Dispelling a very common myth about the Altruistic Intention and the Mahayana Bodhisattva Path; and how it applies to your practice and attaining enlightenment.
In this article we will (1) learn about the Buddhist Altruistic Intention: what it is, what it isn't, and how it applies to Bodhisattvas and to your practice. We will also briefly (2) review what Buddhist enlightenment is and what it means to be "enlightened."
Before we start, let's knock down some misbeliefs right now.
Mahayana Bodhisattvas and Nirvana: What People Get Wrong
Three Common Misbeliefs I Hear About Mahayana Bodhisattvas and/or the Mahayana Dharma:
These are remarkably common misunderstandings of the Mahayana Bodhisattava Path and the Altruistic Intention to guide others and spending time to understand the root texts and commentaries can help us better understand the intent and esoteric meaning of the teachings on this concept that hold us back from true progress along the Path.
But short of doing that—and before we jump into the concept of the Altruistic Intention—it's helpful to understand at a very high-level what enlightenment is to a Buddhist practitioner and what the implications are of attaining it, even partially.
So let's jump right in and begin!
There's a big problem with the Western Meditation movement that no one wants to talk about. Until now.
In this article, we will cover what's wrong with western meditation, how to fix your practice, and why it's so important to attaining Awakening and Enlightenment.
"I’ve been meditating for years, but if I'm being honest, I don’t really enjoy doing it. I meditate because I think I’m supposed to, but I mostly find it boring and it is not something that I like to do.
Will I ever enjoy doing it, or is that not the point?"
If you can relate with the question above, then I have good news, I can tell you why: it's because you've been taught how to meditate incorrectly. Boredom (or even having a restless mind) is a guaranteed sign that you aren't actually meditating, it's a sure sign that you're just sitting still...and yes, that's boring. I understand that some practitioners aren't going to like reading the rest of this, because they have developed their own views and notions, but allow me to explain as this goes against the rote teaching in the West and there is a lot to gain from keeping an open mind on this subject; so let's dive right in!
(Warning: the text that follows may be considered seditious and incendiary. That is not the intent; the intent is to highlight and correct in no uncertain terms.)
COMMENT: Huh, so, I was taught to meditate wrong?
Renunciation is about wanting to put an end to Samsara: the endless cycle of birth, ageing, sickness, and death.
In this short article, we will cover what Renunciation is and what it isn't; how to cultivate it; and, why it's so important to attaining Awakening and Enlightenment.
Buddhist Renunciation isn't about asceticism or giving up pleasures and the finer things of life; believe it or not, you can renounce and still have those things. Rather, genuine Renunciation is about rejecting our unskilful attachments to the things that make us unhappy.
Don't worry, this will all make sense shortly.
So, what is and what isn't Buddhist Renunciation, more specifically?
Each one of us has the seed to be unshakeably happy and peaceful; and you don't have to be a Buddhist to have it.
(Alternate Title: Connecting with your inner-goodness cultivates happiness)
In this article, we will cover what Buddha Nature is, how to recognise it, nurture it, cultivate it, and leverage it for happiness and Enlightenment.
Buddha nature is not extensively covered in most popular Dharma books and many practitioners have only a loose understanding of the topic.
As with all of the "big" topics in Buddhism, Buddha nature is deep and profound and entire volumes are written on this topic. This article serves to introduce and re-enforce the concept for those who are newer to the idea or would like to learn a bit more about it and how it can benefit their practice. The more you practice, the more you will come to recognise the qualities of Buddha nature flowing from you and the clearer and more practical your Buddha nature will be to you.
So what is "Buddha Nature"?
A unique approach to finally understanding sunyata that actually works for practice, growth, and Enlightenment.
I have problems trying to understand Emptiness. I even struggle at finding a better way of putting the idea of Emptiness or No-self as it is explained in dharma books and dharma talks into my own words. I suspect the causes will be in no small part because I am not fully understanding the subject in enough depth and therefore struggle in putting it into my own words, like the bowl with the holes in it, I discover it has all seeped away and just isn’t happening yet! I also don’t want to just parrot back words, I want to understand it enough to understand it with confidence and some insight.
Emptiness (Sanskrit: śūnyatā) is an challenging topic for the uninitiated and it presents an almost impossible learning curve to beginners who are just starting to explore the Buddhist path...
Great question, compassion and pity are quite commonly misunderstood. And this is equally relevant to both Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.
While entire schools of Buddhism are anchored on the concept of compassion, and many compendia have been written on the topic, here's an easy way to spot the difference:
Why is thinking about Death is so important to Buddhists (and can it help you)? - Buddhism Explained
Despite common misconceptions, buddhists are not obsessed with death, they are obsessed with happiness.
