What to do with beginner mind?

I am a new old Buddhist. I have taken refuge in the Three Jewels. I have read the Dalai Lama’s book “the Path to Enlightenment” twice. I have listened to the Dalai Lama’s "Advice on Dying and Living a better Life’. I am re-reading Sogyal Rinpoche’s “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”. I meditate and watch my mind. Unfortunately I live in the country far from the nearest sangha. If you were my guru, how would you instruct me in the right way to proceed?

I am full of gratitudde for your generous assistance ahead of time. Namaste!

Follow the Noble Eightfold Path.
By the way I am not a Guru.
I am just a Kalyanamitta.

  • Keep in mind the four Noble Truths and its respective tasks - fully understand suffering in order to abandon its causes and suffering itself, develop the Path in order to understand suffering and to verify for yourself the possibility of its end.

  • Invest time and effort to understand and cultivate the seven factors of enlightenment.

  • Constantly review how much in yourself of the ten fetters have been attenuated (and hopefully fully abandoned), this text should help.

  • Above all, keep in mind that the process of stilling, empowering and liberating yourself is above all a natural and impersonal process, and reading this text should help making sense of it as well.

Hope it helps! :blush:

P.S.: No gurus here, as much as there were likely no gurus at the early buddhist sangha! :wink:

Most of us here take the Early Buddhist Texts (EBTs) as our guide, so eventually I would recommend you start reading the Buddha’s suttas. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s “In the Buddha’s Words” is a pretty nice collection of them with explanations. You can also find it under the Reading Guides category (as several topics) in Discourse with links to suttas on SuttaCentral.

I would also highly recommend talks by Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Brahmali and Bhante Sujato. Most of these can be found on the following Youtube channels:

Buddhist Society of Western Australia

Dhammanet

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This isn’t important for everyone, but as a lay person who has the good fortune to be able to attend pujas at a local Buddhist monastery on uposatha days, I understand the sense of deprivation and lack of connection you might feel in not having that opportunity.

You might want to create a small shrine for yourself, and do some daily chanting, or at least chanting on moon days, accompanied by some formal prostrations. Include renewal of the refuge-taking and precepts. For me personally, chanting has become a way of reminding myself about the difficult spiritual task I have undertaken, and renewing my sense of seriousness and dedication to it. When done at home it is also a way of feeling connected with what other Buddhists in other sanghas all over the world are doing at the same time. Even the fact that the chanting is in Pali - in my case - gives me an inspiring sense of belonging to the long heritage of Buddhist ancestors in the greater sangha. I personally need that, since as a western convert Buddhist surrounded by non-Buddhists, some of the daily encouragements and reminders that might be available to people in majority Buddhist cultures are not present in my environment.

There are many sites online where you can find chanting books and instructions, as well as audio recordings of the chants done properly. Some of them are quite lovely and inspiring.

May the goodness that arises from your practice help bestow the blessings of your life on all beings!

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Rosie, it is great that you found Sutta Central. As you can see from the comments above, the kalyana mitta here are very kind, helpful, and knowledgeable. The advice above is very good.

If you might enjoy sitting with others, see if you can start a MeetUp or similar group in the nearest town. I appreciate that you may be in a rural area, but you might try to start a group in your nearest town; and you might be surprised to find that others will wish to join you. Bring a loptop with a WiFi connection, and find a guided meditation from one of the Ajahns that many of us here respect and learn from. I live in a semi-rural area, and started a MeetUp as I knew of no Buddhists at all, and truly wanted to start a community of meditators. The group is now at about 50 members. I bring in Ajahn Sujato for Metta meditation, or one of Ajahn Brahm’s guided meditations from the BSWA site , and use the internet to bring each of these brilliant Ajahns into the room on a monitor.

Even with 50 members, sometimes only a handful of people show up, but it’s nice to have a connection with community of any size. I hope you find all of the kindness and support that you seek on your Path, and I wish that your days are infused with Metta.

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Thak you SarathW1, please explain ‘Kalyanamitta.’. I have searched for the meaning and not found it. Thank you!

Thank you! for providing me with the opportunity to learn. I was surprised by your response in the way that I had always thought of ‘guru’ as teacher. Now I realize that it is more of a Hindu expression, which has no relevance here. But I did find this from the Free Dictionary:

"Guru
Guru (Devanagari गुरु) is a Sanskrit term for “teacher” or “master”, especially in Indian religions. The Hindu guru-shishya tradition is the oral tradition or religious doctrine or experiential wisdom transmitted from teacher to student. In the United States, the meaning of “guru” has been used to cover anyone who acquires followers, especially by exploiting their naiveté, due to the inflationary use of the term in new religious movements.[1]
Etymology

The syllable gu means shadows
The syllable ru, he who disperses them,
Because of the power to disperse darkness
the guru is thus named.

