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:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How to Wire Your Brain for Love

Romantic love is a myth, perpetuated by Hollywood and a fascination with the idea that someone else will come along and save us from our suffering. Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown from Naropa University says romantic love has become like a religious cult in Western culture. She says, "Romantic love, no matter how delicious, is the primary symptom of cultural malaise, the central neurosis of Western civilization." But that isn't the same thing as saying there is no such thing as love. 

I just read a great article in the Atlantic about the biology of love, the myth of romantic love, and the scientifically documented benfits of loving kindness meditation. The article comes out of 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

In Nepal

I am in Nepal until early February and won't be posting until I return to DC. Come back in a few weeks for new posts.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Zen of not Seeking Entertainment

I love my free time like a dog loves a bone. I guard it jealously and always look back to see who might snatch some of it from me. I look forward to filling up my time with entertainment from video games to catching up on dharma reading.

But too much free time gets me in trouble. I find myself overdosing on news articles and other entertainment, like a kid on Halloween coming down from a sugar high. I get irritable about the fact that I've wasted a whole day doing nothing but reading up on the Fiscal Cliff apocalypse. I question myself. Sometimes I even start to think it will be nice to get back to work, where life is regimented and I can meaningfully fill up my time trying to achieve something.

How odd it is that I wish for free time, yet when I get it I feel dissatisfied, like I'm wasting time. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche had a few things