Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/09/2020

Who Else?

Who else but me can make progress on beating back the defilements? Who else but me can I hold to account? If I want to be stronger physically there’s no pill to take, there’s only exercise. If I want to be stronger morally there’s no magic mantra, there is solely renouncing bad deeds and cleaving to the good.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/04/2020

Calm in Failure

Funny how I made an aditthana to post every day and then promptly did the exact opposite. I believe I have focused so much on the achieving my goals of physical conditioning that I let other things slide. Well, as far as I’m concerned, goals are set to stretch our abilities and I am certainly feeling stretched. All I can do is stay with the intention and keep striving.

I found the quote above and it immediately struck me. Not solely for its affinity with the Roman Stoic focus on tranquility as the goal of stoic praxis but because it’s true. It’s Dhamma. And, although I knew somewhere that it was so, hearing it from a venerable ajahn gives me confidence that I need to practice being less reactive in all situations. That calm is a noble aim.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/01/2020

July Goals

In some ways it seemed strange to set goals coming from this Western Buddhist background but, even I truly think about it, there’s no other way to make progress. It is as Seneca said:

If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.

So, the above are my daily and Weekly goals for July. I may add more conditioning because I forgot somethings I normally do but this is a good baseline.
Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/30/2020

The True Enemy

My physical training has been going well and by well I mean simply that I have been doing it, not that I’m any good at it. This week I’ve managed to fit in a Muay Thai lesson and a boxing lesson as well as my conditioning routine and some runs (note that the plantar fasciitis seems to have let up). All of this combined with regular fasting is meant to get me in shape for the hard times I’m sure are to come (and if I’m wrong I will be glad for it) but it can be easy to lose sight of the true goal: to liberate myself from the kilesas.

You see, if you ever watch any prepper channels on YouTube or are a member of survivalist groups and forums there is always this idea of bugging out. In other words, you stock up supplies and an obscene amount of weapons and you run away to the country where you set up cannot and defend it tooth and nail. I’ve come to realize that this approach is not only impractical for me but it goes against everything I believe in. Call it my bodhisattva aspiration but when things get bad I want to be able to help. I don’t want to run away and kill whoever gets in my way. I want to learn the skills that are needed to help and, at the very least, have an open heart and arms for those suffering.

Now, I’m not a Pollyanna about this. There will be those looking to take advantage but that is what wisdom is for. Nonetheless, the true enemies are inside and they are the ones that make it hard to know what the right thing to do truly is. May we subdue our anger and learn to benefit ourselves and all beings.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/29/2020

Uposatha

It’s the update and, as always, I feel as if I could’ve done better. I haven’t broken any of the atthasila but I feel like I should have spent more time contemplating Dhamma. Regardless, today was still a productive day and I was able to will with the leg pain b and general soreness of my body and refused to show it to keep me incapacitated for another day.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/27/2020

Salt Water

I’ve been wracked by muscle pains all day from my first Muay Thai lesson in months that I took yesterday. I don’t regret it in the slightest but it has been one heck of a day. I barely got through my stretching routines and even a mile long walk was painful. Naturally, my as untamed mind immediately hankers for sense pleasures to distract it from the painful bodily sensations. However, with the exception of indulging in my daily meal (one meal a day everyday except Friday), I have managed to keep myself from slipping off the razor’s edge. Still, there are five more hours of daylight left.

The verses above rang true and immediately reminded me of the Magandiya Sutta where the Lord Buddha discusses the ignorance and impairment of putthujanas like myself. Specifically:

“In the same way, Magandiya, sensual pleasures in the past were painful to the touch, very hot & scorching; sensual pleasures in the future will be painful to the touch, very hot & scorching; sensual pleasures at present are painful to the touch, very hot & scorching; but when beings are not free from passion for sensual pleasures — devoured by sensual craving, burning with sensual fever — their faculties are impaired, which is why, even though sensual pleasures are actually painful to the touch, they have the skewed perception of ‘pleasant.’

May I develop wisdom and clear vision of the way things are and until then may I rely on faith in the Dhamma to guide me there.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/24/2020

Strange

I guess you could call it a success. When I come home it when my so-called wife wakes up in the morning I feel nothing but tenderness for her. Despite this, she clings hard to her hatred (if that’s what it is) and had only terse, curt words for me.

It is strange to live with someone who dislikes you so intensely. It is strange to live with someone who accuses you of being full of hate and spite when it seems like she is full of those very things it is strange that I still feel love and affection for her.

That last part is the most painful and yet it will do no one any good to dwell on it or bemoan my fate. There is a quite by Marcus Aurelius that I feel fits my approach to this situation perfectly and is as follows:

How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

I can’t make her be nice, let alone love me but I can treat her with kindness and ensure that I embody the brahmaviharas at all times.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/24/2020

Running

This evening I decided to get in my run while in still had time. It was still hotter than expected and my plantar fasciitis has not completely gone away yet so my mind immediately became inflamed with a thousand anxious thoughts. As I ran down the street I marveled at how many others were doing the same. Predictably I was lusting after female joggers and ridiculing the men.

I was fortunate enough to realize that I couldn’t afford to let the kilesas run wild without being challenged so I reflected immediately that this jogging bag of skin would be dead soon enough just like all the others around me. In fact, I contemplated that I likely would be dead before the trees lining the street were gone.

Gaining some perspective I also returned to the thought that it is so foolish to compete one’s body to that of another. Neither are truly “ours” and they go the way of all material things, returning to the elements.

Finally, on my return home, I was about to rouse mudita for those who were running for their health. It only took the entire length of the run and the limp home but it happened no less.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/23/2020

Patient Endurance and Purification

May I be thankful for the difficult beings in my life. Not only do they give me endless opportunities to cultivate khanti parami but I am able to purify much negative kamma in this life.

I shudder to think what would happen were I to die with this surplus of unskillful kamma. It is not hard to truly feel gratitude for these beings while simultaneously feeling slightly guilty that they are giving me this benefit only at their own detriment.

As such, may I dedicate ask of my goodness and merit to those who continue to make the grounds for this practice possible.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/21/2020

Happy Father’s Day to Me

Why I expected today to be any different I may never know. Call it hope. Call it delusion. But now I’m on a train platform back to NYC as my wife and kids celebrate Father’s Day with my in-laws.

It is not worth the time or energy to recount the save miserable facts over and over again. All that does matter is the v v quality of my mind and heart and I am applying all of the antidotes I know to keep those from souring.

There is no end to shoulds and oughts so I refuse to indulge in them. Besides, nothing happens that we don’t deserve.

Nothing happens for which we, ourselves, haven’t sowed the seeds.

Knowing this, how can I be upset? With whom should I be angry? Should I, like an insensate dolt, just continue to plant more of the same seeds that created this unpleasant condition in the first place? No. May I instead forgive all. Let go of all and return to tranquillity.

Happy Father’s Day.

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