Author Topic: A certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit.  (Read 9783 times)


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The Buddha's life exemplifie
s a very important principle--a certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit. We can also see this principle at work in the lives of other great religious teachers, such as Jesus Christ or the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Furthermore, I think that the followers of these teachers, if they wish to attain the highest spiritual realizations within their tradition, must themselves undergo a process of hardship, which they endure through dedicated perseverance. There is sometimes the tendency among the followers of the Buddha to imagine, perhaps only in the back of their minds, that "Although the Buddha went through all of those hardships to attain enlightenment they aren't really necessary for me. Surely, I can attain enlightenment without giving up life's comforts." Perhaps such people imagine that, because they are somehow more fortunate than the Buddha, they can attain the same spiritual state as he did without any particular hardships or renunciation. This is, I think, mistaken.

While Buddhism has adapted to the culture of each new civilization it has encountered, it nonetheless retains its emphasis on morality and discipline as essential for spiritual maturation. If we ourselves want the attainments described by the Buddha--the deep concentration and the penetrating insights--then we too must endure some amount of hardship and observe ethical behavior.

--from Essence of the Heart Sutra: The Dalai Lama's Heart of Wisdom Teachings by H.H. the Dalai Lama


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Re: A certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit.
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2013, 12:31:55 PM »
We need to gain realization of renunciation, bodhichitta and the correct view of emptiness to become a fully enlightened Buddha.  These requirements are the same as of now, before (i.e. 2,500 years ago when Buddha Shakyamuni appeared) or for the future.
If we compare the time of Buddha Shakyamuni’s appearance and now, it is harder to gain realization.  Sentient beings minds then are purer than now.  Hence there is no short cut to enlightenment, all practitioners must put in effort to practise and endure any hardships in order to accomplish enlightenment.


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Re: A certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit.
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2013, 04:24:10 PM »
Hardship is necessary in any pursuit, especially a spiritual one. To become the worlds foremost business man requires hardship, to make your business successful requires hardship, to make yourself look good requires hardship. Everything that we do in life, and to be successful in it requires hardship, dedication, determination. That is a matter a fact. How can you be successful but lazy? That in itself is illogical.

Buddha went through alot of hardship in order to gain enlightenment in his spiritual pursuit. As lay people, we would have to go through triple the amount of hardship that Buddha went through. Why? Because since the time of the Buddha, (which we may have existed then), we would have 2,500 years of "pollution" enter our mindstream (we don't know when the beginning was so it could have been way before that). So to get rid of this heavily polluted mind which has been polluted tremendously over the past say 2,500 years would require SO MUCH MORE hardship than in Buddha's time. Plainly because there is much more dirt to remove, and it may have been ingrained and become stubborn. So to remove stubborn stains requires more effort.

Spiritual practise is to lessen our negative qualities that keep us in samsara and increase our ability for wisdom, compassion, love and kindness so that we can be liberated eventually. Making our businesss successful is hard enough, imagine getting out of samsara!


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Re: A certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit.
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2013, 06:18:43 PM »
Logically, in order to be successful in anything we do hardship is definitely a must.

But in a spiritual content, a lot of people think that spiritual is to find peace, so if you gained peace then why do we still have to go through hard ship?  Shouldn't we all look so calm, chanting all day in nature and meditate and just live our lives stress free and just be airy fairy?  I think true dharma practice is actually really going down the rough path, where people don't go.  It is about multiply what you are doing already, for example if you can help ten people, you help twenty instead... all things increases...  This is demonstrated by high lamas who suffered during child hood until they are recognized.  It is to show us how precious dharma is and the consistency in dharma practice, even with obstacles we will not for-go dharma.

diamond girl

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Re: A certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit.
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2013, 07:25:33 PM »
Whenever anyone wants to achieve beyond one's current level there is hardship. Why? Because we will need to break habits and learn new skills beyond our comfort zones which have adapted to our current level. What more can be expected from gaining spirituality?

When we take on a spiritual path we need to purify our negative karma so that we gain the merits to learn the dharma and attain the next level of transformation. We have to break from our habituations which have brought us down. We have to realize our attachments and let go. etc etc etc... To many, myself included, this is mind boggling and very very difficult. But if we commit to being spiritual then we go through the purification and in this process there will be hardship. And if we see this hardship as purification then we may actually enjoy the suffering because we know it is for the better.

Tenzin K

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Re: A certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit.
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2013, 03:37:29 PM »
If the Buddha has to go through so much hardship to attain enlightenment we have to even put more effort, discipline and energy. We understand that we have accumulated so much negative karma from our endless previous lives and that’s why we still go through all the suffering. I’m very much believe that if we work on something that beneficial for others we will face even more obstacle and if we can’t hold on to the pressure and be persistent and add on more effort to overcome it we will never pass through it. This is just the same attitude we should apply in samsara when we would like to achieve in our working life or anything that we want to pursue.

In our spiritual journey, the more effort we put in the more we gain for our future life and the more we can do to benefit others. Our effort will not go to waste because our effort will turn difficulties into knowledge, positive experience, realization and eventually liberation.
No pain, No gain,

Dorje Pakmo

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Re: A certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit.
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2013, 05:16:59 PM »
Yes. I do think that a certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit. Just like anything we do in life, there is bound to be challenges and hard times. If we often choose to give up when the going gets tough. Then we will not be getting anywhere with whatever we aim to do in life.  Probably for very small things. But definitely not for greatness and big goals in life.

The reason is because if one always chooses to avoid hardships and only wants things to be easy, when things gets hard one will choose to give up and do something else that one thinks is easier. And it will be like that until the day one dies, without achieving anything that is really fulfilling. But if one realizes that to reach the destination that one has set to achieve is to go through and face whatever that may come along the way, then one will go through every obstacles with patience and a calm mind.

