Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why do Buddhists meditate?

     "In the context of Buddhism, meditation is focusing our mind on that which brings lasting happiness and then experiencing that happiness. In this way we can understand that the ultimate result of Buddhist meditation is the direct experience of that totality. All accomplished practitioners describe that experience as extremely blissful and express it in a way that is beneficial and meaningful to others."
     Kallianiotis T. Understanding and applying meditation. Buddhism Today 2012; Spring / Summer (29): 45-48.          http://www.buddhism-today.org/

Photo: minniev   www.dpreview.com

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Peeling the onion

     It's quite remarkable how life, out of "grandmotherly kindness", removes layer after layer of armoring around our hearts. Of course we can choose to re-armor - OR - adapt to life in this new more open, more sensitive, sensible, connected plane of existence.

Photo: Matyszyk   www.dpreview.com

Friday, July 27, 2012

Your "Central Sacred Question"?

     “Whether we recognize it or not, each one of us has a central sacred question around which our lives circle. It may be apparently abstract, such as, ‘What is truth?’ or ‘What is wisdom?’ Or it may be eminently practical, such as, ‘How can I learn to love?’ ‘How can I best contribute to others?’ ‘What is my gift to the world?’ Whatever the question, how passionately we pursue and live it in large part determines how fully and wholeheartedly we live and how peacefully and contentedly we die.”

         Walsh R. “Essential spirituality. The 7 central practices to awaken heart and mind.” John Wiley & Sons Inc, NY, 1999.

Photo: aquapell   www.dpreview.com

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tempus fugit

And the days are not full enough

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass.

Ezra Pound, 1885-1972

Photo: Jill Rex   www.dpreview.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Open to life or Goal-driven?

     How often have we focused all or most of our hopes, attention and efforts on a particular goal, assuming it will make us happy (like a child craving an ice cream cone)? Each time we do, we give the rest of our (real) life - as it rushes past - far less than the love and attention it needs. And of course we're left dissatisfied - from chasing nonsense, missing out on the fullness of our life, probably both.
     Narrow-focused goal-orientation feels like chasing or being chased, anxious striving, tightness in the heart-mind. "Now sucks ... but wait till I achieve / get X - oh then it will be perfect!" No it never is.

     When we manage to be equanimous - and it does happen at times - neither highs nor lows feel extreme; we're not bent out of shape. Our heart remains open to all experience. Like an adult eating ice cream, it's nice, but far from transcendent bliss. Likewise, unpleasant events are not tragic upheavals either - perhaps because we didn't have all our hopes riding on the event.
     An embracing sense of kindness opens towards life in general. There's a feeling of being at home with everything and everyone. Nowhere to go, nothing to accomplish - other than to be of service - being appropriate to the needs of those around us.

     None of this is a "should" - it all comes in its own time. What is your mind-heart saying?

Martha in her domain.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stuckness in Depression / Cynicism - Mindful Vow to keep Opening

     "When we're mindful, there should be surprises." Stephanie Morgan, psychologist & social worker
     She contrasts this to the state of stuckness / pseudocontrol people suffering from depression experience. Whether in a depressed pseudocontrol mode or an "armor of intellectual complacency", stuck is stuck. 
     The antidote would seem to be a commitment or vow to fearless ongoing process of opening to what is.
       “Meditation in psychotherapy.” Two-day continuing medical education course, by the Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance Physicians Organization, Boston Park Plaza Hotel, June 9-10, 2006.

     Parker J. Palmer writes, and Sarah MacDougall sings eloquently about living and thriving with depression.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Are we that different?

     “they hail the holy month by this creeping ambulation, murmuring an Om mani padme hum with every bead that drips from their blackened fingers. Sometimes they chant longer prayers, distressed or musical, flattening their palms together in still graceful supplication, or twirl hand-held wheels.”
       Thubron C. To a mountain in Tibet. Harper Perennial, NY, 2011.

     As I typed my user name and password into my laptop, I had the sudden feeling that there was little difference between myself and the Tibetans above - mainly different technologies at hand.

Photo: Massimo Gobbetti   www.dpreview.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Loss and beauty

     “I have experienced extreme sadness and loss, feeling the whole world weeping and dark with the fresh absence of someone I love. At the same time I have felt some appreciation and equanimity, because loss, searing as it can be, is also beautiful, sad and beautiful. My tears, my sadness, are beautiful because they are the consequence of love, and my grieving makes me love the world and life all the more. Every loss I have ever experienced, every personal and emotional teaching of impermanence that life has been kind enough to offer me, has deepened my ability to love.
     The happiness that spiritual practice promises is not endless bliss, endless joy, and soaring transcendence. Who would want that in a world in which there is so much injustice, so much tragedy, so much unhappiness, illness, and death? To feel the scourge of impermanence and loss and to appreciate it at the same time profoundly as the beautiful essence of what it means to be at all – this is the deep truth I hear reverberating in the Buddha’s last words. Everything vanishes. Practice goes on.” 
        Fischer N. Impermanence is Buddha nature. Shambhala Sun, May 2012. http://www.shambhalasun.com

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Buddha Nature

     “the self is not, as we imagine, an improvable permanent isolated entity we and we alone are responsible for; instead it is impermanence itself, which is never alone, never isolated, constantly flowing, and immense: Buddha Nature itself.”

Fischer N. Impermanence is Buddha nature. Shambhala Sun, May 2012. http://www.shambhalasun.com


Monday, July 9, 2012

What can and can't I see?

     “the hidden history of the West … can be described as a series of stages by which we obscured the worldly wonders that people in the Homeric Age saw everywhere … To understand this hidden history is to see that this type of engagement with the world is still available to us. It has been marginalized in our culture, to be sure, but it stands ready to be cultivated and revivified.”
        Dreyfus H, Kelly SD. All things shining. Reading Western classics to find meaning in a secular age. Free Press, NY, 2011.

     “For centuries (Tibetans) have envisaged a holy land of their own, invisible or inaccessibly remote. The precise location of this kingdom of Shambala is uncertain … Some even have a notion that Shambala floats in another dimension of time … No word for ‘enemy’ or ‘war’ is known here. Its founding king was taught by the Buddha himself, and as his subjects grew more selfless, so their country faded from human sight.”
        Thubron C. To a mountain in Tibet. Harper Perennial, NY, 2011. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sometimes silence

     “Sometimes silence falls: not the awkward Western hiatus, but a comfortable interval festive with burps and chomping, among people to whom eating is not taken for granted.”
        Thubron C. To a mountain in Tibet. Harper Perennial, NY, 2011. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

State of induced childishness

     “A culture that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion dies. And we are dying now. We will wither wake from our state of induced childishness, one where trivia and gossip pass for news and information, one where our goal is not justice but an elusive and unattainable happiness, to confront the stark limitations before us, or we will continue our headlong retreat into fantasy. Those who cling to fantasy in times of despair and turmoil inevitably turn to demagogues and charlatans to entertain and reassure them. And these demagogues, as they have throughout history, lead the crowd, blinded and amused, towards despotism.”
        Hedges C. Empire of illusion. The end of literacy and the triumph of spectacle. Alfred A. Knopf, Canada, 2009.