Posted by: Upāsaka | 08/03/2018

Purity

I woke up this morning feeling pretty shabby. For whatever reason I have been dogged by this perception that I haven’t been keeping my precepts purely enough. But when I inspect my actions it’s clear that I haven’t broken any.

I have not killed, harmed or maimed any living being. I have not taken what is not given. I have not cheated or committed sexual misconduct. I have not intentionally lied, spoken harshly or back-bitten. I have not taken intoxicants. But my thoughts are a different story.

Day and night I’m tortured by craving and were I to indulge them the fever would only worsen and the delirium deepen. Luckily, I have the benefit of the Dhamma and was able to listen to a guided breath and loving-kindness meditation by Ajahn Achalo this morning which help to right my heart before my wife woke up fully infuriated.

It’s time to move to on beyond my hurt and, since she’s insisting that I apologize to her for treating her badly as a condition for her to relent, I have now twice already. Unsurprisingly, that too is not enough. She requires that I state specifically what it is that I am sorry for. I guess me asking forgiveness for anything I have said or done to hurt her isn’t good enough. But, truly, this is enough. Let her do what she will but I’m now making it my priority to practice equanimity with regard to this situation.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 08/02/2018

Fighting

3. “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,”–in those who harbour such thoughts hatred will never cease.

4. “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,”–in those who do not harbour such thoughts hatred will cease.

5. For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule.

Here we are again. My wife and I have been have arguments again and a few nights ago she got a little physical. Funny how it works when the male isn’t the aggressor because even though I extracted an apology and a commitment to swear off the use of physical violence she has only done so reluctantly and is full of comebacks and caveats excusing her behavior. The current line of reasoning is that I’m verbally abusive although nothing I say fits the definition. I don’t curse, degrade or denigrate her. At most I am emotionally absent during these fights but she has taken to calling that abuse. So much for a detente.

I cannot tell you how much I wish I had never discovered sex in this lifetime and had met with the Dhamma earlier but that wasn’t my kamma. Now I have at least 18 more years of suffering to go so I plan at least to make good use of it. May I never be sidetracked by romantic relationships in any future lives. May I always practice the Dhamma and never be separated from it.

I’ll leave you with this words from Luang Por Mun:

Ācariya Mun then continued: “You see, this is the very nature of the world: one moment there’s affection, another moment there’s friction, anger, and hatred. Even though you know it to be wrong, it’s hard to correct. Have you ever seriously tried to correct this problem? If so, it shouldn’t happen very often. Even a minimum effort should be enough to keep it under control. Otherwise, it’s like eating three meals a day: in the morning you quarrel, in the afternoon you quarrel, and in the evening you quarrel –regularly around the clock. Some people even end up in divorce, allowing their children to become caught up in the conflagration as well. They are innocent, yet they too must bear the burden of that bad kamma. Everyone is affected by this blazing fire: friends and acquaintances keep their distance due to the shame of it all. Assuming both parties are interested in settling the issue, they should be aware that an argument is a bad thing, and stop as soon as it starts, and make an effort to correct it at that point. The matter can then sort itself out so that in the future such problems don’t recur. For instance, when anger or aversion arises, first, think of the past you have shared together; and then, think of the future you will share living together for the rest of your lives. Now compare this to the malice that’s just arisen. That should be enough to lay the matter to rest.  “Mostly, people who go astray do so because they insist on having their own way. Without considering whether they’re right or wrong, they want to personally dominate everybody else in the family –something which just isn’t possible to achieve. Such arrogance spreads and rages, singeing others until everyone is scarred. Even worse, they want to exert their influence over everyone else in the world, which is as impossible as trying to hold back the ocean with your hands. Such thoughts and actions should be strictly avoided. If you persist in them they will bring your own downfall. People living together must adhere to and be guided by equitable standards of behavior when dealing with their husbands, wives, children, servants, or co-workers. This means interacting with them in a reasonable, harmonious way. Should others not accept the truth, it is they who are at fault for being so unreasonable, and it is they who will pay the price –not those who adhere firmly to guiding principles.”

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/31/2018

Fitness Goals and Asubha

gross sports injuries

I have become increasingly interested in improving the heath of this body to make it last for as long as possible (the only reason not to do so would be if I had attained the status of an arahant which is not in the cards anytime soon). As such, I wanted to lay out my routine but I’m finding it all quite sticky. As I pay more attention to this body and think about “improving” it I see the attachment and craving growing and wrapping their tentacles around my perceptions.

I’ll include my proposed fitness routine below but, as I was searching for some asubha resource to help trim back these tendrils of tanha I stumbled across a great site. Yes, it’s in Italian and I apologize for that but if you can’t read Italian like most people in the world I’m sure Google will do a fine job of it. Check out the link for some NSFW pictures of decomposition and good Dhamma.

