Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Upcoming Meditation Workshop!


 TIBETAN TSA LUNG
A Healing Yoga of Breath and Movement


Tsa Lung is a Tibetan healing yoga that works with the subtle body 
of the channels and winds using breathing techniques and physical movements. 
Learn the fundamentals of the practice, how the channels and winds 
affect the mind, and experience how the practice calms the mind 
and induces a natural meditative equipoise.
No prior meditation experience necessary, advanced students welcome.

Sunday, July 9
10 am - 12 noon


By donation (recommended $10)
1716 NW Market St 
Seattle, WA 98107

REGISTER NOW

For more information contact Greg at siddhearta@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Seeds, imprints and predispositions.

We all know how difficult it is to start habits. We would like to work out more, meditate, spend more time with our family or friends, learn to paint.  We want to eat healthier, be more productive, be more generous.

Starting is hard. Continuing is harder.

Even harder is eliminating the imprints of bad habits.

The Buddha taught that we need to purify our karma, afflictive emotions, cognitive obscurations and habitual tendencies if we are to be completely awake.  Karma is our actions, we need to practice virtue and try not to harm others.  Afflictive emotions are things like attachment, aversion, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance. Cognitive obscurations are the way we perceive self and other, our understanding of reality. Habitual tendencies refer to the impressions, seeds, or predispositions of our past thoughts, actions and experience. Habitual tendencies are mostly unconscious. Most people rarely even think about them much less try to change them. 

Think about your perception of food. Why do you perceive some foods as wholesome and good, whereas others you perceive as disgusting? My dog has no problem eating an old hot dog off the street. The concept of 'this might make me sick' is not one that my dog has (or my child!).

Think about your perception of your body. In Nepal it is common to see men holding hands, it is a sign of friendship and affection. In the U.S. people might think you were invading their personal space or question their sexual orientation. One might incorrectly wonder, why are all these monks gay!

Why do you perceive yourself as strong, or weak, beautiful or ugly? Why do you seek out affirmation, or hide in the shadows? What is it that makes you outgoing, or shy?

These are not easy questions to answer, and often there is no answer. But the question is important.

Once you start to ask the question, you can start the hard work of relinquishing your grasping and fixation to concepts about the way things are or should be. Letting go of concepts is how we break free from the tight hold that habitual tendencies have over our minds and hearts. Then, as those seeds ripen, we can recognize them and let them go.

There is a chance that in our experience, we might catch ourselves asking 'why?', or simply notice how strange our reaction is. Recognize it and let it go.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Knowing is not enough.

A treasure buried under the earth.
Honey encassed in a beehive.
A healing medicine.

If you don't know these exist, they are of no benefit to you. If you know they exist, but sit back and do nothing, they are also of no value to you.

You must dig out the treasure. You must carefully extract the honey. You must take the medicine.

Knowing is not enough. It's a start, but you need to act and you need to put in the effort. 

Effort is what makes the treasure useful. Effort is what allows you to enjoy the honey. Effort is what eliminates your pain and sorrow. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Idolatry.

The Dharma was taught to make our minds more flexible, to liberate ourselves from selfishness and bad habits, and to allow us to be of service to others.

Our practice of the Dharma must be free from concerns of gain, praise, status or position. Correctly practicing the Dharma means that you do what you say, that you strive to live according to the teachings. Your actions, practice and lifestyle are emphasized, not your words, ideas or opinions.

When we start searching out positions, contriving situations for recognition, or using the Dharma to serve ourselves, our practice has missed its mark and becomes a source of bondage.

If we wrap the Dharma around our self, our mistaken practice becomes the source of idolatry. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Do you want to be right, or true?

Right has a position. It has coordinates, you're either with me or your not. Being right, you have something to defend. 

True knows where it stands, but it understands others positions. It acknowledges and respects. Being true, you have something to share. 

Right is often painful. It is argumentative and fraught with conflict. 

True has tenderness and a built in humility. 

Right is full of confidence, which quickly falls to arrogance.

True is full of confidence, while remaining open to diversity, tension, and maybe even being wrong.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

What are you looking for?

We are all constantly moving, shifting position, adrift in a sea of change. We find ourselves chasing, over reaching, holding back, leaning a bit too far.

Amidst that dynamic play, what are you looking for?

Are you looking for the right position? Are you only looking at what others are doing? Do you find yourself taking a particular stance, drawing lines in the sand of with me or against me? What if no one validates your position, are you okay with that?

Your view is important. Not your views, not your opinions or ideas.  Your view, what you are looking for, your outlook. 

Your view allows you to navigate change, or to constantly be fighting it. Your view allows you to reconnect with your center, or to be strung out and off balance. Your view can create harmony and balance, or it can create division and discord. 

Your practice should continually try to refine and clarify your view. Really dig in, what are you looking for?  Have you found it? 

When you think you have found it, be brave enough to ask the next question- does this view assist me in navigating change and adversity, or do I find myself caught up in the storm?

Monday, May 1, 2017

What happened to happiness?

Happiness is everywhere today, in the media and marketplace that is. A cursory glance and it seems that the Buddha's teachings are all about cultivating happiness and being happy. Be happy. A guide to happiness. Project after project chasing after this elusive groundbreaking development, happiness.

Of course the Buddha did teach about happiness, but it was not the aim. The goal wasn't to chase happiness, try to develop it, cultivate it. Happiness wasn't the goal, it was an effect.

As he says in the Dhammapada:

All things have the nature of mind.
Mind is the chief and takes the lead.
If the mind is clear, whatever you do or say
will bring happiness that will follow you like your shadow.

And also:

Rejoicing in this life becomes rejoicing in the next,
the one who does good rejoices in both.
When you see how pure your actions have been,
you will be happy, you will rejoice.

The Buddha emphasized that we need to engender a clear and virtuous mind, and when we do, happiness will be the result.  The Buddha actually clearly taught what this mind looks like, describing eleven mental states that give rise to a virtuous mind.

1. Faith
2. Dignity, or integrity
3. Decency
4. Non-attachment
5. Non-aggression
6. Non-confusion
7. Diligence
8. Pliancy
9. Conscientiousness, or carefulness
10. Equanimity
11. Non-violence

Where is happiness on that list?

Instead the Buddha taught us how to generate a mind that leads to happiness. We can recognize and train in these mental states. We can pursue and have faith in that which is authentic and true. We can have integrity in what we do, a sense of decency towards others. We can practice without attachment, aggression or confusion. We can overcome our laziness and hesitation but showing up and putting in the effort time and again.  We can look within and see our intentions and how careful we need to be with our actions.  We can practice equanimity, seeing self and other as equal. And we can refuse to let our innocence be a container for violence, committing to do no harm.  

Practicing in this way, happiness will follow like a shadow. Happiness is fleeting, it comes and goes. If we cultivate a virtuous mind, we will give rise to the cause of happiness. With a virtuous mind, even if we are not always happy, we will not suffer dissatisfaction or discontentment.