Daily Practice is Never a Waste of Time


“Daily practice is never a waste of time.” (Sharon Salzberg)

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Even though we might not see the fruits of our practice right away (like, while we are actually DOING our formal practice, while our butts are on the cushion or bench or whatever), we CAN have confidence that the fruits WILL come.

Sometimes the effects might be very subtle or we might not feel it or notice it, but then something HAPPENS! (Cuz you KNOW life is ALWAYS going to give us opportunities) And then – BOOM! We suddenly notice that the way we are reacting is DIFFERENT than it was before.

This weekend at Kripalu, while I was on retreat with Sharon Salzberg and Stephen Cope, Sharon told a funny story about one of the first weeks she ever sat and did Metta practice all alone. She spent the week focusing on her self, using Metta phrases like, May I be happy, may I be safe, may I be strong, may I have ease of well-being. She said the whole week felt sort of dull and boring; nothing interesting happening at all and that she was sort of wondering if she hadn’t wasted a week because she didn’t feel anything special while she was sitting and practicing.

But then life intervened. A friend got sick and a bunch of the folks sitting had to leave the retreat center to go help them. In the rushing around of getting ready to leave the center, she dropped a big glass jar of some kind, sending shards of glass all over the place. A real mess. She noticed that her first thoughts were, God, you’re a clutz but I love you. She realized in that moment, that in the past she would have really been angry at herself and that clearly something had in fact been happening during her week of  Metta practice toward herself.

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Perhaps we are calm when we might’ve flown off the handle. We don’t holler like we would have done just last week or last year. (Like when the cats woke you up at four a.m., hollering for food even though you just got home from an intense weekend. AND, even though you did just feed them a few short hours ago… Don’t they KNOW you need some sleep for God’s sake!) In fact, this did happen to me this morning and I know I handled it totally differently than I have in the past.

In the past, I’ve experienced the rapid heartbeat of being startled awake and muttering under my breath or even actually hollering at the cats. A lot of  God damn it, why can’t they just shut up or be more like a dog and wait for the freaking food to arrive when I get up! A spray bottle of water has been involved many times. In the process, I’ve awakened my sleeping husband, who has the amazing capacity to sleep through absolutely anything! And how does he sleep like that? Why doesn’t he wake up and feed them? I got these cats FOR HIM after all. Shouldn’t he be taking care of them not me! Doesn’t anyone see the terrible injustice which I am now suffering!? ARGH!

I have stormed down the stairs fuming and slammed food into their dishes and wondered in my raging head, how  much longer will the darn beasts actually LIVE! (They are now 18 years old, heading toward 19 with no obvious sense of physical decline.) And in case you think I’m a cat hater, know this: I am not a cat hater. New to living with cats, yes. But I love them and for proof, feel free to check my Facebook or Instagram feeds for copious evidence. Pinky, who adopted me with a fierce and adoring intensity after my dog Tiger, died, has been renamed by me, AKA The Assistant. He actually has his own hashtag. He’s a happy part of my daily writing life. He tells me when it’s time for a break by jumping up and laying across my arm so I can do nothing other than pat him. Put down that pen Mom. And I listen to his furry feline wisdom.

This morning, when they woke me, I was really tired from a day of traveling back from retreat, but I could just empathize with the reality that they were hungry and needed food. They have the communication skills they do (meowing, box and paper shredding Very Loudly for a few examples) and use them well. I was able to have a feeling of tender appreciation of their plight rather than anger. The weekend of Metta practice definitely is already making a HUGE difference. Sharon, my cats thank you deeply for your teachings. 

I tiptoed down the stairs, picked Pinky up and cuddled him and quietly opened the can of food and plopped some into their dish and actually enjoyed the funny sounds they make while eating. It’s like a super yummy sound (think Young Frankenstein) with lots of lip smacking and purring. How wonderful to do something which created so much kitty happiness so easily. Then I crawled back into bed for a little extra R&R. Shortly after, I had two furry cuddle buddies. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Though our formal practice might have felt kind of boring, or uninteresting, under the surface we were changing and it just took having an opportunity (something life will ALWAYS give us) to see that change become manifest.

So have courage yogis! Have some faith.

Look closely at your thoughts, the things you say and things you do.

I bet if you look with a close attention, you will notice that you’re changing slowly, bit by bit.

Your daily practice is NEVER a waste of time.

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May all be happy. May all be peaceful.

