Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/31/2017

Renunciation

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.  

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/30/2017

Taints to Be Abandoned by Removing

“What taints, bhikkhus, should be abandoned by removing?

Here a bhikkhu, reflecting wisely, does not tolerate an arisen thought of sensual desire; he abandons it, removes it, does away with it, and annihilates it.

He does not tolerate an arisen thought of ill will…

He does not tolerate an arisen thought of cruelty…

He does not tolerate arisen evil unwholesome states; he abandons them, removes them, does away with them, and annihilates them.

While taints, vexation, and fever might arise in one who does not remove these thoughts, there are no taints, vexation, or fever in one who removes them. These are called the taints that should be abandoned by removing.

https://suttacentral.net/en/mn2/27
Majjhima Nikāya
Middle Length Discourses
Sabbāsava Suttaṃ

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/29/2017

Carved Up

“Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: ‘Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading these people with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with them, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.

“Monks, if you attend constantly to this admonition on the simile of the saw, do you see any aspects of speech, slight or gross, that you could not endure?”

“No, lord.”

“Then attend constantly to this admonition on the simile of the saw. That will be for your long-term welfare & happiness.”

Kakacupama Sutta: The Simile of the Saw MN 21 translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.021x.than.html

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/28/2017

This May Be the Last Time

This may very well be the last time I write an entry in this blog. It may be that I succumb to an illness, an hour by a car or have a sudden aneurysm before I ever post again. Death hovers about us at all times but rather than looking it in the eye and acknowledging it I am more often than not subtly terrorized by it. In order to throw off this shroud of negativity, I intend to make a practice of reflecting on the possibility of my death as much as possible and in as real a manner as possible. 

Chanting the Five Subjects for Frequent Recollection are a great way to do this but, since they form part of a daily ritual, they can lose strength. I find it helpful to remind myself that it may be the last time I brush my teeth, take a shower, see my kids, leave my house. For some reason these are more poignant reminders and help me to keep my awareness rooted in impermanence. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/27/2017

Buddha Vacana ~ Our Teacher

86. Whatever has had to be done by a teacher out of compassion, for the welfare of his disciples, I have done for you. Here are the roots of the trees, here are the empty places. Meditate, do not be slothful, do not be remorseful later. These are my instructions to you.

Majjhima Nikaya I.46

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Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/24/2017

The Right Moment

So much of my practice has been about well and force. For years I have forced myself to cultivate metta, forced myself to contemplate loathesomeness but always at the wrong time. 

I’m not proposing to do away with force and effort though. No, instead I think I need to first poor effort into calming down and collecting the mind with the breath and buddho. It’s funny because I have often felt frustrated by what I felt was Ajahn Achalo’s unnecessary insistence on cultivating the breath before moving on to other practices but it surely seems that I was both arrogant and mistaken. 

May I cultivate the patience, persistence and humility I am lacking to reach the final goal. 

Posted by: Upāsaka | 03/23/2017

Sleep Practice

Four years I have toyed with the idea of dream yoga and have even made attempts to practice it through lucid dreaming. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, I have never been able to have much success. But yesterday, after listening to a talk by Ajahn Achalo, it occurred me that I could use a technique from lucid dreaming to cultivate metta at night. 

One of the methods meant to cultivate awareness in dreams is to wake oneself throughout the night at different times. To do so I’ll be using my fitbit which has silent, vibrating alarms. Rather than attempting to enter a dream state with lucidity I intend to cultivate metta until I fall asleep again. 

Interestingly enough, I was able to practice this in dreams somewhat even though I didn’t have my fitbit set-up. I realized that I was having a dream about being poisoned by radioactive substance. Rather than waking myself up from up, I realized that this was a great opportunity to practice death contemplation and metta. The fear was real but I remember calming myself and then asking myself what state was most suited for this moment. I felt that spreading loving-kindness was the most appropriate thing to do so I began with that. 

I’m excited to see how this practice develops and I’ve got faith that it’s worth it which should help. When I have practiced for dream yoga in the past I was never quite sure of my motivation but this is much more clear. 

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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