I will be leading a weekend retreat going over a variety of aspects of metta from the early Buddhist texts and showing how this practice is beneficial both on the cushion, and in every aspect of our daily lives.
The Retreat begins Friday, February 3rd in the evening and goes to Sunday afternoon and is totally free at the new meditation center by the NYC organization “Buddhist Insights”
You can “sign up” for the event by going to this link:
Use your life to support your meditation, don’t use your meditation, to try to cure your life.”
“The first step on our way to transcending dukkha is to recognize the fact that we’ve got it. Not everybody is willing to do that, not everybody is willing to admit that there is Dukkha in their lives.
One of our most popular pass times is to blame somebody else for it. It’s due to the partner, the children, the weather, the government, the Americans, the job, the boss, you name it, anything will do, and the mind justifies that.
If we get stuck in that, blaming someone or something else outside of ourselves for our dukkha, we haven’t got a spiritual path. In fact, we can just as well forget about meditation. Meditation has to be embedded in spiritual living.This means one gives up one’s thinking about external matters and finds the truth within oneself.
If we are still concerned with blaming something else outside of ourselves for our Dukkha, that needs to be a contemplation.That contemplation can be extremely enlightening, because the question is, why am I blaming this or that for my Dukkha? because the answer will be, “because I don’t like it the way it is, and that’s exactly what Dukkha is, I don’t like things the way they are, I want them different, that is how our dukkha arises. This is the first and second Noble Truths.
Now accepting things the way they are, doesn’t mean that we can’t discriminate. It doesn’t mean that we are bereft of discrimination between good and evil, it would be dreadful, we wouldn’t be able to keep our precepts, but we refrain from blaming anything that happens for our own unhappiness. We see that our unhappiness is caused by ourselves, because of dissatisfaction with the way things are.”
Exerpt by Thanissaro Bhikkhu :
Once, during my very first year with Ajaan Fuang, the time came for the kathina, which was the big event of the year. Lots of people were going to come from Bangkok. Some of them would have to be housed for a night or two before the kathina, and everybody would have to be fed. I had a dream a few nights before they came that Ajaan Fuang had a huge closet with lots of different hats. He would go into the closet and come out with one hat on, then go back in and come out with a different hat on. And sure enough, in the preparation for the kathina, they had to put up bamboo sheds and they had to arrange for the extra kitchen areas — lots of different tasks — and he was good at supervising them all. As later he told me, “Practicing the Dhamma is not just being good at sitting with your eyes closed. It involves learning how to be skillful in everything you do.” This attitude that wants to be skillful: That’s what’s going to see you through lots of different problems. If you don’t give a damn about things outside, your mind is going to be a “don’t-give-a-damn” kind of mind inside as well. It gets apathetic, careless.
But if you make up your mind that whatever chore falls to you, you’re going to try to do it skillfully, then you develop what are called the four bases for success: the desire to do it skillfully; the persistence that sticks with it till you’ve mastered it; intentness, paying a lot of attention to what you’re doing; and analysis, using your powers of discernment to see what’s not yet right, trying to figure out how to get around problems, how to solve them. This fourth factor also involves ingenuity — all the active qualities of the mind. The texts talk about these four bases of success specifically in conjunction with concentration, but a common teaching all over Thailand is that if you want to succeed at anything, you’ve got to develop these qualities of mind and apply them to whatever you have to do to succeed. And regardless of what areas of your life you develop them in, you can take them and apply them to other areas of your life as well.
So see every aspect of your life as an opportunity to train the mind. If you want to develop good strong powers of concentration, it’s not just what you do while you’re sitting with your eyes closed. It’s how you tackle any activity: learning how to be focused on that activity, learning to be strict with the mind when it starts wandering off. That way the mind is right there; you learn how to keep it right there no matter what you’re doing. And when the time comes to sit down with your eyes closed, well, you’re right there. You don’t have to go chasing the mind down. So try to see the practice as a seamless whole. The word bhavana, as I said, is “to develop.” You can develop your mind in any situation.Don’t think that the important insights are going to come only when you’re sitting with your eyes closed.
“When I started to see, that my thoughts aren’t me, when I started to realize that I didn’t have to accept them, that is a freedom that is unmatched.”
“Identity View is a burden” – Buddha
“It’s a real feedback on our mindfulness practice also. We can tell if somebody’s mindfulness practice is working correctly when we see that he or she is getting less attached to views. This doesn’t mean not having any opinions or being utterly indecisive or unsure. It means that you can very clearly formulate your ideas and views, but you don’t hold on to them tightly. The open awareness that you have is then able to understand the other side. Somebody who is diametrically opposed to your views – you understand why he or she is saying that. You may even be able to appreciate the logic and coherence of their thinking. So beautiful. So powerful. And this is all because the hedonic investment in your views and opinions is something that you are consciously monitoring through awareness.”
We’re trying to be very inclusive – receptive and open. To allow for others to be different. To allow for racial differences, gender differences, differences in interest – allow people to be the way they are. That doesn’t mean that I have to be like them, but it does mean that there can be space for others to be the way they are. That’s the way out of discrimination, out of fundamentalism, out of dogmatism, and out of so many other evils. Very spacious and allowing, but at the same time also very clear and discerning. The two come together in that quality of being aware.
I can allow myself to step out of my position, put myself into your position, and look at the situation from your viewpoint. So fascinating. And that doesn’t mean that afterwards I can’t go back to my viewpoint – that I have somehow lost it for good just because for a moment I let go of it to explore the other position. I can still have my opinion, but I will also have a greater understanding of the whole situation. I now understand the situation from the opposite viewpoint. If I’m just holding on to my viewpoint, I’ll get a sort of tunnel view, like I’m wearing those blinders they put on horses, and everything that is different from my view has to be out – cut off. Not allowed.
– Bhante Analayo