Rafiki and Cate

Discussion in 'Spirituality/Worship' started by vivian53, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. vivian53

    vivian53 Member

    Please tell me about The Four Truths as taught by Buddha.

    That's where I have begun my study but want to hear the material in YOUR words.

    I didn't realize there were so many different types of Buddhism. Which do you follow?

    Cate (I'm hoping it was you sweetie) how about explaining the Four Toltec Truths?

    I am looking forward to your responses and do appreciate anything ANYONE has to add.

    My threads are like my life, open.

    Also have you ever felt the presence of God while meditating? Felt His breath on you?

  2. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    Not quite up to snuff (what a strange expression that is!) just now so this will be unsatisfactory. Ah well.

    The Four Noble Truths can be discussed and taught for years. They are the foundation of the Buddha's teachings and of every school of Buddhism. There are several translations but, basically, the Buddha said:

    To be alive is to suffer: illness, loss, age, death...
    Suffering has a cause: attachment
    The cause can be largely eradicated: mindfulness.
    There is a path to end suffering: the eightfold path

    1. Right View
    2. Right Intention

    Ethical Conduct
    3. Right Speech
    4. Right Action
    5. Right Livelihood

    Mental Development
    6. Right Effort
    7. Right Mindfulness
    8. Right Concentration

    The Buddha was all about dealing with how difficult life is. He was ill prepared to cope with it because his father had shielded him from life. He freaked out when he found out about illness, death and... uhm, two other things which I can't remember right now. He tried everything but remained very neurotic and suffered a lot. Then he just sat down and stayed in the moment and realized what life truly was - he awoke and he was enlightened. People asked him to teach but he said he couldn't because you just couldn't teach this; you had to experience it. But he was now so peaceful and happy and untroubled that everyone insisted he teach so he gave it his best shot and began with the above. It works but you really do have to do it and "get it" yourself before it really makes sense. Hence my problems right now!

    There are many schools and I draw from most. I don't study New Kadampa at all and I'm not much into Pure Land. I study a lot of Mahayana branches: Tibetan His Holiness Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, Robert Thurman, etc. and also the great Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hahn and Zen is also a splendid school. Buddhism developed in many regions and took on aspects of the host culture. The Buddha lived in a Hindu culture so many things, like reincarnation, were taken as givens. The teaching of the Buddha should, I think, be studied independent of their regional context to get any kind of understanding. That's just my opinion.

    It seems very simple on the surface, and that is enough, but it is also full of marvelous concepts like "emptiness" which are in total accord with modern science.

    Compassion is a huge aspect of Buddhism. It's not simply about how not to suffer oneself; it's about what to do about the suffering of all sentient beings. It's about the problem of suffering universally.

    It can be studied for a lifetime without ever getting to the end of it. It is a way to live. It is a psychology. It is a philosophy. It is a religion. It is profoundly mysterious and deceptively ordinary. It is as complex or as simple as the student.

    It keeps me sane and happy and it is what I have always known without knowing it. The Buddha instructed his students not to take his word for any of it but to practice themselves.

    I am completely ill equipped to explain any of it!

    Peace out,
    a very woozy Rafiki

    PS Re your question of the presence of God. I always felt enormous love for God but every description of God I encountered seemed insufficient and very human like. I could not shake the feeling that we had created God in our image, rather than the other way round, and that was insufficient to this love I felt. This enormous, all encompassing, omnipresent LOVE. So, the God of my experience has no need of breath or breathing in any sense that I would ever feel. All stuff of the material world is illusory, transient, imaginary... What we call God is none of that.

    ETA Cate and I were posting at the same time!

    EATA Lordy, if we were posting at the same time how come it took me nearly an hour longer than Cate to come up with an answer which is more confusing and doesn't do nearly so good a job on the four noble truths! Well done Cate!

    [This Message was Edited on 03/31/2009]
  3. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave this teaching in Dharamsala, 7 October 1981. It was translated by Alexander Berzin, clarified by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, edited by Nicholas Ribush and first published in the souvenir booklet for Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre's Second Dharma Celebration, November 5-8 1982, New Delhi, India.

    Published in 2005 in the LYWA publication Teachings From Tibet.

    When the great universal teacher Shakyamuni Buddha first spoke about the Dharma in the noble land of India, he taught the four noble truths: the truths of suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the path to the cessation of suffering. Since many books contain discussions of the four noble truths in English, they (as well as the eightfold path) are very well known.1 These four are all-encompassing, including many things within them.

