This aspiration is perhaps point of this most difficult to understand and, I admit, that it took me sometime to don’t to my own understanding. You see, the inspiration for this training rule comes directly from the lojong slogan to “Drive all blames into one.”

As far as I have been able to understand this injunction it seems to mean that you take the blame for any situation upon yourself and free the other party from your own blame and animosity. This happens on an internal level so there is no worry regarding the 4th Precept. When it comes to responding to blame things become slightly more complicated.

A Dhamma friend on dhammawheel.com pointed out that to vernal accept blame for something you did not do would be tantamount to lying.  Of course he is right and it wouldn’t make sense to break the precepts in an effort to walk the path. So what could this aspiration mean here?

To me it would mean surrender and non-contention. If someone is blaming you for the loss of their ring and you know that you had nothing to do with it you could simply tell them you’re sorry it is lost, that you have no idea where it is and that you’ll help them find it. If they go further and demand that you buy a new one you can take it on yourself as an act of charity to do so. Extreme? Maybe but they’re is something thrilling and invigorating about aspiring to mine by such principles.

As much as I’m loathe to admit it, I find myself comparing myself often to my peers and, rather than cultivating a sense of appreciative joy for what they have (materially of course) I feel pangs of jealousy and covetousness. In addition to being envious of others’ material circumstances I think what is even more pernicious and common for me is to feel invidious of my peers’ spiritual success and gains.

This seems to me the most destructive of proclivities because it is only through the practice of teachers and students stretching over millennia that I have even met with the Dhamma. May I remember this and reflect frequently on the blessings of others, especially those practicing paths to purity.

The title of today’s post is the last of the voluntary, Abhaya-cariya training rule I’ve decided for myself. Once again, I’m going to try to work my way through each here as a way of working out how they may function in daily life and help me to become a more generous, compassionate person and thereby prepare the mind and heart for samadhi and pañña.

What does it mean to give help whenever it is asked? Of course it could mean to do whatever you’re asked to do which could range from helping a friend move to murdering someone. Obviously the five precepts trump all but I’m convinced that whatever wisdom one had must needs be brought to bear on the situation as well. In other words, the help that is given may not always mirror exactly that which was requested but the request will be met with love and concern and wholeheartedly engaged with. That really is the best I can do and would be something of which I would feel proud. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 05/01/2016

Returning to Abhaya-Cariya

Just got back from from our camping vacation with a renewed sense of commitment to turning my daily life into a more rigorous training ground for sila and the paramis. The idea of formulating training rules to deal with my own defilements and focus on the cultivation of those qualities that need additional work. I hope to recite them daily in order to keep them better in mind. Of course, they are to be viewed as supplements to the 8 Lifetime Precepts. We’ll see how these evolve but, for now, here they are:

 

  1. I undertake the training rule to protect living beings wherever I find them.
  2. I undertake the training rule to abstain from the consumption of flesh.
  3. I undertake the training rule to perform one act of charity everyday.
  4. I undertake the training rule to keep my surroundings clean and orderly as an act of service to all.
  5. I undertake the training rule to care for the sick, helpless, infirm and elderly in whatever ways I can.
  6. I undertake the training rule to refrain from intentionally exposing myself to any media that inflame lust.
  7. I undertake the training rule to refrain from being alone with a member of the opposite sex who is not my partner.
  8. I undertake the training rule to speak only what I know to be true and to remain silent when I am unsure.
  9. I undertake the training rule to speak well of others, dwelling on their good qualities.
  10. I undertake the training rule to seek out and wholeheartedly engage with situations and people that I find difficult and troublesome.
  11. I undertake the training rule to refrain from speaking when angered or irritated.
  12. I undertake the training rule to live frugally and consume mindfully.
  13. I undertake the training rule to be cultivate the perception of gratitude and contentment at all times.
  14. I undertake the training rule to immediately forgive any harm done to me.
  15. I undertake the training rule to be a peacemaker — promoting harmony and concord whenever there is conflict or disagreement.
  16. I undertake the training rule to accept all blame and responsibility without hesitation.
  17. I undertake the training rule cultivate appreciation of the good qualities of others’ and abandon jealousy.
  18. I undertake the training rule to abstain from comparing myself to or competing with others.
Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/25/2016

He Who Would Nurse Me

115. Now at that time, a certain monk was suffering from dysentery, and lay where he had fallen in his own excrement. The Lord and Ananda were visiting the lodgings and they came to where the sick monk lay, and the Lord asked him: “Monk, what is wrong with you?”
“I have dysentery.”
“Is there no one to look after you?”
“No, Lord.”
“Then why is it that the other monks don’t look after you?”
“It is because I am of no use to them, Lord.”
Then the Lord said to Ananda: “Go and fetch water. We will wash this monk.” So, Ananda brought water and the Lord poured it out while Ananda washed the monk all over. Then taking the monk by the head and feet, the Lord and Ananda together carried him and laid him on a bed. Later, the Lord called the monks together and asked them: “Why, monks, did you not look after that sick monk?”
“Because he was of no use to us, Lord.”
“You have no mother or father to take care of you. If you do not look after each other, who else will? He who would nurse me, let him nurse the sick.”

