Monday, November 1, 2010

The Five Hindrances

They are ill-will, sensual desire, laziness, restlessness and anxiety, and doubt. Usually the one closest to me is restlessness and anxiety, but amazingly lately it has been laziness; may be it is because I am on vacation in India and don't feel like doing much..;-p. Which hindrance you identify most with?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rebirth in Buddhism

Buddha tells us not to think too much about these questions - how did world come to be, manifestation of karma, if beings exist after death etc, because these do not lead to cessation of suffering. He said he only teaches cause of suffering and cessation of it. Nonetheless, we all think about rebirth, it is a concept that can not be easily ignored. I was raised a Hindu and hence, this concept has been a part of my life since I could remember. Now the thing that was puzzling me is that Buddhism also talks about continuation of conscience, which takes birth based upon its karmic load. I was really not able to differentiate between rebirth in Hinduism and Buddhism.

In the meanwhile, I have been meaning to go to Bhikku Bodhi's lecture in Chuang Yen monastery for a long time and finally was able to go. Coincidentally, this was the topic of the day. He said something which was an aha moment for me. He clarified that the difference between Hinduism and Buddhism wrt rebirth is, that Buddhism does not recognize concept of a non-changing, permanent soul or atman, that goes through cycles of rebirth and hence attachment to this self. There is a stream of consciousness, which changes forms, like wood changes to smoke, when burnt, but no permanent entity. Hinduism considers soul as permanent and hence, also strengthens the notion of self. Soul or not, permanent or not, for me the key was attachment. If you believe in a non-changing self, there lies the attachment, which gives rise to Dukkha.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Controlling the Mind

So, I figured when I started on the Zen path, is that I needed to control my mind. If I got sufficient control over it, it will be in peaceful state all the time. I will have bliss and nirvana, and I have achieved my target. Well, seems like reality is way different! So, the mind is a phenomena, just like anything else, with its inherent nature. If you put water on heat, it will boil because of its inherent nature, same way as wood will burn if exposed to heat and oxygen. The mind will be happy when it gets something that it wants and will be sad when it gets something that it does not. There is no way around it, that is how it is programmed. So, then you would say that the answer is to get rid of the root cause - the want. Let me tell you friends - that is not easy or even entirely possible, for most of us who live in mundane world. I cannot get rid of my desire to see my family happy. If they are going through pain, it pains me and I want the suffering to end. A lot of times, when issues are related to having a job or sickness, it is not even a want, it is a need. How can I say it does not matter whether the situation gets rectified or not?

So, back to the question - I don't think it is expected to change nature of mind so much through meditation, but to understand its nature, see how it works and ACCEPT it. Resistance is what causes pain. If I can accept that my mind is sad because of conditions and there is no way to alter its state, but to accept the sadness of moment, it lessens the blow. As long as we are trying actively to change the situation (applying for jobs, getting medical care etc), we are doing what we need to do. Everything changes, and this situation will also change.

Trust Factor through Zen Practice

So, I like to plan and execute on the plan...if things don't go according to my plan, I get upset and I try hard to bring the plan back on track. My mind is conditioned to believe that it can achieve anything as long as it tried hard enough. If it did not get something, it is because it did not try hard enough. Zen has enabled me to see that if I don't get something, first of all - most of the time, it is for my own good and secondly, there are factors other than my own effort that need to come together for any event to happen. My effort is important and required, but is not the sole controlling factor. This was liberating for me, not that it made me utterly peaceful, but it allowed me to relax and let go, at-least once in a while, if not all the time. I did not have the concept of trust - that whatever is happening, is usually for the best and that every one and everything is being taken care of. Sitting on the cushion has enabled me to see that as well.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Height of Impermanence!!!

I am finding it pretty funny and depressing at the same time that the mind that understands is also impermanent!!! I guess that is why heart sutra says - no attainment and no gain?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Beyond Preferences

To go beyond preferences, I need to drop both what I prefer and what I don't. I tend to cling to what I prefer and want more and more of it. How is this different from any kind of addiction? I am repelled by what I don't prefer and cringe at it. I really don't have that much control over the mental states that arises based upon conditions. If I get something that I like, I am happy or else I am not. I guess happiness cannot be the destination then, it has to be something beside happiness and sadness. Got to sit more with this. At least, because of the question, I have been sitting more regularly though the trend has been broken for last 4 days. Have an early morning flight tomorrow, probably good time and place to sit.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


How does one practice so as to not to have preferences? I am caught in the world of preferences.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I don't understand...

why Haiti happens? Why there is inequality in world? Why some have so much that they are throwing it away and others don't have enough to eat? I have tried to reason this 100 different ways and nothing makes sense. If this is the suchness of Universe, it is a very bitter pill to swallow. There are times when this Universe looks so perfect, it won't function if it was not perfect to this degree and then there are these times.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Everything is a perception, be careful not to call it reality!

We can only perceive based on what input we get from our sense organs (including brain). We process the inputs, create a perception based on it and act upon it. Somewhere along this process, we get strongly attached to this perception and consider it a reality. It is real, but only in the context of our perception. We are co-creators of this reality and it does not exist without us. A simple example is birds don't feel as cold as humans because their body temperature is higher. What is cold to us is not cold to them. Same thing for mental formations. My mental formation might be different from your based upon how we relate to a particular situation. The thing that causes me a lot of agony might not bother you and vice-versa. The point is that if we can keep in mind that what we think as reality is only one facet of reality, based upon our conditions, we might be able to let go easily and not get stuck on things. We also can become more tolerant of other people's views, their conditions and their reactions.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How important am I?

So, I have recently changed jobs and at the new place, I am still in training phase, learning the ropes, figuring things out etc etc. I have been given some deliverables but nothing too big. At my previous job, I had lot of responsibility, accountability for various things, reporting status, raising flags, what not. I have been feeling uneasy and uncomfortable but not able to put my finger on it. At first I thought it is because of new environment and the fact that I need to learn a whole lot of things etc, but that was not it. It came up one day (don't remember if it was during sitting) - I am feeling uneasy because I am not important enough at my new place yet!!! There it was - my ego swelled up and high, a little hurt for having realized this and kind of lost. Every time, I think I understand my mind, I come across something like this and I am totally taken aback. I guess the good part is that this stayed at the level of thought, got acknowledgement and I moved on. May be if I was not used to slowing down my mind every so often, this would have bothered me more..who is a perspective after all..none the less, it is interesting to see how ego tries to reinforce itself every chance it gets..:)