Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/22/2017

Buddha Vacana ~ Thought

80. That which is called thought, mind or consciousness arises and disappears continuously both day and night. Just as a monkey swinging through the trees grabs one branch, letting it go only to grab another, so too that which is called thought, mind or consciousness arises and disappears continuously both day and night.

Samyutta Nikaya II.93

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/20/2017

When Faith Is Called For

I have been dealing with a lot of disappointment lately in daily life and on the cushion. In both places it often seems as though I’m not making progress or am backsliding. I can literally spend thirty minutes on the cushion without ever progressing beyond a sense of general ease (which is a great accomplishment in itself). Clearly, there is much pain and longing for peace and ease. 

The solution, as far as I can see it, it’s just to keep at it. Feeling the ickiness and disappointment as it arises and constantly returning to the fight. There’s no magic pill and this is the work of lifetimes but it can certainly seem impossible at times. This is when faith is called for and, for the time being, I have an abundance. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/17/2017

Buddha Vacana – Four Great States 

76. These four states conduce to the growth of wisdom; these four states are of great help to one who has become human. What four? Association with a good person, hearing the good Dhamma, wise attention, and behaving in accordance with Dhamma.

Anguttara Nikaya II.245

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/16/2017

What Politics Can Do 

I honestly believe that the 45th president will hasten the end of human civilization. He’s dangerous, unwise, destructive and conniving. Nothing good will come of his reign. And, yet, what hopes do I really have for worldly powers?

Can a president deliver me from death? Can a government free me from suffering? Surely, there are many a good thing that can be done by politicians and governments but, ultimately, I can’t look within samsara for salvation.  

May I practice well now so that I may be of some service when the end comes. 

May I not make a mockery of the Dhamma. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/13/2017

Forgetting Samsara

These verses seem to best describe the rut into which I’ve fallen lately. It is far too easy to be swept away on the currents of negativity and habit. 

29 When I delight in afflictions and am greatly distracted, 

It is the weapon of destructive karma turning upon me 

For not contemplating impermanence and the defects of cyclic existence; 

From now on I will increase my disenchantment with cyclic existence.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/11/2017

When all who are close to me arise as enemies…

When all who are close to me arise as enemies, It is the weapon of destructive karma turning upon me For harboring harmful, evil intentions within. From now on I will diminish deceit and pretension.

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/10/2017

Soured Gratitude 

By dint of some strange kamma I have several important people in my life who have done much for me in the past but have now decided to withdraw from my life. Obviously, I am the pusher of my kamma but it is hard not to fall prey to felons of hurt and resentment when people you once considered as brothers and mothers ghost you. 

I don’t have an answer really. I just know that to allow myself to surrender to aversion would be an affront to all that they have given me and an insult to the Dhamma. My plan is to keep acknowledging the hurt as it arises, cultivating compassion for myself and those who I feel have harmed me. We all want happiness, none of us wants to suffer and in our delusion we undertake any number of unskilled actions to get out from under the cruising weight of suffering. 

May I not cause any beings to suffer. May I too be free from suffering. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/09/2017

Swamped by Suffering 

Commuting in a city like New York gives you a window into the sufferings of daily life. Even beyond the more obvious instances of extreme suffering evidenced by the infirm and homeless who inhabit our streets and subway stations, one can  see evidence of a still, existential ache everywhere. People, myself included, glued to the screens of their phones or attached to turn via earphones are ubiquitous reminders of the pleasure and escape seeking that mark the moments of our days. 

We’re so disconnected from life, from community and the earth that we willingly and absent-mindedly commit violence upon all three in pursuit of momentary pleasure. And I am just as guilty here too. 

What can be done? One possibility I’d to find refuge in samadhi or, at the very least, to be fed by it on a daily basis so that we’re no so desperate for sustenance. And what that calls for is patience and practice. May I cultivate both. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/08/2017

Counseling 

My wife and I have been going to counseling for a few months but yesterday’s session threw me off balance due to something the therapist said. In essence, she located part of our problem in my desire to take care of my wife and kids without making my own wants known. In other words, she believes that part of the problem is that I haven’t prioritized or expressed my feelings and I’m uneasy with this. 

Putting my wants first seems to me to be a recipe for disaster so I think there may be another way to understand het advice. It seems to me that the problem may be one of communication more than anything else. My real desire it’s to be of service and cultivate the heart rather than the thoroughly mundane aims the therapist deems appropriate. In other words, I can schedule a getaway, arrange a date night or a lunch not because those things are important to me but because they are ways to connect with my wife. 

Clearly, this area needs work and I’m going to be trying to tease this out in the coming weeks. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/06/2017

Sick 

For the better part of a week I’ve been sick and ours always incredible to me just how much sickness of even the mildest kind changes everything. My formal practice has been of diminished intensity and I’m less patient with the irritations of daily life. I’m trying hard to hit the reset button but this body isn’t cooperating. And, I know somewhere, that that’s the lesson to be learned. This body isn’t mine and doesn’t obey me. And, though I must take care of it and use it to practice it will, in the end, betray me. 

May I reflect on anatta and the inevitability of sickness.  

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