Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/26/2020

Craving Gives Birth to Fear

My Post (38)

Verse 216: Craving begets sorrow, craving begets fear. For him who is free from craving there is no sorrow; how can there be fear for him?

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/25/2020

Quotidian Quarantine Routine


Now that my usual routine have been completely upended I’m taking the opportunity to formalize my daily goals and create a new regimen for this strange twilight time. I forgot to add that I’m also committed to the one-sessioner’s practice of taking only meal a day. I hope you’ll forgive me for being so forward but I have gained a lot of benefit from following a version of this routine for months.

May it be of benefit and, if it is not, may it be quickly ignored and forgotten.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/24/2020

Dipa Ma Quote for the Uposatha

Since learning about mettā years ago it has gradually become my default tool to deal with adversity. When great fear grips me I now turn immediately to loving-kindness. Strangely enough, my faith in its power was initially solidified by experiences with ghosts in Thailand and in my dreams here at home.

Regardless, I hope this quote is of some use. May all beings be happy and safe.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/23/2020

Dhammapada 129

“All tremble at violence; all fear death. Putting oneself in the place of another, one should neither kill nor cause another to kill.” -Dhammapada 129

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/22/2020

Not in Accord with Dhamma


Preoccupied as I have been with the theme of pestilence and plague, I went in search of Stoic and Buddhist quotes on the same. As it turns out, I found neither (beyond the obvious Ratana Sutta text which I chant daily). Instead I found a quote by Hippocrates that resonated with me:

“Illnesses do not come upon us out of the blue. They are developed from small daily sins against Nature. When enough sins have accumulated, illnesses will suddenly appear.”

The Greeks and Early Buddhists seem to share an understanding of the cosmos that is often obscured by translations and 2000 years of Christian hermeneutics. If you read Nature as Dhamma and sins as akusala kamma the passage above makes a lot of sense in light of the Teachings.

When we commit akusala kamma we till the field for the ripening of sickness, death and tragedy. That’s why our best protection as putthujana is to adhere to the Precepts. In a wider sense, it seems to me that that pandemics, pestilence and the like may arise as a result of a lack of of virtue and generosity. In other words, we have lost our way and COVID-19 is the result.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/21/2020

Why Are You Surprised?


How ridiculous of me to be surprised when the governor announced that he was shutting the whole state down. How strange to be surprised by a pandemic sweeping the world. How silly to be shocked by loss? What, but this, is samsara?

254. Lābho alābho ayaso yaso ca,
Nindā pasaṁsā ca sukhañ-ca dukkhaṁ:
Ete aniccā manujesu dhammā,
Asassatā vipariṇāmadhammā.

Gain and loss, fame and infamy,
Blame, praise, happiness, suffering:
These are impermanent, passing,
Having a changeable nature.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/20/2020

Assume the Worst


Funny how quickly three days can slip through your fingers in these harrowing times. No one is sure what will come next. No one can tell you if things will ever go back to “normal.” At any moment one could develop a fever and cough only to find oneself drowning in one’s own lungs hours or days later.

It can be exceedingly difficult to proceed apace and attempt to live life in the lackadaisical manner in which we’re so accustomed when death and plague are quite literally at our door. But, both the Lord Buddha and the Stoics tell us that the subjects of loss, aging, death and illness are suited for frequent recollection. The Lord Buddha goes even further to declare that one who meditates on death is close to Nibbana.

Afraid of death: It is going to happen. Afraid of aging? It is happening even now. Afraid of sickness? You may already be unwell. Let us not look to these bodies for our refuge but in the qualities and deeds of the Noble Ones. May we all find true freedom from suffering.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/17/2020

Ardency and Impermanence


“Ardently do today what must be done. Who knows? Tomorrow, death comes.”

-Bhaddekaratta Sutta

Who knows what will come tomorrow? My business may be forced to shut down with the very real possibility of never opening again. I could be struck down by COVID-19 never to recover. My parents could as well. We simply don’t know which is why it is so foolish to behave as if any of this is guaranteed. As if any of it can be counted on.

I used to worry about shielding my family, my kids from the harsh reality of change but now I see the best gift I can offer is an evenness of mind and calm in the midst of the storm. I cannot make the world a safer place for them but I can show them what it means to meet it with equanimity and dignity. There’s a quote by Epictetus I discovered yesterday and think is tremendously apropos so I’ll end today’s ost here:

My Post (34)

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/16/2020

NYC: Courage in a Time of Pestilence

Yes, the title and possibly even the photo are a little dramatic but we’ve not entered into a time of even greater uncertainty than we have within my memories of this life. Schools have shut down. Gatherings h have been banned and restaurants and bars are now closed. Not just here, but the whole world over. In many ways it seems like just another day. And then there are scenes like this one:

Abandoned platforms in the busiest station serving a city of 8 million.

I don’t know what comes next. I don’t know if these bodies, institutions and delicate arrangements will survive or if they will pass away and return to the elements from which they are made. And, I have no control over it at all.

May we do our best not to allow anxiety, fear and stress overwhelm our wisdom. May we arm ourselves with the courage only compassion and virtue can provide.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/15/2020

Courage in Relationships

My Post (33)

“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”
― Epicurus

Stuck at home with a spouse that would rather I quarantine myself anywhere but here is an object lesson in patient endurance and forgiveness. Funnily enough, I’m finding that the one  I have to forgive more often than not is myself. I find it easier to forgive the failings of others than my own and can often spend days or weeks rehashing my mistakes.

May we make the best of this pressure cooker and bring compassion to our lives in the furnace and to those we are protecting outside as well.

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