Sunday, November 27, 2011

Karma and Rebirth (part 1 of 2)

I’ve been taking a class on Karma (action) and the 12 Nidanas (links of causation) and what surprises me most is my difficulty in letting go of the concept of the soul. Throughout my studies as a Buddhist I’ve always been agnostic about the concept of reincarnation. My attitude for a long time has been that there is no way for me to know whether reincarnation is real; so why bother thinking much about it? What I didn’t realize, despite my ability to feign indifference to the questions of what happens when we die, is that I have been secretly holding onto the view that we all have a soul.  

After studying the cycle of samsara in more detail, I realize that I’m confused. If you are raised as a Muslim, Jew or Christian, you might be taught that there is a soul that goes to heaven; this soul is believed to be the essential element of your self, which is not dependent on a body to exist.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Advice on Irritation from Pema Chodron

I've heard it said that "irritation is the vanguard of basic goodness." When I'm really pissed off or find myself irritable, I often hear this phrase in my head and it helps to calm me down. I like to feel the sensation in my body and then touch into my mind and my heart (which is where Tibetans believe the mind resides). If I have the discipline to actually try this, I'm usually amazed by how well it works. The problem is that sometimes I'd rather just keep complaining or play video games or read the news when I'm irritated.

The video below is Pema Chodron offering a great analogy about how we could just work with our minds to rise above aggression.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remembrance of Things Past

Beautiful memories are like comets hurtling through space, dazzlingly brilliant, but growing ever distant. I fear the stories that encapsulate my most beautiful memories will travel so deep into darkness that they will disappear from sight. Eventually they will become imperceptible even to the most powerful telescope, forever lost in the vastness of space.

That's how it feels to think about old friendships, or the feverish days of solidarity and angst in the punk scene, or the glory days on the high school football team, when things seemed intense, alive, maybe even perfect.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The "Touch and Go" Technique

At some point in meditation training, a teacher might suggest that the student use the "touch and go" technique. It was quite a few years ago when I first received this instruction, but I feel like I only understood it last week, during a weekend program with Acharya Christie Cashman.

Thoughts will come and thoughts will go. The issue is not that we have thoughts. The issue is our attachment to thoughts.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Aren't You Supposed to be Somewhere?

This is actually an advertisement for meditation cushions, but it is great on so many levels: