May 11, 2013
Yesterday I wrote about the complexities of the “near enemy” of compassion, which is the grief that arises from attachment. So we might feel bad when we see someone suffering, but not actually have any empathy for them. That’s not compassion. It’s “grief” at having our normal experience disrupted by someone who’s inconsiderate enough to suffer. Or we may spiral into despair and sorrow (which is called “failed compassion”) because we’re unable to bear the discomfort of knowing someone is suffering. This is all rather tricky for people to get hold of, sometimes, and it’s potentially undermining because we can end up doubting, in an unhelpful, self-hating kind of …
Mar 04, 2013
Is an ocean of suffering,
Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
So what is Samsara? Most of us have heard of Nirvana. And assume Samsara is the exact opposite. Nirvana is more the juxtaposition of Samsara that can give a feeling of balance. Nirvana and Samsara are here, in this present moment. Both of them right here, right now. If we have suffered from an addiction we would have experienced a taste of what Samsara could be.
I’m not sure it is helpful to define either concept. Though of course Samsara is some of what I have alluded to before. Our lack of recognizing that we have had a precious birth, …
Feb 04, 2013
‘We act, and positive or negative consequences will follow. Just as our bodies move in the world, our shadow will follow us too. Just as we are born, death will follow too. We cannot escape this law of cause and effect, it is with us in every breath that we take.’
From the new book, Eight Step Recovery: Using the Buddha’s Teaching to Overcome Addiction, Publication date 2014, by Valerie Mason-John (me) and Dr Parambandhu Groves
Speak and you have spoken. As soon as you have spoken your words have been heard.
Think a thought and you are thinking. As soon as you think a thought you have acted, creating …
Jan 18, 2013
I’ve been a vegetarian for over 30 years now, ever since I visited a slaughterhouse as part of my veterinary studies and saw an animal being slaughtered. I didn’t consciously decide to become vegetarian. It was as if the decision was made for me, deep down, and I just had to go along with it. And in 30 years I’ve never once been tempted to lapse.
And I’ve tried being vegan several times, sometimes lasting for a few years. It’s a natural and logical extension of vegetarianism. Really, there isn’t a lot of different between eating eggs and eating a chicken. In both cases a chicken dies, but in one case the chicken …
Jul 23, 2012
The Buddha ate meat. This is a fairly well attested fact. The issue of vegetarianism is addressed a few times in the Suttas, notably the Jivaka Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya. The Buddha consistently affirmed that monastics were permitted to eat meat, as long as it was not killed intentionally for them. There are numerous passages in the Vinaya that refer to the Buddha or the monastics eating meat, and meat is regularly mentioned as one of the standard foods.
For these reasons, the standard position in Theravada Buddhism is that there is no ethical problem with eating meat. If you want to be vegetarian, that is a purely optional choice. Most Theravadins, whether lay …
Apr 22, 2012
I wonder what kind of “meditation” Anders Breivik — who shot 69 people on an island in Norway last year, as well as killing another eight with a bomb — was doing?
According to this report,
When prosecutors Friday asked Breivik whether he felt empathy for others, the killer said he taught himself to dull all emotions – “from happiness to sorrow, despair, hopelessness, anxiety, fear” through meditation.
It’s possible that Breivik was not doing anything resembling traditional Buddhist meditation, which encourages compassion and non-repression of emotions. I’d be 100 confident that Breivik was not practicing lovingkindness or compassion meditation!
Traditionally, meditation is only one part of the spiritual path, and it’s accompanied with …
Dec 27, 2011
A new monthly blog first Monday of the month, by Vimalasara, a.k.a. Valerie Mason-John.
Why is it that so many people make new year’s resolutions, and two weeks later, they are off the wagon?
A study in 2007 by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol UK showed that 78% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, and those who succeed have 5 traits in common.
Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their
Nov 30, 2011
The four reminders are:
- our lives are precious
- we are not immortal
- our actions have consequences and
- we can learn to transcend pain.
These reminders can make a difference in how we live our lives, if we keep them in mind and reflect on them each day.
1. The preciousness of life – our lives are precious and our physical and mental health, energy, freedom, food, and money give us opportunities to make the most of each and every day. So each day, we might ask ourselves, “Am I making the most of …
Rick Hanson PhD
Oct 29, 2011
For many of us, perhaps the hardest thing of all is to believe that “I am a good person.” We can climb mountains, work hard, acquire many skills, act ethically – but truly feel that one is good deep down? Nah!
We end up not feeling like a good person in a number of ways. For example, I once knew a little girl who’d been displaced by her baby brother and fended off and scolded by her mother who was worn down and busy caring for an infant. This girl was angry at her brother and parents, plus lost and disheartened and feeling cast out and unloved. She’d been watching cartoons …
Mar 22, 2010
Buddhism’s ethical code was formulated in Iron-Age India. How relevant is it for people living today? Pam Dodd, our guest reviewer, delves into Sangharakshita’s book on Living Ethically.
Living Ethically is the first of two planned volumes by British Buddhist scholar and former monk Sangharakshita on Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland of Advice for a King (Ratnamala). This first book follows a beautifully laid out interpretive journey through the Precious Garland’s rich array of common and uncommon directives for leading an ethical life.
These lessons will be a welcome addition to any …