Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/03/2015

A Mind Filled with Love

184. And how does one dwell pervading one direction with a mind filled with love? Just as one would feel love for a loving, pleasant person, like this one pervades all beings with love. And concerning this, what is love? That which in beings is love, the act of love, the state of love, love that is free from ill-will.
And how does one dwell pervading one direction with a mind filled with compassion? Just as one would feel compassion for a miserable or evil person, like this one pervades all beings with compassion. And concerning this, what is compassion? That which in beings is compassion, the act of being compassionate, the state of being compassionate, compassion that is free from cruelty.
And how does one dwell pervading one direction with a mind filled with sympathetic joy? Just as one would feel joyful for a lovely, pleasant person, like this one pervades all beings with sympathetic joy. And concerning this, what is sympathetic joy? That which in beings is sympathetic joy, the act of sympathetic joy, the state of sympathetic joy, sympathetic joy that is free from envy.
And how does one dwell pervading one direction with a mind filled with equanimity? Just as one would feel equanimity for a person neither pleasant nor unpleasant, like this one pervades all beings with equanimity. And concerning this, what is equanimity? That which in beings is equanimity, the act of equanimity, the state of equanimity, equanimity that is free from distress.

Vibhanga 272

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/01/2015

Happy Uposatha However You Observe It

Today is the Uposatha day according to the Thai Dhammayut order whose calendar I follow. For years I have observed whenever I could find the strength and wherewithal to do so but, I have to admit,  that the last few years have seen me observing less consistently than I would like. Partially this had to do with work and familial obligations but, even more so, i believe it has to do with my own all or nothing approach and a misordering of priorities.

Tale for example today’s observance: I am observing the fast of Ramadhan all  month long out respect for the family’s tradition which would normally mean I would forgo the Uposatha. And even though it wouldn’t be a “perfect” observado I have lately come to the conclusion that even if I try to follow the other seven precepts and make the day one of deepened and sustained practice it would be for the better.

So,  I wish all of you a happy and fruitful Uposatha regardless of how you choose to observe it or not. Sukhita hontu!

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/30/2015

Repaying One’s Parents

181. There are two people you can never repay. What two? Your father and your mother.
Even if you were to carry them on your back and live a hundred years, supporting them, anointing them with medicines, bathing and massaging their limbs and wiping up their excrement after them, even this would not repay them. Even if you were to give them absolute rule over the whole world, this would not repay them. And why? Because parents do much for their children – they bring them up, nourish them, they introduce them to the world.
But whoever encourages his unbelieving parents to believe, his immoral parents to be virtuous, his stingy parents to be generous, his foolish parents to be wise, such a one by so doing does repay, does more than repay his parents.

Anguttara Nikaya I.61

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/29/2015

Monday Morning

It’s  an early Monday morning and it makes the first weekday of my kids’ summer vacation which is why I’m standing on a more or less abandoned platform at 6:30pm waiting for a Brooklyn bound train. I don’t know if it’s simply too little sleep, the cumulative effect of fasting for Ramadhan or something else entirely but I am feeling confused and uninspired this morning,  not sure of how to practice with it.

This,   however,  is a familiar enough theme and from long acquaintance I can intuit that what is really called for its acceptance and openness. So,  bear with it I will until things settle and I can see a little more clearly what is happening. Until then equanimity for the experience,  loving-kindness to all,  compassion for the suffering and appreciation of the good fortunes of others. In this way I should be in good stead to work with whatever arises.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/28/2015

Buddhist Business Ethics

I have spent most of the night working on the private forum for Parisa Abhaya Dana (PAD) and one of the sub-fora (yes, I am that pedantic to use the correct nominative plural form) is entitle Dhamma in the Workplace. One of the last things I worked on before turning to walking mediation was to scour the net looking for various professional organizations which describe themselves as Buddhist. This must have been on mind because, as I paced back and forth, the thought occurred to me that I have very often wished my competitors less than well. In other words, I have allowed myself to indulge in lines of thinking that could be described as un-Buddhist at best and completely reprehensible at worst.

