Author Topic: What does abandoning Dharma means?  (Read 6282 times)

WoselTenzin

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What does abandoning Dharma means?
« on: July 09, 2011, 07:41:50 PM »
One of the root downfalls of the Bodhisattva vows is abandoning Dharma.  What does it mean by abandoning Dharma?  Does it mean we abandon Buddhism and convert to Christianity or other religions?

According to the Lamrim, we can be guilty of abandoning Dharma even when we consider ourselves Buddhists.  There are many traditions within Buddhism - Theravada/Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana and there are 3 scopes of practice - small, intermediate and big.  All these are included within the 84,000 teachings of Lord Buddha meant to tame the minds of sentient beings with different mental dispositions and bring them to enlightenment and are therefore valid.

We abandon Dharma when we favour one tradition and think that other traditions are not valid or when we think that practices of the lower scopes do not apply to us because we are "practising" the higher scopes.

How many of us out of ignorance have been guilty of this one time or another?   

Big Uncle

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2011, 10:29:45 PM »
Dear Wosel Tenzin,

Thank you so much for posting your Dharma questions. They are excellent, well-thought out and reflects who you are - a true enquiring Dharma practitioner. Every time, you just wow me with the thought you have put in and the amazing relevance to our Dharma practice.  I really enjoy and learn a lot from your postings here. Please continue to do so.

Your two forms of abandonments are the classic forms of abandonment mentioned in the Lamrim and so forth. However, real abandonment is not just that. The Dharma is the truth, the teachings of the truth and so forth and any action that takes us away from this truth constitute abandoning the Dharma. In other words, any action that we take that takes us away from the truth, it is abandonment of the Dharma.

You mentioned discriminating between the many varied teachings/practices within Buddhism, but I think this includes other religions as well. We cannot judge what is a good spiritual path for everyone and so it is good never to discriminate between religions. Other forms of abandonment is to give up our Dharma practice (you mentioned one reason of giving up, which is to convert)  or even giving up on our reliance with a Guru.

Abandonment of the Dharma is very grave and the consequences is very heavy. It will lead us astray and in future lives, we will not find a qualified Guru or we will have major obstacles that will overwhelm our Dharma/spiritual practice. Therefore, knowing this, we should all strive never to abandon the Dharma.

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2011, 04:07:19 AM »
Thanks BU and Wosel T for sharing this often misunderstood statement.  BU's clarification is spot on. I believe it  means if we doubt or do not follow even one instruction of the scriptures, we are in danger of abandoning Dharma since Dharma is about Truth .  It is said that if its a Truth, we cannot add or subtract to it. If  the truth resides in a place , say, up north, every step we take should be heading north. We cannot disagree and take a step heading in another direction. Every step will take us away from the truth. There cannot be contradictions in any Buddhist teachings as to the ultimate nature of things, although the emphasis or methods may differ according to different individuals dispositions and motivations.

On a practical level, if we live our lives according to truth , every action will be a cause for happiness and lead us to freedom from misery. Hence we should have no doubt that every instruction given to us by our Guru/Lama/ or from scriptures is for our benefit.

Experiencially I think doubts arise because we think we know better. After applying the instructions ,when results are not what we expect or do not come as soon with our limited views,  we deem there is a fault. For instructions that appeal to us , we develop bias  and contaminate our practice. We need to have faith and humility that even though the ' cure' may entail some short term pain or sacrifices, ultimately we will benefit.

DSFriend

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2011, 09:05:25 AM »
It is important than to know how not to fall for the greatest evil. In the Lamrim we find,

Je Rinpoche said:

(Through it) one perceives all doctrines as non-contradictory,
All teachings arise as personal advice,
The intent of Buddha is easily found
And you are protected from the cliff of the greatest evil.

Therefore the wise and fortunate of India and Tibet
Have thoroughly relied upon this excellent legacy
(Known as) the stages in the practices of the three spiritual beings;
Who of powerful mind would not be intrigued by it?


Some will say we need to question before accepting, as it is taught by the Buddha. I do think this applies but how long we question and the motivation when we question makes all the difference.

