Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/14/2019

Five keys to right speech

“Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

“It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will.”

— AN 5.198

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/13/2019

In Praise of Facebook

Facebook in particular and social media, in general, have proven to be quite vexing for me. I find I get caught up quickly in opinions and views and an often left feeling worse than when I began scrolling. However, I have to say that Facebook is proving itself to be quite useful for one thing in particular: lavishing praise upon someone.

Most of the time the way I use it and see it used is to criticize, find fault and express outrage. But, every since I made the decision to try to praise someone once a day I have been taken with jitsu how easy it is to do. People are constantly shading their pain and triumphs on Facebook so what could be easier than taking a second to praise them? Not only is this a great way to cultivate mudita but is also a way to express vulnerability and create closer bonds. Thanks Facebook.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/11/2019

Memento Mori: September 11th

Spirits were high with expectations this morning,
As the men discussed subduing enemies and protecting the land.
Now, with night’s coming, birds and dogs chew their corpses.
Who believed that they themselves would die today?

—The Seventh Dalai Lama

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/10/2019

Mudita by Any Other Name

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/09/2019

Memento Mori

“Fear of death is intimately connected with one’s holding on to a sense of identity, sakkāya. One who has fully realized the truth of not-self thereby goes beyond the fear of death. The medicine required to bring about this cure is surprisingly simple: attend to the possibility that death could happen here and now. It just requires bringing one’s own mortality into present moment awareness, right now.”

https://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/…/an…/memento.pdf

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/08/2019

Training Dukkha

I’ve really been struggling lately work discipline. It has been tremendously hard to force myself to get moving and do the things I know are necessary to achieve the goals I have set. I realize that, even by conditioning the body and mind in this way, success isn’t guaranteed but without doing anything, nothing at all will come of it.

I won’t get into the minutiae but suffice it to say the physical conditioning, study and meditation routine have left me feeling overwhelmed. As I do 108 prostrations, finish my sixtieth sit-up or fortieth push up, I will have been assailed by a hundred complaints. The endless whining and complaining doesn’t seem to stop when I sit in meditation. No, it simply adjusts itself to its new object and computations of being sleepy and winners when it will all be over. Next, I turn to studying survival medicine or herbalism and find myself constantly checking page numbers so I can move onto the next thing. And, as expected, the mind is soon enough dissatisfied with that too.

It’s pretty clear to me that the only way to move forward is by not standing still. Perhaps I’ve set the bar a little too high (maybe too many reps of different exercises) but what’s the alternative? Setting it so low that I feel good about accomplishments that don’t make me stronger? If I’m really doing this to benefit others, rather than to feel good in the moment then i need to just recognize the complaint and move on. Which is, I suppose, exactly what this post is.

May I never give up or surrender to fatigue completely. May I always drag myself across the finish line regardless of how ugly or haphazardly I have to do so.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/04/2019

Community

As humans, our greatest advantage in the face of adversity and suffering is one another. Without Lord Buddha there would have been no one to show us the Path. Without our parents no one would have fed, clothed and taught us. Without one another, the whole edifice of commerce and civilization would collapse.

In my prepration for the paroxysms that I am confident will reduce our global civilization to rubble, I have tried to learn as much as I can about medicine, herbalism, foraging, self-defense and survival skills. However, the one thing that is lacking is a community of like minded people to turn to.

Whether we look to the jatakas or anecdotes taken from contemporary experiences, it’s clear that the loner can’t make it by themself. So, how does one go about creating a community in a city like NYC that shares common moral and ethical values? When things go south, nothing would be more useful or necessary. Survival and rebirth, if at all possible in this human world, will require a parisa or a Sangha rooted in the realities of the present and not lost in abstraction or cotton candy promises of a better tomorrow without planting the seeds of kusala kamma.

