Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/21/2017

An Uphill Battle 

The kamma of countless lifetimes can seem almost insurmountable at times. This is especially so when you’re trying to change deep-seated patterns in a relationship. Through the force of conditioning, the other person can be virtually blinded to your actual deeds and words. And, if you’re not careful, you can easily end up throwing in the towel rather than slamming your head into an apparent wall to no avail. This is something I’ve done more times than I can count. 

But, I don’t have to and there’s no benefit in doing so. Rather, if I stick to my guns and treat the people in my life as well as I can I will surely have nothing to regret and may even reap the reward of some harmony in this life. If, despite my best efforts, the whole thing falls apart, then I can at least enjoy freedom from remorse. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/20/2017

Giving Rightly 

We all know the story of the mother who had given so much and never considered her own needs. In this story, she either his to the grave without ever having realized her potential or she blows up and loses her mind, featuring everything in her path. I know I’ve felt like the latter at home countless times but it occurs to me now that I don’t need to. 

Giving is a balm in its own right when done well. But, especially at home, it is so often undertaken with resentment and a sense of duty. Being asked for something by my wife or kids, my first impulse is to reset the imposition on my time and energy. Can I, instead, begin to see these moments as opportunities to give from heart? The only difference between giving to a homeless person on the street and my wife is my own unskilled preconceptions. May I, through a practice of continual demonstrations of appreciation (my love note practice as I have cine top call it), learn to give freely and with a heart full of joy. Despite what I may think, there is no duty to do anything and all acts of generosity are acts of free will. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/19/2017

Happy Uposatha 

Today is the uposatha and I’m reflecting again on what it means to be married. In so many ways, marriage seems like such a distraction from the path and as fertile ground for making bad kamma and yet… 

If the latent defilements weren’t present then all of the things that arise wouldn’t be such an issue. As it stands, it’s clear that I’m not ready to abandon the home life and leave my young children and wife to fend for themselves. In the interim, however, I do need to do everything in my power to put them in good staff so that they can care for themselves. 

In addition, I need to use this time and these relationships to cultivate patience, perseverance and loving-kindness. I find that I’m much more insensitive than I would like to be and that my wife and kids often feel underappreciated and unloved. Much of this has to do with my own views about what’s important but clearly that needs to change. 

As a result, I’ve decided to take up a habit of writing cards to my wife everyday thanking her and telling her I love her. And, now that I mention it, I think I’ll do the sane for muy kids. Maybe a small thing but all things ate in the end. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/17/2017

Am I Ready?

One technique I’ve been using lately is to reflect on whatever it is I am doing or intend to do by asking myself if I am ready for this action to be the last thing I ever do. In other words, if I were to die right now, would I be content with the quality of the mind as it would be colored by the last word, thought or deed undertaken. 
Clearly, such a reflection derives much of its strength from my own belief in the karmic potency of one’s last act in this life but it may prove to be useful even if that is lacking. Anyway, I wish for all of us to live without regret and remorse and to pursue the purification of our hearts. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/15/2017

Being Realistic

One piece struck me yesterday during a Dhamma talk by Bhikkhu Samahita and it was this: he said that many monks (and nuns) today don;t have the time to dedicate the five hours a day needed to meditation to see real results. Of course, this is a simplification of what the entire talk was about and I beg forgiveness for any error in my understanding but what I took away from it was that if even people who have dedicated their entire lives to the Dhamma need to spend such lengths of time cultivating samadhi I shouldn’t allow myself to be upset or impatient when I’m seeing only small gains with, at most, an hour each day.

In other words, I need to be realistic about what an hour a day can accomplish. While I will strive to do more I also feel I need to be even more scrupulous and pay more attention to dana and sila in my daily practice. May I never give up nor fall prey to hopelessness.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/14/2017


It’s been about a week since I last attempted to post primarily because my family and I were away in Cuba. In terms of vacationing, I have to admit that Cuba was tough for a family of five from the U.S. since they don’t accept credit cards from US banks not can you retrieve money using your atm card. As a result, I ended up fasting for most days which helped me to cultivate nekkhama when I was unable to spend more than fifteen minutes a day on samadhi bhavana. 

Aside from the fasting, the most poignant observation I made was simply this: regardless of the system of government there will still be suffering. Against the backdrop of the horrifyingly cruel and inept trump administration such a realization was helpful if not entirely welcome. Che and Fidel had some great ideas but ended up killing scores of political enemies and enslaving the minds of their countrymen. Alas, there is no succor to be found outside of silã, samadhi and pañña. 

Although I still feel that it is my duty to help the vulnerable and to serve other beings, it’s good to remember that I can’t perfect the world. Instead, I should aim solely at perfecting my own heart. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/04/2017

Buddha Vacana – Worldly Progress 

94. Four things lead to worldly progress: achievement in alertness, in caution, in good friendship and achievement in balanced livelihood. And what is achievement in alertness? Concerning this, in whatever way one earns a living, whether by farming, trading, cattle rearing, archery, service to the king or by some craft, in that one becomes deft and tireless, gifted with an inquiring turn of mind into ways and means, and able to arrange and carry out the job.
And what is achievement in caution? Concerning this, whatever one earns by work and effort, collected by strength of arm and sweat of brow in a just and lawful manner, one husbands, watches and guards so that kings do not seize it, thieves do not steal it, fire or water do not destroy it, and unwanted heirs do not remove it.
And what is good friendship? Concerning this, in whatever village or town one lives, one associates with, converses with, discusses things with people either young or old, who are cultured, full of faith, full of virtue, full of charity and full of wisdom. One acts in accordance with the faith of the faithful, the virtue of the virtuous, the charity of the charitable and the wisdom of the wise.
And what is balanced livelihood? Concerning this, one knows both his income and expenditure and lives neither extravagantly nor miserly, knowing that income after expenditure will stand at so much and that expenses will not exceed income. Just as a goldsmith or his apprentice knows, on holding the scales, that so much has dipped down and so much has tilted up, one knows income and expenditure.
If one with small income were to lead an extravagant life there would be those who would say: “He enjoys his wealth like a wood-apple eater.” Likewise, if one with a good income were to be miserly, there would be those who would say: “He will die like a beggar.”
There are four channels through which the wealth one has collected is lost: debauchery, drunkenness, gambling and friendship with evildoers.
Imagine there were a great tank of water with four inlets and outlets, and a man was to close the inlets but keep the outlets open. If there were no rain we could expect the water to decrease. In the same way, there are the four channels through which wealth is lost. There are these four channels through which the wealth one has collected is preserved: avoidance of debauchery, drunkenness, gambling and friendship with evildoers.
Imagine there were a great tank of water with four inlets and outlets, and a man was to keep the inlets open and close the outlets. If he did this and there were good rainfall, we could expect the water to increase. In the same way, there are these four channels through which wealth is preserved.

Anguttara Nikaya IV.281

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/03/2017

Not Over Until It’s Over

Simply put, you haven’t failed until you’ve given up. Despite how low, how disconnected and how debased I’ve been feeling I’m just not willing to give up yet. So, as imperfect and flawed as my practice may be I’ll keep at it until I die, sleep and forgetfulness overtake me or I gain a foothold in release. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/01/2017

Buddha Vacana – The Luminous Mind

91. The mind is luminous, but it is stained by defilements that come from without. Ordinary folk do not realize this, so they do not cultivate the mind. The mind is luminous, but it can be cleansed of defilements that come from without. This the noble disciples understand, so they do cultivate the mind.

Anguttara Nikaya I.10

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/31/2017


Although I have never wavered in my faith in the Path taught by Lord Buddha, I am often in doubt about my ability to practice it. Lately, I have been having an especially hard time with moderation and renunciation. 

I don’t know if it’s simply a matter of framing but the difficulty I have in giving up certain things (like eating at proscribed times and certain sense pleasures) makes me think it’s karmic. In other words, I feel that there are lifetimes of inertia here. 

When I really look at what is happening I think I can tear apart three separate issues: the unfaithful behavior itself; the savoring of the very idea of it; the guilt of having savored and acted. Of the three it is the last which usually details my practice is it that which calls for a closer look. 

I am loathe to give up the remorse because there’s a fear that, if I do, there will be nothing to hold me back. But, when the remorse becomes an obstacle it should be clear that it needs to be abandoned. Besides, all the guilt in the world won’t change a thing. 

May I forgive myself and move forward with the practice.  

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