Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/13/2018

Premeditatio malorem

Today I will meet with people who are meddling, unthankful, rude, disloyal, and selfish. People who behave this way don’t know the difference between what is good and evil. But, be-cause I know the difference, I will not be affected by their behavior. Neither will I be angry or be irritated because I’d rather cooperate than fight with others.

Excerpt From: “Unshakable Freedom” by Chuck Chakrapani.

Every morning before I rise from need may I recall these words.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/12/2018

Already Broken

I noticed today that my phone has a vertical line of dead pixels which I can only imagine is the result of my son accidentally throwing it down the stairs. Immediately upon seeing it there is the impulse to fix or replace it. There is the idea that “it shouldn’t be this way” and that I’ll now have to make sure with an imperfect phone. But, really, the phone was already broken and always imperfect. And, even if I can’t really see that yet with the eye of wisdom I can at least practice with this broken phone until I come to understand it more deeply.

May I be grateful to have the tools to turn a broken phone and mounting bills into object lessons about the faithlessness of samsara.

May I make a refuge for myself in the Dhamma and may I give up hope for samsara.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/10/2018

Gratitude to Our Parents

“Today, if someone saved us from being hit by a car or pulled us out of a burning building, we would be extremely grateful. But we have forgotten that our parents saved us from death every day…”

Excerpt From: “Change of Heart: The Bodhisattva Peace Training of Chagdud Tulku” by Lama Shenpen Drolma.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/09/2018

Wash Your Own Face

Do I want to see less suffering? Do I want myself and all others to escape from the rounds of rebirth? If so, power and politics, voting and activism aren’t the way to help. If I truly want change then how can I give shelter to the kilesas in my heart? Where is the compassion when my son breaks a tour? The equanimity when my daughter spills get water? The mudita when my kids being home good grades? Where is the equanimity when my wife criticizes me? How can I believe that I have any answers when peace of mind still escapes me?

Trying to change the world without changing our mind is like trying to clean the dirty face we see in the mirror by scrubbing the glass. However vigorously we clean it, our reflection will not improve. Only by washing our own face and combing our own unkempt hair can we alter the image.

Excerpt From: “Change of Heart: The Bodhisattva Peace Training of Chagdud Tulku” by Lama Shenpen Drolma.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/08/2018

Happy Uposatha – Rulership

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying among the Kosalans in a wilderness hut in a Himalayan district. Then, as he was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose in his awareness: “Is it possible to exercise rulership without killing or causing others to kill, without confiscating or causing others to confiscate, without sorrowing or causing others sorrow — righteously?”

Then Mara, the Evil One, knowing with his awareness the train of thought in the Blessed One’s awareness, went to him and on arrival said to him: “Exercise rulership, Blessed One! Exercise rulership, O One Well-gone! — without killing or causing others to kill, without confiscating or causing others to confiscate, without sorrowing or causing others sorrow — righteously!”

“But what do you see in me, Evil One, that you say to me, ‘Exercise rulership, Blessed One! Exercise rulership, O One Well-gone! — without killing or causing others to kill, without confiscating or causing others to confiscate, without sorrowing or causing others sorrow — righteously!’?”

“Lord, the Blessed One has developed the four bases of power, pursued them, handed them the reins and taken them as a basis, given them a grounding, steadied them, consolidated them, and undertaken them well. If he wanted to, he could resolve on the Himalayas, king of mountains, as gold, and it would become a mountain of gold.”

[The Buddha:]

The entirety
of a mountain of gold,
of solid bullion:
even twice that
wouldn’t suffice
for one person.
Knowing this,
live evenly,
in tune with the contemplative life.

When you see stress,
and from where it comes,
how can you incline
to sensual pleasures?
Knowing acquisition
to be a bond in the world,
train for
its subduing.

Then Mara the Evil One — sad & dejected at realizing, “The Blessed One knows me; the One Well-gone knows me” — vanished right there.

Trump may very well turn the US into an actual dictatorship but that is none of my concern. The Dhamma and politics are two paths which do not have the same destination.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/06/2018

Buying Peace

“Starting with things of little value – a bit of spilled oil, a little stolen wine – repeat to yourself:

‘For such a small price I buy tranquility and peace of mind.’”

– Epictetus

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/05/2018

Planting Practice server of

Somehow the pernicious idea that every session of meditation must produce some altered state of consciousness. Despite “knowing” better I still fall victim to this idea. I feel that it goes hand in hand with this general sense of fault-finding and hyper-criticism of myself and practice; a pretty ironic state of affairs when I consider that I’ve turned more intensely to the brahmaviharas again. But, this is where I am.

May I apply effort and determination to do at least one full mala round of each of the phrases meant to plant the seeds of the brahmaviharas, even if I reap only boredom in the immediate present.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/03/2018

Anger and Discontent

Keep this thought handy when you feel a fit of rage coming on—it isn’t manly to be enraged.

Rather, gentleness and civility are more human, and therefore manlier.

A real man doesn’t give way to anger and discontent, and such a person has strength, courage, and endurance—unlike the angry and complaining.

The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.

 Marcus Aurelius

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/02/2018

In the Body

I began listening to an audiobook of Against Empathy despite my initial misgivings. Turns out I had judged a book by its cover but am glad I listened. Not only does it call for a more reasoned approach to empathy and compassion but it points out how the former is fraught with problems.

Per my own experience and the opinion of the author, empathy is a feeling inside of oneself the sentiments of an other. In cases of feeling another’s joy we find the first sparks of mudita and the same could be said of empathy and karuna but one must proceed with an abundance of caution. I have found that long sessions of tonglen often leave me exhausted and burnt out. Perhaps I’m still practicing it incorrectly but simply feeling the pain and suffering of another without being able to bring up feelings of bliss, warmth and cessation is just painful and draining. I have found that it is necessary to avert to the fact of someone’s suffering just enough to know that it’s there and to immediately begin sending the feelings I listed above to be a completely different experience however.

I realized, from listening to this book, that one needs to both use the personal and bodily feelings of love, bliss or ease as a springboard and inner laboratory to strengthen and universalize the sentiments so that they become boundless and undifferentiated. Just allowing myself to feel bliss and ease in the body and then bringing each person into it in turn has opened up new vistas to me.

A final point that I feel I have to bring up is the caveat that this kind of pleasure and sensitivity is extremely sensitive to sila in my experience. Without a mind free of remorse I know I wouldn’t be able to feel these things. It’s a good lesson for me to reflect on and I hope it strengthens my resolve to perfect my virtue.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 11/01/2018

Happy Uposatha – Self-Cherishing

Think: “The reason that I have not yet been released from these problems is that from beginningless time I have cherished myself and renounced others. From now on, I’m going to live my life only with bodhichitta. I’m going to cherish others.” Think this to yourself and know that this is the source of all happiness.

To what extent is this true? It seems to me that it speaks to something I have a hard time putting a finger on. I’m usually so busy trying to rearrange the world to reduce the anxiety it produces that others are always a second thought. Until I come to the understanding that the path to peace is cleared largely by the brahmaviharas and that others aren’t afterthoughts I’m pretty certain my progress will be slow.

And yet I still lack wisdom to understand that compassion and metta don’t mean simply sacrifice oneself on the altars of others’ pleasures. May I cultivate a boundless heart and the wisdom to put it to good use.

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