Ones we get to the point whereby we are able to accept the teachings as personal advice, we gain tremendously. How wonderful to know that when we do this, we will then see the intent of the Buddha and are protected from the greatest evil.

Positive Change

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2011, 07:34:30 AM »
It is important than to know how not to fall for the greatest evil. In the Lamrim we find,

Je Rinpoche said:

(Through it) one perceives all doctrines as non-contradictory,
All teachings arise as personal advice,
The intent of Buddha is easily found
And you are protected from the cliff of the greatest evil.

Therefore the wise and fortunate of India and Tibet
Have thoroughly relied upon this excellent legacy
(Known as) the stages in the practices of the three spiritual beings;
Who of powerful mind would not be intrigued by it?


Some will say we need to question before accepting, as it is taught by the Buddha. I do think this applies but how long we question and the motivation when we question makes all the difference.

Ones we get to the point whereby we are able to accept the teachings as personal advice, we gain tremendously. How wonderful to know that when we do this, we will then see the intent of the Buddha and are protected from the greatest evil.

Along my spiritual path I often contemplate on exactly this and I find myself thinking how and why I have come to this point and how do I move on, should I move on, what do I do? I would be lying if I said I had never contemplated "leaving" the Dharma.... Yes I have but I often catch myself in mid thought and know I am just saying this like a spoilt child not getting what I want. A selfish moment yes but alas, life is full of those and in knowing I do catch myself quicker is knowing I am on the right path and this makes my conviction stronger!

Over the past weeks I have been going through a lot in my mind... thoughts on where to go from here... how to solve my worldly concerns... how to get my mind out of this rut I am in... And a Dharma brother just put it all in a nutshell. He said:

Have complete faith in your Guru and all will be well. Don't you think your Guru wants only the best for you? All your concerns will sort itself out or the negative karma that you have accumulated through time and lifetimes that is manifesting right now can be purified if you only trust and have faith in your Guru.

This statement (not in his exact words though but close) threw me aback as, I had the answer staring right in my face but I chose to worry and spend hours upon hours in the day thinking and planning ways of getting out of my very real problems so much so worrying myself sick! It is amazing how much I think I know but in actual fact, I have so much to learn... Thank you Dharma brother as you have put my frame of mind back where it should be...

diamond girl

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2011, 08:27:07 PM »
Dear Wosel Tenzin,

Thank you so much for posting your Dharma questions. They are excellent, well-thought out and reflects who you are - a true enquiring Dharma practitioner. Every time, you just wow me with the thought you have put in and the amazing relevance to our Dharma practice.  I really enjoy and learn a lot from your postings here. Please continue to do so.

Your two forms of abandonments are the classic forms of abandonment mentioned in the Lamrim and so forth. However, real abandonment is not just that. The Dharma is the truth, the teachings of the truth and so forth and any action that takes us away from this truth constitute abandoning the Dharma. In other words, any action that we take that takes us away from the truth, it is abandonment of the Dharma.

You mentioned discriminating between the many varied teachings/practices within Buddhism, but I think this includes other religions as well. We cannot judge what is a good spiritual path for everyone and so it is good never to discriminate between religions. Other forms of abandonment is to give up our Dharma practice (you mentioned one reason of giving up, which is to convert)  or even giving up on our reliance with a Guru.

Abandonment of the Dharma is very grave and the consequences is very heavy. It will lead us astray and in future lives, we will not find a qualified Guru or we will have major obstacles that will overwhelm our Dharma/spiritual practice. Therefore, knowing this, we should all strive never to abandon the Dharma.