— Advayataraka Upanishad 14—18, verse 5

The word guru, a noun, means “teacher” in Sanskrit and in other languages derived from or borrowing words from Sanskrit, such as Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Bengali, Gujarati and Nepali. The Malayalam term Acharyan or Asan are derived from the Sanskrit word Acharya. It is transliterated in different ways such as “Asaan”, “Ashan”, “Aasaan” etc.
As a noun the word means the imparter of knowledge (jñāna; also Pali: ñāna). As an adjective, it means ‘heavy,’ or ‘weighty,’ in the sense of “heavy with knowledge,”[2] heavy with spiritual wisdom,[3] “heavy with spiritual weight,”[4] “heavy with the good qualities of scriptures and realization,”[5] or “heavy with a wealth of knowledge.”[6] The word has its roots in the Sanskrit gri (to invoke, or to praise), and may have a connection to the word gur, meaning ‘to raise, lift up, or to make an effort’.[7]
Sanskrit guru is cognate with Latin gravis ‘heavy; grave, weighty, serious’[8] and Greek βαρύς barus ‘heavy’. All Proto-Indo-European root *gʷerə-, specifically from the zero-grade form *gʷr̥ə-.[9]
A traditional etymology of the term “guru” is based on the interplay between darkness and light. The guru is seen as the one who “dispels the darkness of ignorance.”[10][11][12] In some texts it is described that the syllables gu (गु) and ru (रु) stand for darkness and light, respectively.[13]
Reender Kranenborg disagrees, stating that darkness and light have nothing to do with the word guru. He describes this as a folk etymology.[14]
Another etymology of the word “guru” found in the Guru Gita, includes gu as “beyond the qualities” and ru as “devoid of form”, stating that “He who bestows that nature which transcend the qualities is said to be guru”.[15] The meanings of “gu” and “ru” can also be traced to the Sutras indicating concealment and its annulment.[10]
In Western Esotericism and the Science of Religion, Pierre Riffard makes a distinction between “occult” and “scientific” etymologies, citing as an example of the former the etymology of ‘guru’ in which the derivation is presented as gu (“darkness”) and ru (‘to push away’); the latter he exemplifies by “guru” with the meaning of ‘heavy’.[16]"

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Nothing wrong with the term guru Rosie.

In the mostly Buddhist Thailand for example, the equivalent term kru is used for both monks who are teachers (phra kru) or for school and university teachers (khun kru). The same applying for the term ajahn, which is equivalent to the original acharya.

Putting it simple, the more you explore the scriptures (suttas) the more you will enjoy the idea of having the Buddha and his teaching as sufficient refuge - in that sense, he is the only guru we here are mostly focused on discussing on.

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Hi Rosie,
On the topic of kalyāṇamittatā, or admirable friendship, I strongly recommend this text.

In short:

“And what is meant by admirable friendship (kalyāṇamittatā)?
There is the case where a lay person, in whatever town or village he may dwell, spends time with householders or householders’ sons, young or old, who are advanced in virtue. He talks with them, engages them in discussions.
He emulates consummate conviction in those who are consummate in conviction, consummate virtue in those who are consummate in virtue, consummate generosity in those who are consummate in generosity, and consummate discernment in those who are consummate in discernment.
Ths is called admirable friendship.
–AN8.54

In a sense it is a concept close to a decentralized and peer-to-peer spiritual networking system. :blush:

As far as I am concerned, it is unique to Buddhism and the Buddha in the suttas seems to have given special importance to it as something us all should look for:

"With regard to external factors, I don’t envision any other single factor like friendship with admirable people as doing so much for a monk in training, who has not attained the heart’s goal but remains intent on the unsurpassed safety from bondage.
A monk who is a friend with admirable people (kalyāṇamitto) abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful."
Iti17

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Admirable friendship.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-ditthi/kalyanamittata.html

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Hi Rosie

You may also like to explore this website, you may have already done so. :slight_smile:

http://www.dhammaloka.org.au

With metta

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Thank you for the link to the text on ‘wholesome friends’. It really clarified some thing for me. AUM!

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