Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 07/23/2021

Solitude and Kalyanamittata

From Nyanamoli Bhikku’s latest book:

Q: The Buddha encourages the development of seclusion. What then is the best way to cultivate it?

Nyanamoli: You need to start exposing yourself to seclusion gradually. Needing others, however subtly, is quite a serious compro- mise for someone interested in practising the Dhamma. I’m speaking specifically about needing others for your existential wellbeing and sanity. That’s a massive compromise and a huge risk if you never become independent of it. We are all owners of our actions, fully enclosed within them and ourselves. What you do stays with you. No other person can help you with that or take away from yourburden. It’s always on you, your intentions, your decisions, your actions: they always stay within you. You are bound up with your actions and burdened by the results of them. Company makes us forget that.

Thus, you’re alone whether you want to be or not. Enclosed within yourself. Most people choose to distract themselves from that truth. Lots of effort is invested in ignoring it. However, the recognition of that profound truth is where the Dhamma practice starts. You can be very close to others, but fundamentally, your feelings, your choices and responsibilities are things only you are privy to. Rec- ognizing this can reveal that heavy burden, and that’s exactly what the Buddha meant by saying “beings are the owners of their actions”. And the burden accumulates through that ownership and ignorance.

Dhamma within Reach, pp.59-60

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 07/17/2021

I’m Good, But He Was Better

I’ve had a habit of self-deprecation for as long as I can remember. And, although I do it partly for it’s comic effect, it is primarily a defense mechanism. What I have been finding out during this martial arts/combat sports’ journey is that it is a pretty silly thing to do. Here’s why:

When you train any amount with a coach, sensei, professor, etc. and you’re putting in the work you don’t want to then devalue your efforts and the effort of your instructor. It’s disrespectful and untruthful. And, in cases where you meet someone who literally beats the snot out of you, it’s not simply that you suck but note that your opponent was much better.

And when you lose what do you do? Whether it’s the kilesas or a boxer, you review what happened, how and why you failed and you start training to shore up those weaknesses.

May I never surrender in my fight with the kilesas and may I see every activity as training lesson in the Dhamma.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 07/07/2021

Training Every Day

Or, perhaps, training every moment would be more apropos. I woke up this morning, meditated and then ran to my boxing gym for an hour of bag work and cardio. I then ran home, showered and changed and took the train to work. After I finished I ran to the center in Bayridge Brooklyn for two hours of BJJ. Some time in there my wife crashed the car and was frantically trying to reach me.

Fortunately she’s fine but the car has seen better days. Now I’m on a train to Long Island to get her mother’s car and bring it back.

Not so long ago I would have been bitterly lamenting (internally of course) my fate. Today, however, I’m inclined to view it as an opportunity to train the mind much as I have been training it through meditation and martial arts.

Can I weather this annoyance without getting knocked too far off center? Can I set and reset my intention to be one of generosity and compassion?

I hope to make the most of this short life and how else can I begin to do that if I am never tested?

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 07/02/2021

Sparring and

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some people can’t let go after a particularly violent exchange. It should definitely come as no surprise when you find out that the person in question is sixteen years old.

Despite all of my misgivings about sparring with a sixteen year old (I had no idea I was until much later) I also think it’s a great opportunity to show him how to get over grudges. I’m going to make a special attempt to say hello to him and just radiate mettā towards him in general from now on.

I remember being sixteen and how things seemed very black and white. I don’t quite know how I would have reacted if I had the kind of knowledge that he already possesses. In many ways, that kind of ability can be a dangerous thing if left unchecked and untrained. Luckily, his older brother is one of the head instructors so I think he will be okay.

May Jason be happy! May he enjoy every success! May he become a skilled teacher of the martial arts and may his prowess be unparalleled.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/28/2021

Facing Any Task

This morning feels off but that of likely the anxiety of trying to get to Bay Ridge by 7am so I can name the BJJ class. What am I, a 43 year old man with a commitment to the Dhamma, doing all of this martial arts training for? What is the point?

