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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-12-08 10:49 AM
Original message
Surprised by joy
I was walking in my neighborhood yesterday and saw a squirrel, just climbed down from a cedar tree. The squirrel spotted me, and as I approached, hopped over to an oak tree and climbed up. I felt such joy in that moment. Its hard to describe, but the best I can do is to say it was like the most favorite scene of my most favorite childrens book come to life.

It would be so nice to have those moments more often! :-)

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theredpen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-12-08 06:32 PM
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1. It's is odd when that experience is associated with something relatively mundane
I had a similar (I think) experience of that feeling. I was reading the ingredients on a can of generic spaghetti and meatballs. No kidding and no explanation, either. This was over 20 years ago and I remember the moment vividly, everything I was thinking and feeling, where I was sitting how I was holding the can, who was in the room.

I've had that feeling on other occasions, but this one really stuck with me because it was so random. The others were more conventional (seeing a beautiful nature scene, or in a sacred space, and so forth).
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-01-08 08:57 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. This is the sort of experience that happens when you are fully "in the moment"
Edited on Tue Apr-01-08 09:02 AM by GliderGuider
A lot of spiritual practices, especially Buddhist ones, have the creation of such moments as an explicit goal. Ultimately the goal is to enable the practitioner to lead their entire life in such a state of total awareness. While that's not possible for most of us, we can bring ourselves fully into the present moment at least for brief periods. Mindfulness meditation seems to help, as does something as deceptively simple as just deciding to experience this moment in its entirety. I like to do it when I'm engaged in some mundane chore where my mind usually wanders, like washing dishes or folding laundry.
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AllenVanAllen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-08-09 02:43 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. You remind be of a great quote
from Thich Nhat Hahn:

The secret of mediation is to be conscious of every second of your existence
and to keep the sun of awareness continually shining.

So simple a concept, but so hard to do sometimes.
Oh well, practice is perfect!

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Myoho Donating Member (47 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 10:03 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. It was either the Bodhisattva
Edited on Wed Apr-16-08 10:27 PM by Myoho
Avalokiteshavara or Ksitigarbha. My guess is that it was Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. If sickness was involved it was Bodhisatva Ksitigarbha.

Yet, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is the embodiment of true compassion.

However, the contents of the can represent the indiscriminate destruction of living sentient beings for our own vanity.

They too have Buddha nature.
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-23-09 12:42 PM
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4. I had another of those experiences this morning.

I was sitting at my desk at work, and I was alone in the lab then. I was looking out the window at a large oak tree, and the light green leaves of that tree and others, and suddenly I had this feeling of joy and peace.

And again, I'd like to have those moments more often. :-)

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mtf80123 Donating Member (488 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-12-09 12:27 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Life is precious...
Edited on Tue May-12-09 01:01 AM by mtf80123
Basque in it's glow. The beauty surrounds us all. Drink in every sip... add it to your experience... but do not dwell upon it.

It is attachment... and "Impermanent"

It is not the true nature of reality.
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mtf80123 Donating Member (488 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-12-09 03:40 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. Great Vow Bodhisattva
By Lin Sen-shou

Animals and insects kill each other only for food, but human beings may kill each other because of anger or hatred, shown most vividly in all the wars throughout human history. We kill animals to indulge our greed for meat or money. We resort to lying and stealing in order to fulfill our desires. People commit many crimes or sins out of ignorance, and so there are always souls being punished in hell.

In the Buddhist concept, hell is one of the six destinations in the cycle of reincarnation. Souls are punished there for the crimes or sins they committed in previous incarnations. There are many different levels in hell for various kinds of punishment. Contrary to the Western concept of eternal punishment in hell, souls can be reborn in another realm once their punishments have been completed. However, even though they have received their punishments, some people may still not have become better people for it or fully repented for serious crimes committed in previous lives, so they may be reborn as animals or insects.

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva vowed that as long as there was still one suffering soul in hell, he would not attain buddhahood. Since there are always many souls in hell, Ksitigarbha has a lot of work to do! However, because of his great compassion, the bodhisattva still vowed to save them all. He does not want to see people being punished in hell and then committing still more crimes in their next lives. In addition to suffering souls in hell, the bodhisattva also helps living beings in other realms: humans, celestial beings, asuras, hungry ghosts, and animals and insects. He hopes that by teaching all these creatures, he will be able to stop them from committing more crimes, and thus help them to end their constant suffering.

The bodhisattva appears in different transformations, depending on which realm he is in. Nevertheless, the most popular depiction of this bodhisattva in Chinese temples is as a monk with or without a five-sided crown. This appearance is quite extraordinary because other bodhisattvas tend to be portrayed as lay people with jewels and ornaments around their bodies and heads. The difference is that Ksitigarbha wants all people to respect the Three Treasures--the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha--and to believe in the law of cause and effect.

He is usually portrayed holding a lotus flower in his left hand and forming a gesture of courage with his right hand. Other well-known images show his left hand holding a precious jewel while the right hand either forms a gesture of granting wishes or holds a staff. In these cases, the jewel symbolizes the treasure of another world.

