Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Dhammapada Reflections - FULL MOON – Honesty

One who transforms old and heedless ways 
into fresh and wholesome acts 
brings light into the world 
like the moon freed from clouds. 

Dhammapada v.173 

Sometimes we focus inwards, paying attention to the deep causes of discontent. At other times we pay attention outwards to the suffering of the world in which we live. Becoming lost either inwardly or outwardly brings greater imbalance. What we are aiming at is learning how to take full responsibility for our heedless habits. Both inner and outer work can be difficult. It is hard to be honest and admit that it is because our heart is closed that our capacity for caring and discernment is compromised. Living with an open heart is not about being weak or soft; it means simply allowing our native sensitivity to shine through. Certainly we will have to face the risk of feeling hurt; however we learned to close our hearts in the first place because we didn’t know how to accurately feel what we feel. Hopefully, by this stage of life we have acquired enough skill in mindfulness, restraint and wise reflection to be better able to allow the hurt and disappointment, to allow the hope and the delight, without losing balance too seriously. Our contribution to the sad and sorry world can be our honesty.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Dhammapada Reflections - FULL MOON

The Buddha’s perfection is complete; 
there is no more work to be done. 
No measure is there for his wisdom; 
no limits are there to be found. 
In what way could he be distracted from truth? 

Dhammapada v.179 

What good fortune to have access to the teachings offered by the Buddha and the Awakened disciples. What a great blessing to find that we have faith in these teachings; a faith that encourages us to question, to enquire, and not to merely believe. When we merely believe, we abdicate responsibility for the consequences of our unawareness; and surely it is unawareness that is at the very core of all suffering – our own and that of the world. So let’s be careful that we are not becoming lost in feeling good just because we believe in the Buddha. Instead of asking, ‘Am I a good Buddhist?’, perhaps we ought to be asking, ‘Is my Buddhist practice helping me hear my heart’s deepest doubts and concerns?’ And, ‘Am I learning to rightly trust myself as I engage those true questions?’

Friday, 26 February 2021

Dhammapada Reflections - FULL MOON – Purification

Refrain from wrongdoing, 
cultivate that which is good; 
purify the heart. 
This is the Way of the Awakened Ones. 

Dhammapada v.183 

When we inhibit wrongdoing, we develop a form of strength that comes with self-respect. Without the ability to inhibit unwholesomeness, all the spiritual books we read, the talks we listen to, and even the hours spent meditating, are compromised. It is like cooking healthy organic food in a filthy kitchen. Conversely, when we are skilled in wise restraint, the good efforts that we make are enhanced. Then, with unwholesomeness restrained and goodness developed, we are ready to purify awareness from the troublesome habit of setting up right against wrong, good against evil, self against other. The awareness of the Awakened Ones is free from all compulsive habits of taking sides, and is therefore free from all suffering.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

FULL MOON – Valuing

Those who are foolish and confused
 betray themselves to heedlessness. 
The wise treasure the awareness 
they have cultivated 
as their most precious possession. 

Dhammapada v.26 

It is easy to take for granted the everyday level of clarity that we have. Even without regularly putting time aside to formally discipline attention, the practice of observing precepts alone can produce a quality of clarity that many people lack. Just as we might take our health for granted until we fall ill, we can likewise get used to living with a well-developed degree of awareness. The Buddha is advising us to value, even treasure, the results of our good efforts.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

FULL MOON – Consequences

Even those who perform evil 
can experience well-being 
so long as their actions 
have not yet borne direct fruits. 
However, when the results 
of their actions ripen, 
the painful consequences 
cannot be avoided. 

Dhammapada v.119 

We might like to think that we can get away with doing something that is wrong so long as nobody else knows about it. However, we know about it; and we know that we know about it. We have to live with ourselves every day and every night for the rest of our lives. We have to be ready to remember every intentional action that we have ever performed. Once we appreciate this, then hopefully we come to see that the wise way to approach life is to try to do only those things that we wish to remember. If we have already accumulated memories that give rise to regret, see regret and remorse as part of the healing. Such suffering is a message, and it is inviting us to look at it, to receive it, so it can teach us to be more careful in the future. 

