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Immortality Spells and Vanity Projects
Answer
1/21/19 12:01 PM
Greetings from Luxor (ex-Thebes), Egypt. Wrote this essay to be a separate thread, but it seems to fit so well here I will post it:

I was just in Cairo visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza here in Egypt, along with numerous other grand temples and tombs, which rank among the most elaborate and costly immortality spells and vanity projects of all time. They likely also have one of the highest body counts other than wars fought for similar aims of glory and legacy. They got me thinking about the extraordinary lengths some people will go to in order to preserve their life and legacy, and that got me thinking about impermanence, and of course that got me thinking about the Dharma.

The anticipated longevity of the Buddha Dharma is an important topic for Buddhism, with the old texts saying the Buddha discussed how long the teachings would last, and one could see the Cullavagga (Chapter 10), the second book of the Khandhaka, which is the second book of the Vinaya Pitaka. Later texts such as the Lotus Sutra also discuss various ages, predicting that by now we are in a Degenerate Age of corrupted dharma.

This trip to Egypt to see these elaborate immortality and vanity projects comes after a few months of me pondering the projects of some of my aging Dharma friends and colleagues to establish their particular teachings and systems widely and for long periods of time, what might, in some way, be considered their own immortality and vanity projects. I will try to be as sensitive as I can to the understandable wish for things of value to practitioners to continue for as long as there are practitioners who might benefit from their systems and teachings. However, as with the Great Pyramids of Giza and other elaborate tombs and temples, not every consequence of attempting to have one’s works and legacy live on forever is necessarily skillful.

Methods to create the desired longevity and breadth of dissemination may include books, websites, organizations, corporate structures, venture-capital backed technologies, apps, and subscription services to courses and materials, sometimes at surprisingly high cost.

I recall a recent friend who works in the Goenka organization telling me that S. N. Goenka predicted that, if his system is maintained exactly as it is, it will last for 500 years, but I am not sure we have 500 years, a point I will get to in a bit.

Some aging teachers have also created teacher training programs in which disseminators of their systems and teachings are selected, trained, and certified as official teachers. These programs often allow in those who wouldn’t have met the criteria for certified teachers that those creating these systems valued earlier in their own lives. These teacher training programs often involve significant monetary fees, which stands in contrast to the lives of the teachers creating these training programs, who generally were taught for free and certainly didn’t pay fees to be certified to teach. Curiously, the training these newly certified teachers undergo often bear little resemblance to the trainings that produced the original teacher of the system being taught. It is not surprising that the capabilities of the new certified teachers being produced by these programs rarely equal those of their founding teacher.

I quote from a fascinating article about Terror Management Theory (TMT, see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terror_management_theory) in the Atlantic Monthly, May, 2012 (https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/05/how-the-unrelenting-threat-of-death-shapes-our-behavior/256728/), “And so when death is close to mind -- after watching an action flick, hearing about a celebrity death, reading about an act of terrorism online, noting a weird spot or new wrinkle, driving past a cemetery -- people become more adamant in their beliefs and get extra-motivated to distance themselves from their physicality and to assert their symbolic value -- their intellect, achievements, and so forth. They increase prejudice and aggression against others who are different. They reject the physical aspects of sex, avoid bodily activities, and use euphemisms for them. They show off their skills, smarts, fitness, and generosity. And indeed research has shown all of these things.”

In the last few months, I have been witness to each of those reactions to mortality and more, sometimes in exaggerated, tragicomic form.

While all these immortality projects are predictable and even expected as we face the fact of mortality in our complex psychological ways, that doesn’t make some aspects of these reactions any less disappointing, at least to me. In order to be disappointed, there must be ideals to disappoint, so I present them here. I admit that holding each of these ideals may simply cause suffering, as they are clearly contrary to reality, and yet, to be without ideals and standards would similarly seem to be going too far in the other direction.

The traditional ideals I hold which are the source of my disappointment are as follows:

* That the Dharma of the Buddha and for-profit corporatization should stay as far apart from each other as possible. This is not to say that the ethics of the Dharma shouldn’t be used to inform the actions of corporations and those within them, nor that the meditation teachings of the Dharma can’t or shouldn’t benefit those in corporations, nor that we shouldn’t figure out ways to distribute beneficial spiritual technologies that help promote wisdom in our contemporary context, but that, when doing these, we should endeavor to stay true to the deeper wisdom of the Dharma and its teachings around being cautious regarding money and the temptations of the world that would corrupt the Dharma.

