Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/04/2018

Pain

It’s funny just how seriously one takes bodily pain. I’ve had a muscle cramp in my back for almost a week and, in applying salves and patches, I seem to have irritated my skin. So now I have near constant pain from back ache and what feels like burns that are constantly ribbing against my shirt.

There’s no question that bearing with pain is tiring. It can also become a weight and burden on the mind, dragging it into darkness if not immediately countered. It is at times like this that it’s good to recall that this body is not me, not mine not my self. Bodies are subject to aging, sickness and death add this body is proceeding according to the Dhamma. For me, at this time, what is most important is to keep the mind bright and focused on the goal.

Today, being my birthday, happens to be particularly well suited to these reflections as I get too reflect on aging and sickness directly. May I make the best use of this life and may I put suffering to good use.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/03/2018

Taking Up the Fight

Another day breaks as I’m confronting with the seemingly endless patterns of discord and disagreement in my home. I could despair, be angry or resentful. I could try to subdue those making me unhappy but to what end? Instead of giving in to hatred and delusion, I need to take up the Fight to transform my heart and to leave the problems others have with me in their own hands.

How many times will I forget this? How many times will I tell myself that winning a fight, having the last word or making someone understand is the answer?

May I not make a mockery of the Dhamma and may my words never ring empty and hollow.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/02/2018

Feeling Sorry for Myself

I’ve noticed that when I feel that I’m obligated to do things for my family and am unable to devote time to practice or (possibly even) relaxation, feelings of resentment and self-pity arise. When looked at objectively it’s hard to understand how I can be so easily fooled but it happens time and again; so much so that it seems like figuring this out is one of the great tasks of this life.

More often than not, I end up feeling this way when others around me are critical of me or my contribution and then, feeling obligated and duty-bound, I do whatever is expected of my with a heavy heart and mind ablaze with aversion. A thousand thoughts red-hot with resentment affirm my righteous indignation and stoke the flames ever higher until anger overcomes me or, in the best cases, I patiently forebear. In the end though, what’s left but ashes and bitterness?

Why do I believe that I’m so special? Why, when I daily make asseverations to help all beings, am I so quick to resent those who need my help? Why do I cast myself as a victim of my own choices?

Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/29/2017

Insensitive

I’m finding myself lacking sensitivity and compassion recently. I find myself judging people who are suffering because, for some reason, I’ve decided that the causes for their suffering are foolish. What’s more, the methods that they use to overcome their pain (alcohol, drugs, partying) seem to justify my hardness of heart.

I’m disturbed by the arising of this insensitivity and cruelty but I’m not quite sure what to do. I will strive to counter these thoughts and feelings with karuna and hope to see more clearly soon. May all beings be free of suffering. May wisdom arise. May grief and heartbreak come to an end.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/28/2017

Am I Ready?

When death comes, will I be ready? In what pastures have I allowed this mind to roam? In what goodness have I trained it? Death may be only as far away as the next outbreath so why do I allow my heart to remain obsessed with the playthings of lust, hatred and delusion? Like a fool I go about my day never truly believing that death stalks me like a hunter its prey. Many loved ones have already passed from the human form I once knew and all others will as well in time. What excuse can I have for this ignorance?

May we awaken to the reality of death, separation and suffering and strive to put an end to it.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/26/2017

Remembrance of Death

Remembrance-of-Death

“Remembrance of death saves one from this world’s deceit.”
—Imam Ali (AS)

My wife and kids are away in Florida but are due to be back tonight. Whenever loved ones fly I am always anxious (this goes back to my childhood when my father would constantly fly all over creation). This time is no different except for the fact that I allowed my mind to expand upon what it would mean should there be a crash. In other words, I allowed myself to feel the pain of loss and separating and imagined how I would proceed.

You see, eventually we all must be separated from our loved ones. There is no denying or avoiding it. Saying it will be easier in the future is a hollow hope. How does loss strike you now that you’re an adult as compared to when you were a child? Is it easier? Harder? The same? You have to find these answers for yourself but there’s no escaping the dukkha of separation for an unenlightened one.

And yet, when it happens, how is it any different or more special than the losses faced by millions of parents and children? It helps to remember the stories of Patacara and Kisa Gotami and the advice of the Lord Buddha to them.

May I be gentle yet strong as an oak. May I honor all of my mothers, fathers and children from beginningless time by practicing rightly for ultimate liberation.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/23/2017

What Is Practice?

For as long as I have practiced in this life I have viewed it as an all or nothing affair. I either succeed and win liberation or I fail by falling far short. Needless to say, I fail every time I get up from the cushion or turn off the timer. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

I’m beginning to gain more faith in the idea that what I’m doing when I’m practicing is more akin to wearing ruts into the mind. I’m beginning to think of it as a way of orienting the heart towards certain ways of behaving so that there’s more of a probability that it will act in line with the Dhamma than not. It’s not black or white but maybe it is a constant admixing of white to black so that the gray is ever lighter.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/21/2017

Small Victory

Today as I was walking thru Union Square, an attractive woman caught my eye. But, this time, rather than simply being dragged around by my eyes, I felt a weariness arise. The thought that this desire would end in nothing more than agitation arose vividly before the mind’s eye and it was much easier to simply put the craving for more pleasant visual forms down.

Have I uprooted this likes a? Hardly, but it is a small victory to be built upon no less.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/20/2017

Remembrance

It occurred to me recently that I often times forget which training rules I’m observing on a daily basis, especially as the day runs on. Specifically, if I tend to forget if I’m observing brahmacariya or eating before noon. It served to me that simply by taking sometime in the middle of the day to recite my commitments I might strengthen my resolve and practice. I hope to make it a practice to recite my commitments daily after my midday meditation and to dedicate the merit as I’m inclined.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 12/19/2017

Finding Peace

In between the hourly outrages, the atrocities we commit upon one another as the myriad, petty humiliations and irritations of the household life, I have first and last to remember to incline my heart towards peace. What good is any of this striving and suffering if not dedicating to unbinding, to compassion, to release? If everything I do all day long is an attempt to scurry away from pain or snatch at pleasure, what good is this life?

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