Enjoying That Enough-ness

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Enjoying That Enough-ness

It’s beneficial for our practice to pay attention to how we use the four requisites—robe cloth, food, shelter, and medicine—and reflect on how we rely on people’s generosity and kindness when we receive these offerings. Inner qualities that arise from reflecting in this way are contentment and gratitude, which are said to be a source of the highest blessings—maṅgala. These blessings are not only b…

Deconstructing Personas

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Deconstructing Personas

Recently I’ve been reflecting on the ways we project ourselves to the world, and the relief that comes when we set these projections down. Many of us feel the need to constantly create a persona based on either how we think we should be, or how we want others to view us. If we can get an idea of how that process occurs, then we have the potential to catch it in its tracks. By noticing this fabrica…

Appreciating the Goodness of Others

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Appreciating the Goodness of Others

There are lots of us here living together in community, sharing the same space. So it’s vital that we share the space harmoniously to ensure that things get done, like the external work of taking care of the monastery and the internal work of spiritual practice. To lay a foundation for living together harmoniously, there is a need to develop a sense of kataññū, which is usually translated as grati…

The Simplicity of Buddho

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The Simplicity of Buddho

These last two weeks were supposed to be a time of retreat for me, but it didn’t quite end up that way. I had to catch up on work and help out with some of the construction. While I was working, something came to mind that I found very fruitful: To work with the busyness—the activity that I was involved in—I returned to the very simple practice of repeating the word Buddho. Buddho is the name of t…

Mindfulness of Death, Appreciation for Life

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Mindfulness of Death, Appreciation for Life

Luang Por Pasanno mentioned that Debbie’s mother is going to be signing into the palliative and hospice care programs because her condition is deteriorating. I would think Debbie has been practicing with death contemplation as this is happening, particularly after she lost her sister-in-law a few months ago. The Buddha encouraged us to reflect daily and remind ourselves that death can come at any…

Becoming a Somebody, Forgetting About Everybody

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Becoming a Somebody, Forgetting About Everybody

As human beings, we each have a propensity for wanting to become a distinct somebody. This propensity shows itself almost constantly, both in formal practice and in our ordinary, day-to-day activities. It has to do with the hopeless search for worldly security and stability. Most people spend their whole lives on that search, but instead of finding security and stability, what they get is a sense…

Blown Into Cosmic Dust

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Blown Into Cosmic Dust

The Buddha encouraged us to contemplate aging, sickness, and death every single day. It’s essential that we make an effort do that, because the mind’s nature is to forget about these contemplations. It inclines away from them and instead, inclines toward thoughts of eternal youth and health. For the most part, death doesn’t exist for us. So we have to make it conscious in our practice by realizing…

Directing Attention in a Skillful Way

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Directing Attention in a Skillful Way

Learning how to meditate—how to develop the mind—is learning how to direct attention in a skillful way. Whatever we direct our attention toward becomes our reality. If we like, we can direct attention to all the chaos in the world or to the chaos of our own personal dramas. But we don’t have to do that. We can instead direct our minds to contemplate our experiences as merely form, feeling, percept…

Which Practice is Right for Me

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Which Practice is Right for Me

After the meal today we will be taking formal leave of Ajahn Sucitto. Living as we do in an American Buddhist monastery, we’re in a distinct minority and rather isolated. So when visiting teachers like Ajahn Sucitto come here and talk about specific practice experiences they’ve had, it’s a precious opportunity for us. Having listened to them carefully, we can then reflect on our own experience, as…

The Craft of the Heart

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The Craft of the Heart

One of the observations I have reflected on lately is that our life and spiritual practice are like a craft. Both for bhikkhus and lay people, it’s a bit like the guild system in the Middle Ages. In that system, a student would be apprenticed to a master, a goldsmith for example, or a glassblower, or a potter. The master’s duty was to train the apprentice in his craft. The apprentice’s duty was to…