* That teaching people for money, particularly in hurried, superficial contexts that involve certification of the one paying being at some level of attainment or some sort of teacher, are predisposed to corruption and artificial elevation of a student before they are ready, as well as numerous other problems.

* That one should have reasonably high standards for what one considers a dharma teacher, though clearly one can debate what “reasonably high standards” might mean in practice. It seems we must exercise particular care as we get older that we don’t lower our standards for teachers in the service of spreading our own personal brand of the dharma far and wide.

* As with other types of teachers, if one truly feels that for some reason one must certify dharma teachers, one should specify that they are felt to be qualified to teach at a certain level, such as those who teach grade school vs those who teach graduate school, perhaps with some explicit explanation of what competencies and qualifications should be expected at each level and why.

* That, in general, one should try to compensate for the compromises that the fear of death and fear of one’s legacy fading away often create, being as mindful as one can of those powerful and perennial forces as they work in our lives.

That same Atlantic Monthly article ends with the following profound quote, “Personally, I also hope that the understanding of human beings this research supports -- that we're all vulnerable creatures clinging to fragile beliefs to handle the existential predicament inherent in being human -- has helped me become a better, more compassionate person. It's helped me realize that, no matter how absurd someone else's beliefs seem to me, mine are likely no less absurd. And if such beliefs are helping that person function with equanimity and not leading him to harm others, I should respect them.”

I will do my best to remember these points, and do my best to be sensitive as I evaluate the immortality and vanity projects of my fellow dharma colleagues, realizing that it is entirely possible that I will one day do something very similar, as the threat of my immanent demise overwhelms my own previous ideals. Should you find me doing so somewhere down the line, please don’t hesitate to remind me of this article and lend your wisdom to the conversation.

Some other part of me wonders if all of this discussion is perhaps seriously misplaced, and perhaps I should be directing my full attention and resources to more practical maters related to reversing the global trend towards abject fascism and working to slow and reverse climate change. Walking around crumbling ancient monuments, lonely dunes covered in broken pottery shards, and the plundered tombs of great queens and kings certainly frames things differently for me, as do the museums here that document the rise and fall of whole civilizations and empires based on changing weather patterns and the caprices of psychopathic and narcissistic rulers.

Is this little window of historical time when we have the luxury of idle debates such as these on this thread rapidly closing; or, will the dharma and our discussions of it have real, lasting, significant impact on enough people, despite whatever is coming historically, to have made it worth our precious time? These are the questions I ask myself these days. Obviously, that I am spending my time posting here seems to be a functional answer to the question, if not necessarily a definitive one.

May our intentions to help be skillful and lead to skillful action with beneficial consequences.

RE: RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/20/19 10:08 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I think these are necessary and inevitable to being human and living with others:

1. If we are to live together in societies of whatever kind, some humans have to govern

2. If we are to maintain interdependence with each other, we require some form of exchange - an economy

3. If we are to learn, to pass information and knowledge from one generation to another, some humans have to teach

There's also a place for wisdom but that's where human beings most often fail. Wisdom is not a prerequisite of or a requirement for living in human society. We have to establish ways people can teach, perform the task of passing hard-won knowledge along to others. The form of governance and economy being used has to support that activity. That's where we can generate wisdom. Each form of organized society will probably seek its own methods, and they will be different as the foundations of governance and economy vary.

Still, it's amazing to me, too, how often experienced and supposedly awakened teachers of the dharma fall prey to the same foibles that cause civilizations to fall and cause human beings to fail. Human frailty and ignorance is not something that awakening can cure. Our dilemma: Do we stop doing anything? To do something is to contribute to error, decline, and potential failure. If I drive to work, I'm emitting hydrocarbons. If I purchase groceries, clothing, and other items I'm encouraging the pillaging of the planet. I think we have to realize that we're part of a whole. A universe, a world, a nation, an economy, a neighborhood, a family, that has pre-existing causes and effects that we can only do our best to deal with but cannot fully influence or mold to our will and liking. To stop is nihilism and death. 

