Friday, April 29, 2011

4 book comments

So I'm in the process of trying to do a review of this book for Wildmind: Mindfulness For Dummies (Book + CD). I'm not against this kind of secular mindfulness. I think you can apply it to everything: stress, relaxation, pain management. It's a good thorough book.

Speaking of application of mindfulness, I've been reading two Thomas Bien books, applying mindfulness to psychotherapy and happiness. The Buddha's Way of Happiness: Healing Sorrow, Transforming Negative Emotion, & Finding Well-Being in the Present Moment is the book I was sent, and then that made me realize I had Mindful Therapy: A Guide for Therapists and Helping Professionals on my book shelf. There's a lot of good stuff in these books. I love the integration of psychotherapy and Buddhism.

And finally, I've finished Awakening Kindness which is a lovely exploration of metta. You can't get enough of this stuff, reading a book helps me to put my mind into thinking about this head space.

I've just bought The Art of Reflection (Buddhist Wisdom in Practice) and I look forward to reading this book. Supposedly it's the only book on reflection as a spiritual practice in the Buddhist tradition of English language books. I can't verify that that, but I became interested in it when Vajramati had us reading an excerpt to discuss on a rare sangha night that I could actually attend.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Skydiving videos

Skydiving is a very spiritual thing. I went last summer. Here are some videos:

A little bit on the ground:

Walking to the plane, take off, and in the air over Long Island:

On the plane and just before jumping, you see the cameraman.

I fall out the plane

A bit of a remix of the falling

Open the chute:


After landing:

Thursday, April 07, 2011


Are They Shadows


Are they shadows that we see?
And can shadows pleasure give?
Pleasures only shadows be
Cast by bodies we conceive
And are made the things we deem
In those figures which they seem.

But these pleasures vanish fast
Which by shadows are expressed;
Pleasures are not, if they last;
In their passing is their best.
Glory is most bright and gay
In a flash, and so away.

Feed apace then, greedy eyes,
On the wonder you behold;
Take it sudden as it flies,
Though you take it not to hold.
When your eyes have done their part,
Thought must length it in the heart.

(thanks to Vishvapani for posting this poem)

Monday, April 04, 2011

spiritual materialism

We have big selves and small contracted selves. The small contracted self wants to get ordained, to check that off this list, want to acquire a new name and meditation practice, join the club.

My big self wants to go deeper into my practice, is using the ordination process to go deeper, to challenge myself.

Dhammarati always says, it's the gold not the stamp on the gold that makes it valuable (quoting Burns supposedly).

One friend couldn't ask for ordination--would warp them too much, they have such an urge to please others.

Another friend said they would do nothing to get ordained. I wasn't so sure they were so independent.

Another friend says you don't have to do anything to get ordained. I think you do have to deepen your practice and connect with the Boddhisattva ideal, and work for the good of the Dharma in some way, any way, but some way, so in a way I do think you have to do something.

My preceptor says sometimes a person does everything right, but then it turns out they were just putting on a show. There are stories where people gave ordination and then later the person somehow showed they were not really ready for it. Bhante is supposed to have said, "if you're going to ordain them in 6 months, why not do it now?"

Why do I want to join the Triratna Buddhist Community? I have to be honest and say that being part of the club, hanging out with other order members, would be conducive to deepening my practice. But isn't in that idea something to suggest that I am not complete in and of myself. "Look at yourself man, you've got a lot of work to do." Yes. I could go it alone. And I do have the community's support, whether or not I get to go on order conventions. But what I respect about the order is the spiritual depth. Joining the order is not about getting, it's about giving. True, but you can also get. Others get from others in the order, no problem there. Merely to join, that's not why you get in. Someone and others witness effective going for refuge. What is effective going for refuge? There's a kind of momentum in one's practice, it doesn't get sidetracked. It does all these things like meditation, ethics, study and fellowship, but it also has a kind of inner fire, the organizing principle is the three jewels. How are the three jewels not my organizing principle. I go to false refuge to a few things, but don't I have a practice that is sending me on my way? I think I do, but it needs to be witnessed, and I could always go deeper.

The harder the ordination process the stronger the order is. It's a trial, that makes one stronger. My impatience maybe spur me on towards the good or not, it's up to me.

Yet I tell you now, I wish to go deeper. Not for the sake of acquisition. Not for the opportunities, a new name, a new meditation practice. But for the depth, shortening the distance between me and the Buddha, to be kind to others, to help the sangha grow. Not to get something, but to have my close spiritual friend to witness my real progress, which is a kind of external validation, but never the less, would be good. It has to be obvious to others, and that really means it's there.