Posted by: Upāsaka | 02/08/2016

Acceptance

The term “acceptance” is a difficult one for me especially in light of its frequent use in so-called spiritual discourse. Much of it had to do with my own vote of the path as a necessarily difficult one that requires a lot of effort and a definite rejection of complacency.

And yet, in my clearer moments, I can see the necessity of acceptance and hope it can function as a support to the path of striving. Much of the restlessness I have been feeling I believe can be attributed to a sense of discontent with my progress and the quality of my meditations as well as feeling slightly ill for the last week or so. Finding fault with the quality of concentration, with the quality of my effort and with just about everything has left me running from the present and into I know not what.  Lack of acceptance had become a real sense of desperation that is poison to my practice.

May I learn to accept the place where I find myself with love and kindness so that I may push onwards in pursuit of happiness and not out of aversion. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 02/06/2016

Restlessness

For quite some time now I have been afflicted by the hindrance of restlessness and not solely during formal meditation. Whether I am walking somewhere, listening to my wife talk or meditating on the breath I can, at times, be almost overcome work the feeling that I want to move on to the next thing and to be done with whatever is at hand. And, despite the fact that much of this has to do with my own conditioning I can’t help but think that the smartphone (from which I post) enables me to strengthen this particular type of unskillful behavior.

As a test then, I undertake not to look at my phone on my way to work for the next month to see just how hard it is. I know from experience that it is almost an obsession with me to check my phone and I feel the effects now creeping into every other aspect of my life. Wish me luck. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 02/03/2016

Fear

Last night we had a cub scout meeting and, for whatever reason, I had taken the lead again and decided to undertake the responsibility of setting up and operating the band saw to cut the cubs pine wood derby blocks. The meetings take place in an ancient Catholic Church and school and I had to descend several focus of stairs into the dark recesses of the building to find the saw and bring it up.

Strangely enough, a real fear of seeing something and of being watched crept up over me and I felt almost exactly as I have in my dreams when encountering petas. I literally had to force myself into the area near the meter room and illuminate the space in front of me with my phone to find the saw and quickly carry it away.

It was at that moment that I realized, in my still waking state, just how weak my practice is. If I can be completely thrown by this then what would I do if I actually saw something? I honestly don’t know why the feeling arose and it could just have easily been a result of my mind playing tricks on me but it still stands to reason that it is an area of weakeness. Our reminds me of the story of the monk in the Ajahn Mun bio that develop a fear of ghosts and decided to confront it had on by living in a charnel ground. The only charnel ground I have access to its my mind but I know at least what kind of work need to be done. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 02/01/2016

Dhamma Dad

I often see that many of us who are converts to the Dhamma take issue with raising our children according to its values. For better or worse, I’m not one of these people and that’s is nothing that gives me more joy than seeing my kids understand and rejoice in the Dhamma themselves.

My kids have been exposed to Dhamma in the form of the Theravadin tradition since before they were born. So, without ever even having to teach them they picked up on. “namo tassa bhagavato” and, with some little product and bribery my son can now record the Five Precepts in Pali and English.

These are great things but even better is to see him take not in the practice. This morning as we were walking up the stairs from the train to school we saw an older lady struggling with her bag. I told him to go help her and at first he was confused. “¿Como voy a ayudarle? Hope an I going to help her?” he asked. I told him just to help lift her bag so and wouldn’t struggle and he did.

The look of pride and happiness in his face let me know immediately that he understood and I took the opportunity to tell him a bit about dana-sila-bhavana but the real point and teaching was made in his heart.  May we all grow in the Dhamma.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/30/2016

Shortcoming

30. By three things the wise person may be known. What three? He sees a shortcoming as it is. When he sees it, he tries to correct it. And when another acknowledges a shortcoming, the wise one forgives it as he should.

Anguttara Nikaya I.103

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/29/2016

A Garland of Good Deeds

29. Many garlands can be made
From a heap of flowers.
Likewise, many good deeds can be done
By one born human.

Dhammapada 53

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/28/2016

A Nocturnal Visit

I have been trying to keep track of my dreams lately in the hopes of being able to practice even in sleep so, in a strange way, lay night’s disturbing dream was a victory.

I reveal looking at pictures or tarot cards with someone. As we were looking the woman with whom I was studying the cards said something to the effect of “My how scary!” I looked down to see a Polaroid in black and white with a livid of a family: a mother, daughter and son. As I looked the girl’s gave became distorted. We kept looking and now they’re were other pictures where wisps of white smoke were moving to create scary looking visages. I believe I began to come up into consciousness at that point and what struck me was that I needed to generate metta.

In the half waking state I first tried generating metta simply by using the parikamma I normally do. This failed so I tried chanting the Metta sutta in my mind. I didn’t have enough clarity to remember it but I did remember some blessings I have used in the past. I began repeating :

May there be every good blessing.
May the devas protect you.
Through all the power of the Buddha,
May you forever be well!

And so on for the Dhamma and Sangha. After some time this year receded and, if I was being visited, I hope the poor being was helped. I now recognize the need to really learn the parittas by heart so I will be working with chanting every night for at least fifteen minutes. May all beings be free from suffering. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/27/2016

Now

I haven’t been a fan of the teachings that emphasize the beauty of the moment for some time now. I mean, if you’re being mugged in the moment that is qualitatively different than enjoying a tea ceremony. And yet it seems I have gone a little too far to the other extreme and often view the days and hours as replaceable cogs in the production line is modern life. Say what you will but life in modern, consumerist in society takes a lot of the uncertainty away and replaces it with train schedules, doctor’s appointments and calendar requests. Sometimes it can seem like impermanence just doesn’t operate at this level of life but that is clearly delusion.

So, today as I walked to the train, I took stock and realized that no matter what I am never have this moment that’s happening now back.  Yes, now was cold, slushy and boring but it’s what I have to work with. May I not miss the opportunity again.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/26/2016

Forgetfulness

I can’t be sure good long it’s been going on but it certainly feels as though most of my sits have been plauged by restlessness lately. Each time I sit the mind immediately wanders off and I spend more time wandering than I do with the breath. Partly I think this has to do with the things that have been occupying the mind throughout the days but I think another reason is that I keep forgetting just how close I am to death in every moment.

A casein point is the fact that one of the only things that works to refocus the mind and heighten the effort is the recollection of death. By switching to the reflection on death when I am wandering and then returning to buddho I have been able to find a little more peace and calm in concentration. 

May I clearly see impermanence and realize that the myriad worries will all be snuffed out in the moment of my death.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/25/2016

A Believer

25. A believer can be recognised by three things. What three? He desires to see those who are virtuous; he desires to hear the good Dhamma; and with a heart free from stinginess, he lives at home generous, clean-handed, delighting in giving, one to ask a favour of, one who delights in sharing things with others.

Anguttara Nikaya I.150

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