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I’m in Love with a New Book and you should be too!


  

 You know how sometimes when you read a new book and it makes you feel like you’re on fire? In the best way possible?

Stephen Cope’s book, “The Great Work of Your Life,” is one of those books.

If you are aching to find your true self and your true path and passion, this book can help you.

He uses the great tale of Arjuna and Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita along with life stories of famous seekers and ordinary folks looking to find their special dharma to illuminate how we might find our way too.

I highly recommend it. May we all be on fire with our true purpose. 

Namaste,

Hillary

   

Oh bother, picking and choosing!


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Regardless of your religious or spiritual inclinations, I think that many would agree that when we carve the world up into what we like, what we don’t, running to the one and away from the other; we discover that this causes a whole heap of misery and aggravation.

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But what if we could turn all that picking and choosing off? What if we could reduce our suffering by accepting what comes along, letting it all rain down, as Jon Kabat Zinn puts it. 

The Xinxin Ming (alt. spellings: Xin Xin Ming or Xinxinming) (信心銘) (Wade–Giles: Hsin Hsin Ming; Japanese: Shinjinmei or Shinjin no Mei),Faith in mind, is a poem attributed to the Third Chinese Chan (Zen) Patriarch Jianzhi Sengcan 僧璨 (d. 606) (Wade–Giles: Chien-chih Seng-ts’an; Japanese: Kanchi Sosan), is one of the earliest Chinese Chan expressions of the Buddhist mind training practice. (Wikipedia)

The basic idea is that if we could just break the habit of picking and choosing, carving the world up into endless sets of dual options, we would release ourselves from suffering. If we could practice with having no preferences one way or the other, we’d just be cool with how things are, right here and now.

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Imagine!

One practice, if you are interested, might be starting with just reciting the poem aloud once each day and letting it work on you, form the inside and see what happens.

Here is a link to a site with several translations. And in a bit of a twist, you can choose which one you like the best. Then, I invite you to work with it. See where it takes you. And by all means, stop back here and let me know how it’s going.

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New Talks on Peace


Please give a listen to talks from my teacher, Master Ji Ru (Shifu) on how to develop a more peaceful life for yourself and everyone else too!

Venerable Sariputta and The Elephant’s Footprint


This is the amazing and beautiful place where my teacher and many wise people reside. So very lucky to have this in my life.

Students who wish to come with me some time are welcome. We just need to plan a retreat there together.

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This weekend is a Taiji retreat led by Master JiRu. I’m proud to be helping by teaching 18-form qigong. Doesn’t get much better than this.

Here below from Access to Insight is one of the great teachings of all time given by one of the Buddha’s chief disciples, Sariputta. A clear, taking apart of all tat makes us suffer under the delusion of permanence – it shows the way to keep getting rid of pain of all kinds by showing us how all things are made of insubstantial, ever changing parts. As we learn to work with these processes of dis-assembly we can rid our selves of a lot of trouble in every day life.

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The Buddha and His Dhamma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maha-hatthipadopama Sutta: The Great Elephant Footprint Simile 

translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika‘s monastery. There Ven. Sariputta addressed the monks, saying, “Friend monks!”

“Yes, friend,” the monks responded.

Ven. Sariputta said: “Friends, just as the footprints of all legged animals are encompassed by the footprint of the elephant, and the elephant’s footprint is reckoned the foremost among them in terms of size; in the same way, all skillful qualities are gathered under the four noble truths. Under which four? Under the noble truth of stress, under the noble truth of the origination of stress, under the noble truth of the cessation of stress, and under the noble truth of the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.

“And what is the noble truth of stress? Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; not getting what is wanted is stressful.[1] In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful. And which are the five clinging-aggregates? The form clinging-aggregate, the feeling clinging-aggregate, the perception clinging-aggregate, the fabrication clinging-aggregate, & the consciousness clinging-aggregate.

“And what is the form clinging-aggregate? The four great existents and the form derived from them. And what are the four great existents? The earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, & the wind property.

The Earth Property

“And what is the earth property? The earth property can be either internal or external. Which is the internal earth property? Whatever internal, within oneself, is hard, solid, & sustained [by craving]: head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, feces, or whatever else internal, within oneself, is hard, solid, & sustained: This is called the internal earth property. Now both the internal earth property and the external earth property are simply earth property. And that should be seen as it actually is with right discernment: ‘This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.’ When one sees it thus as it actually is with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the earth property and makes the mind dispassionate toward the earth property.

