We all have a relationship with our bodies, even if we never give it a thought.  It can focus on our health, abilities, appearance, etc.  Meditation gives us a way to relate to the body from inside it.  That’s where our consciousness resides, continuously informed about the body and its environment by the five physical senses.  When we focus on their input and let thinking fall away, we begin to perceive our real nature as embodied awareness.… Continue reading

The “Bliss of Blamelessness” is mentioned in early Buddhist teachings, and it’s a wonderful feeling to be free from remorse.  Of course, we can’t undo the past, but we can avoid the nagging discomfort of most future regrets by resisting impulsive actions.  

Sure, but how?  If it were easy, life as animals who depend on social interaction for survival would be so much more pleasant.  We can’t intervene in the impulsive reactions of others, but we can curb our own, thus reducing the amount of unpleasantness that others react to.  It’s a net gain for all humanity and other species, too.  All we have to do is set the intention to let impulses pass, and then practice doing it.  And practice some more.… Continue reading

I’ve often said that most of us come to practice for the stress reduction, and stay for the joy.  Early on, I taught meditation to substance abusers in a recovery program that saw this as a way to reduce stress.  Those moments in meditation when our punishing thoughts quiet down bring a sense of relief that can motivate beginners enough to establish a practice.  In these early months, it’s all about relief from stress.

After a while, many begin to ask, “Why can’t I get better at meditating?” but that’s not so important.  Any session of meditation is going to be what it is – that’s its nature.  Our job is simply to be present with it.  What’s needed at this stage is to understand what we observe during meditation.… Continue reading

The desire to end the suffering of all beings is at the heart of the Dharma.  But this tall order can be daunting.  Fortunately, each of us can help meaningfully when we hold it in perspective. 

At almost any time in history this world has been in dire shape.   Thousands of years ago humans, like most species, were living on the edge of survival.  Then civilizations grew on the labor of the oppressed.  Greed, hatred and delusion led to wars that made whole societies primitive again.  Famine and pandemics devastated populations in waves.  Today many of these catastrophes are held at bay, but the power of humans to destroy, and their willingness to do so, is at an all-time high. 

Seeing the suffering and threats faced by so many beings, most of us feel an urge to help.  But a look around at all that’s needed can overwhelm our ability even to make a start.  There are people with inspiration, energy and resources who make noticeable impacts on the problems that keep Earth from being a Garden of Eden, but no one has ever changed the planet into one.… Continue reading

Why We Practice

In my first years of meditation practice, I went to a Zen center where every so often someone would give a talk called Way Seeking Mind, telling how they came to practice.  Many Buddhists say simply, and accurately, that people begin meditating because they’re suffering, but it’s usually more complex than that.  Way Seeking Mind is often a story about the elements of people’s characters that pulled them, almost magnetically, to a life centered around meditation and Buddhist principles.… Continue reading