Listening to the Buddha within

September 20, 2015

Expedient_Means_Lotus_Sutra_2

The history of Buddhist scriptures has, to simplify a little, two main phases. There were the initial teachings, recorded in a number of languages and passed on first orally and then in written form. The sole complete version of these that we have is called the Pali canon.

Then there are the Mahayana (“Greater Vehicle”) scriptures, which often claim to be the word of the Buddha, but which were clearly composed much later. The style of these indicates that they were composed as written works, and didn’t go through a phase of oral transmission.

The fact that the Mahayana scriptures don’t literally come from the Buddha doesn’t invalidate them as sources of wisdom, of course. … Read more »

Connection before kindness

September 17, 2015

love and relationships concept - closeup of woman and man holding handsI’ve had a lot of opportunity to teach metta, or “lovingkindness,” over the last two years. One thing I’m doing differently as a result is referring to metta as “kindness,” rather than “lovingkindness. The “loving” part of “lovingkindness” doesn’t, to my mind, add anything, but rather takes what’s a concrete experience and makes it seem rather abstract. It’s easy to picture what it’s like when someone is kind to you, but it’s harder to imagine someone relating to you in a way that demonstrates lovingkindness.

The simple word “kindness” seems to be an ideal term to translate “metta.” Kindness, after all, is simply relating to another being in a way that respects their desire to … Read more »

Self-consciousness versus self-awareness

September 12, 2015

flow

In meditation we can slip into a flow state — that is, one where we’re un-selfconsciously and happily absorbed in an activity. What we’re focused on in a state of meditative flow are the experiences that are arising in meditation itself. So in a meditative flow state we’re focused on the experience of flow itself.

This is puzzling if we assume that “un-selfconsciously” means “unmindfully.” After all, isn’t meditation supposed to make us more self-aware? The thing is that self-awareness and selfconsciousness aren’t the same thing — at least not in the way those words are being used here.

When we’re selfconscious, and therefore unable to be in a state of flow, what happens is … Read more »

Becoming a hand of the bodhisattva of compassion

September 11, 2015

MULTITUDE OF HANDS 2

The short version is that we’re raising funds to help cover the cost of our recent site redesign.

Not only is the new design more attractive, but it’s designed to be easy to use on a small screen. If you’re on a computer right now, go grab your phone, navigate to www.wildmind.org, and then explore the site. Isn’t it cool?

We’re already seeing the benefits of the change—or rather our visitors are. The number of pages viewed per day have gone up 32%! The amount of time people are spending on the site has gone up 52%! This is fantastic! More people are learning meditation.

The benefit isn’t just for mobile users. To our surprise, … Read more »

The evolution of Wildmind

September 2, 2015

IMG_0917If you’ve been here before, you’ll probably notice that the place is looking a bit different. Just yesterday we launched a new design put together by John Lapointe of dominet.ca.

If you’re on a mobile device, you’ll find that the new design is now much easier to read. No more tapping to resize columns of text! Everything is designed to fit the device you’re using, whether it’s a tiny phone screen or a 27 inch high definition monitor.

One of the side-effects of this is that it’s made our beloved iPhone app redundant. The purpose of the app was to make the blog more readable on smaller screens, and the new design takes care … Read more »

Make meditation a daily habit

August 26, 2015

sit breathe love 1000Sit : Breathe : Love (Sep 1–28) is a 28 Day Meditation Challenge with the aim of helping you to set up the habit of meditating daily.

It’s suitable for people of all levels of experience, including complete beginners.

The benefits of regular meditation have been demonstrated again and again in multiple studies. Meditating makes you happier, is good for your health, protects your brain from aging, boosts your intelligence, and helps reduce pain, stress, and depression.

But it’s not easy to set up a regular meditation practice.

So we’re here to help you!

The aim of the 28 Day Challenge is to work to build up a daily habit of meditation by sitting every … Read more »

DREAM BIG!

August 20, 2015

dream bigIf you live in or near Connecticut you might be interested in an event I’m participating in that takes place from September 13–14, 2015. It’s at The Spa at Norwich Inn, which looks like an amazing place. I’m really looking forward to going there.

The event is “Dream Big! The Power of Health and Inner Peace.” It’s organized by Marie Mozzi, who was formerly the director of the spa at the world famous Greenbrier, in West Virginia.

Being healthy, vibrant, and filled with peace and passion requires a real sense of self, the ability to dream, set goals and the desire to achieve whatever you set out to do…

Fall is the perfect time

Read more »

Hiding from pain by pursuing pleasure

August 13, 2015

Fun fair long exposure Photo taken at the fun fair of Hoorn

There’s a famous teaching, the Sallatha Sutta, in which the Buddha discusses our suffering as consisting of “two arrows.” The first arrow is simply the unavoidable suffering that we all experience as a result of being human. We’re all going to experience loss, hurt feelings, physical pain, illness, etc. The wise person simply observes this pain mindfully. The unwise person responds to suffering through resistance: “Why is this happening to me? This is terrible!”

The Buddha called this reaction “grief, sorrow and lamentation,” and he pointed out that this was like responding to the first arrow with a second one! Our resistance to pain simply causes further pain—perhaps even more than we’d originally experienced. … Read more »

Help new Buddhists in India go on retreat

August 13, 2015

2456436261_befc012827_oBorn as an “untouchable” in India (literally considered so polluted that a caste Hindu would have to purify him or herself after making physical contact) Bhimrao Ambedkar publicly converted to Buddhism on 14 October 1956, in Nagpur, India.

The significance of this is that, despite having been banned from sitting in a schoolroom with other (caste Hindu) children, Ambedkar had managed to gain an education, study abroad, and had become India’s first law minister—and the architect of the newly independent country’s constitution.

Ambedkar realized that most ex-untouchables were chained to the idea that they are inferior and that it was by changing themselves—through the practice of the Buddha Dhamma changing those deep-seated ideas—that they could … Read more »

My two forthcoming events at New York Insight

August 11, 2015
My book, "Living as a River," is an experiential exploration of the Buddhist teaching of non-self.
My book, “Living as a River,” is an experiential exploration of the Buddhist teaching of non-self.
Last year I was honored to run a workshop on self-compassion at the New York Insight Center. I’ve been invited back to teach again this fall, and this time I’ll be involved in two events.

“Debugging the Dharma”

The first one isn’t on the NYI website yet, as far as I know. I’ll update this post when that changes. It’s a conversation between myself and James Shaheen, editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. We’ll be discussing the topic “Debugging the Dharma” as part of NYI’s Dharma in Dialogue series, which has included teachers such as Sam … Read more »