Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/15/2020

Dhammapada 184 – Patience

If there were one lesson that I could say had thus far characterized this life it is patience. By nature, I am an anxious and impatient person and it has taken me a full four decades to begin to understand the lessons of patience in the light of anicca, dukkha and anatta.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/14/2020

Dhammapada 185

I work. I save. I buy. And yet happiness eludes me. Sex. Money. Homes. All of the things we think we should want and which cause us to covet, crave and kill.

May we practice well to possiate the ground for the blooming of wisdom.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/14/2020

The World’s Bait

359 “Time flies by, the nights swiftly pass; The stages of life successively desert us. Seeing clearly this danger in death, One should do deeds of merit that bring happiness.”

360 “Time flies by, the nights swiftly pass; The stages of life successively desert us. Seeing clearly this danger in death, A seeker of peace should drop the world’s bait.”

Samyutta Nikaya

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/13/2020

Seneca on The Danger of Pleasure

“When mind and body have been corrupted by pleasure, nothing seems bearable—not because the things which you suffer are hard, but because you are soft.”

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/09/2020

Kusita-Arambhavatthu Sutta – Travel & Laziness

“Then there is the case where a monk has to go on a journey. The thought occurs to him: ‘I will have to go on this journey. But when I have gone on the journey, my body will be tired. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the third grounds for laziness.

“Then there is the case where a monk has gone on a journey. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have gone on a journey. Now that I have gone on a journey, my body is tired. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the fourth grounds for laziness.

Kusita-Arambhavatthu Sutta: The Grounds for Laziness & the Arousal of Energy

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/08/2020

Bālapaṇḍita Sutta MN 129

Having done bad things by way of body, speech, and mind, when their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell.

And if there’s anything of which it may be rightly said that it is utterly unlikable, undesirable, and disagreeable, it is of hell that this should be said. So much so that it’s not easy to give a simile for how painful hell is.”

When he said this, one of the mendicants asked the Buddha, “But sir, is it possible to give a simile?”

“It’s possible,” said the Buddha.

“Suppose they arrest a bandit, a criminal and present him to the king, saying, ‘Your Majesty, this is a bandit, a criminal. Punish him as you will.’ The king would say, ‘Go, my men, and strike this man in the morning with a hundred spears!’ The king’s men did as they were told. Then at midday the king would say, ‘My men, how is that man?’ ‘He’s still alive, Your Majesty.’ The king would say, ‘Go, my men, and strike this man in the midday with a hundred spears!’ The king’s men did as they were told. Then late in the afternoon the king would say, ‘My men, how is that man?’ ‘He’s still alive, Your Majesty.’ The king would say, ‘Go, my men, and strike this man in the late afternoon with a hundred spears!’ The king’s men did as they were told.

What do you think, mendicants? Would that man experience pain and distress from being struck with three hundred spears?”

“Sir, that man would experience pain and distress from being struck with one spear, let alone three hundred spears!”

Then the Buddha, picking up a stone the size of his palm, addressed the mendicants, “What do you think, mendicants? Which is bigger: the stone the size of my palm that I’ve picked up, or the Himalayas, the king of mountains?”

“Sir, the stone you’ve picked up is tiny. Compared to the Himalayas, it doesn’t even count, it’s not even a fraction, there’s no comparison.”

“In the same way, compared to the suffering in hell, the pain and distress experienced by that man due to being struck with three hundred spears doesn’t even count, it’s not even a fraction, there’s no comparison.

https://suttacentral.net/mn129/en/sujato

Lately I have been feeling beaten down and sorry for myself. It can be hard to live with someone who constantly berates and criticized and who shows no love or affection. I’m not angry with her, but I do wonder how it could be possible to be unceasingly resentful of someone. It seems incredibly unhealthy and patently absurd.

Regardless, I had the thought that this suffering is nothing compared to what beings suffer in the states of woe. In terms of the length of time and the severity of the suffering, my present human condition can’t be compared with the dukkha of the animal or hell realms. No, that’s not always encouraging but it is true and understanding reality is our only hope for escape.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/07/2020

A Wilderness Dweller Araññaka Sutta (AN 4:263)

“Endowed with (any of) four qualities, a monk isn’t fit to stay in isolated forest & wilderness lodgings. Which four? (He is endowed) with thoughts of sensuality, with thoughts of ill will, with thoughts of harmfulness, and he is a person of weak discernment, dull, a drooling idiot. Endowed with (any of) these four qualities, a monk isn’t fit to stay in isolated forest & wilderness dwellings.

