Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/14/2019

Every Pain an Opportunity

Feeling more tired and worn out lately as my body adjusts to my new training schedule. And it makes sense: if you get up at four and proceed to drink a cup of coffee before undertaking a half hour of calisthenics (push-ups in sets of fifty, sit-ups , squats and leg lifts by 60, etc), followed by an hour of meditation and then fifteen minutes of martial arts practice you’re going to be tired. Plus, I purposely plan out my daily regimen so that I have an abbreviated workout before bed which leaves me sore in the morning.

The pain and the whining mine are there but, as is the point of this routine, I’m beginning to understand that it lies about what the can do too. The longer I live, the more it seems like the mind is an inveterate liar. Regardless, the mind went on complaining through the last leg lift and right through forty five minutes of meditation. The whole time it kept telling me how tired it was, how achy and how it would be better to simply lay down and sleep. Only, I didn’t believe it. I made peace with it and, although not a great result, it was another lesson in patient determination.

Every suffering, every pain can be an opportunity to cultivate patience, determination and wisdom. Since I can’t control what comes to be I should at least incline the mind to receive it well and extract what juice there is.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/11/2019

The Patience to Not React

Patience deals with checking emotional reactions, but it’s not a denial of emotional intelligence. Patience has the gut-knowledge that recognizes that a problem or a pain is not something to run away from, get flustered by or be self-pitying about. It has the wisdom to know that we have to prioritize the steps through which we can resolve suffering. It’s true that it may be possible to find an alternative route to the destination; it may well be that more negotiations are needed to resolve the problem; it may be that there’s a medicine that will ease the pain. But the first thing to do is to not react — to not rage, despair or mentally proliferate. Our first effort is to draw a line around the suffering, take a step back and know ‘that’s that.’ Then there’s the effort to recollect that we can be free of the suffering: that we can let go; we don’t have to take suffering in and adopt it as final, real and solid. After that initial recollection we have the encouragement to investigate, and then to draw out the hook that snags our hearts on the rough stuff of life.

From Parami, Ways to Cross Life’s Floods by Ajahn Sucitto

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/09/2019

Views

I got into an exchange in Facebook yesterday with a Stoic philosopher I respect regarding what I view as nihilistic and annihilationist teachings. In essence, the wrote in question exhorted is not to worry about death since it will be the end of experience. Naturally, I took issue with that.

What is even more interesting about the exchange, however, is how quickly I became attached to the veracity of my view but also to the idea of convincing the other party of it. Unable to do so, there was yet a part of me that took a small measure of comfort in the thought that he was wrong and would suffer for it later. Clearly, in this case at least, my intention was to look after my brother’s welfare by correcting a pernicious view. No, this was an argument that would now be used to further the aims of my ego.

The feelings of ill-will and desire to prove my point lasted surprisingly long but I’m thankful for having been able to take a lesson from the situation. May I be heedful of my motives and always strive to align my intentions with the Dhamma.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/07/2019

Buried Deep

I lost my cool this afternoon and almost got in a fight with someone. My son and I were walking home and we were paying ways as he went to our apartment and I went to find the car and move it (alternate side street parking) when he passed a man with a dog. The dog was a large Rottweiler and the man mumble something to him about not riding his skateboard near him. My son either didn’t hear or didn’t care as he was going very slowly anyway. Next thing I know the dog is lunging at my son while the man is struggling to keep the dog under control.

I was across the street at this point and I watched it all go down. I don’t recall if it was something the man said to my son or loudly yelled about non to no one in particular but the next thing I knew I was yelling and approaching him. I began by telling us call animal control on him and asked his name. Basically he wouldn’t give it to me and I stayed calling him a punk and told him to control his animal. He was one of those guys who have a mouth but, when push comes to shove, won’t back it up (and thank goodness for that). He complained loudly to no one in particular that he was just warming the kid and I told him to shut up and control his animal.

How’s that for compassion practice? How’s that for loving all beings unconditionally? I feel like a failure but it was such a spectacular fail that it’s almost funny.

I have so far to go and it now seems that I need to circle back and make metta and karuna myain practices again.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/07/2019

Buried Deep

I lost my cool this afternoon and almost got in a fight with someone. My son and I were walking home and we were paying ways as he went to our apartment and I went to find the car and move it (alternate side street parking) when he passed a man with a dog. The dog was a large Rottweiler and the man mumble something to him about not riding his skateboard near him. My son either didn’t hear or didn’t care as he was going very slowly anyway. Next thing I know the dog is lunging at my son while the man is struggling to keep the dog under control.

