Browsing Category "Suttas"
8 Nov
2018
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Freedom from Distress

NEW MOON REFLECTION from the Forest Sangha

No More Distress
There is no tension
for those who have completed their journey
and have become free
from the distress of all binding ties.

— Dhammapada v. 90

“Whatever is happening around us, let’s not forget that the more important journey is that which leads to freedom from all distress. We might be feeling distressed over what we see or hear on the outside, but the greater distress is that which we feel in our hearts.

“Materialist cultures are mostly unaware of the spiritual journey and mostly invest is acquiring more things and more experiences. The Buddha wants us to invest in training our attention so we learn to recognize the true causes of distress and acquire the skill of letting go.”

24 Oct
2018
Posted in: Practice, Resources, Suttas
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Bring Light

FULL MOON REFLECTION from Forest Sangha:

Transformation
One who transforms old and heedless ways
into fresh and wholesome acts
brings light into the world
like the moon freed from clouds.

— Dhammapada v. 173

“It would be a great pity if we viewed all our ‘old and heedless ways’ merely as troublesome tendencies that we had to get rid of. Just as recycling of material objects is sensibly recognized as more skilful than casually throwing things away, likewise a lot of wisdom and goodness can be found in that which previously caused us to suffer.

Arrogance is always offensive, but once purified and no longer held as who and what we are, can be transformed into self-confidence.

Stubbornness is always unattractive, but once purified and not seen as ‘self’, can manifest as resolute determination.”

17 Oct
2018
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Truly Good Fortune and Gain

I’ve been reading the suttas — one a day — for about six years now…I’m almost done!!!..and came across this one today:

“…you should recollect your own generosity thus: ‘It is truly my good fortune and gain that in a population obsessed by the stain of miserliness, I dwell at home with a mind devoid of the stain of miserliness, freely generous, openhanded, delighting in relinquishment, devoted to charity, delighting in giving and sharing.’

When a noble disciple recollects her generosity, on that occasion her mind is not obsessed by lust, hatred, or delusion; on that occasion her mind is simply straight, based on generosity. 

“A noble disciple whose mind is straight gains inspiration in the meaning, gains inspiration in the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma.

When she is joyful, rapture arises. For one with a rapturous mind, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body feels pleasure. For one feeling pleasure, the mind becomes concentrated. 

“This is called a noble disciple who dwells in balance amid an unbalanced population, who dwells unafflicted amid an afflicted population.

“…you should develop this recollection of generosity while walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. You should develop it while engaged in work and while living at home in a house full of children.

***

An excellent suggestion! And it says the same for “recollecting one’s own virtuous behavior.” Ditto.

(from The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, in The Book of the Elevens, translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi, with gendered pronoun change by me. AN 11:11.10, 11:12.7)

4 Oct
2018
Posted in: Activism, Social Justice, Suttas
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Do Not Ignore…

Note: The following was previously published as a Full Moon Reflection by the Forest Sangha on August 26:

Do not ignore the effects of evil,
saying, “This will come to nothing”.
Just as by the gradual fall of raindrops
the water jar is filled,
so in time fools are corrupted by evil-doing.

(Dhammapada v. 121)

“It is wise to remind ourselves that we usually don’t see how habits are formed. Perhaps we think that it doesn’t matter when we turn a blind eye to somebody else’s unethical conduct. But after a few times of choosing to ‘not notice’ what’s going on, we can find that we have grown used to such conduct – we’ve become somewhat insensitive.

“A more skilful approach is to fully register how witnessing abuse or corruption affects us, in the whole body-mind, and to study our reactions. It is appropriate to feel averse towards that which is improper; aversion only turns into hatred when we cling to it, when we identify with it.

Hatred is always to be avoided and never to be acted upon, but let’s not be so afraid of it that we become blind. We must protect our sensitivity, feel fully what we feel, and learn to not ‘become’ those feelings.”

26 Sep
2018
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That Larger Reality

Here is this month’s
Full Moon Reflection,
offered by the
Forest Sangha:

It is wisdom
that enables letting go
of a lesser happiness
in pursuit of a happiness
which is greater.

(Dhammapada v. 290)

“There is no denying that happiness can be found in the realm of the senses. However, the Buddha discovered that a more dependable and lasting happiness can be found within cultivated awareness. So long as awareness remains uncultivated, generally we won’t see beyond the happiness that comes with gratifying sense desires.

“When awareness is cultivated, then we see the limitations inherent in such pursuits and come to know the happiness of contentment. Being continually caught up in desire is actually painful, but we can only see this once we have some perspective on the true nature of desire.

Desire is a movement taking place in a larger reality. Appreciation of that larger reality is an expression of wisdom.”

***

I know from my own experience that “a more dependable and lasting happiness” CAN be found in cultivated awareness, so of course that line stood out for me. But the part that REALLY stood out was the reference to the “larger reality” in which desire is just a “movement taking place”.

So my practice for today will be to really let that land in me and to feel its resonance.

***

View earlier Dhammapada Reflections here.

10 Sep
2018
Posted in: Poems, Resources, Suttas
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Full and New Moon Reflections

A shout-out today for my friend Betsy who turned me on to this beautiful offering from the Forest SanghaReflections on the Dhammmapada, which (if you subscribe) will arise in your email on each new and full moon.

