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There is no “I” in Dhamma

Speaking with another dhamma follower, we explored the concept of non-attachment and the practice of “non-self.” For most, this is the cornerstone of practice: the goal of Buddhism. We see dukkha (“suffering”) as something that must be eliminated to find happiness. We see anatta (the concept of “non-self “or “empty nature”) as the key realization needed to complete that process. This blog will hopefully elucidate that our Buddhist practice needs more than understanding of these concepts. The goal isn’t realizing anicca, anatta, and dukkha, but how we choose to live our lives once we do. [CLICK ON TITLE TO READ FULL STORY]

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If I am not Special, Then Who Am I?

I spend a lot of time talk with individuals and groups about Buddhism. Not only does it provide me an opportunity to share the dhamma, but I find it helps me discover aspects to develop in my own practice.

For example, recently a friend of mine has been struggling with her personal suffering: career, love life, personal sense of happiness, etc. At one point she said to me, “I think I should write a book and call it ‘If I am not special, then who am I?’”

What a brilliant title! “If I Am Not Special, Then Who Am I?”

This got me to thinking of an appropriate response. Why do so many of us feel the need to be special? Why is it the ego (the identity of ‘self’) is part of our natural progression before developing the wisdom of the Dhamma? [CLICK ON THE TITLE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE]

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When is Suffering A Good Thing?

Trying to explain Buddhism to non-practings Buddhists can sometimes be a challenge. Nevertheless, it can also be a truly fruitful experience, because it requires you to reflect and answer questions that perhaps get unmindfully conditioned in the brain.

Speaking to a friend of mine about Buddhism, she stated, “ If Buddhism is about non-attachment then I would rather suffer. I enjoy my attachment to things like my family and friends. I may find some suffering from owning a car, but I enjoy my car more than I suffer from it.”

The world is made up of what we use and what gets in our way.

Her statements were true. I honestly believe and practice my Buddhist faith, but I enjoy my family and my pleasure in the suffering I endure with my clinging to them. I do practice unconditional love and acceptance of metta, but that is not the only love I have for them. I have that attached love of a parent and son. [CLICK ON THE TITLE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE]

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Understanding Karma and the Universe

Sumitta, As someone who studies Buddhism, the way I understand KARMA it excludes random and chance events, this reality(realm) is exactly as the Buddha described it to be. Dear Dhamma Follower, Upajjhatthana Sutta–“Kammassakomhi kammadāyādo kammayoni kammabandhū kammapaṭisaraṇo yaṃ kammaṃ karissāmi kalyāṇaṃ vā pāpakaṃ vā tassa dāyādo bhavissāmī” [Translated: I am the owner of my actions, […]

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How to deal with Anger

Sumitta, How can I humble myself against hate and dislike? How do I response to someone who really doesn’t like me? I know I should love them, but how do I put up with it without feeling the feeling of pain and anger they give me? —– Dear Dhamma Follower, The first step is to […]

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Abusive Relationship and Buddhism

Sumitta, What is the Buddhist view on staying/leaving emotionally abusive relationships? If we are supposed to have loving kindness and compassion and realize that everyone just wants happiness and to avoid suffering just like ourselves, is it ever proper to endure such a relationship or would that be a hindrance to having compassion for ourselves? […]

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Does Religion Hate Science?

Sumitta, What I have seen in this world is that there is a lot of hate from both sides of religion and science but in my eyes they are pratically the same thing. Other religions hate science because it goes against all that they believe. Whereas buddhism embraces it because we don’t believe that “God” […]

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Their Death Should Wake Us Up To Living.

Each day, hundreds of mourners gather together in West Virginia: first in hope, and now in remembrance. The life of the coal miners is a dangerous one, and so some may not find it surprising that such a tragedy could occur, but nonetheless, it should remind us all of the fragility of life. It begs […]

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New Year: Sickness, Aging and Dying

The big holiday season comes at the end of the year. We celebrate the coming of winter, the shortest day of the year, good will towards men, peace on Earth, resolve to be better to ourselves and others. This time,for most in America, is spent with family and loved ones, huddled over dinner tables of potatoes and yams.

As the end of the year came, I had an experience that brought this time of year back to the first realizations of the Buddha. The Buddha Gotoma, who was always sheltered from the world, had made four trips outside his castle and had his eyes opened to the world around him. He saw the sick, the old and the dying that is the condition of all mankind. He also saw the spiritual people of the world who found happiness.

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Marriage and Buddhism

My advice is always to seek love and develop love with the knowledge of the mortality of love, just as there is mortality in anything that is born. All things are impermanent, but all things are also inter-dependent. The love, compassion, and acceptance we develop with our spouses carries on beyond our marriages. The love we develop in our marriages is not less important because it is temporary, but more precious because of this fact. Two people who have bonded and joined their lives to journey their short time on this world together are a blessed by each other and are able to take a non-monastic path in their understanding of happiness, wisdom, understanding and compassion.

We must choose the Buddhists we wish to be develop and become, always understanding that the goal is not nirvana, but true happiness. While a married lay person must carry a heavier burden in the physical world, they still walk the Middle Path.

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How to deal with people who bother you

We must recognize that when we harbor negative feelings about someone, that it is not a gift or curse from others, but a choice we have to develop those negative thoughts and hold onto them until they become very unpleasant– and only to us.

Instead, let these feelings go. Remind yourself that you should focus on liberating yourself from negativity and replace the arising of those negative thoughts with something positive.

And if you focusing only on the present situation without developing judgments about it you will find that you will not give power to the negative energy we all so easily hold onto in our lives. This is the poison of aversion and clinging. To avoid and push negative energy away, itself takes energy and develops a sense of validity to negative thoughts, just as clinging to them feeds those negative thoughts as well. We end up carrying rotting potatoes.

Feel the lightness of being when we can put down the burden and move forward in our lives without dealing with such things.

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Do I Exist?

Rene Descartes said, “I think therefore I am.” In one short sentence,he was able to sum up the delusion of man, because while he could deny and question the existence of everything external to him, he was unable to rationalize away his own existence. (Actually, he said it in Latin, “Cogito ergo sum!” which made it sound even more impressive.)

But is his statement true? Because we think, do we exist? In Buddhism, so many try to wrap their heads around the concept of emptiness (sunyata): the concept that we have no true nature and therefore possibly do NOT exist. In addition, this concept of emptiness raises other questions of “does any thing exists?” and “what is the point if nothing exists?”

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Mindful Marriage: How to reconnect

After the rings are exchanged, cake is cut, honeymoon tans have faded marriages have to get down to business. The enthusiasm of this new phase in the relationship – the marriage phase—is exciting like a new car: it is shiny, sexy, smooth to ride. Like a new car, we are extra careful in how we treat our new relationships. With a car we do what we can to avoid scratches, change oil regularly, etc. In a new marriage, we work hard to avoid conflict, temptation, maintain passion.

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Craving

Ajahn Brahm addresses the issue of craving.

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Emotions and Dharma

When we develop our Buddhist practice, we develop the habits of loving kindness to replace greed, we develop compassion to replace hatred, and we develop equanimity to replace delusion. We embrace the emotional aspects of who we are, but recognize that emotions are conditioned responses are what we must focus on for change. Nothing is miserable unless we think it is so.

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