If you have even briefly followed the posts here you may have realized that I get stuck in certain themes and attempting to justify my obsession with martial arts, self-defense and preparedness is a big one.

Although my reasons and motivations are constantly shifting, I do believe that one thing that maintains my dedication is just how much I learn about myself and the power of discipline and resolve through the practice. The very real physical pains I experience (weeks of strained tendons, bruised ribs, cranked larynx) serve as a great training ground for my resolve and an inescapable classroom for learning about dukkha.

And, beyond that, it’s a good time. Their is a sense of confraternity that I have only ever experienced in spiritual communities before and, despite what you may think, most boxers, Muay Thai practitioners and BJJ grapplers aren’t out for blood so there’s that. And, if nothing else, it is a community of people who are value in pushing themselves out of their comfort zones.

The lack of the warrior ethos in Dhamma practice (outside of the biographies of the forest ajahns) has always struck me as a problem in Western Buddhist circles; primarily due to the fact that it can be so easy to just give in and “go with the flow “ of the kilesas. Without seeing the danger and actively fighting against it, we only bury ourselves deeper in delusion. In effect, without the warrior spirit and Right View, we let the kilesas walk all over us.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/24/2021

Weakness and Anger

It seems to me that giving into anger or hatred (here I think often if the Pali term vera : (nt.) enmity; hatred) is the worst kind of weakness. Not only do you do yourself serious harm but you have allowed another person to master you.

Now, in the case where no one is actually attempting to inflame your ire you simply look and act like a fool by making a show of your enmity and displeasure but how much worse is it when you give victory away to your tormentor.

It seems to me that the very first step to overcoming the kilesa of ill-will is to refuse to express it through body or speech.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/20/2021

Jinapañjara Gāthā

As usual, when I first determined to listen to a Dhamma talk my mind rebelled but, much like going to the boxing gym, I never regret having done so. The Venerable Ajahn Achalo responded to a student’s request for advice on Hour to brighten the mind in the face of seemingly unending oppression and he recommended chanting more.

Interestingly, one of the things that he highly recommends is chanting Itipiso 108 times daily which is a practice I already keep. However, I’m cases of extreme negativity and oppression by petas he advised us to chant the parittha or gatha below:

Jinapañjara Gāthā
The Victor’s Cage

Jay’āsan’āgatā Buddhā

Jetvā Māraṁ savāhanaṁ

Catu-saccāsabhaṁ rasaṁ

Ye piviṅsu narāsabhā

The Buddhas, noble men who drank the nectar of the four noble truths, having come to the victory seat, having defeated Māra together with his mount:

Taṇhaṅkar’ādayo Buddhā

Aṭṭha-vīsati nāyakā

Sabbe patiṭṭhitā mayhaṁ

Matthake te munissarā.

These Buddhas—28 leaders, sovereign sages beginning with Taṇhaṅkara—are all established on the crown of my head.

Sīse patiṭṭhito mayhaṁ

Buddho dhammo dvilocane

Saṅgho patiṭṭhito mayhaṁ

Ure sabba-guṇākaro.

The Buddha is established in my head, the Dhamma in my two eyes, the Saṅgha—the mine of all virtues—is established in my chest.

Hadaye me Anuruddho

riputto ca dakkhiṇe

Koṇḍañño piṭṭhi-bhāgasmiṁ

Moggallāno ca vāmake.

Anuruddha is in my heart, and Sārīputta on my right. Koṇḍañña is behind me, and Moggallāna on my left.

Dakkhiṇe savane mayhaṁ

Āsuṁ Ānanda-Rāhulo

Kassapo ca Manāmo

Ubh’āsuṁ vāma-sotake.

Ānanda & Rāhula are in my right ear, Kassapa & Mahānāma are both in my left ear.

Kesato piṭṭhi-bhāgasmiṁ

[Kesante piṭṭhi-bhāgasmiṁ]

Suriyo-va pabhaṅkaro

Nisinno siri-sampanno

Sobhito muni-puṅgavo.