Come praticare asubha—

Il desiderio del corpo non si limita alla sensualità, ma concerne anche l’attaccamento alla propria fisicità ed agli sforzi, anch’essi ossessivi quanto inutili, per cercare di sostenerlo, o di migliorarlo. Questo attaccamento è tanto più nocivo anche per il fatto che ci immerge di continuo nella credenza (ben errata) di un’esistenza propria ed inesatta del corpo e che quest’ultimo può condurre al benessere. Di fatto, esso rappresenta una fonte continua di sofferenze diverse; con il risultato che si prova una profonda estasi, si è liberi e leggeri come l’aria, ogni volta che giungiamo a degli stati, nei quali noi non sentiamo più il nostro organismo fisico, quand’esso viene “dimenticato”.

http://it.dhammadana.org/samatha/kammathana/asubha.htm

Daily Fitness Routine

  • Intermittent Fasting Daily (20:4 or more)
  • 5 Minute Cold Shower Everyday
  • Wear weight vest until exhaustion (M-F)
  • 8 Sets of Push Ups throughout day until exhaustion
  • 8 Sets of Sit Ups throughout day until exhaustion
  • 4 Sets of Ab Wheel throughout day until exhaustion (M-F)
  • 10000 Steps

May I recall that this body will soon lie dead like a block of wood and until then it is nothing more than a bag of skin filled with filth.

 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/30/2018

Buddho Contemplating the Paramis

You may or may not know that I’ve made the aditthana to use buddho as my main subject of meditation for three years and, as I would expect, it can be a slog at times. But, if there’s anything that my years of practice have taught me it’s that there is no silver bullet. There’s no magic technique that will bring about jhana.

Rather it is dedication to the meditation object and a sufficient amount of undisturbed time (such as a retreat) that has produced concentration for me (jhana, not quite yet). Failing a retreat environment the one thing I can do is remain committed to buddho but that doesn’t mean simply rote repetition. Rather, the Ajahns remind us to be creative and resourceful with our kammaṭṭhāna. Some might even say to have fun with it. And that is precisely what today’s post is about.

Ajahn Achalo constantly reminds us that buddho can mean “the one who knows” which got me to thinking: knowing was not the only faculty perfected by the Lord Buddha. He was also carana sampanno: perfect in knowledge and conduct. So, it occurred to me while following buddho with the breath that I could also focus on metta while in public and radiate buddho to myself and all beings as the highest expression of loving-kindness.

From there it has been an ongoing experiment. This morning I touched on buddho with upekkha parami and khanti parami when it was tough to stay on the cushion. Sacca parami when honestly viewing the contents of the mind stream and aditthana parami when decided that I would stay for the whole hour and add an extra five minutes at the end. All of these qualities are embodied by the Buddha and when reciting buddho it has been invigorating to recall just how awe-inspiring he was and how majestic is the path that we are trying to walk.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/28/2018

Uposatha Confession

Not more than an hour after my last post where I heroically declared my intentions I ended up taking a short nap and then broke my fast with food. It almost seems that the more important the occasion, the more likely I am to mess it up. And mess it up I did.

The morning after had not been much better as I slept in and only hit about twenty five minutes so far. So, by the standards of the truly heroic strivers I’m falling all over myself in failure but there is this: I’m not giving up and until I do I haven’t lost. I need to be more sensitive to my body and mind to read the signals it’s sending about how much I can handle and when I can push. Last night I shouldn’t have been so hard on myself but lesson learned.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/26/2018

Bibliophilic Fasting

It seems like I can’t get enough of this fasting thing but, as is usually the case, once my eyes have been opened to the contours of something I begin to see its shape everywhere (if that makes any sense). So the idea of restricting my consumption of books and other physically and digitally printed matter seems only like a logical progression of fasting from food ( here I have to admit that my fast from consumerism has been an abject failure but more on that later).

Since it seems to me that I derive little value from reading multiple books at once, especially since I rarely finish them, I’ll choose one book a week every Sunday and read only that until the following Sunday. In this way I hope to forestall the urge to find something more interesting, more juicy and actually take the time to learn something-even if what is learned is that I never should have picked the book to begin with.

We’ll see how it goes and then I may even extend this to Dhamma talks, podcasts and YouTube channels I listen to. I’ve learned a lot from my Facebook and news fast and I’m eager to increase the peace of mind I’m already enjoying as a result. Truly, so much of entertainment, social media and diversion feel to me like hot coals with which to burn myself and it amazes that a few short weeks ago I was completely enthralled by my news feed despite how badly it made me feel. That, my friends, is the hallmark of an incipient addiction and I quit it none too soon.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/25/2018

Fasting for the Wrong Reasons

So I have taken a more serious interest in fasting after my father-in-law’s heart attack so there is clearly a health component in my decision. I figure that the body, a healthy body, is part and parcel of the preciousness of this human life. As such, it only makes sense to try to make it last as long as possible in order to practice as much as I can (I have yet to hit my three hour a day formal meditation goal but just the striving has proven beneficial). It turns out that intermittent fasting is great for your immune system, heart health and blood pressure as well as helping you to shed fat but here’s the rub: as I get into a routine of fasting for 20 hours a day and adding a select few core exercises I see that I’m beginning to develop pride.

