Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/18/2019

Rest

I made a quick search in the Canon this morning and online for sutras that cover the topic of rest and came up with very little. Perhaps it’s because the training of the mind doesn’t require the same kind of rest that the body does or perhaps I’m just looking in the wrong places.

As I think about it, I recall that engaging in mettā or breath awareness (without jhana) can lead to weariness but I will need to look to see if this was Buddhavacana or in a secondary source. Perhaps it’s more of a question of changing one’s kammatthana more so than taking a break from all forms of mental training. Besides, whether it’s body or mind, it seems pretty clear that a state of pure rest can never exist.

What got me thinking about all of this is my daily routine of conditioning. I am realizing that I need to take at least two days off a week and have chosen the weekend to do so. I will probably just up my daily step goals on weekend days but will forego the more rigorous training. Similarly, when the practice is dry I should feel no guilt about finding a more inspiring object.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/16/2019

Desire Keeps Us Bound

With desire the world is tied down.

With the subduing of desire it’s freed.

With the abandoning of desire

all bonds are cut through.

Saṃyutta Nikāya 1.69

http://tipitaka.org/romn/cscd/s0301m.mul0.xml#para69

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/13/2019

Out of Control

My wife’s jobs as a doula and now midwife are such that she is called away with little notice. At most, she has a day advance warning that something is afoot. Unfortunately, or fortunately, one of my biggest challenges is dealing with interruptions to my schedule and, despite my best efforts, I have been able to do little more than stifle my outward reaction. She noticed I was displeased that my day was abruptly uprooted and rearranged and didn’t take it well. Of course there was consternation and screaming.

But, despite knowing how irrational my displeasure was I wasn’t able to feel differently. I told her I didn’t intend to say a word about it but she wanted me to “feel okay” with it too. Even taking full responsibility here doesn’t seem capable of resolving this issue but my dis-ease with a world that operates with sheer disregard for my own schedule is something I need to work on for myself as much as anyone else.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/12/2019

Thank You

I want to thank a reader of this blog who shared a book with me yesterday because they thought it might help my marital situation. I immediately found the audiobook on Scribd and began listening at work only to discover later that I had bought it and read a quarter of the way through sometime ago.

So, what is the book? Feeling Good Together by David Burns. I’m unsure why I gave it up before although I suspect it was a combination of factors including the fact that the method it outlines asks you to take complete responsibility for the issues on type relationship. Intuitively, I know this is the only sane approach but it took sitting with my doubts this morning to work it all out.

I realize that I need to constantly reframe our interactions with a view to my contribution to the difficulties. Beyond bare awareness of my wife’s contributions in word or deed I need to constantly refocus upon those things that are under my control at least in part: my thoughts, my feelings, my words and my deeds. At worst, by taking care of these things and ensuring that I do all things on line with the Dhamma, I can at least make peace with life and my wife. At best, by seeking to always take responsibility for the problems and to understand my wife’s perspective, we will be able to heal the relationship.

Thank you my friend and I intend to read and re-read the book and take its advice.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/11/2019

Stingy Hearted

My hour long morning sessions have been pretty horrible in terms of collecting the mind. The only objects that seem to work for any length of time are the brahmaviharas and death recollection. So, I cycle through Buddho, brahmaviharas and maranasati again and again.

One thing that struck me this morning was how resistant the mind is to mudita. People for whom I have no problem mettā yet present real difficulties for appreciative joy practice. Clearly this is a problem in my own mind and has little to do with them. In fact, I could almost hear the plaintive cries of my ego lamenting about how unfair it is for another to have blessings that I don’t. It is a meanness and stinginess off heart that surprised me.

I figure the only way to do anything Scott it is to work with it so I hope to regularly do so during morning practice.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/09/2019

Forgiveness and Strength

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

I was reminded of this quote by Facebook’s engagement algorithm this morning. I had originally shared the quote without attribution nine years ago so I went searching for it and found it was a Gandhi quote. I’m not quite sure if it’s encouraging to see that I’m still preoccupied by the same issues but there it is.

