Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/24/2019

It’s a Difficult Road

It’s certainly not easy trying to disentangle oneself from the bonds of attraction to the person work whom you’ve spent half your life and who is the mother of your children. But, luckily for me, she has no interest in that kind of intimacy and is generally full of contempt for yours truly. I say “luckily” and I mean it – were it not for that, I could very well never even have tried to practice brahmacariya. And, having already done so much that’s wrong with this body out of bondage to sexual craving, I can ill afford to waste any more time.

Knowing all of this, however, it’s still not easy. Confronted, day in and day out with her form and presence, it has been difficult to find peace and cultivate detachment. Regardless, what other choice is there?

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/21/2019

Advice for a Friend

“Remember that the door is open. Don’t be more cowardly than children, but just as they say, when the game is no longer fun for them, ‘I won’t play any more,’ you too, when things seem that way to you, say, ‘I won’t play any more,’ and leave, but if you remain, don’t complain.” (Epictetus Discourses I.24.20)

For the millionth time my wife brought up the fact that we should divorce. I sent her this quote this morning after reminding her that no one is forcing her to remain.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/20/2019

No Matter How Low

May I never abandon loving-kindness, no matter how low I’ve fallen. Regardless of my failures may I always cleave to compassion and use them as fuel to the fires of forgiveness. May my weaknesses remind me of the necessity of the training and serve to keep me humble and never allow me to be haughty.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/18/2019

Premeditatio Malorum and Tonglen

The idea of meditating on the worst possible scenarios to acquaint the mind with then and thereby remove the shock and sting is probably my favorite Stoic meditation technique. It has analogs in the Dhamma such as the death contemplation and the Five Subjects for Frequent Recollection but, perhaps due to a dearth of surviving texts, the Stoic approach seems more free form and open ended.

This morning I spent some time considering the death of my children due to climate change driven famine. It was heart-wrenching to say the least to imagine them crying out in pain, their faces hollowed out and sunken; the light in their eyes extinguished. Even now it’s painful to write. At this point I breathed in their suffering and breathed out succor and health. Finally, I finished with metta to myself and to them individually.

The truth is that we will all die. The truth is that we don’t know how or when. Why not make the best of these days by preparing ourselves to meet death with open eyes and a heart full of compassion and love?

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/17/2019

Happy Uposatha – Discomfort

This week I’m working on training through discomfort. I quoted the passage of Musonius Rufus yesterday that is relevant but here it is again:

“Now there are two kinds of [Stoic] training, one which is appropriate for the soul alone, and the other which is common to both soul and body. We use the training common to both when we discipline ourselves to cold, heat, thirst, hunger, meager rations, hard beds, avoidance of pleasures, and patience under suffering. For by these things and others like them the body is strengthened and becomes capable of enduring hardship, sturdy and ready for any task; the soul too is strengthened since it is trained for courage by patience under hardship and for self-control by abstinence from pleasures.”

-Musonius Rufus, Lectures, 6

In that vein, I have decided to take up bearing with heat and cold and standing while in the train when at least one other person is doing so — I don’t want to cultivate a sense of pride so I decided not to do it when there’s an empty car with plenty seats. Or maybe I’m just lazy.

Other practices recommended are fasting and eating meager meals ( which I try to do regularly and am doing today for the uposatha), hard beds (such is the floor), avoidance of pleasures and patience. The uposatha satisfies all of these as does the practice of brahmacariya every day (I think I’m on a personal record at 17 days). Anyway, I’m always fascinated by how close the Stoics came to the Dhamma; it’s a shame they didn’t meet with it as it could have changed the course of history. Regardless, happy uposatha!

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/16/2019

Enduring Hardship – Musonius Rufus

“Now there are two kinds of [Stoic] training, one which is appropriate for the soul alone, and the other which is common to both soul and body.

We use the training common to both when we discipline ourselves to cold, heat, thirst, hunger, meager rations, hard beds, avoidance of pleasures, and patience under suffering.

For by these things and others like them the body is strengthened and becomes capable of enduring hardship, sturdy and ready for any task; the soul too is strengthened since it is trained for courage by patience under hardship and for self-control by abstinence from pleasures.”

Musonius Rufus, Lectures, 6

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/14/2019

From Darkness to Darkness

419 “The person, O king, who is poor,

Lacking in faith, stingy,

Niggardly, with bad intentions,

Wrong in views, disrespectful,

420 Who abuses and reviles ascetics,

Brahmins, and other mendicants;

A nihilist, a scoffer, who hinders

Another giving food to beggars:

421 When such a person dies, O king,

He goes, lord of the people,

To the terrible hell,

Heading from darkness to darkness.

Samyutta Nikaya

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/13/2019

Enjoy the Silence

When someone is making a point of giving me the silent treatment I have almost always used it as an excuse to inflame my own anger and pride. Why has it never occurred to me to enjoy the silence?

When all I have been secretly desiring is an end to criticism and complaint, why do I insist on being unhappy when my wishes come true? Perhaps I’m afraid of what will happen when we do speak but bottling resentment in the meantime will only make such a conversation worse.

I can choose to be happy and contented, enjoying the respite and relative calm. May we both be happy and peaceful.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/12/2019

Blessed

Whenever I find myself enjoying the fruits of good kamma I am immediately concerned primarily because the mind inevitably becomes haughty. The only real remedy I have found thus far is to do tonglen for those with whom I’m comparing myself and offer the goodness I’m experiencing to them. Yes, it had no tangible impact on others’ material circumstance but it did transform my attitude from one of pride and egotism to one of fellow-feeling and sympathy.

I am blessed to have found the Dhamma and to have made much merit. May I dedicate it to the good of all.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/11/2019

Balance

It’s an interesting conundrum: how does one successfully balance brahmacariya with the brahmaviharas? This morning, as I was trying to cultivate mudita for a female I know I realized that I could no longer do so and keep my composure. There was a definite attraction there that I might not have noticed before but the craving become so obvious that I needed to switch gears. It’s clear now why inadvisable to try to cultivate metta for the opposite sex.

I think, however, this points to a larger issue in my practice: how do I resist the urge to shut down and close in while practicing brahmacariya and still be able to practice the brahmaviharas?

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