Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/17/2020

Consistency Over Perfection

I recall hearing a story, attributed to this or that Zen master, about two students who were smokers. One asked the matter if it would be alright if he smoked during meditation and he was met with a harsh, negative reply. The other simply asked if it would be okay to meditate while smoking and V received the master’s approval.

Granted, the analogy doesn’t quite fit the quote above but it feels like it resides in the same conceptual neighborhood. I am realizing that I have much less energy than I would have expected so I have had to respect the boundaries my body has set out for me. Nonetheless, I still intended to do as much of my physical conditioning and practice as I am able. What this looked like today was a shortened Tai Chi routine before my hour of Muay Thai with my PT in the park. And now, hours later, I’m feeling depleted and tired. So, rather than trying to ram my way through it, on the off days I will simply try to focus on stretching and recovery.

What does this have to do with the Dhamma? I feel that it’s the idea of consistency, of chipping away at the mountain of inertia on a daily basis that is a Dhamma practice in itself. It doesn’t have to be perfect and, in fact, it rarely is but it dies not need be something. I need to do something every day. Whether it’s sitting on the cushion lost in thought for a half an hour or going through the motions of a form – it has to be done.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/16/2020

Celebrating the Uposatha

Celebrating the Uposatha today because it is in one of the calendars we are using in the Daily Dhamma Study Group and I found out last night that my wife bought us tickets for a family drive in tomorrow. Normally I follow the Dhammayut dates but I figure it is better to observe one per week than to get hung up on a particular calendar and just forget it all together.

I found the quote above this morning and was struck by hoe true it is; especially during those times when one is fasting. How much trouble can we cause for ourselves by delighting overmuch in the taste of food? How often have I allowed myself to be tricked into believing that there is truly some lasting god to be had from food only for the results to end up in the toilet half a day later?

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/13/2020

Energy and its Perfection (Viriya-parami)

Viriya Parami.

Witch's Well

By Bhikkhu Khantipalo

Just as Enlightenment is inconceivable unless a person has patience, so it is not attainable without effort being made. The Dhamma never encourages the doctrine of fatalism, and true Buddhists never think of events as being rigidly predetermined. Such fatalism is combated by mindfulness and by energy itself. This perfection is the counterpart of the previous one, and balanced by practice, they ensure that the sincere Buddhist neither passively accepts what he should combat nor rushes around to the disturbance of himself and others when he should have patience. By way of warning it may be mentioned here that in the Buddhist world can be found a number of “methods” which seem to promise the riches of Dhamma all in no time. One hears such remarks as, “What’s the use of books and study?” Or even, “The development of calm is a waste of time! One should…

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/12/2020

Discipline and Honor

He who lives without discipline dies without honor.

Icelandic Proverb

Despite the fact that the above quoted proverb’s provenance immediately calls to mind marauding Vikings I yet believe that there is Dhamma here. What is discipline? What is honor?

Discipline is easy: it is nothing less than the Eightfold Path and all the various things we do each day to help us walk it. For me, a lot of this looks like parami practice. For example, before I can get to Right Effort I have to learn how to exert manly effort in the first place. Or, before I can pursue Right Livelihood I must first learn to take pride in hard work and to serve others. I am failing to aptly describe what I mean but it seems to me that there needs be lifetimes of character development before one can successfully tag the Eightfold Path.

Which brings me right back to honor. What is honor but a man’s integrity? Of course, there is the dark facsimile of honor that likes to masquerade as the real thing but it’s a sad and pitiful substitute. Counterfeit honor is yet one more tool of the ego and the kilesas meant to excuse and justify violence and abuse. True honor is defended only by the quality of our actions and the worth of our words.

So, may I live with discipline and die honorably.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/11/2020

Balancing Perceptions

It feels almost a shame to admit it but my perception of the world is completely out of whack. I have for so long been a fault-finder that it is second-nature to slip into this mode without realizing it. It is only when the heart has become a dry, rocky and barren plain that I am forced to take stock of the way I have been perceiving the world and myself in it.

Without contement and appreciation, my life becomes a series of event and checkpoints to be passed through but it never arrives. I never take in the scent of the flowers, instead I simply scratch their presence down on a tablet, checking them off for their bare existence as it were, and move on to the next thing. This is not upekkha. This sterile and arm’s-length handling of the manifold of perception is not “buddhist.” It is a cold and lonely, an approach calculated to keep hurt and disappointment at bay when, in fact, it only brings more of the same.

If our duty is to comprehend and stand under dukkha, this can never be accomplished if I am always already trying to beat it to the punch.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/11/2020

Remember

May I ever remember that there is no Release without mettā or karuna. May I remember to help all who ask and ask all if they’re in need of it.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/05/2020

Daily Discipline

Daily Conditioning Routine for September-October. I scaled back my goals to make them achievable in a daily basis as well as to more accurately align with my aspirations. On the advice of Sifu @shamburgerjack I have cut running down to one mile sprints. I am also trying to spend more time on flexibility, kata and kicking and shadow boxing drills. Tai chi is helping tremendously with balance and core strength. And, of course, prostrations and a minimum of one hour of formal meditation.

These are intended to be a bare minimum and I hope to someday be able to return to the dojo for ohana and training.

Why am I sharing? There has to be some ego involved but I also genuinely hope that sharing aspirations will be helpful to those who have similar aims. A commitment to discipline, to just committing to something and doing it everyday, has proven to be the best mood enhancer and self-esteem booster I have ever encountered. Even if your mind tells you it’s pointless and makes myriad excuses about why you should stay in bed out Di simmering “fun” instead, how much better will you feel not having given up on yourself? Anyway, rant off. Be well!

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/04/2020

The Importance of Discipline

I have been concerned with discipline and rules cut almost as long as I can remember and, as I age, I find myself even more attracted to self-mastery through feats of will than I was as a young man. This human like is si precious that it seems a true sin to pass it by in pursuit of pleasures which squander our merit and weaken us in the face of dukkha and tanha.

Perhaps that’s why I am inspired to come up with a routine of spiritual and physical conditioning. Not because I believe that I can develop this body into anything of lasting value but rather for the difficulty of following through and the strengthening of aditthana parami. I will post tomorrow but for now I’m too tired. Good night.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/01/2020

A Fool Thinks It Beautiful


By bones and sinews knit,
With flesh and tissue smeared,
And hidden by the skin, the body
Does not appear as it really is…
The fool thinks it beautiful,
His ignorance misguiding him…

— Sutta Nipata, v.194,199

I admit it: I am a fool. Continually intoxicated by pleasing forms, infatuated by craving.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 08/31/2020

Tumors

Or how about this for the body?

“A tumor where nine holes abide

Wrapped in a coat of clammy hide

And trickling filth on every side,

Polluting the air with stenches far and wide.”

— M. R., quoting “Questions of Milinda” 74

Even knowing these things to be true, my wisdom trails my intellectual understanding. I can only hope that by continuously reminding myself of these truths the seeds of pañña will take root.

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