“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” And so, here we are, living in volatile times, even capable of eradicating ourselves from the face of the planet. If we are paying attention, days like these can provide us with a genuine learning opportunity for conscious evolution and enhancing our discernment, combined with a heartfelt need to build community for solace in kindred spirits and meaningful connection.
To help muster the energy required to face the challenges of our complex world, I rely on what Buddhist activists call
The Three Freedoms:
Freedom from undue hope & expectations
Freedom from fear & anxiety
Freedom from selfishness & bias
Buddhism teaches that nothing is more dangerous than an untrained or unhealthy mind, and nothing more conducive to great happiness and wellness than a well-trained clear and wise mind. Yet it’s not only all about mind and intellect, our emotions, body, energy and soulful dimension also come into play. Right action can be a way of achieving one’s goals. Practicing patient forbearance in the face of harm and abuse, without being overly passive in our pacifism, we find that nonviolence is and can be a dynamic multi-dimensional means of persuasion, a technique for political activism, and a recipe for peacemaking and harmonizing—a fearless and forceful way of living authentically as well as speaking truth to power. Right action equals appropriate morality, it carrying with it a sense of discerning wisdom, precision and skillful means.
That is why I am calling for a grassroots arising of a heartfelt and committed Lobby of Compassion, a participatory mandala of persons who are willing to link hands, heads and noble hearts in a measured, focused and sustained effort to develop sufficient clear vision and appropriate action to find and pursue another way—as an alternative to the slippery slope of partisan politics and vestiges of Cold War thinking that has afflicted us for centuries. So we may have a century of dialogue upon the heels of the last century of wars, bloodshed and environmental degradation.
You are the most powerful person in your world. Everything you do could be motivated by compassion. A better and more just and equitable world depends on your own clarity of mind, purity of heart, and a decisive spirit. It is within your reach and special power.
A zen pupil articulates the particular dissimilarities between the conceptual along with ritual parts of practice. This text was in fact brought to our notice by Lama Surya Das Married who is an American lama inside the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He’s a poet, chantmaster, religious activist as well as author of several popular works on Buddhism; a meditation tutor and spokesperson for Buddhism in the west. Lama Surya Das keeps us updated concerning the a variety of facets of Buddhism and also meditation occasionally with his very own discourse and often via articles along with content which sheds light on Buddhism. This particular piece on Buddhism stems from John Blofeld a scholar, writer, along with translator of Asian philosophy along with religion, specifically Buddhism along with Taoism. Continue reading to read more information on Buddhism and also the distinctions involving the conceptual in addition to ritual aspects of practice.
Given that Buddhism came to the West, inevitably some people have felt, “Zazen is good, love is great, self-discipline is a useful one, why all this bowing along with incense? To whom would you provide incense as well as flowers?” For this all of the Buddhists of the past and all of Asian ?Buddhists today might answer with one voice: “Dear friends, a spirit of reverence is vital to effective practice. Without it, enlightenment can never be acquired!”
Prostrations in addition to offerings usually are admittedly just forms-just a person’s way of articulating what cats express by rubbing themselves alongside a much loved person’s legs. If it had been natural for individuals to stand on their heads as well as stick out their rumps to convey respect, then Buddhists would probably stand on their particular heads or even stick out their rumps as a matter of course. Styles usually do not matter in themselves, but the attitude of mind displayed by prostrations and so forth is of fantastic significance to followers of the Way.
My Tibetan lama explained at a very early stage of my training: “Ignorant people embrace the perspective of subject to king before a Buddha statue. Higher-level practice is accomplished totally within the mind. However even if you reach the maximum level-hard certainly to succeed in in one lifetime-you have to every day alternate formless, wordless, above-conceptual practice with bowing down and making offerings. Never fail in that.” My Chinese Chan (Zen) educator told me: “In between your rounds of meditation, practice bowing, supplying incense, along with making circumambulations. When you have no spirit of reverence, virtually no feeling of awe for all that lies beyond the constraints of that miserably circumscribed illusion you suppose to be your ‘me,’ you will earn hardly any development. Why? Simply because whenever your practice improves, you may reflect: ‘I did much better within my meditation just now’ and by so contemplating fall back to the lowest level of ignorance owing to the actual consequent inflation of one’s devilish ‘I’!”