Previous incarnations

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva was different from other Bodhisattvas in that he was never an enlightened Buddha in any of his previous incarnations. The Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra describes previous existences of the bodhisattva and explains what caused his previous incarnations to vow to carry out the Path of the Bodhisattvas.

In the first incarnation, the young bodhisattva saw a buddha one day, and he was awed by the buddha's majestic appearance. His appearance stemmed from his abundant blessings, which in turn originated from his compassion. He asked the buddha how he could obtain such an exalted appearance and temperament, and the buddha replied, "You must help all suffering beings for generations to come." The young man then vowed to do so.

In another life, the Bodhisattva was a woman named Kuang Mu. One day, she made an offering to an Arhat, and he asked her if she had any wish. The woman said that she would like to know where her deceased mother had gone. The Arhat went into meditation and discovered that her mother was being punished in hell. The Arhat then came out of his meditation and asked the woman why her mother should suffer so. Kuang Mu replied that her mother used to enjoy eating tortoises, especially young ones. The arhat told her to sincerely recite the name of the Pure Lotus Eyes Buddha, and he drew the buddha's image for her to worship. Kuang Mu then went home and did as the arhat had said. She saw the buddha in a dream, and he said to her, "Your mother will soon be born in your home."

Later, a maid at her home gave birth to a daughter. Only three days later, the child suddenly started talking. She told Kuang Mu that she was her mother from the previous life, and that thanks to Kuang Mu's constant prayers; she was able to ascend from hell. However, she would only live for thirteen years, and after she died she would fall again to an evil realm. Kuang Mu felt very sad about her mother's plight, so she vowed to rescue all beings from their suffering and help them to attain buddhahood.

In a third incarnation, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva was the ruler of a small kingdom. He and the king of a neighboring realm were good friends, as well as good and righteous kings. However, some of their citizens still committed all kinds of crimes. So one day, these two kings got together and decided to help their people. One vowed to attain buddhahood as soon as possible so that he could save these poor people. The other king vowed to save these poor people first, and then he would be willing to attain buddhahood only after all his people had done so. The latter king was the one we know today as Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.

These are just three of the bodhisattva's incarnations described in the sutra. The Path of the Bodhisattvas is long and requires the continuous efforts of the practitioner. But we can see that Ksitigarbha is one of the greatest bodhisattvas because of his great vow to bring relief to all suffering beings, especially the souls in hell. In the sutra, Sakyamuni Buddha praised Ksitigarbha for his compassionate deeds, and he proclaimed that the bodhisattva had acquired unlimited blessings from his great vow and his eons of work to help others. The bodhisattva's spiritual cultivation has also reached the level of a buddha, but due to his great vow to save all suffering beings first, he still appears as a bodhisattva.

One thing in the sutra worth noticing is that Sakyamuni Buddha entrusted to Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva the responsibility of continuing to save people after the Buddha himself passed away. The next buddha, Maitreya, will appear on earth several thousand years from now, and during this period humans and other living beings will have no buddha to guide them on the path to enlightenment. The Buddha thus requested Ksitigarbha to shoulder the responsibility of relieving people from their worries and guiding them to enlightenment.

The Pure Lands of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva

Following the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

They do not seem to come from this earth. But can we say they are not real because they seem superhuman and have supernatural powers? We have to remember that our universe is truly vast and there are billions or even trillions of stars in this universe. This means that there are countless worlds and other forms of life. Then, why can't there be living beings like Amitabha Buddha, the Medicine Buddha, and the Bodhisattvas? Why do we think that our earth is the only place in the universe that can sustain life? Why does all life have to look like us?

The buddhas and the bodhisattvas have all gone through many incarnations to become what we know today. In the same way, we must work hard to attain to their level.

The levels that these buddhas and bodhisattvas have reached indicate that they practiced the Path of the Bodhisattvas for eons. Such practitioners must maintain a spirit of compassion towards all living beings, and they must put that compassion into action and do good deeds for many lifetimes. Compassion is the foundation of Buddhism. If we can summarize the Buddhist dogmas with one word, it is "compassion." After he had attained enlightenment, the Buddha compassionately decided to teach his discoveries to all people, because he did not want to see them ensnared by common, worldly things.

The things of this world are not permanent. They come, change and disappear. Even we human beings must go through the stages of birth, aging, illness and death. Thus, there is no need to cling to anything in this world.

Unfortunately, people keep trying to cling to the things around them. All over the world because they refuse to let go of their attachments, even after it has faded and dried up.

If they could learn to let go of their attachments--to let go of things that are not really theirs, things that keep changing and vanishing no matter how hard they may try to cling to them--they would not commit such crimes.

The buddhas and bodhisattvas have learned to let go. Thus, they can have total peace of mind since they are free from any kind of entanglement, physical or mental. They feel compassion towards people who are trapped into causing troubles or committing crimes. They want to help these people and teach them compassion so that they can in turn help others.

They put compassion into action to bring peace and happiness to the world. They teach people to help others and thus start a cycle of goodness. They walk on the same Path of the Bodhisattvas that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas went on before. Thus, they hope that they will also ultimately achieve enlightenment and become like the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
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