Monday, 11 May 2020

Buddhism and the Apocalypse

This extract is from a New York Times article on the apocalypse

In Buddhism, time is cyclical, not linear, making apocalypse both an end and a beginning. “Apocalypse happens and then a new order starts, a new social order, new moral order,” said Vesna Wallace, professor of Buddhism at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “The story repeats itself.”

Apocalyptic stories in Buddhist scriptures share similar themes, often including an unjust ruler, social inequality, plagues and fruits that do not ripen, she explained, referring to texts from the fifth and 11th centuries A.D. Blades of grass become like swords — and even the sense of taste disappears (like a suspected symptom of the coronavirus infection). 

In Buddhist traditions, apocalypse comes as a result of collective karma — everyone’s actions toward one another and the world — which means its outcome can change, even in the present circumstance. “Now people are kinder to each other, they are spending more time with families,” Dr. Wallace said. “It’s like a warning to change the course of actions, to bring back compassion, empathy, develop social equality.”........................

A stark, binary structure — a clear good and evil, a clear before and after — appeals when society is fractured, said Dr. Hidalgo, the religion professor from Roger williams university. 

“Apocalypse is a flexible script,” she said. “A sense of shared external evil can really bring folks together.” 

It is also a reminder that across several traditions, the memory of past crises can offer hope — that human beings have survived such moments before, and that the truths being revealed can become a call to action.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Happy Vesak – and a Dhammapada Reflection; Seeking Contentment

It's the day of the first full Moon of May and that makes it Vesak, the celebration of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and final passing into nibbana, or nirvana. In some places it is known as the festival of lights, since lanterns, candles, and lamps are frequently used as part of the celebration (I've got loads of candles so that one's sorted).

This full moon is known as the ‘Flower Moon’ and provides the last chance to see a supermoon this year.

A supermoon occurs when the moon’s orbit brings it to its closest proximity to Earth – called its perigee.

A supermoon appears brighter and larger than normal, and is anything from 14% to 30% brighter than the average moon. 

Seeking Contentment 
To harm living beings
who, like us, seek contentment, 
is to bring harm to ourselves. 

Dhammapada v.131

It is reasonably obvious what living harmlessly means if we are referring to the way we relate to other living beings, but what does it mean if we turn our attention inwards? What does living harmlessly mean when we are referring to all those ‘living beings’ who occupy our inner worlds; how are we relating to them? If we feel obstructed by a bad mood or, even more painfully, thoroughly overwhelmed by intense negative emotions, can we meet these ‘beings’, truly receive them as they are, and in so doing release them? Or do we judge them and fight with them and in so doing compound the pain? All beings long to be free, including those unattractive, unwelcome beings that we have kept imprisoned for so long.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

SUPER FULL MOON – Distorted Views

Distorted views,
which give rise to seeing right as wrong
and wrong as right,
cause beings to disintegrate.

Dhammapada v.318

The way we view things defines how we relate to those things. If, for example, we view lounging in the sun as agreeable, then we might spend hours outside soaking up the warmth. However, once we learn about the heightened risk of skin cancer from excessive exposure to the wrong kind of UV rays, we are more likely to restrain ourselves; even though the thought of lying in the sun is still appealing. On a more subtle level, if we perceive holding fast to thoughts of resentment as somehow nourishing, then we are inclined to cling to those thoughts. If we study the Buddha’s teachings on the path of awareness to the point where we see how being caught in resentment leads to confusion and depression, then we are inclined to let go of such negativity. In letting go, maybe we will find a new level of contentment.

A spectacular super moon is set to appear in the night sky tonight - and it's set to be the biggest and best of 2020.

Tonight's super pink moon will be the largest our satellite will appear all year as its elliptical orbit today brings it to its closest point to Earth - a point known as its perigee.

The full moon will peak at 3.35am on Wednesday April 8, but experts say it will look most impressive as it rises over the horizon after 7.15pm on Tuesday April 7 - and may have a slight orange glow to it.