How To Avoid Outward Distractions?

Dharma practice is a challenge to our self-attachments, it actually contradicts with the promotion of individual personalities in this modern world. As ordinary people, we have been protecting ourselves for countless lifetimes, but having very little Bodhicitta to benefit others. Self and others are on the two ends of a scale, only by weakening self-attachment we can as pirate to help others. However, many people have questions on this important point: "Why would I remove self-attachments? I'm happy living the way I am." In this regard you should learn about the defects of Samsara. Before arousing Bodhicitta we also need to have renunciation, which is the aspiration to liberate from cyclic existence after learning its nature ---"No place is safe within the three realms of existence, like a house on fire". If our renunciation is weak, we will be having weak foundations to succeed any higher Dharma practices. Even for the Pure Land practices that are easy and well known by everyone, we can easily go to the Pure Land even with heavy karmic burden, however, if we don't have renunciation and the desire for going to the Pure Land, the chance to succeed won't be too high. Master Yin-Guang, a Pure Land lineage master in the past century, during the last few years of his life, he put a sticker with a letter "death" on his bedroom wall, to remind himself and others about death and impermanent, so they can arise strong renunciation and practice diligently.


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The magnitude of attachment affects the healthiness of our mind that is what we've learned from our life experiences. A mindful person usually has lesser attachments, when attachments can make a person lost control of his mind, grasping what he desire without considering the consequences. How do we become a mindful person? Dharma would be our best guide. As it says in a Buddhist scripture: "Realms of existence aren't any steadier than clouds in the sky, births and deaths repeat as dramas in mortal's lives."  All worldly matters swiftly changes as clouds in the sky, they are also like dramas being played on theaters, countless changes could happen in a sudden. When watching those movies scenes, various emotions will arise in our mind: sadness, happiness, anger and so on, if we are aware they're just movies, our emotions can be quickly relieved. In the same way, the more we learn on Dharma, the better recognition we will have on the illusory, emptiness nature of all phenomena, and the more mindful we will become. Although there're still countless afflictions in our life, nothing can really affect our mind.


We are living in the time of data explosion, although we enjoy the convenient of shared data resources, but compared to the past, we lost ourselves more easily in the ocean of information.  We are exposed to large amount of inappropriate data that can easily bring forth anger, craving and ignorance. Many people would think:" What am I suppose to do in this time?" In "Madhyam-Agama Sutra" it says:" All worldly phenomena are bound to impermanent, short life, ever-changing and unreliable are their natures, thus we need to remove attachments towards them, arise renunciation and seek for liberation."  Impermanent is a common principle of all things in exist at anytime, anywhere. If we are able to recognize and reflect this in our meditation, then waves in our ignorance's ocean will eventually calm down - our only hope for liberation. Some people use impermanent as an excuse for sensational enjoyments' abusing, but practitioners on the Bodhisattva's path could use it as a huge advantage to free themselves from Samsara. The choices are in our hands, let's make good use of this precious human birth, and contemplate impermanent diligently.


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We should try to avoid outward distractions during Dharma studies. Distractions often arise from our impatient nature of ignorance - the root of Samsara since the beginingless time. If we are distracted by various distraction from the internet during Dharma studies, our mind cannot stay focus to clearly understand Dharma, neither can our visualizations be done properly. In the other hand we also need to avoid too much inward tension. HuiNeng, the 7th century Zen master says:" All matters are created by our Tathagata (true nature of mind)."  Relax your mind and do not worry about not being able to understand the Dharma. Let the Dharma theories spontaneously dissolve into your heart.  At the beginning we might have difficulties understanding some profound teachings due to karmic obscuration, however there's no need to put that into tension, because tension would just create more obstacle for your studies. We should put more efforts into the Vajrasattva practice, as well as praying to Bodhisattva Manjusri for his blessing to enhance our wisdom. Just like the metaphor taught by Buddha Shakyamuni: the strings of music instruments only plays the best sound when they are adjusted neither too tight nor too loose, it is the same for tension towards Dharma studies and practices, we get the best result from the middle way.