So, while I educate myself in various and sundry disciplines and work on the purification of the heart I must also reach out and try to assemble a community of brothers and sisters to rely on in times of trouble. Wish me luck. Wish us all luck.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/03/2019

Time Is Short

There seems to be no question that the next fifty years are going to be increasingly difficult for humans on this planet. Everyday new information is released outlining the magnitude of the changes in store for all beings on this planet. If it’s not obvious by now, we humans aren’t going to mount any significant, coordinated response so any hope for avoiding catastrophe should be prudently shelved. Besides, it’s not as if cosmological and macroclimatic systems were ever under our control anyway. As above, so below. We don’t get to choose what kamma will ripen or what circumstances we will find ourselves in – at best we can influence our perceptions and decide how to react.

All of which brings me to my point: if I am to have any hope of facing true calamity with dignity, compassion and courage I need to ensure that I’m using the present, fortunate conditions to train my heart and mind. Specifically, I’m talking about silā or ethical precepts. If I can’t stop myself from harming beings, taking what’s not given, sexual misconduct, telling lies or using intoxicants now, it is sheer folly to imagine being able to do so during an unending crisis.

Time is short and it only seems to be getting shorter. May we not squander our blessings and work to transform our hearts and minds so that we may be of use to all mother beings. And, failing that, may our practice at least render us harmless to ourselves and others.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/02/2019

Without Complaint

So often, whether it’s with friends or family. I find myself in a position to complain about things nd, especially, my marriage. Whether it’s my step-mother my best friend or even my wife’s family, I all too often get involved in criticizing behaviors that are unpleasant to me or validating the fault-findings of others who are displeased with her behavior. But, what does all this amount to really? micchāvācā or wrong speech for sure and a hardened, black heart.

Rather than complaining, what might it look like, how might it feel to refuse the impulse? To immediately change perspective and view the situation in the light of death? In the light of the greater sufferings of other beings?

So, someone spoke to me harshly — will I not live, have I been mortally wounded?

Someone isn’t giving me the affection I (for some inexplicable reason) think I deserve. Do I really think I can command the love and kindness of another? Would I want to if I could?

I hope to be able to quickly redirect my internal dialogue that wants to complain and bemoan my fate by reflecting on the sufferings of those who are less fortunate both in the human realm and the apaya loka. Even more importantly, I hope to be able to quickly do the same in conversations with friends and family. If someone wants to offer me sympathy may I remain without complaint and point to the myriad unbearable sufferings of our mother beings.

May all beings be free from suffering.

May all beings meet with the Dhamma and have the fortune to understand and practice it.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/01/2019

Uncommon Opportunity

Things have gone from bad to worse, in a sense with my wife. There are no interactions with her that are pleasant or easy. When she was still away with the kids I told her after a particularly nasty episode that I intended to interact with her as little as possible when she returned. She certainly took this to heart has been basically giving me the could shoulder in between bouts of explosive criticism.

But, what did I expect? I told her I wanted limited contact and she has given me that. And, yet, I’m still unhappy? Clearly this is a failing on my part, not hers. I still somehow believe that my happiness depends upon someone else doing what I want. How foolish of me but such a hard habit to break.

I almost put myself in a bad position today and this is why: she likes to throw myself out. I mean, literally out of the apartment and into the hall when it’s not in a place she wants it. My daughter had brought my yoga mat upstairs and left it in the living room. My wife asked me why it was there and I replied I didn’t know. Next thing I know she’s throwing it out the door with my duffel bag full of my kickboxing stuff. I told her (this is where my stupidity begins) that I would throw her laptop out.

I went and got my things and walked back  in the house. She was attempting to block me but my body language was such that I must of intimidated her because she started saying that I was going to assault her or some such silliness.

Next time I’ll buy my peace with whatever she throws out the door and calmly get it back. No threats of reciprocation. No reaction. Almost every day I recite the ten paramis in Pali and yet I throw my patience out the door at the first opportunity to practice. Yes. It is difficult. No. I don’t believe I would have chosen this but how else would I get a chance to practice? What normal person what throw your things out of a place because they didn’t like where it had been placed? If this happened in an office or school they would be fired. So, I really do have a precious and uncommon opportunity.

 

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