Sacred West

Buddhism and Modern Life

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Entries Filed Under 'Practice'

Four Ways of Letting Go

May 28th, 2011 · 1 Comment

We know that letting go is the answer to everything, but this is not always easy. As with everything, we need tools to practice with. The Buddha taught four ways to let go, and Ajahn Brahm presents this teaching in a wonderfully engaging manner.

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Beyond Hope and Despair Lies Duty

August 28th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Living and acting beyond hope and despair – this is a state we aim for on our practice path, knowing that both emotions are two sides of the same attachment.

The full thought that makes up my title to this post came out of a planning meeting I took part in a few days ago. We are developing sustainable practices to fight the effects of climate change, and I mentioned that personally I have no hope that the human race can change its habits in time to save itself from massive catastrophe.

How then, some wondered, could I remain motivated?

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The Path Is Long

April 1st, 2010 · 1 Comment

The path is long and yet the distance is not far.

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Tibetan Yogis On Film

March 3rd, 2010 · 2 Comments

Here are three film clips of Tibetan Bhuddist masters and students on the practice path of the yogi.

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Story Told Backwards

October 9th, 2009 · No Comments

I wonder indeed what it must feel like to have one’s actions be as fine as a sesame seed and one’s mind be as vast as the sky.

I contemplated this very thing last Sunday, but the comparison came to me accidentally, backwards from experience so to speak. I was trying to experience a certain freedom of mind, and yet at the same time to be very physically present in the shrine room, with floors and people and light through the windows – in other words, not just caught in a concept of freedom, not just lost in focus, if I can say it that way.

This was what showed me how Guru Rinpoche’s revered statement applies. One is more here than ever before, and one’s mind is empty. And the practice of this is possible.

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Weary From the Cushion

October 7th, 2009 · No Comments

For a long time I’ve been asking myself, if all the teachings talk in terms of resting in natural mind, why is it so wearying to meditate? Where does the resting part come into the picture?

I had a bit of an answer recently during a Sunday morning sit at Shambhala. After working really hard for three hours and making some headway, as it were, I perceived that my ordinary self was struggling to catch up to the tastes of liberation experienced, and was very tired.

So it’s really perhaps just as simple as one has always perceived since starting to meditate: it’s not the being in the moment that takes energy, it’s having to start over again an instant later. It’s the firing up of the motor again. It’s the sadness at seeing ourselves cover the moment over with glue. The stickiness of our grasping. Seeing this again and again.

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Notice How We Allow Ourselves Happiness

October 3rd, 2009 · No Comments

During the summer while I had steady work and income I felt a level of security that I haven’t felt for some years. I was able to observe elation as it arises, and bring it into my practice. I jotted down the following notes.

When something makes us happy we forget, or don’t notice, that all that’s happened is we’ve allowed ourselves to lift the pressure off our happiness button a little bit. The happiness that arises is a function inside ourselves, or we could better say, a quality of ourselves that exists always.

We can flash on memories, dreams, little instances of joy and exuberance and happiness – call it freedom perhaps? – and we can actually see that this feeling, this function of feeling, has been a faculty that we’ve possessed all along. It just needed a reason to come awake.

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The Functional Power of Gentleness

October 30th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Like many new Buddhists in the West, I had an overlay of moral encouragement applied to concepts such as gentleness. I didn’t realize that it has a purely functional purpose as a core practice instruction.

Gentleness is the way to stay in one’s own being even as one regards the world of the ten thousand things that seems to exist outside our fabricated selves. And this becomes a practice one can perform as a training exercise.

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In Distress Energy Arises

October 28th, 2008 · No Comments

In distress
Energy arises,
Power from ourselves,
Freely available,
Released at need.

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Put On Shoes, Throw Freedom Away

October 20th, 2008 · 3 Comments

We can watch ourselves close down our spacious mind in order to fabricate a wall of comfort around ourselves, and we can train through meditation techniques to strip this wall back away again.

Waking from sleep is a good time to watch the wall get built. I’m always astonished at what a simple trick it is happening to me, and yet how unresistingly I get pulled into this delusion.

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The Practice Is Letting Go, Not Getting To.

August 25th, 2008 · 1 Comment

I wondered, as I’ve so often wondered: why exactly is it so very hard to rest in this place? We’re supposed to be resting the mind, resting in open sky, resting in mahamudra. If it’s so restful, then tired as I am, why don’t I want to stay here?

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The Open Technique Of Mindfulness On The Breath

August 25th, 2008 · 1 Comment

The breathing technique in Shambhala Training’s Level I class is the so-called “open technique”, where the inbreath is not regarded, and one simply waits for the outbreath, merging with the outbreath, becoming the experience of the outbreath, dissolving with the outbreath, and waiting at the end, in the gap, simply waiting.

Fellow Dharma practitioner Chodpa was writing recently about not finding the breath, not finding anything real there, having turned to Shamatha from a long time in the space of mahamudra, and I think he would have liked the teaching of this Level I beginner weekend. The breath, it turns out, is just a place to find yourself lost.

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Nothing is Wasted

August 24th, 2008 · 1 Comment

This may sound like ordinary words, but I see recently that I’m in a trap of my own making.

And so it occurs to me that I must also be in the freedom of my own making.

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Strong Back Soft Front

June 24th, 2008 · 4 Comments

This morning I pondered the rightness of having a strong back, and of having a soft front. Shambhala teaches as a foundational instruction having a “good head and shoulders”, and the notion is accompanied by having an open front.

The strength of our uprightness doesn’t belong in our fronts. When we assert ourselves too harshly, our strength leaves our backbone, and comes to our face, our mouth, our heart, and manifests unbalanced, as passion or anger or fear or shouting or discourtesy.

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In Search Of Non-Existent Self

January 9th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Can the self be found? Is the self even necessary? A beginning practitioner in the Buddhist methods of inquiry relates his first experience of looking for the self, and watching it shy away from discovery, seeming to flee from the present moment. He notes with surprise the giant claim of ownership that we assume to be ourselves.

But what does this feel like? How do we experience this? As a practitioner of buddhist meditation, and a student of the Dharma, this is how one looks for the self – read on.

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