    Considering the four noble truths in general and the fact that none of us wants suffering and we all desire happiness, we can speak of an effect and a cause on both the disturbing side and the liberating side. True sufferings and true causes are the effect and cause on the side of things that we do not want; true cessation and true paths are the effect and cause on the side of things that we desire.

    The truth of suffering

    We experience many different types of suffering. All are included in three categories: the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change and all-pervasive suffering.

    Suffering of suffering refers to things such as headaches and so forth. Even animals recognize this kind of suffering and, like us, want to be free from it. Because beings have fear of and experience discomfort from these kinds of suffering, they engage in various activities to eliminate them.

    Suffering of change refers to situations where, for example, we are sitting very comfortably relaxed and at first, everything seems all right, but after a while we lose that feeling and get restless and uncomfortable.

    In certain countries we see a great deal of poverty and disease: these are sufferings of the first category. Everybody realizes that these are suffering conditions to be eliminated and improved upon. In many Western countries, poverty may not be that much of a problem, but where there is a high degree of material development there are different kinds of problems. At first we may be happy having overcome the problems that our predecessors faced, but as soon as we have solved certain problems, new ones arise. We have plenty of money, plenty of food and nice housing, but by exaggerating the value of these things we render them ultimately worthless. This sort of experience is the suffering of change.

    A very poor, underprivileged person might think that it would be wonderful to have a car or a television set and, should he acquire them, would at first feel very happy and satisfied. Now, if such happiness were permanent, as long as he had the car and the TV set he would remain happy. But he does not; his happiness goes away. After a few months he wants another kind of car; if he has the money, he will buy a better television set. The old things, the same objects that once gave him much satisfaction, now cause dissatisfaction. That is the nature of change; that is the problem of the suffering of change.

    All-pervasive suffering is the third type of suffering. It is called all-pervasive [Tib: kyab-pa du-che kyi dug-ngäl—literally, the suffering of pervasive compounding] because it acts as the basis of the first two.

    There may be those who, even in developed countries, want to be liberated from the second suffering, the suffering of change. Bored with the defiled feelings of happiness, they seek the feeling of equanimity, which can lead to rebirth in the formlessness realm that has only that feeling.

    Now, desiring liberation from the first two categories of suffering is not the principal motivation for seeking liberation [from cyclic existence]; the Buddha taught that the root of the three sufferings is the third: all-pervasive suffering. Some people commit suicide; they seem to think that there is suffering simply because there is human life and that by ending their life there will be nothing. This third, all-pervasive, suffering is under the control of karma and the disturbing mind. We can see, without having to think very deeply, that this is under the control of the karma and disturbing mind of previous lives: anger and attachment arise simply because we have these present aggregates.2 The aggregate of compounding phenomena is like an enabler for us to generate karma and these disturbing minds; this is called nä-ngän len [literally, taking a bad place]. Because that which forms is related to taking the bad place of disturbing minds and is under their control, it supports our generating disturbing minds and keeps us from virtue. All our suffering can be traced back to these aggregates of attachment and clinging.

    Perhaps, when you realize that your aggregates are the cause of all your suffering, you might think that suicide is the way out. Well, if there were no continuity of mind, no future life, all right—if you had the courage you could finish yourself off. But, according to the Buddhist viewpoint, that’s not the case; your consciousness will continue. Even if you take your own life, this life, you will have to take another body that will again be the basis of suffering. If you really want to get rid of all your suffering, all the difficulties you experience in your life, you have to get rid of the fundamental cause that gives rise to the aggregates that are the basis of all suffering. Killing yourself isn’t going to solve your problems.

    Because this is the case, we must now investigate the cause of suffering: is there a cause or not? If there is, what kind of cause is it: a natural cause, which cannot be eliminated, or a cause that depends on its own cause and therefore can be? If it is a cause that can be overcome, is it possible for us to overcome it? Thus we come to the second noble truth, the truth of the cause of suffering.

    The truth of the cause of suffering

    Buddhists maintain that there is no external creator and that even though a buddha is the highest being, even a buddha does not have the power to create new life. So now, what is the cause of suffering?

    Generally, the ultimate cause is the mind; the mind that is influenced by negative thoughts such as anger, attachment, jealousy and so forth is the main cause of birth and all such other problems. However, there is no possibility of ending the mind, of interrupting the stream of consciousness itself. Furthermore, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the deepest level of mind; it is simply influenced by the negative thoughts. Thus, the question is whether or not we can fight and control anger, attachment and the other disturbing negative minds. If we can eradicate these, we shall be left with a pure mind that is free from the causes of suffering.