“Now there comes a time, friends, when the external liquid property is provoked,[2] and at that time the external earth property vanishes. So when even in the external earth property — so vast — inconstancy will be discerned, destructibility will be discerned, a tendency to decay will be discerned, changeability will be discerned, then what in this short-lasting body, sustained by clinging, is ‘I’ or ‘mine’ or ‘what I am’? It has here only a ‘no.’

“Now if other people insult, malign, exasperate, & harass a monk [who has discerned this], he discerns that ‘A painful feeling, born of ear-contact, has arisen within me. And that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on contact.’ And he sees that contact is inconstant, feeling is inconstant, perception is inconstant, consciousness is inconstant. His mind, with the [earth] property as its object/support, leaps up, grows confident, steadfast, & released.

“And if other people attack the monk in ways that are undesirable, displeasing, & disagreeable — through contact with fists, contact with stones, contact with sticks, or contact with knives — the monk discerns that ‘This body is of such a nature that contacts with fists come, contacts with stones come, contacts with sticks come, & contacts with knives come. Now the Blessed One has said, in his exhortation of thesimile of the saw [MN 21], “Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding.” So my persistence will be aroused & untiring, my mindfulness established & unconfused, my body calm & unaroused, my mind centered & unified. And now let contact with fists come to this body, let contact with stones, with sticks, with knives come to this body, for this is how the Buddha‘s bidding is done.’

“And if, in the monk recollecting the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established, he feels apprehensive at that and gives rise to a sense of urgency: ‘It is a loss for me, not a gain; ill-gotten for me, not well-gotten, that when I recollect the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established within me.’ Just as when a daughter-in-law, on seeing her father-in-law, feels apprehensive and gives rise to a sense of urgency [to please him], in the same way, if, in the monk recollecting the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established, he feels apprehensive at that and gives rise to a sense of urgency: ‘It is a loss for me, not a gain; ill-gotten for me, not well-gotten, that when I recollect the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established within me.’

“But if, in the monk recollecting the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is established, then he is gratified at that. And even to this extent, friends, the monk has accomplished a great deal.

The Liquid Property

“And what is the liquid property? The liquid property may be either internal or external. What is the internal liquid property? Whatever internal, belonging to oneself, is liquid, watery, & sustained: bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine, or whatever else internal, within oneself, is liquid, watery, & sustained: This is called the internal liquid property. Now both the internal liquid property and the external liquid property are simply liquid property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: ‘This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.’ When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the liquid property and makes the mind dispassionate toward the liquid property.

“Now there comes a time, friends, when the external liquid property is provoked and washes away village, town, city, district, & country. There comes a time when the water in the great ocean drops down one hundred leagues, two hundred… three hundred… four hundred… five hundred… six hundred… seven hundred leagues. There comes a time when the water in the great ocean stands seven palm-trees deep, six… five… four… three… two palm-trees deep, one palm-tree deep. There comes a time when the water in the great ocean stands seven fathoms deep, six… five… four… three… two fathoms deep, one fathom deep. There comes a time when the water in the great ocean stands half a fathom deep, hip-deep, knee-deep, ankle deep. There comes a time when the water in the great ocean is not even the depth of the first joint of a finger.

“So when even in the external liquid property — so vast — inconstancy will be discerned, destructibility will be discerned, a tendency to decay will be discerned, changeability will be discerned, then what in this short-lasting body, sustained by clinging, is ‘I’ or ‘mine’ or ‘what I am’? It has here only a ‘no.’

“Now if other people insult, malign, exasperate, & harass a monk [who has discerned this], he discerns that ‘A painful feeling, born of ear-contact, has arisen within me. And that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on contact.’ And he sees that contact is inconstant, feeling is inconstant, perception is inconstant, consciousness is inconstant. His mind, with the [liquid] property as its object/support, leaps up, grows confident, steadfast, & released.

“And if other people attack the monk in ways that are undesirable, displeasing, & disagreeable — through contact with fists, contact with stones, contact with sticks, or contact with knives — the monk discerns that ‘This body is of such a nature that contacts with fists come, contacts with stones come, contacts with sticks come, & contacts with knives come. Now the Blessed One has said, in his exhortation of the simile of the saw, “Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding.” So my persistence will be aroused & untiring, my mindfulness established & unconfused, my body calm & unaroused, my mind centered & unified. And now let contact with fists come to this body, let contact with stones, with sticks, with knives come to this body, for this is how the Buddha’s bidding is done.’

