Posted in compassion

Qualities of the Heart | Video

This is a video I recorded about the Yoga Sutra and the Four Immeasurables.

What if we center our lives in compassion and kindness?

 

I recorded a podcast on this subject that you can listen to  here:

Qualities of the Heart | Scharpening the Mind

Further Reading:

Four Immeasurable Minds

 

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Posted in compassion

Compassion! (video)

what is compassion?

Is there great compassion and regular compassion? What’s the difference?
Can we have compassion for people we don’t like?

 

Recommended Reading:

Compassion that is Boundless

Training In Compassion by Norman Fischer

click here for the audio version:

Compassion! Podcast

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Posted in Uncategorized

Shootings

The tragedy in Orlando was still fresh in our minds.

And then Alton Sterling was shot by two police officers in Louisiana.

And then later I walked by the news on a TV at work and there was a story about a black man being shot by police. I thought it was another story about Alton Sterling, but it wasn’t.

My friend asked me, “What happened with this shooting?”

And I said, “I don’t know…I can’t keep track of all the shootings anymore..”

Philando Castle was killed by police in Minnesota when he was pulled over for a broken tail light. Because he was reaching for his wallet, after telling the officer that he had a concealed carry license and that he did have a concealed weapon in the car. He told the officer he was reaching for his wallet and the officer shot him. In the car. By the way, there was a child in the backseat. That shouldn’t matter, of course. But it does. An innocent man was shot and that’s what is really important. But thinking about that child makes me really sad too.

Police make me nervous anyway. If I was black my anxiety would probably make me stay home all the time.

I am so sad.

And our society is so fucking divided that people say things like, “If they treated the officers with more respect they wouldn’t have been shot.”

That is victim blaming. It’s no different from telling a rape victim she shouldn’t have worn a short skirt. Victim blaming makes me really uncomfortable. People are dead.

People say things like, “This person had a criminal record, they weren’t really innocent.” That’s crazy too. Who cares if they had a criminal record? Does that mean that they should be shot in the street?

When people make excuses for brutality like this I just wonder if they love and trust the government a lot more than I do. I don’t understand.

I get it, being a police officer is hard. Really really hard. But I believe we can expect more from them. Maybe police need more training. Maybe they need better pay so that precincts can be a little more discerning in who they allow to work these jobs. I don’t know. But I do know that we shouldn’t just accept this as normal and blame the victims whenever possible.

And I’m not sure if these officers had hate in their hearts when they committed these acts (but let’s investigate and find out). But I am sure they shouldn’t be police anymore. Because at best these actions were negligent. If your job is to protect people and you accidentally kill someone, that’s it.

And then some police officers were shot at a protest. (as of this writing I couldn’t find their names or I would post them here. I am mourning them too) As though violence can solve anything, as though this will do anything other than make people angry and ruin the lives of those officer’s families.

I don’t believe our society is so divided that we can only feel sympathy for either the officers that were slain or the two men. All of them are victims of a cycle of violence and division that I hope we can stop.

I think our culture teaches us that violence is the way to solve problems and I don’t agree with that.

Violence makes problems. And we should all cultivate peace and love in our hearts instead of violence and hate.

Not that people shouldn’t defend themselves when they’re under attack. People think that because I’m a pacifist that’s what I think, but if you’re against the wall, you do whatever you have to do. None of these killings were in self-defense.

What can we do?

As Buddhists, some of us take vows to try to save everyone. What can we even do in situations like this?

Today I just don’t know.

Love each other. Build bridges instead of walls. Be kind. Be connected. Stop trying to divide and separate. We do far too much of that.

The media and politicians have a role in this division, but that’s because that’s what people expect from them. So let’s expect something different.

Just be nice.

You can spread kindness and positivity in your life.

It starts with you.

Posted in Uncategorized

Conditional Compassion

 

I’ve noticed that some people seem to think that compassion should be conditional.

They think that if someone got themselves in trouble, we shouldn’t feel compassion for them. Or, even worse, we shouldn’t be kind.

I disagree with that position.