Vinaya IV.301

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/22/2016

Dissemble in Metta

Lately I’ve been noticing a lot of aversion coming up around social obligations and interactions with friends and family. It seems that I just want to be left alone when I want to be left alone and surrounded by loving peers when it suits me. Obviously this is a crazy thing to ask of life but it’s precisely where my desires impel me.

Thinking about all of this I’ve come to realize that there may may be a place for skillful dissemblance in the form of restraint. Restraint with regard to speech especially and less so in terms of thought and action. Now I’m not saying that one should pretend to love a situation by extolling its supposed virtues but I am advocating for keeping one’s mouth shut and trying to regain from giving nonverbal cues indicating one’s displeasure.

And why so much ado?  Simply to spare the feelings of others and express affection despite momentary discomfort. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/21/2016

Always an Opportunity

Today’s verses hit home and served as a great reminder that every situation can be turned into a teaching moment.

111. At that time, the Lord, having stayed as long as he liked at Benares, set out for Uruvela. Then turning off the road, he entered a woodland grove and sat down at the foot of a tree. Now at that time a group of about thirty friends of high standing and their wives were enjoying themselves in that same woodland. One of the friends had no wife, so a prostitute had been brought along for him, and while they were enjoying themselves she took their belongings and run away. So these friends began looking around for the woman and as they roamed about they saw the Lord at the foot of a tree. They approached him and asked: “Lord, have you seen a woman?”
“What, young men, have you to do with a woman?”
So they told the Lord what had happened and why they were looking for the woman. And the Lord said to them: “What do you think? Which is better? To seek for this woman or to seek for yourself?”
“Well then, sit down and I will teach you Dhamma.”
So those friends sat down and the Lord gave a progressive talk, that is to say, on virtue, heaven, the danger, the futility and the depravity of sense pleasures and the advantages of giving them up.
Then, when the Lord knew that their minds were ready, malleable, free from hindrance, uplifted and gladdened, he explained to them the teaching which is unique to the Buddhas-suffering, its cause, its overcoming and the way to its overcoming.

Vinaya IV.23

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/20/2016

What’s it worth?

This morning I opened yesterday’s mail and got a pretty nasty surprise: a six thousand dollar medical bill. Mornings are stressful enough but this news threatened to send me directly over the edge. Fortunately, I was able to catch myself before I was tempted into acting unskillfully.

I considered the following: what is worse? An erroneous $6k bill or the akusala kamma of acting and speaking based on anger. Luckily the calculus was an easy one and it was just really enough to help me out the brakes on.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/19/2016

The Dhamma Mirror

109. I will teach you the Mirror of Dhamma which, if someone possesses, he may confidently say: “Rebirth in hell as an animal or a ghost is impossible for me. I am a Stream-Winner, safe from falling into misery; I am bound for enlightenment.”
And what is the Mirror of the Dhamma? Concerning this, a noble disciple has unwavering faith in the Buddha and thinks: “Such indeed is the Lord – a Noble One, a fully enlightened Buddha, with perfect knowledge and conduct, happily attained, a knower of the worlds, guide unsurpassed of men to be tamed, a teacher of gods and men, a Buddha, the Lord.”
He has unwavering faith in the Dhamma and thinks: “Beautifully taught is the Lord’s Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise each for himself.”
He has unwavering faith in the Sangha and thinks: “Happily faring are the Lord’s disciples, straightforwardly faring are the Lord’s disciples, correctly faring are the Lord’s disciples, methodically faring are the Lord’s disciples – namely, the four pairs of individuals, the eight types of persons. These disciples of the Lord are worthy of offerings, hospitality, gifts, salutations with folded hands; they are an incomparable source of goodness in the world.” Also, he has the virtues that are loved by the Noble Ones – complete, perfect, spotless and pure, virtues that are freeing, praised by the wise, uninfluenced by worldly concerns and conducive to concentration.

Digha Nikaya II.93

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/18/2016

Practice for the Dead

I don’t know why but I found myself looking at photos of the WTC today on 9/11 and stumbled across the pics of people who jumped after the planes hit. Seeing those photos brought me immediately back to the feelings of despair and hopelessness I felt all those years ago and there was a chest crushing sadness that accompanied the whole experience.

Of course dedicating merit is a response in line with the Dhamma but I also found myself inspired to record the Ksitigarbha mantra out of the wish that any restless spirits so lingering on there might be guided to the Dhamma and out of suffering.  Who knows if this actually helps but the intention that it reinforced in my own heart and mind were justification enough.

Strange how these connections happen.

Sabbe sattaa sabba dukkha pamuccantu!

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