“All the elements of nature are interwoven and united with each other.” Gospel of Mary Magdalene

October 20, 2010

four elementsIn this extract from his new book, Living as a River, Bodhipaksa discusses how we have mistaken views that limit our sense of who we are.

In 1911, a 32-year-old sportsman and daredevil called Calbraith Perry Rodgers, with a scant 60 hours of airtime in his logbook, set off to cross the United States from coast to coast in his specially modified Wright airplane—the first in private ownership. His dream was to win the $50,000 that tycoon publisher William Randolph Hearst was offering to the first person to fly across the continent within 30 days, but Rodgers, as much a canny businessman as an adventurous pioneer, had a financial backup plan in case … Read more »

Bodhipaksa’s new book on embracing change now available in a Kindle edition

October 4, 2010

kindle edition, living as a riverThe Kindle edition of Living as a River is now available on Amazon.com.

From the back cover: To face reality is to embrace change; to resist change is to suffer. This is the liberating insight that unfolds with Living as a River. A masterful investigation of the nature of self, this eloquent blend of current science and time-honored spiritual insight is meant to free us from the fear of impermanence in a world defined by change.

“An interesting, lively, and genuinely illuminating teaching of dharma.”
—Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart

If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon’s electronic reading device, there are Kindle applications for iPhone, Mac, PC, Blackberry, iPad, Read more »

Being the river

September 29, 2010

living as a riverIn this excerpt from the chapter on the Water Element, I discuss how water is the archetype of all change. All things flow, and we ourselves are not static and separate entities, but eddies in the stream of life.

Title: Living as a River
Author: Bodhipaksa
Publisher: Sounds True
ISBN: 978-1-59179-910-8
Available from: Wildmind, Sounds True, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.com.

The most striking thing about the Water Element is its quality of flowing. It’s because of this characteristic that I too think of water as being the archetype of all the other elements. The Earth Element does flow, to be sure. It flows in a … Read more »

P.G. Wodehouse: “If you come to think of it, what a queer thing Life is!”

February 23, 2010

PG WodehouseWe spend much of our time and energy trying to pretend impermanence isn’t real, but the strange thing is that when we embrace impermanence we become happier, Bodhipaksa argues.

Here’s a very “queer thing” about life: sometimes the things that we think will make us miserable actually make us happier. When Professor Eric D. Miller of Kent State University’s Department of Psychology asked people to imagine the death of their partner they reported that they felt more positive about their relationships and less troubled by their significant others’ annoying quirks.

 I spent the afternoon musing on Life. If you come to think of it, what a queer thing Life is! So unlike anything else, don’t

Read more »

Barbara Sher: “We are like violins. We can be used for doorstops, or we can make music.”

November 30, 2009

violinWe all want to be happy, but often we’re not. Bodhipaksa argues that this is because of the way we treat ourselves as a thing that lacks happiness, and happiness as a thing to be grasped.

In a parable in the Buddhist teachings, a king hears the sound of a lute for the first time and asks to see what produced such sweet music. A lute is produced, but the king is not satisfied. He wants to know where the music is. His ministers say,

“This lute, sire, is made of numerous components, a great many components. It’s through the activity of numerous components that it sounds: that is, in dependence on the body, the

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Act Normal: The origin of suffering

November 18, 2009

Act Normal: A Documentary by Olaf de FleurRobert T. Edison was born and raised in Nottingham, England. When he was fourteen years old he began to practice Buddhism. At eighteen he became a monk and went to Thailand where, for a decade, he spent his time in monasteries.

He became the first Buddhist monk in Iceland when he moved there in 1994 and founded a Buddhist sect.

In this clip, from the documentary, Act Normal, directed by Olaf de Fleur, Edison, at that time a monk in Thailand, contrasts the Buddhist explanation of the cause of suffering with the explanations from theistic religion.

Act Normal can be purchased from Poppoli Pictures.

Just who do you think you are?

November 13, 2008

phrenology head

There’s a compelling article in Atlantic on the theory that the self is not unitary but a composite of multiple selves.

“First Person Plural,” is written by Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale University and the author of Descartes’ Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human. He’s writing a book on the theme of pleasure, and I imagine it’ll be well-worth reading.

His article shows that the self is not a single entity but a multiplicity:

Many researchers now believe, to varying degrees, that each of us is a community of competing selves, with the happiness of one often causing the misery of another. This theory might

Read more »

Milarepa: “When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick: every time a stick is thrown, you run after it. Instead, be like a lion who, rather than chasing after the stick, turns to face the thrower. One only throws a stick at a lion once.”

August 5, 2006

milarepaMilarepa (1052-1135) was a great Tibetan Yogi who lived an austere life on the bare hillsides of the Himalayas, eking out an existence on donations and the few plants — principally nettles — that grow in that harsh environment. His name means “The Cotton-Clad One,” and he generally wore just a thin sheet, using the heat generated by meditation practices to keep the fierce Tibetan cold at bay.

Despite his remote living situation he attracted many disciples and visitors, and although he belonged to no school he is particularly venerated by the Tibetan Kagyus, who trace their lineage back through him.

Milarepa was a master of Mahamudra, a meditation approach that emphasizes the innate purity … Read more »

Sandra Sunnyo Lee: Self No Self – Meditation Paintings

March 20, 2003

A Korean-born artist gives visual expression to the Zen teaching of No Self, a meditation on the path to overcoming alienation between an individual and society or nature. Read more