Spiritual Friendship

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Spiritual Friendship

Recently, I came across a sutta (MN 97, the Dhanañjani Sutta) that illustrates the themes of kalyānamitta (spiritual friendship) and making choices. The sutta begins with the Venerable Sāriputta walking with a group of monks in the hills south of Rājagaha. He had been away from the main community of monks for some time and a monk who had spent the Rains Retreat in Rājagaha at the Bamboo Grove…

The True Nature of the Body

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The True Nature of the Body

We all have to understand the nature of the body. And it should play a central feature in our investigation and contemplation of the teachings. The Buddha taught the Anattalakkhana Sutta, the discourse on not-self. This discourse was given to the five ascetics that had attended on the Buddha. On listening to this particular discourse, they were liberated. All of us here are similar to the five asc…

The Right Angle : Everyone Benefits, Nobody Loses

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 The Right Angle : Everyone Benefits, Nobody Loses

The entire world and everyone in it needs the Dhamma as a protection. We all survive and find comfort in life with the support of the knowledge and skills, mindfulness and wisdom, of countless others. Without their help we would all perish as soon as we leave our mother’s womb. We’d have no food to eat, clothes to wear or house to live in. Our parents, whose faces we have never even seen before, g…

Walking with Awareness

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Walking with Awareness

Walking – Something W**e Should Know H**ow to D**o.** Walking jong-grom is a way to practice meditation while walking up and down. Cultivating this will bring happiness and serenity to our practice. When walking meditation, we should move unhurriedly, with a peaceful and relaxed attitude, and a smile on our face. Walking, we have all the time in the world, and nothing else whatsoever that we have…

The Body Of Truth And The Body Of Fear

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The Body Of Truth And The Body Of Fear

One of the aspects of our lives that causes discordancy is our routine identification with emotional states. Given a little practice with meditation, before long most people can recognize that a passing thought is just like that passing car along the street, or that barking dog across the valley. At first it’s just once in a while, but soon we can see such things as insubstantial and let them go o…

Skillful Effort

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Skillful Effort

One of the Thai terms for meditating— tham khwaam phien—literally means “making an effort.” When I mention this to people here in the West, I often get some raised eyebrows. They’ve been taught that “efforting” is an enemy of meditation. And that’s because they’ve also been taught that there are only two ways of approaching the practice. The first way—the ignorant way—is to try very hard, exerting…

Lesson from Mom

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Lesson from Mom

The then Samenera Karunadhammo, after the meal, kindly gave me a fifteen minute tutorial on how to use the sewing machine. He set me up with some cloth, a pattern, and taught me how to sew a “flat felled seam”. Four hours later when people returned for evening tea, I had completed a monastic jacket and was surprised when several people were surprised the jacket was complete. “I thought you had nev…

Settling the Mind

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Settling the Mind

What are we doing when we sit down and cultivate our meditation practice? The most important piece is bringing mindfulness, awareness, and attention back to a simple object. The mind loves its proliferations – the things it gets excited about, attracted to, wound up about. The mind’s tendency is to move toward complication, to be endlessly attracted to anything other than simplicity. So the first…

Open Hands – Reflections on Thailand's Culture of Generosity

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Open Hands – Reflections on Thailand's Culture of Generosity

Robert Aitken Roshi said he is often asked why he teaches so much about generosity. His answer is that all other positive qualities, all the spiritual perfections, grow out of it. Generosity, dāna, is explained as having several facets or levels: giving material support, giving freedom from fear, and giving the gift of Dhamma, for example. For Westerners who aspire to the Buddha’s way, the first…

The Tests & Treasures of Tudong

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The Tests & Treasures of Tudong

“When there are two paths before you, always choose the more difficult one.” –Tibetan proverb I undertook the practice of walking tudong(1) in Chiang Mai province, Thailand, during the month of February and the first half of March 2009. Originally, my intention was to go alone because I didn’t know of any tudong monks to go with and ‘learn the ropes.’ It was my good fortune that I met up with Ajah…