Wisdom is knowing these things about the world we find ourselves in. Courage is acting in this world according to our best judgment, informed by our dharma. But we all have to find our own way.

RE: RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/21/19 10:13 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

Some other part of me wonders if all of this discussion is perhaps seriously misplaced, and perhaps I should be directing my full attention and resources to more practical maters related to reversing the global trend towards abject fascism and working to slow and reverse climate change. Walking around crumbling ancient monuments, lonely dunes covered in broken pottery shards, and the plundered tombs of great queens and kings certainly frames things differently for me, as do the museums here that document the rise and fall of whole civilizations and empires based on changing weather patterns and the caprices of psychopathic and narcissistic rulers.

Is this little window of historical time when we have the luxury of idle debates such as these on this thread rapidly closing; or, will the dharma and our discussions of it have real, lasting, significant impact on enough people, despite whatever is coming historically, to have made it worth our precious time? These are the questions I ask myself these days. Obviously, that I am spending my time posting here seems to be a functional answer to the question, if not necessarily a definitive one.

May our intentions to help be skillful and lead to skillful action with beneficial consequences.



Hi Daniel,

Thought you might be interested in this new book by David Loy - https://www.wisdompubs.org/book/ecodharma

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/20/19 12:08 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Thanks! Will check it out. Summary points from that book to lend to this discussion?

RE: RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/20/19 6:54 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:


Is this little window of historical time when we have the luxury of idle debates such as these on this thread rapidly closing; or, will the dharma and our discussions of it have real, lasting, significant impact on enough people, despite whatever is coming historically, to have made it worth our precious time? 

Great post.

I don't know the answers to your questions above. But here I am, continuing to discuss these things...

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/20/19 10:16 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This thread seems to have been pulled out and separated from the original thread called "The Isolation of Blowing It." This may have been intentional, maybe not. Rather than guess, I'm posting on it to bring it back up in "Recent Posts." It also lacked viewing permissions, so I've restored them.

Chris Marti
DhO Moderator

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/20/19 9:14 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi Daniel,

Great post, very thoughtful! A few comments.

Wrt. taking money for teaching, I've been practicing for a few years in the Tibetan Kagyu tradition, and the teacher, who has been training as a psychotherapist and will shortly have his MPsyc, requires a fee for weekly meetings. My Zen teacher also charged fees for consuling, but because I had taken priest vows with her, she did not charge me anything (I have not taken any vows with my current Kagyu teacher). All teachers that I've worked with have charged retreat fees.

I too have mixed feelings about this. Is it better to know upfront what the retreat will cost or to have to sit through the inevitable "Dana Rap" at the end? Recently, I read a book called "Bulls**t Jobs:A Theory" by David Graeber. Graeber points out that jobs which are really necessary, like taking care of kids or fixing streets, generally don't get paid very well, while jobs that are basically bulls**t, like being one of 10 "VPs of Create Development" at some Hollywood studio, get paid a bundle. People are expected to do work that they really love to do for free or for very little compensation. I would argue that Dharma teaching is very necessary, and I personally have no problem paying my teacher for our weekly meetings. His rates are competitive with other psychotherapists, and I think if I were to fall on hard times, he would probably scale the rate accordingly. Since teachers have to pay to live and Western society already has a model for paying for these kinds of services, I think charging a modest fee for service is fine. Certainly, charging exorbitant fees for questionable training courses is not.

Wrt. your point about whether you should rather be fighting facism or global warming, this too has bothered me. I've personally managed to reduce the carbon footprint of our house and car by about 85% since 2002. It did require some investment, but the amount gets cheaper every year. That of course doesn't mean that other parts of my life, like business travel and such, don't generate lots of carbon, but I buy offsets to cover those. Reducing your carbon footprint by a substantial amount is definitely doable, but it takes committment, some money, and the dedication to measure how much carbon you are generating otherwise you don't know whether you are really making any progress. Naturally, such individual efforts are just a drop in the bucket, and it will take major policy initiatives to really slow global warming, but they can advance the technology for decarbonization and thereby show the path forward for policy.

