To acknowledge that you are dying is to recognize that you are alive.
- What Makes You Come Alive? (underthelotustree.com)
- Truths, Noble and Ignoble (tibetanaltar.blogspot.com)
- What Makes You Come Alive? (bobbieslife.wordpress.com)
Prayer Helps Throughout the day I offer many prayers as the occasion arises: “May you be happy, healthy, and free from suffering.” “Just as I wish to be happy, may all beings be happy.” “May you enjoy vitality and ease of well-being.” I am not asking for everything to be better, or for all your dreams to come true, but given that things are as they are and go as they go, I wish for your well-being and happiness in the face of all the changing circumstances. Things quite likely will not go ideally or according to plan, so I wish for the growth of buoyancy, flexibility, and resiliency. I wish for the nurturing of generosity and tolerance. Not by design, but something shifting inside. In the context of Buddhism I do not see prayer as necessarily directed toward a supreme being or higher power. Rather, I see it as a clarification and expression of true heart’s desire, or what my teacher Suzuki Roshi called innermost request. What is it we really want? To know and act on true heart’s desire or innermost request usually involves unearthing, sifting, and sorting. Speaking it can help to reveal and clarify it. Each day I offer a prayer before meals. I like using an ecumenical expression: “We venerate all the great teachers and give thanks for this food, the work of many people and the offering of other forms of life.” There are many possibilities: “May this food bring us health, happiness, and well-being.” “Just as we have enough to eat today, may all beings have enough to eat.” “May this food nourish us (me) body, mind, and spirit.” It could be as simple as “Blessings on this food.”
To have food on the table is truly a blessing, and one’s life can change profoundly by acknowledging one’s gratitude and appreciation. If you use your verse whenever you eat, even when snacking—it can be silent or spoken—it will help bring you into the present and will have a tremendous effect on how you receive your food and assimilate it. Acknowledging the blessedness of food is also acknowledging your own blessedness, your own capacity to nourish other beings as well as your self. Nourishment comes from receiving food (or any experience), fully taking it in, assimilating what is useful, and letting go of what isn’t. In Buddhism what comes into our lives is called dharma, or teaching.
In Christianity all that we receive can be viewed as a gift from God. Gratitude is called for: “We give thanks for this food, this ‘teaching,’ this ‘gift.’” Lately I have been reading Larry Dossey’s Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine. Dr. Dossey is a physician who began incorporating prayer into his practice of medicine after reviewing scientific studies that demonstrated its effectiveness. He found the evidence for the efficacy of prayer to be simply overwhelming, even though this is one of the best-kept secrets in medical science. What he points out is that prayer works regardless of religious background or belief. Also, it turns out that the most powerful prayer is not one that aims for any particular result, but one that is more all-encompassing: “Thy will be done,” or “May the best results occur.” Along with a blessing or grace before meals or snacks, other eating rituals can be beneficial.
Ritual in this sense could include sitting down a table to eat, rather than eating standing up, walking, or riding in an automobile. Another is to turn off the TV and radio and to eat in the company of family or friends, or to focus solely on eating rather than eating and reading, or eating and talking on the phone. Each of us can determine which rituals are most helpful. In this sense ritual can be seen as ways to do things that help to heighten or deepen awareness. Noticing tastes, physical sensations, feelings, thoughts, and moods will inform or enlighten the food choices we make, and our capacity to be nourished by the food we are eating. Giving our attention to the experience of eating is powerful, whether we are eating wholesome foods or unwholesome foods, or are overeating. Ritual, prayer, your innermost request—please find your own way to bring yourself to your meal, to sitting down at the table and taking the time to eat and nourish yourself.
Posted in Personal Thoughts..., Relationship Dharma, tagged breathing, Buddhism, compassion, healing, health, inspiration, meditation, mental health, mindfulness, relationships, Thich Nhat Hanh on August 9, 2012 | 1 Comment »
“Every human being wants to love and be loved. This is very natural. But often love, desire, need, and fear get wrapped up all together. There are so many songs with the words, “I love you; I need you.” Such lyrics imply that loving and craving are the same thing, and that the other person is just there to fulfill our needs. We might feel we can’t survive without the other person. When we say, “Darling, I can’t live without you. I need you,” we think we’re speaking the language of love. We even feel it’s a compliment to the other person. But that need is actually a continuation of the original fear and desire that have been with us since we were small children.”
I was sick last week and did not get to post this. . . Aug 2nd was my parents’ 52 wedding anniversary. I wish that everyone could experience the ups and downs that they have and the bond that has kept them together.
Much love and deep bows of gratitude to Bob & Judy Stevens. Thank you for all the love, sacrifice, and compassion they have fostered in our family!
Posted in Mindfulness & Buddhism, tagged Buddhism, compassion, inspiration, meditation, Mettā, mindfulness, pain, peace, relationships, Religion & Spirituality, spirituality, Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen on August 8, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
What is the difference between mindfulness as it’s used in secular mindfulness-based courses and as it’s used in a Buddhist context? Not so much, I think. Most Buddhists will feel familiar with the practice of cultivating awareness through a regular meditation practice—sitting, walking, lying down—and working with mindfulness in everyday activities like eating, working, relating with others and so on. And this is also what’s practiced on a secular mindfulness course (at least in the MBSR model). So, the practices themselves are likely to be quite similar. What may be different is the context and framework—whereas mindfulness in Buddhism is one aspect of the eightfold path, it is the primary explicit teaching in a secular mindfulness course. Having said that, the attitudes towards practice that people learn on a mindfulness course are generally very consistent with what is taught in most Buddhist contexts—gentleness, openness, loving-kindness, a certain kind of effort and a certain kind of letting go—as is the shared notion that people are basically good and that our practice is a means to uncover an innate wisdom that we can use to work skillfully with our life situations. Many mindfulness teachers (at least up till now) have a Buddhist background and work to embody these qualities in themselves, and in so far as they’ve managed this, they will naturally transmit these qualities to their course participants, implicitly if not explicitly. It will be interesting to see if this changes as more people come to practice and teach mindfulness who don’t have a Buddhist background.
