eightfold path

The Conscious Couple, Day 1: The Dharma of Intimate Relationships

0e3ac93e-68da-481a-bb36-b481fcd5af21by Shelly Chatterelli and Bodhipaksa

Our intimate relationships are a vital area for practice. Each day, each moment, they offer us fresh opportunities to practice kindness, love, and compassion. They give us practice in forgiving and asking for forgiveness. They allow us to cultivate honesty and to become more skillful in our communication. They provide us with opportunities to give and to receive and to learn about ourselves and our partner.

Intimate relationships challenge us. They unerringly find our emotional weak spots, highlighting our insecurities and failings in ways that can cause great discomfort. Yet this too is spiritually beneficial; how else can we change, but by bringing into conscious awareness that which needs transformation?

Our intimate relationships can also be a source of aspiration and inspiration. The desire to live in love and harmony with another person, to know them deeply and to let ourselves be known, can give us a positive motivation to change and to become better partners, better lovers, better people.

Many people are aware that the Buddha described intimate relationships, and the desire for them, as one of the main distractions in the spiritual life! Fewer know that at the same time he often applauded lay practitioners for the depth of spiritual practice they manifested.

The Buddha praised married couples who practiced and lived harmoniously together, saying that they were living a divine life. We’re told, in fact, that many, many householders attained various degrees of awakening, showing that family life is hardly an insurmountable obstacle to spiritual progress.

There is no contradiction between the Buddha’s emphasis on relationships both as a hindrance and as a practice. The spiritual community had a monastic wing, which practiced simplicity of lifestyle (no work, no kids, no marriage) in order to focus intensely on meditation, study, and teaching. Monastics were therefore required to regard romantic and sexual entanglements as distractions. But there was also a householder wing of the community, consisting of people who worked for a living, who married, and who brought up children — and whose members could, as we’ve seen, be practicing deeply.

The purpose of this 28-day online course is to help us explore the ways in which our intimate and romantic relationships provide opportunities for us to deepen our practice, and how our practice can in turn help us deepen the intimacy we experience with our partners.

There are many different approaches we could have taken to structure this course. We could have had no structure, and just sent you a number of reflections! But we’ve settled on the Buddha’s Eightfold Path, since it’s one of the most important frameworks for exploring how to bring practice into daily life. In each post you’ll see a “map” of the Eightfold Path, with the current phase highlighted.

In the next email we’ll start with the cultivation of Right View, which involves looking at the ideas, opinions, assumptions, and models we use in regard to our relationships. In fact we’ve already begun with this exploration, since we’ve been discussing views about the relationship between married life and the spiritual life.

Cultivating right view means bringing our views into line with the Dharma. But this doesn’t mean blind conformity! It simply means that sometimes we have views that hinder the development of love, intimacy, and honesty. We may not be conscious of those views, or it may be that we don’t see the harmful effects they have. (We humans have a perplexing ability to keep doing things we are sure will make our lives better, when actually they cause harm.) Our views have to be brought into consciousness if we’re to avoid causing suffering to ourselves and to our partner. And we need to nurture views that lead to a deeper and more harmonious connection with ourselves and with the person most dear to us. We need views that allow us to be part of a conscious, thriving couple.

With love,
Shelly and Bodhipaksa

Homework: For the next 24 hours, just notice your interactions with your partner (or in other relationships), without trying to fix anything. Notice in particular times that you interact in a way that you perceive as kind or loving, and times that those qualities are absent. As best you can, make these observations without judgement: that is, don’t engage in self-criticism or ruminate about your interactions. Feel free to make notes, and to discuss your observations in the online community we’ve created to accompany this course.

Guided meditation: This brief guided mindfulness meditation can be done with a partner, or on your own.

Register: This article is taken from the first email of our 28-day online event, The Conscious Couple, led by teachers Shelly Chatterelli and Bodhipaksa. While both partners in a couple are welcome to participate, and it’s fine if you want to join on your own, or even if you aren’t currently involved in a relationship. To register, click here.

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Mindfulness and the big picture

Someone asked me:

I keep hearing about mindfulness where one 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 pause and listen to the sound of a passing airplane, but then I’d have to stop typing. So what’s my purpose — listening or typing? Right now I want to type.

But if I want to type, then I need to check my posture from time to time to make sure it’s going to support my purpose. If my posture had been trained to be perfect, then I wouldn’t need to do this. But it’s not perfect, so I pause for a second and check in with my body. I notice I’m slumping a little; I straighten up. What’s my purpose? Typing. Why am I paying attention to my posture? Because I want to type.

There’s a cluster of things I need to pay attention to if I want to type. I’ve mentioned posture, but I might in certain circumstances have to pause and reflect on what I’m going to say: that’s mindfulness of my thinking. I might have to pause and pay attention to how I feel. I might notice I’m tired and it’s time to rest.

Another example: My questioner mentioned being aware of the words he’s using in conversation. You need to do that. But you’d also want to be aware of the person you’re talking to, because you want to know what effect your words are having. Is the other person understanding you? What’s their emotional response to what you’re saying? To know that, you have to pay attention to them, and also to yourself — you’ll sense whether the other person is at ease by sensing whether you are at ease, for example.

And you need to be aware of what your response is to what they say to you. Again, you need to notice your feelings, what your thoughts are, etc.

Again, there’s a natural set of experiences that you need to pay attention to while you’re in a conversation with someone. The factors I’ve mentioned aren’t meant to be exhaustive. For example, sometimes when I’m listening to someone talk, my mind tends to wander to something I’m preoccupied with, and so I find it helpful to notice the movements of the breathing in my belly in order that I can stay grounded.

But when you’re in a conversation you probably don’t want to be paying attention to a passing airplane, to the sound of a ticking clock, or to another conversation that’s going on elsewhere. Those are distractions to your purpose, which is being in communication with the other person.

So what you do is dependent on what your overall purpose is. We don’t practice mindfulness for the sake of practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness isn’t an end in itself. It’s a tool. There are a few times we want to be open to everything that’s arising — for example in meditation — but that’s quite rare, and done as a form of training. Generally, you need to bear in mind what you’re actually doing (this is called sampajañña) and then pay attention to a set of experiences connected with that task (this is called sati).

I’m not suggesting being dogmatic, and sometimes you’ll need to shift your purpose. Having the attitude “I’m not going to pay attention to what my colleague is saying because I’m typing” isn’t helpful. There are higher-order purposes and you need to have some common sense. Harmony with others is one of those. If there’s an interruption from another person, you need to deal with it.

This need for higher order purposes is implicit in the Buddha’s eightfold path, of which mindfulness is just part. A key aspect of the eightfold path is the first, samma-ditthi, which is right view. It’s right view that gives us our overall context or purpose in life: for me the simplest way to look at this big picture is that Buddhism is about learning how we cause suffering for ourselves and others, so that we can find freedom from suffering. That view then carries over into the other factors of the path. To take just the example of the second factor of the path, samma sankappa, what emotions do we want to encourage and which do we want to discourage? Emotions of greed and hatred cause suffering. Compassion, patience, etc. free us from suffering. Right view tells us where we want to be headed, while mindfulness lets us know what we’re working with and monitors our progress. I don’t intend to do a full description of the eightfold path—just to illustrate that mindfulness traditionally has a broader context, and can’t be understood without reference to the big picture.

Mindfulness stripped of that context—stripped of its Buddhist context and secularized, as it often is—is still a useful tool, but it can also be confusing, as my questioner has found.

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Right intention

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 suffering, to more or less benefit or harm to oneself and others. Intentions are good if they lead to good results, and bad if they lead to bad results.

This approach has numerous advantages. It is down to earth. It draws upon our own observation of what happens, rather than relying upon the viewpoints of others. It provides a ready test for the worth of an intention: what did it lead to, what actually happened? And it keeps turning us back to ourselves, toward how we can be ever more skillful.

The best available record of the actual teachings of the Buddha – what is called the Pali Canon after the language in which they were first written – is chock full of encouragement and practical guidance for many kinds of intentions leading to good results.

