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The guitar string story: too loose, too tight?

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  • The guitar string story: too loose, too tight?

    Here's a new discussion for you. I only wish I'd had the clarity to think of it sooner.

    How much is too much, too little, for householders? I'm talking about real practice here. I've struggled for years, suffered really, trying so hard that I actually became resentful of the practice. Obviously it is going to vary from person to person, whether you are a cultural Buddhist or a convert... There is a reason for ordination, monasteries, forests, hermitages. How do we know where to draw the proverbial line in our practice between what is useful and what may actually be harmful? Much metta to all.

  • #2
    This is difficult....
    Some one once asked (or said, to) a Ven that he / she couldn't go forth because they were caring for parents...
    Bhante pointed out that all of the monks are "unicorns" and they didn't have parents and that's why they become monks

    These are difficult decisions - how far to commit...
    I think asking oneself, "What is the most important thing to do...and what makes you happy" sort of gives the answer.... and then, also looking at the constraints / limitations if any ...
    If you have dependents, sometimes, it's not practical to leave them... But, sometimes, arrangements can be made, and, one can leave....

    There is an office party on the 8th of Dec. But, some of my Christian (Catholic) co-workers won't make it as that's one of the days set aside specifically for religious activity - I am told that there are five such dates.....
    As for me, the party is supposed to start at 730pm, I'd leave by 830pm so that I am well rested for Sat morning meditation program....


    • #3
      Easy is right. Begin right and you are easy.
      Continue easy and you are right.
      The right way to go easy
      Is to forget the right way.
      And forget that the going is easy.

      -------Chuang Tzu


      • #4
        Greeting Jerrod,

        A topic close to my own heart

        My personal take on this is that there are 3 aspects to consider. (LOL I must really be a Buddhist lol... starting to make lists of factors!! )

        1) Inclination - For me this is about satisfactoriness about the way I live.

        2) Intention - This one is about whether the way I live is in line with my aims and goals. Note the greater the discrepancy
        between 1 & 2, the less satisfactory the situation and the more motivation for change or frustration with the current situation

        3) Opportunity - As Mahisha said, about the limitations on choices due to responsibilities. However, I believe that it is possible to adapt and arrange ones environment to a significant degree, in line with intention.

        My own approach has been slow and steady. This has meant that while intention was being refined, the opportunities could be moulded over time, to construct an environment most conducive to 1 & 2.

        Now, even though I have been living as a contemplative for close to 20 years, I find the increase in aversion in many aspects of the householder life is putting renewed pressure on me to adapt again. Minor issues such as distaste for 'empty' pleasures are relatively easy. No longer interested in tv, books, social chat, parties/going out etc. I am surprised that my main interest (by a long way) is just the Dhamma. This is easy enough to put in place, though it means that ones existing relationships are challenged. In some cases I choose to continue them but from the perspective of living/implementing the Dhamma. Some stuff I regard as service. Though I am becoming much more discriminating about this and only choose activities that are in line with N8fp.

        The more difficult challenges include how to avoid all the negatives from making and administering money to support my life. This has really been becoming more and more of a challenge over the past few years. It has taken quite some creativity and luck to arrange a method where I can get a 'passive' income stream that falls within 'right livelihood'. I feel like I have reaped the fruits of some good Kamma by having been able to do this. It will come into effect within a few months.

        Of course at this point one will have considered becoming a monastic, as it is such a conducive environment for following the N8fp. However, there may be a range of reasons why that could not work. For me it is mostly health related, and also because I prefer to live much more isolated, and really dislike rituals.

        However, as intention becomes more expressed, ie greater dissatisfaction with the constraints on being free from the burdens of daily life, and their negative impact regarding practice. My next step is to withdraw even further (being out of contact with the world for greater periods of time - no phone, no internet, no contact), and also start visiting Bodhinyana for periods of time to get more skilled direction in order to further develop my practice.

        I might just stop here :-)

        metta and adaptability


        • #5
          What are your thoughts Jerrod. Especially after spending so much time recently on this question, it would be interesting/instructive to hear about your experiences.

          I do really like Eds comment. Is this your experience as well?


          • #6
            This is a BIG question and I presume a different answer would come from all of us and like everything in life, what feels right is constantly changing :-) Not unlike the Buddha, to this point in my life, I feel I spent many years endulging and moving through life blindly. Then life events had me re-evaluate how I was living and my practice had me renounce so much of the things I once enjoyed and the identities I had collected and I found myself retreat inward and look for solitude, Now I believe I am somewhat closer to the middle way, although this is a balancing act that too is shifting constantly. I get the feeling that this will be the path and the journey for the rest of my days :-)


            • #7
              This week I've been listening to a video of Ajahn Brahm:

              6 - 10 Deep In sight, The Way to the Truth Ven Ajahn Brahm


              The underlying message throughout the talk comes down to this: LETTING GO.