“And if, in the monk recollecting the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established, he feels apprehensive at that and gives rise to a sense of urgency: ‘It is a loss for me, not a gain; ill-gotten for me, not well-gotten, that when I recollect the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established within me.’ Just as when a daughter-in-law, on seeing her father-in-law, feels apprehensive and gives rise to a sense of urgency [to please him], in the same way, if, in the monk recollecting the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established, he feels apprehensive at that and gives rise to a sense of urgency: ‘It is a loss for me, not a gain; ill-gotten for me, not well-gotten, that when I recollect the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established within me.’

“But if, in the monk recollecting the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is established, then he is gratified at that. And even to this extent, friends, the monk has accomplished a great deal.

The Fire Property

“And what is the fire property? The fire property may be either internal or external. What is the internal fire property? Whatever internal, belonging to oneself, is fire, fiery, & sustained: that by which [the body] is warmed, aged, & consumed with fever; and that by which what is eaten, drunk, chewed, & savored gets properly digested, or whatever else internal, within oneself, is fire, fiery, & sustained: This is called the internal fire property. Now both the internal fire property and the external fire property are simply fire property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: ‘This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.’ When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the fire property and makes the mind dispassionate toward the fire property.

“Now there comes a time, friends, when the external fire property is provoked and consumes village, town, city, district, & country; and then, coming to the edge of a green district, the edge of a road, the edge of a rocky district, to the water’s edge, or to a lush, well-watered area, goes out from lack of sustenance. There comes a time when people try to make fire using a wing-bone & tendon parings.[3]

“So when even in the external fire property — so vast — inconstancy will be discerned, destructibility will be discerned, a tendency to decay will be discerned, changeability will be discerned, then what in this short-lasting body, sustained by clinging, is ‘I’ or ‘mine’ or ‘what I am’? It has here only a ‘no.’

“Now if other people insult, malign, exasperate, & harass a monk [who has discerned this], he discerns that ‘A painful feeling, born of ear-contact, has arisen within me. And that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on contact.’ And he sees that contact is inconstant, feeling is inconstant, perception is inconstant, consciousness is inconstant. His mind, with the [fire] property as its object/support, leaps up, grows confident, steadfast, & released.

“And if other people attack the monk in ways that are undesirable, displeasing, & disagreeable — through contact with fists, contact with stones, contact with sticks, or contact with knives — the monk discerns that ‘This body is of such a nature that contacts with fists come, contacts with stones come, contacts with sticks come, & contacts with knives come. Now the Blessed One has said, in his exhortation of the simile of the saw, “Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding.” So my persistence will be aroused & untiring, my mindfulness established & unconfused, my body calm & unaroused, my mind centered & unified. And now let contact with fists come to this body, let contact with stones, with sticks, with knives come to this body, for this is how the Buddha’s bidding is done.’

“And if, in the monk recollecting the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established, he feels apprehensive at that and gives rise to a sense of urgency: ‘It is a loss for me, not a gain; ill-gotten for me, not well-gotten, that when I recollect the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established within me.’ Just as when a daughter-in-law, on seeing her father-in-law, feels apprehensive and gives rise to a sense of urgency [to please him], in the same way, if, in the monk recollecting the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established, he feels apprehensive at that and gives rise to a sense of urgency: ‘It is a loss for me, not a gain; ill-gotten for me, not well-gotten, that when I recollect the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established within me.’

“But if, in the monk recollecting the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is established, then he is gratified at that. And even to this extent, friends, the monk has accomplished a great deal.

The Wind Property

“And what is the wind property? The wind property may be either internal or external. What is the internal wind property? Whatever internal, belonging to oneself, is wind, windy, & sustained: up-going winds, down-going winds, winds in the stomach, winds in the intestines, winds that course through the body, in-&-out breathing, or whatever else internal, within oneself, is wind, windy, & sustained: This is called the internal wind property. Now both the internal wind property and the external wind property are simply wind property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: ‘This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.’ When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the wind property and makes the mind dispassionate toward the wind property.

“Now there comes a time, friends, when the external wind property is provoked and blows away village, town, city, district, & country. There comes a time when, in the last month of the hot season, people try to start a breeze with a fan or bellows, and even the grass at the fringe of a thatch roof doesn’t stir.

