American Buddhism: An “Ele-Book.”

Via on Apr 19, 2011

Discovering Meditation In America

The following is an online book, an Ele-Book if you will It is a collection of articles from the series, Discovering Meditation In America, that come together to form a complete guide to American Buddhism. Each section below includes the chapter name, an excerpt from that article, and the video that was embedded in the post. Plus, each chapter includes a bonus article that seeks to further explain the subject at hand from a different, sometimes “non-Buddhist,” point of view. The last four videos are instructional videos for the practice of The Four Immeasurables: Equanimity, Loving-Kindness, Compassion, and Joy.

The sound in the first two videos is poor, so you may be forced to actually read those articles, but all the following videos have quality audio.

Introduction: What Is and Isn’t Buddhist Practice

Excerpt: “We create all of these complex ideas and concepts that have no real foundation in our lives. Instead of relating to the precision of the present moment; we relate to our musty ideologies. This enables the ego to avoid the “ultimate disappointment” that is enlightenment, as it keeps the path of transformation on the back burner and the ego out of harms way.” Click here to read the entire article.

Chapter One: The Art Of Self Deception.

Excerpt: “Spiritual Materialism is a concept Chogyam Trungpa introduced to describe the contrived state of affairs produced by the ego kidnapping the spiritual path. From the ego’s point of view spirituality is not an inquiry, but a screen play that supplies it with identity and behavior to mimic… Through ego-centric eyes, spirituality is nothing more than means of identifying itself.” Click here to read the entire article.

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Chapter 1-a: Meditation Is A Waste Of Time.

Excerpt: “One morning as we were all sitting zazen silently in the zendo, Suzuki Roshi said, “Don’t move. Just die over and over. Don’t anticipate. Nothing can save you now, because this is your last moment. Not even enlightenment will help you now, because you have no other moments, with no future. Be true to yourself, and don’t move.” Click here to read the entire article.

Chapter Two: The Depths Of Dissatisfaction

Excerpt: “We suspected that we are somehow insufficient or vacant. So, we took hold of some experience in order to fulfill ourselves. We cling to the experience as if it were some solid entity that can endure the rigors of time. However, in the end we see that it came to pass as all things do. Since we continually ignore the fleeting nature of “things” we continually find ourselves disappointed and heartbroken by them. This is a consistent feature in most of our lives.” Click here to read the entire article.

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Chapter 2-a: Let Suffering Sing.

Excerpt: “Suffering should neither be denied awareness, avoided, despised, nor glorified, clung to dramatized. The emergence of suffering is not so much good as it is a good sign, an indication that one is starting to realize that life lived outside of unity consciousness is ultimately painful, distressful, and sorrowful.” Click here to read the entire article.

Chapter Three: Life Is Verbing.

Excerpt: “Allowing thought to be a reflection of change is sanity. From this point of view, thought is always fresh because, life is always changing. This is original thought. We are not other than life. Thought is not other than life. Everything is an expression of life, and life is change. Click here to read the entire article.

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Chapter 3-a: The True-Self: Impersonal and Individual.

Excerpt: “When life flows through us in such a pure and powerful way, utterly beyond any preconception or idea that we may have, we have found our true life. ~Reggie Ray” Click here to read the entire article.

Chapter Four: The Birth Of The Ego

Excerpt: “All of our troubles must be the product of self-deception, as we did not intend to create problems for ourselves or anyone else. At the root of our troubles we will find confusion. Therefore, restoring the mind to its natural state requires nothing more than waking up from the fog of this self-deception… Simply observing this confusion! Click here to read the entire article.

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Chapter 4-a: Painting the Ego.

Excerpt: “Before the beginning and after the end there is pure energy. This energy is not one, nor two, but all. Known to us as awareness, this energy manifests in a variety of forms. Images, sounds, tastes, smells, tactile sensations, memories, and feelings –the whole landscape emerges from this ocean of awareness like waves- not distinct or separate from the water in any way, but as playful manifestations of the water. This is the mind of a child.” Click here to read the entire article.

Chapter Five: The Truth About Karma

Excerpt: “More than any other import from the east, westerners have bastardized the concept of Karma… We have said it means fate or a cosmic version of what goes around comes around. In truth, Karma means creation. It is an act of creation. It refers to the world we create. Not just the house we live in or the car we drive. Karma is also referring to the interior world we create. In other words, the teachings on karma suggest that we are creating ourselves.” Click here to read the entire article.

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Chapter 5-a: Listening To Tragedy.

Excerpt: “I have never felt more at peace or in love with myself than in those silent momenta when I see and accept as real all of the things in me that I hate, all those things that do not agree with my contrived self-image. In those moments insanity is transformed into sanity. Chaos becomes order. Hate is revealed to be love. Filth is seen as beauty, and conflict ceases to be.” Click here to read the entire article.

Chapter Six: The Heart Of Spirituality

Excerpt: “We start to realize that there is a great intelligence, which up until this very moment we have ignored. Taking refuge is essentially learning to trust this intelligence. Beating within each and every one of us is the heart of enlightenment. Taking refuge in this heart is the essence of spirituality.” Click here to read the entire article.

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Chapter 6-a: What we call Suffering, The Buddha called The Path!

Excerpt: “Right now is all we have. We will never have anything more. So, whatever arises–regardless of how neurotic it might be–is our path.” Click here to read the entire article.

Chapter Seven: An Introduction To Meditation— The How And Why Of It.