I think compassion is the highest virtue and I strive to feel it toward everyone, regardless of circumstances.

I’ll share some examples.

I’ve heard people say that we shouldn’t feel sorry for drug users who are in jail. They knew they were breaking the law. It didn’t come out of nowhere and we shouldn’t feel bad for them.

Putting aside the discussion of legalization (which I support) for a moment, should we feel compassion for them?

I think we should. They made a mistake (buying from an undercover officer or being in the wrong place at the wrong time) but who doesn’t make mistakes?

Another example is someone who’s in a bad relationship. When someone repeatedly leaves and goes back into the same bad situation, do we stop feeling compassion for them? Do we stop because they make the same mistake over and over and they definitely know better?

No. We never stop.

I don’t stop cultivating compassion. I don’t want to stop to think about whether or not someone is worthy of my compassion. My compassion is too important for that. It needs to be constant and ever present in my life. Compassion is something we can cultivate unconditionally.

Be compassionate. Spread love. Be kind and sprinkle kindness everywhere.

Not that it’s easy, of course. Let’s be honest. Sometimes it’s hard to be compassionate. Sometimes it’s really really hard.

But we can try our best. Because cultivating compassion is best, not only for us but for the world too.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bodhisattvaroad/2016/03/compassion-that-is-boundless/

 

 

Posted in diamond sutra

Diamond Sutra, chapter 21


“Subhuti, when someone is selflessly generous, they should also practice being ethical by remembering that there is no distinction between one’s self others. Thus one practices generosity by giving not only gifts, but also through kindness and sympathy. Practice kindness and charity without attachment and you can become fully enlightened.”

Practice kindness but don’t be attached to results. When we understand that the boundaries between self and other are illusory, being generous, kind, and compassionate comes very naturally to us.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Poison of Anger

You will not be punished for your anger. You will be punished by your anger.”
-the Buddha

Anger happens to all of us. Even the greatest among experience anger sometimes. Regardless of how much we have cultivated love and compassion, we are still human.

In Buddhism, anger is one of the three poisons, along with greed and ignorance. The three poisons are the primary cause of our suffering. Striving to overcome our anger is essential to Buddhist practice. In Buddhism we don’t really think of anger as ‘righteous’ or ‘justifiable’. It’s important to remember that our anger hurts us as much as it hurts whoever the target of our anger is, if not more. Anger is nothing more than an impediment to our inner peace. We might think, “this person deserves to be faced with my anger.” But that shouldn’t be our line of thinking. Instead, we should be thinking, “Is our anger helpful?”

So, we can strive to overcome our anger, but of course we will get angry sometimes, everyone does and we shouldn’t feel bad for it. 

But how do we deal with our anger?

First, admit you’re angry. Admit that your anger is clouding your judgment and impacting your ability to deal with whatever situation is occurring. Anger can only get in the way and escalate situations. It never helps. Buddhism teaches mindfulness. Being mindful of our own emotions is part of mindfulness. We don’t suppress negative emotions or deny them. Instead we acknowledge it and try to recognize that it isn’t helpful and let it go.

It’s also important to understand that our anger is created by ourselves. Anger doesn’t happen to us, our minds create it. We tend to think that someone else causes us to get angry, but it’s our own mind that makes us angry. We do have some control over how we respond to situations.

As Buddhists, our practice is to cultivate kindness and compassion for all beings that is free from attachment. “All beings” includes individuals who make us angry.

For this reason, when we experience anger, we should take care not to act on it to hurt others and ourselves. We also must take care not to cling to our anger. If we hold onto our anger over time, it is only more damaging to us. 

So, how do we let our anger go?

One thing we can do it cultivate patience. We can sit still with our anger and try to release it. Our meditation practice helps us strengthen our patience for this purpose. 

It’s hard not to act on our anger sometimes. 

It takes strength to acknowledge that anger is not helpful and it takes discipline to let it go.

 

The Buddha said, “Holding onto anger is like picking up a hot coal to throw at someone.” Even if you succeed at hurting the other person, you are hurting yourself as well. Is it worth it?