Sunday, July 29, 2012

Learning to Observe

It helps to think about why I spend so much time meditating. I ask myself this question at the beginning of every sitting. I come up with a different answer every day. Sometimes I want to slow my thoughts. Sometimes I want to be useful to people. Sometimes I want my mind to be as sharp as a sword.

But a question I ask myself less often is, "what is meditation for?" I just saw this video with Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, where she offers a simple reminder that meditation is about becoming familiar with the mind and learning to observe the mind.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

We All Want to Be Good Kings and Queens

I'm a big geek when it comes to stories about brave warriors battling the forces of darkness and tyranny. So naturally, I was excited about Game of Thrones, the mini-series on HBO about several medieval kingdoms battling for rule over a fantasy world full of aggression, fear and materialism. The House of Stark is the family you are supposed to root for. They are not perfect, but they are noble, take care of their people and believe in justice. 

At one point in the story, one of the Stark men feels lost. He doesn't know whether to march his army north or south. He is being pulled in different directions, not knowing whose counsel to listen to, not knowing whom he can trust. When a young maiden shows him kindness, he lets out his frustration. Then he apologizes. He says, "that's not the kind of king I want to be." When the maiden asks what kind of king he would like to be, he says, "I don't know... the good kind."

Sunday, July 8, 2012

How I became a Buddhist Evangelist and then Gave up

Before I became a Buddhist, I had a good life: beautiful girlfriend, lots of friends, money to burn, interesting career... but even rockstars, who are supposed to have it all, often feel a profound sense of emptiness. I was no rockstar, but something was missing.

Years before, I backpacked around Asia. I visited monasteries in the high Himalayas. These places felt like they were trapped in time. Bells and drums punctuated mysterious chants. Massive horns blasted the spirit of awakened heart into the heavens and into my guts. The clash of cymbals a midst the thick smoke of burning juniper grabbed my attention and shook me by the collar. I could have been Marco Polo in a scene of unprecedented cross-cultural encounter (if it wasn't for those Euro hikers in neon jackets, sitting behind the red-robed monks).