Posts

Showing posts from January, 2023

With A Peaceful Mind

Image
The Dhammapada says, "speak or act with a peaceful mind, and happiness follows like a never departed shadow" (Dhp 2 Fronsdal).  First of all, I didn't know what this actually meant. In the beginning I just spoke and acted. But after practicing mindfulness meditation for over a decade, I am beginning to understand. It is really mindfulness that helps us enter into a peaceful mind. It's not just about being in the present moment, but being attentive to the details, the nuances. This takes practice. One of the tricks that I learned from Sayadaw  was to slow down your movements. Slowing down, even a little bit, helps you focus closer to every step you take, every move you make. It is this level of mindfulness that helps develop a peaceful mind.

Did the Buddha Allow Eating of Meat?

Image
I say that there are three instances in which meat may be eaten: when it is not seen, not heard, and not suspected [that the living being has been slaughtered for oneself]. I say that meat may be eaten in these three instances (MN 55 Bodhi). It seems clear, on first reading, that the Buddha allowed the eating of meat. However, the interpretation hinges on the addition of what is not in the original. The phrase "that the living being has been slaughtered for oneself" was added by the translator. The Buddha never said that. A possible alternative translation would be: In three cases I say that meat may be eaten [without fault]: when [the meat] is not seen, heard, or suspected [to have been put in your bowl]. These are three cases in which meat may be eaten [without fault] (MN 55 Sujato). This interpretation, though it goes against the traditional interpretation, is more consistent with the other passages about how it is wrong to "encourage others to kill living creatures&q

Buddhists Should Be Vegan

Image
The first precept, which all Buddhists are supposed to follow, is to "abstain from taking life" (AN 5.179 Thanissaro). That is, we should not kill living creatures, sentient beings. A "lay follower" is not supposed to do business or trade in "living creatures, meat" (AN 5.177 Sujato). Buddhists should not hunt, fish, or butcher animals. They should not be exterminators. They should not engage in anything that causes animals to suffer and die. The Buddha said: Here, a noble disciple, having abandoned the destruction of life, abstains from the destruction of life. By abstaining from the destruction of life, the noble disciple gives to an immeasurable number of beings freedom from fear, enmity, and affliction. He himself in turn enjoys immeasurable freedom from fear, enmity, and affliction (AN 8.39 Bodhi). Factor farming has made milk, cheese, and eggs a source of untold suffering to animals. You cannot love animals and then paid for their systematic torture

Don't Be Rude

Image
Many times we use being right as an excuse for being rude. But, as the saying goes, you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. I have to live my life true to my values. As a Buddhist, lovingkindness and compassion are cardinal virtues. This means being a nice person who speaks the truth with kindness. There is no need to be rude. Being Vegan is the right thing to do. But not everyone can see through the cultural conditioning. It is socially acceptable to eat meat. It has been normalized. And the horrors of the slaughterhouse are carefully hidden away. More people are ignorant, not malicious. I am Vegan because I love animals, and I don't eat those I love.  But to come at people with guilt about not really loving animals, being sinful, horrible people, and animal murders will alienate far more than it will win. Such abrasive tactics are not the way of Buddhism. Buddhism does not evangelize, it does not shove Buddhism down people's throats. Why? Because people will awaken w

Minimalism One Shelf at a Time

Image
Sometimes we read about minimalism and we want to do the entire house in a day. This rarely happens. Usually, we get tired, quit, and are done trying. Recently I have tried a new method. One shelf at a time. The idea is that if you take small steps a journey of a thousand miles does not seem as overwhelming. For example, I minimalized our spice shelf one day. And today I minimalized the shelf above it. It is great how it feels to open a cupboard and see a well-organized shelf. Here is a secret, if you eliminate enough stuff and shelf becomes easy to organize. YOu can organize your stuff because you have too much stuff. Just take out each item, hold it in your hand, and ask yourself, "Do I need this?" Not will I need this, but do I need this now. Have I used it in the last 6 months? If not, get rid of it.  

Vegan By Myself

Image
I think the hardest thing I have had to do is to decide to be Vegan in a house of meat eaters. If you ever got to know me you would know that I don't like to rock the boat. I have been a people pleaser most of my adult life. I am much more comfortable following than leading. That has changed. I have slowly come to the point where I am no longer concerned about what people think of me. This includes those that I love. I am more concerned about not harming living beings, the truth, and walking in the light that I have.  I know that some people would preach to their family members, telling them they are wrong. But if you can't accept the people in your life as they are, letting go of the need to change them, then you will never be at peace. You will cause endless strife and friction.  You came into this life alone and one day you will die alone. You might as well stand up straight and live your best life now. Nobody can make you a better you except you. If you must walk alone, the

