Posted on 20 April 2013 by Buddhism Now
People often believe contemplation is the same as thinking about something. But when I use the word it means rather ‘contemplating what an existing condition is like’. If you feel angry or resentful, contemplate that feeling. This isn’t to say you should try to figure out why or where the feeling came from, but look at the way it is. Let it be and notice what it feels like as an experience in the present.
The three characteristics of impermanence (anicca), unsatisfactoriness (dukkha), and not-self (anatta) are the guiding suggestions. Not in the sense of going around thinking that anger is just impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self, or to project those ideas onto experience, but to look at impermanence and to contemplate it. I remember noticing the passage of time—of how the sun rises and sets—and using impermanence as a subject to contemplate for the day or for several days. We can notice visual change and sound. When an aeroplane flies over or somebody says something, for example, we can be aware of how sound is very definitely impermanent, fleeting, ephemeral. And taste and touch—are these things permanent? No! (more…)
Filed under: Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Sumedho, Biography, Buddhism, History, Metta, Theravada | Tagged: anatta, Anicca, Brahma-viharas, Cambodia, Chithurst House, Darjeeling, dukkha, Khmer Rouge, monks and nuns, Photos Lisa Daix, Pol Pot, WPLongform | 1 Comment »
Posted on 9 April 2013 by Buddhism Now
Posted on 4 April 2013 by Buddhism Now
The Five Aggregates
One way of dividing up the conditioned realm is into five aggregates (khandhas)—
- body (rupa),
- feeling (vedana),
- perception (sanna),
- mental formations (sankhara) and
- consciousness (vinnana).
When I first started meditating many years ago, I could understand the definitions of the five aggregates, but I did not know their reality; I had never really contemplated these things in an intuitive way through observing my own body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, or consciousness. Initially, I really only contemplated the physical body, the four elements (earth, fire water and air), the parts of the body (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, etc) and the body itself. I contemplated material things, anything formed. (more…)
Filed under: Ajahn Sumedho, Biography, Buddhism, Buddhist meditation, Metta, Theravada | Tagged: Buddhist teachings, khandhas, rupa, sankhara, sanna, vedana, vinnana | 5 Comments »
Posted on 25 February 2013 by Buddhism Now
When we hear or read the word ‘liberation’ (nibbana), we often get the idea that it is unattainable, otherworldly, reachable only by spiritual giants, and that it has very little to do with us. We do not have to look at it that way. Let us consider the three kinds of liberation—’signless’, ‘wishless’, and ‘voidness’ liberation. Signless liberation is attained by completely penetrating impermanence (anicca), wishless liberation by completely penetrating unsatisfactoriness (dukkha), and voidness liberation by penetrating coreless substance (anatta).
We’re all familiar with impermanence, but what is signless liberation? Suppose we are attached to or highly appreciative of a person, a situation, a belonging. Can we let go of clinging to it? We can try to let go of anything at all, no matter how small. We direct our attention to the fact that all we examine is totally fleeting. We fathom that truth in everything, in all living beings, and, having seen it, we let go of our belief in the solidity of things. We thereby let go of our attachment. If we can do that with anything or anyone, even for a moment, we have won a moment of signless liberation—a moment of direct knowledge that nothing has any intrinsic value, that it’s all a passing show. Having had that experience, even for one moment, gives us an inkling of what the Buddha meant when he spoke about freedom. Freedom is often misunderstood as the ability to do anything we want. We have probably tried that already and found that it doesn’t work. Even if we were to follow only our desires, we would soon be satiated and then feel unfulfilled. (more…)
Filed under: Buddhism, Buddhist meditation, Theravada | Tagged: anatta, Anicca, Ayya Khema, Buddhist blog, dukkha, nibbana, spirituality | 1 Comment »
Posted on 7 February 2013 by Buddhism Now
I’ve been here at Amaravati for fifteen years . We have a nice temple with cloisters now, and somebody has donated funds for a very nice kuti, the nicest kuti I’ve ever had. And one may become attached to Amaravati, or ideas about Amaravati, or the sangha, to monasticism or Buddhism, to being a good Buddhist monk or to the Theravada tradition, to the Thai forest tradition, to establishing Buddhism in the West. All these things are very good and one gets praised for them. People sometimes say, ‘Isn’t it wonderful what you’ve done! You’ve established monasticism in the West.’ I get a lot of these kinds of messages. But one has to be careful not to start attaching to these things, and suffering when one doesn’t get the compliments or when the monks and nuns start disrobing and people start finding fault with you. When one responds to praise and blame, success and failure, those are the signs of attachment. This is where I’ve made a strong determination. In my practice the priority is always towards this purity, never towards any worldly thing, not towards the monastic life, towards Buddhism, individual monks or nuns, orders of monks and nuns, Buddhism in the West, Buddhism in the East, Buddhism in the North, or Buddhism in the South. Even if I am successful at these things, even if I do establish Buddhism permanently for the next thousand years in Europe, the priority can only be to realise nibbana, to cross over the sea of suffering. We’ve made this temple at Amaravati so sturdy it’ll last a thousand years. Buddhism may not survive, but the temple will. The architect said twenty elephants could dance on the roof of that temple and it would not cave in! But to realise nibbana is the whole purpose of ordaining as a monk or nun. This has always meant a lot to me. I could see that it might be sometimes easier to build temples than to practise and to keep that practice going until you really know so that it’s not theoretical. Each one of us has this opportunity to know this for ourselves. That’s the only way we can be liberated, through knowing it for ourselves, not through anyone else’s understanding. (more…)
Filed under: Ajahn Sumedho, Beginners, Biography, Buddhism, Theravada | Tagged: Amaravati, awareness, Buddha Sangha, Buddhist blog, Buddhist monk, religion, spirituality, Vipaka-kamma | 4 Comments »
Posted on 31 January 2013 by Buddhism Now
The Buddha approached the spiritual path through the noble truths. These are based on the existential reality of suffering. This is where many people in the West misunderstand Buddhism. They compare it to other religions and come out with statements about it being a negative approach, and that Buddhists don’t believe in God. There is this idea that it’s some kind of atheist religious form. But if you contemplate the Buddha’s teaching, the important thing to realise is that it’s a teaching of awakening rather than of grasping any kind of metaphysical position.
