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Sit : Love : Give

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Bodhipaksa

Jul 14, 2013

Lay your burden down (Day 93)

mountainsTo recap, upekkha is the desire that beings (ourselves included) know the profound peace of awakening. Since lovingkindness is the desire that beings be happy, upekkha is kind of lovingkindness on steroids; for beings to attain the deepest peace possible, they have to awaken from the delusion of separate and permanent selfhood, which is a key source of our suffering. It’s losing this sense of separateness and permanence that’s, in fact, the key to awakening. So to be “upekkhaful” (and I may be the first person on the planet to have used that term in writing!) is to desire that beings awaken and find peace.

I’ve already talked about one way in …

Bodhipaksa

Jun 30, 2013

Even-mindedness and the two arrows (Day 79)

100 Days of LovingkindnessUpekkha, or even-minded love, is the fourth of the series of meditations we’re looking at in our 100 Days of Lovingkindness series.

As I discussed in the first post on upekkha, this word has several different meanings, although they’re all related.

There’s:

  • Even-mindedness where we are able to accept ups and downs (specifically, pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings) without being thrown off-balance.
  • Even-mindedness in the deep states of meditative absorption called jhana, where the mind is very stable and focused.
  • Even-mindedness as one of the four immeasurables (brahmaviharas), where we have even-minded love.
  • Even-mindedness as a synonym for the awakened state, or enlightenment, where greed, hatred, and delusion have been unrooted, and so
  • Bodhipaksa

    Jun 25, 2013

    “A person of integrity is grateful and thankful” — The Buddha (Day 74)

    100 Days of LovingkindnessThe Buddha, in Bhikkhu Thanissaro’s translation at least, said, “A person of integrity is grateful and thankful.” This is one of those thoughts that I’m profoundly grateful for because I don’t think it would ever have occurred to me. Yet searching the web for the terms “gratitude” and “integrity” brought me to an interesting book, The Gratitude Factor: Enhancing Your Life Through Grateful Living, by Charles M. Shelton.

    Shelton explores this theme of integrity and gratitude. He distinguishes between thankfulness (which involves being appreciative of some specific person or thing) and gratitude (which is a deeper and more pervasive attitude to life consisting of being grateful not just …

    Bodhipaksa

    May 31, 2013

    There is no one to have compassion, no one to have compassion for (Day 50)

    100 Days of LovingkindnessA couple of times people have contacted me saying that self-compassion is not possible. Both times they’ve quoted dictionary definitions that present compassion as something that’s inherently directed toward others. For example:

    com·pas·sion n. Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. [Emphasis added]

    And the etymology of compassion — “[to be] with suffering” — has also been cited as a reason for rejecting the notion of self-compassion, because that’s taken to suggest that we be with the suffering of others.

    But it can be misleading to insist that the etymology of a word defines or exhausts its present meaning. Sure, com- means with …

    Bodhipaksa

    May 23, 2013

    Compassion is not superiority (Day 42)

    100 Days of LovingkindnessIt’s very easy for us to assume that the one who feels compassion is in some way superior to the one he or she feels compassion for. This is partly rooted, I presume, in the assumption that it’s weak to suffer, but that assumption in turn grows from our biological conditioning. We’re social animals, and one of the things a social animal has as part of its genetic makeup is a propensity to establish where it stands in a social hierarchy.

    In Buddhist terms this is “seeking status,” which is one pair of the eight lokadhammas, which could be translated as “ways of the world,” although it’s often poetically …

    Vimalasara

    May 06, 2013

    Powerless over our thoughts

    Inner Workings of the Human Mind

    “For many, negative thinking is a habit, which over time, becomes an addiction… A lot of people suffer from this disease because negative thinking is addictive to each of the Big Three — the mind, the body, and the emotions. If one doesn’t get you, the others are waiting in the wings.” – Peter McWilliams, American self help author.

    ‘We admitted we were powerless over (addiction) — that our lives had become unmanageable.’ This is step one in the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous and all other twelve-step programs that exist including ALANON – which is a twelve-step group for families of alcoholics.

    This is a poignant step for …

    Bodhipaksa

    Mar 16, 2013

    Love yourself, and your self will love you back

    Buddha with lotusThis week one of my students described how she tends to talk to herself in a very harsh tone of voice — much harsher than she’d ever use with other people. And that’s a very common experience. In our own minds we often describe ourself as “an idiot,” tell ourselves that our actions were “stupid,” or limit ourselves by telling cruel stories about how people don’t like us and how we’ll never be good at the things we do.

    We tend not to talk this way to others, or at least to a much lesser extent. Of course if we do there tends to be a backlash. We cause hurt, anger, …

    Bodhipaksa

    Mar 11, 2013

    Gratitude, creativity, and the “boys in the basement”

    Glass lamp in a black backgroundLast night I sat without a timer, or rather using a stick of incense to time my sit. Recently I bought some rather lovely Shoyeido Nokiba (Moss Garden) incense, which has long sticks that burn for 50 minutes. It’s a nice alternative to using my iPad as a timer. Sometimes it’s nice not to have electronics between me and my little altar.

    The Boys in the Basement offered up some interesting experiences. The “Boys in the Basement” is a term I borrowed from the novelist Stephen King. He uses it to refer to the creative powers of the mind. I write quite a lot, and the term resonated …

    Bodhipaksa

    Feb 14, 2013

    Listening as a meditation practice

    100 day meditation challenge 045For Day 45 of Wildmind’s 100 Day Meditation Challenge I wanted to post something I wrote in response to one of our participants who found it useful to set a bell to ring every so often while she was meditating.

    What I’ve found is that when I’m listening very intently to something, I can’t also do much (if any) thinking. So listening to a gong can be very calming.

    When we’re listening we’re also being very receptive and open, and opposed to all the “doing” we normally, well, do. That “doing,” if were not being very mindful, tends to make us close off to our experience, so that we …

    Bodhipaksa

    Jan 22, 2013

    Day 22 of Wildmind’s 100 Day Meditation Challenge

    100 day meditation challenge 022Have you ever had the experience that you’ve been experiencing distractedness in meditation, and you return from a distraction only to find that — in your absence — a state of joy and calmness has been created for you? That was my experience tonight. A state of joy and calm had been created without my doing anything consciously to bring it about.

    At the same time I noticed this I found that, as has been happening a lot lately, an urge appeared to “just rest.” I needed to get out of the way, stop trying to do anything, and allow the meditation to happen.

    I see this as …