Like many of you, I spent time last week calling or emailing my Senators. I also called or emailed the White House, and other parts of the government. I called and emailed to insist that the sadistic and cowardly child abuse at our boarder with Mexico stop.
One of the Buddha’s central claims is that there are two chief factors that set the stage for human suffering and dissatisfaction. First, life is constant change. Our immediate environment is constantly changing. We are constantly changing. And because of this, over and over again many of the things we need or adore disappear from our lives.
As the ancient story goes, when the Buddha first awakened he was reluctant to tell anyone. Because he knew what he’d learned on the path to Awakening was subtle and hard to see, he was hesitant to teach others that they too could wakeup. He thought at first that teaching just might be too difficult and disappointing. The Buddha feared that teaching the Dharma might bring him only heartburn and headache.
One of the many things I like about Pema Chodron’s introductory meditation book is it’s refreshingly clear take on who’s in the drivers seat when it comes to practice. Trust your own insight.
Seeds of peace grow peace, which plants seeds of peace.—Ben Connelly
Getting Real About Spirituality and Facing Fear
“Many people try to find a spiritual path where they do not have to face themselves but… we have to be honest with ourselves. We have to see… our most undesirable parts… That is the foundation of… conquering fear. We have to face our fear; we have to look at it, study it, work with it, and practice meditation with it.”
― Chögyam Trungpa,
Once, long, long ago, a group of the Buddha’s monks settled down for the three-month rainy- season retreat in a beautiful forest in the foothills of the Himalayas.
For the last two months on Thursday evenings I’ve been offering teachings on meditation. These teachings have been loosely based on Pema Chodron’s brief, easy to read and highly understandable book called How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends With Your Mind. I especially like Pema Chodron’s making friends with your mind approach to meditation. It’s so down-to-earth and real.
The most inspiring short video about practice I’ve seen this year is from Brother David Steindl-Rast’s Gratefulness.org. The video is less than 6-minutes. And it’s filled with beautiful landscapes and shots of people doing the ordinary yet amazing things people do to make their ordinary lives. The video invites us to take up the here and now practice of gratitude. It asks, “Do you think this is just another day in your life?” Then answers, “It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you. Today! It’s a gift.”
May Everyone You Meet Today Be Blessed By Your Presence!
So, because I love the beauty of the images and the sentiments and the practice Brother David shares in this video, I offer it as a gift to you. I hope you’ll take a few quiet moments today or tomorrow and watch.
“Please open your heart to all life’s blessings and let them flow through you.” ~David Steindl-Rast
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Have a wonderful week!
Where do thoughts come from? Where do they go when they’re spent? If you want to know, you can settle down quietly and look inside yourself to see. What you’ll eventually see is as open and as peaceful as the sky.
Given my role as a Zen priest, if I do harm to another person these days that harm generally springs from either something I’ve said, or from how I’ve said it. Or, the harm might also arise from something I’ve left unsaid because I didn’t have the courage, compassion, or wisdom to say it when it could have made a beneficial difference. For this reason, Right Speech is a central focuses in my practice. I try to be as absolutely harmless with my speech as I’m able.
Books Behind Bars is an ongoing project of the Prison Mindfulness Institute in Deerfield, Massachusetts. I’m happy to say that Books Behind Bars is now one of Sweeping Heart Zen’s ongoing community service activities.