Mindfulness and the big picture

October 3, 2014

Gerbera in closeupSomeone asked me:

I keep hearing about mindfulness where ones needs to pay attention to everything. But I am a bit confused and hoping someone can explain it to me in details. Am I supposed to be mindful of everything all at the same time? For example, every time I talk, I automatically remember to be careful about what words I should use. But how can one be mindful of everything all at the same time?

Actually, it’s not necessary, and usually not possible or desirable, to pay attention to everything at once. Right now I’m typing these words, and so I’m not paying attention to the sounds coming from outside the house. I could … Read more »

Right intention

March 26, 2014

lighted candlesOf course, the first question regarding intention is, for what?

All the great wisdom traditions of the world, and all the great moral philosophers, have grappled with this question. What should we want?

There are many ways to approach this question. Some try to answer it in terms of discerning the will or desires of their sense of a Divine influence, of God. Others through resort to certain ideals or abstractions. And others through reliance on some kind of authority, such as a priestly class or a scripture.

In the case of the Buddha – and also some moral philosophers – he approached this question pragmatically, in terms of what leads to more or less … Read more »

Meditation is not enough

October 10, 2012

Meditation is a cool means of transformation, and essential as part of our practice, but the Buddha offered much, much more.

Last night at a Dharma study group that I meet with on Skype, we looked at the Meghiya Sutta. Meghiya was an attendant of the Buddha, and one time when the two of them were together, Meghiya asked if he could go off and meditate in a lovely looking mango grove that he’d spotted when he was off on his alms-round. Meghiya had thought that the mango grove would be the perfect place to meditate.

The Buddha asked him to wait, though, since he would be left alone. Presumably he wanted the company, or … Read more »

How we use effort to get to a state of effortless meditation

February 9, 2012

From time to time I’ll hear people saying that meditation shouldn’t involve effort. For example, Krishnamurti said, “All effort to meditate is the denial of meditation.” And I just stumbled upon a website that decried the “arrogance” and “ignorance” of those who say that meditation involves effort, because “Effort is the antithesis of meditation.”

It’s clear, though, when you look at the Buddha’s teachings, that he encouraged us to make effort in meditation, and in our lives generally. His last words, in fact, were “With diligence, strive on.”

And in my own meditation I find I have to make effort all the time. I have to let go of compulsive thinking, steer my awareness back … Read more »