Monday, July 19, 2010

Breathing. Walking.

Matt read a portion of Thoreau's Walking at our last meeting.

This essay, which examines the position of humans in the natural word, is regarded by some as one of the most important essays in the environmental movement.

Elizabeth is providing the reading for the next sitting.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

One Breath at a Time

Dianne read a portion from One Breath at a Time at Sunday's meeting of the sangha. The reading began on page 140 and continued for a couple more pages. It concerned dropping habitual thoughts. Among other things. About really doing what we're doing. If we are meditating, then we should meditate. Of course, trying to clear the mind in itself can be frustrating. Sometimes it is better to just watch the mind - and with attention those discursive thoughts will abate.

A life that matters

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The poisons

Buddhism teaches that the three poisons are greed, hate & ignorance. These poisons lead us to do evil. In other words, to act contrary to our own enlightened self-interest, causing pain for ourselves and other. I believe these are real - with real effects. But I was thinking about poison today and relative truth. I was walking in the woods this morning and saw a small amanita mushroom. I know this variety. If you eat it, the mushroom will make you sick & if you eat enough, it will kill you. But how this mushroom affects me depends on my relationship with it. If I am just looking at it, I am not sickened. I can even touch it. The mushroom is not inherently poison. It is poison in relationship with me, and even then its noxious quality depends on my action.

So it is with everything. The morning glory is beautiful to look at, but I know that its seeds will create hallucinations. So, if I don't want that effect, I just enjoy the flower - and do not consume the seeds. The apples that I photographed this morning have no existence apart from the water and soil that nourished them. And what is the difference between them and the flowers that I photographed there in May? The flowers have the potential of the fruit within them. And the fruits follow naturally from the flower.

If I see reality with all its myriad connections, then I can better avoid trapping myself, thinking that someone or something "is" this or that way. It all depends on how I am perceiving things, and how I choose to interact with the world.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

I was thinking about this holiday & the idea of independence. Politically, of course, I'm all for self-determination. If I am paying taxes to a government, then I should be able to influence that government through democratic means. As a Buddhist, however, the idea of independence is a bit strange - if not positively destructive. If I believe I am really completely independent, then I may act destructively. None of us really is independent. We are inter-dependent. What I do effects you - even if I cannot see the effect immediately. When I turn on my light switch, I am affecting the amount of coal that is burned in this country. I am affecting the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I do not exist independently of anything. To believe otherwise is to fall prey to illusion.

(The photo is an allusion to Indra's Web. We are all tied together, even though we usually do not see the threads.)