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A good home

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 23 Apr 2022, 13:10

Was ruminating just now over feelings of regret and longing. These can pop up and disrupt the flow of peace at times. How to deal with those?

 I have been practising telling myself each time that I can't change the past. What has happened has happened, there's no super-power I have that can turn back the clock and make me do things different. And even if I could, would I want to?  

Past mistakes were done by a younger self that didn't know any better. But now you do know better, and it is because of your younger self that you know better. So stop punishing yourself, take a bow to your younger self and resolve to honour the mistake by being wiser from now on. And remembering your less-than-graceful moments can help one to be humble, which is helpful for overcoming conceit. But the guilt, longing, aversion, anxiety and remorse is not helpful, that can be let go of.

Your younger self is not who you are now. And it is who you are now that's important. Who you are now is what's generating the kamma for your future self.

Putting oneself down and feeling guilt, shame and anxiety will become a habit when repeated over a lengthy period of time, and it is a habit that is no good for the mind. It depresses it, and a depressed mind is no fun to be in at all. Our mind is our home, and so we should make it the kind of home that is warm, friendly, welcoming, wise, peaceful, and a refuge even when times are shit.

Unfortunately pain, sickness, fatigue, loss and separation is inevitable in this world. That is the kamma of having a body. Noone escapes this, not even enlightened beings. The Buddha aged, got sick, had back problems, had a toxic cousin intent on murdering him, and he died. 

It is the fate of all living beings.

What is the most important thing to have with us when we die? 

 Our time here is short and one could die at any moment, old age is not guaranteed, people die at different ages and that's normal; across the many species of life on Earth both young and old die. Noone knows how much time they have here.

And it isn't these things that are the problem. They are inevitable, they are outside our control, that's the way it is in a changing universe of interdependence and entropy. 

The problem is how we feel about these things. It is the hostility in the mind towards them that is the problem. Aversion is an unpleasant emotion, it comes with unpleasant sensations, unpleasant feelings and thoughts. It makes one's consciousness feel toxic and unhappy. To the point where one would do anything to get rid of it. And it brings us negative consequences - one's kamma, setting us up for more misery in the future. And yet we can't see that it is this hostility in the mind, this craving for things to be different that causes the suffering.

The good news is that aversion is not necessary and can be removed from the mind. And why wouldn't one want to remove it from the mind? It is not helpful, and one can live perfectly well without it. 

Aversion is generated by the mind. And because it is generated by the mind, it is possible to train one's mind to let go of it, and feel the relief of a mind that is not hostile. A serene happy mind filled with unconditional love instead of fear. It is easier to feel love for others when the mind is less hostile, when you realise all beings value their lives. That all beings want to feel safe, loved, and at peace. Just like you do.

Our mind is our true home. It is what we take with us when we die.

It might take time, a lot of practise, perseverance and a huge helping of patience. But continue putting in the right causes and conditions even when it feels like a desert and a trudge, and eventually the garden will flower and fruit all by itself. But remember to be gentle with the mind, a friend to it, take regular breaks and rest from the work. Impatience and overdoing it won't make anything grow faster.


 


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Asoka

Like the moon in the blue heaven

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 15 Apr 2022, 14:47



 James Holden - I have put out the light (original mix)


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Asoka

Loved up

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 11 Apr 2022, 22:08


I am happy to love you
Even if you don't love me back
Love expects nothing in return
Love is its own reward
That lush euphoric state of mind
Is the benefit I receive
When I wish you well
Makes the world glow.



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Asoka

Emancipation of the heart

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Thinking even happy thoughts,
Gets tiring.... 
and I rest in footsteps,
Crossing over streams,
Nothing's what it seems.

Perception shifts to absorption
Unified awareness streaming on and on
it goes...
Flows... into a lucid state of mind
this river of consciousness refined
refreshed by samhadi
profound serenity
Hearing
as if for the first time
Colours and tactile sensations rhyme
with ethereal perceptions
beautified by luminosity
and a loved up bliss
cooled by equanimity.


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Asoka

Sublime abiding

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 5 Apr 2022, 13:42


Chest beat a surging flame of worry
I sit and meditate to chill me down
Breath centres open wide
Odd mix of pleasant unpleasant
I calm the energies to a hush and
Let go of the spiky aversion
Greet with love instead
Love does not ask for anything in return
It is its own reward
For it makes one's mind and home
A pleasure to be in
even when
The dark side approaches.


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Asoka

I take refuge in Sangha

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I tell you something I do love about Zen. Is the focus on friendship and inter-relational practise. We truly are all awakening together - stepping through those dharma gates together. It warms my heart. 

The feeling of Sangha is strong in the Zen tradition. And I am learning how taking refuge in the Sangha is a beautiful powerful thing. 

The best way to learn the noble eight-fold path is with good friends and companions (-: 

We learn and grow together. 

 To learn the path is to see it embodied in others and others to see it in you; we change and shape one another. 