I have toyed with the idea of trying to cultivate mudita for rival businesses and have had some success but it seems that I have never put the requisite effort into it to change my habitual view. As a result I have unwisely rejoiced in their failures and heedlessly sought to steal away their market-share, thereby depriving men and women no different from myself of a livelihood. Now, I ask you, how is this any different than outright theft? How is this samma ajiva? Clearly it’s not but the most surprising part is that I had somehow managed to wall this part of my life off from the rest of my practice and proceed as if the laws of kamma were somehow suspended when I set foot in the office or opened my computer to start work.

So it is that I am thankful for the encouragement to continue with the PAD project because, whether or not others decide it is of use to them, it has helped to throw more light on all aspects of my life as an upasaka whether they be at home with my wife and kids, at work or in society at large (which in my case is decidedly un-Buddhist). May I seek to cultivate mudita for the success of my competitors by reflecting on the fact that they too want only happiness and do not want to suffer. Sabbe satta yatha laddha sampattito maviggacchantu!

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/27/2015

Friendship with the Beautiful

178. Just as the dawn is the forerunner, the herald of the arising of the sun – so too, friendship with the beautiful is the forerunner, the herald of the arising of the Noble Eightfold Path. When one is a friend of the beautiful, it may be expected that he will cultivate and develop the Noble Eightfold Path.

Samyutta Nikaya V.28

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/26/2015

Losing Sight of My Intention

In the last few days I have been working as much as possible on setting up the groundwork for the Parisa Abhaya Dana but I now find myself questioning my motives and intentions. When I sit and look at my original motivation I see mostly skilful resolves. In short, I wanted to provide a place for myself and other so-called serious practitioners to encourage and inspire to perform acts of disassociate Dhamma virtuosity but,  as both Venerables Bhikkhu Bodhi and Pesala have pointed out,  the internet may not be the best place for it.

And yet, not everyone has access to fellow Dhamma-farers in their area so maybe it is a good idea after all and the Venerable Cintita seemed to think it was a good idea as well. I suppose I’m just uncomfortable with the idea that I, alone, am making decisions about how to form a group to fill a need when I really haven’t yet gotten the opinions of a few trusted confidants. So, I put it to you. Does a group like the one I am proposing make sense? Is there call for it? Please take a look at an early draft below and let me know what you think:

Parisa Abhaya Dana

“With regard to external factors, I don’t envision any other single factor like friendship with admirable people as doing so much for a monk in training, who has not attained the heart’s goal but remains intent on the unsurpassed safety from bondage. A monk who is a friend with admirable people abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful.”
— Iti 17

Parisa Abhaya Dana is lay Buddhist organization committed to providing kalyanamittata (admirable friendship) for its membership to allow each member to realize the Dhamma in their lives according to their disposition, desires and ability.

Membership

Membership is free and open to all provided that every prospective kalyanamitta meets the following requirements and agrees to a three-month probationary period (postulant):

  • Has gone for refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha either formally or by reciting the traditional Pali formula.
  • Is currently observing, to the best of their ability, the Five or Nine Lifetime Precepts.

 

  1. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life
  2. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given
  3. I undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual misconduct
  4. I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech
  5. I undertake the training rule to abstain from malicious speech
  6. I undertake the training rule to abstain from harsh speech
  7. I undertake the training rule to abstain from useless speech
  8. I undertake the training rule to abstain from wrong livelihood
  9. I undertake the training rule to abstain from drinks and drugs that cause heedlessness

 

  • Has a formal meditation practice (i.e., sitting or walking meditation) of at least 15 minutes per session, five days a week.

Grades of the Order

In order to promote ever greater ethical culture (sila parami) members will take the follow grades according to the number of precepts they are working to uphold:

 

  1. Panchachari: Five Precept holder.
  2. Navachari: Nine Precept Holder
  3. Atthachari: Eight (Uposatha) Precept Holder
  4. Dasachari: Ten Precept Holder

The above grades are not meant to imply rank although they should inspire kalyanamittas to strive towards ethical perfection.

