In 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 »
The 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 »
We 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.
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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
Increased feelings of transcendence can follow brain damage, a study of people with brain cancer suggests.
As feelings of transcending the physical world can be part of some religious experiences and other forms of spirituality, the finding may help explain why some people seem more prone to such experiences than others.
The brain region in question, the posterior parietal cortex, is involved in maintaining a sense of self, for example by helping you keep track of your body parts. It has also been linked to prayer and meditation
We 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,
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“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
Robert 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.
Recently I received a request to answer some questions for a book on the topic of surrender. Here’s the first draft of my response:
1. How would you define surrender? Who or what is one surrendering to, in your opinion? God, Universe, Self, Soul, What Is, present moment…?
Surrender is an important part of all spiritual practice. Ultimately it’s what we’re aiming to accomplish in practice.
What we’re surrendering to is the reality of impermanence and non-separateness. In reality, everything changes and nothing (including ourselves) is separate or self-contained. But we have deep-rooted assumptions that we exist separately from the rest of the world, that there is something in us (and others) that is permanent … Read more »
Dewey’s saying echoes Buddhist notions of impermanence and not-self. Bodhipaksa points out that the Buddhist position is not merely descriptive of how things are. Rather it amounts to a technology of happiness — a set of perspectives and tools that allows us to create more deeply fulfilling lives.
One of the most crippling — and often unacknowledged — beliefs we can have is that the self is something fixed and unchanging. When we have the idea that our personalities are set like words carved in stone the possibility of change is closed off to us.
A mountaineering friend of mine once commented that when coming down a hill you were faced with innumerable choices about … Read more »
Parenting can be a hindrance to spiritual practice or the main driving force of a spiritual practice. Bodhipaksa shares what he’s learned from his daughter.
Short of taking up Buddhist practice, the biggest seismic shift in my life was becoming a parent. Originally I’d seen parenthood as a distraction from my spiritual practice — after all having kids would take up more of my time, make it harder to meditate, and prevent me from getting on retreat as much as I was used to. And although all those things turned out to be true, I’m finding that there’s a lot of ways in which I’m learning and growing from being a parent. In fact I’d … Read more »
Does the Buddhist idea of “no self” strike you as bizarre or outrageous? Sunada has been reflecting on this difficult concept, and shares her thoughts on it so far. It isn’t just an obscure philosophical point for mental gymnasts, she says. Paradoxically, she thinks the ideas can help us in a very real way toward finding and becoming more of who we really are.
If I asked you who you are, what would you say? Many people might begin by telling me what they do for work – teacher, software engineer, accountant. But no, I’d say. That’s the work you do, not who you are. If you changed or lost your job, that identity would … Read more »