Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/17/2019

Boundaries and Possibilities

I am beginning to see that, regardless of how much I want to turn every aspect of my life into parami practice, there are just some places where I’m not yet ready to go and things I’m not yet able to do. In particular, I’m not able to continue sacrificing my own wellbeing for a person who gives nothing back to me. In other words, I’m not going to continuously subject myself to another person’s schedule and demands at the detriment of my own long term benefit.

No, I’m not talking about taking weekend cruises up the Hudson or flights to Cali for long weekends. I’m talking about taking every few weekends for retreat. It is clear that my wife has no intention of ever returning to our marriage (a point I should have realized long ago) so why am I sacrificing all of my time so she can study? Just as she cannot bear to show affection or touch me I cannot bear the uncertainty and amorphous nature of our relationship. So, I let her know that there are certain things I just won’t do with her anymore (family trips, vacations, etc) and that there will be other boundaries to come so they I don’t get confused and can learn to disentangle myself from my affection for her.

It surprised me how much and how deeply being rebuffed stung but it is what I needed to bring it home. This is where it is at. I resolved not to be cruel or punish her last night but it was a pitched battle with my kilesas. At least I know what is right even if I’m not always able to do it.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/16/2019

Dana Paramita and Tonglen

Here is a verse that is part of my Daily Practice Book and is taken from Arya Shantideva:

I shall give away fully with no sense of loss
My body, enjoyments and all merits of the three times
To accomplish the work for all sentient beings.

Experimenting and practicing with tonglen, I have found that I’m not enough of a bodhisattva to really benefit myself or anyone else from the practice. I yet lack insight into anatta and really do think there is a me who should be suffering when I seek to take on the sufferings of other beings. As an experiment, I have attempted to do tonglen while standing in a freezing cold shower and the idea of adding more suffering of the same kind onto that situation had me jumping out of the stream of water in seconds. However, when I focused on sending metta and karuna instead of imagined taking on others’ suffering I was able to stay in the shower for much longer.

It kind of bears out the point of the book Against Empathy I read some time ago (or listened to) and goes to the point that I can yet pursue this path but need to constantly be evaluating the practices that I am undertaking and their effects. So, rather than taking on suffering, maybe I should focus on giving. There’s enough there to satisfy renunciate tendencies without weakening me through unnecessary suffering (no sch thing as redemptive suffering in the Dhamma).

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/14/2019

Happy Uposatha – Epictetus and Right Speech

“Let silence be your goal for the most part; say only what is necessary, and be brief about it. On the rare occasions when you’re called upon to speak, then speak, but never about banalities like gladiators, horses, sports, food and drink—common-place stuff. Above all don’t gossip about people, praising, blaming or comparing them.” – Epictetus

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/11/2019

Cultivating Thought

I the eye of the storm I had enough presence of mind and free time to listen to a Dhamma talk by Ajahn Achalo last night while washing the dishes. The main takeaway for me was how we are constantly giving our minds food for thought (literally) so it’s no wonder we can get the mind to settle. I spent an hour this morning trying to meditate but it was more a long daydream than anything else. But, I keep at it because there’s no better choice.

What I can do though is drastically reduce my intake of media. No more paranormal podcasts, books not directly related to the Dhamma or anything that sparks proliferation. At least for a month because I really need the tranquillity and presence of mind now.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/10/2019

Blaming Others

“As all the great Mahayana masters…have emphasized, blaming others for our unhappiness only exacerbates our own misery. Such compulsive blaming is a form of entrapment that is not only self-perpetuating but that robs us of our power and free will.

The practice of lojong is a kind of strength training for the mind, a practice that will make us feel less like a victim and more like the author or architect of our own life. By identifying ourselves as the victim, we give power to others, but when we refuse that role, we take the power back.”

-Traleg Kyabgon

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/08/2019


My wife and children came back yesterday and within ten minutes of my having picked them up from the airport, my wife was screaming at the top of her lungs, slamming my seat and even tugged my arm as I drove.

