Hm. I was wondering how do you guys personalize The Dhamma? I know we meditate and reflect, what else do we do (that isnt too private of course)?
Me: My grandmother passed in 2012 and my aunt this Feburary ('18). I think of pretty simple things like the Four Noble Truths. Sometimes Id reflect passed that a bit and wonder what type of attachments I have that are normal to human suffering compared to those I consciously bring to myself. It reminds me of The Arrow sutta where the man (student I think?) was pinned by an arrow. The student asked The Buddha: why was he shot, what, when, and who shot me. He was more concerned with the nature of his wound than relieving the pain.
I also wonder where that balance is. Im sure The Buddha isnt saying to be numb to pain. So, Im in between.
It depends on your delights (see mn1/en/bodhi), what you relish (see mn1/en/sujato).
This delight is your suffering, your arrow.
Search the suttas for your arrow.
For example here is the remedy for rudeness.
Yes. That was the oddest sutta to read. Then I read it and it sank in. He was being rude to the Buddha. Why would one be rude to the Buddha? Why would one be mad at the Buddha? Why would want to hurt the Buddha out of anger? This was way beyond rude. And the Buddha’s response was phenomenal. To paraphrase, “this anger is yours!”
I personalize the Dhamma by seeking advice on specific topics. Rudeness was one (yes, I have been rude).
Trying to memorize DN33, I hear phrases of personal interest. Then I search and find them. That is how I found the dark bound for light.
And they’re ugly, unsightly, deformed, chronically ill—one-eyed, crippled, lame, or half-paralyzed. They don’t get to have food, drink, clothes, and vehicles; garlands, perfumes, and makeup; or bed, house, and lighting.
I am going blind and can only read from one eye. I kept hearing the phrase “dark bound for light” in my memorization. Curious, I looked it up. In this way SuttaCentral has brought me a personal gift of the Dhamma.
A technique suggested by Bhante Bodhi is to take a sutta like the Salleka Sutta and choose one or two bad qualities and spend a week or so reflecting on those qualities in one’s life. I also find if you have a “project” like this, then as you read the suttas things related to that really pop out. Sometimes it’s even like it smacks you in the face.
You can see some suggestions for this practice here:
IMO suffering is universal and personalizing is individual in that some people when they observe deaths of loved ones etc think " I am one of them, death is inevitable and I have no escape from it" while still others forget about it and carry on as usual.
The Buddha teaching comes to the aid of the former and that aid is none other than the Four Noble Truths.
Right view- I read, I discuss, contemplate and form a view
Right intention- my intention to be kind and reduce cravings
Right action- stop doing the three wrong acts
Right speech- be mindful of reducing the rough bit in my speech and be mindful of of wholesomeness in my speech
Right livelihood- monitor how my job matches up with the wholesome intention
Right effort- Remove defilements from my mind all the time, cultivate and protect wholesome thoughts
Right mindfulness- sustained mindfulness practice when on retreat
Right concentration- jhana when on retreats or meditation at other times
Teaching the dhamma and being a kalyanamitta (‘spiritual friend’)
Oh my gosh, you would like this sutta then. Akkosa Sutta: Insult I keep it with me when someone insults me. The Buddha says when you are insulted, the insult isnt yours but the person who made it. Keeps me in check saying, hey. thats all you. Mentally, Im recovering faster. Like The Arrow, still have pain but focusing on the solution.
Well for example I’m trying to understand how biological understanding of how the senses work tie in with the Buddha’s descriptions. I’m seeing how my speech can be kinder. Watching my defilements weaken -working on conceit. Doing meditation and maintaining a unified state of mind.