Mar 06, 2015
The Enlightened Brain: The Neuroscience of Awakening, by Rick Hanson (7 CDs) The specific meaning of “dana” is giving, which is related to the quality of “caga” (in Pali), or generosity. The one involves doing, while the other involves being.
While this distinction is useful in its comprehensiveness, in actuality generosity and giving, being and doing, are intertwined and inextricable. Being is itself a kind of doing, as you cannot help but radiate certain qualities out into the world. And every doing – at each endlessly disappearing and regenerating instant of NOW – is a microscopic slice of being.
Giving and generosity can be expressive or restrained. For …
Dec 22, 2014
Normal as they are, these inhibitions limit your autonomy, and consequently, your intimacy. Their regulation is excessive and thus unskillful. And they harm others by denying them important information about how you are feeling and what you really care about. Here are some ways to deal with them:
1. Draw on the slow but powerful prefrontal cortex to keep reminding yourself that you are entitled to the pursuit of your own happiness, to your own experience, and your own view – and that you will communicate in a virtuous manner. It could help to write out a kind of manifesto – usually for your eyes alone – declaring …
Dec 15, 2014
The Third Noble Truth comes directly from the Second one: The end of suffering comes with the end of clinging.
As Achaan Chah said, “If you let go a little, you’ll have a little happiness. If you let go a lot, you’ll have a lot of happiness. If you let go completely . . . you’ll be completely happy.”
You can do this at the macro level, in letting go regarding lights turning green, or payments arriving, or your teenage children giving you a hug. Sure, you’d like things to turn out well, and that’s fine. You take practical steps toward them turning out well, and that’s also fine. But you can simultaneously have …
Dec 01, 2014
The Second Noble Truth describes the principal cause of suffering. It is clinging. . . to anything at all.
The bad news is that we suffer. The good news is that there is a prime cause – clinging – that we can address.
There are lots of words that get at different aspects of clinging. For example, the original Pali word is “tanha,” the root meaning of which is thirst. Here are some related words, and you might like to pause briefly after each one to get a sense of the experience of it: Desire. Attachment. Striving. Wanting. Craving. Grasping. Stuck. Righteous. Positional. Searching. Seeking. Addicted. Obsessed. Needing. Hunger.
As a general statement, clinging …
Nov 17, 2014
The Four Noble Truths are the most fundamental teaching of the Buddha. Deceptively simple, they actually provide a profound explanation of human unhappiness, both gross and subtle, and how to attain increasingly positive states of mind, from stress relief in daily life to an unshakeable calm happiness and a selflessly compassionate heart.
With regard to the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha has been likened to a physician who diagnoses a condition, explains what causes it and what will end it, and then lays out in detail its cure.
The Noble Truth of Suffering
The first Noble Truth is that life contains inevitable, unavoidable suffering. (Some translators use the word, “stress,” to convey the broad …
Nov 06, 2014
The inhibition profile of a particular person can be quite nuanced. For example, in terms of attachment theory, a person raised by a “dismissing” parent could worry about asking too much of others, and someone with an “inconsistent” parent –alternately intrusive and rejecting – could feel ashamed or guilty about desires that differ from those of her partner. Or, as a generalization, boys are socialized not to show fear, girls not to show anger; since what people do not express tends to build up inside, I’ve counseled relationships in which the man is anxious about the woman, and she’s irritated with him. I’ve also worked with people who:
- Can express “armored” emotions like
Oct 24, 2014
Let’s consider ways to cultivate more peace of mind – and even its consummation in profound equanimity – by working with the eight gears of the machine of suffering that we explored in this earlier post. (There are other methods, too, that are more specifically Buddhist, and you might like to explore the Access to Insight website for more information.)
This list is by no means exclusive: it just points to how many great tools are available these days for managing our emotional reactions.
Methods for Appraisals
- Stay mindful of the whole.
- Be mindful of the meanings, the framings, we give things.
- Challenge the significance the mind gives something. Is it really an 8 on
Oct 14, 2014
Children express what they feel and what they want through their actions, emotions, signals, and, by their second birthday, words. Then people respond, including their parents, teachers, and other children; responses can be active or passive, verbal or nonverbal, positive or negative.
These interactive episodes are usually brief, so there are a lot of them each day. For example, from multiple studies, a reasonable estimates that a typical toddler has his or her wants thwarted about twenty times an hour, or on an average of once every three minutes.
Whether it’s called for or not, each thwarting is a communication, a message, to the child: “No.” Then there …
Oct 10, 2014
Everyone messes up. Me, you, the neighbors, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, King David, the Buddha, everybody.
It’s important to acknowledge mistakes, feel appropriate remorse, and learn from them so they don’t happen again. But most people keep beating themselves up way past the point of usefulness: they’re unfairly self-critical.
Inside the mind are many sub-personalities. For example, one part of me might set the alarm clock for 6 am to get up and exercise . . . and then when it goes off, another part of me could grumble: “Who set the darn clock?” More broadly, there is a kind of inner critic and inner protector inside each …
Sep 19, 2014
Can you stay open to the pain of others?
Humans are an empathic, compassionate, and loving species, so it is natural to feel sad, worried, or fiery about the troubles and pain of other people. (And about those of cats and dogs and other animals, but I’ll focus on human beings here.)
Long ago, the Buddha spoke of the “first dart” of unavoidable physical pain. Given our hardwired nature as social beings, when those we care about are threatened or suffer, there is another kind of first dart: unavoidable emotional pain.
For example, if you heard about people who go to bed hungry – as a billion of us …