Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/22/2017

Gaslighting

During this time of turmoil, I find myself often accused of having said things that ate cruel or disrespectful despite my own perceptions to the contrary. Clearly, in emotionally charged discussions awareness and mindfulness can be impaired so there may be some objective truth to this but I get the feeling that part of the truth lies in my partner’s desire to cast me as an unrelenting antagonist. 

She will about that she screams, yells and belittles through her tone and body language and yet she consistently takes issue with my measured responses when I am not inclined to agree with a pronouncement or request on her part. This leaves me confused and unsure of what actually happened. In short, all I have left is my memory of my intention which is usually to navigate this emotional minefield without causing damage to anyone while still articulating my own wants. 

Sadly, so much is beyond discussion and she is firmly committed to pursuing this divorce. At the same time, she is asking for emotional responses from me that I’m no longer ready or willing to give. There’s too much hurt and I don’t feel any goodwill forthcoming that would make me want to open myself up. 

May we both be well, happy and peaceful. May we not put stock in praise or blame. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/21/2017

Lacking Forgiveness

“Lacking forgiveness is the worst of deficiencies and hastening in vengeance is (among) the greatest (of all) sins.” — Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (ع)

I’m continually surprised by the consistency of anger and disdain my wife expresses to and about me. I’m surprised that there is rarely an impulse to forgive and usually a movement towards revenge. I suppose I expected that taking steps to separate would have been cathartic but that’s obviously not the case. I can understand that people change and fall out of love: what I can’t wrap my head around is actively hating someone who is the father of your children and with whom you’ve spent the better part of your life. I may be hurt and irritated by her but I can’t empathize with that kind of contempt. 

Mostly I’m sorry for her and despite how horrible this will be for the kids I’m also hopeful that I can make good use of this change. I’m not interested in finding “someone new” although I’m sure somewhere, down the line I will face temptation. If this is to be the way it is I intend to dedicate what’s left of my life too the Dhamma. May all beings look after themselves with ease. May all live in peace. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/20/2017

As Sabr – Patient Endurance

Imam al-Sadiq (a) said: “Whoever of the believers that bears patiently with a tribulation that befalls him, has the reward of a thousand martyrs.”

[Al-Kulayni, al‑Kafi, vol.2, bab al‑Sabr, hadith # 17]

Things have suddenly taken a turn for the worse in my marriage and my wife has now decided she wants a divorce. 

Doing my level best to keep a clear head and cleaving as much a I can to the precepts and brahmaviharas. 

All things are impermanent and muddy come to an end. Perhaps this us the end of my marriage. Knowing that it is the nature of all things to end, mat I not increase my own suffering nor the suffering of my wife and kids. May I be self-sacrificing, generous and ever thinking of their needs first. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/20/2017

Parable of the Saw

“Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my Teaching.

Monks, even in such a situation you should train yourselves thus: ‘Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred.

On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to those very persons, making them as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/19/2017

Enemies 


“Give your enemy a thousand chances to become your friend, but do not give your friend a single chance to become your enemy.” -Imam Ali (AS)

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/18/2017

The Worst Sin

“The Worst Sin Is That Which The Sinner Takes Lightly.”

-HAZRAT ALI IBNE ABI TALIB ( رضی اللہ تعالیٰ عنہ)

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/17/2017

Passage Meditation – The Parable of the Saw

“Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my Teaching.

Monks, even in such a situation you should train yourselves thus: ‘Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. 

On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to those very persons, making them as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. 

We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.’ It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.”

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/16/2017

The Master Key

Most Merciful

“The most merciful person is the one who forgives when he is able to revenge.”
— Imam Husain (as)

Yesterday during our couples’ counseling, our therapist questioned me as to why I seemed to be unable to respond with true compassion to the hurt of my wife. I was quite vexed by this and as we dialogued about it I realized that there was what felt like a hard shield or scale in covering my heart center which was preventing me from feeling empathy. I could understand and act from an intellectually conceived compassion but I seemed unable to feel it for my wife.

As we discussed it I realized this shielding had come about as my way of protecting myself from years of emotional invective; in other words, I was too scared to let anything in from my wife because I was so habituated to receiving negativity and vituperation. AT this point, our therapist suggested that I actually physically comfort her in her moment of pain and, despite her lack of receptivity, it was as if I had been given the master key to open the doors to my heart.