“Endowed with four qualities, a monk is fit to stay in isolated forest & wilderness lodgings. Which four? (He is endowed) with thoughts of renunciation, with thoughts of non-ill will, with thoughts of harmlessness, and he is a discerning person, not dull, not a drooling idiot. Endowed with these four qualities, a monk is fit to stay in isolated forest & wilderness dwellings.”

Suttas/AN/4:263

Suffice it to say that I am far from having the qualities of even the lowliest city monks but suttas such as the one above are excellent for pointing out where we should be going. May I aspire to embody the resolves needed to make one fit to stay in an isolated forest.

 

Mindfulness of in-&-Out Breathing

“Now how is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing developed & pursued so as to be of great fruit, of great benefit?

“There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and establishing mindfulness to the fore.1 Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

“[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, ‘I am breathing in long’; or breathing out long, he discerns, ‘I am breathing out long.’ [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, ‘I am breathing in short’; or breathing out short, he discerns, ‘I am breathing out short.’ [3] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.’2 He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.’ [4] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.’3 He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.’

“[5] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.’ [6] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.’ [7] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.’4 He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.’ [8] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.’

“[9] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.’ [10] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in gladdening the mind.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out gladdening the mind.’ [11] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in steadying the mind.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out steadying the mind.’ [12] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in releasing the mind.’5 He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out releasing the mind.’

“[13] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.’ [14] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in focusing on dispassion [or: fading].’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.’ [15] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in focusing on cessation.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out focusing on cessation.’ [16] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in focusing on relinquishing.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out focusing on relinquishing.’

“This is how mindfulness of in-&-out breathing is developed & pursued so as to be of great fruit, of great benefit.

Ānāpānasati Sutta

Meeting with the Venerable Mahathero Dhammavuddho’s teachings as a result of his death has been a great boon for my practice and is the reason for my re-enchantment with the suttas. I appreciate the Venerable’s approach and am now turning to his commentary on the Ānāpānasati Sutta to see if I can make more headway in terms of my own practice.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/06/2020

Fearless – Abhaya Sutta

“Then there is the case of the person who has done what is good, has done what is skillful, has given protection to those in fear, and has not done what is evil, savage, or cruel. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought occurs to him, ‘I have done what is good, have done what is skillful, have given protection to those in fear, and I have not done what is evil, savage, or cruel. To the extent that there is a destination for those who have done what is good, what is skillful, have given protection to those in fear, and have not done what is evil, savage, or cruel, that’s where I’m headed after death.’ He doesn’t grieve, isn’t tormented; doesn’t weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.

“Then there is the case of the person who has no doubt or perplexity, who has arrived at certainty with regard to the True Dhamma. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought occurs to him, ‘I have no doubt or perplexity. I have arrived at certainty with regard to the True Dhamma.’ He doesn’t grieve, isn’t tormented; doesn’t weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.

“These, brahman, are four people who, subject to death, are not afraid or in terror of death.”

Abhaya Sutta

Who of us doesn’t fear death? I know my mind immediately returns to all of the unskillful things I have done when I consider its inevitability. But, I have at least arrived at certainty with regard to the truth of the Dhamma. For as long as this like lasts, may I maintain my Precepts free of blemish and unbroken.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/04/2020

The Importance of Discipline

Whoever through desire, hate or fear,
Or ignorance should transgress the Dhamma,
All his glory fades away
Like the moon during the waning half.
Whoever through desire, hate or fear,
Or ignorance never transgresses the Dhamma,
All his glory ever increases
Like the moon during the waxing half.

Sigalovada Sutta

I’ve been thinking a lot about discipline and how much my wellbeing depends upon it. I remember when I was giving up intoxicants that I had the thought that indulging in them would only make me weaker and less able to deal with the difficulties of life; I now feel the same about akusala and adhammic behavior.

In other words, I am noticing that my well-being and happiness is directly related to my lack of remorse that comes as a result of assiduously keeping the Precepts and doing my best to cultivate the mind and being generous. Dāna, sīla, bhavana.

I’ve found that when I’ve broken a precept it is harder to keep up my self-discipline overall. I lack the energy and actually feel dirty or poisoned. I suspect this is exactly what it’s meant in the Suttas when they speak of a lack of remorse as being a requisite for samadhi. Mettacittena!

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