    This brings us to the disturbing negative minds, the delusions, which are mental factors. There are many different ways of presenting the discussion of the mind, but, in general, the mind itself is something that is mere clarity and awareness. When we speak of disturbing attitudes such as anger and attachment, we have to see how they are able to affect and pollute the mind; what, in fact, is their nature? This, then, is the discussion of the cause of suffering.

    If we ask how attachment and anger arise,3 the answer is that they are undoubtedly assisted by our grasping at things to be true and inherently real. When, for instance, we are angry with something, we feel that the object is out there, solid, true and unimputed, and that we ourselves are likewise something solid and findable. Before we get angry, the object appears ordinary, but when our mind is influenced by anger, the object looks ugly, completely repulsive, nauseating; something we want to get rid of immediately—it appears really to exist in that way: solid, independent and very unattractive. This appearance of “truly ugly” fuels our anger. Yet when we see the same object the next day, when our anger has subsided, it seems more beautiful than it did the day before; it’s the same object but it doesn’t seem as bad. This shows how anger and attachment are influenced by our grasping at things as being true and unimputed.

    Thus, the texts on Middle Way [Madhyamaka] philosophy state that the root of all the disturbing negative minds is grasping at true existence; that this assists them and brings them about; that the closed-minded ignorance that grasps at things as being inherently, truly real is the basic source of all our suffering. Based on this grasping at true existence we develop all kinds of disturbing negative minds and create a great deal of negative karma.

    In his Entering the Middle Way [Madhyamakavatara], the great Indian pandit Chandrakirti says that first there’s attachment to the self, which is then followed by grasping at things and becoming attached to them as “mine.”4 At first there is a very solid, independent I that is very big—bigger than anything else; this is the basis. From this gradually comes “this is mine; this is mine; this is mine.” Then “we, we, we.” Then, because of our taking this side, come “others, our enemies.” Towards I and mine, attachment arises. Towards him, her and them, we feel distance and anger; then jealousy and all such competitive feelings arise. Thus ultimately, the problem is this feeling of “I”—not the mere I but the I with which we become obsessed. This gives rise to anger and irritation, along with harsh words and all the physical expressions of aversion and hatred.

    All these negative actions (of body, speech and mind) accumulate bad karma.5 Killing, cheating and all similar negative actions also result from bad motivation. The first stage is solely mental, the disturbing negative minds; in the second stage these negative minds express themselves in actions, karma. Immediately, the atmosphere is disturbed. With anger, for example, the atmosphere becomes tense, people feel uneasy. If somebody gets furious, gentle people try to avoid that person. Later on, the person who got angry also feels embarrassed and ashamed for having said all sorts of absurd things, whatever came into his or her mind. When you get angry, there’s no room for logic or reason; you become literally mad. Later, when your mind has returned to normal, you feel ashamed. There’s nothing good about anger and attachment; nothing good can result from them. They may be difficult to control, but everybody can realize that there is nothing good about them. This, then, is the second noble truth. Now the question arises whether or not these kinds of negative mind can be eliminated.

    The truth of the cessation of suffering

    The root of all disturbing negative minds is our grasping at things as truly existent. Therefore, we have to investigate whether this grasping mind is correct or whether it is distorted and seeing things incorrectly. We can do this by investigating how the things it perceives actually exist. However, since this mind itself is incapable of seeing whether or not it apprehends objects correctly, we have to rely on another kind of mind. If, upon investigation, we discover many other, valid ways of looking at things and that all these contradict, or negate, the way that the mind that grasps at true existence perceives its objects, we can say that this mind does not see reality.

    Thus, with the mind that can analyze the ultimate, we must try to determine whether the mind that grasps at things as truly findable is correct or not. If it is correct, the analyzing mind should ultimately be able to find the grasped-at things. The great classics of the Mind Only [Cittamatra] and, especially, the Middle Way schools contain many lines of reasoning for carrying out such investigation.6 Following these, when you investigate to see whether the mind that grasps at things as inherently findable is correct or not, you find that it is not correct, that it is distorted—you cannot actually find the objects at which it grasps. Since this mind is deceived by its object it has to be eliminated.

