Tag Archives: Buddhism

daily encouragement

And what better daily encouragement to go with my last post then this:

“When we are aware that each moment of each day, each gesture and step we take, is truly mystical and full of wonder, we will live our lives with greater thought and care. We will also have greater respect and appreciation for the lives of others.”
Daisaku Ikeda

Enjoy!

equanimity-love and compassion

I’ve encountered this idea of “equanimity” “being equanimous” etc. recently a lot. The idea is pretty simple at first thought. Treat everyone equally, and then you won’t create any extra “baggage” with them or their soul, which is ultimately a good thing.

Upon further thinking on this idea, I realized how much harder it actually is in real life. To not react with like or dislike. To not react with your ego attached to your emotions. To not be attached to your reaction, the individual, the end result. This is really hard when you start thinking about it. And personally, something I’m going through right now.

And then I started thinking, if I should be treating everyone equally (equanimously), then in theory I should be treating my family the same way I treat classmates, peers, even strangers. For some reason that didn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to treat my parents, husband, family, the same way I treat the cashier at Target. Did I just create a hierarchy? Yeah, pretty much. I realized that I just created a system in my head where I placed my family on a higher rank of “people” then the people that cross my path once or twice. And here I am touting about how everyone deserve to be treated equally. Hello hypocrite!

What does that mean to treat someone with equanimity? In one of my classes yesterday, some students were saying things that I didn’t agree with. The first thing that popped in my head was rebuttals to their arguments. The second thing that popped into my head was that I should just let it go. It is what it is. They feel the way they do, and I can’t change it. I’m treating them with equanimity right? Wrong, because for a split second I thought that non-reaction is better than reaction. I talked to Nandan about this, and essentially the conversation lead to the conclusion that it’s not about inaction or not reacting. It’s about not having that attachment, which eventually leads to a pure love and compassion for everyone.

That’s the whole point of being equanimous (at least in our thought process). To treat everyone, spouse, parents, siblings, friends, strangers, peers, whoever with love and compassion. And that love and compassion should be the same for everyone. There is no hierarchy when it comes to who gets more compassion from you.

One of our classmates had invited the Drepung Monks to her house for a blessing, which was just so beautiful. But, after one of the monks lead a question and answer for a little while. He started talking about duality, and how everything has an opposite. The opposite of love is hate. The opposite of compassion is ill-will. The part that really stood out to me, was when he said that you can’t have both feelings in your mind at the same time. If your mind and heart are filled with hate, there is no room for love. If your mind is filled with ill-will, there’s no room for compassion. Which, then leads to un-equanimity! But, if your mind and heart is filled with love and compassion, there’s no room for hate or ill-will, and then you can act and talk from a true place of equanimity.

That was just so profound to me. We are so caught up in all these feelings of revenge and annoyance and frustration, that we literally have taken over our minds with negative emotions, that there’s no room for the positive and beautiful ones! Instead of focusing on why that person annoys you or irritates you or makes you so angry, why don’t we start thinking about how that person is just another person that deserves our love and respect? Because we let our ego get in the way, for one. But, in general it’s just too hard to love the other person, right? We’re a society of easy-way-out. However, I don’t think this method will work in the long-run.

Having love and compassion for even one person is hard, let alone the rest of the world! There are always going to be things that your friends and family do that just annoy you or put you over the edge. If we start thinking outside of our own self, and the idea that they are effecting me, my ego, we can start acting in different situations in equanimous ways, which will then leak into other realms of our life. Even the cashier at Target will feel your love and compassion!

Love and compassion are the way to go people! And what better time of year than right now to start practicing?

individual dharma

Hey all! I wanted to share something we did in class as an exercise with you guys, because I think it is pretty powerful!

