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Dangers and Benefits of Buddhism

Buddhism is strong medicine. When applied correctly, it leads to the endless ecstasy of Awakening to our true nature. If misused, like most potent medications, it can lead to sickness and even death. So should we avoid the practice of Buddhism? It depends. Have you suffered enough to take the full dose?

The path of Trikaya Buddhism has three major areas of practice: meditation, mindfulness, and contemplation. It would be wonderful if there were a set formula; then everyone could easily follow the directions and experience guaranteed Enlightenment. The ratio of these practices varies according to the needs of the individual. Using too much of one and not enough of another can quickly lead to severe imbalances.

Meditation is the doorway into silent mind.

We stop thought and go beyond all rationalizations about our existence. Every concept and mental structure falls away, gently. After diving into Samadhi – where thought stops for an extended period – the old “you” melts. Out of the liquid, a new configuration takes its place. We begin an exploration of the world in which we find ourselves when we rise from the meditation cushion. There are many techniques which serve as doorways into meditation.

Mindfulness is moving meditation.

This practice involves being present without any mental modifications. We experience all that unfolds before us, as it is. Mindfulness is a complex practice which requires total honesty with oneself. Like meditation, it begins with training the mind to focus. Through mindfulness, we begin to recognize and then play with the filters through which we perceive existence. As the mind grows stronger, we are able to handle the intensity of direct contact with all the energies of life – without attraction or aversion. We are able to simply explore what is, fully and completely.

Contemplation is introspection.

We consciously watch our thoughts and feelings to discover patterns. Once we see a pattern, we can exert our free will and choose whether or not to continue engaging in that pattern. Once we’ve brought a pattern into a full attention, we naturally move away from the ones that cause pain and towards patterns which create pleasure. Much of our intellectual understanding of the Path comes from time spent in contemplation. Through this practice we begin to become aware of how our mind works. We start to understand that what we focus on, we become.

Each of these aspects of the path contain a kernel of danger.

This biggest roadblock is disassociation. Though meditation and mindfulness, we can become adept at compartmentalizing our mind and build within us secret escape hatches. Instead of confronting an unpleasant situation, we can train our mind to enter into a pseudo-blissful state where we are detached from reality. If we investigate, we discover we are not actually feeling joy; it is more a lack of pain or numbness. Within this state, it doesn’t take much to be knocked off balance into despair. With excess contemplation, a similar disassociation takes place, but this time with an intellectual bent. We wrap ourselves in mental concepts so tightly that we can convince ourselves of basically anything that matches our world view – even if it is unhealthy and damaging to ourselves and those around us.

The remedy to these dangers is a strong commitment to the three jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The Buddha is as our ideal example, and we recognize that within us is buddha nature. We consciously strive to know and act from our essential goodness. We study the Dharma, the teachings of Truth. As we explore, we test and investigate, taking nothing on blind faith or belief. Rather, through implementing the teachings, we refine our understanding of the path and of ourselves. Through Sangha, the community of committed practitioners, we create a supportive environment for our practice. Although we must walk the path ourselves, we can make much progress with friends who also seek Awakening.

By taking the medicine of Buddhism in appropriate measure, compassion is the natural result.

When we see all beings as Buddhas, we treat others with kindness. Once we grasp the interdependence and transient nature of all life, we are motivated to act with concern for all beings. If we are honest with our practice of contemplation, we recognize the imperfections of others as the same stumbling blocks we ourselves face. With this deep understanding, the wish for others to Awaken and know joy grows without effort.

Those of us who see the suffering of the world of course want to halt our own suffering. This is what draws us to the Path. By doing the practices, we come to know how our suffering is intertwined with the suffering of all others. We also viscerally experience the benefit our conscious presence has on all those we meet; we begin to notice how the joy we touch in meditation spreads through our interactions. This further inspires us to continue practicing.

Buddhist practice on the surface is simple: pay attention.

However, once we begin this practice of paying attention, layers upon layers of complexity opens. The ego appears to fight back in an attempt to maintain control, and these mind games can be consuming. It takes a person with a certain type of mind to excel on the path of Trikaya Buddhism. Those with an interest in cryptocurrency, computer science, and mathematics have developed a strong mind, which is a requirement to progress through the practice. If you have suffered enough, you are ready to take the plunge.

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Published inBuddha Lessons / Mindfulness