“So when even in the external wind property — so vast — inconstancy will be discerned, destructibility will be discerned, a tendency to decay will be discerned, changeability will be discerned, then what in this short-lasting body, sustained by clinging, is ‘I’ or ‘mine’ or ‘what I am’? It has here only a ‘no.’

“Now if other people insult, malign, exasperate, & harass a monk [who has discerned this], he discerns that ‘A painful feeling, born of ear-contact, has arisen within me. And that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on contact.’ And he sees that contact is inconstant, feeling is inconstant, perception is inconstant, consciousness is inconstant. His mind, with the [wind] property as its object/support, leaps up, grows confident, steadfast, & released.

“And if other people attack the monk in ways that are undesirable, displeasing, & disagreeable — through contact with fists, contact with stones, contact with sticks, or contact with knives — the monk discerns that ‘This body is of such a nature that contacts with fists come, contacts with stones come, contacts with sticks come, & contacts with knives come. Now the Blessed One has said, in his exhortation of the simile of the saw, “Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding.” So my persistence will be aroused & untiring, my mindfulness established & unconfused, my body calm & unaroused, my mind centered & unified. And now let contact with fists come to this body, let contact with stones, with sticks, with knives come to this body, for this is how the Buddha’s bidding is done.’

“And if, in the monk recollecting the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established, he feels apprehensive at that and gives rise to a sense of urgency: ‘It is a loss for me, not a gain; ill-gotten for me, not well-gotten, that when I recollect the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established within me.’ Just as when a daughter-in-law, on seeing her father-in-law, feels apprehensive and gives rise to a sense of urgency [to please him], in the same way, if, in the monk recollecting the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established, he feels apprehensive at that and gives rise to a sense of urgency: ‘It is a loss for me, not a gain; ill-gotten for me, not well-gotten, that when I recollect the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is not established within me.’

“But if, in the monk recollecting the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha in this way, equanimity based on what is skillful is established, then he is gratified at that. And even to this extent, friends, the monk has accomplished a great deal.

The Space Property

“Friends, just as when — in dependence on timber, vines, grass, & clay — space is enclosed and is gathered under the term ‘house,’ in the same way, when space is enclosed in dependence on bones, tendons, muscle, & skin, it is gathered under the term, ‘form.’

Dependent Co-arising

“Now if internally the eye is intact but externally forms do not come into range, nor is there a corresponding engagement, then there is no appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness. If internally the eye is intact and externally forms come into range, but there is no corresponding engagement, then there is no appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness. But when internally the eye is intact and externally forms come into range, and there is a corresponding engagement, then there is the appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness.

“The form of what has thus come into being is gathered under the form clinging-aggregate. The feeling of what has thus come into being is gathered under the feeling clinging-aggregate. The perception of what has thus come into being is gathered under the perception clinging-aggregate. The fabrications of what has thus come into being are gathered under the fabrication clinging-aggregate. The consciousness of what has thus come into being is gathered under the consciousness clinging-aggregate. One discerns, ‘This, it seems, is how there is the gathering, meeting, & convergence of these five clinging-aggregates. Now, the Blessed One has said, “Whoever sees dependent co-arising sees the Dhamma; whoever sees the Dhamma sees dependent co-arising.”[4]And these things — the five clinging-aggregates — are dependently co-arisen.[5] Any desire, embracing, grasping, & holding-on to these five clinging-aggregates is the origination of stress. Any subduing of desire & passion, any abandoning of desire & passion for these five clinging-aggregates is the cessation of stress.’ [6] And even to this extent, friends, the monk has accomplished a great deal.

“Now if internally the ear is intact…

“Now if internally the nose is intact…

“Now if internally the tongue is intact…

“Now if internally the body is intact…

“Now if internally the intellect is intact but externally ideas do not come into range, nor is there a corresponding engagement, then there is no appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness. If internally the intellect is intact and externally ideas come into range, but there is no corresponding engagement, then there is no appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness. But when internally the intellect is intact and externally ideas come into range, and there is a corresponding engagement, then there is the appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness.

