– Study Group in English
Time: Every forth Sunday of the month
Location: Spartan Village Community Center
– 1460 Middlevalle, E. Lansing, MI 48824
(located on Spartan Village Elementary School) (K-1 on the Campus Map http://www.msu.edu/dig/msumap/leftbtm.html)
10:30a.m. ~ 10:55a.m. Sitting and Moving Meditation
10:55a.m. ~ 12:15p.m. Group Study/Discussion
12:15p.m. ~ 01:30p.m. Vegetarian Potluck Lunch
Experience Sharing on practicing Dharma Drum Mountain's (DDM) Self-Uplifting Daily Worksheet:
03/26/2006 by Aloka
On 2/26/06, we were given Master Sheng-Yen’s “Self-Uplifting Worksheet.” Two Dharma friends from Ann Arbor provided helpful tips on how to approach this worksheet. I came home and read the brochure that Dr. Chen and Lina had so kindly prepared for us. The brochure helped me understand the worksheet. Then I looked at all the items listed in the worksheet. Even though one of the Dharma friends had warned us not to try to do all the items, I did try in my mind to do them all. Perhaps I was confident that the results would be good and I would get “high scores” on this “test.”
Unfortunately, the results were not what I hoped for and I found that I was quite angry. I experienced tremendous aversion to the list and said to myself, “Who can do this? Only Lina!” I am afraid I did not mean this as a compliment to Lina; indeed, I was not happy to even think that there was someone who could do this worksheet—someone who could do what I couldn’t.
Later, I investigated my reaction and realized that the worksheet had been like a mirror for me. Sadly, when I had looked into this mirror, I had not seen a beautiful image. The image I had seen of myself was quite unflattering. I had become aware that I could not, and did not, do many of the things listed. Thus if I filled out the worksheet, many of the spaces would remain blank.
Not yet able to see my way out of this predicament, I decided to listen to Ajahn Sumedho’s talk on “Accepting the Demons.” Ajahn Sumedho talks about how in Buddhism one must have loving kindness even for the demons; Buddhism provides blessings for the unblessed. He first refers to demons like hungry ghosts from the hell realms and then talks about our own demons—the defilements or kilesas—like greed, hatred, delusion, etc. Ajahn Sumedho suggests that we have loving kindness for our personal demons.
The talk changed my perspective on the worksheet and I realized that all the items that I could not do were my demons; my failures were my demons and I must practice loving kindness towards them; I must accept them. This insight rid me of my negativity towards the worksheet. I decided to choose a particular problem in my life and focus on that. This problem was wrong speech.
At first I regularly wrote a journal and kept track of the number of times I was successful and the number of times I failed in this area. After the first two weeks, I did not keep count of these incidents in a journal. However, I noticed that I had become acutely conscious of my speech. There were many occasions when I was able to catch myself before the wrong words escaped my lips; there were many occasions when I was even able to turn what would have been unskillful speech into skillful speech; and, of course, there were some occasions when my habitual energies were too strong and I was guilty of wrong speech. But what has truly impressed me is the fact that my mind had become very sharp with regard to this problem. Even when I was speaking unskillfully, I was aware of what I was doing.
I have practiced what I have described for a month and am convinced that the worksheet can be of immense use to us.
03/01/2006 by George Tye-Yan Yeh
Followings are a brief description of tips on using Self-Uplifting Daily Worksheet that I compiled from my personal experiences and suggestions by Brother Hanlin Wang. I hope it would help you on adopting this practice.
Some tips on using Self-Uplifting Daily Worksheet for beginners.
- Read the worksheet instruction first to make sure that you understand each item on the worksheet.
- Skip items that you don’t understand at the moment. You can always come back to do them later.
- Skip items that you are not ready to commit yourself yet. You can always come back to do them later when matching conditions (karma) are right.
- Do not get too greedy. Select focus items that you can accomplish within your current matching conditions, or your personal situation.
- It is highly recommended that you add your favor practice items into Additional Items category. It is easier for you to accomplish the items that you would love to do. Also, you would enjoy the joy (high, good feelings, happiness) of accomplished items, which in turn would encourage yourself on a consistent practice.
- If you could not select any items from the worksheet, then we suggest you to add a very easy five (5) minutes sitting meditation or walking meditation under Additional Items category. It is very easy to practice mindfulness. Everyone can do it. The point is on your initiation, not on the quantity of time that you spent on practice, or the amount of the selected items that you would choose to practice. It is more important that you are willing to begin a practice to uplift your own characters to become a better person. For any beginner, a little first step is better than no step at all. Everyday, a chance for you to reflect on yourself is better than no reflection at all. You can always increase your practice after your matching conditions are better at a later time. Be compassion to yourself and give yourself warm up time in rigor practice.
- Pick a short time duration (said three weeks, once month, two months, etc.) that you wish to practice the selected items. A shorter duration would give you a goal, or more desire to accomplish it. Do not pick too long a duration, which tends to discourage yourself when your willpower was weak or spirit was down, especially when you did not establish the habit of consistent practice yet. Ideally, we should practice daily until our complete enlightenment. However, before we establish the good habit of consistent practice, we would need this kind of short dash practice to establish our own confidence, faith, and good habit in practice.
- Find a practice partner who you can share your experience on practice and on mutual encouragement to keep up the practice. Tell your practice partner what are your selected items and duration of practice. With a commitment with your practice partner, it is less likely that you would give up on your practice.
- If you wish, you may openly announce your selected practice items, such as at Buddhism@peace meeting, which would motivate your consistency on practice. Thus, you would not give up easily. No one likes to have a public announcement on self-failure and self-humiliation.
- You are honest to yourself when marking an item that you did not accomplished. It is a part of practice that you have the courage to face your own failure head on. You must admit your own failure before you would even improve on it. Your repentance would be your strongest motivation force to accomplish it.
- You may add a “scale” to each item to indicate the degree of accomplishment. The scale would help you to see the up-and-down of yourself over a long duration of time. For example, a scale of 1 through 5, 1 means not accomplished, 2 means between not accomplished and neutral, 3 means neutral, 4 means between neutral and accomplished, 5 means completely accomplished. Another example, one might wish to add an item to practice the control of “anger.” The scale 1 means total failure; an outburst of anger immediately, no control of anger at all. 2 means very short period of control then had an outburst of anger followed. 3 means anger was contained internally with a longer period of time but still failed. 4 means anger contained internally and did not expressed in bad languages or actions. Scale 5 means no anger arose when facing a tough conflict situation. Marks “N/A” if you did not encounter any conflict situation that needed anger control for the day.
- Add a brief note to your daily practice, such as your emotional states, difficulties, joy of accomplishments, etc. It would help you to do weekly self-review, and to share your practice experience with your practice partner.
- Share your practice experience with your practice partner each week, or bi-weekly, which depended on the convenience of your communication conditions. A weekly or bi-weekly sharing would also motivate you to do a consistent practice.
There are many fine points in the practice of each item. I am looking forward reading your report on your practice experiences.
Best Wishes on Practice!