Feb 22, 2008
Antoine de Saint Exupéry: “No single event can awaken within us a stranger whose existence we had never suspected.”
A common misquotation of a saying by a famous French writer gives Bodhipaksa pause for thought: are both the misquotation and the original saying true, even if they’re saying opposite things?
“No single event can awaken within us a stranger whose existence we had never suspected. To live is to be slowly born.”
– Antoine de Saint Exupéry (1900-1944).
Antoine de Saint Exupéry was a famous French aviator and writer who most notably wrote the children’s fable, The Little Prince and who died when his plane crashed in the Mediterranean while on an Allied surveillance mission over France. His writings are deeply philosophical, poetic, and charming.
Jan 29, 2008
Probably all of us have looked at a child and wished we could start our lives over again. We can’t erase the past, but can we find a way to start over? Bodhipaksa, Buddhist practitioner of 25 years and a parent for one year, looks at the art of starting afresh.
I find something touching in the image of Ali, a giant of a man whose career involved a brutally physical sport, looking at a the joy and innocence of a child and wishing to start life over again.
I’m sure we’ve all had those thoughts — “Wouldn’t it be great if I could go back and erase that error? Wouldn’t it …
Dec 28, 2007
I once had a disturbed young man come to a meditation class I was teaching in Edinburgh. As we’d gathered and during the meditation instruction I’d noticed that he was unusually intense and that he had noticeably poor personal hygiene, but in most ways he seemed like a fairly typical young man.
In the discussion following, however, his conversation started to veer off into more bizarre areas. He’d had “cosmic” experiences during the meditation session — experiences whose details I no longer recall but which sounded very off-balance. His girlfriend was apparently an Iranian princess. He was being shadowed by various security forces. Later still, as we were winding up and preparing to leave, and …
Dec 04, 2007
George Bernard Shaw: “A life spent in making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
Are you addicted to busyness? Do you have a sense that your life could hold more meaning? Bodhipaksa discusses George Bernard Shaw’s provocative quotation, and draws out some important lessons about how taking the risk of going deeper into our experience leads to greater fulfillment.
A classic definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, and yet our lives are often characterized by repeated actions that cause us suffering and bring suffering to others as well. We get stuck in patterns of behavior that are destructive, or at least unhelpful or unfulfilling.
For example, I often find myself at the end of the day, …
Oct 31, 2007
Esther Lederer: “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.”
Do you end up with recurrent inner strife, where you argue with voices from the past? And do they argue back? Bodhipaksa explains how to make peace with your inner demons and stop past hurts from proliferating.
In the long run we inevitably hurt ourselves more than others do. Someone in the past did something that we found hurtful. They did or said something, or failed to do or say something, and we experienced physical or emotional hurt. It’s bound to happen. Each instance of hurt only happened one time in our past, and yet we have the faculty of memory that allows us to recall that incident over and over, and thus …
Sep 25, 2007
One of the great paradoxes of spiritual practice is that when we empathize with others — sharing their happiness but also their pain — we feel more fulfilled. We’re more alive. We’re happier.
You’d think it would be the other way around: that if we shared another’s pain we’d be more unhappy, and that if we were to steer clear of getting involved in other’s difficulties then we would be happier.
But we don’t seem to be built like that. Humans are inherently social beings, and need one another in order to be fully human.
Aug 27, 2007
Often beginners to meditation think of thought as “the enemy.” They want to stop thinking altogether, to “have their minds go blank” (as if the mind would be blank without words running through it). This is a misunderstanding, but it’s a reasonable one. After all, who isn’t oppressed by the sheer quantity and the nature of their thoughts?
Thought runs wild. It’s relentless, seemingly tireless. Trying to suppress thought is like a crazy game of whack-a-mole. If you try to force a thought out of your mind it pops up behind you.
Thought is obsessive. It grabs hold of a topic and gnaws away at it like a dog worrying a …
Jul 31, 2007
Lorne Ladner, PhD. “When we ask what makes a happy and meaningful life, one problem that can arise is the tendency to respond with an answer that doesn’t really come from the heart.”
“When we ask what makes a happy and meaningful life, one problem that can arise is the tendency to respond with an answer that doesn’t really come from the heart. At such times the conscious mind has one answer and the unconscious has another, so we become conflicted.”
Lorne Ladner, Ph.D., The Lost Art of Compassion
Ladner brings up, in a particularly clear and articulate way, a central problem in living a life centered on the principles of mindfulness and compassion, which is that we are unintegrated beings who often have not yet become aware even of our own lack of awareness.
Being unintegrated means that we are not whole beings, but rather are composed of …
Jun 21, 2007
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time.”
“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation for such method is love.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I feel it when driving — that desire to get back at the person who cuts me off, or who tailgates, or who nearly hits my car while talking on a cellphone — that surge of fear and anger that causes the heart to beat faster and the hands to tighten around the steering wheel and the thoughts to turn to revenge. If …
May 16, 2007
The Dalai Lama: “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
While it’s quite clear that others may benefit from our compassionate activity, the second part of His Holiness’s observation flies in the face of an assumption that is, for most of us, extremely deep-rooted: that is, the assumption that my individual welfare is best served if I primarily focus on my interests.
But recent scientific research on happiness and brain function suggests that we do help ourselves — by becoming happier — when we help others.
Time magazine recently named Professor Davidson of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, as one of the world’s 100 most influential thinkers. For years Davidson has been researching happiness, sometimes studying Buddhist monks in his lab, …