Here is yesterday’s
New Moon Reflection:

No More Thorns

If you walk the path
you will arrive at the end of suffering.

Having beheld this myself,
I proclaim the Way
which removes all thorns.

Dhammapada v. 275
(from A Dhammapada for Contemplation, 2nd edition, Aruna Publications, 2006)

“It is not necessary to move through life perpetually afraid of being skewered by the barbs of painful human interaction. All beings, including the Buddha himself, are subject to the eight worldly winds: praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and pain, honor and insignificance.

“However, awakened beings are so completely transparent, so completely free from resistance, that they are always able to accord with it. They live unobstructed in their relationship with everything and everybody. Having walked the path to its end, they know beyond all doubt that to cling is to suffer. Wisdom shows them how to hold to life without creating pain, without spoiling it.”

***

The Forest Sangha represents the
International Monasteries in the Therevada Buddhist Tradition of Ajahn Chah.
To receive these fortnightly Reflections, click here.
To view earlier Reflections, click here.

26 Jul
2018
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Happily Ever After, and Even After That!

At Sunday Sangha last week we got into a discussion about the fact that of course we “cling” to our loved ones (spouses, children, grandchildren, etc.). And Brian mentioned that at a recent retreat, Bhikkhu Bodhi pointed out that while many of the Buddha’s teachings were given to monastics, many of them were not — they were given to “regular people,” who were married and had children, etc. — and that it’s important to know who the Buddha was talking to when we try to understand these teachings.

Which brought to mind the sutta where the Buddha tells Nakulapita and his wife Nakulamata how they could stay together and in love with each other as long as they lived….and on into future lives as well!

This discourse also shows that far from demanding that his lay disciples spurn the desires of the world, the Buddha was ready to show those still under the sway of worldly desire how to obtain the objects of their desire. The one requirement he laid down was that the fulfillment of desire be regulated by ethical principles.” (from In the Buddha’s Words, by Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Here’s what it says in the sutta:

“One morning the Blessed One dressed, took his upper robe and bowl, and went to the dwelling of the householder Nakulapita. Having arrived there, he sat down on the seat prepared for him. Then the householder Nakulapita and the housewife Nakulamata approached the Blessed One and, after paying homage to him, sat down to one side. So seated, the householder Nakulapita said to the Blessed One:

Venerable sir, ever since the young housewife Nakulamata was brought home to me when I too was still young, I am not aware of having wronged her even in my thoughts, still less in my deeds. Our wish is to be in one another’s sight so long as this life lasts and in the future life as well.

“Then Nakulamata the housewife addressed the Blessed One thus: Venerable sir, ever since I was taken to the home of my young husband Nakulapita, while being a young girl myself, I am not aware of having wronged him even in my thoughts, still less in my deeds. Our wish is to be in one another’s sight so long as this life lasts and in the future life as well.

“Then the Blessed One spoke this: If, householders, both wife and husband wish to be in one another’s sights so long as this life lasts and in the future life as well, they should have the same faith, the same moral discipline, the same generosity, the same wisdom; then they will be in one another’s sight so long as this life lasts and in the future life as well.” (AN 4:55)

***

How sweet is that!

31 Jul
2017
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So Now I’m Totally into Pali!

I’m still feeling the effects of taking that course on Vedana, at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, where Akincano really opened my eyes to the benefits of comparing several different translations of the same sutta — including jumping in and looking at the original Pali!

I’ve even started working my way through a surprisingly readable — and enjoyable! — little book: Pali–Buddha’s Language: A Complete Teach Yourself Course for Beginners in 10 Simple Lessons, by Kurt Schmidt, which includes a website with audio recordings of the Pail lessons that students are encouraged to (STRONGLY encouraged to) memorize.

So I’m doing it!

Starting with this very famous verse from the Dhammapada (Dhp. 5), which Gil Fronsdal translates as:
Hatred never ends through hatred.
By non-hate alone does it end.
This is an ancient truth.

Which Kevin Trainor translates as:
For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time:
hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule.

And Ajahn Sujato translates as:
Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.

Here’s the original Pali, with word-for-word translation from the book by Kurt Schmidt:

Na hi verena verani
Not namely through-enmity enmities

sammat’ idha kudacanam
stop here ever

a-verena ca sammanti
through-non-enmity and they stop

esa dhammo sanantano.
this Law (is) eternal. 

***

I think this is really cool. So OK. I confess. I’m a total sutta geek!

17 Jul
2017
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Not Easy

I’m back now from Wisconsin, where I was helping my mother — and my father — adjust to my mother’s deteriorating state of dementia, and from Massachusetts, where I was studying the concept of “feeling tone” in Buddhist psychology — and really getting into the Pali texts!

I have quite a lot to say about both of these experiences, but for now, let me combine the two by quoting the Buddha (from the Numerical Discourses, AN 2.32):

“I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay.

“Which two? Your mother and father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder and your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, and rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate and urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents.

If you were to establish your mother and father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents.

Why is that? Mother and father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world.” 

20 Jan
2017
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Non-Hate

“Hatred never ends through hatred.
By non-hate alone does it end.
This is an ancient truth.”

Dhammapada, trans. Gil Fronsdal