Articles & Essays

photo by Andrew Xu

Cultivating Gratitude

· Articles & Essays · ,

by Jan Chozen Bays, Roshi


 

It is ironic that in countries where food is abundant, disharmony with food and eating is most common. Americans appear to have a particularly unbalanced and often negative relationship with food. In the 1990s, a research team led by an American psychologist and a French sociologist teamed up to do a study of cross-cultural attitudes toward food. They surveyed people in the United States, France, Flemish Belgium, and Japan. They found that Americans associated food with health the most and pleasure the least. For example, when Americans were asked what comes to mind when they hear the words “chocolate cake,” they were more likely to say “guilt,” while the French said “celebration.” The words “heavy cream” elicited “unhealthy” from Americans and “whipped” from the French. The researchers found that Americans worry more about food and derive less pleasure than people in any other nation they surveyed.

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photo by Ponjalishussness, MRO

Thanks

· Articles & Essays, Poems · ,

Poem by Yusef Komunyakaa


 

Thanks for the tree
between me & a sniper’s bullet.
I don’t know what made the grass
sway seconds before the Viet Cong
raised his soundless rifle.
Some voice always followed,
telling me which foot
to put down first.

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photo By Andrew Smith

The Armies of Mara

· Articles & Essays · ,

by Sayadaw U Pandita


Meditation can be seen as a war between wholesome and unwholesome mental states. On the unwholesome side are the forces of the kilesas, also known as “The Ten Armies of Mara.” In Pali, Mara means “killer.” He is the personification of the force that kills virtue and also kills existence. His armies are poised to attack all yogis; they even tried to overcome the Buddha on the night of his enlightenment.

Here are the lines the Buddha addressed to Mara, as recorded in the Sutta Nipata:

Sensual pleasures are your first army,
Discontent your second is called.
Your third is hunger and thirst,
The fourth is called craving.
Sloth and torpor are your fifth,
The sixth is called fear,
Your seventh is doubt,
Conceit and ingratitude are your eighth,
Gain, renown, honor, and whatever fame
is falsely received (are the ninth),
And whoever both extols himself and disparages others (has fallen victim to the tenth).
That is your army, Namuci [Mara],
the striking force of darkness.
One who is not a hero cannot conquer it,
but having conquered it, one obtains happiness.

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photo by Trocaire

Surprise and Gratefulness

· Articles & Essays · ,

by Brother David Steindl-Rast


rainbow always comes as a surprise. Not that it cannot be predicted. Surprising sometimes means unpredictable, but it often means more. Surprising in the full sense means somehow gratuitous. Even the predictable turns into surprise the moment we stop taking it for granted. If we knew enough, everything would be predictable, and yet everything would remain gratuitous. If we knew how the whole universe worked, we would still be surprised that there was a universe at all. Predictable it may be, yet all the more surprising.

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Dusting

· Articles & Essays, Poems · ,

Poem by Marilyn Nelson


Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt,
pearl-necklace viruses,
winged protozoans:
for the infinite,
intricate shapes
of submicroscopic
living things.

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photo by Phil Dolby

Gratitude Toward Everyone

· Articles & Essays · ,

by Dzigar Kongtrul, Rinpoche


When things go wrong in our lives, we tend to place all the blame on something outside ourselves, which only compounds our root problem of self-importance. “Realize all faults spring from one source” is the antidote to that confused and unhelpful mentality. “Meditate upon gratitude toward all” works with another distorted way of looking at things. This slogan and the problem it addresses are the mirror image of the previous one.

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photo By Kando Johnston, MRO

Intimacy With All Things

· Articles & Essays · ,

by Jack Kornfield


Our capacity for intimacy is built on deep respect, a presence that allows what is true to express itself, to be discovered. Intimacy can arise in any moment; it is an act of surrender, a gift that excludes nothing. In Buddhist marriage ceremonies, I speak about this quality of intimacy and how it grows as we learn to stay connected with ourselves and respectful of those around us. I teach new couples the mantra of intimacy.

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Right View Comes First

· Articles & Essays, Open Access · ,

by The Buddha

Monks, right view comes first. And how does right view come first? One understands wrong view as wrong view and right view as right view: this is one’s right view. And what is wrong view? There is nothing given, nothing sacrificed, nothing offered; there is no fruit or result of good and bad actions; there is no this world, no other world; there is no mother, no father; there are no beings spontaneously reborn; there are in the world no ascetics and brahmins of right conduct and right practice who, having realized this world and the other world for themselves by direct knowledge, make them known to others. This is wrong view. And what is right view? Right view, I say, is twofold: there is right view that is affected by influxes, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions; and there is right view that is noble, free of influxes, supramundane, a factor of the path.

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Photo By Bill Kando Johnston, MRO

Why Do Beings Live in Hate?

· Articles & Essays · ,

by The Buddha


 

Sakka, ruler of the devas, asked the Blessed One: “Beings wish to live without hate, hostility, or enmity; they wish to live in peace. Yet they live in hate, harming one another, hostile, and as enemies. By what fetters are they bound, sir, that they live in such a way?”

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Photo By Bill Kando Johnston, MRO

Taking the Leap

· Articles & Essays · ,

by Pema Chodron


 

Nothing is static and permanent. And that includes you and me. We know this about cars and carpets, new shirts and DVD players, but are less willing to face it when it comes to ourselves or to other people. We have a very solid view of ourselves, and also very fixed views about others. Yet if we look closely, we can see that we aren’t even slightly fixed. In fact, we are as unfixed and changing as a river. For convenience, we label a constant flow of water the Mississippi or the Nile, very much the way we call ourselves Jack or Helen. But that river isn’t the same for even a fraction of a second. People are equally in flux—I am like that, and so are you. Our thoughts, emotions, molecules are continually changing.

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