Friday, December 4, 2009

How to Enjoy Samsara without Feeling Guilty?

When I first heard of this topic, I felt that it was a little bit strange. True enough, when HE Ling Rinpoche heard the topic his immediate reaction was that he did not have anything to say. That’s because almost everything is enjoying samsara without feeling any guilty. People already know how to do that.

But then, there were subsequent questions that clarified why the topic was posed. A senior practitioner wanted to clarify if he could still watch TV, take first class business flight and go for sumptuous feasts, etc and not feel guilty about all these. It was a logical question to ask, but still a bit strange. It was strange because I thought that this person should know better than me that Kyabje Lama Zopa had taught that our daily activity should be infused completely with dharma. In other words, dharma practice is not just confined to the half-an-hour, one hour or two hours daily puja/meditation/chanting that we do before or after working hours. Even with shopping, he advised that we should shop with bodhicitta. Similarly with watching TV, we should likewise watch with bodhicitta, regardless of what programme we are watching. I feel that this is a more practical approach than to ask laypersons not to watch televisions or go to the movies, and that whatever time you should devote to your practice. It goes to show that the people who have this kind of thinking still thinks “practice” is a special time allocated within the 24 hours that we have for formal practice. If that is the case, only by becoming monks/nuns can we truly practice since they do not watch TV or listen to music, etc. Then anyone who has this thinking must have this misconception that you need to become a monk/nun before you can truly practice. Then wouldn’t laypersons have no hope at all for liberation? This is not true.

So how do you watch movie with bodhicitta? I am not in a position to be advising this, and you should ask Kyabje Lama Zopa this question. But one thing is for certain, if you know how to practice dharma while watching a movie, then you wouldn’t feel guilty going about other activities in your daily life in samsara. Everything then becomes your bodhisattva activity. But being imperfect sentient beings at the moment, I think it is important to recognize this fact and not try to do things we cannot achieve at the moment. In other words, don’t try to be a hero when you are not. Don’t discard your TV and entertainment set immediately. We are not super beings like certain lamas who are reported to not need any sleep. We feel tired easily. And some types of music can really induce peace and calm in the mind. Go gradually, step by step. That’s why in our lineage, it is called the Graduated Path or Stages of the Path. You do what you are able to at your spiritual level. There’s no “one size fits all” approach in Buddhism.

The other way to "enjoy" samsara without feeling guilty is when we are able to see samsara and nirvana as the same in its mode of abiding. But can we do that now? If not, try the earlier method.

These are just my thoughts about the topic above. You think about it and check it up.

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