Monday, August 31, 2009

meditate on death

If you want to help other people overcome their fear of death, you have to learn how to overcome your own fear of death as well, by abandoning attachment to the body, abandoning attachment to sensual pleasures, avoiding cruel actions, and gaining direct insight into the Deathless. With your fears overcome, you’ll be much more effective in teaching the Dharma to those on their deathbed. You won’t be disturbed by the physical horrors of death, you’ll be able to communicate directly to the needs of the dying person, and your words will carry more weight, for they come from direct experience.

Your compassion will be educated not by books or feelings, but by a clear insight into what dies and what doesn’t. Ultimately, these two lessons boil down to one: Meditate, as an act of compassion both for yourself and for others, even if death seems far away. When the time comes to die, you’ll be less of a burden on those who are caring for you. In the meantime, if you’re called on to comfort those who are sick or dying, your compassion will be more genuinely helpful, and you’ll have a more effective
message to teach.

Purity of Heart, Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thanissaro Bhikkhu: head & heart together

Thanisarro Bhikkhu's 2009 Saskatchewan Retreat "Head & Heart Together: Bringing Wisdom to the Brahmaviharas"

Introduction: The brahmaviharas - attitudes of limitless goodwill, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity - are the Buddha's primary "heart" teachings. Yet he never distinguished between issues of heart and head: The more you can get your head around his explanation of causality, the easier it is to make the heart's attitudes more expansive. This course - using readings, talks, discussion, and meditation - is devoted to exploring how this is so. Topics will include exploring how an understanding of kamma helps in removing limits from one's goodwill and equanimity; understanding the conditions needed for fostering healthy emotions from a Buddhist perspective; and finally, discussing the role of the brahmaviharas in the context of Buddhist practice as a whole.

For audio downloads, pls go to:
Dhamma Talks

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Traveling down a more balanced path
By Sapna Pathak, The Boston Globe, August 16, 2009
St. John’s O’Leary finds answers in Buddhism

Boston, MA (USA) -- The son of devout Catholics, Jimmy O’Leary spent his Sundays as a child at his family’s local church, where he was baptized and received his First Communion. But when it came to improving his game on the soccer field, and tuning his mental approach, O’Leary turned to Buddhism.

“I don’t know, it just helped me look at things from different points of view,’’ said O’Leary, entering his junior year at St. John’s Prep, an all-boys Catholic school in Danvers.

“I can collect myself more, I’m more grounded during a game, and I’m taking a different mental approach than I was before. It’s touched on a lot of my life, really, not just soccer.’’

This fall, the North Reading resident plans on taking his interest in Buddhism to the classroom; he has spent the summer working with his teachers to detail an independent study in Buddhism to add to his schedule.

O’Leary discovered Buddhism prior to his sophomore season. The ancient Eastern religion piqued O’Leary’s interest enough to prompt him to head to the library regularly to read books and articles on the subject.

By the start of the season, he was applying Buddhist principles to soccer.

Rene Novoa, his coach with the FC Vikings, noticed a difference.

“He was always a good leader, but he always wanted to make things happen and wanted to be the one who did it,’’ said Novoa, who began coaching O’Leary six years ago. “All of a sudden, he was more calm, he was more collected when things didn’t go his way. He’s developed into my go-to guy, but his mental maturity is now catching up with his physical skills.’’

Novoa named O’Leary captain of the Vikings, a title he will most likely earn for his senior year at the Prep.

O’Leary is currently reading “The Middle Way,’’ written by the Dalai Lama, which teaches one not to live in the extremes, but to remain balanced at all times.

A speedy, agile defender at 5 feet 8 and 150 pounds, O’Leary even imparts this balanced outlook to the children he works with as a camp counselor at St. John’s Camp Christopher.

“I find myself thinking more comparatively, like what would a Buddhist do versus what a Christian do in certain situations,’’ said O’Leary. “That helps me make choices, both on and off the field.

It’s all about balance, there has to be a balance during a soccer game with who is doing things. I’m trying to keep everything balanced.’’

Read More

Monday, August 03, 2009

story of a butterfly

"A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day, a small opening appeared; he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther.

Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were nature's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If nature allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been.

And we could never fly."