Author Topic: Ongoing Struggle  (Read 15083 times)

kidnovice

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #25 on: November 24, 2010, 11:36:03 PM »
I also find that 45 minute period really hard. It is just plain uncomfortable to sit still for that long and I find I spend a lot of time wishing I could get up.  I guess that dealing with discomfort, and not giving in to the urge to move or get up, is part of the discipline.

I was curious what you mean by this. Is your discomfort about physical pain, or is it about an agitated restlessness?

KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Jeeprs

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #26 on: November 25, 2010, 03:37:28 AM »
I also find that 45 minute period really hard. It is just plain uncomfortable to sit still for that long and I find I spend a lot of time wishing I could get up.  I guess that dealing with discomfort, and not giving in to the urge to move or get up, is part of the discipline.

I was curious what you mean by this. Is your discomfort about physical pain, or is it about an agitated restlessness?

KN

Well -  both. I become very conscious of the discomfort of sitting still for that length of time. Doesn't everyone? It's part of the discipline, to deal with discomfort. But it seems a long while. When I did the Goenka retreat, I managed to maintain the sitting posture for the one-hour period exactly once. The rest of the time I put one leg up. And then I berate myself for being so occupied with trivia and being self-conscious. 'Stupid donkey!' Anyway I have decided not to fret over it, just try and stay still for half an hour.

Jeeprs

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #27 on: November 25, 2010, 04:35:32 AM »
Thanks KN, I just noticed this extensive post from you now. That is very valuable advice thanks. Indeed the challenges are greater when you have been committed to the practise for a long while. Actually I recognize what happened recently. I resolved to make a much better effort, and straight away ego came in and sabotaged it before I got started. A lot of the old samskaras came up again, as they do, followed by the 'you really can't do this, this is not the life for you, you are too slack/indulgent/lazy' whatever. But now I know who that voice is, so now I am re-committing. Actually to be really honest, my aspiration for sadhana is 6:00am and 6:00pm daily. I think if one is able to maintain that practise without getting all wound up about it, it is very beneficial. It begins to establish a rythm.

I had a very beneficial experience today at lunch. I know this came up from meditation earlier today. But I also know that there will always be obstacles that come up too. One has to learn discrimination, jnana, and apply it ruthelessly.

But I will read your advice again and take it to heart, it is good to hear from an experienced practitioner.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 04:39:38 AM by Jeeprs »

Morning Dew

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #28 on: November 25, 2010, 08:02:48 AM »
Iam not that experienced but building a Zen Bench realy helped me alot with physical pain.

Also, one thing i do if the restlesness persists is shorten my practice time without any judgement (note! Without judgement). I go back easily from 45 minutes to only 5 but i do remain sitting every day. Every day is very important not to slip away from the practice.

I practiced 5-10 minutes for approx3-4 weeks when suddenly on its own i felt to sit the usual 45 min again :)

I still have problems sitting twice a day though. The second time i become very redtless but even though i skratch my self and look around and look at the timer i still remain keeping that ars of mine on the cushion for time being (call me stubborn). I mean what else would i do instead? Watch dvd?! Nja, i better see how the self fights in agony to get some entertainment (like a drug adict).

Try to see your practice less as something buddhist and more like some sort of a mind hygiene. You dont read sutras to take a shower or drink water or sleep ... you just do them. Apply this to your sitting.

I am not sure whether practicing Zazen in an actual Zen Centre would help you get back into the practice and let go of all the buddhist stuff.
I am starting Zazen for diferent reason. I feel aversion towards religious buddhism or any religion that is. I wish to experience such surrounding actualy and see what its like rather than just assume about it.

Friendly

Vivek

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #29 on: November 25, 2010, 09:48:17 AM »
Quote
Anyway, I thought I would write about where I am at in my own practice, and hopefully, it will be of some benefit. I am sitting about two hours a day, and I have to say, its wonderful. And not because I've accomplished something. Rather, I find that two hours is my sweet spot--the minimum where I notice a significant shift in my overall way of being that truly persists. Part of what allows me to do this is that I'm working part-time for the year. I am hoping to really inculcate the habit for the next twelve months, so that next year when I am again swamped with work, I will feel more vividly connected to the value of my practice.