Those Zen priests who said, “Meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha” or even recommended utilizing Buddha figures as firewood and so forth were talking not to Americans or even to new Buddhists but to Chinese or perhaps Japanese Zen followers that could be counted upon to comprehend the meaning of these recommendations, which truly amounted to this: “Never for one minute suppose that veneration of sutras or perhaps images is of much use in itself, thus don’t let it switch the rest of your practice, as uninformed people often do.” I doubt if it actually entered those monks’ minds that one day there’d be people in the world who’d take these powerful (in addition to funny) injunctions actually!
If it is incorrect to have and also to symbolize behavior of reverence, awe, along with gratitude by prostrations in addition to offerings, then all Buddhists have been wrong considering that the dharma was basically preached within this latest kalpa 2,500 plus much more years ago. Can it be probable that those 100s of millions of people at all levels of dedication to the particular practice we so significantly value included no single man or woman of genuine understanding till Buddhism reached America?
Buddhist thought and practice has always emphasized nonviolence, especially protecting and cherishing of all forms of life. This is based on the interwoven interdependence of all things–all of us, and all creatures great and small. Today we celebrate Earth Day, and I ask you: What may inspire, motivate and sustain your feelings of connection and universal responsibility, intentional altruistic actions, and the recognition that we must move from me to we if we are to survive and flourish on this endangered planet?
I find it by going mindfully outside, interbeing with the beauty and richness of nature, and observing directly the inseparable unity of doing and being in moments of inter-meditation, co-meditating with water, sky, wind and trees; and thru the inseparable unity of contemplation and action, faith and deeds, on the path of awakened living.
Recognizing our interconnectedness and collective interdependence allows us to appreciate, respect and accept our undeniable responsibility to protect all the flora and fauna of this earth, and all the habitats, oceans and rivers too. Unfortunately, we seem unable to recognize the interdependence of all.
A sage said: “The light by which we see is the one by which we are seen.” You can see this at many levels, human and divine. We do need genuine change and transformation, each and all of us. And our broken social systems also need transformation. I know now that we can’t just ask what needs changing without sincerely striving to know and transform ourselves.
The future begins now, starting with one step. It’s time to open our wisdom eye and good heart, and grok this world, clear and open. Considering trends, problems, challenges and opportunities we face, I believe we must ask ourselves and each other: “What can we do to contribute to a better world and planet? What can we do individually and collectively toward alleviating suffering and edifying and awakening the world through our noble-hearted and compassionate, all-inclusive bodhichitta (innate enlightened mind), thru love in action, for the benefit of one and all?
As a tantric Tibetan song of enlightenment goes:
“The whole universe is my body, all beings my heart & mind.”
` With Love and blessings, Lama Surya Das
I have found that fear, anger and irritation are like an affliction, and a serious impediment to open communication and healthy relationships of all kinds. Discovering methods to deal with these challenging emotions is essential in leading a healthy well-balanced, harmonious life. It is important to realize that anger has its own function, intelligence and logic and so we should not entirely try to eradicate it. After much trial and error, I have come up with my own practice for regulating strong emotions and being patient and more authentically responsive through these six steps to mindful anger management and intentional responsiveness. Spirituality can be the medicine for all that afflicts us.
1. Recognizing: Notice with equanimity a familiar stimulus which habitually pushes your hot buttons and triggers an unfulfilling, retaliatory response such as harsh words or unfair treatment, which might very well provoke retaliation in kind. Stop for a moment, however brief, to breathe, reflect, and simply relax.
2. Recollecting: With remindfulness, remember the downsides and disadvantages of returning hatred with hatred, anger with anger, harm with harm. Buddha said, “Hatred is not appeased by hatred. Hatred is appeased only by love.” And recollect the upside—the significant advantages – of practicing patience, forbearance, tolerance and stoic acceptance of karma and its repercussions. In this second step, find and mine the sacred pause. Rest in it.
3. Refraining and restraining, through reframing: See things through the other’s eyes/point of view; cultivating feelings of genuine compassion for those who harm you, knowing that they are merely sowing the seeds of their own unhappiness and bad karma. Examine things from the others’ perspectives: turn this over like a stone to see all sides, recognizing others’ suffering. To take it one step further, practice recognizing the adversary or critic as a teacher, a friend, an ally in helping us develop patience and overcome unconscious, habitual, and unproductive reaction patterns. The most difficult person or situation can become our greatest teacher, our greatest opportunity.
4. Relinquishing: Give up habitual conditioned reactivity and let go of impulsive urges in favor of more consciously chosen intelligent responsiveness. Accept the fact that such urges arise, don’t suppress or indulge them. Let them be without acting on them and you will find that they ultimately dissolve.
