Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/08/2018

The Outflowing

This morning during my sit I was amazed by how often the mind wanted to leave buddho and to flow outward. I got the impression that doing so was dangerous given how quickly the external world changes and got the sense that it was better to stick with the one who knows as the ajahns put it. I know it’s not orthodox, but it seemed to me that buddho was the unchanging refuge that couldn’t be lost whereas thoughts about people, places and things only served to bind me more tightly.

You’d think that this realization would have lead to a change and that I might have gotten into upacara samadhi but, no, not at all. Instead I got more fidgety as the hour progressed. Nonetheless I kept chasing buddho. But to see this contrast was well worth it.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/06/2018

How to Find Buddho

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

Essence of Buddhism

Ajahn Mun is one of the great Thai Forest Meditation Masters that brought the heart of the Buddha’s teachings back to the world.  Most of the great Theravadan teachers in the west that you hear of today can be traced directly back to him – Ajahn Maha Boowa, Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Brahmavamso, Ajahn Amaro…

So I thought I’d share a teaching from Ajahn Mun that is so easy that simple folk like Thai villagers can understand how to do it and have success with it.  The principles of this method are the same as combining Pureland Buddhism (samatha) with Zen (vipassana) – so these Chinese schools use the same principle that Ajahn Mun teaches here to open their enlightenment.

Reciting a mantra stabilizes the mind so it doesn’t keep running out after stuff and once the mind is quietened down, you can then look for your own Buddho…

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/06/2018

Buddho

I have never really given up on using buddho as my parikamma or mantra despite experimenting with other methods. It is, in fact, usually the default practice I find myself switching to a I drift off to sleep or as I walk out of work. Recently, I have become more intensely interested in it perhaps as a result of gaining more familiarity with Pure Land practice and Avalokiteshvara sadhanas.

Whatever the reasons, I want to commit myself to three years of intensive practice with buddho so that, unless I’m specifically applying other practices as antidotes, the heart will be intimate with it even if total concentration isn’t possible.

Which brings me to this point: why have I failed in the past? It seems to me that my failures have been the result of two interrelated causes: perfectionism and impatience. Getting easily frustrated when I lose the thread has led me to completely abandon the practice in the past. And, during those times when I have managed to forgive myself, the apparent lack of progress has convinced me to give it up as well.

May this time be different. For three years may I take buddho as my kamatthana. May I practice with it variously and return to it faithfully regardless of how long I have been forgetful of it.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/04/2018

Stoic Precepts

I was once told by a psychic decades ago that I had spent a life as a philosopher. This could be why philosophy and, especially Stoic philosophy has always appealed to me. In the light of the Dhamma it still pales but it is interesting nonetheless.

What is a stoic then? I think that now is a good time to reconsider the stoic movement since it helps the individual to face the inevitable crisis that comes with the rise of economic, political and intellectual empires. While in Asia we have Taoism, in America we have Transcendentalism, in Russia we have Tolstoyanism, Stoicism should be reconsidered, in dialogue with the former tendencies, as the European answer for an ethical life-style. The following ten precepts can provide a rudimentary toolbox:

-I-STAY ACTIVE

-II-DO NOT FEAR

-III-LIVE MODESTLY

-IV-BE GRATEFUL

-V-KEEP ABOVE THE CROWD

-VI-FOLLOW NATURE

-VII-VALUE TIME

-VIII-BEHOLD VIRTUE

-IX-BLOCK VICES

-X-EXAMINE YOURSELF

via Guest post: The 10 Stoic Precepts

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/01/2018

Training for the Saw

In the Simile of the Saw in the Kakacupama Sutta, the Lord Buddha asserts the bar high. If we wish to truly embody his Dhamma, we must not let our minds be overcome with hate, regardless of how we are treated. I shared an excerpt yesterday from a book by Jeffery Hopkins that describes a Tibetan technique to cultivate compassion by imagining oneself in horrifying situations. Whether we imagine being tortured in a literal Hell or beaten to death by a partisan mob, doing so well good to a heart of sympathy will at once profoundly change or perspective and make us worthy of being considered true children of the Blessed One.

As someone who is already prone to worry and aversion, this practice has opened new vistas onto the world. By engaging with horripilation and refusing to give in to anger and hatred the idea of an engaged social justice begins to make some sense.

Imagine my children being ripped away from me at the border as I flee from murderers seeking asylum. Can I abide without hated for the CPD agents and immigration judges who seem to act cruelly for no reason? Imagine being accosted and murdered by police simply for being black? Can I maintain equanimity and metta in that situation?

In a world that is seemingly hurtling towards a violent conclusion I can think of few better practices to prepare oneself.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 05/30/2018

Frequent Recollection

At work I have had, for some time, an altar with a statue of the Lord Buddha, incense, water and candles. I like to use it during those times when I can find a spare fifteen minutes to meditate, however irregularly this may be. But, it occurs to me that I should begin each workday by retain the refuges and precepts I will have usually taken in the morning after formal practice. In doing so I hope to strengthen my heedfulness and keep the Triple Gem always to the fore.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 05/28/2018

Repentance Practice

For the past day or so I’ve been contemplating my death, or perhaps more accurately, my rebirth. There are a ninety of things that I have done in the past and which I fear may arise at the moment of death.

Whenever I had previously contemplated bowing practice as repentance I could never quite get it. Who was I offering repentance to? From whom was I asking forgiveness? I see now that it is a completely internal process. The act may be strong enough to leave an imprint on one’s own mind. So prostrations, joined with dana, fasting, chanting and meditation might just do the trick.

Clearly, there are repentance rituals in Chinese Buddhism as well as in Tibetan so I’ll explore those further as well. Sabbe satta pamuccantu.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 05/28/2018

At Death

I’ve been so tired from fasting that I have let posting here slide. For that I apologize (mostly to myself) but I will put forth more effort.

Tonight I was reading a book by a Sayadaw entitled Kamma at Death and Rebirth and it struck me that aiming for the Bodhisattva ideal is a pretty scary proposition. I have not wavered, however, from my aspiration but the very real possibility and, even, eventuality of a rebirth in an apaya is horrifying. The fear of losing the thread and wandering endlessly on without the light of the Dhamma is perhaps most scary of all. But, the reason why I’m writing about this has to do with the kamma vipaka and nimitta that one experiences at the beginning of death.

In the book, as I have heard elsewhere, the Sayadaw descubra being able to help people avoid rebirth in lower realms by having them chant paritta or take precepts. It occurred to me that my mind is not nearly pure enough to ensure that kusala kamma will arise. Furthermore, I recalled the teaching of the Pure Land school which advocates constant repetition of the mane of Amitabha. Although that isn’t my practice I see the point and will guard my mind every more closely now. If I find myself going into fantasies or anger I will recite Namo tassa or partita that brighten the mind and inspire to lift it out of darkness. Truly, we never know when we will die.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 05/26/2018

A Guided Tonglen Meditation

Guided Tonglen
http://insig.ht/gm_2773

Posted by: Upāsaka | 05/25/2018

Kamesu Sutta

Attached to sensual pleasures,
attached to sensual ties,
seeing no blame in the fetter,
never will those attached to the fetter, the tie,
cross over the flood
so great & wide.

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