Practice Prison

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Like or dislike is what creates a prison that we live in. So if you only practice when you want to practice and then don’t practice when you don’t want to practice, that’s a fundamental problem. You are following the winds of your desire, and that’s what leads to suffering. The Buddha’s teaching is very simple. We suffer because of our desire, our anger, and our ignorance. So if our practice is based on desire, all it does is lead us to more suffering.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Buddhism and Lust

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Student: What’s wrong with lust?

Zen Master Bon Soeng: It takes you away from your true nature.

Student: Isn’t it a natural feeling?

ZMBS: Is it? How do we know what’s natural? We think we have an idea of naturalness, but we don’t know naturalness. Maybe we’ve been doing it for so long that we think it’s natural, but we don’t know. Lust is intense desire.

Student: Sexual desire, right?

ZMBS: You think of it as sexual desire, but it doesn’t have to be sexual. If you listen to the way I said the precept, the precept isn’t against sex, it’s against lust. Lust is when you use and abuse somebody else to satisfy your desire. It’s when you’re so full of desire that you’re not aware or concerned about its impact on the person you’re with. Buddhism tells us that it’s so easy to fall into delusion. I can make up a story to justify it, I can even pretend that it’s okay, but if I’m not aware and attentive to how my desire is impacting the other person, then usually I’m afflicting pain and suffering on that person. For some people it’s lust for food. For some it’s lust for power. Each of us has our different desire that grabs us.

Mind Makes Everything

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I think if you look at your own life, you can see that the way you hold your mind and the way you view and perceive these situations that occur in our lives, that it creates the way we respond to them. Our responses are what create the next event. So, our likes and dislikes are really what create the shape and the texture of our lives. If you investigate, you will discover that your likes and dislikes are relative. They are created by our idea, by our conditioning, by our preferences, by our desires, but they are not really truth.   

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Got Enlightenment?

The Buddha saw a star and got enlightenment. That's the myth of the Buddha, that's the story that's been told for 2,500 years. Buddha had this experience. Zen Master Man Gong said, "I saw a star too and I lost enlightenment." Everybody thinks "Got Enlightenment" is what we want. But Man Gong says he lost enlightenment. What does that mean? If you think about it, is enlightenment something you get? Or lose? How do you get it? How do you lose it? We don't know.  

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 So already, we're starting to wonder what is this thing we call enlightenment? There is this concept. There is this idea. It's been talked about for 2,500 years. In America, we've been practicing Buddhism for 50 or 60 years. Everybody wants enlightenment. I want enlightenment, so I'll do these difficult practices because I'll get something. But there's a big problem with that. Who gets it? And what is it you want? And if I want something, maybe that gets in the way of getting it. Because the Buddha's enlightenment was about the recognition of the emptiness of this sense of self.  

Our conventional view is that I am here, I have this life, I can get something. But the Buddha in his enlightenment realized that himself and the whole universe were not separate. There is no separate self. Each thing in the universe is connected and a part of the whole. So to say "I separate from You" creates this false dichotomy. Out of this false dichotomy, all suffering grows. So if Buddha got enlightenment, he already lost it. Because there's no Buddha to begin with. There's no Buddha separate from anything else.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Practice Prison

Like or dislike is what creates a prison that we live in. So if you only practice when you want to practice and then don’t practice when you don’t want to practice, that’s a fundamental problem. You are following the winds of your desire, and that’s what leads to suffering. The Buddha’s teaching is very simple. We suffer because of our desire, our anger, and our ignorance. So if our practice is based on desire, all it does is lead us to more suffering.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Buddhism and Lust

Student: What’s wrong with lust?

Zen Master Bon Soeng: It takes you away from your true nature.

Student: Isn’t it a natural feeling?

ZMBS: Is it? How do we know what’s natural? We think we have an idea of naturalness, but we don’t know naturalness. Maybe we’ve been doing it for so long that we think it’s natural, but we don’t know. Lust is intense desire.
Student: Sexual desire, right?

ZMBS: You think of it as sexual desire, but it doesn’t have to be sexual. If you listen to the way I said the precept, the precept isn’t against sex, it’s against lust. Lust is when you use and abuse somebody else to satisfy your desire. It’s when you’re so full of desire that you’re not aware or concerned about its impact on the person you’re with. Buddhism tells us that it’s so easy to fall into delusion. I can make up a story to justify it, I can even pretend that it’s okay, but if I’m not aware and attentive to how my desire is impacting the other person, then usually I’m afflicting pain and suffering on that person. For some people it’s lust for food. For some it’s lust for power. Each of us has our different desire that grabs us. 

Don’t Be Fooled By What You Want

Don’t be fooled by what you want. Just keep practicing. If you are only after what you want, ultimately you are going to be disappointed. It's not that your practice or discipline leads to what you want; practice leads to some clarity which leaves you more open to what’s there for you. If you lose your clarity, then you lose your ability to move in the world that way.

Also, don’t be fooled that practice is only the formal sitting, which is important, but practice is meeting the moment with not-knowing. Our meditation practice, sitting Zen, is training the mind to return. Go back to the clarity, go back to the wisdom and the compassion.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Mind Makes Everything

I think if you look at your own life, you can see that the way you hold your mind and the way you view and perceive these situations that occur in our lives, that it creates the way we respond to them. Our responses are what create the next event. So, our likes and dislikes are really what create the shape and the texture of our lives.

If you investigate, you will discover that your likes and dislikes are relative. They are created by our idea, by our conditioning, by our preferences, by our desires, but they are not really truth.  

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

I'm Going To Get Something

That idea “I’m going to get something” is the killer. "It’s going to be great". Sometimes it’s great, but sometimes it is not. But any idea separates us from what actually is going to happen. So, whether the retreat is 1 day, 3 days, 8 days, 28 days, 90 days.......our whole life is a retreat. 

So it’s all about letting go of the ideas that bind us. And do it! What’s the real experience? Everybody who does any length of retreat knows that sometimes it’s okay, sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. By the end of the retreat, people are basically pretty happy, probably because it’s ending (laughing from the audience). We go through any number of experiences. It’s really about not getting stuck in our judgements of them, and in almost believing that they’re permanent. It's just allowing things to come and go… come and go… come and go.

It’s our ideas that tie us up. If we let go of the idea, then whatever is..... is. But if we like one thing and we don’t like the other thing, then we grasp towards what we like and we push away what we don’t like. That is the basic definition of suffering. That pushing and pulling is basically the definition of suffering. If we stop pushing and stop pulling, it is revealed just as it is at this moment. That is the essence of the practice. It is not any big deal.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Practice Prison

Like or dislike is what creates a prison that we live in. So if you only practice when you want to practice and then don’t practice when you don’t want to practice, that’s a fundamental problem. You are following the winds of your desire, and that’s what leads to suffering. The Buddha’s teaching is very simple. We suffer because of our desire, our anger, and our ignorance. So if our practice is based on desire, all it does is lead us to more suffering.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Don’t Be Fooled By What You Want

Don’t be fooled by what you want. Just keep practicing. If you are only after what you want, ultimately you are going to be disappointed. It's not that your practice or discipline leads to what you want; practice leads to some clarity which leaves you more open to what’s there for you. If you lose your clarity, then you lose your ability to move in the world that way. 

Also, don’t be fooled that practice is only the formal sitting, which is important, but practice is meeting the moment with not-knowing. Our meditation practice, sitting Zen, is training the mind to return. Go back to the clarity, go back to the wisdom and the compassion.

 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

The First Noble Truth

The First Noble Truth is "All things are suffering." Life is suffering. The word in Sanskrit is duhkha. Sometimes it is translated as "unsatisfactory". Situations, this world and our lives are not what we want them to be. 

There's almost always a gap between what we want and what is. As much as we cannot accept that gap, we suffer. Our inability to accept life as it is and want things to be different, creates the suffering in our lives.  

Zen Master Bon Soeng

I'm Going To Get Something

That idea “I’m going to get something” is the killer.  "It’s going to be great". Sometimes it’s great, but sometimes it is not.  But any idea separates us from what actually is going to happen.  So, whether the retreat is 1 day, 3 days, 8 days, 28 days, 90 days.......our whole life is a retreat. 

Grabbing.jpg

So it’s all about letting go of the ideas that bind us.  And do it!  What’s the real experience? Everybody who does any length of retreat knows that sometimes sometimes it’s okay,  sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. By the end of the retreat, people are basically pretty happy, probably because it’s ending (laughing from the audience).  We go through any number of experiences.  It’s really about not getting stuck in our judgements of them, and in almost believing that they’re permanent.  It's just allowing things to come and go… come and go… come and go.

It’s our ideas that tie us up.  If we let go of the idea, then whatever is..... is.  But if we like one thing and we don’t like the other thing, then we grasp towards what we like and we push away what we don’t like.  That is the basic definition of suffering.  That pushing and pulling is basically the definition of suffering.  If we stop pushing and stop pulling, it is revealed just as it is at this moment.  That is the essence of the practice.  It is not any big deal.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng