The Golden Cord
Let us for a moment suppose you’re ill. You decide to go to the doctor’s in order to find out what exactly is wrong with you, what the cause is, and most importantly, how to get better. You sit in front of him and he pulls out his little torch, asks you to say “aaahhhh” and sees that your throat is inflamed and as red as a beetroot – it’s an infection. That is the problem. He then does some more tests and identifies the bacteria that are causing the illness. Then he prescribes a suitable antibiotic and gives you precise instructions regarding the amount to be taken and how often to take it. You then go home and start to take the medicine as directed. After completing the course you recover.
Continue reading “Half Moon Day: The Golden Cord”
“Even if my flesh and blood dry up… I will not leave this seat until I have attained Full Enlightenment.”
The Buddha-to-be, prior to his enlightenment.
Here we look at determination – one of the Ten Perfections – both in general terms and in relation to our meditation.
I recall a time on personal retreat when I was struggling somewhat. I was sat cross-legged in my kuti feeling particularly down – I had little enthusiasm to do anything and this negative state of mind felt like a sumo wrestler sitting on top of me. In Thai they have an expression meaning he or she is ‘in hell‘; that summed up my state of mind. Never-the-less, when it was time to go outside to do walking meditation I peeled myself up off the floor and dragged myself to my path.
Continue reading “Full Moon Day: Watch out for that lawyer!”
On Tuesday I was supposed to go to a school to talk to some children. They had sent me an information sheet a while ago based on the theme they wanted me to address, but staying faithful to habits diligently honed at school I looked at it the night before my visit. The theme was the role of silence in Buddhism. And so, having a cold, I lay in bed and starting making up this story out loud. When I got half way through I thought I should write it down and so I ejected myself from the horizontal and into a chair. Unfortunately I was too ill to go the following day, but I will be going to back to that school, and I’ll no doubt tell it to other children, and definitely to adults!
Oswold the Owl and the Two Silly Birds
Once upon a time there lived three friends in an old oak wood upon a small hill. They were Pablo the Parrot, Molly the Magpie, and Oswold the Owl.
Continue reading “Half Moon Day: The Owl and the Two Silly Birds”
I’ve decided not to continue with the series of five posts on meditation that I’d planned. I’ve learnt that it’s not always a good idea to say you’ll be writing / talking about something several weeks from now. It can kill spontaneity. (Plus I’m fed up of talking about the plane!)
Playing with Toys in a House that’s Burning Down
Before I became a monk I had an experience which caused an earthquake in the depths of my being and which undoubtedly turned me in the direction of devoting my life to the practice of the Dhamma.
Continue reading “(the day after) New Moon Day: Playing with Toys in a House that's Burning Down.”
After that brief interval we return to the series of posts on meditation. This is the third so far, being the last of those concerning preparation. If you’ve missed the first two, where have you been?!
4. WALKING MEDITATION = EFFORTLESS SITTING MEDITATION
Can you imagine a decent pilot saying no to a pair of turbo boosters for his plane? Just as he’d start to move along that runway he’d flick the switch and, ‘WHOOOSH’. Then he’d sit back, calmly pull back the controls, and take off with ease and grace. So too, a decent meditator wouldn’t say no to a little walking meditation before he sits. Walking meditation (cankama) empowers the mind with steady mindfulness. If you want to give your sitting meditation a turbo boost, try doing some walking meditation beforehand.
Continue reading “Half Moon Day: Meditation I: Be Prepared III”
We interrupt this series of posts to bring an important teaching!
(I thought I’d temporarily suspend the posts on meditation and write on something that’s been in my mind. So you’ll have to wait for the nail biting end of the last post to be resolved!)
.“Whatever you frequently think about, that
will become the inclination of your mind”
In the Majjhima Nikaya of the Pali Canon is found a small sutta called ‘The Removal of Distracting Thoughts’ (MN, 20). In it the Buddha gives us five ways with which we can become a ‘master of the paths of thought’.
Thoughts have an immensely powerful influence on our lives. Unfortunately most people don’t understand this, let alone the fact that we can actually take control. I was talking about this last night with the group of Banbury meditators, and we commented that most people do not realise that they don’t have to be ruled by their thoughts, and that they can, in fact, become the ruler of their thoughts. Two factors are essential to the development of thought mastery.
Continue reading “Full Moon Day, Magha Puja: Raging Bulls”
3. GOOD MINDFULNESS = GOOD CONCENTRATION
Once, when I was a young monk, I had been involved in some building work (not unusual). This time one of my jobs was to pour the sand, cement and water into the cement mixer to make the concrete. When that was mixed and ready the contents would be poured into a wheelbarrow and then delivered to the place where it was to be used.
Continue reading “Half Moon Day: Meditation I: Be Prepared II”
This is going to be the first of a series of posts on meditation. I’ll start by talking about the prerequisites and how we can ensure we give our meditation the best possible start. In the subsequent posts I’ll move on to talk about the process of developing and maintaining a solid and reliable practice.
Continue reading “New Moon Day: Meditation I: Be Prepared I”