Homework: Jan 5

  1. What does it mean to attain Enlightenment?
  2. How will practicing Buddhism help me improve my relationships both with myself and others in the near term?
  3. “We usually look outside for our enemies. But Buddhist yogis realize there is no enemy outside, the real enemy is inside.” Method, Wisdom and the Three Paths” by Geshe Sopa p. 12 of the Required Readings. Explain briefly how self cherishing is the source of all our troubles.
  4. Why is being born in the human realm considered so precious, and how can we best use our short lifespan?
  5. Why is it so necessary to have a spiritual teacher?

Daily Prayer

Foundation of All Good Qualities by Lama Tsong Khapa
Daily Meditation
When you first wake up in the morning, spend a few minutes rejoicing that you are alive because of all the positive karma that you created in the past, remember that death or illness may strike at any time thus cutting short your opportunity to practice Dharma — to accumulate merit by helping others, and to remove negative karma. Then get out of bed, do 5 – 10 minutes of a simple breathing/mindfulness meditation. When your mind feels focused, spend at least another 5 – 10 minutes on the weekly analytical meditation topic (e.g., precious human rebirth). Close with a short dedication of merit.

6 thoughts on “Homework: Jan 5

  1. I’ll take a crack at question 1 and 5 above.

    What does it mean to attain Enlightenment? I’ve read many textbook answers on this and my problem at the moment is that the answers only bring up more questions. For example, one answer is “…having forever eliminated all obscurations from the mindstream…” Well…what obscurations?…and for that matter, what are obscurations?

    I read a commentary written by Khunu Lama Rinpoche regarding our Daily Prayer above. He wrote something that speaks to me. He wrote, “Why do we need a guru? Because we’re trying to reach enlightenment and don’t know what it is. The guru knows what enlightenment is. Therefore, we need to find and then follow a guru.”

    I think I’ll leave my answer to these two homework questions at that for the time being.

  2. #5) The words of the Buddha are “easy” to understand intellectually but living it is the challenge. A good spiritual teacher is that quiet inner voice – just not so quiet. Through questions and reflections a qualified teacher focuses and redirects the student when ego clambers for attention.

    #3) self-cherishing creates a false sense of stability which quickly leads to a sense of instability which turns into fear which stirs up panic that calls for another dose of self-cherishing in order to feel content…for a moment.

    #1) There have been flashes of understanding in my life that I believe were glimpses of the universe in its perfection. Enlightenment would be living in that understanding at all times.

  3. David, thanks so much for your responses. “Obscurations” refers to the negative afflictions — our fundamental attachment, aversion, and ignorance — the dark clouds that obscure our Buddha nature. We’ll talk more about this in class

    Thanks for sharing the quote from Khunu Lama Rinpoche. That’s a good summary — as Ven Robina said, the most efficient way to achieving Enlightenment is to closely follow someone who already knows the way! No point in reinventing the wheel.

  4. 01 Clearing the mind of all defilements. Transcending duality.

    02 By learning to see oneself in all beings. We all strive for
    happiness but because of our ignorance we look for it in the
    wrong places. Contributing to the suffering of others only
    causes us more suffering. When these notions are directly
    experienced and not just abstract thoughts it becomes easier
    to turn the mind towards mindfulness, compassion and
    generosity because when we contribute to the happiness of
    others we are contributing to
    our own happiness.

    03 The ego is a mental fabrication. A dark cloud obstructing our
    view of reality. By clinging to the ego we give rise to greed,
    hatred and delusion.

    04 Because the human realm is the only realm we can study the
    Dhamma. We are even more fortunate now to be living in a
    time with a Buddha who spent his life spreading it. We can
    best use this short life by striving for enlightenment in order
    to benefit all sentient beings.

    05 Because we can only do so much on our own and without
    guidance we can misinterpret the teachings.

  5. Derek — thanks for your responses, they’re great. I particularly like your first sentence in response to question 2 — “by learning to see oneself in all beings”.

    Regarding the need for a spiritual teacher (BTW — Discovering Buddhism module 4 is all about reliance on the spiritual teacher!) — another aspect is that the teacher is our main inspiration — our closest living connection to a Buddha. We train ourselves to see the teacher as the Buddha, and thus we follow in his footsteps with joy.

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