December 7, 2008
I came upon this video from The Buddhist Society of Western Australia’s YouTube page. This video is Ajahn Brahm’s talk Dealing with Difficult People.
Two stories in this talk, The Anger Eating Demon and The Donkey in the Well, seem, to me, to be relevant to the current political situation in Canada.
Anger Eating Demon begins at 13:00 to 19:24; Donkey in the Well from 53:30 to 58:22
The more you hate and revile your opponents, the more you raise them up.
November 23, 2008
I don’t go looking for these things. They show up in my Tag Surfer.
The Deliberate Ruminator is an evangelical Christian blog, and this comparative religions post posits the usual misunderstandings in order to prove there is only one true religion. In response to Salvation, Oh How We Count The Ways posted by tree63fan:
“Most Buddhists believe a person has hundreds or thousands of reincarnations”,
The person, the personality, the soul does not reincarnate. The karma, the causes, the habits, the attachments incarnate.
“all bringing misery.”
try to understand “Dukkha”. It is not Misery, it is not Suffering. It is clinging to concepts of self and other, it is wanting a drink of water, it is eating ice cream.
“And it is the desire for happiness that causes a person’s reincarnation.“
It is attachment to desire that brings about the incarnation. I could be attached to revenge.
“Therefore, the goal”
There is no goal, there is only practice. “Goal” is part of the discriminating, labeling mind.
“of a Buddhist is to purify one’s heart and to let go of all desires.”
rather the practice is to let go of the discrimination between self and other, to let go of the attachment to things we think will make us happy, or the stories we tell ourselves about what we are.
“A person must abandon all sensuous pleasures, all evil, all joy and all sorrow.”
No. Relinquishing attachment to these things – as a way to define who we are and what we want – is the practice. These things are fleeting, moments, not solid, not what we are, not who we are. Denying them is the same as grasping them. These things come from a fixed view of person, personality, self and other. They do not exist other than as our own discriminating states of mind.
“To do so, Buddhists are to follow a list of religious principles and intense meditation.”
There is such a wide degree of difference in various practices and branches of Buddhism. There is practice for the layman, for ordinary persons, there is practice for monks. For instance the Five Precepts that laypeople can follow… and meditation is just one technique that the majority don’t even bother with.
“When a Buddhist meditates it is not the same as praying”
Maybe, maybe not. Since, in Buddhism, there is no god, and nothing outside of anything but this whole inclusive process of being, what exactly is there to pray to? Meditation practice is the process of seeing this whole thing and all the little discriminations we do to make ourselves different from it – as really false, illusory and completely unnecessary – and actually destructive in understanding “god”.
“or focusing on a god, it is more of a self-discipline.”
There is nothing outside of ourselves. There is nothing that is a self. There is no boundary between our body and our mind, there is no boundary between our body and the world, there is no boundary between the world and God.
Focusing on God as outside of self – focusing on self as different from God is the act of the discriminating mind. You need to practice self-discipline to see that.
“Through dedicated meditation”
doing, being, practice… not of a single technique, but practice of the Eightfold Path, and seeing (process, not goal) when discrimination and attachment, labels and stories arise… and letting these things pass away. These things are not who you are.
“a person may reach Nirvana — “the blowing out” of the flame of desire.”
or a person, having abandoned attachment and discrimination, labels and stories, a person may see that Samsara and Nirvana are one and the same thing.
October 16, 2008
May 9, 2008
April 13, 2008
April 11, 2008
Practicing a deeply Buddhist understanding, Dr. Gabor Mate works on the ground in the Hell Realms
For over ten years Gabor Maté has been the staff physician at the Portland Hotel, a residence and harm reduction facility in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. His patients are challenged by life-threatening drug addictions, mental illness, Hepatitis C or HIV and, in many cases, all four. But if Dr. Maté’s patients are at the far end of the spectrum, there are many others among us who are also struggling with addictions. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, work, food, sex, gambling and excessive inappropriate spending: what is amiss with our lives that we seek such self-destructive ways to comfort ourselves? And why is it so difficult to stop these habits, even as they threaten our health, jeopardize our relationships and corrode our lives?
I listened to Sounds Like Canada this Friday; April 11, 2008 am where he was interviewed regarding the new book In The Realm Of The Hungry Ghosts Close Encounters With Addiction. Links to his other books are at his own web site.
The inhabitants of the Hungry Ghost Realm are depicted as creatures with scrawny necks, small mouths, emaciated limbs and large, bloated, empty bellies. This is the domain of addiction where we constantly seek something outside ourselves to curb an insatiable yearning for relief or fulfillment. The aching emptiness is perpetual because the substances, objects or pursuits we hope will soothe it are not what we really need. We don’t know what we need and so long as we stay in the hungry ghost mode, we’ll never know. We haunt our lives without being fully present. …
Some people dwell much of their lives in one realm or another. Many of us move back and forth between them, perhaps through them all in the course of a single day. …
No society can understand itself without looking at its shadow side. I believe there is one addiction process, whether it is manifested in the lethal substance dependencies of my Downtown Eastside patients, the frantic self-soothing of overeaters or shopaholics, the obsessions of gamblers, sexaholics and compulsive internet users, or in the socially acceptable and even admired behaviours of the workaholic. …
March 26, 2008
Following on the mention of Pico Iyer’s piece in my previous post, here is a review from Salon.
It’s a volatile situation, getting only worse, and as ever, Tibet’s spiritual leader has hewed to his “middle way,” critiquing the extremism of both Tibetan rioters and Beijing riot breakers. While the Chinese government has gone to its usual hysterical lengths to paint the Dalai Lama as an instigator, it becomes clearer with each passing day how little he is consulted by young Tibetan radicals chafing after years of inaction.
In short, the future of Tibet, as a nation and as a people, could well be decided by parties other than the Dalai Lama, and this may be a happier development than many Tibetophiles realize.
More interesting written work at Salon on the subjects of Nepal, Tibet, China.
Update Wednesday; March 26, 2008
Guhyasamaja Center blog posts a link to NPR’s interview with Pico Iyer: “Iyer joins Fresh Air to discuss how the fourteenth Dalai Lama is responding to the current Tibetan uprising and protest against Chinese rule.”
March 13, 2008
March 11, 2008
First, Richard Dawkins here, is explaining a model of understanding relationship, the scale of things, about why we as human animals exist at the scale we do.
Sunyata is difficult to grasp. It isn’t empty, like a glass with no water, but it is more, rather, like the glass as it moves through time and space, from particles of sand to particles of sand (and that is only a small portion of its presence) containing and not containing, empty and full, and rather like the dune that Dawkins describes at about ten minutes into this video.
Dawkins would probably lambaste me for turning this lecture into a Dharma talk, for reading some kind of spirituality into the examples he gives here, but he also touches so closely on Sunyata, I think it is difficult to not do so.
His story of the Pentagon General trying to walk through the wall – after all they are both made of atoms and are empty, explains the Middle World scale of our existence, but also parodies the deep misunderstanding of emptiness as something physical.
Rather, the story of the dune, a wave of sand blown across the desert asks when, where, and how is this thing actually separate from the world? Only in it’s name. Only in our mind. Just as the dune is made of sand, of compound things, so is Self, piling up, blown over, moving, only a series of moments in relationship with another series of moments.
And he says practically that in his closing comment that we “swim in a social world”, that modelling thinking on a ‘needs driven’ organism is a useful model. Sounds like Dukkha to me.
February 18, 2008
Here is another version of The Great Compassion Mantra running 6:37 minutes.