In the last three years, I noticed that because I was working such long hours, it became quite difficult to find time to meditate with the intensity that I wanted. My daily practice became alot like what yours sounds like. Except that I would frequently sit additional hours on the weekends to "charge-up" and often attended one-day retreats. I found this helped ALOT.

Once, I actually caught myself feeling "guilty" when I didn't sit. I realized that my practice had become a burden. Oh, the irony. My response was to take a "holiday" from meditation. This is not the same as simply not meditating. I would pop-in a DVD (or some other trivial indulgence), fold my arms behind my head, and say with a smile, "Ah, I'm not meditating!"   You might want to try that. Then after about two weeks, I realized that I missed meditation. I missed it the way I miss hot showers if I haven't had one in a while. And so I started sitting again.

Although maintaining a daily practice has to involve some self-discipline, I find that it really needs to come from a place of kindness. Its an act of generosity to meditate. Its a gift to yourself. But I can't just think that; I've gotta feel it. And to feel it, meditation needs to be a source of happiness.

If our meditation isn't providing that happiness, then I think we should look for ways to change it. I know that many practioners propose that we should seek no results. But I have found that there are things I can do that allow my practice to increase my sense of well-being, and so I do them.  Its not like every meditation period makes me immediately happier, but most of them do. It just took awhile for me to reach that point.

KN, that was just beautiful :) After reading it once, I had to read it again. Thanks for the insightful post.


Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

nselkirk

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #30 on: January 01, 2011, 05:03:44 PM »
My personal approach is to liken Vipassana to physical training.

In this context, I mean that I don't sit with a goal to feel something, or even achieve some kind of goal at the end of it. I look at each sitting as a kind of workout which strengthens my mental capacities to deal with the rest of my life in a more mindful way.

The effect of this for me is that I don't get distracted by an end goal (no asking 'am i getting closer?' or 'is this right?'), I don't have expectations, and I keep my mind focused on working out, so to speak.

My experience leads me to believe that the most important insights and moral discipline comes from keeping mindfulness with every action and every moment, as much as possible. The sometimes transcendent, incredible experiences we can have in meditation can be dangerous, like a drug. We can get distracted from the practice, and that mindfulness work can be dull, dreary mundane work sometimes!

I don't feel that every day of practice is a struggle for me. I don't think about it. But also if I don't feel like sitting one day, I don't sit. It seems to me that with your years of meditation behind you, you would be unlikely to quit, or get lazy about your practice. I have experienced enough benefits from meditating that to me, meditation is like breathing, it just feels necessary.

I share this hoping that it will benefit.

Jeeprs

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #31 on: January 01, 2011, 09:18:31 PM »
what you say is perfectly correct and I thank you for it.

I have just returned from a 6-day retreat. I was unable to sit any of the sessions to the end.  I understand the theory and philosophy very well but can't execute it, and also continually sabotage my own efforts by not observing the precepts or maintaining the discipline when I return to daily life. Accordingly,  I am wondering whether ths actually is ever going to work for me, or rather, whether I am a suitable candidate for this discipline. If I had been in the monastic order I already would have been expelled. So  I am resisting it on some level but meanwhile maintaining the charade by knowing all about it, so really I am feeling a complete hypocrite at this point.  Many times I have pledged to turn over a new leaf, start afresh, 'from this day forward', and so on, but it never works out. So this is the essencec of samsara, of non-liberation. My first retreat was in 1978. Here it is 2011. Time is running out.

Jeeprs

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #32 on: January 01, 2011, 09:51:39 PM »
actually to answer my own question, I have no other choice but to keep trying.  The place where I did this 6-day retreat is new to me, it is only 2 hours drive away, and they have retreats all year long. So I really will set the goal of being able to go to next year's retreat and complete the whole program instead of complaining and sabotaging myself.

Not for the first time in my life, I find that 'the only way out is through'.

Matthew

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #33 on: January 02, 2011, 10:14:58 AM »
what you say is perfectly correct and I thank you for it.
* The Irreverent Buddhist nods quietly in agreement
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maybeiam

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #34 on: January 02, 2011, 04:50:08 PM »
i feel more compassion for people than i use to feel
Bless you

Jeeprs

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #35 on: January 02, 2011, 10:13:48 PM »
Me too, That is one of the things that meditation really opened up for me, early oin the piece. In that way it has really been a big influence. But I think the early stages olf the path were easy. Some big changes happened quite quickly and without much effort. The problem I am facing now is overcoming my upbringing and the bad habits that go with it. This is proving to be much, much harder. I think I have been kidding myself. I  am going to try and find a counsellor.


