Author Topic: Editorial - Mountain Path - Jan Mar 2017:  (Read 643 times)

Subramanian.R

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Editorial - Mountain Path - Jan Mar 2017:
« on: February 17, 2017, 01:05:54 PM »
RESTRAINT:

Restraint is not a word one often hears these days.  It is more likely that we hear about excess, indulging oneself. Restraint is not restriction, rather it is positive self control. We restrain ourselves because we reflect that we can act in a better way. For example, we restrain ourselves from spending our hard earned salary on a new enticing mobile phone because we want to save money to visit Arunachala. We evaluate, we discriminate between what is of value and what is not.

Restraint can have the implication of deprivation, that one is deliberately missing out on something. But what are we missing out on?  Quite often it is something we do not
need. For example, we restrain ourselves from a second helping of food because we are satisfied and any more would just be greed. But how do you know when to be restrained in our behavior or thoughts, especially when we are surrounded by endless
array of advertisements or social peer pressure to acquire, do,acquiesce or compromise our beliefs and values for the sake of something new or inviting?
Temptation is a powerful intoxicant. And lastly, how do we restrain ourselves in the
face of long enterenched habits that we know are not helping us?

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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Re: Editorial - Mountain Path - Jan Mar 2017:
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2017, 11:56:36 AM »
There was a great Theravada monk Ajahn Chah (1918-1992), in the Thai Forest
Tradition.  In one of his talks 'Understanding Vinaya', he related that after he had begun to practice meditation, he went to the most revered master of the time, the Venerable Ajahn Mun.  He was perplexed and had reached a dead end after reading numerous and detailed Buddhist texts on how a man should act.

He told Ajahn Mun that it was impossible to remember every single rule. Ajahn Mun replied that this was true if one took into account every single rule but, 'If we train this mind to have a sense of shame and a fear of wrong doing, we will then be restrained, we will be cautious.'

'This will condition us to be content with little, with few wishes, because we can't possibly look after them all.  When this happens our Sati (Remembrance) becomes stronger. We will be able to maintain Sati at all times.  Wherever we are, we will make effort to maintain through Sati. Caution will be developed. Whenever you doubt don't act on it.  If there is anything you don't understand, ask the teacher. Trying to practice every single training rule would be indeed burdensome, but we should decide whether or not we are prepared to admit our faults. Do we accept them?'

'This teaching is very important. It is not so much that we must know every single training rule, it is more that we should know how to train our own minds.

'All that stuff that you have been reading arises from the mind; rather than doubting
al the time... be composed in mind. Whatever arises that you doubt, just give it up.
For instance, if you wonder, 'Is this wrong or not?' but if you are not really sure, then
don't say it, don't act on it, don't discard your restraint.'

(Food For The Heart.  The collected teachings of Ajahn Chah. Wisdom Publications,
Boston, 2002.)
     
contd.,

Arunachala Siva.
 

Subramanian.R

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Re: Editorial - Mountain Path - Jan Mar 2017:
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2017, 10:53:37 AM »
Atma Vichara is not unlike restraint.  We inquire into who is thinking, who is feeling.
Who is this 'I'?  The very question gives us pause to consider mindfully what we think or feel.  It gives us a space in which to discriminate between what is true and what is false.
Whenever we are in doubt we pause and wait until the right response we misidentify
ourselves with a notion of who we are that is wrong.  The space between thoughts,
created by self inquiry, gives us the opportunity to see things as they are, not as we wish them to be in that moment of stillness there is no projection of a thought, there is no confused doubt and there is no projection of wish fulfillment.

There is a story told by Ramakrishna Paramahamsa which illustrates what is essential
and what is irrelevant.  There was a small boat about to cross a river and in the boat
were a pundit and a villager. Because of vanity the pundit made a great show of erudition while the villager listened quietly. A thunderstorm arose as they made their way across the river.  The villager understood from experience that their boat would probably sink.  He turned to the pundit and inquired if he could swim.  The pundit said no and the villager then commented that though he did not know the Vedas like pundit, he could swim.

What is the most important tool we have if we wish to be free of confusion and ignorance?  It is a mind trained to discriminate between what is eternal and what is transitory.  Like the ability to swim we are saved from drowning in our sea of concepts.

