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Thread: Buddhist Geeks: Are You Choosing to Die Already?

  1. #1

    Buddhist Geeks: Are You Choosing to Die Already?

    I found this post on Buddhist Geeks blog while downloading the shikintaza podcast Jundo pointed out in another thread (haven't heard that yet). This blog post certainly rang true for me. It's short (maybe a page). Here's a taste:

    The Choosing to Die Syndrome - what is it? Itís the slow accumulation of decisions towards a fixed identity and away from the fresh aliveness of your life. Itís giving in to the prevailing views of what life is about, and the building up of habits and defenses that maintain those views. Itís the murder of curiosity, and the killing off of exploration. Itís the embracing of certain certainties in order to soothe the pain of living in an ever changing world.
    It's hard to look at your own life and decide whether this is what you have been doing (for most of that life). I think I have spent my life exploring, but exploring based on a fixed set of "prevailing views of what life is about" - so not really exploring at all. The last year or so I think I have been starting to question those assumptions, but have not yet thrown them out (or, as Buddha would recommend, believing only those which I personally experience). Sure makes the coming years seem exciting. And, most amazing to me (a conservative, analytic), it doesn't feel like it matters if I am "right" or "wrong" - just exploring.

    Craig

  2. #2

    Re: Buddhist Geeks: Are You Choosing to Die Already?

    Maybe you are already dead and are just trying to live in a real way . Anyway, right and wrong keeps changing and also depends on the viewer so maybe it only matters for a moment.

    /Rich

  3. #3

    Re: Buddhist Geeks: Are You Choosing to Die Already?

    Thanks Craig! That's a good article. Those types of articles used to make me want to drop everything and go do something to follow my dreams. I have to start living life to its fullest!!!

    But my fantastical notions of living my life to the fullest were to pursue pie in the sky dreams that were more but selfish diversions than actually pursuing something of worth. For instance, I wish I were somewhere else, or wasn't a corporate slave, or this or that.

    I guess living life to the fullest or loving life has been so damned manipulated by self-help books, that I've lost what the meaning living life to the fullest is.

    This life, my life, may be "conventional" in comparison to other 35 year olds out there. I'm married, I have a steady job and I have 3 dogs. So one might call this mundane. The dishes have to be washed, the clothes washed, dogs fed, and there's work to be done.

    At the same time Master Dogen said, "Those who regard the mundane as a hindrance to practice only understand that in the mundane, nothing is sacred. What they haven't understood, is that in sacredness, nothing- nothing - is mundane." --This is from a book by Daido Roshi.. I wrote the quote down a while back but not the source.

    My old self would have been very moved by this and wanted to escape the mundaneness of corporate life. Sometimes I still do, but to me I need to be right where I'm at. That's the transformation to me... Be right where I'm at... always here. At least that's something I aspire to, that level of unity.

    To me living life to the fullest doesn't mean finding a job that I fantasize to be exciting, etc. To me living life to the fullest is about living in accord with the Way every day. Pay attention during work, do the best work or whatever it is that I'm doing when I'm doing it. Try to extinguish myself by completely doing it is that I'm doing. Be compassionate, help others, live by the precepts.

    I used to have a very naive view of this practice. It was all very romantic until I started doing the practice with any regularity.

    Now I'm learning instead of searching outside for happiness or something I consider to be happiness, I need to completely change the perspective away from I. To me the most transformative thing is by taking the perspective of others. For instance, I wish I could no longer work a 9-5 at a corporation, when taken from a different perspective could be, I'm incredibly thankful for having a job in this economy. There are others who are not so fortunate. It is only because I have the incredible fortune of having a job that I am complaining about the job that I have. And this perspective can be applied to food when, perhaps, you're eating a meal that is "boring".

    So to me living life to the fullest is something akin to what Jundo Sensei spoke about in Talk II of the Ango Talks (re: Tenzo Kyokun). Appreciate your life! Appreciate what you have. It is challenging at times because I habitually look outward and chase after diversions because I'm bored or this and that.. But that is all mental fodder.

  4. #4

    Re: Buddhist Geeks: Are You Choosing to Die Already?

    Cyril, thanks for sharing, that was really a nice talk. Seeing things from other peoples perspective has helped me deal with some difficult situations and the saving all beings includes me. As far as jobs go, you do what you have to do until you can find something better.

