Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/12/2017

Ebb and Flow

Slowly I feel the energies reform and I am able to practice again ever more in the style and with the intensity to wick I have become accustomed, and yet, there is much to be learned from this most recent illness. In the space of a few days my formal practice feel apart and my mind sunk to levels of aversion and desperation out had not visited in some time. And for what reason? Largely because I got a cold and my routine was disrupted. How fragile a thing this practice of mine has proven to be.

Not only do I how to practice with ever more ardor now but to also practice more in so-called daily life. I have failed to do so and allowed inertia to carry me away but I will now make a concerted effort to practice during my commute and throughout the day. How?

During walking, standing or sitting by starting with the breath on even days and with the brahmaviharas on odd days. By observing the half hourly mindfulness bell and spending a minute sending metta one I hear it. I hope to add more later but for now I feel I’ve bitten of enough.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/11/2017

A Pause

In the last week I’ve traveled to Atlanta fur my uncle’s funeral and caught a bad cold. As a result of the stress and sickness, it’s been all I can do to keep my head above water. Not being able to breathe through my nose makes meditation next to impossible so I haven’t managed to sit more than fifteen minutes. And now I find myself standing on a platform in Brooklyn with trains cancelled in both directions due to a bomb at Port Authority.

Life can become instantly unrecognizable at any time. May we make the best of it.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/06/2017

Anger or Determination

I’m trying to understand how I can abandon the anger and aversion while remaining true to my determination to let go of a situation that seems to be incredibly unhealthy. I feel maligned, underappreciated and unfairly criticized but, really, who doesn’t?

In the heat of the moment it may be too much to ask to immediately come back to a place of calm (especially when the other party refuses to give you space) but as soon as I’m free of the immediate harm I’ve found I’m able to do so. Still, it’s hard to know anything for certain.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/04/2017

In Memoriam

My beloved uncle passed away on Friday morning. Please dedicate the merit of your practice to him.

Aniccā vata saṅkhārā,
Uppaj-ji-tvā nirujjhanti,
tesaṁ vūpasamo sukho.

Impermanent are compounded things,
by nature arising and passing away.
If they arise and are extinguished,
their eradication brings peacefulness.

Dīgha Nikāya

Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/03/2017

Whose Consciousness?

Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/01/2017

Warning: Asubha Practice

Obese Autopsy: The Post Mortem (2016) A postmortem on the body of a 238lbs British woman reveals shocking visuals on the effects of morbid obesity on our internal organs. Warning: NSFW. [36:08]

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/30/2017

Dreams and Loving-kindness

Last night I had a kind of a nightmare that actually caused me to ruse from the unconscious depths and into wakefulness for a few minutes. The particular part of the drab that caused this took place in a mudroom basement that took on the aspect of my childhood home’s basement, especially as it used to appear in dreams. I recall standing (although there was no body in my view) in the middle of a large, dark room whose walls were made of black earth and large stones. The smell of humus and damp permeated everything and the space stretched out into a blackness beyond which I could see nothing. At this point I heard a disembodied voice whisper “Mike” and I was instantly filled with dread.

I realized that there was no good expansion for this and I felt my body begin to tingle all over as the cold fear paralyzed me. Somewhere within I realized that the only way to combat this would be to raise metta which is exactly what I began to do. I believe I visualized a ring of light spreading outward from my heart and also recall just the word “metta” flowing out into the darkness. Somewhere here I began to awaken to my body and felt the same fear as I had in my dream. Here, too, I began to radiate metta but this time it wasn’t accompanied by the appearance of am expanding halo of light (naturally).

As I woke I worked a little more with the fear and contemplated the suffering of an incoporeal being who might try to reach out from the darkness. What would that be like? Imagining this I was able to access real metta and karuna.

As I think about it, I’m not sure that it all took place in dream, especially since I woke so easily and my actual, physical body felt like pins and needles as I did. I know that spirits often come to us in dreams so this may have been a case of that. Regardless, I’m glad my first instinct was to go to metta rather than anger or abject terror.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/29/2017

Training in Hardship

The world outside provides more and more reason to train myself in the Dhamma with each passing day. But, in addition to training the mind to incline or towards release, my current situation as a father of the and husband of one, necessitates that I take some time to train myself in much more mundane areas.

What happens when things go bad with the economy? If there’s another hurricane like Sandy? A terrorist attack? How do I prepare myself to do the best for my family in such situations while staying true to the Dhamma? For me, crazy as it may seem, much of it revolves around learning as much as I can about wilderness and survival medicine and techniques. When Sandy hit I was lucky to have prepared somewhat but it’s not hard to imagine a situation like that which is occurring right now in Puerto Rico happening here.

Helping myself and others is pay and parcel of the path stop it only mashes sense to prepare for bad situations now, if only as a way of quelling anxiety about our future. Unfortunately, I think any skills I can learn now are going to be very much needed in a short time.

So, to get to the point, in addition to learning about medicine ave survival techniques I’m also trying to push myself beyond my limits both to see how I react add acclimate myself. In addition to my fasting and 16:8 restriction I have been taking only cold showers for months. Last night I added a little sleep depriving to the mix bring staying up till almost midnight add rising myself at 4:30am. I hope to add one night a week without more than an hour of sleep (most of which I intend to spend in mediation) to get used to operating on little to no sleep when necessary. It may be foolhardy but I believe that much of getting through any difficult time has to do with one’s mental toughness. And, what better way to train than through hardship?

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/28/2017


For some reason, the theme of confession bubbled up after my morning session, perhaps as a result of pondering on forgiveness yesterday. I did a quick search and stumbled on Jayarava’s blog. Frankly, I couldn’t put it better myself so I’ll just paste and share the link below:

Confession in Buddhism is somewhat different than in Catholicism as we can see in the story of the fruits of the homeless life. (Sāmaññaphala Sutta – DN 2 *). In this story the conscience of King Ajāttasattu is pricking him – after all he has killed his mother and father and usurped the crown! He decides that a visit to a holy man might help him sleep better at night. After quizzing his courtiers on who to visit he decides to go to see the Buddha. As they approach they must abandon their transport and go on foot into the jungle. Since the Buddha is staying with a great company of monks, the King thinks he should be able to hear them, but all is silent – the murderer is worried about being assassinated himself! However they come into the presence of the Buddha and after a long talk Ajāttasattu goes for refuge to the Buddha as a lay follower, and then confesses his murderous actions. The Buddha’s response, to the king in the first place, and to the bhikkhus after he has gone, highlight the two very important aspects of confession in Buddhism.

The Buddha says to the king:

“Indeed, King, transgression [accayo] overcame you when you deprived your father, that good and just king, of his life. But since you have acknowledged the transgression and confessed is as is right, we will accept it. For he who acknowledges his transgression as such and confesses it for betterment in future, will grow in the noble discipline.”

The word accayo literally means “going on, or beyond”, and in the moral sphere, means acting outside the established norms – so transgression is quite a good translation.

However once the king departs, the Buddha says to the bhikkhus:

“The king is done for, his fate is sealed, bhikkhus. If the king had not killed his father… then as he sat there the pure and spotless dhamma-eye would have arisen in him.”

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/27/2017

Peace, Patience and Pardon

This morning on the train to Brooklyn I asked my kids which virtue we’d make the theme of our day. They begrudgingly settled on patience and I extemporaneously added peace and pardon. We were speaking Italian and Spanish so it didn’t seem such an odd or anachronistic choice of words (pazienza, perdono e pace) and something about the trio struck me. May we all find peace through patience and forgiveness today.

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