For example, in one sutta – a talk or discourse of the Buddha – he is offering a merchant guidelines for an ethical business, and in another he is advising a monk on the subtlest imaginable inclinations of mind in profoundly realized states of consciousness. In one of my favorite suttas, the Buddha tells his seven-year-old son, Rahula, that knowing how to act in life is actually very simple: before you do something, consider if it will lead to benefit or harm, and if it will be beneficial, go ahead; then, while you are doing things, keep considering if they are beneficial or not, and if they are, it’s alright to continue them.

In this context of diversity and individuality of wholesome intentions, the Buddha singled out three in particular. They are contained in what is called Right Intention, which is one of the parts of the Eightfold Path; that Path is the last of the Four Noble Truths, and it describes the way leading to the end of suffering.

By the way, Right (or Wise) Intention is sometimes translated as “Right Resolve,” which conveys the determination, firmness of aim, heartfelt conviction, and persistence that are central to right intention. Let’s see what those three intentions were, that the Buddha thought were so important that they deserved such emphasis.

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Meditation is not enough

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 might need Meghiya for some practical reason, or perhaps he thought it would benefit Meghiya to stay with him.

But Meghiya was very insistent about going off to meditate. He kept asking and asking (parents are very familiar with this!) and the Buddha eventually said (and I imagine him with a wry smile on his face), “Well, Meghiya, what can I say when you talk of practising meditation? Do what you think it is time for.”

Meghiya’s obsessing with the mango grove as a perfect place to meditate sounds like a kind of spiritual materialism. It’s like when you or I might get really excited because we have a new meditation app on our smartphone, or a new meditation bench; surely now our meditation practice will really take off!

So Meghiya goes off and has a terrible meditation. He’s assaulted by craving and ill-will. This isn’t surprising. He’d been craving to go off to the mango grove to meditate, and he took his craving with him. Of course that’s wat he experienced in meditation! And he’d been anticipating having a great meditation, and when we have expectations like that and they aren’t fulfilled, we tend to get frustrated and angry.

So he goes back to the Buddha and expresses his puzzlement about what’s gone wrong.

In response, the Buddha outlines five things that lead to the heart’s release (enlightenment). These are:

  1. Spiritual friends, good associates, and the companionship of good people.
  2. Being virtuous, keeping to one’s vows, practising ethical behaviour, seeing danger even in small faults, training oneself in the precepts.
  3. Being surrounded by talk that is serious and opens up the heart, that conduces to detachment, to dispassion, to calm, to understanding, to insight, to nibbāna.
  4. Being firm and energetic in abandoning what is unskilful and acquiring what is skillful, and being stout and strong in effort, not laying aside the burden of pursuing what is skillful.
  5. Being endowed with the penetrating insight that sees all things rise and fall, and leads to the end of suffering.

The Buddha makes it clear that this is a progressive list, and that spiritual friendship is the foundation of all the rest. So there’s a teaching here for Meghiya. Meghiya had become obsessed with going off and having great meditation experiences, but he hadn’t been a friend to the Buddha. He hadn’t taken the Buddha’s needs into account, and instead had followed the path of self-centered craving. Also, he’d been with the man who was arguably the greatest spiritual genius the world has ever seen. And what does he want to do? Go off and meditate in a pretty spot in the countryside! Talk about skewed priorities! Think of the opportunities that he had for learning in the presence of the Buddha. Think of the opportunities he had to transcend his craving-based desires by staying, and being helpful, and practicing lovingkindness, taking another person’s needs into account as well as his own.

It may not be obvious at first sight, but the Buddha’s five-point response is based on the well-known eight-fold path. Meghiya has been fixated on meditation, which corresponds to Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration, the 7th and 8th factors of the path.

The Buddha counters with “virtue” (Right Action and Right Livelihood), “talk that is serious and opens up the heart” (Right Speech), being energetic (Right Effort), and insight (Right View and Right Intention). It’s as if he’s saying — sure, meditation is important, but it’s not enough. You need the other six factors of the path as well.

And the key to successfully practicing all the factors of the path is, perhaps surprisingly, friendship, or kalyana mittata. Getting enlightened, as I’ve said before, is a team sport. We need other people to inspire us and to support us, and we also need them in order to transcend our own self-clinging — something Meghiya had forgotten, and which we’d do well to remember, especially with the rise of the various “mindfulness-based” approaches that treat the practice of meditation in isolation from the other factors of the path.


To get a little bit meta, I should point out that this realization that the Buddha was bringing to Meghiya’s attention the rest of the eightfold path besides the meditation that he was fixated upon would not have arisen if it wasn’t for the fact that I was discussing the text with friends. It’s very unlikely that I’d have stumbled upon this myself, and it was only a stray question from one of the other group members that let me in this direction. So yay for spiritual friendship and “serious talk that opens the heart.”

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

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 to the body and the breathing, correct my posture, adjust my attitudes.

One section of the Eightfold Path — one of the Buddha’s key teachings — is “Right Effort.” Right effort is counted as being part of the meditation (samadhi) section of the path.

Right Effort, in the context of the eightfold path, is seen as one of three pivotal aspects of practice, along with Right View and Right Mindfulness. Every aspect of practice depends upon effort, mindfulness, and view.

Effort, mindfulness, and view are described as three states that “run around and circle” all other practices. For example, if you want to practice Right Speech, you first have to be mindful of your speech. Without mindfulness, there is no possibility of any practice. You also have to have a discriminating awareness (or view) of which speech activities are unskillful and cause suffering, and which are skillful and lead us away from suffering. And then you actually need to make effort to abandon unskillful speech and to cultivate skillful speech. So on every step of the path, effort is involved, along with mindfulness and view.

Right Effort is usually defined in terms of the Four Right Efforts, or Exertions. These are:

  1. The effort to prevent the arising of unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen.
  2. The effort to abandon unskillful qualities that have already arisen.
  3. The effort to cultivate skillful qualities that have not yet arisen.
  4. The effort to maintain and increase to fruition skillful qualities that have arisen

Of course we can make either too much or too little effort. There once was a monk called Sona, who was considering giving up monastic life because his efforts weren’t paying off. Just as he was wondering whether he should return to his family, the Buddha appeared to Sona. (This was described as the Buddha “magically” appearing, but I think we could take this as the image of the Buddha appearing in Sona’s mind as he debated with himself.) The (imagined) Buddha asked Sona:

“Before, when you were a house-dweller, were you skilled at playing the lute?”

Sona of course replied that he had.

The (imagined) Buddha went on:

“And what do you think: when the strings of your lute were too taut, was your lute in tune and playable?”

“No, lord,” replied Sona.

“And what do you think: when the strings of your lute were too loose, was your lute in tune and playable?”

“No, lord.”

“And what do you think: when the strings of your lute were neither too taut nor too loose, but tuned to be right on pitch, was your lute in tune and playable? … In the same way, Sona, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should find the right pitch for your energy, attune the pitch of your faculties, and thus begin your reflections.”

How do we know when, like Sona, we’re making too much or too little effort? The thing is that for our effort to be “right” effort it needs to be combined with mindfulness and right view. Mindfulness allows us to notice what the results of our efforts are, which right view lets us know whether those efforts are helpful or unhelpful, and whether we’re making the right kind of effort.

For example, if your mind lacks mindfulness, and you’re simply drifting, lost in thought, then you’re not exerting enough effort. If you’re feeling a sense of despair about your practice, then you also probably don’t have enough effort. If you’re getting tense and uptight, then you’re making too much effort. If you’re in a state of elation and aren’t very sensitive and kind to others, then you’re probably making too much effort. If you’re giving yourself a hard time, you’re trying too hard. It’s our mindfulness and our “view” that let us know what’s going on and whether it’s helpful.

You need to keep noticing what’s happening around your effort; what’s happening as a result of your effort. When we do that, our effort is more likely to be balanced.

