“OK, so what is the secret to happiness?” a friend asked over dinner together. Being a Licensed Social Worker and Buddhist minister, I suppose that people believe that I should have some secret to being happy. The truth is that I do know what makes for a happy life, but it isn’t a secret. Here […]
General Reading: Karen Armstrong. Buddha. London: Phoenix, 2004. Samuel Bercholz and Sherab Chödzin Kohn. The Buddha and his teachings. Boston: Shambhala, 2003. Rick Fields. How the swans came to the lake: A narrative history of Buddhism in America. Boston & London: Shambhala, 1992. Buddhist magazines: Tricycle: Awake in the world. Quarterly. http://www.tricycle.com/ Shambhala Sun: Buddhism, culture, meditation, life. Bimonthly. http://www.shambhalasun.com/ […]
The Buddha was not born the Buddha. Historically, it is accepted that his name was Siddhartha Gautama. He was born into a princely life kept away from worldly troubles and provided a life where he was to only to know pleasure. One day, Siddhartha left his castle with his charioteer. He came across an ill […]
In the forest there is an open grove where only one Bodhi tree grows. As a sapling there is plenty of sunshine and the rains in the morning are warm and refreshing. The world is invigorating and the light from above courses through the large green leaves. With each day it seems to grow a […]
Sumitta, I am a beginner to Theravadan Buddhism. I have used Access to Insight for the majority of my studies– I live on the opposite side of Pennsylvania from you, and there are no teachers in my area. I was wondering how to most efficiently incorporate studying the Buddha’s teachings with my daily life. Do […]
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]
I visited my my family this weekend for a picnic. They live in Chicago. I live almost eight hours away and other family members live even farther. It is rare to get us all together and so I felt compelled to show. I had to deal with many questions of my Buddhist faith. Most of my family is heavily invested into their Christianity and to them, the concepts of any other faith are considered false.
So how do you speak with a Christian that is trying to understand that Buddhism a wholesome practice for everyone? [CLICK ON TITLE TO READ THE FULL STORY]
“Suppose, monks, there is a man journeying on a road and he sees a vast expanse of water of which this shore is perilous and fearful, while the other shore is safe and free from danger. But there is no boat for crossing nor is there a bridge for going over from this side to the other. So the man thinks: ‘This is a vast expanse of water; and this shore is perilous and fearful, but the other shore is safe and free from danger. There is, however, no boat here for crossing, nor a bridge for going over from this side to the other. Suppose I gather reeds, sticks, branches and foliage, and bind them into a raft… [CLICK ON THE TITLE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE]
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.
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.