Tag: Buddha

Meditation Experiences – Dos

In my prior post Meditation Experiences – Uno I wrote about how I started meditating and to some degree why I decided to try meditation. In this post, I would like to make a case for meditation, the benefits if you will at least from my own perspective. Some of you may have tried meditating in the past and found it difficult if not almost impossible to just sit and count breaths. You may have been so busy thinking about what you need to do, that the whole process was just painful and seemed very unproductive. Here is the problem, it takes time to create a habit of meditating and the first 5 or 10 sessions may seem difficult at first, but like any good habit, you will need to make the investment before seeing any returns. You may feel like nothing is happening here and I am still letting my monkey mind dominate my meditation session and then something begins to change and you start to both enjoy and benefit from the experience. Mind you it might have taken a month or longer to get to this point, but it does happen.

Why did this seemingly simple thing, just sitting and breathing suddenly become enjoyable? Here are a few benefits I have received from meditating:

  • Being Present – I began to understand that my monkey mind and drive to be always doing something that supported my goals was preventing me from just enjoying the process of meditating. I was so anxious that I was spending all of my time recalling the past and then at the same time thinking about what I needed to do in the future. So instead of looking at meditation as just another thing to check off my to-do list, I began looking forward to it because it helped me be in the present. In fact, I often tell myself while meditating “You are present” or “You are here”, this often helped to drown out the thinking about the future, which often dominates my thoughts. What I’m really saying here is you are fucking yourself over by thinking you need to be productive all the time. This was part of my problem, I was looking at meditation as a kind of goal or thing I had to do, instead of just appreciating how it was helping me live in the present moment.
  • Discover Your True Self – As I continue to meditate I have begun to realize that there are things more important than my job or who I thought I was. Meditation helps you get in touch with who you really are. This doesn’t happen immediately, but over time you begin to realize there is the actual you, not some role you play. Maybe it is your true self, you know the compassionate, introspective, and loving person you actually are. For me, meditation is helping to peel back the layers of responsibility and anxiety that dominates much of our lives as we spend our time trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations.
  • Calms the Mind – Meditation is one of the few things I have found that breaks the monkey mind pattern of thinking and calms the mind. When I finish a session I feel renewed and free if even only for a while. You might get a similar feeling from walking on a nice day when you are not bothered by cars or loud noises. While I love a good long walk and find it very relaxing it feels different than meditating. The aftereffect of meditation is more like a reset or rebooting of the mind to a state of calm and clarity.

I know that there are many other benefits that could be attributed to meditation, but for me, these are the ones I have noticed a couple months into the practice.

 

So is it worth it? 

My answer is a resounding Yes! 

 

Final Parting Shot

The mistake I made in the last year or so is that I would start out very consistent and then my practice would fizzle out. I simply did not put a high enough priority on it, missing many days, stopping and starting. Those benefits of being present, discovering yourself, and calming your mind come from daily practice. I’m not saying I never miss a day, but it has become pretty rare now, and if something prevents me from doing it at my regular time, I fit it in later in the day.

I would love to hear about the benefits you attribute to your own meditation practice, leave me a comment.

I hope to write another post soon as this wonderful journey continues.

Do good and stay safe.

Namaste

 

Note: I wrote this post using Grammarly, which really helps. Give it a try, it works with WordPress and Google Docs.

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Worthy of happiness

Worthy Of Happiness

I was reading a quote this morning and thought it was very interesting. I knew little of Immanuel Kant, but what intrigued me was the premise that to be worthy of happiness you need to live a moral life. As I processed this thought that the possibility of happiness can be earned as a result of morality I thought about The Five Precepts in Buddhism, which are:

  1. to abstain from taking life
  2. to abstain from taking what is not given
  3. to abstain from sensuous misconduct
  4. to abstain from false speech
  5. to abstain from intoxicants as tending to cloud the mind

In Buddhism, the five precepts are a moral code for laypeople, or one could think of them as the fundamental baseline of morality. Read them and you begin to realize how broadly they can be applied and how powerful their influence could be on your personal conduct.

Personally, I tend to stay away from talking too much about morality, as it is often applied for example in religion to various behavior that I may see as moral and not immoral. Still, there is something about this quote that made me think that maybe we all need to strive to be more moral, and by doing so provide an opportunity to be a bit happier.

