Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Ideas/Quotes from Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up by Norman Fischer---Things that I think could be useful to all people, but especially people in my age group who are trying to muddle their way through trying to be a grown-up and figure out what that is. And I thought this might be especially interesting to you Sir.

Great Opening Quote- "And this is how I eventually came to see that, paradoxically, my vow never to grow up and my vow as a Zen practitioner to become mature myself and to work to mature others were quite compatible. In fact, in true Zen dialectical fashion, these two vows were necessary mirrors for each other. Not to grow up, not to drop the endless search for truth because it is too difficult or too risky or too impractical or too costly, really meant to grow up, to become a person capable of true responsibility and real love because true responsibility and real love depend on a constant involvement with the truth. (p 21)

Qualities of Mature People

  • Responsible without being boring
  • Experienced without being close-minded
  • Self-accepting without being shut-off to change and improvement
  • Loving without being corny
  • Stable without being inert
  • Strong without being brittle

Responsibility=capacity to respond, not control and conformity but the willingness to confront nakedly and clearly what's in front of you on its own terms, to pledge yourself to your life, to recognize that reality is smarter than we are

Self-Acceptance= "As we become familiar with our weaknesses and all the trouble they have cuased us, we are less dismayed at tthem and do not run away from them as often; this new response, in turn, brings us a calmness that helps us stop indulging our weaknesses." (31)

Not Listening to Ourselves= "So much of what we actually feel and think is unacceptable to us. We have been conditioned over a lifetime to simply not hear all of our own self-pity, anger, desire, jealousy, wonder. Most of what we take to b our adult resonse is no more than our unconscous decision not to listen to what goes on inside us." (45)

Listening Techniques

  • Looping= "Closing the loop of conversation", the listener repeats back to the speaker what they said until the speaker is satisfied that the listener truly heard what they said, the listener tries not to put their spin/interpretation/preconceptions on what the speaker said, only when the speaker is satisfied that the listener truly heard the speaker can the listener respond to what the speaker said
  • Dipping= intentionally taking time out of the conversation to check in with yourself/listen to yourself so that you can recognize how you are feeling and why and take that into account in your responses, you do not have to share what you gain from your dipping into yourself with the other person though you can if you feel it necessary

"I Don't Know" Mind/Beginners Mind= "Since knowing gives us defination and control, it enables us to keep the world at arm's length. Having established our ideas and preferences about what is, we no longer have to bother to pay attention. Not knowing, on the other hand, leaves us vulnerable and free. It brings us very close to experience, unprotected and free. It brings us very close to experience, unprotected and fully engaged. Not knowing, we merge with what confronts us. We let go of identity and evaluation and allow ourselves to surrender to amazement." (46)

Stubbornness vs. Persistence= "Stubbornness has a meanness to it, like a pit bull hanging on to a pants leg. It's reactive and often self-destructive (as it was in my case). Persistence, on the other hand, is not reactive or mean. It has a quality of faith and determination to continue, whether results are apparent or not. Persistence bears you up and helps you to move forward against the odds. In fact, with the practice of persistence, odds don't matter much one way or the other. Persistence doesn't wear you out by forcing you into a tight corner, as stubbornness does. Persistence provides some calmness in the face of adversity." (66)

Persistence->Trust ="You see that producing or avoiding any particular outcome isn't really the point. Simply being there is the point. Trust is the point. If you keep on showing up long enough, trust will dawn in you- not trust that things will turn out a particular way, or that a person will give you what you want, but a bigger, wider trust, a calm feeling inside. A trust in what is. And a trust in yourself, confident that whatever happens, you will be able to make us of it somehow." (68)

Peacemaking= "Peacemaking never depends on the other person. Peace is made in our own hearts, and nowhere else." (89)

The Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts (149-151)

  • Taking Refuge in the Triple Treasure
    1. I take refuge in Buddha (the principle of enlightenment within)
    2. I take refuge in dharma (the enlightened way of understanding and living)
    3. I take refuge in sangha (the community of all beings)
  • Three Pure Precepts
    1. I vow to avoid all action that creates suffering.
    2. I vow to do all action that creates true happiness.
    3. I vow to act with others always in mind.
  • Ten Grave Precepts
    1. Not to kill but to nurture life.
    2. Not to steal but to receive what is offered as a gift.
    3. Not to misuse sexuality but to be caring and faithful in intimate relationships.
    4. Not to lie but to be truthful.
    5. Not to intoxicate with substances or doctrines but to promote clarity and awareness.
    6. Not to speak of others' faults but to speak out of loving-kindness.
    7. Not to praise self at the expense of the others but to be modest.
    8. Not to be possessive of anything but to be generous.
    9. Not to harbor anger but to forgive.
    10. Not to do anything to diminish the Triple Treasure but to support and nurture it.

Temporary Celibacy= "If we are sexually inactive, not by choice but by circumstances, then we certainly are celibate in a literal sense. So rather than either being always on the prowl sexually or blocking out our sexuality becuase it has proven unsuccessful in our lives, why not affirm our temporary celibacy as an opportunity rather than a deprivation and use it to develop a greater warmth and connection to ourselves and the world?

This is as far as I've gotten so far. I will add more and edit this post as I go further in the book.

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