5. Reconditioning and deconditioning habitual reactivity through remindfulness: Recall the entire situational dynamic you have now reviewed, while refraining, relinquishing and reflecting on how little it will matter in a few months and years; letting go of unwholesome reaction patterns.
6. Responding appropriately, intelligently, consciously, choicefully–proactively, rather than reactively: In some cases, this may translate into doing nothing or in other cases responding with equanimity; ultimately making wiser, more skillful decisions based on conscious awareness and experience.
Let’s really look into ourselves, for once, candidly and unstintingly. What are we seeking? What are we missing, if anything? What do we want? Let’s put it very crassly. Not just what do we “aspire to,” but what the hell do we really want? And then try to go for that. Even if it’s just money or a new car or love interest. Because then when we have that, we might still find that we want more. Then we must go on and look deeper until we find what is really satisfying, fulfilling, and leads to long term contentment. But if we are afraid to reach out, afraid to ask, to want or take anything for ourselves; if we pretend we don’t want anything; if we deny all our impulses, desires, hopes, wishes and needs, then we don’t get anywhere. We take all the passion and energy, drive and juice out of our path.
So I ask you: Ask yourself what you are really seeking and want, your greatest desire? Also, what are you afraid of? What is holding you back? What is your greatest fear, and would you be willing to face it? I assure you that fear is already motivating and conditioning you, unconsciously or obviously. The Dharma is the end of all desire. Not the end of passion, but the end of craving and grasping at desire in unhealthy ways. Spiritual freedom and autonomy brings liberation and the immense untapped raw energy that awaits us just below the surface of desire and passion.
I take refuge in awareness and reality-testing, and awaken warm and empathic compassion in recognizing others in similar situations. Fearlessly seek what we are after, and penetrate deeply. We can’t control our conditioning and karma, but we can learn how to be more skillful with them, and ultimately how to be accepting and one with them as well as free of their unhappy effects.
Spirituality – Spirituality isn’t concerning convictions – it’s concerning the method we tend to live and direct our everyday lives. Spirituality is concerned with those qualities of the human soul – like love and sympathy, tolerance, forgiveness, enjoyment, a way of liability, a way of harmony – that brings happiness to both self as well as other people. Spirituality is an important part of faith. Spirituality is often outlined as the in progress endeavor to grow in our relationship with God.
Buddhism Spirituality – Buddhist spirituality is concerned with the top of suffering through the enlightened understanding of reality. The spiritual practices of the Buddhist tradition vary considerably among its many major varieties, however all of them are unit orientated towards final freedom from suffering and therefore the cultivation of insight and empathy.
The essence of spirituality
The essence of spirituality is one that permits the mind to be at oneness with all of creation. They are able to let go of judgments that make disharmony between beliefs, in this way permitting everyone to experience their true path while not battling negativity.
When one comes with pure source energy with true love vibrations they’re spiritually connected. They believe the divine power that lives inside all of creation. To completely perceive Spirituality one should become connected to the present pure source energy and inhale it in with each breath.
According to Lama Surya Das – The essence of spiritual healing is love. Surya Das believes we are able to heal ourselves through adoration and discover fulfillment in love. Which might not involve another person? It’s going to be between my true self and I or in the middle of me and God, to place it in theistic terms. Obviously, we are able to expertise by being transported by the excellence of nature or a sunset. I feel the arts are an extraordinary method of awakening the heart today. Service and generosity, giving of ourselves is one of the best ways, one of the high roads to Enlightenment. It always has been. Kabir, the poet saint of India sang “Try to live the Path of Love.”
The importance of spirituality –
Many people see spirituality as a good way of seeking solace and peace in their life. It will usually be practiced aboard things like meditation that ultimately specialize in stress relief and release of feeling.
Spirituality is used as some way of gaining perspective, recognizing that our role in life features a larger worth than simply what we have a tendency to do daily. It will separate a person from dependence on material things and establish a greater purpose. Some people also see spirituality as some way of managing modification or uncertainty. Ten spiritual observations from Lama Surya Das –
1. Truth telling is a rigorous spiritual practice.
2. Buddha’s not imagining.
3. We have a tendency to can’t simply believe whatever we predict. We think, accordingly, we err.
4. That which we call “I” is simply impermanent, ownerless karma moving along. Don’t take it personally.
5. Everyone is a little crazy. Remembering this helps us lighten up.
6. We require a spiritual life, not simply special experiences.
7. Grasping fleeting things to tightly give us rope burn.
8. Mindfulness practice helps us become additional transparent to ourselves.
Sunrise Silent Sitting Meditation with Rameshwar Das
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Most of us seem to live at a little distance from our body, or at best in our head. What we seek is right here; the problem is that we are usually elsewhere, distracted and dissociated, wandering mindlessly in the past or future. However, I can assure you that if you’re not here now you won’t be There then. This is karmic law, and the very essence of habit and conditioning.
