Addressing Views and Clinging at the Source : Continued

“It’s a real feedback on our mindfulness practice also. We can tell if somebody’s mindfulness practice is working correctly when we see that he or she is getting less attached to views. This doesn’t mean not having any opinions or being utterly indecisive or unsure. It means that you can very clearly formulate your ideas and views, but you don’t hold on to them tightly. The open awareness that you have is then able to understand the other side. Somebody who is diametrically opposed to your views – you understand why he or she is saying that. You may even be able to appreciate the logic and coherence of their thinking. So beautiful. So powerful. And this is all because the hedonic investment in your views and opinions is something that you are consciously monitoring through awareness.”

We’re trying to be very inclusive – receptive and open. To allow for others to be different. To allow for racial differences, gender differences, differences in interest – allow people to be the way they are. That doesn’t mean that I have to be like them, but it does mean that there can be space for others to be the way they are. That’s the way out of discrimination, out of fundamentalism, out of dogmatism, and out of so many other evils. Very spacious and allowing, but at the same time also very clear and discerning. The two come together in that quality of being aware.

I can allow myself to step out of my position, put myself into your position, and look at the situation from your viewpoint. So fascinating. And that doesn’t mean that afterwards I can’t go back to my viewpoint – that I have somehow lost it for good just because for a moment I let go of it to explore the other position. I can still have my opinion, but I will also have a greater understanding of the whole situation. I now understand the situation from the opposite viewpoint. If I’m just holding on to my viewpoint, I’ll get a sort of tunnel view, like I’m wearing those blinders they put on horses, and everything that is different from my view has to be out – cut off. Not allowed.

– Bhante Analayo

Addressing Views and Clinging at the Source

“When we really work with feelings, we learn to hold views without clinging to them. And that is a huge issue. There is a part in the Suttanipāta – the Atthakavagga – which is very famous for a lot of beautiful, poetic expressions of not holding on to any views. Some scholars think that this is different from the rest of the teachings, but other scholars have pointed out that this is not the case, and I agree with the latter.

The Atthakavagga highlights in a very powerful and poetic fashion what we also find in the discourses in the four Nikāyas, namely the need to be detached with respect to one’s own views. Which does not mean having just no view. The point at stake is not to rest in silence with whatever happens and pretend to be a transcendental vegetable. The point at issue is to be able to express one’s opinion and view without holding on to it, to be able to allow space for the views of others, and even more so to allow for the possibility that MY view might not be correct.

So what the Atthakavagga and other such passages show is that you can have your opinions and views without investing your identity and happiness into them. If you don’t “invest” in your views, you don’t have to hold on to them so tightly. You can be more objective about them – less dogmatic – less influenced by this Myside Bias. Then it might be actually possible for you to emotionally handle the fact that your opinion might not be correct. You can allow for that possibility. That is such a huge difference. And this is so important. And it’s something that I find is not often enough emphasized.”

– Bhante Analayo

Mental Health and Dhamma Teachers

I wanted to broach what I consider to be an important topic with regards to those who teach the dhamma(monks and lay persons).
For many reasons, most of them unfounded, people tend to put a lot of stock in someone who is considered a dhamma teacher, whether in robes or not. They put them on a pedestal, often as someone “higher” and “wiser”. They will ask them about the most important life questions and, due to human nature, wish to have someone “more wise then them” who can tell them what is best to do in their own lives.
This is best represented in a funny Ajahn Brahm line where he says ” people always ask monks about all kinds of life problems, even marriage, why are you asking me about marriage.. I’m a monk!”
For those of us who are put up on the pedestal to answer these questions, it can be quite the dangerous position, because a person who is willing to give over agency to “someone wiser”, also gives over responsibility to them, so if advice goes wrong, who will be blamed?
Many vulnerable people come looking for wisdom to the dhamma, including those who have the whole range of mental health issues, from PTSD to Schizophrenia. Those who teach the dhamma need to make sure that they answer questions related to these issues with great care.
I’m not a mental health professional, and don’t have the qualifications to be one, but for almost a decade I worked with said professionals and people with every kind of mental health issue. I think this gives me a sensitivity towards this issue that most would not have. When I hear a dhamma teacher be dismissive and flippant with questions regarding mental health, it bothers me, because I understand the power said teachers have on vulnerable people.
A prime example of my point for this post was a year ago after being a Samanera barely a month, I did my first dhamma talk. At the end of that retreat I had a woman come up to me and talk to me. Throughout the course of the discussion I found out her mental health diagnosis, as well as her medications, and then was not all that surprised when the gist of the conversation was moving towards her looking for some kind of validation, from some guy in robes, to stop taking her medications and replace them with meditation….
From my experience I am well aware that often times medications for mental health issues can do more harm then help, they have unpleasant side effects, and most people dislike taking them, but even still a dhamma teacher needs to be very careful with this. I would say never ever go against the advice/care of professionals. You can add some dhamma in there, some advice and tips, but do it as something to be done IN CONJUNCTION with their clinical treatment.
One of the things I’ve learned is that it is OK, and actually PREFERABLE, to say ” i don’t know”. when it comes down to it, don’t feel like you have to give them some kind of answer, if you feel that what you say might be detrimental.
At the very least, those who teach dhamma need to be very vigilant to make sure that if we cannot help, we at least do no harm, and leave what is professional to the professionals.

Ajahn Brahmali on Impermanence

Impermanence : What Can We Rely On?

“In the Ocean of Samsara, what can you hold on to, to keep from drowning?…. Nothing”

short clip from a recent talk on Dukkha during the 3 Characteristics of Existence Retreat.

 

Dukkha : Laying Down the Burden

“Dukkha is the result of how we relate to reality. If we cling to what is impermanent, what is undependable, we cause our own suffering. Dukkha is not something that somebody else, the universe or whatever, puts on us, Dukkha is what we take up, we take up the Burden ourselves”.

“If we have the responsibility of this Dukkha, if we are creating our own suffering, well guess what, we have the choice to not do that, we have the choice to let go.”

“Once you realize that you have the power, once you realize that its not some external force that is causing you suffering, pain, once you realize that it’s you, and you are responsible for your own dukkha, then you give yourself the power to change that, to end that Dukkha.”

Interview with Bhante Analayo on Vedana(feeling)

Vimala Bhikkhuni – The Buddha’s Teaching of No-Self: Letting Go of Limiting Beliefs

 

Dhamma Talk – Various Aspects of Metta

 

Respecting the Variety of Buddhist Traditions

Following the journey of a possible future Bhikkhuni(female monastic)

I wanted to share the video log of a friend of mine whom I met a few months ago. She resides over in Australia and is on the path towards becoming a Bhikkhuni. I’m happy that she is doing a video log of her journey as I believe it will be of great benefit for women who wish to follow the same path, as well as men.

The fourfold assembly is fourfold for a reason, and the growth of the Bhikkhuni order is of great benefit to the growth and survival of the Dhamma world wide.

So check out her videos and see a different perspective on the Dhamma, from a woman I greatly admire and wish well.

Setting the Groundwork For Change

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