I’ve seen a hundred social media posts asking me what I want to let go of in 2017. and part of me thinks these memes are goofy, but at the same time, I do think about these things.
We all have problems that have been problems for years. I certainly do. If you know me, you could probably share a list of them with me, and you would know exactly what I need to know about them. We’re good like that. Spotting other people’s problems. (also, don’t send that list)
But our meditation practice is about Svadyaya, Self study, not the study of others. Self study is where the wisdom comes
It reminds me of the old saying, ‘insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results.’ I get the same certain results. I keep doing the same certain things. I keep thinking the same certain thoughts. I keep looking at life the same certain way.
What I’m trying to say, is that I’m very certain. We all have these places where we’re very certain, resist introspection, and lash out at feedback.
WE GOTTA STOP DOING THIS
I know it’s hard to root out the beliefs and the perceptions. They can be subtle and evasive, be design. I like to work backwards. What’s the situation? What’s the open sore of an unwanted manifestation?
Like we mentioned above, often it seems like other people or external situations are at the root of our unhappiness. If only such and such were different.
It’s not a bad place to start, but it’s no kind of place to finish. We’ve got to refocus on ourselves. We’ve got to be less certain that we’re right, that we’re justified, that we’ve got it all figured out.
What can we be less certain about? What thoughts are we holding onto so tightly they cause our jaw to clench and our forehead to furrow?
I don’t know what to do… I don’t know if my ideas about this are actually in line with my highest truth… I want to do better, I don’t know how…
This is a great place to start, admitting that what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working, and that we don’t necessarily know any other way. It’s a mysterious place to be and full of possibilities.
This is our work.
And this is all for this email, for now. I’ll have more in a day or two. In the mean time, I hope your new year is full of questions, and mysteries, and possibility.
If you are familiar with sand mandalas, you know one of their most important attributes is their impermanence. The monks carefully, painstakingly create the mandala, and then, swoosh, they brush the mandala away. Many people who watch the process feel a great sense of poignancy or loss. Hopefully, at least some gain some insight into anicca, the truth that all things that begin, must end. We are encouraged to realize that our fortunes, our relationships, and our very lives, are no more solid than the colorful pile of dust that remains at the end of the ritual.
I found an unlikely mandala on the internet today, a mandala just as temporary, and no less beautiful as the Tibetan Sand Mandalas. There is a festival at the Buddhist Temples in Lop Buri, Thailand, last Sunday in November. The townspeople offer huge buffets to the plethora of monkeys that roam the temple ground. It is said that offering the food to the monkeys offers great good fortune, perhaps because the monkeys are in some way holy. their behavior during the festival is so similar to that of the Artist Monks. There is another theory that perhaps it is good fortune to feed the monkeys because they are the center of the tourist trade and economy of the area. So, they say thank you to the monkeys, and create another tourist attraction, and perhaps some good karma as well. Everybody’s happy.
Many of these buffets are huge, round, patterened pallets of food. Clearly, they share many qualities and principles with mandalas. They are sacred circles and temporary dwellings of the most sacred residents of Lop Buri. And they are impermanant. The monkeys literaly live and eat atop these magnificent structures, as they take them apart, bite by bite. Judging by the pictures and videos, it is a fantastic celebration, and a ritual with a clear, inherent ending. When the food is gone, the party is over.
The rules: 1) The list of books is on my blog, mainlinesutras.com 2) You may enter once, by email, and guess the three duplicate books. 3) Place your first choice book first 4) The person who guesses the three (or the most) correctly, first gets their first choice book. 5) It will trickle down from there. 6) You must come get your book in person.
While I was googling around today, i found this great blog written by a ‘joyfully earnest catholic’. In this one post, he writes a fascinating article about how to convert Buddhists To Christianity. It is fascinating for two reasons. The first being that the author seems to be respectful, sincere, and kind. He is not overtly or intentionally rude or condescending. It is also really interesting because of this person’s misunderstanding of the subtleties of Buddhist Dharma. In the article, he asks 4 questions that he seems to believe easily prove the superiority of Christianity. I am going to take a few minutes to answer them, as an excercise in understanding, and I will post them later. I would like to encourage you to do the same. Perhaps I’ll even email them to this guy, I’m not sure yet.
a. Dear Buddhist, do you really want to spend so much time trying to be rid of desires when you could just change your desires to be holy, through Christ? b. Dear Buddhist, HOW exactly are you going to be rid of the desire not to have desire in the real world? c. Dear Buddhist, HOW exactly are your going to live this way in the real world? Christianity offers real peace in the midst of strife, while Buddhism seems to offer the surreal atmosphere of a Zen garden. Is this peace or or stagnation? In the midst of the world’s given disorder and the people in it, is the Buddhist “peace” really possible? Christianity instead offers real and ongoing reconciliation, a peace given and not strived for.
…A gentle clencher: Dear Buddhist, you follow a wise man who never claimed to be God, and yet offers a life system. The Christian follows a man who claimed to be God and offered a life system and eternal salvation as God. If Jesus is who He says He is, He is certainly more likely, as God, to be right.