This morning, as I practiced formal metta bhavana I tried imagining physically embracing my wife as I sent her metta and found it still worked just as well. In my journey to remove the scales from my heart and open it tenderly to all beings, this yet one more tool for which I am grateful to have been gifted.

May we never take revenge. May we always endeavor to forgive and open our hearts to all mother beings.

 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/15/2017

Invocation of Celestial Bodhisattva

Avalokiteshvara

We invoke your name, Avalokiteshvara. We aspire to learn your way of listening in order to help relieve the suffering in the world. You know how to listen in order to understand. We invoke your name in order to practice listening with all our attention and openheartedness. We will sit and listen without any prejudice. We will sit and listen without judging or reacting. We will sit and listen in order to understand. We will sit and listen so attentively that we will be able to hear what the other person is saying and also what is being left unsaid. We know that just by listening deeply we already alleviate a great deal of pain and suffering in the other person. [bell]

Manjushri 

We invoke your name, Manjushri. We aspire to learn your way, which is to be still and to look deeply into the heart of things and into the hearts of people. We will look with all our attention and openheartedness. We will look with unprejudiced eyes. We will look without judging or reacting. We will look deeply so that we will be able to see and understand the roots of suffering, the impermanent and selfless nature of all that is. We will practice your way of using the sword of understanding to cut through the bonds of suffering, thus freeing ourselves and other species. [bell]

Samantabhadra 

We invoke your name, Samantabhadra. We aspire to practice your vow to act with the eyes and heart of compassion, to bring joy to one person in the morning and to ease the pain of one person in the afternoon. We know that the happiness of others is our own happiness, and we aspire to practice joy on the path of service. We know that every word, every look, every action, and every smile can bring happiness to others. We know that if we practice wholeheartedly, we ourselves may become an inexhaustible source of peace and joy for our loved ones and for all species. [bell]
Ksitigarbha

We invoke your name, Kshitigarbha. We aspire to learn your way of being present where there is darkness, suffering,
oppression, and despair, so we can bring light, hope, relief, and liberation to those places. We are determined not to forget about or abandon those in desperate situations. We will do our best to establish contact with those who
cannot find a way out of their suffering, those whose cries for help, justice, equality, and human rights are not being heard. We know that hell can be found in many places on Earth. We will do our best not to contribute to creating more
hells on Earth, and to help transform the hells that already exist. We will practice in order to realize the qualities of perseverance and stability, so that, like the Earth, we can always be supportive and faithful to those in need. [bell]

Sadaparibhuta 

We invoke your name, Sadaparibhuta. We aspire to learn your way of never doubting or underestimating any living being. With great respect, you say to all you meet, “You are someone of great value, you have Buddha nature, I see this potential in you.” Like you, we will look with a wise, compassionate gaze, so we are able to hold up a mirror where others can see their ultimate nature reflected. We will remind people who feel worthless that they too are a precious wonder of life. We vow to water only the positive seeds in ourselves and in others, so that our thoughts, words, and actions can encourage confidence and self-acceptance in ourselves, our children, our loved ones, and in everyone we meet. Inspired by the great faith and insight that everyone is Buddha, we will practice your way of patience and inclusiveness so we can liberate ourselves from ignorance and misunderstanding, and offer freedom,
peace, and joy to ourselves, to others and to our society. [bell, bell]

Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/14/2017

Bear the Pain, Seek the Good

“Bear the bitter remedy, or remain in pain.”
—Imam Ali (AS)

This morning I was feeling a lot of remorse for having failed to live up to my own standards yesterday. Despite knowing that searing remorse is actually counter-productive if allowed to sap one’s resolve and strength I spent the first ten or so minutes just feeling the disgust and bitterness of it. But slowly, it began to dawn on me that the proximate cause of the arising of metta is to reflect on the goodness of the person to whom you’re sending it. And me, being just a person among billions of others, have done any number of good things. In fact, I try my best to fill my days with them.

Using the ten paramis as my springboard for reflection I was able to rescue the heart from its pit of despair and cultivate metta first for me and then for others. And, as hard as it can be to remember, I have to remain steadfast in my conviction that I have never failed until I actually surrender, regardless of how hard it may seem to seek good and begin again.

In short, in order to overcome the suffering it must be borne first, accepted and then it must be let go and we must rekindle our resolve to do good and do better for ourselves and all beings.

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