Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/20/2016


This morning I took the opportunity to use my daily sit to focus on the charnel ground meditation as guided by Ajahn Achalo. This is a practice which I have experimented with over the years and I have even used the guided meditation he recorded at least a couple of times in the past. This morning, however, was a completely different experience. 

Whether because I have been spending more time on formal mediation, a result of my increased earnesty or something else, I was able to clearly visualize my body in various states of decomposition. I was surprised by the level of discomfort and noticed how I was unconsciously holding my breath as I visualized my body bloating and decaying. Were it not for the Ajahn’s reminders to breathe I may have even passed out. 

The more time I spend on asubha meditations the more I realize just how important they are for someone drowning in pleasant sense objects. It’s interesting to note that I had to force myself to do the charnel ground meditation this morning because I was really hankering after the warmth of metta. Yet another reason that one shouldn’t always follow one’s preferences nor what feels good when trying to wall the path. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/19/2016


292. At that time there was a fierce elephant in Rajagaha, a man- killer called Nalagiri. Then Devadatta entered Rajagaha and went to the elephant stable and said to the mahouts: “I am a relative of the king. I am capable of putting one who is in low position into a high position, and of bringing about an increase in food and wages. So, my good fellows, when the recluse Gotama is coming along the carriage road, let loose Nalagiri and send him down the road.”
“Very well, honoured sir,” those mahouts said to Devadatta.
In the morning the Lord dressed, and taking his robe, entered the city for alms-food, together with several other monks. As they went down the road, the mahouts released Nalagiri. He saw the Lord coming in the distance, and lifting up his trunk and making his ears and tail erect, he rushed towards him. The monks saw Nagaliri coming and said to the Lord: “Lord, this elephant is a fierce man-killer. Turn back.”
“Do not be afraid, monks, for it is impossible, it cannot happen that someone could kill the Tathagata; the Tathagata cannot attain final Nirvana due to violence.”
A second and third time they spoke to the Lord. People climbed on to the roofs of the houses, waiting. Those with little faith, those who were not believers, said: “This great recluse is beautiful indeed, but he will be harmed by this bull elephant.” But those with faith, those who were believers, said: “Good sirs, soon this bull elephant will confront a truly great being.” Then the Lord suffused Nalagiri with a mind full of love, and the elephant lowered his trunk, went up to the Lord, and stood beside him. The Lord stroked Nagaliri’s forehead with his right hand and addressed these verses to him:

O elephant, do not strike a truly great being,
For to do so is painful indeed.

For one who slays a great being, O elephant,
There is no good rebirth, when one departs from here.

Be not proud, be not reckless,
Or there will be no good rebirth.
Act in such a way as to have a good rebirth.

Then Nalagiri took dust from the Lord’s feet with his trunk, and sprinkled it over his own head, and then backed away bowing while he kept his gaze on the Lord. He returned to the stable and stood in his own place, and in this way was finally tamed. Then people at that time sang this verse:

Some are tamed by sticks, by goads or by whips.
The elephant was tamed by the great seer,
Without stick or weapon.

People disparaged and criticised Devadatta widely, saying: “This Devadatta is evil and inauspicious in that he tried to murder the recluse Gotama who is of such great psychic power and majesty.” And Devadatta’s reputation declined while the Lord’s grew.

Vinaya V.195

Shared via Buddha Vacana for Android

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/18/2016

Panca Kamatthana

This morning I planned to work on asubha meditation and ended up doing a guided practice using the first five body parts (hence the title of this post). I will have to pay the bhikkhuni’s name who guided the practice but you can find her on’s app as well. 

After an uposatha I have more than average lust that arises (and, on average, it seems to arise almost incessantly) so, fearing a fall, I’ve decided to spend more time contemplating the body add an antidote. Yesterday I listened to s talk by Ajahn Martin of Wat Baan Tad who destined the practice in detail and said that if it doesn’t feel uncomfortable you’re just playing around. This morning’s reflections certainly weren’t horseplay by that definition and the level of discomfort I felt made me even more curious and interested in perusing the theme. So far, although it’s still a struggle, the reflections have helped me to stay grounded and resist the temptation to allow my senses to wander where they will. Oh, and it helps to have taken the third uposatha precept  once  more today. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/17/2016

Cooling Down

I’ve always noticed that, after periods of increased intensity, whether it be an uposatha day observance or a retreat, the kilesas seem to return with a renewed vigor. For me, the two that strike back with redoubled strength are ill will and sexual desire. Luckily, years of practicing the uposatha on and off have at least prepared me to expect a backlash. 

And yet, until now I haven’t really taken steps to make for a smoother reentry. Many times I will over indulge in foods, entertainments and the like and swiftly wipe away any progress I may have made. This morning, fearing that, I decided to take on the third uposatha precept for the day. In the future I may take on a few others as a way of reading back in. 

I am determined to make this life count for something and the uposatha is one excellent way of doing that. May All beings met with the Dhamma and enter the stream. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/16/2016

Uposatha Day – Beginning Anew

Maybe it’s the stars or just an abundance of good kamma but my zeal for the practice is definitely in flow. It could also be the result of reflecting recently on anicca and realizing that there’s really nothing ever there to grasp because it’s just so fleeting. Upset about a situation? Wait a minute and it will change and be gone forever. Infatuated with someone? Give them some time and they’ll disappoint and change too. But, if we meet these fleeting moments with impatience and without wisdom we can surely make a mess of our lives and everyone else’s by acting unskillfully and heaping up akusala kamma.