Ask a Buddhist what's the number one cause of death, and the Buddhist will say: "birth."
While it's true that Buddhism has a deep interest in the subject of Death, it is just a true to say that Buddhism has a deep interest in a great number of the things that seem to plague the human experience. However, the comfort with which Buddhists can talk about Death seems to make a lot of people uncomfortable and, as a result, it gets over-played in our media and culture.
So why does Buddhism have such a focus on Death?
In this short article, we will cover what Karma is and what it isn't; how it relates to destiny and free-will; and, its relationship to your happiness and your peace-of-mind.
Karma is one of the most widely misunderstood concepts in all of Buddhism and Eastern philosophy.
Before I start, let me get this out of the way right upfront: Karma is not a universal morality system; it's not a bad behaviour boomerang. In Buddhism, there is no God watching over anyone, rewarding do-gooders and smiting wrong-doers.
So, what is Karma then?
Hi Michael, it's nice to see you again too. Thank you so much for the help. Let me see if I understand it clearly: what I usually end up doing is re-wording the meaning of the text, mainly so I can work with it in my head using my native language. So should I also meditate on the words longer in order to burn the meaning into my core? Would that would be the right thing to do if I don't need to know the exact words?
Thank you for your question to clarify your understanding.
We want to move away from recitations and start down the path of analytical meditation to help you get around your short-term memory issues; and rote memorisation does little for our understanding and insight, memory issues or not.
So how do you meditate analytically? While there is a reason entire books and courses are written on this single topic, here is a simple process that you can use to start doing it today.
First of all, what is "analytical meditation" and how is it used?
Short-term Memory Problems Affecting Meditation & Dharma Practice - Buddhism Explained (Q&A Part One)
I have a problem with my ability to meditate, in 2015 something happened to me and my short-term memory has been affected ever since, so now I have a really hard time memorising the texts. So, I decided to just keep the texts with me (in-hand) and read them, but it feels so artificial. I had the exact same problem during a recent retreat and I don’t know how to handle it. Should I just make an extra effort until I memorize it all, allowing myself to just "be peaceful" and read, or should I skip the recitation part entirely?
- N. V.
So nice to see you again.
I can understand how it can be frustrating or feel limiting to have your short-term memory affect your ability to meditate or memorise the buddhadharma. I have good news: it doesn't have to be! May I offer an alternative to "artificially reading" the texts or skipping the recitation part entirely?
The purpose of the Dharma is neither memorisation nor recitation; at least not in its true sense. However, we can use
a simple sing-along or chant that can be used as a teaching tool or a reminder practice.
This may seem silly and frivolous, but in these challenging times, it's nice to have more fodder for positive thoughts than negative ones, and I know many people are ruminating a lot on what they see as a pretty negative future-state. :(
I was asked by a student to write a short mantra that they could remember to use with her children (and herself) as she saw fit, so I took a ubiquitous and popular children's song and I tweaked and reinterpreted it with deeper Buddhist meanings.
Forgiveness is really not about someone else’s harmful behavior; it’s about our relationship with our own past. When we begin to work on forgiveness, it's firstly a self-care practice for ourselves.
Forgiveness and patience are critical to being able to cultivate your ability to develop inner peace-of-mind and happiness.
I had intended to write about something else entirely, but I experienced something that reminded me that compassion is seeing beyond actions and understanding that all people have problems and are trying to be happy, and I wanted to share this story.
To set the context to some extent: I am an American expat and Buddhist practitioner currently residing in Prague, the Czech Republic. Prague is known to be one of the safest large-cities on the planet, and certainly ranks near the top of the safest cities in Europe list. I always feel safe in this city, regardless of time of day or location.
Advanced Buddhadharma and Steam-entry/Enlightenment training website soft-launches with new public beta!
Having served business and lay professionals for years, the decision was made to expand my service-depth and reach with a presence online to provide another high-quality resource for intermediate Buddhists who are struggling with the affects of COVID19 and are in need of resources and guidance beyond the high-level. Announcing the launch of our new website!
I am now accepting new students!
Stay tuned for edits, redactions, new content, and much more as we approach a full-launch later this year, complete with an enhanced client portal, online payments, multimedia learning library, and more.
In the mean time, please feel free to leave comments with your feedback, or send a message!
The Sagacious Buddhist Blog
Michael Turner is a pre-monastic Buddhist Ariya-puggala and a deeply accomplished enlightenment trainer and dharma life coach. He emphasises and teaches the practical application of Buddhism in our everyday lives to make real progress toward enlightenment and is particularly adept at explaining them in ways that can be easily understood and practiced by Western Buddhists. He has been meditating and cultivating the techniques to generate indestructible resilience and inner-strength for more than 25 years and has helped countless numbers of people enhance their practice to make clear progress along the Path.