    /Rich

  5. #5
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks: Are You Choosing to Die Already?

    Very nice, Craig, thanks. I've been wondering quite a bit lately if whatever growth I feel I am having along the Path is really just maturity and the buddhism is just extra, you know, icing on the cake. I thought maybe I'm just finally growing up, and that growing up process is just the acceptance of life as it is. For me, those "fixed ideas" were things like love, marriage, kids, picket fence around the house sort of thing. Well, I have none of that, never got all that close to much of that, and that bothered me for a long time, made me miserable for quite a bit of that time. No matter how hard I tried, those fixed ideas never became even temporarily fixed in my life. But at some point in my age and buddhist study I went, "Hey, this is IT, so I better get on with IT or else." And so I've been getting on with IT a little better all the time ever since. Maybe, probably likely, it was the combination of my age and buddhism that finally got me over the hump of dying the way they describe. But that's just me, and it doesn't really matter anymore. All that matters now is the Path I am now on.

    Anyway, in addition to the paragraph you quoted, this one rang out for me:
    If you are a Buddhist practitioner, or interested in Buddhism and reading this article, whatís your deepest intention? Is it really just to feel better, or be a little kinder, or more helpful, or is that just a story youíve chosen to protect yourself with? Are you inspired by Buddhist practice to transform your life completely, or is it just a better tasting, more holistic add on than going out and buying a new TV?
    And this one also rang out for me and might serve as a call to get more people into the book club, because this is exactly what we're talking about every week:
    I have no idea if the kind of transformation you see in the stories of the enlightened masters will occur in my life, but I figure why the hell not aspire to awaken fully anyway. The times I have been most depressed and miserable in my life have been the times I have chosen to either kill my largest dreams, or cling to them fiercely and defiantly.
    Finally, below is the link to the full page we've been quoting from. Maybe others will find other paragraphs to share.
    http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2010/11...o-die-already/

  6. #6

    Re: Buddhist Geeks: Are You Choosing to Die Already?

    Anyway, in addition to the paragraph you quoted, this one rang out for me:

    If you are a Buddhist practitioner, or interested in Buddhism and reading this article, whatís your deepest intention? Is it really just to feel better, or be a little kinder, or more helpful, or is that just a story youíve chosen to protect yourself with? Are you inspired by Buddhist practice to transform your life completely, or is it just a better tasting, more holistic add on than going out and buying a new TV?
    So - care to share your deepest intention? I'll offer mine - I don't have one. I became interested in Buddhism through fiction (Siddhartha), because the issues Siddhartha dealt with seemed to ring true for me (dukkha, as it turned out upon further investigation). So I guess you could say my original intention (and maybe still my "deepest" intention") was to rid myself of dukkha. So - does that mean I am interested in transforming my life completely? Guess it depends on what you mean by "completely". I'm not interested in leaving my wife/family/job and going to a monastery, if that's what is implied by "completely". I am choosing to spend my free time sitting and studying, and a good portion of my entire day "practicing".

  7. #7
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks: Are You Choosing to Die Already?

    I guess my deepest intention now is to live life according to the Way as much as I can. I believe my life is in the process of complete transformation, and this is probably a never ending process, at least I can't imagine an end to it when nirvana is right here continuously waiting to be realized. I think my life is where I'm at, so who knows where I'll be going, but I don't forsee any monastery in my future. My old intentions never did me much good, so I have been in the process of dropping those. Picking up new ones does not seem all that wise. I don't expect to end my suffering, just to be a better surfer of it.

  8. #8

    Re: Buddhist Geeks: Are You Choosing to Die Already?

    Quote Originally Posted by CraigfromAz
    So - does that mean I am interested in transforming my life completely? Guess it depends on what you mean by "completely". I'm not interested in leaving my wife/family/job and going to a monastery, if that's what is implied by "completely". I am choosing to spend my free time sitting and studying, and a good portion of my entire day "practicing".
    I think they mean that when just sitting or just practicing becomes totally acceptable and as wonderful as buying a new TV (sometimes) then you have been transformed completely within and 'leaving my wife/family/job and going to a monastery' are outside circumstances which are not necessary for the transformation for some but may be helpful to others.

    But as Alan said transformation is a process and not always black and white. Hixon's (book club plug) transmission stories take it to the next level and actually demonstrate how our buddha ancestors transmitted their transformations.

    /Rich

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