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Balance baby, balance

3 Oct

Balance baby, balance: It’s all about balance

By  Joan Gattuso

The Middle Way is achieved when one reaches that point of cosmic balance between austerity and the creature comforts of the world. The ascetics who were with the Buddha were critical of him because he was no longer living an austere lifestyle. They considered his life too “cushy.” He was eating beautiful food and wearing a fine robe, while they existed on a few grains of rice and slept uncovered on a bed of nails.

The ascetics asked the Buddha, “What kind of teacher and yogi are you? You are soft, weak, indulgent.”

To which the Buddha replied, “I, too, have slept on nails; I’ve stood with my eyes open to the sun in the hot sands beside the Ganges. I’ve eaten so little food that you couldn’t fill one fingernail with the amount I ate each day. Whatever ascetic practices under the sun human beings have done, I, too, have done. Through them all I have learned that fighting against oneself through such practices is not the way.”

Through the years I have known a few ascetic-type personalities who forever deny the body, its needs, and its care. One young man I knew was so physically beautiful and so unhappy and grim. His eating habits were very austere and unpleasant. He always seemed to be miserable in the pursuit of his spiritual awareness. He munched on raw garlic cloves like they were peanuts and insisted they left no pungent odor on his breath. The rest of the world did not agree. I recall one acquaintance saying to this fellow that he would probably throw himself under a train rather than eat a Frito. His response was, “What’s a Frito?” If misery, self-denial and self-imposed suffering were the way to get “it,” we would all have gotten “it” a long time ago.

The Buddha emphasized the Middle Way, which he likened to the successful playing of the lute, the strings being not too taut, not too loose, but with just the right amount of pressure. We all need to seek a way to bring forth such balance in our own lives.

A Meditator’s Handbook

25 Sep

For those that follow the Goenka Vipassana technique, here’s a nice little handbook that summarizes the main teachings and techniques associated with this tradition.

Download and read this handbook, written by Bill Crecelius, here: A_Meditators_Handbook

Reducing choice seems to be the whole point

21 Sep

We think that freedom means having more choice; this has been drilled into us and all that we see around us seems to indicate that more choice equals more freedom which is always a good thing.

Think again.


Isn’t this kind of choice taking our mind (and energy and time) away from things that really matter. Does it really matter whether we buy Brand A as against Brand B (as long as both brands are similar on the most important parameters)?

The path of spiritual practice involves reducing our available choices and Buddhist meditation practice at retreats seems to support this viewpoint – just consider the lack of diversity when it comes to the menu 🙂

This piece by Ken McLeod is excellent and will give you a deeper understanding of this viewpoint.

Read it here: Freedom and Choice

Funny things about meditation retreats

21 Jun

So you thought meditation retreats were serious affairs and meditators were grumpy old folk.

Check out this laugh-out-loud piece written by an irreverent soul. 🙂

Funny things abt meditation retreats

What is dukkha?

17 Dec

For a newcomer it might appear that the Buddha was a pessimist since he stressed dukkha and its causes and eradication. It might appear that Buddhism claims that our lives are inevitably filled with suffering; however that impression is incorrect. It is very,very important to be clear about this central word which appears in all sects of Buddhism. What exactly is it and what is it not?

“Things are dukkha because they are impermanent and therefore unreliable. Actually, dukkha is natural and not suffering. It becomes suffering when the mind identifies with phenomena and grasps. The meaning of dukkha that conveys this process is derived from the breakdown of the word into du, which means “apart from” and kha—or akash—which means “space.” This gives the sense of being apart from the spacious, the perfect, and the complete. In this way dukkha conveys the deepest anguish and dilemma of the self, which is its state of separation from the whole.”

Here’s a wonderful explanation: Dukkha, explained

You don’t have to be anybody special

11 Nov



“To be no one special means we are psychologically free of the illusion of I-as-a-Me—we no longer see ourselves as a unique self, independent of the world around us. Not holding-on to any particular view or opinion, or the stories about our past and who we are, or the many self-images and identities we use to define our Me—what remains? The presence of just being. This gives us an experiential taste of our most authentic self, with the inner knowing that who we truly are—our basic connectedness—is more than just our self-images, our stories, our body.”


This can be the beginning of the understanding of the idea of anatta (no-self in Pali)

Check out this article

No one special to be

The trap of the Guru

25 Aug

Beware the charismatic Guru.

Remember that the Buddha asks us to be a guru unto ourselves.

Read this excellent piece on the pitfalls of guru worship, taken from the Tricycle website…

Beware the charsimatic guru


How to have a mind full of good?

28 Jun

We all know that there’s a bottleneck built into the brain: its evolved negativity bias that makes it like Velcro for bad experiences but Teflon for good ones – which makes it harder to turn beneficial experiences into inner strengths.

So, how do we turn these good experiences into inner strengths?

Dr. Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of “Buddha’s Brain” explains…

Mind Full of Good – Rick Hanson



Buddhist logic

23 Jun

Here’s a very interesting essay by Graham Priest on Buddhist logic.


Buddhist philosophy is full of contradictions. Now modern logic is learning why that might be a good thing

Ergodicity economics

Formal economics without parallel universes

Sat Sangha Salon

An Inquiry in Being

Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Sati Pasala

Sati Pasala aims at sharing mindfulness with students, teachers, and entire school and university communities, as well as those in other relevant sectors.

Alt News

Alternative News and Views in the Post-Truth World


Daily Buddhist Practice

The Buddha's Advice to Laypeople

Guidelines for developing a happier life

Love of All Wisdom

Philosophy through multiple traditions

Bargad... बरगद...

enlightened prattles

A Blue Chasm

Dhivan Thomas Jones

Dr Edo Shonin

Mindfulness, Meditation: & Psychological Well-being: Research & Practice

Contemplative Mind in Life

A Global Collection of Mindfulness and Meditation Research Resources

Path Press

an existential approach to the Buddha's teaching

Nyohō Zen

the look, feel, and stuff of the Dharma

Whole Yoga & Ayurveda Blog

...from the Inside-Out