The word “effort” and the related word “work” sometimes give the wrong idea. We can think of work and effort as being joyless activities. So when I talk about working in meditation, and putting effort into our practice, I like to flank the words “work” or “effort” with the terms “rest” and “play.” There needs to be a relaxation of any unnecessary effort — the effort that goes into making the body tense, or that goes into endless thinking, for example. So around our effort there needs to be an attitude of restful, mindful, expansive awareness. And the effort we make should ideally not be forced or unnatural, but light and playful. Meditation can become a joyful exploration: “Where can I go today?”

Yes, there may be times when we have to struggle (to stay awake for example) or have to forcefully restrain ourselves from doing something that we think is grossly unhelpful (for example when we repress the urge to say something unkind) but these should increasingly be unnecessary as we retrain the mind.

Now, it is possible to get to a point in our meditation practice where we don’t need to make any effort. The mind clears and becomes still, joy arises, and we’re simply present to our experience as it unfolds. The positive factors we’ve been developing in the mind reach a kind of critical mass and establish themselves stably. It seems that you’re not meditating — that your meditation is simply doing itself. It doesn’t seem that “you” are doing anything. But to get to that point we need to first put in some effort — usually a lot of effort. On the way to effortlessness in meditation, we find that we generally have to use a subtler and subtler kind of effort. We start to realize that any effort we make creates a kind of disturbance in the mind, and so we refine our effort. One image I love is of catching a feather on a fan; we have to make effort to catch the feather, but if you move too quickly you’ll blow the feather away. But we still have to make an effort — at least for a while.

As Shunryu Suzuki said, “Strictly speaking, any effort we make is not good for our practice because it creates waves in our mind. It is impossible, however, to attain absolute calmness of our mind without any effort.”

It’s not really possible to short-cut this process, and jump straight to effortless meditation. Eventually we get to the point in meditation where effort is in fact unnecessary, but to get there we need to use an effort that is balanced, mindful, and, where possible, playful.

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Meditation Is Not Enough (Beliefnet)

Ask the Lama: Lama Surya Das

Dear Lama Surya Das,

I recently listened to one of your “Natural Perfection” tapes and liked what you said about people NOT having to meditate. I think some of us are suffering under a perceived (or projected) meditation culture that virtually stigmatizes those who do not sit well or practice consistently. Everybody doesn’t have to sit a whole weekend, or morning, or hour. Right?

Signed,
Sitting Some But Not Too Often

Dearest Sitting Some,

This is a very interesting and fairly common question. So let me answer by getting right to the point. Yes, that’s right. The truth is that there’s a lot more to authentically liberating and transformative spirituality–and even to the path of Buddhism– than just meditating. “Sitting some” is fine. The real question is: What else are you doing with your life? People occasionally ask me in public forums, “Why do I have to meditate?” And I always reply, “Who said you have to?” Who says we have to get enlightened? What is our motivation? What are we looking for or even lacking, for that matter?

Sometimes I think there’s too much tight-lipped silence, grim sitting and bowing going down in the Buddhist ghetto, and that we could all use a little more Dharma stand-up! If the Buddha lived today, I suspect he’d add a few extra innings to his famous Eight-fold Path to Enlightenment, such as Good Exercise, Good Parenting and Good Humor. For a man cannot live by serious religiosity alone. Take my word for it, I’ve tried.

To think that Buddhism is all about meditation is to misunderstand it. Westerners attracted to Buddhism and Eastern thought and practice often make the mistake of seeing meditation in the most narrow sense of going into a quiet room and closing your eyes. In fact, there’s a lot more to these things, both externally, internally, and ultimately, as Tibetan commentators describe the process of spiritual development. Mindfulness is not the same as meditation; it can be practiced formally while sitting and while walking, as is done in traditional Buddhist monasteries and retreat centers, or informally in whatever activity in which we may be engaged. Being present, wakeful and showing up fully in our life is more important than any particular posture or set of words.