The circle of practice ⭕


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Asoka

The five remembrances and the nature of change

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A bit under the weather today. Woke up with a touch of sickness this morning. Didn't feel comfortable lying in bed as had sweated a lot in the night. So I got up and had a bath. Then sat in meditation with a Zen group I sit with regularly. Felt quite unwell whilst I sat, and have an annoying cough which kept interrupting the flow of meditation and stopped me getting into a deep state of concentration. At first I wondered why on Earth I was sitting meditating with others on Zoom when I just wasn't feeling it. But I remembered a story about a monk who got sick with malaria, and he carried on sitting and meditating with the sangha every evening, and even though he felt like he was on death's door, and felt gravely ill, he kept meditating and it was hardwork, he struggled; but he also persevered and eventually managed to reach a flow state known as samhadi (A profound deep stillness, lucidity and unification of mind) and from then on his sickness turned around and he got better. I have heard other stories like this, so I think there is something to it. There's something powerful and healing about getting into a state of samhadi. I didn't manage to do that today, after 30 minutes I felt like I had had enough and left the sitting to lie down for a bit. 

But it was not a wasted effort, there was merit there. I think just sitting with the sickness and learning how to flow with it and be kind to myself was a helpful experience. I tried to remain aware and mindful throughout and learn what I could about the mind and how to be okay with ill health and pain; not reacting, accepting things as they are, letting them be, without the suffering. 

 I can't seem to generate the energy of metta (loving-kindness, goodwill, friendliness) today, feel a bit weak and fatigued, athough I will persevere with that as I have found doing metta practise for the bacteria/viruses causing sickness in my body has powerfully turned things around for me in the past. I can't seem to bring up that feeling just now though, so am spending a lot of time in equanimity. I may listen to a playlist of dharma talks on metta later, as using the voice of another can help to generate the feeling of metta when I am struggling to be able to.

Remembering the five wise reflections oddly brings me comfort, and seems to help the mind to accept the way things are. It reminds me that the first four reflections: ageing, sickness, death, and separation  are natural, and happen to all living beings. The last reflection reminds me to show kindness to myself and others, and develop a generous heart and try to give in whatever form I can, even if that is just silently practising metta for myself and others, it still helps. As these are actions that can bring one good karma. 

The Five wise reflections

I am of the nature to age; I have not gone beyond old age.
I am of the nature to get sick; I have not gone beyond ill health.
I am of the nature to die; I have not gone beyond dying.
Everything I hold dear and everyone that I love,
Will become separated from me due to the nature of change (of impermanence).

I am the owner of my karma, heir of my karma, 
Born of my karma, related to my karma.
My karma is the ground on which I stand.
Therefore should I frequently remember:
Whatever actions I do for good or for ill,
Become the karma I inherit.



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Asoka

My spiritual practise is friendship

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 27 Oct 2021, 15:41

This is a nice practise I learnt in Buddhism. It is called sharing your merit with all beings. Merit being your attainments, virtue, knowledge, wisdom, benefits of spiritual practise, wellbeing... all the good wholesome stuff. And you share that freely with all the beings around you. Both seen and unseen. It can help bring a nice vibe I find, especially when out walking. I feel the presence of many different beings, and some I call Devas, (we in the West call them spirits.) I feel them all around me at times, and they bring good energy, and I have found they really appreciate it when we share our merit with them.

We of course lose absolutely nothing when we share our merit with others, what you give out energetically comes back to you exponentially. This means your merit will grow from this practise, and then you will have more to give, and the more you give, the more comes back to you, and so on, it grows and grows.

However, the intention behind giving is also important, as it is our intention that will be the flavour of what comes back to us energetically. What we reap is what we sow. As a rule of thumb, right intention tends to come from the belly or the heart, intentions developed in the brain and our thoughts can generate the wrong kind of intention.

 I think it is a blameless practise, that causes no harm and nothing bad can come from it. 

It has also helped me a couple times with grief. Where I offered to share my merit with loved ones who had crossed over this past couple of years. I felt their presence as I did this and that they really appreciated the merit. All spirits appreciate it when we share our merit with them, I think it can really help them out where they are.

 I think this practise is also a good training for the mind in developing  generosity, good will and friendship with other beings. It can be done silently in one's head, and nobody has to know that you are practising this at all.  You don't have to be wealthy, you can be in poverty and still practise sharing your merit. We have all had moments of genuine kindness, there's some merit right there that can be shared. Share your entire life's worth of merit with all the beings around you in all directions, and dimensions throughout all time and space.

Keep doing that as often as you remember to. 

In Buddhism this energy is known as metta or loving-kindness. It also means friendship, warmth and joviality.
Compassion is a form of metta, it is metta towards another who is suffering. 
Empathetic Joy is also a form of metta, this is where one feels joy in another's happiness. You could say (for anyone who has encountered object-oriented programming) that compassion and empathetic joy are both subclasses of metta (;

Equanimity is also very valuable, and compliments metta perfectly. Ajahn Sona describes metta and equanimity as being like a knife and fork. They work well together. 

