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Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

Here we are in the middle of one of the major shopping periods – the January sales – in many parts of the world. So maybe it might be useful to count all our belongings.

What really belongs to us?  How much of our “stuff” is really ours. (more…)

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We meet bullies everywhere today — in our schools, at work and at home, between nations, and, if we are really honest, often in our own hearts. Tactics can take many forms, from the school yard bully with a vicious tongue and physical strength, to complex trade agreements and national laws that inflict a bully’s desires on an unwilling person or nation. What is common to all bullies – and perhaps what defines “bullying” – is the threat or the use of force to frighten someone into doing something or giving up something without his or her voluntary agreement.

The teachings of the Buddha and of Buddhist teachers over the last 2500 years provide both a philosophical understanding and practical advice on how to meet the challenges of bullies in everyday life. (more…)

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How do we get out of the mental boxes we so often put ourselves in?

We all have ambitions and dreams of what we want to do or how we want our lives to be; but often we don’t take action because we’re too focused on what might go wrong.  Or else we’re afraid we’ll succeed – and where will that take us?  Yet almost always, it’s not what we did and failed to achieve that disappoints us, but what we dreamed of doing and failed to attempt that crushes our spirit. (more…)

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A Hermit in the Himalayas by Paul Brunton

Paul Brunton was born in London in 1898 and died in Switzerland as recently as 1981. This book is part travelogue through what is still a fairly remore region of the world and part spiritual experience. The book was originally published in 1938, at a time when few outsiders ventured as far as Mount Kailas.

A Hermit in the Himalayas: A Unique Travelogue by One of the Greatest Spiritual Explorers of the Twentieth Century

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Realizing that I was drifting and not cultivating the virtues in myself that I value – compassion, right speech, integrity – I decided to restart what had been my routine for several years. Like a garden choked with weeds, I’d allowed other concerns to crowd out what I believe is most valuable for any human being.

Wealth, fame, comfort are not as important as self-awareness and living an ethical life. Selling oneself to the highest bidder in the marketplace through a thousand and one “shortcuts” in the workplace, in the supermarket, with friends and family is a disease that has been in societies for centuries. Though it seems to be reaching a new crescendo in the current era of celebrity worship.

No-one can know what may happen to us in the world – but we can manage how we respond. Cultivating wise responses, intelligent and compassionate responses is, for me, the most important reason for spiritual practice. Yes, to become a better person! So now I’m beginning and ending my day with prostrations, meditation and chanting. My own practice follows Buddhist tradition, but I think there’s tremendous value for anyone in beginning and ending the day with a brief time of quiet and some form of reflection, prayer or reading to aid reflection. The prostrations work for me because I’m a very physical person and working off that energy in front of a representation of ideals greater than myself (Buddha statue on an altar) is more constructive than working out in a gym looking at myself in the mirror.

Of course, people find different methods that work for them. It doesn’t have to be meditation, though it’s an extraordinarily powerful way of calming mind and body. When teaching or leading meditation I’ve always called it “a colourless, odourless gas” that reaches into all parts of a person’s life. Other people find prayer can have a similar effect.

There’s some flexibility in my routine so that even when the full practice of prstrations, meditation and chanting is not possible, I will at least be doing practice every day rather than breaking the routine.

Pulling myself out of bed to do 108 prostrations can be a real effort each morning, but once done, the day seems properly framed. The evening practice is a welcome bookend to the day that encourages recollection before sleep.

MORNING PRACTICE
5.50 am – wake
6 am – 108 prostrations, meditation for about 20 minutes (until candles go out), read Heart Sutra, read Bodhisattva Vow. 3 prostrations.

(If time is very short, then 36 or even just 3 prostrations and the Bodhisattva Vow.)

EVENING PRACTICE
around 9pm – 3 prostrations, meditation for 30 minutes (until the full candles burn out), recite the Great Compassion Dharani, read the Bodhisattva Vow. 3 prostrations. Read at least one chapter of my assigned book.

(If for any reason, the time is very late, then 3 prostrations and read the Bodhisattva Vow.)

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A Hermit in the Himalayas by Paul Brunton

Paul Brunton was born in London in 1898 and died in Switzerland as recently as 1981. This book is part travelogue through what is still a fairly remore region of the world and part spiritual experience. The book was originally published in 1938, at a time when few outsiders ventured as far as Mount Kailas.

A Hermit in the Himalayas: A Unique Travelogue by One of the Greatest Spiritual Explorers of the Twentieth Century

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I have not yet seen this film but it looks fascinating.  This text is taken from the film’s website www.festivalmedia.org

“Amongst White Clouds is an intimate insider’s look at students and masters living in scattered retreats dotting China’s Zhongnan Mountain range. These peaks have reputedly been home to recluses since the time of the Yellow Emperor, some five thousand years ago. It was widely thought that the tradition was all but wiped out, but this film emphatically and beautifully shows us otherwise.

Inspired in part by the noted book by Bill Porter (Red Pine), Road To Heaven: Encounters With Chinese Hermits, and filmed on location in China by American director Edward A. Burger, the film takes an unforgettable journey into the hidden tradition of China’s Buddhist hermit monks.

One of only a few foreigners to have lived and studied with these elusive practitioners, Burger is able, with humor and compassion, to present their tradition, their wisdom, and the hardship and joy of their everyday lives among the clouds.”

Directed by Edward A. Burger
Produced by Chad Pankewitz

FM1006–86 minutes / Color / English, Chinese (English subtitles) / Stereo / NTSC / All Region
SRP $24.95

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