The first noble truth, suffering (dukkha), brings us back to a very banal and ordinary human experience. The suffering of not getting what we want is common to all of us. We all experience suffering from being separated from what we like and love, and having to be with what we don’t like. So we can all relate to it, rich or poor. We all have to experience old age, sickness and death, grief and sorrow, lamentation, despair, doubt—these are common to every human experience. There is nothing particularly unusual about this suffering; it’s ordinary. But it is to be understood. And in order to understand it, you have to accept it. (more…)
Filed under: Ajahn Sumedho, Buddhism, Buddhist meditation, Theravada | Tagged: Amaravati, bhikkhus, Buddhist Sangha, defilements (kilesa), Four Noble Truths, Monastic life, Photos: Janet Novak, Vinaya | 5 Comments »
Posted on 26 January 2013 by Buddhism Now
A certain Mr Porng went to visit the abbot of a nearby monastery, and he asked, ‘Luang Por [Reverend Father], the Buddha taught that everything is not-self and is without an owner—there is no one who commits karma and no one who receives its results. If that is the case, then I can go out and hit somebody over the head or even kill them, or do anything I like, because there is no one committing karma and no one receiving its results.’
No sooner had Mr Porng finished speaking than the abbot swung his walking stick down like a flash. Mr Porng could hardly get his arm up fast enough to ward off the blow. Even so, the stick struck solidly in the middle of his arm, giving it a good bruise. Clutching his sore arm, Mr Porng said, ‘Luang Por! Why did you do that?’ His voice trembled with the anger that was welling up inside him. (more…)
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Posted on 22 January 2013 by Buddhism Now
The bright mind is balanced and the defiled mind is imbalanced. When defilements (kilesa) come in, they take over. Then things are no longer in balance. And when the mind is out of balance, sometimes it goes off to the left, sometimes to the right, sometimes it goes up, sometimes down, or there is too much, or too little. This is what happens with defilements—the natural, pure balance of the mind is interfered with. This shows the importance of getting away from the influence of the defilements in order to live in the balanced Middle Way.
When the instincts are out of control, they become selfish, and this gives rise to all the defilements. The out-of-control instincts pull the mind off the Middle Way into the dead-end of the kilesa (the mental defilements). This is very important to know.
We often call these things the defilements, but we can see that they are just instincts which are out of control. Seeing this gives us an insight into how to bring them under control so that they no longer become defilements. This is something to be very interested in in order to get back on the path, to return to the balanced, right state of mind. To make it easier to understand, we can look at certain pairs of things which take us off the Middle Way. (more…)
Filed under: Beginners, Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, Buddhism, Buddhist meditation, Theravada | Tagged: defilements (kilesa), Dependent Origination (paticcasamuppada), idappaccayata (this is, Middle Way, this becomes | 1 Comment »
Posted on 18 January 2013 by Buddhism Now
This was said by the Lord.
“Bhikkhus, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth,[i] all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness.[ii] The mind-release of loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant.
“Just as the radiance of all the stars does not equal a sixteenth part of the moon’s radiance, but the moon’s radiance surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness.
“Just as in the last month of the rainy season, in the autumn, when the sky is clear and free of clouds, the sun, on ascending, dispels the darkness of space and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness…. (more…)
Filed under: Beginners, Books, Buddhist meditation, Encyclopedia, Metta, Theravada | Tagged: Buddhist Publication Society, compassionate mind, John D. Ireland, loving kindness, Pali Canon, The Udana and The Itivuttaka | 2 Comments »
Posted on 11 January 2013 by Buddhism Now
Awakening: The Five Spiritual Powers (Faith, Energy, Mindfulness, Serenity, and Wisdom).
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Golden Buddha Centre Totnes Nov 2012 (more…)
Filed under: Beginners, Buddhist meditation, Theravada, Video | Tagged: Ajahn Chah, Energy, Faith, Five Spiritual Powers, Golden Buddha Center, Mindfulness, Serenity, wisdom | Leave a Comment »