Mission

The mission of the Parisa Abhaya-Dana (Community of Giving Fearlessness) is threefold:

  1. To provide its members with access to a community of like-minded individuals (whether it be virtual by means of the internet or in person) so that each member can grow in the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha and taste the fruits of the practice.
  2. To provide material support to the bhikkhu and bhikkhuni sangha to ensure that the Dhamma and Vinaya continue to thrive and become firmly established in the Western world.
  3. To encourage charity, service and ethical conduct in society at large with the understanding that the dana and sila are the bedrock of the Path.

Implementation

Although we believe that fellowship and friendships formed in person provide the most benefits, we understand that many Buddhist practitioners in the West often find themselves geographically isolated from their fellow Dhamma-farers. As such, we will seek to provide an online forum where we can discuss, encourage and explore the Dhamma as well as to attempt to create real life meetings between kalyanamittas.

We will use our online forum http://s15.zetaboards.com/Parisa_Abhaya_Dana/index/ as a virtual meeting space as well as a template upon which to develop a structure for local groups.

 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/25/2015

Parisa Abhaya Dana

For better or worse, it seems that my search for a lay Buddhist organization which would meet the needs of the monastic Sangha, provide encouragement for growth in the Dhamma to its members and offer them a variety of ways to provide service in the spirit of the Dhamma had resulted  in a decision I was fain to take: I am taking on the task of getting one started. I will be posting the rough draft we have of our mission statement or manifesto shortly but for now I just wanted to introduce the Parisa Abhaya Dana (the Community of Giving a Fearlessness). Currently,  there are only two of us but this is fine since we need to iron out the technicalities and wait to hear back from all of the bhikkhu and bhikkhunis to whom I have reached out for advice.

Who knows of this project will be successful but that really isn’t the point. The idea is to bring like minded Dhamma-farers together so that we can all learn and grow while doing good for the society at large. If they’re is no wider interest that can sustain such a group so be it but without trying we will never know.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/24/2015

Happy Uposatha -The Thrill of Giving

Today is an Uposatha but,  since it is Ramadhan, I’m not observing. That doesn’t stop me, however, from supporting anyone who is. But,  I digress. I want to turn again to the role that dana had been playing in my own practice and emphasize just how much joy I have been deriving from it.

I have made a tacit agreement with myself to try to perform one act of charity and service to someone everyday. Granted, this is not always possible but it is invigorating to see that the heart is in constant search of a recipient of its metta and karuna. Last night I had to step out to pick something up from the store and I realized I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to give. On my way into the store I passed by and older gentleman hunched over a cardboard sign on which he had scrawled his plea for help. He had bandages on hours seem and seemed to be sleeping or in a stupor. Immediately my mind began searching for the best way to help him.

Making my way through the aisles, my thoughts raced through the options: should I buy him a soda? No, he surely doesn’t need al of that caffeine and sugar.  A coffee drink?  No, most of those have milk and who knows of he’s allergic. Nuts? Same issue. Eventually i decoded on iced tea and, while walking around,  I noticed they sold ponchos too. Since it was raining and he was sitting out in the open with one a tee sorry and jeans I bought that for him as well. At this point i was nervous; perhaps he didn’t need or wouldn’t want the poncho and massive he didn’t like iced tea. Fortunately,  I quickly countered the thought by reflecting on the fact that I can only control my intentions, not the reactions of others.

Walking out of the store I had to gently rouse him to offer the poncho and tea wick he accepted. The best part for me  was when i had to help him figure out how to put the ponchoon simply due to the connection we shared in that moment. And,  once he was good I bade him well and left. Yes,  it was a small thing but my heart is yet aglow even now. Sabbe Satta Sukhita hontu!

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/23/2015

Kalyanamittata

“With regard to external factors, I don’t envision any other single factor like friendship with admirable people as doing so much for a monk in training, who has not attained the heart’s goal but remains intent on the unsurpassed safety from bondage. A monk who is a friend with admirable people abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful.”
— Iti 17

I have been puzzling over this impulse to find or even create a lay Buddhist organization that would serve both as a ground for personal development in the Dhamma as well as promote acts of charity and service in line with the Teachings and in the spirit of the brahmaviharas. What I am beginning to see is that I need to make  a fat gayer effort at cultivating those friendships and acquaintances I already have. To do otherwise strokes me as disingenuous and wrong. May I seek to associate evermore work the wise and leave the company of fools.

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