“The form of what has thus come into being is gathered under the form clinging-aggregate. The feeling of what has thus come into being is gathered under the feeling clinging-aggregate. The perception of what has thus come into being is gathered under the perception clinging-aggregate. The fabrications of what has thus come into being are gathered under the fabrication clinging-aggregate. The consciousness of what has thus come into being is gathered under the consciousness clinging-aggregate. One discerns, ‘This, it seems, is how there is the gathering, meeting, & convergence of these five clinging-aggregates. Now, the Blessed One has said, “Whoever sees dependent co-arising sees the Dhamma; whoever sees the Dhamma sees dependent co-arising.” And these things — the five clinging-aggregates — are dependently co-arisen. Any desire, embracing, grasping, & holding-on to these five clinging-aggregates is the origination of stress. Any subduing of desire & passion, any abandoning of desire & passion for these five clinging-aggregates is the cessation of stress.’ And even to this extent, friends, the monk has accomplished a great deal.”

That is what Ven. Sariputta said. Gratified, the monks delighted in Ven. Sariputta’s words.

Notes

1.
In passages where the Buddha defines stress, (e.g., SN 56.11DN 22), he includes the statements, “association with the unbeloved is stressful; separation from the loved is stressful,” prior to “not getting what one wants is stressful.” For some reason, in passages where Ven. Sariputta defines stress (here and at MN 9 and MN 141), he drops these statements from the definition.
2.
The compilers of the Pali canon used a common theory to explain the physics of heat & motion, meteorology, and the etiology of diseases. That theory centered on the concept of ‘dhatu’: property or potential. The physical properties presented in this theory were four: those of earth (solidity), liquid, fire, & wind (motion). Three of them — liquid, fire, & wind — were viewed as potentially active. When they were aggravated, agitated or provoked — the Pali term here, ‘pakuppati,’ was used also on the psychological level, where it meant angered or upset — they acted as the underlying cause for activity in nature. For more on this topic, see The Mind Like Fire Unbound, Chapter 2.
3.
AN 7.46 (quoted in The Mind Like Fire Unbound) cites a wing bone and tendon parings as examples of items that will not catch fire. Perhaps the passage was meant as a comical parody of someone who, having seen another person start fire with a fire stick, tried to imitate that person without understanding the basic principle involved. If you used a fire stick and wood shavings, you would get fire. If you used a wing bone instead of a fire stick, and tendon parings instead of wood shavings, you wouldn’t.
4.
This statement has not been traced in any other part of the extant Pali canon.
5.
See SN 12.2.
6.
Although the fourth noble truth — the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress — is not explicitly mentioned in this discussion, it is implicit as the path of practice leading to the subduing of desire & passion, the abandoning of desire & passion for the five clinging-aggregates.

See also: SN 22.5Sn 4.9.

Words of Wisdom from Master Ji Ru (Shifu)


I think the Buddha had a very special understanding of what life is. He made it very simple: just bring your mind back to this moment. Don’t let the mind go any further than this. Then your mind will be very clear. When the mind is always in meditation, you can handle hardship, more than you know.

 

Buddha at Sunrise at Mid-America Buddhist Association, St. Louis, MO

 

 

See what you see now. Do not try to see the future. In order to see clearly what you see now, you must clear the mind of distractions. In this country, we are taught how to think, but not how to stop relying on thinking. When you stop relying on thinking, there is no worry or fear, and there are no problems. The mind is the object, and the object is very clear when the mind stops depending on thinking. Learn to abide in conditions, not to abide in your wishes.~ Master Ji Ru (Shifu)

 

For more words of wisdom ….

Impermanence and Snow


 

Snow frozen on the window: Blizzard 2011. Each flake unique, each impermanent

The First Noble Truth says everything is impermanent, everything is suffering. Suffering is one of those words that is so often misunderstood.

Suffering is caused by our ignorance. We don’t understand reality. Everything is just passing by. It’s born, exists for a time, then passes away. In our misunderstanding, we think everything, ourselves included has some kind of permanent place, or grip on this world.

And so we cling and crave to pretty much everything. And when things keep changing, we think this really stinks! I don’t like this.

And then, quite curiously, we keep do ing the same thing over and over again.  (Cue definition of insanity)

And then we get the Big Blizzard. Think of all that snow. Two feet deep at minimum. Drifts 5-6 feet deep. And in all that snow, millions upon millions of flakes…not one is the same. Not one will last.

Not one breath.

Each lifetime starts over in each moment. Over and over.

So, in each moment, we get to start over too. Let go, let go let go.

Enjoy what is.

Be prepared for it to change.

Because it will. That much we know to be true.

I don’t say it will be easy. But that’s why we call it Practice.

Peace everyone, and Happy Chinese New Year.