Original Buddhism

Image
I claim to be a student, teacher, and practitioner of original Buddhism as found in the early Buddhist texts. It is important to clarify what I mean by original Buddhism.  Sometimes the term "original Buddhism" is used to refer to Buddhism during the time of the Buddha. This is not what I mean by the term. By original Buddhism, I am referring to Buddhism as theorized to have existed before the various Early Buddhist schools developed, around 250 BCE. This is based on the fact that most of the early Buddhist texts are authentic. This is supported by a substantial and varied body of empirical evidence as laid out in the book by Bhikkhu Sujato and Bhikkhu Brahmali entitled The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts . It is this Buddhism, before the formation of the different schools, including the Theravada, that I am calling original Buddhism. This is the oldest recoverable Buddhism possible. It is the closest we will ever get to pure Buddhism. This is the Buddhism I study, t

What is a Vegan?

Image
I thought it would be good to define the word Vegan. The Oxford English Dictionary defines Vegan as "a person who does not eat any food derived from animals and who typically does not use other animal products." I don't eat meat, fish, eggs, honey, or drink mink. I don't buy any leather products and avoid products that have been experimented on animals. I also don't go to the Zoo. I am a member of the Vegan Society in the United Kingdom. They give this definition: Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals. Vegan for me is about keeping both the letter and the spirit of

An Evidence-Based Life

Image
 Truth is the correspondence between a claim and reality. Evidence, coherence, and the  success of the practical application of the claim are the tests of truth.   How do you know if a claim is true? By weighing the evidence. Evidence is a set of facts or information indicating whether a claim  is true or not. Evaluating the evidence means weighing the strength of the facts or information supporting a claim. If you are going to believe something, you should have good reasons for doing so. Those reasons are called evidence. You should follow the evidence. If the truth is important, and evidence indicates what is true, then we should live an evidence-based life. If you value truth, you must value the evidence. Truth is found by following the evidence. A religion that can't be tested can't be trusted. Comfort and truth seldom travel the same road. Many times discomfort is a sign you are beginning the pierce the veil of ignorance. 

Tangle of Views

Image
Every viewpoint is legitimate but limited. People really do see things from that perspective. The problem is that people think their limited perspective is the whole truth. It is not. Part of awakening is realizing one's limited and distorted view of reality. It is a process of unlearning just as much as learning. We have been conditioned to ignore parts of our everyday experience. This habit has to be overcome. Right view is about seeing reality as it actually is, not how we imagine it is. Our wanting mind distorts reality into a self-centered construct. A pure fiction that leaves us befuddled and confused. We are fettered by wrong view, chained by selfish desire. Meditation is about discovering these distortions and twists in the mind. It is about seeing how the mind works, how it conditions our actions and reactions. It is about discovering the true nature of things.

This is Just My Opnion

Image
Although I signal my clear intent that this blog is my "personal reflections" I know someone will get offended. We all come from different backgrounds, were raised in different cultures, and have different experiences and knowledge. Therefore misunderstandings and disagreements are inevitable.  So please understand that this blog is sharing my personal opinion from my personal perspective. So when you are reading this blog, understand that everything is prefaced with "in my personal opinion."  I realize that I may be wrong, but I am not asking you to correct me. It is not your job to straighten me out. So please, don't presume to be my teacher. You can share as a friend, but try to refrain from trying to be my master. And I really do realize that I may be wrong. In fact, I am sure I am mistaken about a number of things. Simply asking me if I have considered such and such, is a better strategy. I am open to those that speak out of kindness rather than self-righte

No Longer Smiling about Amazon

Image
Amazon had a program where when you shop at smile.amazon.com, Amazon would donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to a charity of your choice. I chose Buddhist Global Relief, started by Bhikkhu Bodhi. They have received over $12,396 through this program. But on February 20, 2023, Amazon will discontinue the\is program, which was called AmazonSmile. I am not pleased with this decision. It was nice to know that I was helping a charity I believe in. But Amazon has decided to take my choice away and give to charities of their choice. Like in every other area of American life, we are getting fewer and fewer choices about things that really matter. There are 28 types of bagels, but you only have two candidates for president.  Amazon does not have the best track record for making ethical decisions. Just one more reason to shop elsewhere when you can. I would also encourage you to consider domaining to  Buddhist Global Relief  if you can.

Simple Intro to Reasoning

Image
A claim is a statement that is either true or false. In older textbooks, this was called a proposition. Reality is the way things actually are. This refers to experience, existence, and actuality, not the words about it. Truth is the correspondence between a claim and reality. Claims vary in the amount of detail they cover and the clarity of the terms used. No claim can ever capture the fullness of reality. A claim is like a map and reality is like the territory. Just like you shouldn't mistake the map for the territory, likewise, you shouldn't mistake the truth for reality. It must be remembered that knowing the truth is not the same thing as experiencing reality. And the whole point of the Buddhist journey is to arrive at the really real. And finally, Buddhism is not the only map. There are many fine maps out there that will get you far in the spiritual journey. But only Buddhism leads to Nirvana.

Three Levels of Buddhism

Image
 I think one of the most important things I discovered about Buddhism is that it has three levels. The first level is for those who want a better rebirth. These are the folks that just want to go to heaven and avoid hell. Buddhism tells you how to do that. But remember, in Buddhism heavens and hells are not permanent.  The second level is for those who want peace of mind. This is why a lot of secular people are interested in Buddhism. Its methods of calming the mind and overcoming negative emotions are so successful that psychology has adopted mindfulness in many of the most successful psychotherapies. The third level is for those who want to escape conditioned existence. This was the Buddha's original intent. Nirvana is the name of this complete liberation from the cycle of rebirth.  The great thing about the third level is that you get the other two thrown in for free. Practicing for liberation from rebirth makes you a kind and good person, one who meditates and free there mind f

Life is an Unfortunate Situation

Image
The first noble truth is that conditioned existence is an unfortunate situation.  Life is filled with suffering, pain, and nothing is permanently satisfying. Sickness, aging, death, and endless rebirths can only be labeled misfortune.  Life is an unfortunate situation because we want, thirst, and crave for things to be permanent, reliable, and satisfying. Guess what? They are not. People die, they are unreliable, unfaithful, and unkind, and that one we love dies and leave us all alone. If these were the whole story we would be hopeless. But there is a way out of conditioned existence. It is called Nirvana in Buddhism. 

My Three Favorite Buddhist Apps

Image
Since we all have a smartphone, I think it is only wise to use them for good. It is for that reason I want to share with you my favorite three Buddhist apps for Android.  The first app is Meditation Timer by Harish Kumar Chauhan. This is simply a meditation timer. The simplicity is why I love it. You set the time, the start sound (I use the Gong), and you are ready to go. It has statistics if you need that. I used to use the Insight Timer, but it started getting more social. This was a distraction to just meditating. The second app is Audio Dharma by Christopher Minson. This features the teachings of Gil Fronsdal and others at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California. Gil Fronsdal was one of my first teachers when I first became a Buddhist over a decade ago. The third app is Dhamma Talks by BigTail. This features the teachings of Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff). He is currently my favorite teacher because he grounds his teaching in the early Buddhist texts. He is

Ethical Reasons to Go Vegan

Image
I have been a vegetarian for a while, but I have recently gone Vegan. This has been a long transition with many steps along the way. I went Vegan for the animals, the environment, and my health, in that order. Because I am the only one in my family who is Vegan, I have to cook all my own meals. It is not easy, but I believe that it is the only ethical choice for me. I went spend a lot of time trying to convince you that it is wrong to eat meat. A person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. You will have to live with the karma you create. Here I just want to share a video the answers all the major arguments against Veganism.

The Four Noble Truths

Image
The Four Noble Truths is the summary of the Buddha's teaching, and yet it profoundness never stops amazing me. It is simple to express, but challenging to plummet its depth.  The Four Noble Truths are there is misfortune, the cause of this misfortune is wanting, this misfortune can be ended, and the way to end it is through the Noble Eightfold Path of right view, right resolve, right action, right speech, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation. It is laid out like a doctor treating a disease. First is the diagnosis, then the etiology (the cause), then the prognosis, and finally the treatment plan. Doctor Buddha has looked at the disease of the bad situation of this endless cycle of rebirth we are trapped in and he has discovered the cure. In plain talk, life sucks. It sucks because of the wanting mind. Remove the wanting from the mind and you are released from the endless cycle of rebirths. Removing the wanting from the mind is not easy. It requires

Where to Begin Reading the Buddha's Teaching?

Image
Begin with the Dhammapada , translated by Acharya Buddharakkhita. It is a solid translation edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Dhammapada is two Pali words, pada meaning "path" and Dhamma meaning "teaching." So Dhammapada means "the path of the teaching." In other words, this book lays out the Buddha's path of wisdom. The Dhammapada is an anthology of short teachings of the Buddha in 26 chapters. There are nuggets of wisdom in here to encourage, correct, guide, and inspire you on your spiritual journey. This is why it is the best-known and most valued spiritual work of all time. When you are ready to get serious, begin with the Middle-Length Discourses of the Buddha, also known as the Majjhima Nikāya. The only advice is to read the first chapter last.

People Don't Read Anymore

Image
People don't read anymore. I've written a lot of long essays online, but few people read them. Reading has become a lost art. I have decided to go ahead and start up my blog again. I hope that you enjoy what I share and are inspired to dig deeper into early Buddhism. My plan is to keep each post short, concise, and to the point. I want to share help insights into the Buddha's great wisdom.