So, we’ve been talking a lot about dharma and individual dharma these past couple weeks. Rightfully so, since dharma is a huge part of Vedic culture/tradition/theory/whatever. Growing up, I’ve heard a lot of different translations of dharma, “religion”, “duty”, “purpose”. But, one of my teachers put it so eloquently, that I had to share with y’all. She said that dharma is (talking about individual dharma, your personal dharma) is the path to knowing who you truly are. And of course, with that comes all of those other things like purpose and religion and duty and stuff. But, I just really loved this. The path to knowing who you truly are. Being in accordance with your true nature, whatever that may be. Then she continued to say that your career and profession doesn’t have to be your individual dharma. What a thought! It’s all about alignment with your true nature, your true self. I just love that. Because to me, that is what life is all about. Finding out who you really are, and when you do, letting that idea, thought, whatever take hold of every aspect of your life and seep in to every facet of your being. This is so awesome!

I think that once we figure this out, even to some extent, we can stop compartmentalizing different areas of our life. I no longer have to separate Nishita the student from Nishita the daughter, to wife, to sister, to whatever. I don’t have to draw lines between my relationships, family, spiritual practice, study, etc. Every facet and everything that makes you, you is governed by this idea of your individual dharma.

So, our teacher made us do this assignment where we figure out why we think we were put on this planet. What purpose do we serve during this lifetime? When she handed the sheet out, I had no idea what to put. Sure, many times before this I’ve said my purpose is this or that, but I never really put much thought or effort into what my purpose really truly is–what my individual dharma is. Once we figure that out, we have to create life goals that surround our individual dharma for different areas of our life: career/profession, spiritual practice, relationships/community, recreation/play, rest, finances, and study. How does my individual dharma relate to that?

I sat down yesterday and filled it out, and it was amazing that once I started thinking about my individual dharma, the rest just poured out of my heart and somehow filled in the categories. It’s incredible to see something that is such a vague and abstract idea become concrete on a piece of paper. Seeing it written creates some kind of new will power that you want to achieve this no matter what it takes.

But more importantly, I think it was so cool to see how one idea, one life goal, purpose, whatever can be intertwined amongst everything you want to achieve in different “categories”, and you realize that those categories aren’t even necessary, because every part of your life is revolving around one idea, one purpose, one path, one dharma!

WOAH. okay. this is a lot of realization for one post. But, in all seriousness, take some time out to think about why you were put on this planet, and see how that one idea can be the driving force for all those other boxes in your life.

final thoughts on Vipassana experience

By the end of the week, I was able to sit longer periods without hating the pain in my knees and back. The more I observed my physical discomfort, the quicker it went away, even if during that one moment of observation.

I can’t say that I had certain goals I wanted to accomplish coming into the 10 days, mainly because I didn’t know what to expect. But, I did learn some things that I’m deeming as important in my life journey, and will definitely play an important role in seeking the Truth.

1. I know I’m an emotional person. I react to every situation that comes at me. I now realize the extent to which this happens. How can I live a balanced life when I don’t even have a balanced mind?
2. I left Vipassana with a greater awareness of myself. I can definitely feel the sensations on my body, and I realize that they are there now. Do I still go in for that scratch on my nose. Yeah, a lot of the times, especially when I really can’t stand it. But, at least it’s not an unconscious act. I know that I am reacting. It’s not just another motion of life. Awareness-it’s a pretty amazing thing.
3. I left a huge grief in Kaufman, Texas. One that I wasn’t aware still hung tight to me. I realize that I let past situations determine my future sometimes, when it’s my current actions that determine my future. I’m learning to let go.
4. I have an attachment issue. To my friends, families, ideas, schools of thoughts. They’re in my comfort zone, and I’m scared to venture out. As much as I’d like to think that I’m open-minded, and as much as I am, I am actually very limited to what I am open-minded about. When it comes to spirituality, I like what I’m doing. Like I said, if I went to this pre-India, I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I do now. My world is being filled with so many new and exciting things, and it makes me so excited for my future, and the path I’ve decided to walk on. To become closer to the Divine, to have a real and fulfilling relationship with the Supreme involves so much more than I ever imagined, and I am realizing this a lot now. If I keep focusing on the one or two things that I don’t like about an idea, a person, a school of thought, I could be missing out on so much more that means a lot more. What is wrong with me!? At least this realization is coming now. Better late than never.
5. I want to live my life with so much love and compassion for all beings and creations that walk or sit this world.