Matthew

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #36 on: January 02, 2011, 11:34:58 PM »
Jeeprs ..... that's just a start (but a good one if you need it).

« Last Edit: January 02, 2011, 11:39:13 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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Jeeprs

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #37 on: January 03, 2011, 03:18:29 AM »
thanks! Interesting speaker.

Matthew

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    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #38 on: January 03, 2011, 10:54:15 AM »
We need to see our conditioning in all it's aspects, take off the blinds. Molyneux helps do that. He is incredibly insightful. http://www.freedomainradio.com/
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

kidnovice

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #39 on: January 04, 2011, 04:16:42 AM »
Hey Jeepers, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your unabashed candor and authenticity. Its inspiring to read such honest acknowledgment of the difficulties we inevitably face on the path. Perhaps in addition to greater compassion, this is another quality that meditation has amplified in you? You see clearly the darker aspects of yourself? Of course, seeing such hard truths is a double-edge sword. Without faith in the possibility for release, the truth of suffering leads to hopelessness.

This thread is also reminding me of this: the ability to sit still is by no means the best benchmark for one's progress. Indeed, I would say a more significant benchmark is the ability to change one's position with continuity of awareness, and from a place of kind acceptance.   :)

I'm really benefiting from this thread. So, thank you.

With metta,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Jeeprs

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #40 on: January 04, 2011, 04:57:27 AM »
Hi KN - that really bowls me over, that statement, and I thank you for it. It is very kind of you to say that.

Jeeprs

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #41 on: January 06, 2011, 10:19:30 PM »
actually I had a moment in the last retreat where I really felt I should give the whole thing away. We were sitting on the flagstones outside the beautiful Gratitude Pagoda   and I just could not get into a position where I could stay still. I was getting harrassed by flies and mosquitoes and wriggled around like a flea on a griddle the entire hour. All I could think was 'I can't do this practice. These monks are used to it, but I can't possibly be like them. And as a matter of fact, I can't even get to square one in this practice or way of life. There must be another way to go about it. That's it for me, time to try something else.'

And in fact throughout this 6-day retreat I was plagued by erotic thoughts and cravings. That was another thing that bothered me and had predictable results.  I think, well that's it then, I have really lost the plot altogether, you're just a spoiled westerner.

But the problem is, I can't turn away at this point. There's no going back.  I don't think I will ever be 'proficient' at meditation in the sense of reaching the jhanas and achieving one-pointedness of mind. This body-mind simply does not do that, I never even get close to it. But I have to make the right effort, I have to know that I have actually done the best I can, which is to maintain the morning and evening sessions, and maintain the precepts. I will never be able to sit for long, it is a fact of life. But somehow, this is not the main point. You have to make right effort and persist even when it seems useless. I know that when I do this, there are consequences, and something is being learned, even if the stupid monkey mind is still jumping around like a flea.

So at this point, I have realised that the only way out of it, is through it. There is no other route.

Thanks everyone for the encouragement, and sorry for being such a drama queen!

dobe

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #42 on: January 07, 2011, 12:47:28 AM »
actually I had a moment in the last retreat where I really felt I should give the whole thing away. We were sitting on the flagstones outside the beautiful Gratitude Pagoda   and I just could not get into a position where I could stay still. I was getting harrassed by flies and mosquitoes and wriggled around like a flea on a griddle the entire hour. All I could think was 'I can't do this practice. These monks are used to it, but I can't possibly be like them. And as a matter of fact, I can't even get to square one in this practice or way of life. There must be another way to go about it. That's it for me, time to try something else.'

And in fact throughout this 6-day retreat I was plagued by erotic thoughts and cravings. That was another thing that bothered me and had predictable results.  I think, well that's it then, I have really lost the plot altogether, you're just a spoiled westerner.

But the problem is, I can't turn away at this point. There's no going back.  I don't think I will ever be 'proficient' at meditation in the sense of reaching the jhanas and achieving one-pointedness of mind. This body-mind simply does not do that, I never even get close to it. But I have to make the right effort, I have to know that I have actually done the best I can, which is to maintain the morning and evening sessions, and maintain the precepts. I will never be able to sit for long, it is a fact of life. But somehow, this is not the main point. You have to make right effort and persist even when it seems useless. I know that when I do this, there are consequences, and something is being learned, even if the stupid monkey mind is still jumping around like a flea.