    Thus, through investigation we find no valid support for the grasping mind but do find the support of logical reasoning for the mind that realizes that the grasping mind is invalid. In spiritual battle, the mind supported by logic is always victorious over the mind that is not. The understanding that there is no such thing as truly findable existence constitutes the deep clear nature of mind; the mind that grasps at things as truly findable is superficial and fleeting.

    When we eliminate the disturbing negative minds, the cause of all suffering, we eliminate the sufferings as well. This is liberation, or the cessation of suffering: the third noble truth. Since it is possible to achieve this we must now look at the method. This brings us to the fourth noble truth.

    The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

    When we speak of the paths common to the three vehicles of Buddhism—Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana—we are referring to the thirty-seven factors that bring enlightenment. When we speak specifically of the paths of the bodhisattvas’ vehicle [Mahayana] we are referring to the ten levels and the six transcendent perfections.7

    We find the practice of the Hinayana path most commonly in Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka and so forth. Here, practitioners are motivated by the desire to achieve liberation from their own suffering. Concerned for themselves alone, they practice the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment, which are related to the five paths: the four close placements of mindfulness, the four miraculous powers and the four pure abandonments (which are related to the path of accumulation); the five powers and the five forces (the path of preparation); the seven factors of enlightenment (the path of seeing); and the eightfold path (the path of meditation). In this way, they are able to completely cease the disturbing negative minds and attain individual liberation. This is the path and result of the Hinayana.

    The primary concern of followers of the Mahayana path is not merely their own liberation but the enlightenment of all sentient beings. With this motivation of bodhicitta—their hearts set on attaining enlightenment as the best means of helping others—these practitioners practice the six transcendent perfections and gradually progress through the ten bodhisattva levels until they have completely overcome both types of obscurations and attained the supreme enlightenment of buddhahood. This is the path and the result of the Mahayana.

    The essence of the practice of the six transcendent perfections is the unification of method and wisdom so that the two enlightened bodies—rupakaya and dharmakaya—can be attained. Since they can be attained only simultaneously, their causes must be cultivated simultaneously. Therefore, together we must build up a store of merit—as the cause of the rupakaya, the body of form—and a store of deep awareness, or insight—as the cause of the dharmakaya, the body of wisdom. In the Paramitayana, we practice method grasped by wisdom and wisdom grasped by method, but in the Vajrayana we practice method and wisdom as one in nature.8

    1. See, for example, Tsering, Geshe Tashi. The Four Noble Truths. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2005. Also: Gyatso, Lobsang. The Four Noble Truths. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 1994. [Return to text]

    2. The five aggregates [Skt: skandha]—one physical and four mental—are the elements that constitute a sentient being of the desire and form realms. Beings of the formless realm have only the four mental aggregates. See Gyatso, Tenzin. Opening the Eye of New Awareness. Boston: Wisdom Publications, p. 33. [Return to text]

    3. See Yeshe, Thubten, and Zopa Rinpoche. Wisdom Energy. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1995, Chapter l: “How Delusions Arise.” [Return to text]

    4. See Rabten, Geshe. Echoes of Voidness. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1983, Part 2. [Return to text]

    5. See Opening the Eye of New Awareness, p. 43 ff., for details of the ten non-virtuous actions of body, speech and mind. [Return to text]

    6. See Gyatso, Tenzin. The Buddhism of Tibet. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 1987. [Return to text]

    7. See Hopkins, Jeffrey; Meditation on Emptiness: Wisdom Publications, 1983. [Return to text]

    8. See His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s introduction to Tantra in Tibet. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 1987, for a detailed explanation of method and wisdom in sutra and tantra. [Return to text]

  4. vivian53

    vivian53 Member

    First let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the effort you both put in to explaining the teaching of the Buddha to me.

    Rafiki I am in awe. You sure you have that DD? Talk about thinking clearly (and I know in pain too).....well I just don't have the words to express how I feel.

    This info will take me a while to digest. I have already read over the posts 3 times.

    I am taking care of my parents tonight and I get so tired I literally can't see straight, a 30 hr. shift.

    I will "marinate" on it as some say in the south, and get back to you when I have more time. You can bet I'll have more questions.

    Again my heartfelt thanks and good night to all.


  5. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    I don't know about thinking clearly, Vivian! (I hasten to add that I'm very lucky that pain is not a big issue for me - ache, sore and, sometimes, hurt is all I have to deal with, not Pain.) Anyway, I find Buddhism really difficult to write about. It's much easier for me to have a conversation about it where I can sort of feel my way along, from idea to idea, and not try to execute any great leaps from concept to concept.