Note Kant does not equate morality to happiness only to being worthy of happiness. To me, this means real happiness like everything else must be earned, and in Buddhism, this starts with the Five Precepts. Can you be happy without striving to live a moral life?

If you are aware of the consequences of your actions and the impact they have on others, then the answer is no.

Who was Immanuel Kant?

He lived in the 1700s to early 1800 and was an influential German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; “things-in-themselves” exist, but their nature is unknowable.

Kant’s theory is an example of a deontological moral theory–according to these theories, the rightness or wrongness of actions does not depend on their consequences but on whether they fulfill our duty. Kant believed that there was a supreme principle of morality, and he referred to it as The Categorical Imperative.

Well enough, for now, I need to start making myself worthy of happiness and do something good today, guess I will start by reflecting on the Five Precepts.

Namaste


This post was proofread by Grammarly.

 

 

Reference:

Five Precepts of Buddhism Explained

 

A little information on Immanuel Kant

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant

 

 

The way

I’m paraphrasing here, but from the book UNFU*K Yourself by Gary Bishop, he says something like “Only You Can Save Yourself”. So when I say let your practice be your salvation, it means your practice, not someone else, but you must become your own salvation. Your practice and I mean meditation and studies are the means that will lead you to find yourself.

The only way to reveal the true you, the you that is buried deep inside is through your practice. Without daily practice you continually let yourself become some manifestation of your environment and you move further away from who you really are. Either you direct your mind or the world around you will do it for you. I think this quote from the Buddha illustrates my point about why your practice is so important.

For a Buddhist, there is only the way, and the way is to practice.

Namaste

 

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Do you have Buddha nature?

The title of this blog post asks do you have Buddha nature? Well according to Buddhist philosophy we all have a Buddha nature somewhere inside us, but as you can see it took the Buddha Shakyamuni six years for it to be revealed to him. It was his revelation after six years upon becoming enlightened that all living beings are Buddha, meaning they are inherently enlightened. The Buddhist believe that through meditation or for Zen practitioners Zazen, one can strip away the layers of unconscious thinking and brainwashing that has covered up our true nature.

However my statement applied to human beings, homo sapiens if you will. The Buddha Shakyamuni stated “all living beings are Buddha”, not all human beings are Buddha. Often when one refers to the word Buddha they are referring to Siddhārtha Gautama who becomes the Buddha, but in this quote the term Buddha refers to meaning the enlightened one or a person who has attained Buddhahood. In my mind none of these definitions really fully explain what the Buddha Shakyamuni proclaimed upon enlightenment because they again bestow the term only to a human beings.

Maybe it is more precise to say that all living things are inherently enlightened or are Buddha. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines enlightened as:

“freed from ignorance and misinformation”

I like to think we all start out in life with a Buddha nature free from ignorance and misinformation, and then the brainwashing begins. As we are taught fictitious stories by our parents, society, and our formal education systems we begin to bury the Buddha nature beneath layers of thoughts about the world and most of them untrue. We are told stories that impart values such as:

  • Money is good, more money is better
  • Power is good and we should seek power over others
  • Sex is good and we should always want more
  • Success is the result of hard work and we need to work harder
  • Life is competitive and we need to grab all we can get before someone else does
  • Acquiring things is good and we should seek more
  • God is all powerful and we should worship him
  • Nationalism is important, we are better than they are
  • Praise is good, seek more, stoke the ego

Of course this goes on and on, and these stories only serve the purpose to make us subservient to a materialistic me oriented society, where the more you have the more successful your are as a person. We are always seeking more, craving for new experiences, and never knowing ourselves. It is not in our nature to live based on these stories we are told, but it becomes a matter of conditioning over time. The Buddha was not satisfied with these stories, and left the Royal Palace to seek the answers to life, ultimately finding enlightenment, then going on to teach the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to thousands of disciples.

