Tag: Buddhism

Mediation Experiences – Cuatro

This is the fourth installment “Cuatro” in my series on my meditation experiences. The previous installments included:

Meditation Experiences – Uno where I covered some of the basics of meditation and how I began my own practice.

Meditation Experiences – Dos was targeted at a discussion on some of the benefits I have received from my practice.

Meditation Experiences – Tres is where I tried to make the case for having no expectations from your practice.

Ok enough about the past, but if you haven’t read these posts I recommend you do so, as this has been a journey for me, and you get a better context for what I have experienced if you start at the beginning. During the time that I have written this, I have been meditating on a daily basis for about 3 months. I don’t know if I mentioned this, but my practice has also included studying Buddhism, which I have been doing for maybe around the last 10 years or so. So when I talk about my practice it is comprised of meditation and Buddhist studies.

All of human history has been turbulent, but we are living in a strange era with this pandemic and technological advances that have brought so much prosperity to the world and at the same time caused so many people to be displaced. If there was ever a time that we needed something to provide a lifeline or an anchor in our world the time is now.

As I went beyond just studying and dedicated myself to daily meditation, I feel that this might be an answer to living a meaningful life amidst all this craziness. In fact, it may be the only true way out of this situation. The Buddha spent years coming to the realization that suffering exists as a natural state for human beings and that there is an end to suffering. His prescription was developing a practice of meditation and following the Eightfold Path. You might be thinking this is bullshit, how can I benefit from studying an applied philosophy created 2,500 years ago. I would argue that Buddhism has survived so long because it was relevant in the past and is relevant today and will be relevant in the future. The basic premise of Buddhism that life is Dukkha (suffering), is as true today as it was yesterday.

As I have become consistent with my practice and specifically the meditation component of it I have found it to be the lifeline that I so badly needed. I won’t kid you there are times when I sit down on my cushion and have trouble tuning out the world around me, thoughts about my work, or other things become so prominent that I have trouble staying present. While some sessions seem better than others, all of the time spent meditating is a respite from the insane world we live in. This daily practice starts out as somewhat of a challenge, but as you persist it becomes a habit, and you will start to look forward to it. You become your practice, you become compassionate, and ultimately you become Buddha. Your practice will soon become the most important thing in your life because all good things result from it. You might just become a better spouse, parent, or friend. You might even start seeing the world as it really is and you will start seeing the good in people.

I will leave you with this somewhat funny quote from the Dalai Lama:

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

 

 

Driven

Random Thoughts / Poetry

Driven

We make so much of every situation

It all seems so important

A heightened level of anxiety becomes our natural state

We are told to escalate for every issue

Everything becomes critical

Our life is one of hyperactivity

Driven to achieve by ourselves and others we are exhausted

Is it any wonder we are so unhappy?

We are asked to do more and more with the same amount of limited time

Our life is now dominated by schedules and to-do lists

The pace we set for our life cannot be sustained

We seek the answer in meditation, yoga, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and any other number of ways to calm our mind and give our life meaning

The days become a blur as they pass us by

You tell yourself someday I will jump off this hamster wheel, once I earn a little more money

That day never happens and you die never having really lived

Is that really what you want from your life?

Stop deferring your fucking life

Today I will jump off the hamster wheel even if for an hour or two

Once I taste freedom I will cease to jump back on the wheel

Remember the world will always try to pull you back into the vortex

Only you can save yourself

 

Namaste

 

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The end of suffering

Random Thoughts / Poetry

The End Of Suffering

You know everything is impermanent

Yet you choose to suffer

Only change is certain

Yet you choose to suffer

You are aging day by day

Yet you choose to suffer

Life and death is ever-present

Yet you choose to suffer

Love and joy surround you

Yet you choose to suffer

You have no direction

You can find no end to suffering

The end to your suffering is a walk down the Eightfold Path

 

Namaste

 

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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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Taking life to seriously

I sat around this morning drinking coffee, and playing my To-Do list in my head over and over like I typically do wondering if I would ever get it all done on time and how all these future events would transpire. Does any of this sound familiar? Anyone with a modicum of drive and determination falls victim to this kind of routine, and quite frankly it sucks. Here’s the thing we all take life too seriously and we suffer because of that. Sometimes I have to remind myself that a year from now I probably won’t remember all the shit I worried about today, and ironically no one else will either.

The Stoics especially Marcus Aurelius often thought about just how insignificant we are in the scheme of things. I can assure you that no matter how successful you are at work, once you move on and within a couple years or less you will be just a distant memory to those who remain. The company or organization you work for will march on without you because that’s what they do. So lesson one is stop taking your work or yourself so seriously, really in the scheme of things, it’s not that important. I know this is hard to hear because you put so much of yourself into your work, you have tied your identity to what you do, not who you are.

