Putting Forth Effort

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Putting Forth Effort

For both monastics and laypeople visiting the monastery, it is helpful to reflect on sustenance, what it is that sustains us materially. Laypeople offer food to the monastery, and we eat this food. They work some eight hours a day, five days a week or more, at a job that can often be unpleasant. It’s hard work, and they call it work because it is work. For most people the mind inclines toward not…

Choosing Contention or Contentment

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Choosing Contention or Contentment

On the winter solstice I led a daylong retreat at Spirit Rock with the theme, “Maximum Darkness.” We investigated the experiences of death, loss, and sadness. It was a suitably dingy, gray, wet day, appropriate to that dolorous subject. For many years, one of the exercises I used in my meditation—and a theme I had others use on this daylong retreat—was to imagine the current sitting I was doing to…

Only Part of the Picture

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Only Part of the Picture

As we did with conducting the recent ordination—thinking through things a bit, planning a little—we’re developing a sense of circumspection as we attend to whatever circumstances we’re in. We do this by asking ourselves, How can I fit into this situation? How can I be skillful, effective, and composed? Sometimes people can misunderstand how to apply the Buddha’s teachings on being present in the m…

Choosing the Pāramīs

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Choosing the Pāramīs

Several nights ago I gave a talk on the ten pāramīs, qualities that are helpful for cultivation and development: generosity, virtue, renunciation, wisdom, effort, truthfulness, resolution, loving-kindness, patience, and equanimity. Each is helpful to bring up as an alternative to a particular difficult or obstructive state present in the mind. As a preliminary step, we can ask ourselves questions…

The Importance of Informal Meditation

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The Importance of Informal Meditation

Our teacher Ajahn Chah strongly discouraged us from holding a perception of meditation practice as different and apart from the activities of our ordinary everyday lives. There can be a tendency to think that meditation is what happens when we’re walking up and down the meditation path or in the Dhamma Hall when we have our legs crossed and our eyes closed—that the rest is merely “the other stuff”…

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…