My sin: saying that we needed to save a certain amount of money before another vacation was possible. I thought that by giving a concrete number and providing a rationale (if we intend to find a new apartment we need first, last and deposit) she would understand better. It wouldn’t be a vague thing that they could be intended as means to prevent her from having a vacation with the kids. Suffice it to say I was wrong. And, it’s only gone downhill from there. One minute she’s telling me she wants to leave and find a better partner and the next she’s raging about family vacations?! Sheer lunacy. I’m not going to empty the garbage bag of my life onto the floor and pick through it. I just have to up my patience and try to remain calm.

May I never marry again.

In every lifetime may I purely pursue the Dhamma for the benefit of myself and others.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/06/2019

Happy Uposatha

Today is the uposatha and I’m yet plagued by this laziness and, at times, nihilism. When I read the suttas on deeper subjects like dependent origination I feel at both of of my depth and hopeless that I may never understand. But, I realize that these thoughts are impermanent so I try not to give them too much importance.

As I recently counseled a friend, we have an eternity of kilesa bhavana to overcome so why would I expect it to be easy? Why should I understand paticca samuppada easily? Why would concentration develop with ease in the midst of the home life? I need to be resolute and realistic. If I really want to make progress perhaps I need to go forth but until then I’ll keep trying to saw through this mountain with a feather.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/06/2019


Yesterday was my birthday and, despite this blaring symbol of the relentless march of time, I’ve really had to force myself to meet my practice commitments. In the past few weeks I’ve come up with the following which are pretty faithful to the practices I’ve been undertaking for the last six years:

  • Cold Shower
  • Refuges, Precepts & Practice Aspirations
  • 30 minutes anapanasati
  • 30 minutes brahmavihara practice
  • 15 minutes contemplating 5 Subjects for Frequent Recollection
  • 15 minutes tonglen
  • 30 minutes walking mediation
  • 108 Om Mani Padme Hum recitations
  • 108 Om Maitri Mahamaitri Maitriye Svaha recitations
  • 108 Om Pra Mani Dhani Svaha 
  • 108 Namo Amitofo recitations
  • 108 Prostrations to Lord Buddha
  • 36 Tonglen Apiration recitations
  • Radiate metta while waking and falling asleep
  • 20 minutes of Dhamma Study (Samyutta Nikaya)

I would say the only major difference is that I have been able to meet my goals for a few weeks whereas it used to be that I would come up with this aditthana and then let them drop after a day or so. So, that’s progress. In addition to the above, I hope to memorize my refuge, precept and aspiration booklet so it is always with me. I figure that unless and until I have it completely memorized I won’t allow myself to change it.

Given the fact that, after my adolescence, everything has been careening towards decadence and death, it’s only right that I take this life and its opportunities more seriously. Death stalks me like a hunter after its prey so how can I afford to waste any time? How can I afford to be lazy when all is aflame?

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/03/2019

A Cure for Temptation

This antidote to unskilfull behavior probably relies on my faith-type personality but I figure I’ll share of it might possibly help even one person.

There is a particular sense pleasure that I have indulged in and that has the potential to become an outright breach of silâ. Not finding satisfactory ways to deal with it otherwise, in sheet desperation I made the aspiration last night “May I be struck dead if I do x.” And it worked.

Call it superstition, call it gullibility but the thought that I may be struck dead doing some ignoble thing is enough, for now, to keep temptation at bay.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/03/2019

Verses for Today

One of the things that I’d like to accomplish this year is to memorize my refuges, precepts and aspirations that I chant in the morning. For some time I have used my phone as a prayer book of sorts but this has any number of disadvantages.

I’m able to make it through the Tisarana, Pali precepts and the Pali paramis but I get hung up on the Eight Verses for Training the Mind. So, each day I will take a verse until I have made my way through the whole book. It takes about fifteen minutes to recite at full speed so we’ll see how long it takea. Today we have the following:

5. Whenever someone out of envy
Does me wrong by attacking or belittling me,
I will take defeat upon myself,and
And give the victory to others.

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Dirk Pieters

writer, buddhist, yogi / schrijver, boeddhist, yogi

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The Knowledge is Provisions from Allah, May Allah guide us and strength our Iman & Taqwa. Ameen.

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