At the end of the day, can I say that Vipassana Meditation is the technique I want to practice here on out? No, I can’t. It’s something I’m still learning about, and figuring out if it’s for me or not. But I can say that it has taught me a lot about myself, and a lot about what kind of life I should be living, and want to live. A balanced life. A neutral life. A positive and hard-working lifeA life filled with love.

I am so in love with life right now, and I am so in love with the path that God is sending me on. My friend describes it as scary, but I like to describe it as fun and exciting.

May all beings be happy.

Vipassana experience: part 2

I’ll have to say, that the first couple of days were actually extremely boring for me. I found no mental stimulation, and focusing on my respiration and the reality of my breath was tedious and anything but exciting. Plus to top it off, it was raining the first few days, and I had holes in my shoes, which equals wet feet. Great.

Day 4 finally came, and we were actually going to learn vipassana meditation (up to this point it was just ana pana…focusing on the breath and concentrating your mind). Maybe I won’t be so bored anymore. This is where the real stuff was kicking in. It was an adjusted schedule this day. We had a sit from 3-5pm where we weren’t allowed to leave the room so that we can fully understand Goenke’s directions. So, we’re sitting, eyes closed, focusing on our respiration, focusing on the area underneath our nose and right above our upper lip, observing any sensations we may or may not be feeling there. Then, all of a sudden, he tells us to bring our attention to the top of our head, and slowly make our way down the body to the feet. We must make sure to feel every sensation, whether it be hot, cold, tingly, itchy, prickly, sweaty, whatever, in every nook and cranny of our body. And let me just tell you, woah. Like, freaking woah. I literally felt a movement of tingly-ness run through my body again and again. It was probably the craziest and surprisingly cool things I’ve ever witnessed. It was hard not to create an excitement towards this feeling that overcame me. To just observe and be neutral was a much harder task than I originally anticipated it to be.

Over the next several days, my meditations were just a bunch of ups and downs. My mind just would not stop on some days. I couldn’t stop thinking, and the music would not stop playing. There were days where I just could not concentrate and focus. At all. In the discourses every night, he would mention the importance of working hard. But not just working hard, but working diligently, patiently, persistently. I would walk back to bed some days thinking maybe I’m just not working hard enough, despite my serious effort to concentrate my mind. What was going on? I just wanted to concentrate. I just wanted to feel those sensations like that first time of doing vipassana.

Gji-sittingBW

Hey Goenkeji!

And there it was. I was creating craving and aversion before my very eyes. The one thing that Goenke said not to do. Well played Goenke, well played. Everything began to click towards the end of the middle. The root of misery, craving and aversion, I was creating for myself. I can’t blame anyone but myself.

I decided to work even harder than I was. I wanted to work diligently, patiently, and persistently, without wanting the good sensations and without wanting the bad ones to go away. I can’t say that my concentration and focus got exponentially better and that I could sit hours upon ends focusing on the sensations without being bombarded by my thoughts. Honestly, that happened a grand total of 2 times. Just two. All the other times it was a struggle. But, I worked. I worked hard. I know that this practice is going to come with time, and that’s okay.

Vipassana experience: part 1

So, I’m back. And, I think that I’m going to have split this up into a few parts, because, well, it was a lot of experience. I mean a freaking lot. I’m not really sure what the best route is to go through all the details, so let’s just see how it goes.

Like I said before, this course was a no talking, no writing, no reading, no communicating with anyone 10-day trip. And, seriously all I can say is that it was mind-blowing. Never have I realized just how crazy I am. I mean, I know that I’m crazy, I think we all do. But, when you’re stuck with yourself for 10 days, you realize just how crazy you are.

