Sunday, October 26, 2014

Why the Wall? - Dharma talk

Bodhidharma famously spent nine years facing a cave wall in meditation. In this Dharma talk, I discuss how Bodhidharma's "wall-gazing" legacy pertains to our lives today.

Introduction and sound engineering by Tom Inzan Gartland.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Don't Wear Your Friends

It's amazing how much animal-related products pervade the marketplace. It may not seem it from an omnivore's perspective, but from a vegetarian's point of view, America is clearly a meat-driven culture. Last night I was shopping online for a pair of non-leather work boots--I don't like wearing animals any more than I do eating them--and couldn't find any affordable ones.

Sure there are vegan ones, but they are usually 150% more than the high-end leather ones, and ship from the U.K., which entails international shipping rates. It's no exaggeration to say that being a vegetarian can be expensive, a fact that I can't help but see as ironic. After all, why should eating vegetables be more expensive than dead animals? Is leather so commonplace that it is cheaper than alternative materials? I'm afraid so.

It was an eye-opening experience about the ubiquity of the meat industry.

Many Buddhists are vegetarian, but unfortunately I can confidently say that far more aren't. This baffles me:
In a culture where being a vegetarian is so easy, why would people who vow to save all sentient beings continue to eat meat when they know that it causes so much suffering?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Don't Be a Buddhist - Dharma talk

Labels can be dangerous when we mistake them for reality. A subtle one that falls beneath the Buddhist radar is "Buddhist" itself, as in, "I am a Buddhist." In this talk, I caution us about identifying with any label, especially the one called "Buddhist."

Introduction and sound engineering by Tom Inzan Gartland.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Dharma is a Gift

I stumbled upon this link to free Dharma ebooks, published by Pariyatti. There are some really great titles here, such as The Buddha's Path to Deliverance, A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma, The Discourse Summaries, and many more.  Some are available in epub and mobi (Kindle) formats, but all are offered as pdf's as well. There are even editions in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.

The books are straight from the publisher, so don't worry about pirating karma! Pass along the link to anyone you think would be interested. If you can, please leave Pariyatti a donation, found at the top of the link page.

Thanks to Pariyatti for making the Dharma available to all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Be Kind to Bugs - Dharma talk

If people were kinder to the smallest forms of visible life on this planet, then maybe they would be kinder to each other. In this talk, I discuss the importance of paying attention to how we treat even the smallest of animals.

Introduction and sound engineering by Tom Inzan Gartland.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Road May Flood (So Be PREPARED)

So much of our lives is spent in preparation to avoid disaster, pain, discomfort, or just plain old inconvenience. Last week I was driving when I saw the above sign, except I'm pretty sure it read, "Road May Be Flooded."

I chuckled, amused at how reactionary the sign was. I mean, how often does this sign warn people about an actual flood--maybe once or twice per year? If that. (It was a fairly elevated street, with no rivers, streams, or swamps nearby.) And yet, there the sign hangs, announcing to the world that there is a .1% chance that this road may be flooded.

The sign encapsulates human nature: we want certainty, safety, predictability. Even in the off chance that lightning might strike, we want to be prepared for it.

Buddhism confronts those needs, reveals how arbitrary and unrealistic they are, and gives us the skills to swim in the flood. Not just the actual floods--when life sucker punches us--but the imaginary ones, for those are the most prevalent.

When Mark Twain famously said, "Some of the worst things in my life never even happened," he was expressing a fundamental insight into suffering. More often than not, the source of our suffering is the anticipation of things that will never even happen.

Some facts about life:
It contains uncertainty.  
We are going to suffer.  
No matter how much we try to prepare for the future, eventually life will surprise us. 
How we respond to those unpredictable moments determines whether we view them as surprises or headaches.

The first step is recognizing our need to prepare our lives with mental flood signs and then try to accept the inevitable uncertainty that characterizes life.