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Training the Mind: A Brief Guide to Dharma Practice

Training the Mind: A Brief Guide to Dharma Practice

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Published by Michael Erlewine
Training the Mind: A brief Guide to Dharma Practice
by Michael Erlewine

46 pages, 12 illustrations, PDF

Being twelve articles on the basics of mind training and dharma practice presented in an informal way. Included are complete instructions for Shamata sitting meditation and Tonglen, two classic mind training methods.
Training the Mind: A brief Guide to Dharma Practice
by Michael Erlewine

46 pages, 12 illustrations, PDF

Being twelve articles on the basics of mind training and dharma practice presented in an informal way. Included are complete instructions for Shamata sitting meditation and Tonglen, two classic mind training methods.

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Published by: Michael Erlewine on Jan 07, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/15/2012

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Training the Mind: Dharma Practice
1
This is a collection of articles on dharmapractice, many of which first appearedas blogs. They are not overly formal andmany contain personal stories andanecdotes as illustrations. The type ofmind training detailed here is the mostcommon form of meditation as used byboth the Tibetan and Zen Buddhists.This book is copyright by MichaelErlewine 2011. You are free to share itprovided there is no fee charged. Thisbook may not be included free in abundle for which there is a charge.Otherwise please share.Photos are by Michael Erlewine.Drawings are by Sange Wangchuk andMichael Erlewine.ISBN # 0-925182-72-9Michael@Erlewine.net
Table of Contents
Introduction - 1Why Buddhism is Not a Religion - 2What Really Makes Me Sad - 4What Is Meditation? - 6
Don’t Prolong the Past
- 9What Practice Really Is
-
11Mind Practice: How to Do It
-
14What about Hate & Fear?
-
18Tonglen: Mental Feng Shui
 
22Practicing Meditation -- 24Aspirations & Dedication of Merit
-
28Urgency in Dharma Practice
-
31Mother Nature and Compassion
-
40
Dedication
Any merit arising from this book isdedicated to all sentient beings in thethree times and ten directions that theymay all avoid suffering, finding truehappiness and the path to realizationand enlightenment.
 
Training the Mind: Dharma Practice
2
Why Buddhism is Not a Religion
I know that Buddhism is classified as areligion, but having studied it for over 37years I am here to say IMO it is not. Iwas raised Catholic and
that
my friendsis a religion.Buddhism acknowledges no higherpower then my own mind. It has no
„God‟ or deity up there that
I have toplease or otherwise suffer theconsequences. Conversely there is noone that can save me other than myown efforts. It is up to me. Buddha wasnot a god and never became a god. Hedied like we all will and was quick topoint out that he is no different from youand me. We all have Buddha Nature.Even worms do!Buddhism has no creation myth and isnot concerned about finding a beginningor an end to anything but suffering andignorance. There is no starting point orending point to cyclic existence and thisworld. Cycles by definition have nobeginning and no end. There is no timeof a first creation and no creator.Buddhism is concerned only that Irealize the true nature of my own mind.It is not concerned itself with where Icame from (or when) and where I amgoing (the next life).Instead it is concerned only with wakingup from this dream of cyclic existence. Itrecognizes the endless cycles ofexistence as beginning-less andendless. To Buddha this whole world isseen as a very real illusion, the answerto which can only be found by each oneof us realizing the true nature of the
mind. Buddha can‟t just somehow do it
for all of us. We each have to do itourselves.What Buddha did was point out amethod or way for me (when I getaround to it) to become more aware and
to just wake up. The word “Buddha” inSanskrit simply means “Awakened.” And
the teachings that the historical Buddha
left are called the “Dharma,” which is
simply the method or path to awakenand nothing more. The dharma is like atwelve-step program to train the mind.Now this is only me speaking, but to mymind what the dharma of the Buddhalays out is a totally scientific way to train
the mind, only “Science” has not
quitegotten there itself yet. Scientists tooneed mind training.I am not religious by any definition of the
word. I don‟t „
worship
anything and I
don‟t go to church other than
to the
natural world. I don‟t believe in a God
up there
helping or watching over me.Whatever I am, I am an equal part ofwhat this is all about and that is all I ask:that Buddhism treat me as a co-partneror something like that. It does.I know that in this life I have to helpmyself. The Buddha, even if he werehere in this room, could not simply reachover, touch me on the forehead, and
 
Training the Mind: Dharma Practice
3
enlighten me. The whole point ofBuddhism is that it is a method we eachhave to do for ourselves. It is interactive.We must wake ourselves up andBuddha pointed out how to do it. Onlywe can do that.I am embarrassed when people treatBuddhism as if it were somehow holy orother worldly and miraculous, making itsimply a question of faith. Buddhism isnot about
faith
. The miracle is that thedharma works and that is enough. Ihave faith in the methods of the dharma.
That‟s all.
I was raised as a naturalist
and I know nature and nature‟s laws
quite well. Buddhism is the only spiritualmethod that I have found that iscongruent with natural law
 –
with thefacts of science and nature. This is whyI am surprised that more scientists arenot Buddhists.In fact in Tibetan Buddhism they have a
term “The Lama of Appearances” that
states that Mother Nature herself is likea guru and teaches the same dharma asa high human lama. Now that iscongruency. And IMO the Buddhists arethe finest psychologists in the world.Yes I know that there are Buddhists (likeall spiritual disciplines) that over-moralize and make everything into rulesand taboos. If you follow the simplemediation that Buddha indicated, that isall that has to be done. Organizedanything is asking for trouble andspiritual organizations and religions areno exception. Keep it local and small.
I won‟t blather on much longer, but
please note my objection to classifyingwhat is simply a practical method tobecome more aware and wake-up(Buddhism) as if it was a full-blownreligion like Judaism, Islam, Christianity,and so on. I have nothing againstreligions and appreciate a sincerereligious person whenever I meet them.I am not an atheist or an agnostic. I amspiritual at heart, but in this fashion:The word religion comes from the Latin
word „religare” which means to “bindback” or “tie down.” In other words
religion of any kind is concerned withthe things that last and last longest. Inthat case I could accept the dharma asbeing religious because the dharmapoints out what really lasts and isgenuine, like the true nature of the mind.If our concern is to find somethinglasting or true in this life to set our sailsby, then we all must be religious at onetime or another. If when shit hits the fanwe all seek for solid ground to stand on,then we are all religious when thathappens. Religion is about the thingsthat last longest when all else fades inimportance. This occurs for each of uswhen suddenly something untowardhappens in our life, like a parent orloved one dies. Stuff fades fast inimportance at those times and even thegrittiest of us finds ourselves reachingfor something more lasting that we cancount on. That is all the religion I know,the things I can count on being there forme when all else fails. That is as closeas I get to religion and the dharma hasyet to fail me. Does that make mereligious?That being said, I am very devoted tothe dharma teachers and lamas I havemet in this life. I owe them an immensedebt of gratitude for pointing introducingme to the dharma.

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