Posted by: Upāsaka | 08/08/2019

Happy Uposatha – Let Me Get That for You

One of the little practices that I try to undertake everyday (with sporadic success) is to pick up and throw out at least five pieces of garbage every day. Why do I do this? To show concern for our shared environment I suppose because I know that it doesn’t really make one iota of difference when I throw something in a can – it will be buried or thrown into a heap somewhere anyways. Still, I do it as an act of love for the place and the beings living here.

With that thought in mind, why is it that I’m so hesitant to clean up the common area of my apartment building? Rather than mutter to myself about how wasteful and irresponsible the packs of NYU kids are who move in and out en masse each semester, why can’t I just pick it up for them or, more precisely, for me? There’s this false sense that somehow I’m allowing an injustice to be committed and I’m abetting those responsible but how silly is that? If I have any desire to help others, let alone myself, why do I let such childish ideas take up space in my mind?

Posted by: Upāsaka | 08/07/2019

Why Not?

Why won’t I breathe my last today? Why won’t I never see my children’s faces again? Why won’t I never see another sunset with these eyes? Why is it so easy to believe that this life, this body will go on without limit?

How many people wake up on the morning of their death and contemplate its possibility? How many of us die in car accidents, of strokes, of gunshots without having ever really considered the inescapable fact of death?

Why won’t our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers and spouses die today? When thousands die every minute, why do we think we’re immortal? Why do we believe our loved ones are beyond the reach of death? Death may come for any of us today and if you tell me not to be morbid I’ll ask you this: why not?

Posted by: Upāsaka | 08/06/2019

What Is Failure?

I failed again, egregiously, but what use is crippling guilt when the kamma I have made will ripen inexorably? There is the feeling of having sullied myself – from that I cannot escape. But once the initial paroxyms of remorse have passed what is the use of propping up this idea of a bad self?

These are actual questions. I am trying to draw the line between owning my actions and not creating a new self based upon them. I see where I stumbled and I intend to act differently although I cannot be certain of the outcome.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 08/02/2019

Perhaps

My habit of judging others and secretly considering myself as somehow better has come into clearer focus lately. It was recently divulged that one spouse in a married couple with whom my family is good friends had been carrying on an affair. Naturally, all “good” friends have rushed to take the betrayed’s side. And, although I, too, want to offer support to the harmed I have suddenly found myself unable to form a feeling of ill-will towards the cheater.

Perhaps it’s the realization that I have committed the same wrongs in this life and those previous. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have the full context and never will. Perhaps it’s because my judgement and criticism is meaningless to anyone but myself; the only harm or good or will do is ultimately to myself. And, what good is aversion towards our mother beings in any case?

Perhaps I’ve managed to grab hold of a small pearl of wisdom. It’s certain, however, that I should do my best to burnish and polish it while guarding r mettā in my heart as if it were my only child.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 08/02/2019

A Perfect Partner

May I rejoice in the fact that I have the perfect partner to practice patience and unrequited kindness.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/31/2019

Ratthapala

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/29/2019

Seeksorrow

I watch my mind complain about this and that and I’m astounded that I can be so assiduously dissatisfied in the midst of plenty and paradise. Is it the threat of future suffering and scarcity that leads me to discount the bounty of the present moment or is it that I’m afraid to accept (let alone embrace) the goodness of the present.

Clearly, there is a snare in every pleasure and it would be far better to become disenchanted by pain than intoxicated by desire. But, what about balance and equipoise? I have lived my life with a perception that has leaned a little too far into the shadow and it is a constant struggle to temper it with the light. Yet, if I were to follow my natural disposition to be a seeksorrow I would surely end up in the peta or hell-realm in short order.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/27/2019

Right Giving

“When the Great Man (the Bodhisatta) gives an external object, he gives whatever is needed to whomever stands in need of it; and knowing by himself that someone is in need of something, he gives it even unasked, much more when asked. He gives sufficiently, not insufficiently, when there is something to be given. He does not give because he expects something in return. And when there is not enough to give sufficiently to all, he distributes evenly whatever can be shared. But he does not give things that issue in affliction for others, such as weapons, poisons, and intoxicants. Nor does he give amusements which are harmful and lead to negligence. And he does not give unsuitable food or drink to a person who is sick, even though he might ask for it, and he does not give what is suitable beyond the proper measure.”
Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/25/2019

Vacation Lust

Although I’m estranged from my wife, seeing her scantily clad body in these tropical settings is no easy thing. Luckily, this little device contains the sutta pita a in electronic form and I found the following verses in the Samyutta Nikaya by Ven. Vangisa begging the Ven. Ananda for help:

721 “I am burning with sensual lust, My mind is engulfed by fire. Please tell me how to extinguish it, Out of compassion, O Gotama.” 502 [The Venerable Ānanda:]

722 “It is through an inversion of perception That your mind is engulfed by fire. Turn away from the sign of beauty Provocative of sensual lust. 503

723 “See formations as alien, As suffering, not as self. Extinguish the great fire of lust; Don’t burn up again and again. 504

724 “Develop the mind on foulness, One-pointed, well concentrated; <406> Apply your mindfulness to the body, Be engrossed in revulsion. 505

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/24/2019

Maranasati on the Way to Paradise

Right now I’m on the plane as we taxi on the runway waiting to take off. Over the years, my relationship to flying had evolved. When I was a young child I recall it being fun and novel. As I got older I developed a real fear of flying until the point that I actually chose to take busses instead of planes for a time during college.

Practicing the Dhamma has really helped me to get over the debilitating fear and, now with the help of Seneca and the Stoics, I’m at a place where the fear is outweighed by a desire to live, and die, well.

Death comes for us all. It is inescapable. Provided I live well by following the precepts, practicing the paramis and meditating as much as I can, what regrets will I have? If I die on this plane so be it and, in many ways, it would likely be an easier death than others which may await.

If I am to live long enough I may see one or all of my children die. If I live long enough I may find that the earth becomes uninhabital due to war, climate change or both. How much better a quick death faking fun the sky?

So, what is it that I really fear? Pain? Fear itself? Instead of allowing fear to take the reins, why not wrest control of my mind and body from its icy claws and be of use and service to myself and others? And, if I have really developed any bodhicitta, how can I aspire for bodhi while ceding to any fear; whether it be of death or hellfire?

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