I don’t know whether to rightly call it complacency but I have been allowing circumstances to get the better of me and have not been putting forth the same effort as I have become accustomed to in formal practice. I suppose, creeping somewhere in the background, there is a sense of failure and self-judgement about having given up the abhaya-cariya practices for a bit which has colored everything else. I think I need to make the firm resolve to practice at 6am and 11am during the week and at 6 am on the weekends in order to start rebuilding my practice. Wish me luck.
303. Truly, those who are good people are thankful and grateful.
I was surprised to see this passage pop up this morning when I opened my phone on the train to Brooklyn with my son. Whether it was simply good timing or something more I feel I needed this reminder. The fact that we can gauge our development and goodness by our capacity to be thankful for the people and things in our lives, especially when they don’t measure up to our notions is both encouraging and sobering. Encouraging because it provides a good yardstick for our practice and sobering, in my case, because I see just how far I have to go. Nonetheless this teaching, like all the Dhamma, is something to be grateful for.
302. There are these five timely gifts. What five? One gives to the one who has just arrived, to one who is leaving, to the sick, when food is hard to get, and the first-fruits of field and orchard one gives to the virtuous.
Life has been incredibly hectic and the weekend passed before I had a moment to write. Between nit-picking, chemistry, soccer and pre-Halloween festivities there’s been little time. And yet I feel that there is somewhat of a shift; a reawakening of commitment spurred by a timely reminder of the nature of reality and its inherent instability. Thank Ayya for your advice.
Contemplating anicca naturally led me to return to the five subjects for frequent recollection and I have found a surprising account of power in then that I had somehow forgotten along the way. Come what may it seems I always return to these most basic and terse teachings of the Lord simply due to their real power and the unassailable truth they express. Sukhita hontu!
Speaking to many wife this morning about global climate change she mentioned the fact that much of the green house gas that is heating our planet is produced by cattle. I know methane is much more capable of trapping heat and have heard similar reports before so I am inclined to believe it. Regardless of the particulars it’s pretty clear that our kilesas are at the root of our problems witg a special emphasis on greed.
So many cultures and religions speak of ages of decadence where the world descends into darkness and strife as a result of general immorality and it seems to me that tg e destruction and impending cataclysm we are facing is the resilt of just such licentiousness. In my honest but admittedly pessimistic opinion I don’t see much hope for us getting out of the mess we’ve made as millions of people cannot be expected to curb their desires or work for the benefit of all. Maywe use what time is left to practice the Teachings and do our best not to cause suffering. Sabbe satta sabba dukkha pamuccantu.
296. Say one dwells contemplating the body – ardent, clearly conscious and mindful – having put aside the attraction and repulsion of the world. As he does this, either some bodily feeling arises, bodily discomfort arises, or drowsiness scatters his thoughts to external things. Then his attention should be directed to some pleasurable object or thought. Having done that, delight springs up in him; being delighted, happiness arises, and the mind that is happy is concentrated. Then he thinks: “The aim on which I set my mind is now attained. Come, let me withdraw my mind from that pleasant thought.” So, he withdraws his mind from that, and neither starts nor carries on thought processes.
Samyutta Nikaya V.155
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.
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.
“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.
“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
- Abyapajjo homi
- Anigho homi
- Daily Practice
- Formal Meditation
- Meditation Word
- Practice at Work
- Restlessness and Remorse
- Sammā Vācā
- Sensual Desire