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.
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?
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.
Many – if not most – English-speaking Buddhists are converts to Buddhism. Even if you were raised in a Buddhist family, chances are good that as an adult you are surrounded by non-Buddhists, or that as an active Buddhist practitioner you are surrounded by people for whom Buddhism is largely a cultural matter. I discuss the challenges of being the only Buddhist in your family or intimate relationship, and ways to create more harmony between your spiritual practice and your close relationships.
The core teaching of Zen is that understanding the true nature of self is of the utmost importance to living a life that is liberated, compassionate, generous, wise, and skillful. Mindful examination of a subject like the self classically involves something akin to deconstruction; once we recognize the component parts of something, our sense of it as monolithic thing or force is undermined. I parse “the self” into six aspects, and discuss how each relates to our practice.
When we play wholeheartedly, we engage the world with energy, joy, lightheartedness, and enthusiasm, welcoming challenge and enjoying our activity for its own sake. We rarely have the same attitude toward our work, responsibilities, difficulties, or even our Buddhist practice. What if we did? Zen Master Hongzhi suggests a playful attitude might actually be an enlightened one.
How can practice help us deal with the strong negative emotions we experience in difficult times, such as anger, hatred, fear, or despair? Fortunately, Buddhist practice is a powerful way to decrease our pain, agitation, reactivity, and preoccupation no matter what difficulties we’re facing, whether the challenges are in our personal lives or out in the world. I talk about nine benefits of Buddhist practice that are especially helpful when you’re facing difficult times.