Friday, July 18, 2014

Wrong Concentration during Meditation

     "there can actually be wrong concentration, which has nothing to do with samatha or vipassanā, because both of these have right concentration. 
     Wrong concentration happens to a lot of yogis. They use too much energy to focus because of greed, because they are trying to get something; so they develop this heavy concentration. That can be dangerous. Because it’s wrong concentration, of course it’s dangerous. The motivation behind that kind of concentration is greed actually. They want something so badly they use a lot of energy to focus, thinking that’s how they’ll get it, and sometimes that energy builds up to a level that they themselves cannot control. That’s because there is a combination of the power of focusing and the power of the defilements. So it is really very out of control. Double trouble."          Sayadaw U Tejaniya

       Destined to Teach. Āyasmā Kumāra interviews Sayadaw U Tejaniya, 1996
Vatican Modern Art Collection

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Art is About Us - Meant to be Taken Personally

     "None of the great works of art are about someone else. They're about us. Art is the most personal thing in the world, and we're being asked to take it personally, to receive it personally, to think about it personally. It's challenging us at the most personal levels.

     (Art is TIMELESS. Our sense of separation from previous generations is a relatively new phenomenon.)

     Previous eras have not imagined that they were separate from the flow of history. We, with our invention of photography, video & sound recording can separate this moment from that moment, and lift this moment out as a separate unit. But we're the first generation to do anything like that, or to think of time as anything but the river that we're all in, and sharing with every period in human history."
     Peter Sellars, American theatre director, interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel on CBC Radio:

Venice, Italy

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Struggle & Transformation

     "What we do in theatre and opera is make something that is regenerative, restorative, and allows people to reclaim their full humanity. That's Shakespeare's point, that's Handel's point.
     And it's not easy - it's a struggle! But exactly because it's a struggle, it's transformative."

     Peter Sellars, American theatre director, interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel on CBC Radio:

Will they meet?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What Love is About, What Life is About

     "Spend time with someone, with a certain type of attention, a certain openness of heart, and a certain deep caring, and they will change. And guess what? You will change in the process."

     Peter Sellars, American theatre director, interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel on CBC Radio:

Venice, Italy

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dealing with Pain - Leaning in to Learn

     "You should not be discouraged by painful sensations. Rather, have faith and patience. Persevere until you understand your own true nature."

       Sayadaw U Pandita. "In This Very Life. The Liberation Teachings of the Buddha." Wisdom Publications, Boston, MA, 1992. See p53-56 for excellent details on "Strategies for Dealing with Pain."

Beautiful Back Streets of Rome, Italy

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mind-Body Stillness

     "If movement (during sitting meditation) becomes a habit, you will lose the chance to deepen your meditation practice. Calmness & tranquility of mind have their foundation in stillness of the body."

       Sayadaw U Pandita. "In This Very Life. The Liberation Teachings of the Buddha." Wisdom Publications, Boston, MA, 1992.

The Corner Garage, Venice, Italy

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Deep Down, We Know

     Highly spiritually-evolved people, are said to seamlessly straddle both relative ("self") & ultimate reality ("Self") - "not one, not two". They are said to clearly see how self-serving behavior would cause needless suffering to self & others, and thus naturally choose action that causes the most benefit (& least suffering) to all. This is porousness - being open to the flow of reality, without craving, aversion or delusion.
     I suspect most of us have compromised our values by intentionally choosing the low road - knowing full well what we SHOULD do, and assuming we WILL behave appropriately at an unspecified time in our future, when we inhabit our BETTER selves. We assume we have a stable personality, that SHOULD & MIGHT change later, BUT FOR NOW it's easier, more convenient, more comfortable, being "who we are" - "the way we've always been".

     BUT IN FACT, moment-by-moment, we choose between heaven & hell - which are less than a breath apart, right here, in the eternal now.

Traffic jam in Venice, Italy

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Responsibility, Self-sufficiency & Agency on our Journey

     "... a buddha's ultimate function is to keep reminding us that we must do the work of becoming a buddha ourselves. There will be no final confirmation of our enlightenment from our teacher. There will be no one to congratulate us at the spiritual finish line. In fact, there will be no finish line!"        Frank Berliner

       Frank Berliner. Falling in Love with a Buddha. Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Spring 2014. p43

Moon over Pancole, Tuscany, Italy

Monday, July 7, 2014

Being Visible

     "There is an incredible intimacy that develops when you're with a person who sees you as you are. When you're willing to be seen, when you know you're seen and recognized, there is an intimacy that is like nothing else. In Zen you might say there is no gap between you. We don't get that very often in our lives."              Sallie Jiko Tisdale

       Forum: Your Teacher and You. Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Spring 2014.

Blub   Florence, Italy

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Orthodoxy - an Instrument Tuned Too Tight

     "A Zen teacher ... needs long patience, deep forbearance and forgiveness, and a healthy sense of the immense tragedy and beauty of human life. The more the teacher has an idea of 'Zen' that students must conform to, the more everyone (teacher included) will suffer, if not at first, then later on as people who were initially inspired by that idea come to feel oppressed or even betrayed by it."

       Norman Fischer. "No Teacher of Zen." Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Spring 2014. p51

Tuscan Rainbow, June 2014

Friday, July 4, 2014

Creativity & Communication - in Music ... in Life

     "What do you mean, 'playing really creatively'? Can you give me a concrete example?"

     "Hmm, let's see ... You send the music deep enough into your heart so that it makes your body undergo a kind of a physical shift, and simultaneously the listner's body also undergoes the same kind of physical shift. It's giving birth to that kind of shared state. Probably."

       Haruki Murakami. "After Dark." Bond Street Books, Doubleday, Canada. 2004. p88

Franco Balducci's 2007 "Traveller of Peace" (close-up), San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sitting in Fire

     During meditation practice, we can experience extreme pain / suffering. The intensity can be such that it seems to surpass one individual's share of suffering, and may be an opening to processing our collective, human suffering. Perhaps holding it as a loving group effort is the only way one can bear it. Purging impurities from gold by fire comes to mind.

      "The heart of mindfulness is compassionate awareness able to hold and bear any experience without turning away, and without compulsively having to change the experience. Developing our capacity to 'sit in the fire' with our own suffering is very powerful. Thich Nhat Hahn reminds us that we need to remember to smile to our sorrow and to our pain because we are more that our sorrow or pain. Finding the courage to 'sit in the fire' also builds our confidence and compassion and strengthens us to be more wholeheartedly present with others who we care for when they are suffering."

Steve McCurry

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Work a Concentration Meditation; Retirement an Open Awareness Meditation?

     There are interresting parallels between the relatively narrow focus of working life and concentration forms of meditation; and then a broader opening up to life in general when one retires (or is on a retreat) and open awareness forms of meditation.
     If one can sense the totality of life as one living organism, and resonates with Valera's understanding that communication between all parts of this one massive Self is essential, then we can appreciate the relative tunnel vision of work-life to be potentially problematic. Also, after a lifetime of specialized work, when (if) people retire, they may well find it challenging to open their mind-hearts to the big picture.
     The capacity, indeed the seamless, effortless ease of connecting deeply & being congruent with LIFE is always, throughout life, critical, IF we are to perform our small, individual, specialized roles in harmony with the one orchestra.

Venice, Italy, June 2014