So at this point, I have realised that the only way out of it, is through it. There is no other route.

Thanks everyone for the encouragement, and sorry for being such a drama queen!

Hey Jeeprs,

You're not being a drama queen.  The path can be rather frustrating at times, and it can seem like you're getting no where fast.  I suggest giving less emphasis on formal sitting, formal retreats, and all the formal aspects of it all.  Try contemplating, which is basically meditating while doing your normal daily activities.  Only sit for like 20minutes morning and night formally.

By following this advice, I think you might find that you benefit A LOT from walking around in a contemplative/meditative state.  A state where you are constantly aware of your spiritual goal.  Throughout the day, every time you notice your crazy monkey-mind, come back to that still awareness, where you have no problems, anxieties, or worries and you know they are all based on illusion.

If this non-formal practice goes well, you will find that formal meditation enhances your ability to contemplate throughout the day, and it becomes more of a joy to sit formally, rather than like work.  I have heard that later down the road, I'm not there yet, the gap between contemplation and meditation evaporates, and they are one. 

Develop this capacity, and you wont be complaining about the "struggle", as it becomes effortless like those monks you mentioned.

Best of luck,

Dobe

Jeeprs

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #43 on: January 07, 2011, 01:33:18 AM »
thanks!

20 years ago I was deeply into Krishnamurti. No path, no method, pathless land, and so on. I had long debates at the time with aspiring Buddhists, one of whom used to say 'but that is ultimate truth! Not relative truth! You can't mix them up!' I now think she was right.

I did have some vivid realizations at this time which Krishnamurti's writings played a big part in. But the trouble was, I discovered, I could read Krishnamurti for years and past a certain point, nothing really changed. I learned some things from him, and he very much informed my outlook. But it is also dangerously close to 'nothing at all'  - no teaching, no teacher, no method, no nothing. So it is not an effective means - especially in Krishnamurti's teaching, where any idea of 'means' is taboo. This easily leads to the idea 'relax, don't worry, you're already enlightened, anything you do will simply lead you further away from that.' (There is a lot of this kind of thinking in neo-Advaita.)

There is something called 'spiritual power'. I don't know what the Sanskrit or Pali is for it.  Anyway, whatever it is called, that is the agent of change. It causes change to happen. (When Christians talk about 'grace', I think this is what they mean.) I understand the Theravada doctrine very well - the beginning point of this change is 'sati' mindfulness, culminating in panna-wisdom. But it is a power, without which nothing happens. It is the power of [fill in term here].

My personal experience is that at the early stages of the path, some big changes come very quickly. That happened to me in the early 1980's. They were genuine too. But they were simply the beginning. Now I just feel that for this power, whatever it is, to do its work, requires a lot of commitment from the student.  Otherwise the ego just establishes a state of 'homeostasis'  -  the comfort zone - and just tends to stay in it indefinitely. While you're in this zone (which is normal life for most of us), everything goes along OK, but in the end life, and the opportunity of really understanding the teachng, has passed us by.


The nagging thought occurs to me in all this, I might not actually be Buddhist. But I have to go through with it to discover if it is true. I certainly have no intention of returning to Christianity. So I just have to stay with it.

dobe

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #44 on: January 07, 2011, 04:48:07 AM »
All relative Truth is only true because of the Ultimate Truth.  Or better worded: "All truth is relative the Absolute Truth"  I'm pretty sure David Hawkins reaffirms this in some of his lectures.  Jesus said God, Krishna said same thing... Buddha didn't mention God because of the wrong perceptions of it, he preferred not to mention it.

Also, reading more and more about the Truth wont really help you realize it.  This is the frustration I'm facing now actually.  There is nothing more to read, now stop wasting time and get to work...

The Truth of Christ is hidden under layers of memorized doctrine. I find.  And Jesus didn't teach Enlightenment, but Salvation.(He was born in a culture not familiar with Enlightenment, unlike the Buddha and Krishna).  The essence of the Truth of Christ is not known by most "Christians", its unfortunate, but I think its true for the most part.  Very few people understand the significance of what Christ actually taught.