Once we have set our mind to get something done, we should stick through it, persevere and learn from every mistake and problems that may come our way. Every problem solved is a lesson learnt. Likewise in spiritual pursuit. If one does not have the patience and determination to conquer hardships then one will not get anywhere with one's spiritual endeavour.


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Re: A certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit.
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2013, 06:51:43 AM »
Buddha Shakyamuni went through six years of punishing austerity and ascetic living, when, it was said, he ate only 1 grain of rice a day. Then he left this life behind him and chose the Middle Way. Nonetheless,that period of meditation was important for him and for us, because it lay the groundwork for his discovery, under the Bodhi tree, of the truths of life, of karma and of reincarnation, of emptiness and interdependent arising and so on.

According to Je Tsongkapa's Three Principle Aspects of the Path, one has to begin the spiritual path with renunciation of the Eight Worldly Dharmas. These are: wanting comfort and disliking discomfort, wanting gain and disliking loss, wanting praise and disliking blame/criticism, wanting fame and disliking loss of reputation. Renouncing these worldly dharmas are bound to bring us suffering in some measure.

If we wish to walk the Mahayana path to full enlightenment, we need to practice great compassion and selflessness to the level as shown in the following lines from the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation:

'In brief, I will offer every benefit and happiness to all beings, my mothers.
In secret, I will take upon myself all harm and suffering of my mothers,
Without these practices being defiled by the eight worldly concerns...."

It is said in the Guru Puja that by practicing the above, we purify all our negative karma since beginningless time.

Hence, there can be no doubt about it that hardship is necessary for rapid progress on the path. When we have a skillful and compassionate Guru, he will aid us by giving us various types of work or assignments that challenge us to move out of our comfort zone and endure what some may perceive as  much hardship and suffering. However, with  proper guru devotion and the correct motivation, these will serve to help move one rapidly along the spiritual path towards the ultimate goal of Buddhahood.

Big Uncle

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Re: A certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit.
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2013, 09:39:17 AM »
This is so true. It is believed that the Buddhist believe that out of the 6 realms, the human realm is the most ideal for spiritual development because it has the right balance of the pleasure and suffering. That means the the Buddha recognized the necessary quality of suffering to inspire us on the path but not total suffering that it becomes a hindrance like in the lower realms.

Hence, if you read the spiritual biographies of many great spiritual masters, you would find that they lead incredible lives of overcoming incredible personal loss or suffering that propel them to be who they are. I know not all masters have that story but what comes to mind is the great Milarepa. He had a terrible childhood and a mother that encouraged him to study magic in order to wreak vengeance. In the end, he was  lost and scared. Out of this terrible catastrophe, he met his Guru Marpa, who put him to work in a long arduos purification process that nearly drove Milarepa away. The back-breaking work purified his mind and karma to the point that he was a ready receptacle for the Guru to pour in spiritual attainments.

Anyway, it is impossible not to suffer. From the richest to the poorest person on earth, everyone suffers to varrying degrees. The best is not to do our practice and hope for a place devoid of suffering but one that is conducive for practice depending on our mind. In Buddhism, we pray to be always close to the Dharma and to be reborn in conducive environments with the Dharma and have all the conducive attributes to practice. This is known as the 18 opportune conditions and that's whats most important.


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Re: A certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit.
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2013, 04:35:14 PM »
It is possible to awaken without pain, just as it is possible to have a natural childbirth without going through labour. Realistically speaking though, if we want to give birth to enlightenment, we have to deal with labour pains. If our path are only filled only with bliss and light, we are probably tripping in self-deception. We are not interested in getting real but are caught up in feeling good. Patrul Rinpoche says, "When your belly is full and the sun is shinning upon you, you act like a holy person. But when negetivitives befall you, then you act very ordinary."

The Dalai Lama says,
"The buddha's life exemplifies a very important principle - a certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit "


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Re: A certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit.
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2013, 08:50:48 AM »
Another moment to take some time to reflect about what we are doing with the precious and fleeting time we have in the life.Is it just simply slipping by as we continually postpone doing what we know are the most important things?Or have we kept focused and discipline,doing our best to make good use of the opportunities we've been given to improve ourselves spiritually?Our own happiness lies in working for others.
Enlightenment in this lifetime is possible and within our reach, but it cannot happen without considerable sacrifice and hardship.Be happy and realistic about what it will take.With little acts of discipline and renunciation and gradually follow,step by step,the path to perfect happiness set out by Lord Buddha.


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Re: A certain amount of hardship is necessary in one's spiritual pursuit.
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2013, 10:39:57 AM »
Sacrifice and hardship are more states of mind than physical. If we look at monks and nuns, living austere lives (relative to our modern lives), we think they must be suffering but when you look at them, you realise they are not. The difference between them and lay people is that they have renounced and we have not. When we venture down the spiritual path while juggling a secular life, that seeking a balance creates more suffering because we kind of think oh we should be more spiritual, but we need to go out and get a job to pay the bills. In a way, the lives of the monks and nuns are 'easier' because they only focus on one thing, which is their spiritual journey.

Natural renunciation and unnatural renunciation is what creates the most problems for us. When people are naturally renounced, they probably have led virtuous previous lives, hence in this life, they automatically are averse to what we deem as society's norms - getting married, having kids, having a career, liking going out to eat, drink and be merry etc. For most of us, who have led our previous lives being self-indulgent, these traits are carried through to this life and so we are naturally attracted to that kind of activity. What I read before was that we should therefore create NEW traits now even if it is unnatural, in this life, so that when we are reborn, our minds have been trained to be renounced and like any habit, due to constant repetition, will in the end become natural and no longer hardship.
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being