There’s a renowned Dzogchen teaching called “Buddhahood Without Meditation.” There is even a book by that name, translated from Dudjom Lingpa’s original Tibetan teaching. This startling title points to the fact that we are all Buddhas by nature, we only have to recognize and awaken to that fact. A related teaching is called “Buddhahood in the Palm of One’s Hand.” Both of these simply point to the fact that what we seek, we are; that nirvana is not far away, in future time or in another place, but inseparable from samsara (the cycle of birth and death governed by karma) and found hidden in the here and now. There are numerous stories and teaching tales in the classical enlightenment literature about karmically ripe individuals experiencing awakenings –while engaged in all kinds of ordinary activities.

Meditation is more about being than doing, introducing and unveiling a new way of seeing, far beyond sitting or just keeping still. Yet there inevitably is some appropriate effort, intention, and attention involved. There is no way around this. Meditation is how many Buddhists pray. Yet meditation practice is more of a listening than the usual supplicant’s so-called conversation with God.

Buddha called meditative awareness—or mindfulness– the main ”factor of enlightenment.” However, Buddha outlined seven factors of enlightenment, including also developing the qualities of joy, equanimity, perseverance, concentration, serenity, and analytical investigation; if you are deeply wise, these seven are well balanced. The Buddhist path to enlightenment actually includes not one but three liberating trainings: ethical self discipline, meditation, and wisdom. Without the other two, meditation alone is not enough.

If we ask how to undertake and accomplish the path of enlightenment, and how to implement and practice these three trainings, they are broken out into the renowned Eight-fold Path taught by Buddha himself as the way to accomplish what he accomplished and eventually become just like him. Again, notice that in these traditional eight steps to enlightenment, there are practices such as Wise Livelihood, which are not solitary or contemplative but engage us fully in daily life, although mindfulness and loving kindness at our tasks is recommended and helps in many ways. Love at work, compassion in action, spiritual and social activism, karma yoga as well as devoting ourselves to the welfare of the world are an important part of spiritual practice in all the great traditions. Mother Teresa said that “We can’t all do great things, but doing small things with great love makes them great.”

The heart of every spiritual path without exception is some kind of basic morality and self-discipline. If we wish to live wisely and contribute to a better world, we must try to become better people–authentic people, honest, straightforward, decent and even unselfishly good. Practices such as truth-telling, non-harming, peacemaking, balancing, showing generosity and engaging in selfless service are too often overlooked in the grace race to achieve higher states of blessedness; yet all these are yogas, if you will, that help you connect with the divinity– however you conceive of it–and the inherent beauty and sacredness of life. Yoga means union, that which yokes us to the highest and deepest form of spirit.

In olden days I was like a teenage Buddha statue and used to meditate a lot, often all day, in my teacher’s Tibetan monastery in the East. Now, wherever I am, I meditate, sinking roots deep into the present moment and extracting (thriving on) its essence. But there are innumerable ways to worship and awaken. “There are countless ways to kneel and kiss the ground,” sang the Sufi poet-saint Rumi. Especially in our diverse, multicultural, pluralistic era, I feel we must be respectful and tolerant of the many options people have discovered for pursuing spiritual development, even within each faith, not to mention among the different faiths. Moreover, we must be patient with ourselves and our karmic condition, and avoid indulging in guilt, shame and self-bashing in the name of deep spiritual aspiration.

Of course, to a Buddhist monk or nun or dedicated Buddhist practitioner, meditation is an important part of every day, as it is for me and has been for over thirty years. But I am a slow learner! How long does it take to wake up? Perhaps you can do it your own way. The rich and deep Dharma teachings are all there, freely available, for whoever wants to avail themselves of them. Help yourself. As the Buddha said, “Come and see.”

One of my favorite Christian mystics, Meister Eckhart, wrote: “If the only prayer you ever say is ‘Thank You,’ that is sufficient.”

Here is an instant mini-meditation for you. l bet you can do this every day, without too much stress, anywhere, anytime, with or without closing your eyes.

Breathe, relax, and smile.
Breathe, relax, and smile.
Breathe relax, and smile.
Outdoors or inside,
Enjoy the joy of natural meditation.

Original article no longer available…

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