"Two things will lead you to supreme understanding (prajnaparamita). What are those two? Concentration (samatha) and insight (vipassana)."
--- The Buddha
Andrew Olendzki has written on papañca ( most often translated as proliferation) and, like much of his work, it is quite good. Showing just what papañca is, its pervasiveness, and that it is just this aspect of our mental experience that we are working with in meditation provides a valuable clarification of practice. It is just here that we find a basis of commonality across all Buddhist traditions. In the Pali Canon, we hear the Buddha say, “In the hearing let there just be hearing…” In Zen, we say, “Take the backward step” from being engulfed in proliferation to “just this.”
Somewhat paradoxically, the contemplation on impermanence can also enhance our ability to touch joy. The Buddha thought the contemplation of impermanence so important he called it one of the three “Dharma Seals,” saying that without an understanding of
impermanence, one could not fully penetrate the Dharma, meaning both his teachings and the real nature of things.
“We hate it when our friends are successful,” sang Morrissey, the mope-rock, singer songwriter and former leader of The Smiths. And while “hate” may be overstating the issue, a quick Google search of that song finds hundreds
of articles and blogs quoting Morrissey, with people sharing the dark, not-so-secret fact, that rather than celebrating others’ successes and happiness, we often react with envy and jealousy. And the flip side of this human quirk is the guilty delight, or schadenfreude, we feel when others fail, as evidenced by so much of the popular reaction to celebrities’ foibles and misfortunes. But we short-change our own joy by falling into such bitterness. We can increase our joy by learning to delight in the joy of others.
The Buddha taught that cultivating a kind and loving heart with a love for all creation is the most important dimension of our spiritual practice. The Pali word metta (Sanskrit: maitri) has two root meanings. The first is “gentle” as in a gentle misty rain that in falling, does not pick and choose where it falls. It simply falls with no discrimination. The second root is “friend.” A good and true friend is one who is constant in good times and bad. The culmination of metta is to become a good friend to all of life.
Metta-Bhavana, or "Loving-Kindness Meditation" begins with a self-reflection on the good within us. It's a gentle reminder that we already have the seed of kindness, compassion and love. We're just "cultivating it" through practice....
This sutta shows us that the “scope of practice” the Buddha offers has nothing to do with what we normally take to be religion, philosophy, or the nebulous “spirituality” that many “non-religious” today claim to practice. What he shows through this dialogue with Malunkyaputta is how preoccupation with metaphysical speculation is not only a waste of time, but an obstruction to actual liberation!
It's sad and dispiriting that Thanksgiving has this incredibly WHITEwashed story behind it. The genocide of the indigenous peoples of this land is -- along with slavery -- the shadow that looms over america to this day.
Can this day be a remembrance of this tragic history while finding some other day to celebrate our INTERDEPENDENCE? Because NOT ONE OF US is here and can continue to live without the support of myriad others. Let us give thanks to the sheer fact of that reality.
Set aside 30 minutes, preferably at the end of the day, to try this Naikan practice.
A wandering yogi called Vaccha asked the Buddha if the Buddha would still exist after death. This leads to an interesting and enlightening dialogue where the buddha points out that the truth is actually much more subtle and deep and not so easily nailed down by such concepts.