Excerpt from a great article.. The Mindfulness Manifesto.
Posted in Mindfulness & Buddhism, tagged breathing, Buddhism, Caregiver, compassion, coping, healing, health, inspiration, mental health, Religion & Spirituality, Religion and Spirituality, spirituality on August 3, 2012 | 2 Comments »
“If we examine our motives honestly, we will usually find that there is some sort of fear inspiring our prayers. We are afraid of something. And we are asking to be protected from whatever we are afraid of.
The fear that inspires us to pray actually gives us the most significant clue in our efforts to understand an unanswered prayer. When our prayers aren’t answered the way we want them to be, we often have to expereience the things of which we were afraid. We are forced to confront our fear.”
~~John Welshons, When Prayers Aren’t Answered
“Yes is openness. Nature opens itself to everyone without discrimination. This universal generosity happens to us when we awaken to loving-kindness. Likewise, nature does not retaliate. The man who litters the beach may nonetheless catch a fish the same day. . . Nature is such a great resource in living yes: the model of yes and the gift of yes. Looking at a flower and honoring it as a guide, no just as something beautiful, helps us relate to nature in a creative way. This kind of upgrade in consciousness is how the subtle guidance from nature unfolds. A flower becomes a symbol of the tender life in us that can only grow by firm anchoring to the earth, by welcoming the seasons, and by passing without complaint through its phases. Then a rose is not just a rose but an escort to rebirth.”
~~ David Richo, The Five Things We Cannot Change. . . and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them
Posted in Mindfulness & Buddhism, tagged breathing, Buddha, Buddhism, family, Gratitude, Grief Loss and Bereavement, inspiration, meditation, mental health, Mettā, mindful, mindfulness, peace, relationships, Religion & Spirituality, Religion and Spirituality, spirituality on July 15, 2012 | 3 Comments »
~~Ajahn Sumedho, “The Gift of Gratitude”
I am truly thankful for all those who are in my life. . . my loving and devoted parents, my dear supportive friends, and wise teachers.
Life is nothing without love, compassion, and faithful companions.
Deep gratitude and prostrations to you all.
“As we train in the bodhichitta practices, we gradually feel more joy, the joy that comes from a growign appreciation of our basic goodness. We still experience strong conflicting emotions, we still experience the illusion of separateness, but there’s a fundamental openness that we begin to trust. This trust in our fresh, unbiased nature brings us unlimited you — a happiness that’s completely devoid of clinging and craving. This is the joy of happiness without a hangover.
How do we cultivate the conditions for joy to expand? We train in staying present. In sitting meditation, we train in mindfulness and maitri: in being steadfast with our bodies, our emotions, our thoughts. We stay with our own little plot of earth and trust that it can be cultivated, that cultivation will bring it to its full potential. Even though it’s full of rocks and the soil is dry, we begin to plow this plot of patience. We let the process evolve naturally. . .
A traditional aspiration for awakening appreciation and joy is “May I and others never be separated from the great happiness that is devoid of suffering.” This refers to always abiding in the wide-open, unbiased nature of our minds — to connecting with the inner strength and basic goodness. To do this, however, we start with conditioned examples of good fortune such as health, basic intelligence, a supportive environment — the fortunate conditions that constitute a precious human birth. For the awakening warrior, the greatest advantage is to find ourselves in a time when it is possible to hear and practice the bodhichitta teachings. We are doubly blessed if we have a spiritual friend — a more accomplished warrior — to guide us. . .
Whenever we get caught, it’s helpful to remember the teachings — to recall that suffering is the result of an aggressive mind. Even slight irritation causes us pain when we indulge in it. This is the time to ask, “Why am I doing this to myself again?” Contemplating the causes of suffering right on the spot empowers us. We begin to recognize that we have what it takes to cut through our habit of eating poison. Even if it takes the rest of our lives, nevertheless, we can do it.”
I am grateful to Pema Chodron and her teachings. There have been times in my life where I feel like I survived by listening to her voice, playing audiobooks again and again, finding comfort and wise words that helped me to hold my seat despite what was going on in my interior and exterior worlds.
My practices and my life have been informed by Pema Chodron’s teachings and our world is truly better for having had her wisdom and her devotion to teaching the Dharma and for continuing Chogyam Trungpa’s teachings for so long.
May Ani Pema be blessed with long life, health, great compassion, and love. And may she be here for a long time to help guide us through that what scares us and remind us that are shenpa is showing!
With great devotion and gratitude, Jennifer
http://www.veoh.com/watch/v471374rScnEhqA – Bill Moyer and Pema Chodron
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DafQYGo3Zkc&feature=relmfu – Pema Chodron on Bodhichitta
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFuotEZxPCA&feature=relmfu — Pema Chodron on Bodhichitta Intention
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGrPz9fQWI8&feature=relmfu – Pema Chodron on Working with “Shenpa”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ID5GSnmCNOA&feature=related – Pema Chodron on Gempo Abbey
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buTrsK_ZkvA&feature=related – Pema Chodron on “This Lousy World”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7kFvETUT3s&feature=relmfu – Pema Chodron on “Dunzie”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3sPGxurY-w&feature=relmfu – Common Tacits of Aggression