Friday, February 24, 2017

What is Love?

     "How few understand what love really is, and how it arises in the human heart. It is so frequently equated with good feelings toward others, with benevolence or nonviolence or service. But these things in themselves are not love.

      Love springs from awareness. It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she really is here and how and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them, otherwise it is not the person that you love but the idea that you have formed of this person, or this person as the object of your desire not as he or she is in themselves.

      The first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking ... a discipline so great that most people would rather plunge headlong into good actions and service than submit to the burning fire of this asceticism. When you set out to serve someone whom you have not taken the trouble to see, are you meeting that person's need or your own?"

       Father Anthony de Mello

     See also:

Marc Chagall

Monday, February 20, 2017

Abuse, Anger & Threats - Do We Have a Choice?

     “The Brahmins, the priest caste in India, were not very friendly toward the Buddha because he was undermining their livelihood. He preached that one didn’t need an intermediary between oneself and the gods in order to gain happiness, also that it wasn’t very useful to pour ghee over stone gods and offer flowers and incense. Since this was the livelihood of the Brahmins, although many of them did eventually become followers of the Buddha, there were others who dislike him thoroughly.
     One day one of the Brahmins who objected to the Buddha came to listen to one of the Buddha’s discourses and, while he was still speaking, walked up and down in front of him. Then he proceeded to abuse the Buddha, using quite rough language. He said the Buddha was the teacher of a wrong doctrine, that he should be chased out of the country, that he was breaking up family life because the young men were following him into monkhood, that the people should not support him; he reviled him in every possible way he could think of. 
     When he had finally run out of words the Buddha, who had been quietly sitting there listening, said, ‘Brahmin, do you ever have guests in your house?’ The Brahmin answered, ‘Yes, of course we have guests in our house.’ The Buddha said, ‘When you have guests in your house, do you offer them hospitality? Do you offer them food and drink?’ The Brahmin said, ‘Well, of course we do. Of course I offer them food and drink.’ The Buddha continued, ‘And if they don’t accept your hospitality, if they don’t take your food and drink, to whom does it belong?’ The Brahmin said, ‘It belongs to me. It belongs to me.’ The Buddha said, ‘That’s right, Brahmin. It belongs to you.’ 
     This is a good story to remember. Any abuse, anger, or threat belongs to the one who is uttering it. We don’t have to accept it.”

      Ayya Khema. “Being Nobody, Going Nowhere. Meditations on the Buddhist Path.” Wisdom Publications, 2016. 

Love Knows No Boundaries

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Wise Wishes & Foolish Desires

     "Wanting to come on a meditation retreat, wanting to see the truth, wanting to gain insight – these would be classified as wise wishes. Wanting dessert after every meal or wanting to experience some blissful state so you can hang out there would be considered foolish desires
     There is indeed pleasure on the spiritual path; the Buddha frequently mentions the fact that gladness and joy are necessary components of the path. But you can't be hankering after that pleasure while working to generate deep concentration. The idea is to see where you are, to know what the instructions say to do at that point, and just do that – without what Ayya Khema called 'result thinking.' 
     As part of the practice for entering the first jhāna, when you recognize the mind has gotten to access concentration and been stabilized there for a bit, then the next step is the focusing on pleasure. That's just part of the path. Just stay focused on the pleasurable sensation and enjoy it. 
     There's nothing wrong with enjoying. It's the grasping and seeking that causes the problems; being there and just staying focused on it is not a problem. But if you are actively wanting the jhāna while you are meditating, that's a hindrance and it's going to prevent you from attaining access concentration, and with no access concentration there's no jhāna possible. This is actually a great example of the second noble truth: dukkha arises from craving."
       Leigh Brasington 

Maddy's Sky

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Difficulties - Wonderlands in Disguise!

     We all have the capacity to experience, embody & stabilize a qualitatively different aspect of our consciousness when we intentionally not react to desire eg scratching an itchy nose, or otherwise moving to get more comfortable, but instead respond with curiosity, closely observing what happens to that desire. This is a key component of meditation practice and evolution of consciousness.

     "... the human species possesses – has within its physical being – the capacity for a mode of conscious awareness that is qualitatively different from our ordinary form of consciousness.

      … getting caught up in our desires … we create suffering. … the mind says, 'I want something, I’ve got to have something.' So … as we buy into different forms of desire, we create the causes of dissatisfaction. … 

     'If you learn to watch desire, see it come and see it go, then that's the way to not create the causes of suffering. That's the basic engine of insight and liberation, seeing that desire arises and passes away and realizing that you don't have to be swept up in it.'

     Later, while sitting in meditation and feeling hungry, Ajahn Amaro noticed that he really wanted to have some pineapple. So he returned his attention to breathing, and noticed that his mind got caught up with something else. Then he "suddenly realized 'Oh, I’ve forgotten about the pineapple.' What hit him was that, Ah, I didn’t get the pineapple, and nothing is missing. That was a huge 'Aha!’ experience. … That’s it! All you’ve got to do is stay with this (practice) and it will be the way out."
       Richard P. Boyle. “Realizing Awakened Consciousness. Interviews with Buddhist Teachers and a New Perspective on the Mind.” Columbia University Press, NY, 2015. 

    Other perspectives:

Frida Kahlo

Friday, February 3, 2017

Listen for Love

If you listen,
not to the pages or preachers
but to the smallest flower
growing from a crack in your heart,
you will hear a great song
moving across a wide ocean
whose water is the music
connecting all the islands
of the universe together,
and touching all
you will feel it
touching you
around you...
embracing you
with light.
It is in that light
that everything lives
and will always be alive.

John Squadra
John Squadra. "This Ecstasy." Hermes Press, Brooks Maine, 1996.

Lawren Harris

Thursday, February 2, 2017

United We Stand

"The health and vitality of any living system - be it an individual, family, organization, or society - is a reflection of how fully and freely each unique, diverse, individual element of that entity is differentiated - and - how closely linked, connected, and attuned those diverse elements are with each other. Any tendency toward walling off, rigidity, exclusion, disrespect, domination, or scattering chaos will undermine and severely diminish the health, vitality, and overall potentiality and adaptability of that living system. Any movement toward honoring diversity, aligning and attuning different people or elements in synergistic ways, developing empathic resonance and mutual care will ultimately enhance the health and well-being of the whole system."

Joel & Michelle Levey 


"If we have no peace,
it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to each other."

Mother Teresa


"When we seek for connection,
we restore the world to wholeness.
Our seemingly separate lives become meaningful
as we discover
how truly necessary we are to each other."

Margaret Wheatley 
 Daiensai & Samantha Ryder