I can hear you now and I can hear myself saying, well that’s great, but I have a lot of shit to do, and if I want to keep earning a living I need to get it done. Most of us can’t just jump off the hamster wheel and join a Buddhist monastery, we need to provide for our families and all that other stuff. When I talk to myself and yes I talk to myself, I try to simplify and tell myself it will all get done, but only if you focus on one thing at a time and stay present. Being present not only makes you more productive so you can eradicate that to-do list, but it also reduces your anxiety as you are not focusing on the future.

Another benefit of focusing on the present moment is that you begin to find joy in what you are doing. Here’s my advice, fuck the productivity benefits, screw the fact that you are getting more done for others; focus on the present for yourself so you can gain some enjoyment from what you are doing.

Namaste

 

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It’s the truth I’m after

This is one of my favorite quotes from Marcus Aurelius who was the Roman Emperor 161 to 180 CE and a pretty awesome Stoic Philosopher. Let’s take a look at what this quote really means:

“It’s the truth I am after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.”

Sometimes I like to draw a parallel between Stoicism and Buddhism, but in Buddhism, the truth is known and it is referred to as the Four Noble Truths. That doesn’t mean Buddhists don’t seek the truth, they certainly do, my reference is to what the Buddha taught as the ultimate truth in the Four Noble Truths. Here Marcus Aurelius is seeking the truth and reminding us that the truth cannot harm us. We can seek the truth or as he says we can live in self-deceit and ignorance. I think this quote by Marcus Aurelius is inspirational and prescriptive, seek the truth, and avoid fooling yourself and being ignorant.

What other way should you live your life, but seeking the truth? Seeking the truth means being inquisitive, learning, and not being satisfied with bullshit explanations. Don’t believe the stories people tell you, when they want you to do things, question them. Your favorite word as a truth seeker is “why”. As a truth seeker, your life will have more meaning and you will enrich your understanding of the world.

Go ahead my friend the world needs more Truth Seekers! 

Namaste

 

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About Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius (/ɔːˈrliəs/ or /ɔːˈrljəs/;[1] LatinMarcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors (a term coined some 13 centuries later by Niccolò Machiavelli), and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace and stability for the Roman Empire. He served as Roman consul in 140, 145, and 161.

Marcus was born during the reign of Emperor Hadrian to the emperor’s nephew, the praetor Marcus Annius Verus (III), and his wife the heiress Domitia Lucilla. Following the death of his father, Marcus was raised by his mother and grandfather Marcus Annius Verus (II). After Hadrian’s adoptive sonAelius Caesar, died in 138, the emperor adopted Marcus’ uncle Antoninus Pius as his new heir. In turn, Antoninus adopted Marcus and the son of Aelius, Lucius (later to rule as Emperor Lucius Verus alongside Marcus). Hadrian died that year and Antoninus became emperor. Now heir to the throne, Marcus studied Greek and Latin under tutors such as Herodes Atticus and Marcus Cornelius Fronto. He kept in close correspondence with Fronto for many years afterwards. Marcus married Antoninus’ daughter Faustina in 145. Antoninus died following an illness in 161.

The reign of Marcus Aurelius was marked by military conflict. In the East, the Roman Empire fought successfully with a revitalized Parthian Empire and the rebel Kingdom of Armenia. Marcus defeated the MarcomanniQuadi, and Sarmatian Iazyges in the Marcomannic Wars; however, these and other Germanic peoples began to represent a troubling reality for the Empire. He modified the silver purity of the Roman currency, the denarius. The persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire is believed to have increased during his reign. The Antonine Plague broke out in 165 or 166 and devastated the population of the Roman Empire, causing the deaths of five million people. Lucius Verus may have died from the plague in 169.

Unlike some of his predecessors, Marcus chose not to adopt an heir. His children included Lucilla, who married Lucius, and Commodus, whose succession after Marcus has become a subject of debate among both contemporary and modern historians. The Column and Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius still stand in Rome, where they were erected in celebration of his military victories. Meditations, the writings of “the philosopher” – as contemporary biographers called Marcus, are a significant source of the modern understanding of ancient Stoic philosophy. They have been praised by fellow writers, philosophers, monarchs, and politicians centuries after his death.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius

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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Who is your master?

One might equate gain to desire and avoid to fear in this quote from Epictetus. The very fact that you desire something whether it be a position, money, or some material thing indicates something or someone else is now in control. I liken this to Buddhist teachings about cravings. Something outside of ourselves becomes our master, and suffering ensues.

Of course our master may not be revealed by craving alone. Fear can as easily result in a loss of control. What we seek to avoid may not even come to pass, but this makes it no less real in our minds.

I don’t like to dwell upon current events too much as they are often portrayed as negative, and I just don’t want to invest my limited energy in them. Put another way I don’t watch the fucking news!

With that said, please don’t let this pandemic make you so fearful that you allow it to be your master. If you seek to gain anything from this moment have it be knowledge; this will allow you to remain the master of your domain.

Stay calm, stay safe, and be nice to everyone. You may be wise and strong, but there are many others who are not, and they need reassurance that all will be well.

Namaste