This is not to say that we should abandon our Christian roots.  The teachings of Christ can help you along the path to enlightenment. How?  Christ talked about devotion, love, and making both unconditional.  Develop devotion and love, and it will make contemplation and meditation easier.  Its very hard to meditate if you are having many problems with "Sin", I think.  Now, sin does not mean we must repent.  Sin means our animal/ego is at it again, being what it is, and we should notice it and try and tame our mind/animal, domesticate it, and thus reach higher states of awareness, once the blocks are removed.  This spirtual energy, this kundalini energy, its all the same energy. 

Christ, Krishna, Buddha... its all the same light, same awareness, same energy...   Different time, different culture, different context.

My personal experience is that at the early stages of the path, some big changes come very quickly. That happened to me in the early 1980's. They were genuine too. But they were simply the beginning. Now I just feel that for this power, whatever it is, to do its work, requires a lot of commitment from the student.  Otherwise the ego just establishes a state of 'homeostasis'  -  the comfort zone - and just tends to stay in it indefinitely. While you're in this zone (which is normal life for most of us), everything goes along OK, but in the end life, and the opportunity of really understanding the teachng, has passed us by.

This rings true for me, and I haven't been on the path for this long(in as far as I know, in this life time, atleast hah...).  I think you can find yourself back in a sort of Homeostasis, not really getting anywhere, if your Intention wavers.  WHATEVER you're doing in life, make it a meditation.  It really doesn't matter what it is, if everything in your life isnt a meditation, you cannot tell yourself "dont worry, you're already enlightened."
If you still identifiy with your mind/body and all its illusory "problems", then you cannot tell yourself "dont worry, you're already enlightened."

I find it very difficult, hence why Enlightenment is rare, to maintain meditation All the time
However, in Zen tradition especially mentions this, that enlightenment happens instantly...You can think you're not getting anywhere, then BAM. Beatific state overwhelms you and you are presented with the opportunity to let go of everything, your whole ego.  Fear arises, and some say no to it actually.  It is giving up what you think your life actually is for the unknown, Ive heard its terrifying.

Jeeprs

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #45 on: January 07, 2011, 05:45:45 AM »

If you still identifiy with your mind/body and all its illusory "problems", then you cannot tell yourself "dont worry, you're already enlightened."

I find it very difficult, hence why Enlightenment is rare, to maintain meditation All the time


Hi Dobe - great post, I am right on the same page with you. As you say, make everything a meditation, realize emptiness in the midst of life (because form is indeed emptiness, and emptiness no other than form.)  That is indeed the work.

ivana

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #46 on: January 07, 2011, 08:11:53 AM »
actually I had a moment in the last retreat where I really felt I should give the whole thing away. We were sitting on the flagstones outside the beautiful Gratitude Pagoda   and I just could not get into a position where I could stay still. I was getting harrassed by flies and mosquitoes and wriggled around like a flea on a griddle the entire hour.

Hi Jeeprs
I think it is not the best to meditate together with mosquitoes. If you did not like it I think you are a normal person. Dont give up and meditate privately. You do not have to catch malaria to be enlightment.
Take care
Ivana

Jeeprs

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #47 on: January 07, 2011, 09:51:41 PM »
I have come to an understanding of the source of my problems. I think they are all self-inflicted or self generated. It is one thing to have realizations of the higher nature, as I did, but when they appear, you need to take them seriously and adjust your conduct accordingly. You can't just carry on as before. Well, that is what I did - I can see that now. So the difficulties I am feeling are purely the consequence of my own behaviour. The answer to the problem is to commit to the practice and the path unselfishly but conscientiously, with the right motivation.

Jeeprs

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #48 on: January 07, 2011, 11:18:06 PM »
incidentally thankyou for the advice Ivana. I think you are correct.

kidnovice

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Re: Ongoing Struggle
« Reply #49 on: January 08, 2011, 01:02:25 AM »
I have come to an understanding of the source of my problems. I think they are all self-inflicted or self generated. It is one thing to have realizations of the higher nature, as I did, but when they appear, you need to take them seriously and adjust your conduct accordingly. You can't just carry on as before. Well, that is what I did - I can see that now. So the difficulties I am feeling are purely the consequence of my own behaviour. The answer to the problem is to commit to the practice and the path unselfishly but conscientiously, with the right motivation.

Very, very well said, Jeeprs. In my view, you have clearly expressed the essence of the buddha's teachings. May we all come to that same understanding, and practice it well.

With metta,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.