Finally, I would be careful about the "Age of Degenerate Dharma" meme. Japanese Buddhism from the 900s onward until around the 19th century was permeated with this, they called it "Mappo". It had corrosive effects on the development of Dharma in Japan. Personally, I view the coming of the Dharma to the West as rather the opposite, showing how universal the appeal of the Buddha's teachings is, and how adaptable to time and place it can be, without changing the core values.

So don't worry about not being on the front lines of fighting facism and global warming. Just by running this forum, and by making yourself available to people who want to talk with you over email or Skype about Dharma, you are providing a valuable service to the Dharma in the West. Keep up the good work!

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/21/19 9:56 AM as a reply to svmonk.
Dear SVMonk,

Thanks for your points.

Regarding the money thing, I have heard all the arguments, know lots of people who charge for the dharma, and still, after dealing with these issues for over 20 years, still am pretty fundamentalist on that front, and, with more stories of what happens out there that accumulate over time, I am geting more fundamentalist and perhaps idealistic, not less. Thus, we will have to agree to disagree, and that's ok.

Regarding the Degenerate Age Dharma Meme, thanks for pointing that out. I realize that my cynicism about much of that sort of thing (and plenty of other things) in the Mahayana literature is something I just take for granted, and realize that cynicism didn't convey in text form clearly. I agree, this is a remarkable age for the dharma, and the last 100 years have seen a massive flowering of the dharma on a scale that might never have been seen before. That said, that flowering is coming at a price, and it is a high one, I think, so we just need to keep an eye on both sides of that complex equation. Thus, on this one, we likely largely agree.

I have downloaded David Loy's book and will read it as time permits, and, though my reading list is insanely long, it will get high priority. I am not sure that I will be able to not worry that my energy being directed to much else is justifiable, but I will try. Still, I also am sure that my Prius, high-efficiency HVAC units, straw bale house, LED bulbs, on-demand water heaters, and all of rest of it will do nearly nothing, and is mostly just social signaling at this point at best, and foolish attempts at self-reassurance  in a paltry attempt to asuage guilt at being a top predator that is actively participating in destroying the ecosystem at worst. I have visions of the vampires in True Blood running through my brain sometimes when I eat things, realizing that the body count for even the rice I eat is high, and I might as well have blood trickling down my fangs, as at least that would be more honest, and perhaps more tasty... ;)= 

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/21/19 1:19 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Just watched this profound video sent to me some time ago in an email from a friend, which speaks for itself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTDwHMe-3RE



RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/21/19 6:25 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Just watched this profound video sent to me some time ago in an email from a friend, which speaks for itself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTDwHMe-3RE




Hey Daniel, what you are doing is great - every little bit counts, and social signalling can also lead to change in the behaviour of others. 

E.g. the social signalling of celebrities and influential people on social media has recently led to some amazing changes in the fashion industry with some major players (Chanel included) stopping the production of products made out of fur and exotic animal skins. This makes a huge contribution to the reduction of suffering of animals. Next stop, a leather-free industry - I believe we will see this soon. 

I share your concerns re the big picture and try to do the best I can, while also trying to remember that every small decision counts and that I may be a role model for someone else's decisions and subsequent behaviour. E.g. so much of consumer behaviour is based on the "mere exposure effect" and repetition - the more I see people driving a Prius or Tesla, the more I start to think that might be a good idea for my next car too ... 

P.s. the link you posted doesn't seem to work?

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/21/19 6:37 PM as a reply to Anna L.
Don't worry - it's working for me now! 

Yeah, my personal view is that even if this world is going to end, I am still going to spend my days working towards ending suffering for all sentient beings wherever I can. And try to have a good time while doing it! emoticon

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/21/19 10:29 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Thanks! Will check it out. Summary points from that book to lend to this discussion?