I was across the street at this point and I watched it all go down. I don’t recall if it was something the man said to my son or loudly yelled about non to no one in particular but the next thing I knew I was yelling and approaching him. I began by telling us call animal control on him and asked his name. Basically he wouldn’t give it to me and I stayed calling him a punk and told him to control his animal. He was one of those guys who have a mouth but, when push comes to shove, won’t back it up (and thank goodness for that). He complained loudly to no one in particular that he was just warming the kid and I told him to shut up and control his animal.

How’s that for compassion practice? How’s that for loving all beings unconditionally? I feel like a failure but it was such a spectacular fail that it’s almost funny.

I have so far to go and it now seems that I need to circle back and make metta and karuna myain practices again.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/04/2019

In the Face of Hate

I’m beginning to learn, after a mette decade and a half of marriage, that when I shut down and clam up, I’m not protecting anyone. I’m not protecting myself and, if I’m to be honest, I’m giving the silent treatment to my wife because it has an added benefit of hurting her. Yes, there are times when holding one’s tongue is the best policy, but to make a resolve out of it and commit to running a marathon is another issue entirely.

What I’ve realized is that I can still show care and concern even while receiving harsh criticism and expressions of contempt. No, it doesn’t seem to do anything to do anything to mollify her but it certainly keeps my heart from freezing over.

May we all avail ourselves of the protection of the brahmaviharas.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/03/2019

Cycles of Time

Reading about the origins of modern human civilization and findings that suggest there are hundreds of thousands of years of possibly lost history is causing strange feelings to arise. On the one hand, there is the hope that the manussa loka (even if homo sapiens sapiens aren’t the ones to occupy the role of humans) will continue even after we perish seems to be a bright spot at the end of this age of degeneration. However, there is the simultaneous realization that this has happened countless times before which leaves one feeling that the whole charade is ultimately pointless. The truth is, though, that life is not lived at either of these conceptual extremes and I have neither the samvega nor the wisdom to see things in a clear and dispassionate way.

What I can do with these thoughts is put them to work in service of the goal. The amount of time it takes to cultivate the paramis is unfathomably long and will require that I spend no small amount of lives in hells and ages of decadence – one cannot perfect the paramis in the heaven realms. So, courage and determination are called for as well as a kind of Buddhist amor fati that embraces the current conditions as optimal for spiritual progress and development.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/02/2019

Dhamma Desana

This morning I noticed that Ajahn Anan had published a new Dhamma talk and some questions and answers to Insight Timer. So, I decided to use good talk ad the subject of my first forty minutes before switching to gratitude, forgiveness, tonglen and metta for the last twenty.

There were a number of reflections that got home but perhaps the most poignant was the Venerable Ajahn’s recommendation that we give obeisance to the Tisarana every night and chant Itipiso and (I imagine) the refuges and precepts. Why? Simply because we never know if we’re going to wake up in this world or another. We never know if this will be our last night in this body.

I have been feeling complacent since I have more or less been getting my hour of meditation on every morning and have allowed my evening practice to fall away completely. So, rather than taking it and committing to another 15 minutes every night I will instead simply commit to refuges and precepts and the Itipiso, Svakkhato and Supatipanno chanting.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/01/2019

Let It Go

Whatever it is: let it go. Anger. Resentment. Happiness. Lust. Joy. Pain. Let it go.

Don’t imprison yourself in yesterday’s opinions. Don’t jail others in the cages of your impressions. True or false, let it go.

How many times have I heard this teaching and waited expectantly for its seeds to sprout? Perhaps today’s flowering is what I needed to restore my faith. I’ll hope so and then, once more, I’ll let it go.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/28/2019

Happy Uposatha – Deciding for Myself

As much as I am loathe to admit it, my wife is a particularly difficult and unpleasant person for me to be around. I think much of it has to do with her incessant criticism and endless insults. Now I know that, ultimately no one can make me suffer, but it is equally true that, when my mindfulness fails or I become heedless, suffering invariably follows.

What I have to remember, however, is that I choose this. Everyday that I wake up in the same house as her, I choose to stay. And, it must be said that, where I once thought it would be impossible to want to leave, I now find myself biding time. And yet, somehow this doesn’t feel quite right either.

At the same time that I tire of this I recall that I have repeatedly made the aspiration to engage with difficult people to learn how to cultivate patience and compassion. And, really, how different is this from the bitter medicine we take to get over an illness?

It doesn’t feel right to simply walk away out of frustration and irritation. Rather, until this situation unravels for myriad other possible reasons I will stay and try to learn as much as I can. No one else can tell me what should be done here. I’ve got to decide for myself in each new moment.

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