Equanimity is welcome for times when generating metta feels impossible, when the grief is too much, and for the times when you make mistakes and fail, when things don't go to plan, for the things you can't change in the world. Nobody can solve all the world's problems, neither me nor you are responsible for solving the world's problems, that's an impossible task. We also should not suffer with other beings. That just leads one to sadness and the complete wrecking ball of depression, which doesn't help you or any other being. The best help we can be to other beings is to practise keeping our own minds bright and lucid, keep our spirits lifted up so we can offer support and friendship, compassion, and uplift others. This world is going to need that now more than ever. One can also radiate equanimity energetically, which can help bring calm to a difficult situation.

This practise takes a while though, lots of repetitive practise, lots of failures, but don't beat yourself up for those, just learn what you can, pick yourself back up and try try again.

 It is good to try and find something that invokes that feeling in you. Can be anything: a loved one, a pet, any person, a mythological figure, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, an animal, a tree, the ocean, something neutral like the snow, water, air, colours, can be something imaginary. Use anything that brings up that feeling of love within you. Even if you get just a finger snap of the feeling, that's good enough, it snowballs. And the mind will find its way back there again, and again, and get better at finding its way back there. And sometimes it will do it without you consciously invoking it. Once it gets the hang of it, the mind will get quicker at finding it, and the amount of time the feeling lasts for will also grow both in intensity and duration.

Remember that what we practise now is what we will become. A way I have found that can help to keep fuelling the determination to practise, is to imagine having compassion for my future self and others. It is a gradual training, much like learning any other craft or skill in life, but with repeated practise it can be done, and the beneifts will blow your mind. Your future self (and all the people around you) will be glad that you did (-:


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Asoka

Compassion's way

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 3 Oct 2021, 18:36

The Buddha once asked a king, "Suppose there are armies coming for you in all directions, crushing and killing everything in their path. There is no hope of escape from this impending doom. What would you do?"

The king said, "I would practise generosity, give, and be kind."

The Buddha praised his response, saying that was indeed the wisest thing any of us can do in that situation. Our deeds generate our karma, and that's what we take with us to our next existence.

For the king it was easy, but for some of us we don't have wealth or possessions to give away, so how do we give?

What is compassion's way? Is a question I have been mulling over and reflecting on for this past week or so.

Perhaps sometimes compassion's way is to remember the spiritual practise, other times to help another being in need, to get up and be of service to others, to practise loving-kindness and radiate that all around as you go about your day, maybe it is to be kind to yourself, to let go of something, maybe it is to have a moment of stillness, when we meditate we are not causing harm and this can be a way of giving, a Zen teacher said to me he thought my paintings were a way of giving. I had never thought that before, and that gave me something to reflect on.

How can we practise generosity and kindness? It seems there are a myriad different ways to do this, and when one thinks about it, one can find a way that fits with each moment.
 It got me thinking of all the different ways we can give. That's what matters in the end, the choices we make in each moment, and despite what the world does, how crazy and disturbing it gets, when that doom comes for us over the distant horizon, we can choose to be kind, to give, despite it all. This includes being kind to yourself as well, no room for judgement or shame, you are a being too. Unconditional love for all beings means just that, all beings. Be a friend to yourself as much as to others. 

The world just now feels a lot like the one in the story of the Buddha and the king. But whatever time in history, there is always an impending doom coming for us, we are all dieing after all, a doom none of us can escape, every body has an expiry date. Death is natural, when we die we should remember our good deeds, not the ones we feel shame for, so we should feel good about ourseves, happy that we learnt from any mistakes and grew. We should focus on our acts of giving, of kindness and love. We should remember the friendships and that both the good and bad times created the depth of connections we have. We want to die with a warm, loving, kind, generous, serene heart, as that is what will be the seed for our next existence. 

The hardest part sometimes is to remember. The word mindfulness means to remember, to keep something in mind. 
The five wise reflections are something the Buddha recommended people chant regularly to help them remember what really matters in this life:

The Five Wise Reflections

"I am of the nature to age; I should not be surprised by old age.

I am of the nature to become sick; I should not be surprised by ill health.

I am of the nature  to die; I should not be surprised by death.

Everything I hold dear, and everyone I love, will become separated from me due to the nature of change, due to impermanence.

I am the heir of my karma, owner of my karma, born of my karma, related to my karma, abide supported by my karma. Therefore should I frequently recollect that whatever karma I do for good or for ill, of that will I be the heir."

We can also practise compassion for our future self. 
What we practise now we become. 


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Asoka

Self compassion

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 11 Sep 2021, 22:20


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Metta sutta (teaching on loving-kindness)

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 11 Sep 2021, 22:36

A picture of an abstract painting - by me

This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways,
Peaceful and calm and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing:
In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease!
Whatever beings there may be,
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short, or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and those far away,
Those born and to-be-born –May all beings be at ease!

Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life,
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings.
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths,
Outwards and unbounded,
Free from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down,
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to wrong views,
The pure-hearted one,
Having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is never again born into this world.


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