Students seeking to overcome stress and improve their overall academic and personal well-being have an opportunity to learn about meditation, yoga and other contemplative methods during an on-campus talk by Western Buddhist meditation teacher and author Lama Surya Das scheduled on Jan. 29.
“We know that university students are hungry and thirsty as they seek to discover more about the inner meaning and purpose of their lives, their studies, the current relational experiences in their lives and to their future careers,” said Manuel Gomez, Vice Chancellor-Emeritus of Student Affairs.
Lama Das will be speaking to the campus community about improving one’s relational awareness, or the association between the awareness of oneself and others, through relationship yoga, Pilates and meditation.
UCI Professor of Psychiatry Roger Walsh, also one of Lama Das’s students, invited Lama Das, who currently resides in Massachusetts, to campus during UC Irvine’s Peace Week, a campus-wide initiative for peace building and nonviolent practice which will held during the last week of January.
“For me [Lama Das] has been a repository and transmitter of deep, hard won wisdom and I have learned a great deal about meditation, the mind, how to train and heal it, it’s (and our) potentials, and the possibility of growing beyond conventional levels to awaken to our deeper, truer nature,” said Walsh. “Although I’m a trained psychiatrist, I’ve still learned much from Lama Surya about the mind and psychological well-being, which is not yet part of western mental health knowledge.”
For Lama Das, meditation is a great tool which helps a person attend to his mind, body, soul and spirit. It helps individuals develop self-knowledge and self-awareness through contemplation and inquiry, instead of blindly accepting beliefs inherited from parents or through a religious leader.
Born Jeffrey Miller, Lama Das became interested in Buddhism during college in the late 1960s as he searched for truth and peace. After completing college, he went to India to further pursue his search. Lama Das attended meditation retreats, practiced yoga and studied the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus and the Dalai Lama. He embraced Tibetan Buddhism in the 1970s.
“A vital component of Buddhism is to be mindful, compassionate, wise and loving, rather than being unhappy, depressed, anxious and alienated, which many people are falling into in these violent, volatile and insecure times,” said Lama Das during a telephone interview on Jan. 9. “We can learn not to just blindly react but respond mindfully as needed, and to use mindfulness and anger management to find inner peace, harmonious relations and unconditional love by treating others from the heart.”
According to Lama Das, because Buddhism is new to the western world, there are many misconceptions about Buddhism and meditation perpetuated today. Many people assume Buddhism is simply about world denial or introspection, but Lama Das stressed that very important components of the faith include “altruism, compassion, volunteering and community service.”
Moreover, Lama Das insisted that meditation is not about stopping thoughts as many tend to believe, but rather about thought awareness. The meditator should be relaxed and breathing, but also aware of his immediate thoughts and sensations.
Lama Das also discussed other practical benefits of meditation, including lowered blood pressure, increased creativity, sharpened focus and an enhanced attention span.
“When I become clearer, everything becomes clearer. That’s the secret of meditation,” said Lama Surya Das. “Whether the world changes or not — it’s hard to say — everything is changing anyway. Getting clear truth, being unselfish, objective, discerning, patient, compassionate and empathizing with others goes a long way in transforming all our relationships and the world.”
Lama Das mentioned that the families and friends of students who began meditation have described the students as becoming more “patient, peaceful, focused and less reactive.”
Lama Das emphasized that, although students may struggle with meditation at first, they should keep practicing it until it becomes habitual, as one of his first teachers in India taught him: “continuity is the secret of success.”
Lama Das has held several workshops for UC Irvine and the surrounding community in the past, transforming many UCI students and members of the community.
“The best research, much of it here at UCI, is re-confirming the ancient understanding of the body and the mind, and Lama Surya Das is an important teacher who has helped many individuals to become more aware of materials and methods to achieve inner peace,” said Gomez.
Lama Surya Das will speak and hold a book signing at the UCI Student Center on Jan. 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A full day workshop of meditation techniques will be held on Jan. 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Neighborhood Congregational Church in Laguna Beach.