Can we follow his example and gain enlightenment? I think the answer is a resounding YES! If in fact you believe that we all have Buddha nature buried deep inside us, then the possibility of gaining enlightenment truly exists. There is a catch here, and it is not a trivial thing. The Buddha himself spent six years meditating to gain enlightenment, which clearly points out his dedication and patience. Here is a quote I find applicable to helping you as you follow the path:

 

In a world of instant gratification, rampant materialism, and greed we are probably challenged like never before, but I take heart in seeing that many are disillusioned with the stories that have dominated society since the beginning of the Industrial Age. There seems to be a keen interest in Eastern philosophy and the practice of meditation. People are looking for meaning in their life that goes beyond the acquisition of material things. They are beginning to understand that craving begets more craving, and the cycle only leaves us more dissatisfied and disillusioned. Buddhism can show us the way out of this self imposed existence, ultimately ending the causes of suffering such as craving and ego. My advice would be start with understanding the Four Noble Truths, studying the Eightfold Path, and start meditating.

Let the process begin.

Namaste

 

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Sources:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enlightened

A model personality

How do you see yourself?

Do you think you are lazy, unworthy, prone to anger, or lacking direction in your life? What Epictetus is advocating is to see yourself as something greater than you currently do. He even goes so far as to say imagine yourself a model personality, maybe someone like Epictetus, Seneca, or Marcus Aurelius. It could be anyone that you admire, maybe Winston Churchill,  Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or anyone that you aspire to be more like. Use that model character as your guiding light that leads on a course of to follow in terms of speech and action.

Once you have chosen that individual or ideal for yourself now act upon it in both your public and private life. It does no good if you ramble on in public about your philosophy if you cannot implement it in your personal life. If you want to be kind, compassionate, loving, understanding, and calm then do this at all times. It’s not only a philosophy, but it must become a way of life. Don’t study the Bible, the teachings of the Buddha, or the Holy Quran, and go about your life as normal. Just thinking about being a better version of yourself does nothing; you must think then act.

I don’t advocate Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Stoicism, or any other religion or philosophy. In fact any of these mentioned provides guidance on how to live a model life, but you are free to choose one or all of them for yourself. An example of this is the Dali Lama who often talks about loving kindness and compassion and by all accounts his actions support his teachings. So the challenge for the day is to take any of the tenants from your studies and actually implement it in your actions. As it becomes more challenging to be virtuous, during these stressful times, it also becomes more important to act as that model character you want to become.

Who do you aspire to be?

Namaste

 

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Today I escaped

This really resonated with me, as I am often the victim of my own thinking, making mountains out of mole hills if you will. I assumed what needed to be done would be difficult, or a situation came up that I perceived to be negative caused suffering. My monkey mind went into overdrive and I took the normal shit that happens and turned it into a nightmare. What the hell!

Sure the Buddha was right; life has more than it share of dukkha (pain and suffering), but how much of it is self imposed? As I have been studying stoicism recently I begin to notice certain parallels with Buddhism. Could the assumptions we make about things,  that Marcus Aurelius is talking about be yet another cause of dukkha, much like craving, desire, and attachment?

At the moment you start to say this is difficult, or I hate this situation, you are making assumptions and most of these are what will happen in the future. In fact in retrospect you find that most of your assumptions were bullshit.

Maybe the answer is in dealing with things as they occur in the present, without assumptions, expectations, and above all withholding judgment.

A bit of stoicism, Buddhism, and lots of yoga and meditation might help too.

Namaste

The Current Expectation

The Happiness Movement

There is a movement in recent times that sets an expectation that we can live a life filled with happiness. Gretchen Rubin wrote a book a few years back called the “Happiness Project” where she expounds on a number of ways to increase your level of happiness. We are constantly subjected to a barrage of advertising that shows us how happy people are with that new car, drinking beer at the beach, or taking expensive vacations to Caribbean. All of these things advocate living a lifestyle that will make us happy forever more. There is a high expectation that if you just buy this, learn this, or do this activity happiness will follow.

corona beach

Unfortunately a consistent state of happiness is probably an illusion, and thinking that it is achievable may be somewhat dangerous to enjoying life. What I mean by this is that you are setting an expectation that is not achievable and this will actually cause you to think something is wrong with you if you are not in a constant state of bliss.