I've only seen the preview, still waiting for my Kindle version to release on the 29th.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/24/19 3:58 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

I have downloaded David Loy's book and will read it as time permits, and, though my reading list is insanely long, it will get high priority. I am not sure that I will be able to not worry that my energy being directed to much else is justifiable, but I will try. Still, I also am sure that my Prius, high-efficiency HVAC units, straw bale house, LED bulbs, on-demand water heaters, and all of rest of it will do nearly nothing, and is mostly just social signaling at this point at best, and foolish attempts at self-reassurance  in a paltry attempt to asuage guilt at being a top predator that is actively participating in destroying the ecosystem at worst. I have visions of the vampires in True Blood running through my brain sometimes when I eat things, realizing that the body count for even the rice I eat is high, and I might as well have blood trickling down my fangs, as at least that would be more honest, and perhaps more tasty... ;)= 
Yeah, real change requires some unprecendented governmental and international coordination... it's quite limited what individuals can do, I think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsA3PK8bQd8 - "a change from the grownup is a stretch"

RE: Immortality Spells and Vanity Projects
Answer
1/25/19 2:44 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
It's a pretty classic thing for the ego to make a last stand when we thought it was defeated. In Christianity we have Jesus tempted by Satan, in Buddhism there is Mara tempting the Buddha. It's a classic motif.

Our efforts are all very, very small in the cosmic sense - most actions will be pitching pebbles into the ocean of karma, unless we happen to be coincident with some great historical lynchpin moment. But those moments themselves are dependent on many small ripples created by countless pebble pitching. In the end, dharma is not destructable. Knowledge of it will be lost, recovered, lost, as cycles turn within cycles of samsara, but the exit door always remains. Leaving something for those who come after may help them exit more quickly, but even if it fails, patterns will repeat themselves eventually.

RE: Immortality Spells and Vanity Projects
Answer
2/4/19 12:22 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:


* That one should have reasonably high standards for what one considers a dharma teacher, though clearly one can debate what “reasonably high standards” might mean in practice. It seems we must exercise particular care as we get older that we don’t lower our standards for teachers in the service of spreading our own personal brand of the dharma far and wide.

* As with other types of teachers, if one truly feels that for some reason one must certify dharma teachers, one should specify that they are felt to be qualified to teach at a certain level, such as those who teach grade school vs those who teach graduate school, perhaps with some explicit explanation of what competencies and qualifications should be expected at each level and why.

--

May our intentions to help be skillful and lead to skillful action with beneficial consequences.
Thank you Daniel for that pithy post. The above sections bring up some burning questions for me.

Having met you and a few of the others on this forum personally, I'm blown away by the high levels of attainment and practice and discourse  - much of which I aspire to but have yet to experience for myself after 40 years of sincere effort. I admire those qualities in you all. It's from that place that I put forth the following:

I see trailblazers including you Daniel and many pragmatic Dharma and other teachers of all ages as explorers, and your systems/non-systems/books/mentorship, etc. as the maps leading to roads and railways and flight routes being created in your wake. (Leaving aside for a moment the tragic destruction of the civilization they helped trample in the process - hoping this doesn't factor here,) I imagine Lewis & Clark arriving at the Pacific coast and then never relaying anything of their hard-earned discoveries to those who followed after. Not all of us are Amelia Earhart or Neil Armstrong, but many of us can make significant progress by following the examples of those whose compiled approaches and methods (and even authorization systems) outlive them. Mahasi Sayadaw, Ledi Sayadaw, Kalu Rinpoche - the Buddha - and so many others left legacies for us who came after to learn from. Not all of the methods they taught would have looked much like their own path of practice, but they are helpful nonetheless. 

I might end up being a Nebraska City bus driver or a Tower Rock interpretive guide rather than a groundbreaking explorer or even an airline pilot ferrying folks from St. Louis to Seattle, but any of these are worthy outcomes of the "passing of the torch" by those who came before, as long as I make no false claims or act in a way that discourages others from following in the footsteps of those who have gone before.

A practical question: since there is so much disagreement on what constitutes awakening or the Paths etc. etc., how are "the rest of us" to be guided by levels or ranks or claims to attainment, other than by my current method of investigating, associating with, evaluating, grokking the energy of, and generally getting to know people who claim or are said to have those attainments and the ability to teach the paths to them? 

My best guess has led me to follow as best I can the instruction and advice of those who at any given time demonstrate in a way I can understand 1) the kind of attainment I most aspire to in myself, and 2) the kindness, patience, and ability to help me apply myself to that goal.

I have suffered personally from teachers who put personal considerations before their own practice or desire to help others, instead (whether they recognized it or not) seeking money, power, fame etc., not to mention immortality. My worst experience was like studying with a good taxi driver who, under the influence of a student-turned romantic partner, began to claim he could fly a 747, showing dissenters the door without a parachute as the plane went into freefall. So I know the damage that can be caused by the false claims and compromised intentions of misguided teachers.

