Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 09/24/2021

What To Do with an Insult?

I was recently insulted or, at the least, spoken to brusquely by a friend in public. Rather than question why or come up with a response from my turbulent heart I realized that there is only one important thing I need to do: reflect upon whether I would say such things to them. Would I ever say such things to anyone? If the answer is “no,” then there is no use worrying any longer about it. In this case, the answer was a definitive “no.”

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 09/02/2021

Interoception Training

Bodhipaksa from Wildmind Meditation brought the skill of interoception up in one of his regular emails and I have been practicing with it for the better part of the last week. In brief, interoception “is the perception of sensations from inside the body and includes the perception of physical sensations related to internal organ function such as heart beat, respiration, satiety, as well as the autonomic nervous system activity related to emotions.” (Vaitl, 1996; Cameron, 2001; Craig, 2002; Barrett et al.)

Maybe that wasn’t so brief but it was certainly necessary. So, why is this important? Why does it matter if we can feel our heartbeat? Why does it matter if we can feel our breath? Although the answer to the questions could easily fill several volumes (and much of the Suttapitaka is devoted to parsing them out) suffice it to say that knowing the body in the body is a key post of Satipatthana. So interoception and proprioception are key to developing samadhi and jhana.

Here is the link to Bodhipaksa’s well-written and informative article:

Why it matters if you can feel your heartbeat

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 08/17/2021

Stones in My Shoes

Every suffering, every form of dukkha can be put to good use while we’re on the path to understanding and liberation. At least, it seems that way to this unenlightened wordling.

A hard rap to the shin can be a meaningless mishap or a part of shin conditioning for Muay Thai. Stones in your running shoes can be seen as dangerous annoyances prone to cause blisters or gifts of the road to toughen your feet. An endlessly unhappy and critical wife could be the grounds for divorce or a unique opportunity to practice mettā and khanti parami.

It seems to me that I have many lifetimes yet to go before a deep understanding blossoms. Until then may I take as my goal the cultivation and perfection of the brahmaviharas and an indomitable will. May I turn all suffering into an opportunity to strengthen my body and mind and may I eventually break through and comprehend the Four Noble Truths.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 08/16/2021

How often have I made a resolution to practice in a certain way only to give up with the best of reasons days or months later? How often have I complained to myself about a situation and made myself miserable?

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 08/15/2021

Seven Types of Wives

On the Seven Types of Wives:

“Infatuated with another, she despises her husband.
She seeks to kill the one who bought her with wealth,
She who is this kind of wife of a man,
Is called ‘A murderess and a wife.’

“The wealth acquired by her husband
By toiling at a craft, by trading, or farming,
Even if it is only a little, she desires to take by theft.
She who is this kind of wife of a man,
Is called ‘A thief and a wife.’

“Not wishing to work, lazy, and gluttonous
Abusive, angry, and harsh in speech,
She dominates and exerts control over her supporters.³
She who is this kind of wife of a man,
Is called ‘A governess and a wife.’ [93]

“Who is always friendly and compassionate,
Like a mother protects her husband like a son.
His wealth that he earns she guards.
She who is this kind of wife of a man,
Is called ‘A mother and a wife.’

“She who like an elder sister her younger brother,
Respects her husband as her own,
Modest, acting according to her husband’s wish.
She who is this kind of wife of a man,
Is called ‘A sister and a wife.’

“Who is delighted on seeing her husband,
As when meeting a friend after a long absence,
Cultured, virtuous, she is a devoted wife.
She who is this kind of wife of a man,
Is called ‘A friend and a wife.’

“Who is calm when scolded or threatened with punishment,⁴
Her mind uncorrupted, she endures her husband’s wrath,
Without getting angry she follows her husband’s wish.
She who is this kind of wife of a man,
Is called ‘A servant and a wife.’

“The wives here called a murderess, a thief, and a governess,
Immoral, abusive, and disrespectful,
On the break-up of the body after death go to hell.
Those here called mother, sister, friend, servant and wife,
Established in virtue and long restrained,
On the break-up of the body after death go to heaven.”

“These seven, Sujātā, are the wives of a man. Which of them are you?”
Bhāriya Sutta, AN

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 07/23/2021

Solitude and Kalyanamittata

From Nyanamoli Bhikku’s latest book:

Q: The Buddha encourages the development of seclusion. What then is the best way to cultivate it?

Nyanamoli: You need to start exposing yourself to seclusion gradually. Needing others, however subtly, is quite a serious compro- mise for someone interested in practising the Dhamma. I’m speaking specifically about needing others for your existential wellbeing and sanity. That’s a massive compromise and a huge risk if you never become independent of it. We are all owners of our actions, fully enclosed within them and ourselves. What you do stays with you. No other person can help you with that or take away from yourburden. It’s always on you, your intentions, your decisions, your actions: they always stay within you. You are bound up with your actions and burdened by the results of them. Company makes us forget that.

