It’s a common notion that when we practice metta, or lovingkindness, we’re extending a benefit to those we’re thinking about.  This practice involves silently repeating phrases that evoke good will toward yourself and others, ultimately for all beings.  There are studies that indicate prayer is good for people even when they don’t know they’re being prayed for, but that’s not the objective of metta practice.  It is a means of training our own minds and hearts, inclining us to be kind and openhearted to everyone.   … Continue reading

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I get some wonderful questions in emails from people around the world.  A frequent one is whether it’s OK, in various circumstances, to want stuff.  A related question is whether Buddhism and meditation will really someday leave them not wanting anything at all.  These questions refer to the basic teaching that craving or clinging is the source of suffering, the Second Noble Truth.

The suffering pointed out in the First Noble Truth is our sense of just not being satisfied. … Continue reading

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Almost a year ago, when this blog was new, I wrote about learning to stop and look closely at Yosemite Falls, seeing that it was not a thing but a process of water dancing down the longest drop in North America.  Much has happened around Yosemite in the meantime.  Years of drought and the devastating Rim Fire have transformed much of the landscape, the waterways and many whole ecosystems.  This week I retreated to the mountains to sit with the spectacle of this devastation, and I was surprised to find a haunting beauty.… Continue reading

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Equanimity is our capacity to remain mentally balanced in the midst of life’s turmoil.  A lot of people think it means you’ll be calm all the time.  Another common belief is that equanimity makes you not care.  In fact, you can care very deeply about what’s happening and still bear in mind the context surrounding events.   It doesn’t keep us from feeling pain, but it enables us to carry on.

There are three other capacities related to equanimity and they all complement each other. … Continue reading

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Indispensible Love

As Valentine’s Day fades in our memory, it’s good to remember how indispensable love is.  It’s an integral part of mindfulness.  Acceptance, an important aspect of love, allows us to see our experience as it really is, and to understand our reactions to what is happening.  This process in turn nourishes a healthy love for all beings who have internal struggles and distress, including ourselves.

Love is the balm that soothes and heals the patterns of thought and emotional reaction that make us unhappy. … Continue reading