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 … Read more »
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, after my … Read more »
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 hurt ourselves over and over again. That’s how in the long term we can end up hurting ourselves more than the other person did.
Of course we often don’t think of this is as hurting ourselves. We tend to … Read more »
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.
We all seem to be equipped with brain cells — mirror neurons, they are called — that allow us to … Read more »
Thought, I love thought.
But not the juggling and twisting of already existent ideas.
I despise that self-important game.
Thought is the welling up of unknown life into consciousness,
Thought is the testing of statements on the touchstone of consciousness,
Thought is gazing onto the face of life, and reading what can be read,
Thought is pondering over experience, and coming to conclusion.
Thought is not a trick, or an exercise, or a set of dodges,
Thought is a man in his wholeness, wholly attending.
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 … Read more »
“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 … Read more »
“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 I … Read more »
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, the Brain Imaging Laboratory, … Read more »
Once when I was listening to the Dalai Lama talk in Edinburgh, he was asked a question that went something like this: “You keep talking about changing the world through meditation and compassion, but isn’t anger faster?” His Holiness answered to the effect that it’s precisely because anger acts so swiftly that we have to be wary of it.
His Holiness’s reply reveals Buddhism’s ambivalent attitude to the emotion of anger. Anger’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact it can accomplish a lot of good in the world. Anger can simply be a passionate response to something that we know in our hearts is wrong. His Holiness has himself admitted that he frequently feels … Read more »
When I first started consciously practicing mindfulness in my day-to-day activities, this was one of the first areas I explored. I watched what was running though my head one day as I chatted over lunch with a work colleague. I was dismayed to realize how often I was not really paying attention to him. As he talked about a project we worked on together, I discovered I was busy formulating my own ideas about it. When he continued talking for a long while, I found myself wandering off and planning my afternoon meetings. In short, I was pursuing … Read more »