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Modern Thoughts in Buddhism with Robert Thurman

We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from the Classic Course from Robert Thurman which was recorded in the mid 1980's as we neared the end of the second- Christian Millenium, many prophetic voices were being raised to speak of revelation and other apocolyptic visions. Some western mystics even mentioned the future Buddha. 

So Buddha is when they incarnated in the world, according to the legend. They had come down to this Tusita from which they could see the earth or the human level fairly well. It’s like a kind of staging area, they come there and they live in a certain area of Tusita which is known as Sudanba which is this area, where Maitreya is depicted in this palace, Maitreya is depicted in, and in this Sudanba they then dwell and they look at the earth and they wait for the earth to evolve to a certain point and then they incarnated the earth. And when a Buddha leaves, like when Sedata left there, to come to the earth 2,500 years ago, he left Maitreya, the Bodhisattva Maitreya, who is depicted there to come after him, to the regions of the Buddhist area of Tusita.

Tusita has a larger area than just where the Buddhist settlers are, there are many gods who live there also, but he left Maitreya in charge of that area and to teach the dharma there as he is doing there, and he will come himself. When, we do not know. Some people say 100,000 years from now, some people say 5,000 years from now, some people say 2,500 years from now. It’s difficult to say, when exactly Maitreya will come.

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Basic Buddhism (Mahayana) with Robert Thurman

We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from Basic Buddhism with Robert Thurman.  From this five lecture title he will focus on each part of Buddhism.  Today the topic is Mahayana.

So the mission of the Buddha Bodhisattva who wants to be Buddha and transform the universe is not a sort of materialistic mission, because all things are empty, all things are transformable. After all, other beings have already obtained Buddhahood. This universe is already the Buddha verse of many Buddhas. So it is not like we go to somebody and just say “We’ll take planet Earth and we’ll do that to it, and we’ll do this to the Sun”. It’s not like it’s a matter of everything being empty space. It’s a matter of realizing how it is a Buddha feels in contributing to the Buddha solution and not the non-Buddha problem. In the way the solution is already affected, it’s already hinting at something strange about this motivation. Because the motivation of compassion is to transform the universe so that it is perfect.

But the critical intelligence of wisdom says: But wait, my perception of imperfection itself is part of the problem. So I’m not going to go into a thing of just sort of naïvely accepting the apparent ignorant reality of this Buddha verse and, a supposed beautified, perfected purified reality of some other Buddha verse and think I’m going to push this one from here to there.  Because that would be operating only on compassion, and compassion by itself will not succeed. Compassion has to be always connected with wisdom. So we are on a world of shared image of an ignorant and unsatisfactory world. But remember, we share this world with infinite numbers of Buddhas, to whom this is an exquisite, glorious world. Everything is perfect. We are in our perfect situations, each of us, to learn and evolve, and develop and become enlightened and to realize the perfection, and to contribute to helping others realize the perfection.

From a Buddha’s point of view, supposedly, our point of view collides with those points of view. Which is the preferable point of view? Well, unfortunately, since we don’t really know what is a Buddha, we don’t necessarily believe there is any such thing as a Buddha.  We do know we are here, and we definitely think we know what’s going on.  Unfortunately, we prefer our crappy worlds.  We are totally stuck in it. We complain and moan and groan. When we die we’re going to howl, when we’re really sick we howl, when we break something we howl, when someone else dies we howl, and yet, we really stick to this reality. Therefore, we should stick to this reality. Buddhism is not saying we should go into a fantasy world, but we should be aware that this reality is in fact our fantasy. It’s our routinized fantasy in fact.










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Giving Our Best with Pema Chodron Excerpt - Part Two

We are pleased to bring you part two of the excerpt from Giving Our Best with Pema Chodron.  To continue with this recorded retreat, Pema Chödrön continues to focus on the enlightened heart and mind.  By nurturing a compassionate attitude in our hearts, we can naturally become more open and present to others and free in our lives, even amidst life’s adversities and fears. 

The Buddha’s don’t need our veneration. They don’t need our bows, and they don’t need our water bowls filled with roses, and they don’t need statues and paintings, and candles, and so forth. We do it actually to become open and receptive and humbled so that we might be able to hear something.  So, anyone sitting here who is saying my husband or wife dragged me to this, and I can’t wait till this talk is over so I can go outside, as I’m talking here, is thinking about what you’re going to do when you go home or how stupid this whole thing is or anything where the analogy often is like a pot with a lid on it.

It's like when you’re trying to pour the teachings in but you can’t, or sometimes they say it’s like a pot with spoiled food in the bottom.  So you pour in something fresh but it all gets soured or it's a pot with a hole in the bottom; it just goes right out.  So, these teachings are to this veneration and also the second verse is to make the listener and the speaker as well, in this case the writer, Shantideva, soften and open so that something can be received and can be of benefit. So, as you listen, there is a lot of instructions on how you might be free of suffering and the cause of suffering, but if you don’t listen, too bad for you.


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Excerpt from Giving Our Best with Pema Chodron

We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from Giving Our Best with Pema Chodron.  Compassion is a skill. You can learn it here and now, and the benefits are vast. In this recorded retreat, Pema Chödrön shows you how—using a text that is very close to her heart: the Buddhist classic known as The Way of the Bodhisattva. Here she focuses on its primary subject, the enlightened heart and mind (bodhichitta), showing us how this awakened state, which often seems infinitely far out of our grasp, is always available to us right where we are. 

So what is bodhicitta? As a working definition of it, I’m going to call it a longing and a commitment to wake up fully and completely, which is the same thing as saying to be free of suffering and the cause of suffering, completely.

And why? In order that we could help other people. And this last part, in order that we can help other people, is very key to bodhicitta because it’s a longing.  A lot of you are probably in professions where you help people. So you set out to want to do that and you’re right up against all your old habits, fear, and loathing. People tell me all the time about, you know, I wanted to save at risk teenagers so I trained and I went into that profession, and, you know, in two days I just like hated most of the kids. So I realized, you know, I had a little work to do if I really wanted to do that and it wasn’t a little work to get rid of all these kids and getting some nice kids in here. Could we just get rid of all these kids and get some that cooperate?

And so, you realize that then the longing and commitment really grows strong to want to clean up your act and that means, you know, to be less reactive and more open, less fearful, less stuck in your old ways that keep getting in the way of you and helping other people. So it’s a longing and that’s really an important word, but also a commitment to actually do what it takes to free yourself of old habits and fears which is the same thing as saying freeing yourself of suffering.

And then to the degree that you can do that, you're right there for those teenagers or husband or wife or child or whoever it might be, your right there for them and of course you might be reacting inside but your right there and they can feel it.  You are there for them and therefore to the degree you can be there, then you can help.


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Pema Chodron Collection