    I'm not sure what's going on with your parents - I wish the search function worked better - but it sounds very difficult and I certainly understand the fatigue that crosses one's eyes. To my mind, being engaged in caring lovingly for others is a holy act.

    One area where my beliefs differ drastically from some others here is that I believe, as do many Buddhists, that one can have achieved extraordinary kindness or compassion and enlightenment without having formalized it in any belief system. One is not better for being Buddhist. Seems to me that you are doing just fine as you are. However, I find the Dharma a great help, comfort and guide and it is there for you, too, if you wish it.

    Thanks for reassuring me that I have not confused you too much! I really appreciate it! Big sigh of relief!

    Peace to you,
  6. vivian53

    vivian53 Member

    I see why the study of the teachings of Buddha is a lifetime process, there is so much to learn. I have the time to study.

    I love the "Cateism" and smile right back at you.

    This is what I have understood:

    I can see that we all suffer and that in our efforts to end that suffering we cling and attach ourselves to people or objects that give us a false sense of security.

    When these methods fail us, as they are bound to do, we use the same old unsuccessful remedies and end up in a vicious circle of unhappiness.

    Only when we realize and change our methods can we be happy.

    We don't need to seek a physical manifestation of God to know He is there.

    I too somehow feel that I have always known this without really knowing it. The tiny flashes of knowledge I get sometimes tell me this is the truth.

    I understand that our consciousness doesn't die with us. It is like other people talk of Soul.

    Rainbow11 explained it so well in another thread and I will look for that again.

    Ok now the questions:

    Please explain further the statement "Bored with the defiled feelings of happiness they seek the feeling of equanimity, which can lead to rebirth in the formless realm that has only feeling."

    Do you follow Vajrayana?

    I explained to a friend of mine yesterday that I was learning so much here and that I like parts of different religions and he said "Vivian you can't think of religion as a menu at a Chinese restaurant, one from column A and one from column B". I replied "Why not? That is just what I am doing."


  7. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    I, for one, am not a Dharma teacher. It would take a very advanced Dharma teacher to explain further a statement made by His Holiness. I would suggest, if this interests you, that you seek a teacher.

    I understand it may not be possible to find a flesh and blood teacher but there are many books by excellent teachers. After you have read a few books you will be in a better position to decide how to proceed: which branch of Buddhism resonates with you, for instance.

    As well, and this is an exciting new option, there are online classes in Buddhism if there is not a Sangha or a teacher near you. An introduction to Buddhism course might be a good idea. Once you are more familiar with the concepts you would look for a teacher. One's relationship with one's teacher is part of the process. Choose carefully. It's a big deal.

    I do not mean to be discouraging but it would be so easy for you to be given incorrect teachings. I thing it is probably suddenly sounding mysterious when it sounded so accessible before.

    There is no need to become Buddhist to benefit from the practice of Mindfulness as I'm sure you know. All of the things we have discussed thus far are readily available to all. Why bother making it complicated? On the other hand, and there is always another hand, you may decide one day that you want a teacher, a real teacher, and you won't want your poor head stuffed full of half baked notions which is what you would get from me.

    So, I will slide around on the surface with you if you like. But, if you want to go deep, you'll need a real teacher.

    Peace to you who is fine just the way you are,
  8. vivian53

    vivian53 Member

    Yeah lets slide around on the surface for awhile. I'm good with that for now and find it enjoyable.

    I never would have thought I'd say that about religion.

    Your not being discouraging, just want me to get the right info, I understand and appreciate it.

  9. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    you're not discouraged, Vivian, because that's not my intention. But, the statement in question is by the Big Guy and you'd need a real scholar, or three, to expound on or explain anything His Holiness says. I would shoot my mouth off but only in the presence of someone who would know how wrong I was and not to anyone who might think I knew what I was talking about.

    I'm glad you're feeling loose. The universe really is a place where you belong just as you are. You are not alone, you are just as you should be and you are always changing so you can decide how that goes. How great is that!?!

  10. vivian53

    vivian53 Member

    You are so thoughtful and funny. Reading your post gave me my first smile of the day.

    Yes I will start where I am. I wouldn't know how to do it any other way. And I will meditate too.

    It is my source of strength and centers me.

    Rafiki is a great teacher and she has been so good to me and has taught me so much, without condemnation, only love.

    peace to you Cate

  11. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    I can't imagine why I would condemn you! Who am I to condemn you???!!!

