Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lovingkindness, Weeds and Judgment [AUDIO]



I've always been perplexed by the concept of 'weeds'. The fact that we arbitrarily divide flora into 'good' flowers and 'bad' weeds has always struck me as capricious.

Of course, when we consider Metta or Lovingkindness practice we come up against exactly the same realization - that our division of the world into 'friends' and 'enemies' is equally subjective and unhelpful.

When contemplating this it reminded me of a song I heard in my youth by the Christian singer-songwriter Graham Kendrick. He wrote:

Teach me to love the unlovely O Lord
I don’t know how to do it
Teach me to love the impossible people
I really don’t like
I don’t naturally take to some folks
I can’t make out the way that they are
I just don’t understand other people who aren’t like me at all

Just how radical this acceptance of all beings - including ourselves - is can be seen from the following passage from the Pali Canon:

Loving-kindness ought to be brought to the point where there are no longer any barriers set between persons, and for this the following example is given: Suppose a man is with a dear, a neutral and a hostile person, himself being the fourth; then bandits come to him and say "we need one of you for human sacrifice." Now if that man thinks "Let then take this one, or that one," he has not yet broken down the barriers, and also if he thinks "Let them take me but not these three," he has not broken down the barriers either. Why not? Because he seeks the harm of him who he wishes to be taken and the welfare of only the other three. It is only when he does not see a single one among the four to be chosen in preference to the other three, and directs his mind quite impartially towards himself and the other three, that he has broken down the barriers
You can read the whole teaching here.

The full audio, including a  full guided Metta meditation is below.



If the embedded audio player above doesn't work for you, please click here.


photo credit: P1015405 via photopin (license)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Reading: A Mind like Sky


In this evening's meditation we contemplated passages from Jack Kornfield's teachings on "A Mind Like Sky". You can read the full teaching here.

The passages I read were:
Meditation comes alive through a growing capacity to release our habitual entanglement in the stories and plans, conflicts and worries that make up the small sense of self, and to rest in awareness. In meditation we do this simply by acknowledging the moment-to-moment changing conditions—the pleasure and pain, the praise and blame, the litany of ideas and expectations that arise. Without identifying with them, we can rest in the awareness itself, beyond conditions, and experience what my teacher Ajahn Chah called jai pongsai, our natural lightness of heart. Developing this capacity to rest in awareness nourishes samadhi (concentration), which stabilizes and clarifies the mind, and prajna (wisdom), that sees things as they are.
[...]
We may find ourself caught in the grip of some repetitive thought pattern or painful situation, or lost in great physical or emotional suffering. Perhaps there is chaos and noise around us. We sit and our heart is tight, our body and mind are neither relaxed nor gracious, and even the witnessing can seem tedious, forced, effortful.
In this circumstance we can open the lens of attention to its widest angle and let our awareness become like space or the sky. As the Buddha instructs in the Majjhima Nikaya, “Develop a mind that is vast like space, where experiences both pleasant and unpleasant can appear and disappear without conflict, struggle or harm. Rest in a mind like vast sky.”
[...]
The Buddha said, “O Nobly Born, remember the pure open sky of your own true nature. Return to it. Trust it. It is home.”

Photo credit: Touch via photopin (license)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Walking Meditation [AUDIO]


Meditation isn't something that only happens seated on the cushion. There are many 'formal' forms of meditation, including seated and walking, but in truth any activity can become a meditation if we are fully present and aware. One of the great learnings from this meditation can be how a simple activity - such as walking - can become a powerful opportunity to be present.

In this meditation we mix a seated breath meditation with a short walking meditation. To guide us on our way we use some words and suggestions from the great teacher Thich Nhat Hahn. You can read the full instruction here. Thay suggests we use the following 'gatha' or verse:

(Breathing in) “I have arrived”; (Breathing out) “I am home”
(Breathing in) “In the here”; (Breathing out) “In the now”
(Breathing in) “I am solid”; (Breathing out) “I am free”
(Breathing in) “In the ultimate”; (Breathing out) “I dwell”

For those of you using the audio in your own practice there are three phases separated by bells. The first phase is a simple breath meditation, seated. We then transition to walking. If you are at home you can simply walk around your home, or out in the yard. If you are in an open area you can walk around and use a bench as your seated place. Wherever you are you should be able to meditate with us.

The full audio, including a 35 minute guided meditation is below.



If the embedded audio player above doesn't work for you, please click here.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Cultivating Lovingkindness for All Beings [AUDIO]


When we think about the concept of Metta - Lovingkindness - we often say that it is unconditional. In other words, that our love for the person is not dependent on whether we like them or not, or whether we judge them to be 'good' or not, or even whether we know them or not.

As we move deeper into the practice we also realize that true metta is not even dependent on whether they are human. We soon recognize that all sentient beings can suffer, and that all wish to be happy. As we begin to realize this we can start to include all creatures into our meditation. Traditionally we don't even stop at humans and animals, but include all beings in all realms, known or unknown.

In this guided meditation we cultivate metta as we normally would, but you are encouraged to widen your loving heart beyond just people and to all living beings.

The full audio, including a 30 minute guided meditation is below.



If the embedded audio player above doesn't work for you, please click here.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Metta Letter: Excellent Practice (with added Daleks!)

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