Thank you Big Uncle. In summary, what I learn here is clear that abandoning Dharma for anyone in any faith, is a sure path to further suffering and major serious consequences. We really should not indulge in so much thinking, it makes no progress especially when our thinking process is to no avail and a mere excuse and waste of time. By saying we are thinking it gives us the delusion we are doing something. Thinking is not effective action. Getting off our comfort zone and doing something to move forward to create better results is progress and practise. Nothing is easy in life, then let's just keep it simple. Have pure and sincere practise. Have faith in our teacher and faith.

dsiluvu

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2011, 05:58:33 PM »

Thank you Big Uncle. In summary, what I learn here is clear that abandoning Dharma for anyone in any faith, is a sure path to further suffering and major serious consequences. We really should not indulge in so much thinking, it makes no progress especially when our thinking process is to no avail and a mere excuse and waste of time. By saying we are thinking it gives us the delusion we are doing something. Thinking is not effective action. Getting off our comfort zone and doing something to move forward to create better results is progress and practise. Nothing is easy in life, then let's just keep it simple. Have pure and sincere practise. Have faith in our teacher and faith.

Too much thinking can lead to a dangerous and sometimes if our negative karma is triggered by the wrong thought and opens... we could end up really abandoning the Dharma. At that time it may even be too late because we will not even realise we have.

So I agree with diamondgirl's comments on too much time wasting in entertaining thoughts such as the above, especially when the answers are very clear. Yes best is to trust in one's Guru and this is the time we apply what our Guru has taught us and make the necessary changes to overcome our negativities.

Contemplation or reflections are also something you do which is also thinking. The difference is this form of thinking is in search of answers to better oneself, to find solutions and to use Dharma teachings to ask our selves hard questions about ourselves. After which we make a decision and we must move on and forward by applying Dharmic methods to improve. Buddhas teaching in whichever scope is always about improving ourselves to better and not judging outside but rather the inside of us.

Helena

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2011, 09:48:38 PM »
I find that a simple way to gauging whether we have understood and gained real knowledge lies in how much bigger and open our minds have become. Nothing in Buddha's teachings will lead us to become more narrow and linear in our views. In fact, it is the opposite.

Dharma opens up the vastness that was not possible before. Therefore, it can never be restrictive and limiting. If we become more constricted in our views or compassion, then we are definitely not upholding the Dharma but runs the risk of abandoning what it teaches to be.

It is our inner samsara - our fears, lack of knowledge and understanding that restricts us from viewing everyone as pure or even as Buddhas.

Helena

Reena Searl

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2011, 01:47:53 AM »
“Dharma is not upheld by talking about it. Dharma is upheld by living in harmony with it,
even if one is not learned.” ~ The Dhammapada



WoselTenzin

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2011, 02:18:41 AM »
“Dharma is not upheld by talking about it. Dharma is upheld by living in harmony with it,
even if one is not learned.” ~ The Dhammapada


Dharma is the practice of right conduct.  It is not about scriptural knowledge although that certainly helps because we do need knowledge as a basis for practice. Dharma is about practising human qualities of kindness, compassion, generosity, patience, etc so that we can live in harmony with each other.  Therefore, Dharma can be practiced by anyone learned or not.  Dharma is certainly not only talking about these qualities.

When we are able to live and internalise such Dharmic qualities, certainly our actions of body, speech and mind would be directed towards benefiting others and though the power of karma and dependent arising, merits would be accumulated and Dharma wisdom will increase.  Spiritual progress will be underway until full enlightenment is attained. 

 

Tenzin K

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2011, 04:36:33 PM »
"Dharma is the practice of right conduct."

Any of the Dharma practice within the 84,000 teaching of Lord Buddha is to make us a better person, make us more happier and make us find our on Buddha within ourselves.

Dharma can never be wrong as the are so many..many great people who are practicing it have gain so much and eventually their mind is to benefits others, to share with others the truth of live.

Abandoning the dharma isn't it sound like one moving away from becoming a better person, one would become an unhappy person and don't have to say whether he or she will liberate from samara.

How ignorance we are in this statement because we will fight for all our samaras crave but give up the dharma practice for our unnecessary excuses.
Faith could be part of the reason but what directly to be the cause is our selfishness for not finding the truth. 

shugdentruth

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2011, 06:21:48 PM »
I carry out dharma activities and do my sadhanas everyday. But if my mind does not transform, and obviously that is a personal choice, would that be considered as abandoning the dharma??

If my mind transforms but I am not so diligent in my dharma activities, does that also mean I am abandoning dharma??