Let’s start with the first day, or as they call it day 0. When we walk into the registration area that afternoon, I’m feeling pretty confident. Like, oh yeah I totally can handle this. I mentioned in a post from India, how I try to meditate every day. I think meditation is such a great tool to use to strengthen your relationship with the Divine. So, yeah, I went in thinking that I totally got this. Boy was I in for a little surprise. Our first meditation started that evening after dinner. And it’s safe to say that I got little to none meditation in. The whole concept behind vipassana meditation is to focus on the reality of the moment. We are so always caught up in either the past or the future, two parts of our lives that we have absolutely no control over. It is so difficult to focus on the present. Go ahead, see if you can focus on your breath without intruding thoughts about things that happened yesterday or things you have to do for like 5 minutes straight. Seriously. It’s really tough.

This was the first time I realized how unstable my mind really is. I can’t focus. At all. Maybe, I would get in about 2 minutes of real focus on my respiration at a time, but my thoughts just wouldn’t stop. What was going on? I realized I am never living in the present. My mind is on turbo speed. Always. Woah.

The early days continued. 4am wake up gongs were terrible, yet easy to wake up to, and surprisingly I felt pretty fresh waking up that early, not groggy at all. Back to meditation. Progressing a little bit as the days went on. By day 2, I was able to hold my concentration on my respiration for longer periods of time. Cool! Maybe Mr. Goenke is right after all. With practice comes success. This isn’t so bad after all. One of the harder things was to not get frustrated at yourself at a seemingly easy task. But, just accept the reality of it.

Another phenomenon happened on day 2 as well. Towards the evening, right before the night group sit, I began to feel very lonely and isolated. The real-ness of not communicating with others and living an isolated lifestyle began to really sink in. I did not like it, and it is safe to say that I could not stop crying. So, here I am, sitting in the meditation hall, trying to concentrate on my breathing, but all I can do is cry. But then, an amazing thing happened. Basically what was going on, was a lot of past situations and experiences started coming back to me, that I never wanted to feel again. So I told myself, snap out of it, and focus on your breathing. That is what is going on in the now. I did. And I stopped crying. It was so incredible. The minute I stopped dwelling in the past, and actually focused on the present, I was able to let go of some huge weight that apparently had been dragging me down, and was just waiting to resurface. It’s awesome what focusing on the present can do. I was beginning to get what Goenke was saying about the past and future, and how we should begin focussing on the present.

This is all getting pretty cool.

inner reformation

So, I’m at my grandmother’s house in a small village, which isn’t so small anymore. I’ll be here until Saturday, and I don’t have any internet. How am I writing this post you say? We made a day trip to visit someone, and I brought my computer to get some work done.

I have a TON to talk about from my last trip to Shreenathji and Udaipur. I can’t wait to post everything. But, since my computer is about to die, here’s a daily encouragement that really makes you think!

“Where can we find the royal road to reformation and change? Emerson declared: “Not he is great who can alter matter, but he who can alter my state of mind.” He strongly urged us to undergo an inner reformation. I want you to be assured that the challenge to which we set ourselves day after day–that of our human revolution–is the royal road to bringing about a reformation in our families, local regions and societies. An inner revolution is the most fundamental and at the same time the ultimate revolution for engendering change in all things.”                –Daisaku Ikeda

I just read an excellent book called “The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenke” by William Hart (I think I’m going to do a book review on it, so be on the lookout soon!), and it talks a lot about how we are responsible for our own selves, our own suffering, and our own progress. And, I’ve mentioned it too in some of my previous posts about how we are responsible for our own happiness and no one creates our problems but ourselves. We hear this all the time from the all time favorite quote of Gandhiji‘s “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. This quote or some sort of paraphrase is literally shoved down our throats in every setting you can think of. So, there has to be some truth to it, right?

When we start to live a life in which we are truly happy, that positivity is going to spread to others and we can really truly be a catalyst of change. But, are we ready to take on that responsibility?

Sometimes, I wonder if I can do it myself, it’s definitely a huge task to take on. But, if we can start with even the smallest thinking of “today’s going to be a great day”, we can begin to be really be that catalyst, if for no one else, than for ourselves. Because at the end of the day, we are responsible for our own lives.

How are you going to start the human revolution?

 

want more awesome daily encouragement? be sure to check out www.sgi.org