Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/22/2014

Lice

You read it right: lice. My wife and children have got them (I have been spared so far by a bald pate) and it has been a nightmare. Of course there is the standard suffering caused by the rigors of infection control to try to prevent the spread of the critters but there is also the fact the controlling means taking life.

Whether it’s been moth infestations, bedbugs or roaches it seems the only way to deal with beings is by killing them. And although I have not directly like a louse I have applied creams and removed nits galore. How do I justify it? Quite simply I don’t. And I have ceased to try. What is better (I think) is to be honest about what I am doing and recognize I am breaking the precepts. In the interim I will do all I can to prevent such conditions from arising again.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/20/2014

Remembering Our Goodness

I have been (happily) returning often to the thought of one good deed that I have been committed to doing on a weekly basis this morning. I’m not quite sure what sparked the repeated recollection but just having the thought there as a touchstone throughout the morning seems to have brightened the mind and eased the burden a bit. Of course I could be mistaken but this is the ccorrelation that immediately comes to mind.

Regardless of this specific case,  the Lord did advise us to reflect upon our goodness from time to time to give us heart and encouragement along the way. So I have dusted off my merit book once more and ask determined to fill it for the benefit of myself and others.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/20/2014

Gratitude: Katannu Sutta

“Monks, I will teach you the level of a person of no integrity and the level of a person of integrity. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak.”

“As you say, lord,” the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, “Now what is the level of a person of no integrity? A person of no integrity is ungrateful & unthankful. This ingratitude, this lack of thankfulness, is advocated by rude people. It is entirely on the level of people of no integrity. A person of integrity is grateful & thankful. This gratitude, this thankfulness, is advocated by civil people. It is entirely on the level of people of integrity.”
Somehow I feel that the way out of this full has everything to do with cultivating gratitude and contentment and seeing how much energy I have been putting into getting. There is banjo medicine like true Dhamma so I hope you’ll forgive me for sharing yet another sutta.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/19/2014

Ganda Sutta: A Boil

“Monks, it’s just as if there were a boil that had been building for many years with nine openings, nine un-lanced heads. Whatever would ooze out from it would be an uncleanliness oozing out, a stench oozing out, a disgust oozing out. Whatever would be discharged from it would be an uncleanliness discharging, a stench discharging, a disgust discharging.

“‘A boil,’ monks, is another word for this body composed of the four properties, born of mother & father, fed on rice & porridge, subject to inconstancy, rubbing & massaging, breaking-up & disintegrating. It has nine openings, nine un-lanced heads. Whatever would ooze out from it would be an uncleanliness oozing out, a stench oozing out, a disgust oozing out. Whatever would be discharged from it would be an uncleanliness discharging, a stench discharging, a disgust discharging. For that reason, you should become disenchanted with this body.”

Ganda Sutta: A Boil
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/16/2014

Heaven and Hell

When it comes to the subject of rebirth I am an unabashed literalist. I really do believe that there are heaven and hell realms that one it’s born into after death as a result of one’s actions here. So why is it that I can at times be so willingto these myself into the gaping maw of Hell?

There are times when I feel as if unskillful actions would be nigh unto impossible for me to commit and others when every thought seems to bring me closer to hellfire. This morning I found myself literally failing out to the devata for help and protection as I felt incapable of fending for myself. Frankly I don’t know what to do in these cases except for to wait it out if I have the strength. Fortunately today I did but I fear that one day I will be dragged to the abyss by these kilesas.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/15/2014

Happiest in All the World

288. At one time, the Lord was staying near Alavi, at the cow path in the Simsapa Grove, lodging on the leaf-strewn ground. Now, Hatthaka of Alavi was walking about, and he saw the Lord seated among the leaves. He approached him and asked: “Pray, sir, do you live happily?”
“Yes, my boy, I live happily. Of all the people in the world, I am the happiest.”
“But sir, these winter nights are cold – the dark half of the month is a time of frost. The ground has been trampled hard by the cattle’s hooves; the carpet of fallen leaves is thin. There are few leaves on the trees, your yellow robe is thin, and the winds blow cold.”
“Despite this, I still live happily. I will ask you a question; answer as you wish. What do you think? Suppose a man has a house with a gabled roof, plastered inside and out with well-fitting doors and windows. Inside is a couch spread with a long fleeced woollen rug, a bedspread of white wool, a cover embroidered with flowers, spread with a costly antelope skin, with a canopy overhead, and scarlet cushions at each end. The lamp is burning and four wives wait on him with all their charms. Would such a man be happy or not?”
“Yes, sir, he would be happy.”
“Well, what do you think? Is it not possible that distress of body and mind due to greed, hatred or delusion could arise in him, causing him to feel unhappy?”
“Yes, sir, that is possible.”
“Well, my boy, that greed, hatred and delusion that could cause distress of body and mind has been abandoned by the Tathagata, cut off at the root, made like a palm tree stump that cannot grow again in the future. And that is why I live happily.”

Anguttara Nikaya I.136

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/14/2014

Where’s the Rug?

I truly feel as if the rug has been pulled from under my feet and am more or less flailing around trying to find some way to ease the existential ache and get some true rest. So far I have managed to maintain the semblance of my formal practice but two days went by without posting and I didn’t even realize it. Something is off but I just can’t put my finger on it.

What choice do I have but to push ahead though? I have let so many practice commitments go already and find myself struggling to do the bear minimum so I think that, for the time being at least, it would be best to formally renounce everything but the essentials and begin building again. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/11/2014

Simplicity

284. Conquer anger with love,
Evil with good,
Meanness with generosity,
And lies with truth.

Dhammapada 223

When the higher teachings seem so far out of reach and the idea of Nibbana unattainable the simplicity of the teachings in the Dhammapada soothes a weary heart and fraught mind.
May we cultivate the good, restrain ourselves from evil and purify the mind.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/10/2014

The Elixir

I have been having a rough go of it lately for no reason in particular apart from the obvious attribution of everything that happens to my kamma. I have been failing to maintain my practice commitments and this, along with the general lack of energy, had conspired to leave me pretty desperate from time to time. And yet, through it all my touchstone had been the Dhamma and whatever meditation I can scramble together every morning.

It surely had not been pretty but slowly the realization is dawning that kindness, compassion and acceptance are the only lasting solutions. How is it that I forget it time and again when this magic elixir lies so close to hand? May we yet ourselves with the same kindness that we wish to lavish upon others.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/09/2014

When to Speak about the Dhamma

281. The Venerable Sariputta said: “When one who teaches wishes to teach another, let him establish well five things and then teach. What five?
Let him think: ‘I will speak at the right time, not at the wrong time. I will speak about what is, not about what is not. I will speak with gentleness, not with harshness. I will speak about the goal, not about what is not the goal. I will speak with a mind filled with love, not with a mind filled with ill-will.’ When one who teaches wishes to teach another, let him establish well these five things.”

Anguttara Nikaya III.195

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