    I've been thinking about this board and how little I understand the difficulties we sometimes encounter. I was also thinking about your felt dilemma and how fortunate I am to have escaped a similar fate.

    I was raised with complete freedom to decide what I believed. I went to Catholic school for one year when we first arrived in Canada and loved it and loved the nuns who liked my English accent and the fact that my mother dressed me in a tunic and white blouse even though there was no school uniform. I was the only kid in the school who wore one! Then we moved to a solidly Jewish neighbourhood in my ethnically diverse city. My mother stopped the uniform thing but I was the only Irish Catholic with an English accent in my new school. By the time I was 10, mother was giving me the French Existentialists to read - I understood none of it, of course.

    As an adult I have traveled around the world and seen the great diversity of belief and culture. What a privilege that was! I know that we do not live in a monoculture and that we have many beautiful and profound ways of interacting with the divine.

    I have never really felt that I actually fit in anywhere as I was always the odd duck. But, being the odd duck from the age of 5 is very liberating. I feel more a citizen of the world than of any one place. I feel connected to everyone because of this lack of an obscuring connection to one group.

    I believe that we are more what we look at than what we look like. I feel multi-ethnic and multi-cultural because my community has always been these things.

    I would think it is different if one spends one's time in a place where there is a dominant religious belief - no matter which belief it is. I can't even imagine what that would be like. I don't know what it is to not have complete freedom of thought and belief.

    I can't imagine under what conditions I would judge you for believing what you believe - or don't. It is as alien an idea as I can summon up. That is not to say that I don't think religion has been, and is, misused to justify human behaviour and desires. It is every day. Human nature is very troublesome.

    This brings me back to my beliefs. I believe that there is much about our human nature to which we are sometimes blind. I think that we would do well to get on top of some of these qualities if we are to live in peace. I believe that loving each other and learning to care for each other and creating a peaceful world is of the utmost importance.

    In Buddhism there is the tradition of the Boddhisattva. An enlightened soul who has chosen not to enter the state of Nirvana until all are free to do so. When one first engages with Buddhism this is a very compelling idea and I think most rush to join the Boddhisattvas. But, if one really considers what this means, it is the most remarkable act of generosity imaginable. To take this vow, and to renew it daily in everything you do, is a stunning act of compassion and selflessness. (Selflessness is another interesting Buddhist concept but we'll leave that for another time.)

    One of the reasons I'm not all that interested in Pure Land Buddhism is that it is very centred on liberation for oneself which can be attained through faith and prayer. Once I found out about the concept of the Boddhisattva, the idea of personal salvation seems... I don't know... a bit limited.

    I cannot honestly take the Boddhisattva vow, I'm just not that brave nor am I that good, but if I'm going to shoot for something I want it to be the best thing I can imagine. You see, I've always had the freedom to imagine and all the possibilities have always been in front of me.

    I have been blessed with the option of what I consider true faith - to walk the groundless path, to trust completely the wisdom and benevolence of the unadorned Divine.

    Peace out,

    who thinks you are more than fine just as you are

  12. vivian53

    vivian53 Member

    Thanks for your wise and comforting words. I want to tell you both again that when you write you thoughts and feelings the light and love you have shines through and I feel it loud and clear.

    Compared to most of the folks here, Christian, nonchristians and those questioning, I feel like I just fell off the turnip truck. ; )

    You are not in a struggle for my soul. No one is. My beliefs are my own and OWN them I do.

    Yes the truth lies within.

    I enjoy carving soapstone. When I get a new piece I study it for awhile before I carve. Sometimes days, weeks, or months.

    I put it where I will see it every day. I don't really concentrate because I know that the form inside will come to me. The spirit of the rock so to speak.

    All I am doing is chipping away the excess rock to reveal the beauty inside. I always find it.

    I think this is a good analogy to what I am doing now in my spiritual journey. And as Wayne pointed out (my own words here) the journey in and of itself is great.

    I will embrace my journey, not hurry or worry. I will accept that I am a skeptic.

    One of the many things I like about Buddhism is that it's teachings don't claim to be the ONLY way, the exclusively right way. They except other religions beliefs too.

    To me that is what it is all about and I can not believe otherwise. It goes against all that I have stood for all my life and what I believe is a universal truth.

    Where I am right now is NOW ok with me and you are right it is all good.

    I asked for teachers and the people on this board have responded. I hope everyone can tell that I, like you, respect the beliefs of others.

    I hope you all are able to enjoy this beautiful spring day.