Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Buddha said when one understands the unwholesome, the root of the unwholesome, the wholesome, and the root of the wholesome, in that way he is one of "Right View." "The Right View" is the first step in the noble eightfold pathway leading to ultimate happiness. The Buddha said arriving at the "Right View" is something like seeing the brightness in the sky when the sun is about to rise (see the above picture). When the sun is fully shining you have already arrived at the perfect wisdom, called Nirvana. To achieve this one has to follow The Noble Eightfold Path, the pathway that leads to ultimate happiness.
Now we know that greed, hatred and delusion are the root of unwholesome deeds. What are the unwholesome deeds?
1. Killing living beings is unwholesome
2. Taking what is not given is unwholesome
3. Misconduct in sensual pleasures is unwholesome
4. False speech is unwholesome
5. Malicious speech is unwholesome
6. Harsh speech is unwholesome
7. Gossip is unwholesome
8. Covetousness is unwholesome
9. Ill will is unwholesome
10. Wrong view is unwholesome.
So the question is can we completely get rid of greed, hatred and delusion in our lives? Non -greed can be achieved by the practice of non-attachment (letting go). This may sound simple and you may say "it is no big deal , I can do it!" In real life you may find it is very difficult to do this when it is really the time "to let go." The deep cravings and attachments embedded in us may be very subtle, hard to see, yet they may be very strong. The practice of Vipassana meditation (see below) will help overcome these attachments and to help "let go" with ease.
Now how can we get rid of hatred? The antidote for anger and hatred is loving kindness. The loving kindness practice should start towards yourself first. This is the most important and the one that people often forget the most. This may be one reason why we find more and more depression in this world today. Once you start loving and appreciating yourself then you gradually spread loving kindness to your family, neighbours, ....and so on, and finally to the entire universe. I have discussed the practice of loving kindness and its benefits in a previous post (see below). The more you practice loving kindness the faster the anger or hatred will leave your heart. Buddha gave a beautiful simile about this. He said, "in some people anger is like a 'line drawn in the water'. It vanishes instantly as soon it appears. In others it is like a 'line drawn in the sand.' With time it will slowly fade away. In the third group it is like a 'line drawn on a rock.' It may take a lot of effort and time to get rid of anger. The first person has a lot of loving kindness in his heart whereas the last person needs to practice more loving kindness."
Finally, getting rid of delusion is the most difficult task. First of all it is a very difficult concept to understand. I will try to explain this clearly as possible in my own interpretation during this post. Delusion is also sometimes referred as "ignorance." This really means that we are really unaware of the true nature of our existence. To understand this you need to contemplate on how The Four Noble Truths work. Once we understand what is unhappiness and its cause,the craving, we have to find out how we can get rid of this craving. To do this we have to contemplate on how our six senses (eye, ear, nose, tongue,body and mind) work together with the external sense objects (object, sound, smell, taste, touch, mental object) and how and where this craving arise. Then you can contemplate on impermanence, suffering, and non-self of these six senses and their external sense objects. If this process is practiced diligently with mindfulness, it will help to get rid of the craving that arises in them as we realize it is fruitless to suffer because of an impermanent nature that is anyway not in your control (non-self)). This will help us step outside of this constant struggle with desire and aversion. You can merely look at them as they are with equanimity and let them go. This is the practice of Vipassana meditation. This will be discussed later in detail in a future post. Some concepts like, sensory restrains, impermanence, suffering and non-self have been addressed already in some of my previous posts (see below).
Therefore one must understand, although it is difficult, it is not impossible to fully get rid of greed, hatred and delusion, if you walk the path laid down by the Buddha (The Noble Eightfold Path). He has done all the hard work for us, we just have to see it and walk on the path. Buddha very cleverly showed us how to travel this path with great precision. It is like a "do it yourself" project. Nobody can do it for you, not even Buddha. You have to travel this path alone by yourself and it will finally lead you to the ultimate happiness in this very life.
Sammaditthi Sutta, Magga-vibhanga Sutta, Saleyyaka Sutta, Mula Sutta
Avijja Pahana Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya IV)
Avijja Sutta- On Ignorance (Samyutta Nikaya XLV.1)
Avijja Sutta- On Ignorance (Samyutta Nikaya XXXV.80)
Why is this dog asking for more ? (Post on Sensory Restrains)
"Stop worrying about your body so much...you are just renting it anyway" (Post on Anatta or Non-self)
Life is just like a "Morning Glory"- Mindfulness about life (Post on Impermanence)
Mindfulness About Life- "A Lesson From The Garden" (Post on Impermanence)
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Like a beautiful flower full of color but without
fragrance, even so, fruitless are the fair words of
one who does not practice them.
Just like a blossom, bright colored & full of scent: well-spoken words are fruitful when well carried out.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I try to tell my patients it is important to look after your body, but you have to always remind yourself it does not belong to you. You are only just "renting" it for the time being. Perhaps you may not agree with this or you may even think this is a little bit too "drastic". Suppose you had to rent a car for some time, you will have to take care of it while you use it. You will have to pump gas, change the oil, wash it and check the air pressure in the tire and so on. Applying the same principal when you have a body, you have to look after it the best way you can. But you have to always remember that you don't own it. There is a very deep concept in Buddhism called "Anatta" or "non-self." This is one of the very important teachings of the Buddha and he explained this in his second disclosure after his enlightenment, called Anatta-lakkhana Sutta. In this, he says "it is not only your body, you have absolutely no ownership of your feelings, perception, thinking (mental formations), and your consciousness." These were called the five aggregates. Although it is very difficult to understand these concepts, when one realises the true nature of these fully within oneself, that person is said to be fully enlightened. In Buddha's own words, "holy life fulfilled, the task done"
Now what can you do to not get attached to this body so much? If you meditate regularly the answer is simple. It is the practice of mindfulness meditation of the body, as described in Satipattana sutta. If you do not meditate you can start thinking of your body as a "rental. " This may somewhat free your mind from your body. This may help you not worry so much when you are sick. This will also help you not to be too obsessed with your body image as well. We all know that there is a close connection between the body and the mind. For a moment think your body as the "car" and your mind as the "driver." You have to look after both very well. If you don't take care of your car like doing a regular service and oil change, it may breakdown or even crash. The same way if the driver is not well trained, it does not matter how well you looked after your car, it may crash due to bad driving. This is a metaphor I always use in my practice to emphasise the importance of looking after both body and the mind. Ultimately what is most important is to have a good balance between the two.
As we discussed before the body and the mind are very closely connected and can influence each other. There is a lot of research done in this area to investigate how the mind can influence the body. The same way the body can influence the mind. When you are in pain you mind is not very clear and you can easily get irritated or even angry, and depressed. These days there is a lot of emphasis on body wellness. In fact we are sometimes a little too obsessed with looking after our bodies. We jog, go to the gym every day and so on. These are all good things but the only problem is we do very little to look after our mind. It is important that we have to exercise our minds as well. This exercise is different form the body exercise. You exercise the body by "running" whereas the mind you exercise by "stopping." This is where Buddhist practice of mindful meditation comes in. Recent research has shown meditation can even increase the thickness of your brain's grey matter. Meditation not only trains you to do things mindfully it also leads to wisdom and happiness. So it is a "two for one" deal. Research has also shown that mindfulness meditation can improve your immune system as well as general well being (read previous posts listed below).
So try to look after your body the best way you can, but don't ever forget to look after your mind. Remember you can have a perfect car, but if you have a bad driver, it is of no use. You know clearly sooner or later what would happen...CRASH!. It is difficult to always remember that you are just "renting" this body. You may want to contemplate on this as often as you can. This will hopefully help you to better understand your body and mind and will make you more content and happy in this very life.
Anatta lakkhana Sutta
How can mindfulness help?
Practice of mindfulness four bases of mindfulness
Do like to be happiest man on earth?
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Buddha said there are five ways of removing annoyance when it arises in you:
1. "Loving-kindness can be maintained in being towards a person with whom you are annoyed: this is how annoyance with him can be removed'.
2. "Compassion can be maintained in being towards a person with whom you are annoyed; this too is how annoyance with him can be removed'.
3. "Onlooking equanimity can be maintained in being towards a person with whom you are annoyed; this too is how annoyance with him can be removed'.
4. "The forgetting and ignoring of a person with whom you are annoyed can be practiced; this too is how annoyance with him can be removed'.
5. "Ownership of deeds in a person with whom you are annoyed can be concentrated upon thus: 'This good person is owner of his deeds, heir to his deeds, his deeds are the womb from which he is born, his deeds are his kin for whom he is responsible, his deeds are his refuge, he is heir to his deeds, be they good or bad.' This too is how annoyance with him can be removed".
You might think this is crazy! How can you develop loving kindness or compassion toward a person who is annoying us? The obvious reaction when we are annoyed at another person is to develop anger or hatred towards him. But anger hurts us, not the other person. Buddha said:
Before I discuss how to practice loving kindness and compassion in these situations, I would like to share a small story with you. One day just after office hours, a father and a young son got on the subway. The farther was very quiet, but his son was very loud and annoying. He was running up and down in the train compartment and was making a lot of noise. The people were tolerant for a while, but this kid was very "hyper." He went on non-stop annoying people who were trying to get some rest after a long day at work. It seemed like this child was not going to stop his "hyperactive behaviour." Finally, one person got so tired and went up to the father and said "can you discipline your child! He is very annoying and is disturbing all the people in the train! That person seemed to be very angry at the father. The farther quietly turned toward this person and said "my wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer a week ago. The doctor's said that she has one week to live....and she just died today and we are just going home from the hospital...... This is my sons reaction to the news." The people in the subway went "numb" after hearing this. This story gives us a very good message. We often judge people to quickly and incorrectly.