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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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Cleaning out the Attic: Renunciation vs. Refuge

As the Buddha teaches, “A householder looks at his home and thinks that it is too cramped and stifling to remain in this home, and steps away from it into the open air to be free.”

But as lay Buddhists we are not asked to renounce, but to take refuge.

Refuge in Western terms is often looked at as seeking shelter within– and this is the true definition of the word. But the translation from the Pali term “gachammi” really means “to journey with.” This was a common practice and vow in ancient India with gurus and teachers. [CLICK ON THE TITLE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE]

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Is Applied Buddhism a new division of Buddhism?

Applied Buddhism is just another term that I take to mean something slightly different. The transformations made while in temple or in meditation are seen in the gradual evolution of who we are and who we become as Buddhist. However, all that is learned and developed should be seen as tool to use and “apply” in ever moment. The introspection and insight of meditation can be applied to being more mindful and aware of the world around us. The practice of precepts should create skillfulness and wisdom in daily challenges. The lessons of the Buddha should be our guides in every minute of every day.

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Isn’t Suffering Good?

Sumitta, In my opinion, in order to understand suffering you must experience it. So we need to suffer to live and grow. Isn’t this true? __ Dear Dhamma Follower, This is an interesting question. But the first thing we must do is understand what we mean by the word “suffering.” The Pali word (the language […]

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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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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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Enlighten Your Daily Load

It’s the fourth Buddhist Blog Swap, created by the great Nate DeMontigny over at Precious Metal! And this one’s a video-blog swap! This blog swap I have been honored to be paired with Reverend Danny Fisher. He is an individual who I have been following for awhile. You can read his good works on his blog Danny Fisher. […]

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I Get the Strange Feeling Like Nothing is Real

Sumitta, when I just sit sometimes at the beach and try to become present I still get this strange feeling like nothings is real or like you have a veil over your head, does anyone else get this strange feeling. —– Dear Dhamma-follower The mind is a tricky maze that continually changes to meet our […]

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Meditation Is Like Sitting On a River Bank

One of the purposes of meditation is to understand the mechanics of the mind and how it is conditioned to create suffering. By the act of sitting still and becoming an observer of ourselves, we can create wisdom. We see that we have little control over our thoughts. We can see how our egos create […]

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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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