In the interest of buoying my new practice of Mindful Morning Saturdays (MMS), through the art of sharing my experience in written form, this is yet another installment to help me along.
This morning I especially enjoyed reading the Discourse on the Eight Realizations of the Great Beings, as part of my MMS sutra readings. The sutra starts: Wholeheartedly, day and night, disciples of the Awakened One should recite and meditate on the Eight Realizations discovered by the Great Beings. It then lists them in the order shown above and goes into short detail about each one. The concluding sentence of the sutra states: If disciples of the Buddha recite and meditate on these Eight Realizations, they will put an end to countless misunderstandings and difficulties and progress toward enlightenment, leaving behind the world of birth and death, dwelling forever in peace.
The Sixth Realization especially stood out to me. It seemed different than the other Realizations and it got my internal gears moving. Here’s the whole paragraph from the sutra:
The Sixth Realization is the awareness that poverty creates hatred and anger, which creates a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and actions. When practicing generosity, bodhisattvas* consider everyone – friends and enemies alike – to be equal. They do not condemn anyone’s past wrongdoings or hate even those presently causing harm.
* Bodhisattva: Literally “enlightened being,” one committed to enlightening oneself and others so that all may be liberated from suffering.
Day 11 – Once again I opted to lay down for my six minutes of meditation instead of sitting. I’ve been enjoying my daily practice and am finding it beneficial in regards to my relationship with myself – I feel more at ease even in the midst of stressful happenings and am more confident in my ability to meet the present moment on its own terms rather than my own expectations of how things should be, even when it’s challenging. I’m also finding that I am becoming more motivated and skilled at not getting caught and stuck in my unskillful thought patterns and habit energies. Of course there are other things at play here as well other than my daily sitting practice but I see clearly that it is of great support and benefit and for that I am grateful. After my sitting I read the Discourse on the Eight Realizations of the Great Beings, which are as follows:
“The First Realization is the awareness that the world is impermanent…The Second Realization is the awareness that more desire brings more suffering…The Third Realization is the awareness that the human mind is always searching outside itself and never feels fulfilled…The Fourth Realization is the awareness that indolence (laziness) is an obstacle to practice…The Fifth Realization is the awareness that ignorance is the cause of the endless round of birth and death…The Sixth Realization is the awareness that poverty creates hatred and anger, which creates a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and actions…The Seventh Realization is the awareness that the five categories of sensual desire – money, sex, fame, overeating and oversleeping – lead to problems…The Eighth Realization is the awareness that the fire of birth and death is raging, causing endless suffering everywhere…”
In all but the Sixth Realization I see the same root which leads to the sufferings mentioned in the discourse: illusion. Having false impressions about ourselves, other people and the world colors everything we do in body, speech and mind. If we were able to see life clearly, unimpeded by the vast and varying array of our misperceptions, there would be no more suffering to be created. Not only do we exist almost entirely in the realm of illusions but we cling desperately to them and don’t realize it. We think, in fact we KNOW, that our thoughts are right, our way is right, our view is right, our perceptions are right. When in reality our limited perspective about any given subject, person or experience is just that – very very limited, incomplete, oftentimes incorrect and bound up in our self-absorbed nature (a sea of illusion).
All of our suffering is self-manifested. How we relate to life’s experiences and with what approach is how our world unfolds. When we enjoy creating drama, which many of us do (and don’t know it), drama will manifest. When we wallow in our physical ailments then a miserable life will ensue and our pain levels will only persist and increase. When we victimize ourselves and blame others for our troubles and sorrow we live a life of anger and isolation. When we are overly sensitive or take things too personally or seriously our comfort zone shrinks to the size of a tennis ball and everything and everyone has the potential to throw us off balance. When we are unable to take responsibility for our own experiences in life we continue our path of suffering – generously watering the seeds of illusion as we tread.
How we view the world is how we live in it. How we view ourselves in relationship to the present moment is the difference between whether we experience more joy and ease or more pain and suffering.
Day 2 – I just finished my sitting meditation period. Afterwards I chanted the heart sutra and then read part of the Discourse on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a Snake. The discourses are old teachings handed down through many many years and often start by saying, “I heard these words one time when the Buddha was staying in (such and such a place).”
This is from the discourse I read today (these are the words of the Buddha):
“Bhikshus (fully ordained monks), I have told you many times the importance of knowing when it is time to let go of the raft and not hold onto it unnecessarily. When a mountain stream overflows and becomes a torrent of floodwater carrying debris, a man or woman who wants to get across might think, ‘What is the safest way to cross this floodwater?’ Assessing the situation, she may decide to gather branches and grasses, construct a raft, and use it to cross to the other side. But, after arriving on the other side, she thinks, ‘I spent a lot of time and energy building this raft. It is a prized possession, and I will carry it with me as I continue my journey.’ If she puts it on her shoulders or head and carries it with her on land, bhikshus, do you think that would be intelligent?” The bhikshus replied, “No, World-Honored One.” The Buddha said, “How could she have acted more wisely? She could have thought, ‘This raft helped me get across the water safely. Now I will leave it at the water’s edge for someone else to use in the same way.’ Wouldn’t that be a more intelligent thing to do?” The bhikshus replied, “Yes, World-Honored One.” The Buddha taught, “I have given this teaching on the raft many times to remind you how necessary it is to let go of all the true teachings, not to mention teachings that are not true.”