There are many ways to train the mind which involve simple disciplines and cultivation of virtue.  Live a simple life as possible.  Do not unnecessarily argue as it is a waste of energy and creates resentment.  Avoid comparisons with others as we are all on a
different path, each traveling at their own speed and most with needs that are different from ours.  Keep the right company and avoid those who are malicious.
Do not judge others unless you are prepared to see from their side their side the challenges they face. Avoid gossip and the craving for public recognition.  It comes
down to one basic requirement: avoid negativity as much as possible . Be clean in body and mind.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva,       

Subramanian.R

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Re: Editorial - Mountain Path - Jan Mar 2017:
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2017, 10:49:50 AM »
Restraint is a powerful tool that helps us see clearly. Self control is not a punishment
nor a killjoy attitude that dislikes anything pleasurable on principle on principle.  It is not avoidance; it is a clear perception of the consequences of what we may be able to do.
When we are in doubt we exercise restraint, but this does not mean we remain dense,
unfeeling and lifeless. Self restraint does not mean we shut our eyes, block our ears, cease talking and stop eating. Quite contrary, we become more sensitive and do what is appropriate.

Anyone who has driven a car can remember getting behind  the wheel for the first time and thinking that the car is driving them!  We tend to panic and apply the brakes with abrupt force.  With practice we learn to control and restraint until we are charge, and then become the one who drives, rather than a helpless passenger. We apply the brake smoothly so that the car slows down in a continuous flow.

Have you ever noticed that Bhagavan slowly applies the necessary medicine to us so much that we rarely notice it until afterwards when the 'treatment' is successful and we look back and see how much we have changed for the good and are no longer in the grip or compulsive desire or the victim of an irrational, obsessive fear?

The Buddha compared meditation to the tuning of a musical instrument. When we play it or when we exercise our mind, should we rigidly control our technique or should we indulge and let go?  The answer is neither. When we tune a stringed instrument, we neither bind the strings too tightly nor do we allow them to be too loose. It is by precise restraint that we learn to develop our awareness of the consequences.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.
                 

Subramanian.R

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Re: Editorial - Mountain Path - Jan Mar 2017:
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2017, 10:46:28 AM »
The nature of the mind is fluid and the art of meditation is to flow with it, but to mindful  of each thought as it arises.  Bhagavan wrote: 'Better than such broken thought (meditation) is its steady and continuous flow of oil or of a perennial stream.' (Upadesa Saram, verse 7).  The point of self inquiry is to develop consciousness so that we do not lose our center of gravity.  It is a question of poise.

Like the young Ajahn Chah we soon become baffled and disheartened if we rigidly follow every rule, instruction, advice, book, admonition, sloka, discussion, command, direction or stipulation.  The world is full of do's and don't's.  We would be driven mad if we followed them all. We would lose our balance and fall into one of those black holes of depression and despair.  One pointed awareness is like the light shine on a dark path to keep us safe.   The stronger the awareness the clearer our perception of what is the right action. Atma Vichara is our infallible tool.     

The so called spiritual world and this physical world are not in opposition, just as the physical body of a person and their spirit are not in conflict. If they are at war, then a person is torn apart by contradictory impulses unless they find the panacea of the Guru's grace.  The body and mind are in fact, complimentary aspects that aid each other.  They are instruments which help us understand by revealing to us the results of our impulses and actions.  A human birth is the result of great merit.  According to scripture, it is not easy obtain.

We train our bodies and minds through discipline and virtue and we eventually see that they are not enemies.  How often have we seen people who prosecute their bodies, thinking that the world is an illusion, a bondage, and the sooner one gets rid of it the better.  This negative type of self restraint is a death wish.  It is an unintelligent denial; it is ignorance.  We are issued with bodies at birth, is not perhaps to be expected that we take a slight bit of trouble to keep those bodies in reasonable condition?

Slow and steady are the operative words.  The characteristic of Bhagavan's teaching is that it is generally unhurried,  but once a step is taken we never fall back into a particular trap of malign, unconscious vasanas.

We should remember that Bhagavan said that we take one step towards the Guru,
the Guru will take nine steps towards us.  To take that one step requires the simple
quality of flexible restraint so that the mind is quiet and open to grace.

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.