Forgiveness is hard and I can see how it really does take strength to prise open the hand of grasping to let go and wish well. I’m not trying to do great things by any stretch like Gandhi but I trust that forgiveness will do great things for me.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/07/2019

Worldly Activities

You do not have to abandon worldly activities in order to attain effortless unconcern.

You should know that worldly activities and effortless unconcern are not two different things, but if you keep thinking about rejection and grasping, you make them two.

—Hui Neng

I saw this post on Ven. Tashi Nyima’s blog this morning and I found it fitting despite the fact that I’m always uneasy about prajnaparamita. Why? Simply because, in my mind, Zen/Chan is a finger finger pointing to the moon. It’s not the moon itself and it won’t tell you how to get there but it’s important to remind oneself of the goal from time to time.

For me, Theravada provides the blueprints and materials we need to build our own rocket ship to get there but it requires an awful lot of work which it’s why Zen and Pure Land are more popular. Who didn’t like the sound of sudden enlightenment? Better yet, who wouldn’t rather believe themself to already be liberated?

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/06/2019

Unruffled

I spent some time yesterday looking for Dhamma passages on being imperturbable and unruffled in the face of the vicissitudes but, as one would expect, Lord Buddha goes straight for the liberated mind every time. This isn’t a complaint, however. It’s simply a realization that the Blessed One taught with one goal in mind.

At present, being so far from the goal, I am looking for something that is more provisionally useful and has to do with one’s interpersonal behavior rather than one’s insights into phenomena.

What I’ve come up with it’s this: regardless of the situation, the wisest course is to behave as if all things are proceeding in the best possible way. When someone insults you, continue treating them with the same kindness and concern as before. When you, yourself fail in a moment of weakness, pick yourself back up as soon as possible and proceed as if nothing happened. That is, take a benevolent and charitable view if yourself while returning tour noise to the grindstone of self discipline.

My wife wants a divorce: so be it but that won’t prevent me from saying good morning or making her coffee. It seems the best revenge for hatred is to refuse to drink the bilious poison and to simply proceed, as best as one is able, apace as if nothing else had changed.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/03/2019

Heedfulness

I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings. I was walking up Lafayette, talking to my mother after having stopped by the bank to get cash for a down payment for my acceptance into an invite only program at my dojo. Suddenly I feel the air exit my mouth as I’m slammed in the back by something. At the same time I hear someone screaming something unintelligible. My phone is knocked out of my hands and I whip around to assailant backing up and muttering something. I approach and try to make some hits on him before I realize what’s going on and begin to back up as he does likewise. I scream some profanities at him calling him a crazy person and finally turn around to retrieve my phone.

Luckily there were some tourists there who pointed out where it was and were helpful, if not concerned for their own safety. So, how did I do? In my own estimation I failed on both counts. I was not alert of my surroundings and I failed to defend myself. Furthermore, I reacted in anger when it happened rather than with the humor of Socrates when he had his ears boxed suddenly and lamented that one never knew whether to leave one’s house with a helmet on.

Really, it all boils down to a failure of awareness. I failed to be aware and I paid the price. It is strange as I believe I’ve given to the homeless man who attacked me so I am inclined to believe that a maraputta or other being was involved. I imagine that a being who could see my anxiety about carrying this large amount of money briefly overpowered this man’s mind to mess with me.

All in all it was a strange but instructive incident. More than anything it has taught me to be alert and not to use electronics or my phone in public. It is dangerous out there and I need to rouse as much mettā and heedfulness as possible.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/02/2019

Hard to Know

It can be hard to know, hard to remember the truth when someone constantly calls you a liar. But, leaving side the truth or falsity of their claim, how should one proceed when it’s clear that there’s B.O. mutual regard? It seems to me that this is a case that requires clear boundaries. I have no control over how another chooses to treat me or regard me but I can set my rules of engagement. As a betting among infinite others, I am no more or less worthy of kindness or cruelty. As a beginner on the path, am I not seeking to minimize harm and bring succor to all and sundry? Why let another create bad kamma for themself while causing me discomfort?

And that’s precisely the turn of perception I need to work through this knot: it is not solely selfish to set clear boundaries and refuse abuse – it is also a charity to the would-be wrongdoer. May we all be free from suffering.

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