Thus, you’re alone whether you want to be or not. Enclosed within yourself. Most people choose to distract themselves from that truth. Lots of effort is invested in ignoring it. However, the recognition of that profound truth is where the Dhamma practice starts. You can be very close to others, but fundamentally, your feelings, your choices and responsibilities are things only you are privy to. Rec- ognizing this can reveal that heavy burden, and that’s exactly what the Buddha meant by saying “beings are the owners of their actions”. And the burden accumulates through that ownership and ignorance.

Dhamma within Reach, pp.59-60

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 07/17/2021

I’m Good, But He Was Better

I’ve had a habit of self-deprecation for as long as I can remember. And, although I do it partly for it’s comic effect, it is primarily a defense mechanism. What I have been finding out during this martial arts/combat sports’ journey is that it is a pretty silly thing to do. Here’s why:

When you train any amount with a coach, sensei, professor, etc. and you’re putting in the work you don’t want to then devalue your efforts and the effort of your instructor. It’s disrespectful and untruthful. And, in cases where you meet someone who literally beats the snot out of you, it’s not simply that you suck but note that your opponent was much better.

And when you lose what do you do? Whether it’s the kilesas or a boxer, you review what happened, how and why you failed and you start training to shore up those weaknesses.

May I never surrender in my fight with the kilesas and may I see every activity as training lesson in the Dhamma.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 07/07/2021

Training Every Day

Or, perhaps, training every moment would be more apropos. I woke up this morning, meditated and then ran to my boxing gym for an hour of bag work and cardio. I then ran home, showered and changed and took the train to work. After I finished I ran to the center in Bayridge Brooklyn for two hours of BJJ. Some time in there my wife crashed the car and was frantically trying to reach me.

Fortunately she’s fine but the car has seen better days. Now I’m on a train to Long Island to get her mother’s car and bring it back.

Not so long ago I would have been bitterly lamenting (internally of course) my fate. Today, however, I’m inclined to view it as an opportunity to train the mind much as I have been training it through meditation and martial arts.

Can I weather this annoyance without getting knocked too far off center? Can I set and reset my intention to be one of generosity and compassion?

I hope to make the most of this short life and how else can I begin to do that if I am never tested?

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 07/02/2021

Sparring and

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some people can’t let go after a particularly violent exchange. It should definitely come as no surprise when you find out that the person in question is sixteen years old.

Despite all of my misgivings about sparring with a sixteen year old (I had no idea I was until much later) I also think it’s a great opportunity to show him how to get over grudges. I’m going to make a special attempt to say hello to him and just radiate mettā towards him in general from now on.

I remember being sixteen and how things seemed very black and white. I don’t quite know how I would have reacted if I had the kind of knowledge that he already possesses. In many ways, that kind of ability can be a dangerous thing if left unchecked and untrained. Luckily, his older brother is one of the head instructors so I think he will be okay.

May Jason be happy! May he enjoy every success! May he become a skilled teacher of the martial arts and may his prowess be unparalleled.

Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 06/28/2021

Facing Any Task

This morning feels off but that of likely the anxiety of trying to get to Bay Ridge by 7am so I can name the BJJ class. What am I, a 43 year old man with a commitment to the Dhamma, doing all of this martial arts training for? What is the point?

If you have even briefly followed the posts here you may have realized that I get stuck in certain themes and attempting to justify my obsession with martial arts, self-defense and preparedness is a big one.

Although my reasons and motivations are constantly shifting, I do believe that one thing that maintains my dedication is just how much I learn about myself and the power of discipline and resolve through the practice. The very real physical pains I experience (weeks of strained tendons, bruised ribs, cranked larynx) serve as a great training ground for my resolve and an inescapable classroom for learning about dukkha.

And, beyond that, it’s a good time. Their is a sense of confraternity that I have only ever experienced in spiritual communities before and, despite what you may think, most boxers, Muay Thai practitioners and BJJ grapplers aren’t out for blood so there’s that. And, if nothing else, it is a community of people who are value in pushing themselves out of their comfort zones.

The lack of the warrior ethos in Dhamma practice (outside of the biographies of the forest ajahns) has always struck me as a problem in Western Buddhist circles; primarily due to the fact that it can be so easy to just give in and “go with the flow “ of the kilesas. Without seeing the danger and actively fighting against it, we only bury ourselves deeper in delusion. In effect, without the warrior spirit and Right View, we let the kilesas walk all over us.

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