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Old 08-23-2003, 02:35 PM   #15
Anders Bjonback
Dojo: Boulder Aikikai
Location: Boulder, CO
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 129
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Metta with my training partners--I'll try that. But in a way, I think that perhaps exchaning self for other or tonglen would be more like what I'm going for. In metta practice, it feels like I'm objectifying the other, in a way, while tonglen seems to break down the barrier between myself and others. Maybe I should try to use the movements as a doorway to closeness with the other person, and from that do metta practice.

I don't see monastic life as an escape. If I was to become a monk, I think I'd want to still be involved with society. It means putting limitations on myself and my behaviour, and yet also becoming free from the pressures of society to get married, etc, and have the ability to give all my time to the Dharma (although, of course, if one brings one's practice into one's life, then all of one's time is for the Dharma. But what I mean is, instead of working to support myself and a family, I would be working for the Dharma.)

From what I hear, the life of a monk is not easy. They're still very busy, especially in the west--learning the teachings, building monastaries, etc.

And I talked to an American Zen monk who went to Japan and lived in a Zen monastary for three years--he said that we have no conception of how hard a life it is, despite, or perhaps because of, its simplicity. And I've read that in the Zen tradition, after a certain point of living in the monastary, you go into society to spread the teachings and bring benifit to others.

Life is practice, but it can also be a distraction, too, if we allow ouselves to simply be overcome by our habbits and compulsions. Sogyal Rinpoche talks about when he's asked by people why they havn't changed despite meditating for years--he said that the reason is that for many of us, there's this great abyss between our spiritual and our everyday lives. There need not be a distinction between our life and our practice--the two should be one. But I don't think that life itself is the only teacher for me.

Practice means confronting the darker aspects of ourselves, whether we be monks or laypersons. It's imporant to remember that monks are people too, and don't live carefree lives (I especially need to remember that since I think I may be one some day). Personally, I can't see myself getting married, having kids, and having a desk job and saving up so I can send them off to college. I can't see myself being involved in this society in that way. At the same time, I now have practices other than ones from my lineage of Buddhism--tea ceremony and aikido--that I really resonate with, and think can help others. So, I can't really see myself just giving those practices up to become a monk, at least in this period of my life. Right now my life is open-ended.

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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