Each of us face so many challenges in our life such as health issues, family strife, making a living, and the list goes on and on. Do you really expect that you will feel happy during what are often very negative events that occur? You need to give yourself the opportunity to feel angry, sad, frustrated, inpatient, as these events unfold. That doesn’t mean you wallow in your pain and conduct a lifelong pity party, but allow yourself some time to express your feelings.

“Life is not a big long beer commercial, much of living is also filled with struggle and challenging situations”.

While it is true you can emerge from a painful situation, stronger and wiser, you may even learn something from it, but you will not be in some state of continuous euphoria.

Instead of expecting a life filled with happiness whatever that really means, be realistic and expect that your emotions will rise and fall like the tide. I really like listening to speakers like Les Brown, Tony Robbins, Bob Proctor, Esther Hicks, Mel Robbins, and Jim Rohn; these people are very motivating and can give you some great tips for being more successful and effective in life. Things like the Law of Attraction and the 5 second rule are great tools for enhancing your life, but like any tool it will have its limitations. Most of the time I hover somewhere in between happiness and sadness, somewhere in the middle, not overcome by either emotion.

My parting advice would be:

  • Feel Happy
  • Feel Sad
  • Feel Angry
  • Feel Pain
  • Feel Frustrated
  • Feel Love
  • Live in the Moment

Just don’t fall into the trap that your life should be one where you are in some heightened state of happiness all the time.

Root of Our Suffering

A certain amount of our life is dealing with pain, it happens to all of us, and we can avoid the suffering associated with it, but it is a difficult thing to do. I like the quote below because it resonates with me. I make no claims to have eliminated all attachment in my life, but I agree it is often the source of suffering.

Root of suffering

Namaste

 

The Eightfold Path

If you have read any of my earlier posts you were exposed to the Four Noble Truths and each of the steps in the Eightfold Path. I like to look at the Eightfold Path as the process and guidance that can help you end suffering and lead an ethical life. I attempted to provide some detail about each of the steps in the Eightfold Path that relate to living in this world, although what the Buddha taught is as applicable in this age as it was then. As I studied each of the steps I found the concepts to be fairly straightforward, but difficult to implement. The benefits far out way the challenges, and it may take years before you master all the steps, or you may already be living a life that puts you very close to attaining enlightenment. Of course there is no specific time table for any of us, and the journey should be viewed as a great reward unto itself. You can read about each of the steps in the path by following these links:

  1. Right View
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

nobleeightfoldpathbyajourneyintobuddhism

I hope this post will help you has it has helped me be more centered and live in the present. I am still working on each of these steps, and need to review them periodically as my own journey has just begun.

Namaste

 

Right Livelihood

right-livelihood

The fifth step in the Eightfold Path is Right Livelihood. This means for followers of the path that certain professions do not align with the teachings of the Buddha, particularly anything that does not respect the equality of all living beings and life. For instance this would include professions that involve intoxicants, firearms, or the destruction of animals. If we think about professions in our time, then here are a few examples of those that are not considered Right Livelihood:

  • Brewing beer or liquor
  • Owning a liquor store
  • Bar tending
  • Member of the military
  • Making or selling guns
  • Hunters
  • Cattle farmers
  • Butcher

There are many more of course, but if you think about cherishing equality and life, then you can figure out what type of work does not support these precepts. It is also common that one reserves some time part of their time for community service.

Practicing Right Livelihood builds on Right Understanding, Right Intent, Right Speech, and Right Action all steps in the Eightfold Path. In my next post I we will explore Right Effort.

Namaste

 

Right Action

The fourth step in the Eightfold path is Right Action. For followers of the path Right Action guides what we do in this world. Right Action asks us to follow an ethical approach to life that considers how we treat each other. Right Action follows the five precepts of Buddhism:

  1. Do not to kill
  2. Do not steal
  3. Do not lie
  4. Avoid sexual misconduct (adultry, rape, etc.)
  5. Do not take drugs or other intoxicants

So it is not enough to have good intentions towards others, you must also follow through with actual behavior. The five precepts may appear fairly simple, but dig a little deeper and you find that they are not so easy to follow. For instance to not kill is not reserved for humans but for every living being. Have you ever lied about something? Do you drink or smoke marijuana? Most of us must come to grips with the behavioral changes that it will take to truly live a life of Right Action.

noble-8-fold-path

Namaste