Teachings like Emptiness, Buddha-Nature, Suchness, Absolute and Relative, and Mind-with-a-capital-M are challenging, and sometimes people wonder if they’re all just terms for the same thing, more or less, or whether they’re part of a long list of difficult-to-comprehend concepts we need to master as Buddhists . It may be helpful to realize that each of these classic Buddhist concepts describes Reality-with-a-capital-R, and there’s only one Reality. The concepts, therefore, are intimately related to one another, and each one emphasizes different aspects of Reality in a very useful way. In this episode I discuss Buddhist descriptions of Reality in general, and then talk about Sunyata, or Emptiness.
If we live without self-discipline – without clarifying aspirations, forming intentions, or training ourselves – our lives are unlikely to go in the direction we would like them to. Unfortunately, self-discipline is notoriously difficult! In the last episode I discussed the importance of self-discipline and some of the mistakes we make when applying it. In this episode I talk about what skillful self-discipline looks like.
If we live without self-discipline – without clarifying aspirations, forming intentions, or training ourselves – our lives are unlikely to go in the direction we would like them to. Unfortunately, self-discipline is notoriously difficult! In this episode I will discuss the importance of self-discipline and some of the mistakes we make when applying it. In the next episode (Part 2), I’ll talk about what skillful self-discipline looks like.
In the first episode I defined what I mean by “worldly pleasure,” and then discussed five drawbacks of such pleasure as described in Buddhist teachings, and in our own experience. In this episode I talk about how, if we can engage worldly things with the mind that sees impermanence, we are not only inoculated against the many usual drawbacks of worldly pleasures, we can use every encounter we have with the world as an opportunity to practice deeply. Not only that, we actually end up engaging worldly pleasures with more appreciation and awareness.
Traditionally, the ideal of Buddhism is the renunciate monastic who forgoes worldly pleasures because they are fleeting and distract us from practice. How should a serious practitioner relate to worldly pleasures if they’re not living a renunciate lifestyle? Is it possible to fully enjoy the pleasures in our lives while maintaining a strong Buddhist practice, or are we fooling ourselves when we try to do so? In this episode I define what I mean by “worldly pleasure,” and then discuss five drawbacks of such pleasure as described in Buddhist teachings, and in our own experience.
Why aren’t we just all born enlightened and avoid suffering? Or, we could ask: Why are human beings the way they are? Why did they evolve to cause so much suffering for themselves and others? If we all have Buddha-Nature, why isn’t that manifest from the beginning, and why does it get obscured so completely? Why is practice so hard if, as the teachings say, we have everything we need from the beginning?
On the meditation seat and off, we may experience significant insights – realizations that shift our perceptions of ourselves and world, and help relieve suffering. Insights may be sudden or gradual, major or minor, but we naturally want to be able to hold on them instead of forgetting them and going back to our previous way of thinking or being. Yet sometimes these insights seem to slip away or fade with time. Our effort to hold on to them sometimes causes them to recede even further. How can we integrate insights into our lives and practice?
I explore how – for some of us – explaining, dismissing, or justifying the story of the Buddha’s resistance to ordaining women does not completely neutralize the discouraging effect of this story’s presence in the Buddhist canon. I then discuss how we can relate to this story without losing our faith in Buddhism as a path of practice.
I introduce the text that describes the Buddha’s negative words and actions in response to the question of ordaining women into what was called the “homeless life” of his monastic community. Then I’ll talk about various ways we can explain, dismiss, or justify the story contained in this text. In the next episode I’ll explore how, for some of us, explaining, dismissing, or justifying the story of the Buddha’s sexist discourse does not completely neutralize the discouraging effect of this story’s presence in the Buddhist canon, and how we can relate to the story without losing our faith in this path of practice.
This is Part 2 of my discussion about being the only Buddhist in your family. I continue discussing ways to create more harmony between your spiritual practice and your family relationships, and then talk about the special case of being in and intimate relationship with someone who doesn’t share your passion for Buddhist practice.