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A Buddhist Discussion Group


Deva

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I went to the Dharma discussion class today. The topic of discussion was these four lines from the Ngondro:

 

1. The freedoms and favorable conditions of this human birth are extremely difficult to obtain.

 

2. Everything born is impermanent and bound to die.

 

3. The results of virtuous and unvirtuous actions are inexorable.

 

4. The three realms of cyclic existence have the nature of an ocean of suffering.

 

A lot of people wanted to discuss points 1 and 3.

 

My take:

 

1. The freedoms and favorable conditions of this human birth are extremely difficult to obtain.

 

That is what Buddhist teaching says. From my point of view, I am undecided on this statement. How can we know this? We have mental abilities that seem to be unique in nature, so in that regard, yes, there are freedoms and favorable conditions. Difficult to obtain means that one could have been born in any number of different forms but was specially favored (due to good karma) with this one – which is a matter of faith.

 

2. Everything born is impermanent and bound to die.

 

No problem, this is a fact. However, it may have the most far reaching effect on what you do, if you take it seriously.

 

3. A lot of discussion about whether or not point 3 (karma) is actually true. Not too sure on this myself, but given the Buddhist view of life as being an eternal, endless process, something like a stream with no beginning or end, I suppose it could be true. If you did something horrendous you would eventually have to face the consequence, likewise the virtuous. There is a lot of emphasis placed on what you do. Not so much on what you believe – which is one thing I like about the Buddhist approach.

 

4. The three realms of cyclic existence have the nature of an ocean of suffering.

 

Not sure what the “three realms” are, but no question that this existence is an “ocean of suffering” That is, suffering as understood in a variety of ways, dissatisfaction, constant struggle, grasping, clinging, physical suffering, the whole myriad of ways people suffer.

 

The discussion was marred by one woman having to relate the story of how she inadvertently rubbed her foot against a man’s leg during the last class. I had to listen to this self-indulgent, attention-seeking person relate this story at least 3 times (as different people were coming in) before the class began. Everyone found it hilarious. I laughed the first time, but when she kept repeating it, I found it less and less amusing.

 

Someone came in about 10 minutes after the class started, kneeled in the hallway right outside the open door (while discussion was going on) in a praying position and started sobbing. To her everlasting credit, one of the senior students escorted this person elsewhere. I have absolutely no idea what this was about. I suppose it is something that happens now and then in any type of religious place. I cannot understand people who exhibit no self-control in the presence of a lot of other people. I just don't get it. One of my flaws, I guess. Having said this, I do wish her well, whatever her problem was.

 

One lady was saying how she had to break off coming to the dharma center after awhile. It was scary for her. She said the reason was that she had found herself changing for the better, and that was why she was afraid. I thought that was very interesting. I broke off attending for short periods myself, but fear wasn’t the reason. It was the foreign-ness of it all. It was also, at times, the unfriendliness that I perceived there. This unfriendliness thing is abating, but in three years I cannot say I have a friend there. To me, the people are mostly very standoffish – although someone else said they were “loving”. Wow, what a difference in perception.

 

I mostly stay because of aesthetic reasons, and because I think the Buddhist idea of emptiness has some merit and is something I must study further. To do that I also must practice, because it is not strictly an intellectual thing.

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