Anyway, today s an uposatha day in the Thai Forest reckoning (I believe yesterday was Vap Poya in Sri Lanka) and I took the precepts this morning in front of my altar. I intende o faithfully observe the uposatha for as long as I have the strength of body and mind and I figure there’s no time like the present to begin anew and recommit myself to the Dhamma. So, in addition to my daily practice aspirations (here) I am recommitting to a daily practice commitment which is as follows:

  • Morning chanting of refuges, precepts, reflections & aspirations.
  • 2 hours of formal seated and walking meditation.
  • 1000 repetitions of ” Namo Buddhaya” mantra
  • Listen to a Dhamma talk.
  • Read a verse of Buddha Vacana.
  • Post here with an issue related to my practice of the Dhamma.
Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/16/2016

The Buddhist Occult

The title of today’s post is, at face value, oxymoronic. The Lord Buddha explicitly stated that he held nothing back from his disciples. In other words, in the Pali Canon one can find no support for occluded or esoteric teachings. And yet, they exist in the many forms of Buddhist practice in the world today. Some of these forms of esoteric Buddhism are more honest about their origins and seem to tacitly acknowledge that, although they operate within the framework of the Dhamma, they are not paths taught by the Lord Buddha himself. If anything they are elaborations or variations upon a theme. Such is the case with the Thai Lersi or Ruesi and the Burmese Weikza.

Both of these practitioners seem to take up practices like divination, healing, exorcism and the like but are simultaneously devoted lay disciples with many being 8 or 10 precept holders. Both weikza (vijjadharas) and reusi (rishis) have the goal of being reborn or (in the case of the Burmese tradition) extending their lifespan to meet Ariya Metteyya. I am fascinated by the concept and have been inspired to research more. I’v found a few books and articles and will share them here shortly.

In the meantime, I am upping my practice commitments to practice formal sitting and walking meditation for 2 hours a day come hell or high water.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/14/2016

Pay It Forward

Believe it or not, it can sometimes be difficult to find a recipient for one’s  generosity. I have made it a part of  daily practice to give once daily, by my own hand if possible, as a way of cultivating compassion, renunciation and generosity but there are times when I don’t come across anyone to whom to give. In the past, I have shared my falafel with a pigeon and considered that as satisfying my practice commitment but, when you’re busily commuting from place to place, you don’t always have such a luxury. 

So, yesterday after my dentist appointment, I was walking home and stopped by a halal cart to pick up a falafel wrap. I had thought once or twice about paying for the next person’s meal a a way of practicing dana parami so when the opportunity to do so arose I took it. Explaining to the halal guy why I didn’t want change was a little awkward but worked out in the end. Seeing the smile in his face and the warmth in my heart has convinced me that I should add this tool to my repertory as well. May All beings be free from want, hunger and thirst.

Confession of Faults

Last night I was overcome by anger at my son for his disrespectful behavior and speech. I smacked him in the back of the head as a way of getting his attention and disciplining him. He wasn’t hurt but his mother is completely against any form of corporal punishment and it creates more problems than it solved. May I be forgiven for any harm I caused and may I restrain myself in the future. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/12/2016

How Am I Any Different?

Watching the mind complain as I make my way down 14th Street to the train and catching snippets of conversations as I pass. One exchange catches my attention more than the others ahs it’s a brief interchange between two young yuppie guys. The one, in dress slacks and a polar fleece asks the other as he heads to the dry cleaners if he’s going to be around this weekend. Instantly my fault finding mind’s engaged and I have already fanned them both to a weekend full of frat style binge drinking and debauchery. Naturally, I paint all of this on the field of my own relatively unbesmirched moral purity. But, wait, something doesn’t feel right. 

How am I any better? Let’s say I have completely accurate psychic powers and I’ve correctly procured their plans. Haven’t I done the same plenty of times in this life alone. Am I worthy of disdain? How am I any different? Don’t I, too, want happiness and not suffering?

I trust these choices less and less which send to me a good sign. May I place blame on my own kilesas where it belongs and not harass other beings wishing for freedom from suffering. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/11/2016

Counting Your Blessings

One of the aspirations that I’ve undertaken is to dedicate the merit of any good deeds done to others. A very large part of this involves recognizing skillful thinking, speaking and acting – a skill that I definitely need to work on. In addition to recognizing my own blessings I was also struck by the fact thati am surrounded by human beings who enjoy incredibly good fortune. Having been born into a world where the teachings stl exist, rich with material goods and sense pleasures, it seems that everyone around me is a great candidate to help me generate mudita. From the homeless man standing outside the soup kitchen to the Wall St broker in a suit, everyone born in a human form living here in NYC is tremendously fortunate and has the most precious of opportunities. 

Interesting to turn my usual doom and gloom outlook on its head and see another perspective entirely. May I rejoice in the good fortune of others and work tirelessly towards the goal of liberation for the good of myself and the many.  

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/07/2016

Confession of Fear

Last night, when I got home, I found a homeless man sleeping in my apartment lobby. I literally had to do a double take to realize what was going on but add soon ai gained my bearings I asked him to leave. I don’t recall exactly what I said but I remember being respectful and saying something to the effect of “sorry sir, you can’t sleep here.”

Obviously he wasn’t happy with that and starred to complain so I, unthinking, immediately said I would call the cops if he didn’t leave immediately. Things took a turn for the worse and he began dating me to do so at which point I myrummaged through bag to find my knife while calling 911. As I was on the phone with the operator describing the man he decided to get up and leave which brought an abrupt end to the situation but in the hours since I’ve wondered if I could have handled it better. 

Instead of immediately seeing him add a threat could I have approached him from a place of compassion and helpfulness? What if I had approached him without fear and offered him a flat or to buy him dinner while escorting him out? Who knows hire it would have turned out but I would have liked to meet the situation with care rather than aversion. May I do better in the future. 

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