May 07, 2012
When I first read the second truth, I had goose bumps, because I knew my life was heading in the direction of suffering. All the choices in my life were on the path of suffering, and all the things I was doing in my life too, kept me on the path of suffering. At age fourteen I had chosen to live on the streets. I had gone off the rails. Eighteen months with my biological mother from the ages of eleven to twelve and a half had taught me to self medicate. No adult could tell me what to do. I was going to take complete control of my life. And so …
Apr 02, 2012
The First Truth: There is suffering
Everything is impermanent. What arises will cease. When Shakyamuni gained enlightenment (insight), he became a Buddha, which means he attained an awakened mind. He awoke to what enlightened beings had seen before him. He rediscovered the path onto which we can return. The Four Noble Truths are part of the teachings that connect all Buddhist traditions.
The First Truth, that there is suffering, may seem pessimistic at first, as if life is hopeless. That is how it once appeared for me. Although I had suffered, I would have told you once upon a time that I had a great childhood, but once I stopped going for …
Mar 05, 2012
I was brought up in Essex in an orphanage run by Church of England Christians. Many of them had given up their lives in the material world, to work for the Lord, and looked after poor orphans. There, I learned several Christian truths, including the following three:
- There is a heaven, and if I am “good” I will end up there.
- There is a hell, and if I “mess up” I will end up there.
- I can repent, and the Lord will forgive me.
Reflecting on these three truths, coupled with praying to a God that never came to my rescue when I needed Him, initiated a spiritual …
Feb 06, 2012
When I came to Buddhism 22 years ago, I would never have admitted to being an addict. After all I was doing what everybody else was doing in my work and social life. No one I knew was in a 12 step program, or thinking about sobriety. We were in our 20s, happy go lucky and indulging in our hedonistic lives.
In fact when I first mentioned I was going to stop drinking, my friends were horrified. “What? Not even champagne?” How could I refuse such an offer? “Okay champagne only.” That’s how I became …
Dec 27, 2011
A new monthly blog first Monday of the month, by Vimalasara, a.k.a. Valerie Mason-John.
Why is it that so many people make new year’s resolutions, and two weeks later, they are off the wagon?
A study in 2007 by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol UK showed that 78% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, and those who succeed have 5 traits in common.
Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their
Aug 26, 2008
How do we heal wounds in the mind? Author and performer Vimalasara offers advice, and a poem.
Every time we have a thought tinged with ill will, jealousy, anger, hatred or revenge, we are self-harming, and we are causing a wound to the mind. Whether the thought be about ourselves or another being, or an inanimate object, we are injuring the mind.
Lama Rangdrol, at a talk in the Bay Area, spoke about how we don’t even trust that our minds will heal when we injure them. He said when we cut our hand, we find some ointment, and a band aid, and trust that it will heal, but we never trust our minds will heal …
Feb 22, 2008
The goal of Buddhist practice is “bodhi” or “Awakening.” Waking up fully to reality may yet be far off, but Vimalasara reflects on how in our day-to-day lives the times just before and after sleep can be valuable opportunities for practice.
The first thought when I woke up was, “I want my mind back.” After years of working hard to meet deadlines as a journalist and partying all night with my friends it felt like my brain was riddled with holes. There were big gaps in my memory and I’d sometimes joked that my brain was poisoned with stimulants and alcohol. And it was poisoned, but even worse my heart was toxic as well. And when …
Jan 22, 2008
Is hatred an inextricable part of being human? Can we ever be truly free of hate? Buddhist author Vimalasara believes that hatred is not innate but learned, and explores how this toxic emotion enters the human heart. Vimalasara will be teaching an online course based on her book, Detox Your Heart, starting March 3, 2008.
Hatred is not innate. It is learned. We are not born with hatred in our hearts, but we are born into a culture of hatred. We can see the evidence around us. It’s in our newspapers. on television, in our communities. Some of us enjoy watching war being acted out on television. Violence has become entertainment. When I …
Oct 18, 2007
Buddhist author Vimalasara discusses how we respond to unwanted feelings. Vimalasara will be teaching an online course based on her book, Detox Your Heart, starting November, 2007.
When we are angry a whole host of vulnerable feelings percolates into our hearts. These are so physically uncomfortable they feel as though they are choking us, and all we want to do is move away from them rather than sit with them until we feel something else.
Our aversion to such feelings can be so strong that we believe they need brute force to push them down or purge them. In fact, I have come to realize that, if we can experience all the …