Please advice.

hope rainbow

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2011, 07:19:53 AM »
I carry out dharma activities and do my sadhanas everyday.
But if my mind does not transform, and obviously that is a personal choice, would that be considered as abandoning the Dharma?

If my mind transforms but I am not so diligent in my Dharma activities, does that also mean I am abandoning Dharma?

Please advice.

If I was in your shoes, I would ask myself three questions:

1. what is my motivation when I do Dharma work and do my sadhanas?
the answer that equates with upholding the Dharma can be:
(a) the motivation for a good rebirth,
(b) or for breaking my cycle of rebirths/suffering,
(c) or for breaking my cycle of rebirths/suffering and stop the cycle of suffering of all sentient beings.
This is why one engages into Dharma work.
Any other motivation puts one in a place where Dharma is, while there is no Dharma in that person's heart, thus even if imprints are gained and merit also, the mind does not transform.

2. what is the reason why I feel my mind does not transform?
Why am I in a Dharma center, with Dharma brothers and sisters and even have a guru but I find that my mind does not change? Why?
If not because I did not set up my motivation properly as per (a), (b) or (c) above, or because I do not follow the instructions from my Guru?

When the mind does not transform, doubt is cast onto the medicine: Dharma, and potentially Dharma is abandoned, like a non-efficient medicine.

But have I been a good patient? did I take the medicine as prescribed? even the bitter pills that are hard to swallow, did I change the diet as prescribed, did I do my exercises as prescribed, did I trust my doctor in the process, did I show gratitude and trust to the nurses?
To blame the medicine is an easy way out, for we do not need to look at our faults any further.

Thus:
I am sick, and I don't seem to improve and loose faith in the medicine = abandoning Dharma = I will get worse
I am sick, and I don't seem to improve but I keep faith in the medicine = relying on the Dharma = I will get better

This is an analogy only, for maybe sometimes the medicine we take for a mundane illness is not good.
But when we mean Dharma by "medicine", is there any reason to establish the medicine as faulty? and are there reasons to establish the medicine as valid?
If it is valid, then why would it be valid for everybody else but not for me?
That is not logical. So it must be valid for me too.

3. did my mind really transform if this transformation does not translate into actions?
Surely, if my mind transforms it translates into actions.
I can see no other possible result of mind transformation.
So did my mind really transform?

One thing is for sure: to participate to this forum is "upholding the Dharma".

hope rainbow

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2011, 07:30:35 AM »
It is important than to know how not to fall for the greatest evil. In the Lamrim we find,

Je Rinpoche said:

(Through it) one perceives all doctrines as non-contradictory,
All teachings arise as personal advice,
The intent of Buddha is easily found
And you are protected from the cliff of the greatest evil.

Therefore the wise and fortunate of India and Tibet
Have thoroughly relied upon this excellent legacy
(Known as) the stages in the practices of the three spiritual beings;
Who of powerful mind would not be intrigued by it?


Some will say we need to question before accepting, as it is taught by the Buddha. I do think this applies but how long we question and the motivation when we question makes all the difference.

Ones we get to the point whereby we are able to accept the teachings as personal advice, we gain tremendously. How wonderful to know that when we do this, we will then see the intent of the Buddha and are protected from the greatest evil.

May I emphasize that these 4 qualities of the lamrim are best to be taken into an orderly sequence

step 1.   One perceives all doctrines as non-contradictory,
step 2.   All teachings arise as personal advice,
step 3.   The intent of Buddha is easily found
step 4.   And you are protected from the cliff of the greatest evil.

Step 2 is reached upon the realization of step 1, same goes for step 3. and step 4.

Then we have a steady foundation to build up on.

If we consider all the teachings of the Buddha as valid EXCEPT ONE that we found contradictory, how will we be able to take that so-called "contradictory teaching" as a personal advise? Let alone find the Intent of Buddha?
If we do consider some of the Buddha's teachings as contradictory (even one)  we already had abandoned the Dharma by making our view more valid than the Buddha's teachings.

shugdentruth

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Re: What does abandoning Dharma means?
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2011, 04:24:21 PM »
Dear Hope Rainbow,

Thank you again for your good response. It is always very helpful.  :)