5 Feb
2020
Posted in: Books, Poems, Practice
By    Comments Off on Buy This Book!

Buy This Book!

Longtime readers of this blog will notice that I haven’t been posting poems the way I used to, that now I only use excerpts of poems, or older poems that are already in the public domain, or curated poems that have been sent to me or are in some other way publicly available. That’s because I’m being more careful now about observing the precept of not taking what’s not freely offered (which I posted about here).

But I used to post whole poems, copied straight out of books (which, at least, I had purchased — but still) without thinking much about it. A lot of those poems were copied from Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, edited by Phyllis Cole-Dai and Ruby R. Wilson. (All poems in the book were reprinted by permission.)

I won’t be copying whole poems and posting them anymore, but if you liked any of the poems I’ve already posted — and perhaps, are using them in your dharma groups — please consider supporting these poets financially as well as literarily — by buying the book that I copied their poems from!

Or better yet, email me here with the name of the poems I’ve posted that you really love, and I’ll try to make up for using them without the poet’s permission by buying — and then encouraging my readers to buy — a whole book of their poems!

4 Feb
2020
Posted in: Books, Practice, Tuesday Night Insight
By    Comments Off on Do Not Demand That Your Suffering End

Do Not Demand That Your Suffering End

At tonight’s Tuesday Night Insight we will continue working with the First Noble Truth, in which the Buddha “proclaimed that suffering is an unavoidable reality of ordinary human existence that is to be known and responded to wisely…”

“In my experience,” Phillip Moffitt writes, “the First Noble Truth is truly noble. It contains the grand vision for how you can begin to live right now with more harmony, despite whatever difficulties arise in your life…

“You may not like undergoing this objective suffering and you may feel your share is unfair or too much. Still, your life’s difficulties are there for you to bear as best you are able. In practicing being with life just as it is, you still prefer that your suffering end and you act on that preference whenever possible.

“But most crucially you do not demand that your difficulties go away. Instead, you consciously and voluntarily carry your suffering, and in your acceptance of it you find meaning, what Ajahn Sumedho calls ‘the good of suffering.’

“Astonishingly, when you fully accept dukkha, you also discover distance from your difficulties. The way out of suffering is the way through. As Sumedho says, ‘To let go of suffering we have to admit it into consciousness.'”

***

Text from Dancing with Life, by Phillip Moffitt

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

2 Feb
2020
Posted in: Books, Practice
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This Does Not Help

“Much of your mind’s reactivity in the form of wanting or aversion happens because you are reluctant to feel fully in your body and heart what is occurring in your consciousness.”

***

Text from “Insights into Consciousness,” chapter 2 of Awakening through the Nine Bodies, by Phillip Moffitt.

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

31 Jan
2020
Posted in: Poems
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The Problem is…

You cannot get in the way of anyone’s path to happiness, it also does no good. The problem is
figuring out which part is the path and which part is the happiness.

***

Poem excerpt from War of the Foxes, by Richard Siken (2015)
courtesy of Pome

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

29 Jan
2020
Posted in: Books, Chanting
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Thus Have I Heard…

For many years now, I have listened over and over to a mysteriously beautiful recording of the Satipatthana Sutta chanted in Pali — by a Sinhalese monk, in a very lyrical Sri Lankan style of chanting — the beginning of which was played at one of the long retreats I attended.

[Click on the Pirith website here, then scroll down where it lists: Maha Satipatthana Sutta. The recording is on four mp3 files. File 1 is a short introduction (spoken). The chanting begins on file 2 and continues through file 4. Click here to go directly to file 2.]

I’ve long wanted to be able to learn that chant. Maybe not the whole thing, which is about an hour long (!), but at least part of it. Maybe the overview at the start of the sutta and the section on Mindfulness of Breathing. Which I think might take about 15 minutes. Seems doable.

So — I starting looking around for the Pali text and found: The Pali and English Maha Satipatthana Sutta: “Specially Prepared for Chanting!”

Perfect. I’m going for it!

28 Jan
2020
Posted in: Books, Tuesday Night Insight
By    Comments Off on You Also Have an Internal Experience

You Also Have an Internal Experience

“The stress or unease that is dukkha — alienation, despair, uncertainty, lack of control, grief, frustration, fear, anger, longing — constitutes your mind and heart’s resistance to life being simple as it is,” writes Phillip Moffitt in Dancing with Life.