Sobhita, the noble sage, sits in consummate glory, shining like the sun behind a hair on my head [all over the hair at the back of my head].

Kumāra-kassapo thero

Mahesī citta-vādako

So mayhaṁ vadane niccaṁ

Patiṭṭhāsi guṇākaro.

Elder Kumārakassapa—great sage, brilliant speaker, a mine of virtue— is constantly in my mouth.

Puṇṇo Aṅgulimālo ca

Upālī Nanda-valī

Therā pañca ime jātā

Nalāṭe tilakā mama.

These five elders—Puṇṇa, Aṅgulimāla, Upālī, Nanda, & Sīvalī—have arisen as auspicious marks at the middle of my forehead.

Sesāsīti mahāthe

Vijitā jina-vakā

Eteti mahāthe

Jitavanto jin’ora

Jalantā la-tejena

Aṅgam-aṅgesu saṇṭhitā.

The rest of the 80 great elders—victorious, disciples of the Victor, sons of the Victor, shining with the majesty of moral virtue—are established in the various parts of my body.

Ratanaṁ purato āsi

Dakkhiṇe Metta-suttakaṁ.

Dhajaggaṁ pacchato āsi

Vāme Aṅgulimālakaṁ.



Ākāse chadanaṁ āsi

Sesā pākāra-saṇṭhitā.

The Ratana Sutta is in front, the Metta Sutta to the right. The Dhajagga Sutta is behind, the Aṅgulimāla Paritta to the left. The Khandha & Mora Parittas and the Āṭānāṭiya Sutta are a roof in space. The remaining suttas are established as a rampart.

Jinā nānā-varasaṁyuttā





Asesā vinayaṁ yantu


Excellently bound in many ways by the Victor,

[Bound by the Victor’s authority & strength],

seven ramparts arrayed against them, may all misfortunes within & without—caused by such things as wind or bile—be destroyed without trace through the unending Victor’s majesty.

Vasato me sakiccena

Sadā Sambuddha-pañjare


Viharantaṁ matale

Sadā pālentu maṁ sabbe

Te ma-purisabhā.

As I dwell, in all my affairs, always in the cage of the Self-awakened One, living on earth in the middle of the cage of the Victors, I am always guarded by all of those great noble men.

Iccevamanto sugutto surakkho.

Jinānubhāvena jit’upaddavo.

Dhammānubhāvena jitārisaṅgho.

Saṅghānubhāvena jit’antarāyo.


carāmi jina-pañjare-ti.

Thus am I utterly well-sheltered, well-protected.

Through the power of the Victor, misfortunes are vanquished.

Through the power of the Dhamma, the enemy horde is vanquished.

Through the power of the Saṅgha, dangers are vanquished.

Guarded by the power of the True Dhamma,

I go about in the Victor’s Cage.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/20/2021

Aspirations for Fatherhood

May I give my gain to my family and take in their sufferings.

May I protect them for harm despite the cost to my health and happiness.

May I lead them towards the Dhamma by my example and never by coercion.

May I accept them unconditionally for whoever they choose to be in the moment.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/17/2021

A Person of Dignity

Interestingly enough, when I posted the above post on FB I was met with quite a bit of resistance.

It seems to me that so many of us want the freedom to do whatever we please. Then again, I could be completely wrong. Maybe got them, using harsh speech isn’t any different from pleasant sounding speech. Maybe I’m just a prude.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/14/2021

Rest and Consistency

I have been having an internal debate with myself about the need for rest and, after having taken a day off, I feel that it might have been better spent dedicated to different activities rather than having completely abandoned my practice.

And, it seems to me now, that whether we’re talking about developing the mind or the body, consistent and unrelenting practice is what’s called for. In pursuing these goals tirelessly a certain amount of creativity and improvisational skill will be required as the mind and body both become overworked and fatigued through the use of the same exercises or subjects of reflection. So, rather than lapsing into inactivity or reverie I simply need to change focus.

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