Excerpt: “In this way we take our seat. Sitting in such a manner, we begin to challenge the doctrine of inadequacy. Body language is a powerful form of communication. In very precise terms, this posture communicates our natural sense of honor. As Lama Yeshe pointed out, “Our home is heaven and everyone you see is God. You are perfect; you just need to recognize it.” This posture point towards that divinity. We have to challenge this view of self-disdain through action. The first step of meditation requires that we act our way into naturalness; not think our way out of neurosis.” Click here to read the entire article.

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Chapter 7-a: Enlightenment Begins With Taking A Seat.

Excerpt: “The fundamental teachings of the Buddha point towards our true nature, which is that of a Buddha. We see that underlying all of the diversions, which arise as a result of confusion, we are fully awake; open, clear, and consistent. This is an essential point to understand about meditation practice. In meditation practice, we are not looking for anything. We are simply looking. Buddhism nor meditation make us better people. It is not self-help; rather, it is a process of discovery.” Click here to read the entire article.

Chapter Eight: Life beyond Ego—The Practice Of Equanimity

Excerpt: “Beyond the final analysis there is no real boundary which adequately distinguishes self from other. As Shantideva says, “My friends and enemies shall cease to be. I myself shall cease to be. Likewise, everything shall eventually come to pass.” In the end, we discover that we have tried to attribute enduring characteristics to transient experiences. We have tried like all hell to assign a solid personality to pure space, no-thingness.” Click here to read the entire article.

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Chapter 8-a: My Last Words.

Excerpt: “Insight burns through illusion… The experience of ‘this‘ and ‘that‘ is an illusion… The feeling of being broken or incomplete is a symptom of this illusion… It is the child of a barren woman! We cannot kill the monster in our closet… All we can do is look in the closet and see that it is empty. Meditation is nothing more than the observation of confusion. At this point the game is up. The ego’s entire enterprise was fueled by neediness. Having realized that neediness was the product of a misunderstanding, the ego utters its last words, “I am sufficient.” Click here to read the entire article.

Chapter Nine: Stepping Out Of The Center—The Practice Of Loving-Kindness.

Excerpt: “Selflessness and love are two sides of the same coin— openness and energy. It is the play of emptiness and form. The realization of selflessness is not some doom and gloom event. On the contrary, it is a total immersion in the waters of love, a type of baptism. Ego is a conceptual levy, a wall that keeps the waters of love at bay. Through the practice of meditation this wall is dismantled.” Click here to read the entire article.

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Chapter 9-a: Is It Love or Emotional Terrorism?

Excerpt: “Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche so elegantly described love as, “A vast share of energy which is not centered, which is not egos at all. It is this energy which is the centerless dance of phenomena, the universe inter-penetrating and making love to itself.” Click here to read the entire article.

Chapter Ten: How To Cultivate A Compassionate Life: Tonglen.

Excerpt: “Compassion does not seek to control or manipulate other. There is no need to govern anything, because compassion emerges like a wave from the waters of love. Compassion is the ebb-&-flow of love. Since, love is the experience of fullness that co-emerges with the realization of selflessness, there is no-one there to regulate the flow of energy. We begin to trust the movement of intelligence that is the present moment! This facilitates the restoration of sanity.” Click here to read the entire article.

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Chapter 10-a: Christianity Through My Buddhist Eyes (it looks at the movement of compassion)

Excerpt: “There is a living quality to Love, which is called compassion. In this context what is meant by compassion is the spirit of Love. Love is based on the discovery of equanimity. In equanimity all of the distinctions that establish and sustain a self-centered world-view are realized to be devoid of any real substance. So, what was once thought to be a collection of isolated and independently existing organisms, is in fact one great big family, the human family. It is a single essence- humanity- manifesting in many ways. Compassion then comes forth from love to recognize and respect this divinity in everything.” Click here to read the entire article.

Chapter Eleven: Re-Discovering Joy and Creativity In Your Daily Life.

Excerpt: “Beyond all of the psychotic attempts to produce some kind of unique self-image still awaits natural joy or the simplicity of being. This simple joy is nothing more than our true nature, the essence of what it means to be a human being. It is the inherent capacity, which is owned by no one, but present in all, to never be the same person twice. Being is true spontaneity. It is individuation.” Click here to read the entire article.

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Chapter 11-a: The Meaning of Life.

Excerpt: “What if life were not some enigmatic thing, existing apart from us? Suppose life is not some riddle or puzzle we are suppose to decipher or figure out. Perhaps life is the purpose. What if living is the point, and being with those we love, contributing to society, or spending a quiet moment at the park are just examples of living.” Click here to read the entire article.

Bonus Article: Remember The Body. Touch The Earth. Heal Wounds.
Excerpt: All forms of division are but a symptom of the principle division between mind and body. Reconcile that division in the singularity of basic awareness, and watch as the network of thought that establishes dissatisfaction come tumbling down like a house of cards. The practice of meditation or contemplation is the path of reconciliation. In the practice of meditation we reconnect with our body, we touch the earth.

About Benjamin Riggs

Ben Riggs is the director of the Refuge Meditation Group in Shreveport, LA. Ben writes extensively about Buddhist & Christian spirituality and politics for The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, The Web of Enlightenment, and is the editor & chief for Henry Harbor--an online magazine concerned with art, culture, spirituality, & politics in the deep South. To keep up with all of his work follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Looking for a real bio? Click here to read my story....

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