Friday, April 29, 2016

The Stormy Waves of Emotion

My dad, who is a long time meditator, told me recently that meditation is great for helping us deal with the difficulties of life, but that meditation doesn’t seem to work when we feel highly emotional. My experience tends to agree. When emotions threaten to drown me, I don’t think to go sit on a cushion. The waves are too powerful to swim through. But I think it is the fruition of the meditation practice that we should be able to ride the waves when they come by observing the emotions and not judging them too much. Later, when the storm has subsided, a clearer sky starts to emerge and the calm abiding of meditation leads to greater wisdom clarity.

Many teachers convey some variation of the statement, "every moment has its energy; either it will ride us or we can ride it." When our surfboard snaps in

Friday, April 22, 2016

When I Was A Werewolf

Sometimes my mind spins itself into a frenzy of negative thinking. It usually happens at night, when my body feels tired and the outside world is full of terrors. My mind transforms me into a werewolf. I go down this terrifying path and eventually fall asleep in a heap of fearful trembling. The next morning I awaken without fur or fangs. I wonder what the hell happened and how I can escape my mind when it gets like this.

This happened to me last night. I was angry
about something and then I went off to cool down. At some point I remembered to ask myself a question about how I wanted to proceed. I asked myself something like: “am I pursuing kindness or stress?” It didn’t work. I was up until late ruminating on the problems in my life I want to fix and one thought led to another.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Love and Heartbreak Feel the Same

Susan Piver
Think about that statement: "love and heartbreak feel the same." Susan Piver said these words during a dharma talk at the DC Shambhala Center last Thursday. I think she's onto something. When I stop to contemplate the love I feel for my wife, my parents, my friends or a pet, I feel an aching in my heart. It is literally a physical feeling.

Susan also said that the difference between love and heartbreak is that, "heartbreak is love unbound from an object." The object of that love could be someone who is gone now. It could be someone you have a crush on. It could even be the image in your mind of you with your dream job.

There is your mind and there is an object. In between there is a tender feeling like a heart breaking in two.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Generating Merit

I'm in Thailand this week and I've noticed that a lot of my Buddhist co-workers talk a lot about generating merit. For example, they'll say things like, "I'm going to the wat (a Thai Buddhist temple) for a few weeks to generate merit."

The idea behind merit is that when you do good deeds - such as helping clean a meditation center, or walking your neighbor's dog - you are planting the seeds of karma that lead to better outcomes in the future. We call this "merit." According to the idea of karma, generating the right kind of merit will lead to a better rebirth, either in the next moment, or perhaps even in the next lifetime.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gentleness Toward Myself

I was standing on an ordinary street corner in DC when the change started. Lunch in hand, waiting for the cross-walk to change so I could go back to the office and eat, I was remembering something I said at a meeting, which now seemed embarrassing.

That's when I heard the voice: "You're such a fucking idiot."

"Wait, what?! Where the hell did that come from?" I thought. I was in shock. This voice was familiar, but I had never noticed it before.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fleet Maull Talks about Socially Engaged Buddhism

Since this weekend I'm flying back after a fantastic month working in Nepal, I won't have time to post. In the meantime, check out these two videos by Fleet Maull, a senior Shambhala teacher who has a lot to say about aggression and compassion, after spending 14 years in prison. Acharya Maull will be at the DC Shambhala Center from March 8-10 for a workshop (details here). You can also just see him talk on the evening of the 8th.

Here is one vid on socially engaged Buddhism:

And another on service as path:

To register for Fleet Maull's talk or weekend, check this link: