I’ve decided to do a weekly live stream event for the time being on my youtube channel. To access the livestream you can always go to this link, to be able to type in the chat I think you need a youtube account : https://www.youtube.com/studentofthepath/live
The Initial plan is for this to be Thursdays from 7pm-9pm. The Concept will be a Dhammapalooza or Dhamma Variety get together, meaning that you can come with topics you’d like me(or the group together there) to discuss, I can answer questions, read suttas, we can discuss our practice and living in the world skillfully.
It will be wide open and free flowing from 7-9, meaning that you don’t need to come for the whole time, people can come in and go out as they wish.
As always I don’t delve into politics and other disputatious topics, so these two hours can be a nice break from the goings on in the world where Dhamma friends can come together.
Right effort is all about abandoning unskillful mind-states and building up skillful ones. Someone following the Noble Eightfold Path practices questioning and examining their thoughts, views, and perceptions, as these have the potential to cause much suffering in their lives.
This is especially important in this very divisive atmosphere and outrage culture, where people dig into their position and feed off media(news, pictures, videos, stories etc) that supports their views and “destroys” the other side , or shows how wrong , ignorant , or evil the “other” is.
If you are a practitioner being mindful of your thoughts and intentions, then you can watch that side of you that desires to be fed, and you can observe what that does to your mind, it may feel good in the short term to watch something that supposedly proves your view and makes “the other” look wrong or stupid, but then you can see how in the long term it can make you more anxious, angry, and tired.
The reality of the situation is that life is complicated, and people are also complicated and nuanced, regardless of our efforts to put people in nice neat boxes(liberal/conservative , religious/atheist, etc). if you really look at life I can’t see anything that is really black and white, but innumerable shades of grey.
Knowing this, and following the path, it’s important for those of us who wish to lessen division, not add to it, to practice going against our habitual tendencies. This is a very slow and tough process of gradual exposure to other points of view , and resisting the minds tendency to “other” people who seem different or threatening.
I challenge you to go to a website or news organization that you dislike, and read/watch the opinions and views of others that you disagree with.
While doing so watch your mind, observe the sense of resistance, as well as the thoughts, desires, and intentions that arise , your mind trying to “protect” and reinforce the views and sense of self you identify with.
Guns, abortion, immigration, whatever divisive (and also very complicated and nuanced) topic that those in power use to keep us distracted and fighting amongst ourselves , really make an effort to explore and understand the views and beliefs of other people not like you, in doing so you simultaneously practice goodwill and compassion and slowly lessen your own attachment to this sense of self and identity that the Buddha calls a burden, and the root of much suffering.
I’ve started to do some live streaming after being invited by Buddhist Insights to do so. Will be posting the videos here, two so far:
As I get geared up back into doing dhamma media, I wanted to make a post giving a little tour of the various types of videos on the “Students of the Path” youtube channel that I’ve been running since 2012.
“A Journey into Homelessness” Is my first series and the beginnings of the channel, where I document from 2012-present my journey into monasticism:
Ask a Bhante(Submit a Question, Get a Video Answer) :
SOTP Podcast (The Beginnings of a Podcast I had hoped to do regularly, i’d like to get back to it soon) :
Q&A Excerpts(Individual questions from full Q&A Videos):
Dhamma Shorts(Individual short sections of full Dhamma talks) :
Full Q&As :
Full Talks :
“Bhikkhus, these two kinds of persons are rare in the world. What two? One who takes the initiative in helping others and one who is grateful and thankful. These two kinds of persons are rare in the world.” – an II 119
an 2.32 “Monks, I will teach you the level of a person of no integrity and the level of a person of integrity. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak.”
“As you say, lord,” the monks responded.
The Blessed One said, “Now what is the level of a person of no integrity? A person of no integrity is ungrateful & unthankful. This ingratitude, this lack of thankfulness, is advocated by rude people. It is entirely on the level of people of no integrity. A person of integrity is grateful & thankful. This gratitude, this thankfulness, is advocated by civil people. It is entirely on the level of people of integrity.”
We live in a bubble, and we are eternally ungrateful for it.
What do I mean by that? When was the last time you flipped a light switch to turn on a light and thought about the immense infrastructure and the tens of thousands of people who are working all day every day to make sure you can have light in your house?
Now multiply that a thousand fold to all of the things that go to create this wonderful comfortable and safe bubble we’ve created in the first world that keeps us from nature, the nature of the world, and human nature.(health/first aid/police/energy, on and on)
People really love nature, especially if they’ve never really spent a bunch of time in the woods and realized that it didn’t care if you existed or not and your survival chances were near zero if you were stuck out there with no modern support. Nature, reality, is a brutal truth we try to escape from as much as we can.
And so we see in some places with the pandemic, that what we consider to be modern health care systems that are so wonderful for all of us, are so overwhelmed that they have to triage(if you’ve never experienced even a practice run of a triage, I highly suggest you do if you have the chance, I did multiple times as a teenager who had a lot of emt/fire friends) who lives and who dies.
That sounds so foreign to us in modern first world country. We just take for granted that we can just save people, that we can’t just “let” people die. We have a hard time mentally wrapping our head around it… and that is because we live in a bubble that protects us from a large amount of the things that our ancestors had to face on a regular basis.
Most of you know i’m a bit of an eternal optimist. I’ve been through a good amount of crisis and death in my life, and it’s never an easy thing to go through, but it helps you set your priorities straight, and allows you to handle a crisis much better and more mindfully, which means things go better for you and those around you.
It also teaches you gratitude, for so much, even the people who are long gone from your life but helped you become who you are. That gratitude for even the small things in life helps keep you on the right track.
My hope is that people will start taking many less things for granted because of this, including the people around them, their community, their family, the people that help keep the bubble running strong every day. I’m not saying its bad we live in the bubble, but it’s bad when we take it for granted and lose sight of reality, that leaves us unprepared for the next time nature/reality comes and bursts our bubble for a little while.
I remember 15 years ago sitting there watching my wife slowly die while on intubation, understanding that there was nothing left in medical sciences power that would keep her alive and it was her time to go.
In this time it’s good to keep in mind one of the core teachings of Buddhism, the 5 Subjects of Contemplation. The Reminder that you are subject to old age, sickness, death, loss of loved ones, and are responsible for your actions.
The last one is perhaps the most important.. you are responsible for your actions, and when put in a situation where you have little to no control(you have very little always, we just fool ourselves into thinking we way more then we do) over what is happening to you, how you choose to act is the most important thing, and one of the few things you have control over.
So stay healthy, and may I suggest to use this time to reflect and practice dhamma, practice developing gratitude for so much that is positive and supportive in our lives, that for better or worse shelter us from reality, that same reality that we as meditators seek to understand with insight.