Interestingly, my own teacher Namgyal Rinpoche made a point of *not* certifying teachers, saying "the truth will out!" In this regard as in others he is very similar to you, Daniel. He would pull the plug and vanish at the first sign of "empire building" as he called it, until the situation improved and people returned to focusing on their own practice. Yet even he left a legacy of many teachers (each with their own very different system!).

I guess I'm saying that the quest for immortality is fruitless but the desire to leave a breadcrumb trail (and maybe even the odd duck ferry to help evade any miscreants) is how civilization survives and develops. I feel there is more you could say about this to help clarify - what am I missing?

My own glacial progress has received a huge boost from contact with you and Shannon and the pragmatic sphere in general, Daniel. Thank you so much for that. 

RE: Immortality Spells and Vanity Projects
Answer
2/9/19 10:27 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi Daniel, I think that your post was very interesting. I have practiced for over 30 years in the Goenka tradition. The absence of a commercial tinge is one of the features that I think have made it so successful in the sense of many flourishing centres worldwide. It's interesting that Goenka speaks about the current period as being the beginning of the second half of the Buddha sasana which is to last another 2500 years with this current period showing a great flourishing of the Buddha’s practical teaching as opposed to just sutta recitation and practice of sila. This seems to be the case and seems to be highlighted by sites such as this where so many now speak about their attainments. Was Goenka trying to make a legacy by ensuring that the teaching continued to be the same after his death or just trying to, as he suggests, maintain the purity of the technique? I'm not really sure.
I watched the video link and I loved it. 'Go out and live and become a better lover' sounds like great advice. Perhaps the world wouldn't be in such a predicament if we all did this just a little more. 
As for your work however, I feel that I owe you some personal thanks. I accidentally came across a Buddhist Geeks podcast with you in it, which led me here, which very quickly led me to MCTB2. Your work, in writing this book, has changed things significantly for me. When I look back at my dhamma journey I can see that a lack of understanding of the maps has meant that I have been stuck in a very, very long and very dark night for much of the journey and in particular the last 10 years. This is a bit of a drawback with the lack of personal guidance in Goenka's tradition, especially as one becomes an older student. The teachers advice is 'just observe'. All well and good but when you are told that the benefits of meditation are all positive and you are not seeing that any more, things can get a little confusing. 
So will your books and posts have enough impact on enough people to make it worth your while writing them? This reminds me of a the story of Anatapindika’s purchase of Prince Jeta’s park. When he was told the price was to cover the land in gold, he said ‘the deal is done!’ The prince asked him ‘how can any land be so valuable?’ His reply always inspires me. ‘Even if one person comes here and gets the Buddha’s true teaching then the price will have been worth it, but countless people will come and benefit.’ 
Well in the same way your work has had enough impact on me and if I can attain to at least Stream entry as a result then your work is ‘worth the gold’. In reality, I feel countless people will benefit from such a pragmatic approach to the Dhamma. So whilst I am definitely think that you should also take the time to ‘practice being a better lover’ I would encourage you to also continue to write and post. With gratitude, G.
 

RE: Immortality Spells and Vanity Projects
Answer
2/15/19 12:32 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thank you for your reflections on the instinct to perpetuate one's immortality and leave a "legacy". I must say I have suffered from this a few years ago when I had grandiose thoughts of rekindling the "Dharma" in India and bringing about a revolution with thousands of Stream Enterers. I am confident a part of those urges stemmed from the desire to leave behind a "name" mixed with good intentions like compassion, gratitude and a sense of duty.

A few years have passed: reintegration challenges after long retreats, two destabilizing 6-month dark knights, change of career etc. Now, I am mostly concerned with practical concerns like taking care of myself and those around me. I seem to be finding more meaning in small, practical gestures of kindness and goodness rather than cling to a grandiose ambition.

As for dana, I definitely lean towards the fundamentalist view. The best experience I had with Dana was when I went to the Pa-Auk Centre near Mawlamyine. Not only was there no Dana rap; the Kapiya office was a good half-hour walk away from the main center and it took some effort to ask someone and get there to make a donation.