Working up an appetite

job-huntSo after six months of looking, I’ve finally come upon a job through a temp staffing agency. I’m glad to have found something in this economy and wish everyone else luck. I can say one thing about job searching: it sucks.

Still, it was a necessary thing to do. It was a much better option than vegetating while interest accrued on my student loans. And I am inspired by my previous experiences in work, and by the words of E.F. Schumacher: Continue reading “Working up an appetite”

Raise the roof!

Buddhism is filled with a wonderful lyricism stretching all the way back from it’s oral tradition to it’s more modern expressions. The following are just some modes of expression I found interesting in these last few months. Disclaimer: this is in no way meant to be complete or representative.

Continue reading “Raise the roof!”

Buddhism in a Global Age of Technology

Courtesy of Buddhist Channel and Youtube, we have an insightful lecture by Prof. Lancaster on the historical spread of Buddhism, it’s basic teachings personally reworked and interpreted, and the importance of digital technology in it’s preservation and continued growth. Enjoy!

Therapeutic etymology

*Disclaimer* I am not a linguist by any means. My lack of understanding of Pali, Greek, and possibly English validates any grain of salt thrown at this post. Put your Skeptics hat on, my friends.

Around 250 BCE, the Third Buddhist Council convened under the patronage of Asoka, emperor of the pan-Indian Mauryan empire. The council’s purpose was to expunge the heretical and false, including both the views of dhamma and monastics. The council compiled the teachings and rules that would be considered the “teachings of the Elders”, Theravada.¹

After the council had concluded, Asoka sent out missionaries on the behalf of the Theravadins to all parts of the known world, including the Hellenic world.

These missionairies would have been called the Sons of the Elders, Theraputta. Although there is little record, Asoka claims to have reached Egypt and Greece with the dhamma.

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Meditation enthusiasm

During my short retreat at Thich Ca Thien Vien, I learned something new about my meditation experience. I’ve only been on one other retreat, and it lasted just as long, however I did not run into quite the same roadblock. The meditation itself was as to be expected, periods of calm and quiet interspersed with thoughts, planning, fidgeting, and impatience.

The roadblock only emerged after some friends had left early in the morning. Prior to that, meditation had actually proceeded quite well, if we were to define “well” as silent, peaceful, and restful. The breathe would go in and out, and focus naturally built up without much effort. My chirpy little cricket friends sang their night song while I sat with my friends in the meditation hall. Thoughts would of course appear, but they subsided soon after, again drowned out by the silence and the chirping.

After my friends left to attend some business, I immediately felt a drop in encouragement. I had planned to stay the weekend with or without them, but after they left, my enthusiasm went as well. I tended to sitting and walking again, but without the same “success” as the previous sessions. Even after my fellow Dharmafolks came for visit later in the day, that same ease of meditation did not return. Instead, many thoughts had come, mostly about when the hour would pass.

While not a success in the previously mentioned sense, this period of sitting and walking did show me one thing. I know I’m lacking the energy and enthusiasm to continue finding stillness. My effort was not right because I did not want to stay in one position for such a long time. I would rather be there, not here! What was I thinking, going to meditation at the temple with that attitude? Of course I’m going to be impatient. My views and intentions were not in harmony with being still. It wanted to get up, move to ease the stiffness, think about what time it was, if the hour had passed….Sit? Fie!

Silly rabbit.

Ohh yea!

About a month ago I was invited by the Muslim Student Association at my school to attend a talk given by a professor of Islam. The professor proceeded to give a beautiful image of Islam, its practices and meanings, its encouraging of pluralism over evangelism, and its humanistic values.

I had asked why Muslims were to pray five times a day towards Mecca. The practice itself is awe-inspiring, that upwards of 1 billion people perform this act of faith each day. He said, and reminds me that he has always said, “The nature of humanity if forgetfulness. We need reminders.” Prayer was one way of reminding oneself throughout the day about one’s faith and service to God. That it is done by so many people around the world in common spirit must also be a reminder of the communal fellowship that they all share.

That was all I needed to hear.

Continue reading “Ohh yea!”

Delicious and filling

About a year ago, I went to visit a local temple for the first time. I was greeted by a friendly monk and he showed me the grounds. He had big ears and a warm smile of ease. Soft spoken as he was, the howling wind and chimes made it difficult to say much, so we decided to sit down. Settling in the main hall, I was struck by how simple it was. Nothing more than a small living room with a bare rug over a wooden floor. There was a moderately sized statue of Gotama against one wall, a bench and clock against another, and a short coffee table in the middle.

I sat and faced the venerable, who was no more than three feet away, as he gave a short dhamma talk. While his talk on the importance of kindness was good, he actually didn’t have to say anything. From the moment he let me in, showed me around, and sat down, his kindness and simplicity radiated. It seemed to me he lived and breathed with complete sincerity, just as he spoke. He was the very image of what he had taught. We could have just sat there and said nothing and it would have been just as nice.

The venerable then guided me through meditation. After tapping the bell, and throughout the meditation, he would occasionally utter the words, “May I be well, happy, and peaceful.” After some time, it would be extended to parents, teachers, relatives, friends, indifferent persons, enemies, and all living beings. For twenty minutes that’s all that mattered, sitting and hearing those words.

Wind blowing, chimes ringing, clocks ticking, my thinking, all subsided. All of it drowned out in the silence and in the soft words of love. I could not find anything like this in my books. Such lightness must have been what it was all about.

I had my first taste of freedom.