacle. I heard a monk from Shasta Abbey in California explain it this way (and I'm paraphrasing partly in listing his words. Also, my words/thoughts are not bold, red or italisized):

Peace, joy, beauty, stability, and love are all found within ourselves. It is not something that we can create it is not something artificial, rather it is something that comes to us naturally like the wind or the sunlight. "Enlightenment" or "Nirvana" is not a place, it is more a state of personal experience. It is hard to explain to someone else. Much like trying to explain to someone what salt tastes like. A person needs to put their finger in the pile of salt and taste it for themselves to fully experience the taste of salt. This is why we meditate so that we may know these things naturally. Knowing what we already know and remembering what we've already forgotten is why we meditate as well. In training we all begin in the same place in this body and mind and in these present circumstances whatever they maybe. Our circumstances may differ and they do but we are all starting in the same place. The "good news" is that everyday it starts all over again and the "bad news" is that everyday it starts all over again. Don't hold onto your thoughts or push them away. Don't grasp them and don't reject them. Allow them to rise and stay and pass as they are going to do. Just let that happen but but but but AND instead of putting your will behind all that, ok., instead of putting energy and intensity and everything you can, just be willing to be still. And do that with stillness and mindfulness and kindness. Be still in whatever you are doing. After a while it creeps into your life and it's like a fungus in a way as it begins to grow on everything. The difference, however, is that we want it to stay because it's rather nice. ;)

-Peace to all beings

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Binh Zientek said...

It is so hard in this world at times. How does a person find true liberation from the competitions, jealousies and anxieties that seems to be the human condition?

Relief is temporary and I guess that the best I can do is to keep trying to be at peace with myself and others...but it is difficult. Things come in life and stir up negative emotions, and sometimes it is so hard to keep a perspective.

"James" said...


It is indeed hard but so worth it to keep trying. I find that it is one step at a time and always returning to deep breathing, reading and rereading the teachings from the Dharma.

Hang in there, hang on, keep getting up and moving forward. That's all that anyone can ask of you (or of ourselves).

I'll hold your hand if you hold mine. :)

I bow to the Buddha within you.

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