Here’s the rest of that text, which I’ll be referencing at tonight’s Tuesday Night Insight:

“Dukkha can also be understood as the discomfort of inhabiting a body with all its physical vulnerabilities and pain. And it can refer to the unease you experience because you have conscious knowledge of how scary and uncertain life is and the inevitability of death. Sometimes the words unsatisfactory and unreliable are used to describe dukkha, for the way life can let you down when things don’t go as you’d hoped and planned.

There is suffering that originates from external events and the suffering you experience because of how you process those events in your own mind.

“It is an objective fact that your life is filled with challenges, from illness to conflict with others to the death of loved ones. An outside observer witnessing your life would be able to confirm that this is so. But in addition to — or more accurately, in reaction to — these objective painful experiences, you also have an internal experience. Your mind is filled with a seemingly endless stream of emotions that arise in reaction to what’s going on around you.

“It is this subjective type of suffering that the Buddha is primarily addressing in the First Noble Truth. As you deepen your understanding of this richer and more complex meaning of dukkha, you will find opportunities for freedom and well-being that you never even knew existed.”

***

Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash

27 Jan
2020
Posted in: Books, Poems
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That Everything Changes, Changes Everything

In his Introduction to The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy, editor John Brehm writes:

“If we knew ourselves as living in a ghost world of unceasing change, we wouldn’t take ourselves and the things that happen to us quite so seriously. And we would see more clearly the preciousness of all life…

“Living in the full knowledge that everything changes, changes everything. It loosens our grasp and lets the world become what it truly is, a source of amazement and amusement.”

***

I love the art on this cover! It’s: “Our Fragile Past,” by Kevin Sloan.

23 Jan
2020
Posted in: Art, Books, Nine Bodies
By    Comments Off on More Fully Conscious of the Physical Body

More Fully Conscious of the Physical Body

In preparation for the March retreat I’ll be attending at Spirit Rock (and as part of my training in the Nine Bodies practice), my meditations this week have focused entirely on becoming more fully conscious of the Physical Body.

As a supplement to that, I’ve also “meditated” on this gorgeous new art book from the editors at Phaidon — Anatomy: Exploring the Human Body — an awesome display of just some of what we have come to know, and how we have come to think, about the human physical body.

(Gray’s Anatomy, this is not.)

22 Jan
2020
Posted in: APP, Poems
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Yes.

Coolness —
the sound of the bell
as it leaves the bell.

***

Tathatā is the Buddhist concept of “suchness.” It is very similar to suññatā (emptiness) but derives from saying “yes” to the universe. There is really nothing to hold on to, yet there is something going on. The quality of suchness is like the reflection of ultimate reality. It is a mirage that reflects something real out there; only in this case, the reality is not out there, but it is in our minds. Suññatā and tathatā—emptiness and suchness—are the two sides of reality that we experience in sense-based daily lives.
— from Atammayatā by Piya Tan

***

poem by Yosa Buson (1716-1784), translated from the Japanese by Robert Hass

photo by Elke Smit on Unsplash

21 Jan
2020
Posted in: Books, Mystery, Practice, Tuesday Night Insight
By    Comments Off on It Signals Your Willingness to be Transformed

It Signals Your Willingness to be Transformed

Here is the excerpt from Dancing with Life by Phillip Moffitt, which I’ll be referencing at tonight’s Tuesday Night Insight:

“If you try to deny the truth of dukkha [suffering] or run from it, you will be consumed by your desires, dislikes, and fears. The sole solution is to open to the fires created by the discomfort of your mind and body in such a way that you are transformed by the heat, softened, and made stronger by it.

“Being present with your dukkha is a daunting task because it means that you must abandon many of your mental defenses (including denial, rationalization, blaming, and judging) against life’s assaults. Essentially, the Buddha is asking you to embrace your own unease, to submit to the undeniable reality of your vulnerability in this human form, and to open your heart to the truth of life just as it is. In Buddhism, this recognition of ‘the way things are’ is referred to as tathata or the ‘suchness’ of the moment.

“At first, being with the suchness of your own suffering may seem a pointless, uncomfortable, indulgent, or self-pitying practice. But you’ll be surprised to discover that rather than being morose or unpleasant as most people anticipate, it is actually calming, relieving, and empowering. Long before you find final liberation from the cause of your suffering, just learning to be with it brings enhanced peace and meaning to your life.

“By simply choosing to be present with your pain, you signal your willingness to be transformed, to allow the purification process to begin. When you embrace life just as it is and just as you are, it ignites a mysterious process of inner development. You are voluntarily submitting to the purging fire of the felt experience. You will feel more authentic and be aware of a fuller, richer, more vital presence in yourself; others will notice as well.”

***

Photo by Reno Laithienne on Unsplash