              And the summary point seems to be that we struggle with "string tension" because we are afraid of losing control.

              I struggle to find the correct focus and tension, too. And because at deepest levels I am still looking for a result or an attainment or a achievement, there is always some fear based or longing based frustration. What to do?

              I'm going to keep trying to LET GO because that seems to be the only way out.


              • #8
                I agree very much with Eamonn, that everyone is going to have a different answer and story, and that each of these changes over time. Myself, I've come almost full circle since beginning this path. And like Marcia said, it has a lot to do with letting go. I think we can let go of the suffering of learning this path when we each get to the point that we can trust that what we've learned has taken hold. We may need to consult our reference materials from time to time. A poet looks at his dictionary from time to time. A doctor thumbs through her medical manuals for a refresher, but she trusts her training. All in all, I think, for me anyway, enlightenment is best left for monastics. Lay life can only get me so far along the path. Yet living a wise, although unenlightened lay life is nothing to be ashamed of. So I'm back to riding motorcycles and playing rock music on my guitar. What I've gotten from the path still applies and still has merit. One doesn't need to be a world-renowned monk or nun to be content with oneself.


                • #9
                  Hi Jerrod,

                  For me what you have written above is the best thing I have heard from you :-) ............... and that's saying something because I have heard many wise things from you Jerrod over the years :-). Where you are now sounds so similar to myself. Like I said previously, I gave up a lot of what I enjoyed ...... and at that time it was necessary and helpful ......... but today I am happy to enjoy some of these pleasures again. But I enjoy them in a very different way, because of what I have learned and how I have trained myself, just as you say :-)

                  I think also it all comes down to what actually is Enlightenment or Awakening. I like the word Awakening more and I like the word Embodiment even more again. Embodiment is putting into practice what has been learned and understood. So if we ride our motorcycles Jerrod, lets do this whilst being in the moment and enjoying the sun and the breeze (or even the rain.........its only water :-)) and maybe the connection this brings with others who enjoy the same. Share some love so to speak. Play that rock music on your guitar loud and let that be an outlet for all the emotions so they can just pass right on through :-) Music is a language we all can speak and one that goes straight into our hearts. Those blessed with the talent to play and the dedication to practice should let this out into the world for the rest of us to enjoy with our ears and our hearts :-)

                  Our Dhamma and our Kamma is our own for this life, and the biggest challenge I think is working out what that is and living authentically and expressing ourselves (or our Notselves :-)) from that space.

                  Namaste Jerrod and all


                  • #10
                    I'm just so happy to see you all here

                    Marcia, thanks for the link. It's always the way... the right teaching comes along at the precisely right time... Thank you

                    A huge wave of metta is heading to all of you


                    • #11
                      Hello Jerrod, in lay life, can "get to" non-returning

                      I wasn't looking for a sutta as such, but, just came across this.... so, sharing
                      "It is a gain for you, householder! It is well gained by you, householder! You have declared, householder, the fruit of nonreturning.”

                      Originally posted by Jerrod Lopes View Post
                      All in all, I think, for me anyway, enlightenment is best left for monastics. Lay life can only get me so far along the path.
                      PS: hope you wear a helmet. It's illegal in Sri Lanka to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Over in AZ, people do not need to wear a helmet...


                      • #12
                        Yes, Mahisha, I get the non-returning without ordaining. I am certain one could even be awakened without ordination, but probably easier to fly without wings.

                        Thanks for your concern. I do wear a helmet. When the law was passed requiring them here many years ago, I was the first in my city to be caught not wearing one. The judge made an example of me and I've never ridden without one since. Be well.


                        • #13
                          That's true.... ordaining and working at it would be easier / faster.... let's see.... Raṭṭhapāla Sutta (below) is one of my favorite sutta's - for many reasons, including the four summaries of the Dhamma - which made Raṭṭhapāla head down that path....
                          Reading this Sutta, was like watching a play....

                          Chuckle - glad that you will be relatively safe on the bike!
                          I did read up a bit when I saw folk without helmets. on the freeway, at 70 miler per hour....

                          Take care.....

                          "Soon after they had gone, the clansman Raṭṭhapāla went to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, he sat down at one side and said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, as I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is not easy while living in a home to lead the holy life, utterly perfect and pure as a polished shell. Venerable sir, I wish to shave off my hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness. I would receive the going forth under the Blessed One, I would receive the full admission.”



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