Yes, you heard that right, I’m beginning to see this stinking, steaming pile of flesh and grease as a basis for praising myself and criticizing others. I was so shocked by this that I spent last night’s walking practice reciting maranam to remind myself that this body must sicken and die.

So, it’s a fine line between supporting healthy habits and becoming intoxicated by the allure of this body and, naturally, sex. I really don’t like half measures so I’m not inclined to just let these kilesas run rampant and unchallenged. Instead, while fasting or exercising may I constantly reflect on the fragility, transience and repulsive nature of this flesh bag.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/23/2018

Modesty

Then early in the morning a certain monk, having put on his robes and carrying his bowl & outer robe, went to Hatthaka of Alavi’s home. On arrival, he sat down on a seat made ready. Then Hatthaka of Alavi approached the monk and, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there the monk said to him, “Friend, the Blessed One has described you as being endowed with seven amazing, astounding qualities. Which seven? ‘Hatthaka of Alavi is endowed with conviction. He is virtuous. He has a sense of conscience. He has a sense of concern. He is learned. He is generous. He is discerning.’ Friend, the Blessed One has described you as being endowed with these seven amazing, astounding qualities.”

“I hope, sir, that there were no white-clad householders there.”

“No, friend, there were no white-clad householders there.”

“It’s good, sir, that there were no white-clad householders there.”

Then the monk, having received alms at Hatthaka of Alavi’s home, departed. After his meal, returning from his alms round, he went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, [he told the Blessed One what had happened.]

[The Blessed One replied:] “It’s good, monk, it’s very good that the clansman is modest and does not want others to know of the skillful qualities present in him. In that case, monk, remember Hatthaka of Alavi as being endowed with this eighth amazing, astounding quality: modesty.”

Hatthaka Sutta

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an08/an08.023.than.html

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/21/2018

Vulgar, Coarse and Ignoble

“One should not pursue sensual pleasure (KÂMA-SUKHA), which is low vulgar, coarse, ignoble and unbeneficial; and one should not pursue self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble and unbeneficial. So it was said.

And with reference to what was this said? The pursuit of the enjoyment of one whose pleasure is linked to sensual desire – low, vulgar, coarse, ignoble and unbeneficial – is a state beset by suffering, vexation, despair and fever, and it is the wrong way.

Disengage from the pursuit of the enjoyment of one whose pleasure is linked to sensual desire – low, vulgar, coarse, ignoble and unbeneficial – is a state without suffering, vexation despair and fever, and it is the right way. The pursuit of self-mortification… is the wrong way.

Disengagement from the pursuit of self-mortification… is the right way… The Middle Way discovered by the Tathàgata avoids both these extremes… it leads… to Nibbàna.”

(“One should not pursue sensual pleasure (KÂMA-SUKHA), which is low vulgar, coarse, ignoble and unbeneficial; and one should not pursue self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble and unbeneficial. So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? The pursuit of the enjoyment of one whose pleasure is linked to sensual desire – low, vulgar, coarse, ignoble and unbeneficial – is a state beset by suffering, vexation, despair and fever, and it is the wrong way. Disengage from the pursuit of the enjoyment of one whose pleasure is linked to sensual desire – low, vulgar, coarse, ignoble and unbeneficial – is a state without suffering, vexation despair and fever, and it is the right way. The pursuit of self-mortification… is the wrong way. Disengagement from the pursuit of self-mortification… is the right way… The Middle Way discovered by the Tathàgata avoids both these extremes… it leads… to Nibbàna.”

(Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the Buddha’s words in The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, p.1080f)

In case there was any doubt.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/20/2018

Guerilla Practice Uposatha

So, I was only able to get in two hours of formal practice yesterday and I feel fine about it. What it tells me is that I have to be both more resourceful and determined not to waste time. What this may look like is taking whatever free time I have and devoting it to formal practice rather than reading something or scrolling through my Reddit feed.

I often feel that I am making progress in simply staying with buddho throughout the day precisely because I have made it a priority. I have set up desktop reminders to keep me returning to buddho and even do a one minute formal practice every 45 minutes.

And, yet, there is an infinite store of kamma to work with. I have found myself dizzyingly fatigued every morning and night which robs the meditation of joy and flavor but I am acquainted with this feeling as I spent years working with sloth and torpor. So, even if it remains this way for the rest of this life I will at least cultivate khanti and aditthana parami and watch for openings throughout the day to practice.

Bhavatu sabba mangalam.

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